Balancing Act: The Newsletter (No. 176, April 2014 )
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You know, there must be such a thing as "writer's block," because I have nothing to say this month. It's strange, but I can't think of a thing that's worth determining or discussing, dissecting or debating.
It's sort of like the bizarre way that TV reporters keep referring to the anchors as "you guys" even when one or both are female. If you chugged a beer every time an on-air reporter said "you guys" you'd be drunk in ten minutes. We're not watching news anymore, we're watching look-alike Barbie and Kens engaged in happy talk, video at 11.
That's how vacant I feel. It's similar to the flight attendants who keep insisting that their primary job is safety, yet they spend five percent of the flight on safety and 95 percent on passenger service. Shouldn't THAT be their primary job? It creates cognitive dissonance for me, and it's why I can't think of anything to say about it.
I'm just idea-less, idea-deprived. Perhaps it's due to the current propensity to elect people who believe they should act like our parents and not people elected to be in service to us. My problem is that I'd love to see New York City's intersections unclogged again, but I need to learn that it's more important to set soft drink cup sizes and to remove horses from Central Park rides, despite the fact both people and horses seem quite content. But that's because I'm failing to look at the big picture, and I can't think of anything relevant to say.
I began thinking that when you give bullies an inch the next thing they do is to take a yard, and that Crimea is the first inch. But no one seems really excited, the Europeans are more concerned with natural gas than territorial rights, so once again, I'm not hearing a tree that hasn't fallen in an empty forest. Is that right? I'm not sure, I just can't get anything cogent down on paper.
It must be because I'm bored. After all, the following sectors are all showing healthy, positive improvement: healthcare, hospitality, housing, auto, manufacturing, professional services, unemployment, job creation, exports. It's kind of boring, right? Nothing much you can say about that, which must be why practically no one is talking about it.
Well, I apologize, there clearly is the phenomenon of "writer's block" and I'll try to shake it and have something interesting to say next month.
The human condition: Macho
"Machismo" is a Spanish word meaning "strong masculine pride." I've noticed that it's not really gender-restricted any more, and it also has become an overbearing compensation for insecurity.
Bullies are actually very insecure (often abused as children). They seek to bring everyone down to their own perceived level of inferiority by emotionally and/or physically assaulting others. If you confront them, they'll usually wither.
We see emotional bullies everyday, much more subtle than the obvious cases of school children picking on each other or the loudmouth in the workplace.
When I go to church, I have to enter the parking lot by turning left against oncoming traffic. It's bewildering to me that many people (maybe half) who are in the opposite lane and turning into the lot themselves—and who clearly see my turn signal and recognize my car—don't stop to allow me to turn. I think it's a matter of false price, of misplaced machismo, that they will be "inferior" if they allow someone else to get ahead of them.
I know that may sound crazy, but I encounter drivers who informally "race" to always stay ahead of certain other cars; people who won't give up a seat or a view to share with others, but hoard it for themselves; who take the remainder of the candy or the largest piece of pie. There are people who claim they were in line before you, or they deserve special attention because of one claim or another.
These are all "false fronts," façades applied to cover up a feeling of rot within. It's the person yelling at the restaurant help because the service isn't fast enough, or talking during someone else's speech to demonstrate his erudition or her disdain.
Teddy Roosevelt talked about speaking softly and carrying a big stick. You might think these people speak loudly and carry a big stick. But they don't. They're merely carrying shtick.
SPECIAL: ANNOYING IN LONDON
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I pull into the gas station for my first fill-up on my brand new Corvette Stingray convertible. The attendant makes a fuss, and then tells me he can't open the gas tank. We both struggle, I push an assortment of buttons, and then the two of us consult the owner's manual while trying to pretend nothing unusual is going on.
We finally find the answer under "fuel": the tank automatically unlocks when the engine is shut off. The engine is off, however. We look at each other, as cars are lining up. "Reboot" I think. I get back in, start it and stop it, and the tank pops open when he presses it. We both act as if nothing has happened.
However, I am happy my cars don't require operator's tests and that my license is good well into my 70s….
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