The SamuraiMarine

Thoughts, Philosophy, Life and Love

Our new ride…

So we got a new ride. Specifically I picked up a 2016 Tundra that I will be using with my son to go camping. This last weekend we took it out to break it in and try out the 4×4 on some rough roads.

Our trip started just outside Maricopa, Ca. on a road called Elkhorn Grade Road. I did not take as many pictures as I had hoped, mostly because I was having such a good time. Here are what we got, though.

The Universe in a drop of coffee

I was sitting at my desk this morning, and as I moved my cup of coffee from one side of the desk to place it on my warmer, a drop of it sloshed out and landed on my blotter.

I am not sure why, but for several moments I was fascinated by the drop. I watched as it spread out and disappeared. Turning from a droplet, being held by a combination of the surface tension and the material that made up the blotter, then as it slowly spread out, eventually taking up the area of a dime. As it spread, the drop became less and less “droplike” as it absorbed into the paper of the blotter. Then, eventually, it had gone. All that was left was a blemish on the paper. Just a stain that showed that once, there was a drop here.

Being WHO I am, this made me wonder if, in a more complex way, that is all that we are, us, and everything we see or know; all that is our universe. Everything is just a drop of some beverage on some beings desk as they go through their daily grind.

We are just here, waiting for the edges of our drop to expand beyond the
realm of survivability, for the depth of our universe to shallow and eventually dry up.

It was an intriguing thought, anyway.

Thanks for reading.

Covid-19 and Us

I hope that everyone out there is doing OK as we go through this worldwide crisis. I know that the tough part is the separation that we have to go through to keep us apart from others and, hopefully, prevent the spread of this sickness.

How are you dealing with this? Not so much how you are staying safe, but more… How are you staying sane? Keeping your wits about you and not just going slowly mad because of the lack of interaction with others?

Share your thoughts, if you are reading this, and tell me how you are doing.

There comes a time…

As I have gotten older, I have started to see many things differently in life. My Wife, my Child, the people I know, the things I have done and those I have yet to do. Further, I have begun to see certain things as no longer possible, as if age takes them off the table.

There are the obvious things, like becoming a doctor or an astronaut. When you get past a certain point, while not impossible, they become things that really don’t make sense to work towards when you are still at a point in your professional life where you are living at the limit of your means. And while I have recently returned to school for my BS, the idea of trying for an MD or anything like that just seems like too much to put my family through. I would rather focus my attention on my son’s future.

Then there are the little things, at least little in the sense of other things in life. Travel among them, at least the big trips that I see people engage in. To be fair, there are many places I really do not care to go to. Places like Hawaii or the Bahamas, or anyplace whose primary purpose is to expose one’s self to hours of sun and the potential of skin cancer or severe sunburn. Likewise, I find no interest in going places with large populations of free-roaming people that, usually, have no interest in being polite to either each other or the aboriginal people of the place they are visiting. Good examples of this are places like Seattle, Paris (France, not Texas), London, Miami, etc… These are all places where the people to personal space ratio, at least to me, are oppressive.

Then there are amusement parks. These are places where, I suspect, that you go to if you either have children or are potentially sadistic. Disneyland, Magic Mountain, Knott’s Berry Farm, etc. The population there is so overwhelming to me that I need to take regular breaks just to de-stress from being overwhelmed. How anyone, again… without children… can go to these places and call it fun or entertaining, is beyond me.

But the point of this article is more about the things that I look at that I consider no longer possible for me. The places and things I would love to have done and seen in my life that, in all practicality, are no longer possible. Like visiting the Alps, seeing the place that my Scottish ancestors called home, going to Antarctica, touring the lesser-visited parts of Europe. Going on a Walkabout in Australia. Seeing Terra del Fuego from the deck of a ship.

I do not regret most of where I am, now, in life. I think I have done OK both for myself and my family. Having never broken any laws (that anyone knows of, anyway.) nor ever been to jail or prison, and I have not done anything that has made me a pariah in any parts of the world. My wife and son have found no reason to run off or kill me, yet. My mother has not disowned me and I consider myself to be of relatively sound mind and body. So there is a lot going for me there. I do have a few regrets about the things I have not done, but that is fine. Who doesn’t have SOME regrets about the path they took to get where they are in life?

The point I have been trying to, circuitously, get to is this. The list of things I still might have a chance to do in life is getting smaller. If you are reading this and you are still young, get out and do the things you think you might want to, while you can. Family? Take them with you. If you have to go into a little debt to accomplish these things, do it! it’s only money and you can make more. Life… that you cannot get back. Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.

My own private Idaho?

How easy is it to move from the place you have known for all your life to a place you have only been through briefly to make a new home for yourself?

A few years ago I made the decision to move out of California. The original plan was to move to Oregon and live someplace on the eastern, “desert”, side of the state for both health and lifestyle reasons.

It was a little later, after doing a little more investigating, that I found that Oregon was every bit as liberal as California was, and I decided that while I still wished to relocate myself and my family, it would be someplace else. After all, I am learning that California politics and I are not getting along with one another.

Ignoring my mother’s pleas to move to Alaska, I began looking at the other states I had available to me. I mean there are 49 others to choose from and each one has pros and cons. Alaska was, to my mother’s disappointment, out of the question. Not only is it too far removed from the places I like to travel, but it is also too far from the places I like to travel. Oh… I repeated myself.

One thing I started to notice was that many of my former coworkers had retired to Idaho. So, I started looking into that place as a possibility. The first looks, though, were disappointing. You see, one of the people I knew sent me pictures of four and five-foot snowdrifts against his house. When I asked where he had moved to in Idaho, he told me of a little place north of Coeur d’Alene. I want to say it was near someplace called Spirit Lake. But then I was told that if I did not want that kind of snow, I should look into the southern part of the state, maybe around Boise or Twin Falls. Which gets snow, but not nearly on the same level or volume as his area.

OK… so for the record, I do not mind the snow. If I were retired and single, I could be perfectly happy living in his area. Spending my winter snowed in with no contact with the outside world. I could totally rock that whole ‘Jack Torrance at the Outlook Hotel’ thing. Minus the freaky ‘redrum’ twins and the phantom bar-tender. But I have a wife and a nine-year-old that, given a situation like that, might in and of themselves turn murderous should we have to be snowed in.

Boise looked great, so did Mountain Home and the same with Twin Falls. So I started looking into them all and found that there were some pretty good career opportunities in all three locations. And thus… I made a decision.

We were moving to Idaho.

So today I am working on getting a little further with my degree before I make the move unless something comes up that I just cannot pass on. But for the time being, I set an eighteen-month window in which I would have us out of California, and that window officially started in January of this year.

If all goes well, we will be in Idaho by the end of 2021. A new life and a new start.

What the hell do I know?

You know… I write a lot about friendships, keeping up relationships and things like that, here. However, the older I get, the more I learn about myself, and the more I realize who the hell I am, exactly, I realized something.

Who the heck am I to be talking about this crap? I mean, I don’t go out, I don’t socialize, I have no really CLOSE friends anymore. The people I do know that I consider my “closest” friends, while important to me, are not people that think to call me for a chat or invite me to functions. There are even a couple of them that when they DO invite me it’s because they need something in return.

I am not really bitter about the the topic. It just strikes me as ironic that me, a person that really has no one that he can call a close friend, seems to think that it is OK to tell others what they need to do to keep and maintain friends. It’s sort of like the mechanic that preaches to his customers to get their cars serviced on a regular basis, yet his own car is falling apart from neglect.

It’s funny, really. I talk to my son about this stuff, and about how important it is to keep and maintain his friendships and relationships and he will ask me about my friends and I really have no response for him. I guess when I know he can understand the humor in it better, I will just tell him that it is a beautifully ironic case of “Do as I say, not as I do!”

Anyway… thought I would share that little pearl of wisdom. You all have a great day.

Another New year – 2020 Edition

As always, the new year bring about thoughts of the past, plans for the future, dreams of what we hope to accomplish and worries of things that might, or might not, happen.

This last decade was incredible and terrible. We had our first, and only, child. I lost many friends and gained very few to replace the empty places vactated by those departing. I had sickness that set me back, physically, quite a bit, suffered an incredible betrayal at the hands of someone I thought was a friend, and we lost my father-in-law in the closing months of the decade.

With past New Years celebrations, I, like so many before me and so many will continue to do, had fallen into the habit of creating a “New Years Resolution”. Those rambling self congratulatory promises that many of us make, to make us feel better about ourselves for a short period of time, and then make us feel bad when, typically about two months into the new year, we fall back into our old habits and forget those “resolutions”.

This year I have decided to actually MAKE the resolution a habit again, but not for anything new. I have decided to make a promise to keep doing something that I have already been doing, but to transition it into a lifestyle, going forward.

That resolution is called, simply… SCREW IT.

Many people that know me, know that I try very hard to help others. I have given so much of my time and energy to people that I do and do not know, to try and help them or help them help themselves. I do this never asking for anything in return and many times if someone DOES try to pay me back, I turn it down. I do that because I do not help people for my own benefit. Since I do not believe in a “Heaven”, I am not expecting brownie points for my good deeds to get some special table or audience with G-d or any other deity (yes, some may point out some implied hypocrasy in that I spelled G-d that way… it is out of respect and habit.) I do not think that, even if there IS a heaven, that it works that way anyhow.

But back to my point.

I have become tired of offering suggestions, helping out, putting my time out there only to not see the person, or persons, I am trying to help actually use, try to use, or appreciate the effort. I am also tired of not seeing some response from people that I try to help. No… I am not asking for praise or a pat on the back. I am asking for people to show respect for the efforts by improving themselves. Or by taking the advice or suggestions and working with them to try to make things better for themselves or those around them.

For example… if you come to me and ask me for advice to set up a page on LinkedIn for your job search and I help you, and I am talking about REALLY helping you, not just point out a couple things and let you go. But sit with you and walk you through everything and then, after all that, you tell me that you had your little brother do it for you… then yeah… I am going to be pissed.

If you ask me for help in getting a job, and I go out on a limb, find you a position and get you in the door and call in favors, and then you say, “Sorry, It’s not what I was looking for.” Then, again… pissed.

These are only two of a couple books of examples I have. And starting this year, it all changes. Altruism has it’s limits and this year, going forward, I have a limited supply.

I will still help. But the moment I see it is not going to be used by the person I am helping, or that the effort is going to be wasted, on my part, I am stepping back and saying…

Screw it.

Do I sound like I am being a little too harsh? Maybe. But we all know what I am talking about. If you are over 25 and have a good heart, you know exactly what I am talking about. Chances are that by 25, if you are one of those that feels good about giving of yourself, that you have had at least one time when someone asked for help, you spent your time with them, and then they went and did it their own way anyhow and, as seems to happen in the cases I recall, they fell on their face.

Yeah… that is what I am talking about, and I am done.

Yes… I know it is harsh. But I have my reasons. Mostly it is that I look at my life and see the investments I made in so many others at the expense of my own happiness and time. And while that is fine for family and the people close to me, it is not so much when I do this for people whose closeness is defined on what I can do for them and do not hear from them otherwise.

That’s all today.

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade.

Life without FaceBook… Part Two

On November first of last year (2019), I once again quit Facebook. I did this because I have some personal issues happening at home as well as to facilitate my efforts in school and take away one more of the many distractions that are in my life at the moment.

I did this once before, back in early 2016, but was drawn back in when the South High Reunion committee was looking for me and had some of their people hunt me down and get me back on Facebook for the sake of making sure I was going to be a part of the reunion. So I logged back in and stayed in.

One of the main reasons I chose to do this once again, is because of what Facebook has become. When I started using it, many years ago, it was more or less a place for people to socialize. This was my main interest and the reason Facebook drew me in. I wanted to have a place to talk to people I knew, look for people that shared the same interest as did I and maybe someplace to discover new friends (more on that in another post.)

Without going into a play by play history of what I think that Facebook has become, I will simply fast-forward to now and what I see it as being these days. And that is a cesspool of political fecal-matter and a place for people to put all their dirty laundry out on display.

I mean… I get it. People need someplace to hang out and talk about things. People need people to share with. But at one time, in the past, in a time before social media, that was done by people getting together over coffee or a beer and talking. Nowadays, using platforms like Facebook is similar to going into a crowded room and yelling out your issues, waiting for people to seem like they give a damn.

Some people do, but more often than not, I am sure there are many that see your clickbait, “Oh well” post and think, “Alright, do I bite and ask what is wrong, or just leave it alone, someone else will do it and we will never hear the end of it.”

For the most part, I am one of those that does not care. Anymore, I get annoyed with FB in that people do not communicate as much as they go there to yell, or spout their particular line of social or political fecal-matter.

So… The only part of FB that I use these days is the Messenger, and I am possibly going to be quitting that soon. That is a post for another day, though. Suffice it to say that I am taking the attitude that if people don’t make an effort to occasionally reach out to me and if I am the only one keeping any and all convos going, then maybe the friendship I thought was there, is only on one side and it’s time to let it go.

What they’ve taken from our kids…

Remember when we were kids and we were allowed to had our moments of ignorance? When we could play games and were none the wiser to if they were or were not, in some way, proper or politically correct or not?

I remember playing tag, dodgeball, “cowboys and indians”, and running around the neighborhood with toy guns and throwing rocks or “dirt clods” at my friends. I remember climbing fences, walls, poles, etc and getting hurt, and never had to worry about anything other than my parents telling me I was acting like a fool and brushing me off, then sending me back out to do it all over again.

Today, I cannot allow my son to do many of these things. So many of them are not proper or considered violent. The school he goes to has banned games like tag or dodgeball. They have even put restrictions on gathering in groups. While I understand that fighting is not permitted, it was the same when I was growing up, it appears that defending yourself is also not permitted.

What, exactly, are our schools and our society trying to create in our children? Just because kids like to play rough and break some of the rules, does not mean that they will grow up to be bad children. In some cases it can be the opposite.

Let’s take, for example, the act of kids roughhousing around. That is something I did as a kid, it’s not really fighting, but can be an aggressive form of play that, yes, can lead to a few bumps and bruises. In her 2018 article on PsychCentral, Therese Borchard addresses this and more, going on to say that the act of roughhousing can help to make kids smarter, more likable and can help build a sense of ethics and morality (Borchard,2018). And I have a personal experience with that as well. When we would roughhouse as kids, there was always a line we did not cross, a purpose. If someone got hurt, then we stopped, granted, that is not ALWAYS the case, but more often than not, it was. You also learn more about your weakness’ and how to interact with others. It was healthy and we always had fun.

Dodegeball is another one that my son will never have the joy of playing in school. When I was young, we played dodgeball at recess and I can not recall anyone ever being truly injured in the game. Yeah, I remember taking a ball to the face once or twice, and yes, it was not fun. But you pick up and you get back playing again. It sort of taught you the lesson that sometimes things will knock you down, but you have to get back up and get back in the game. Move on. This is not to say that there were not those that went too far, I am sure there are. But we cannot and should not let that be the rule, more… make sure we remember that it is the exception.

One last thing, a problem I am going through now with my son’s relationship with my wife (his mother) and his grandmother, is that too often, these days, we coddle our children too much. While I understand it is all in what we percieve as the best interest of our children, it is not healthy to try to protect then from everything, or they end up not learning. Tim Elmore wrote a wonderful piece on this, where he said, ” When we give kids the freedom to fight and fail and find their way through the pain of life, we are not hurting them. We are helping them build the strength they need to fly. ” (Elmore, 2015). And he is exactly right.

We need to experience both success and failure, you really cannot have one without the other. We need to feel the pain of loss to really know the joy of what we earn or acheive. We need to have those moments of complete humility to remember that we are not, nor will be ever be, perfect.

Thank you for reading.

Works Cited

Borchard, T. (2018, Oct 8). 6 Benefits of Roughhousing for Kids. Retrieved from PsychCentral:


Photo Credit: SRWright

Clifford Lee Ayers – The loss of a great man.

On 24 November, 2019, we lost Clifford Lee Ayers. He went to meet his maker, joined the Choir Invisible, or Shuffled off this mortal coil, as many of us Pythonites might say. I say all that in humor, because I fully believe that he would be laughing with me about it.

Cliff, or Pop as I always called him, was not anyone special or fantastic in a global sense. He did not win any major awards, there will never be a statue or plaque erected in his honor. His passing was quiet, peaceful, without event.

But let me tell you about my experience with the man…

In the late 1980s, when I started dating the woman that would become my wife, I remember the first time I met Pop. He was not easy on me. He was kind, but he was critical of me, as any good father should be. He took apart my dreams and thoughts for the future and was quick to make me second guess everything, many times making me feel foolish for some of the dreams I had.

Sometimes he would have me help him around the yard or, a fond memory now, but not so much back then, he would drive me out to the almond orchards with him and have me help cut down dead trees to take home for use as firewood. Only catch was that while he would use a chainsaw, he would have me use a manual saw.

As the years went on, and he saw that in spite of his tests and trials I was in for the long haul, he started going easier on me. We started doing things together and, through the years, I grew closer to him that I had ever been with my own father.

Clifford, Pop, became an important part of my life, someone I could talk to when I needed to have a ‘Guy Talk’ with someone and eventually he even started talking to me as someone he could confide in.

I learned a lot from Pop, he was an inspirational part of my life, I loved him as much as, possibly more than, I loved my own, biological, father.

He will be sorely missed and I can say with honesty that my life is better for his presence in it.

Godspeed Dad… I love you and miss you.

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