Tuesday, January 22, 2019

"If you don't risk anything, you risk even more." - Anonymous

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
8 April

“Living at risk is jumping off the cliff and building your wings on the way down.” - Ray Bradbury

“If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” – Albert Einstein

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
January 22
'Fellow citizens: I have been solicited by many friends to become a candidate for the Legislature. My politics are short and sweet like the old woman's dance. I am in favor of the national bank; I am in favor of the internal improvement system and a high protective tariff. These are my sentiments and political principles. If elected I shall be thankful; if not it will all be just the same.'
- Abraham Lincoln [aged 23]

'Be sincere; be brief; be seated.'

- Franklin D. Roosevelt

Monday, January 21, 2019

“You are NOT an accident.” - Anonymous

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
21 January
Imagine this: there’s a banquet to start soon in, say, Buckingham Palace. In attendance are the most powerful leaders of the world, all standing around drinking cocktails in a large reception area just outside the banquet room. Then someone who’s never been elected dog catcher commands everyone’s attention. They all, like sheep, quiet down and he tells them to come in because they’re ready to start.
Why are they like sheep? Because at that moment this guy’s the only person in that whole group who’s moving with a sense of purpose.

Maybe you and I - who have not been elected dog catcher either - should move with a similar sense of purpose?

“I would like to apologize to anyone I have NOT offended. Please be patient. I will get to you shortly.” - Anonymous

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
January 21
After relieving General George McClellan of command of the Army of the Potomac Lincoln was asked what he would reply to McClellan's earlier advice on how to carry on the affairs of the nation. And Lincoln answered: 'nothing - but it makes me think of the man whose horse kicked up and stuck his foot through the stirrup. The man said to the horse, 'if you're going to get on I'm going to get off.''’

'One doesn't have a sense of humor. It has you.'
- Larry Gilbert

Sunday, January 20, 2019

“Where your heart is there also will your treasure be.” – Jesus Christ

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual” by Arnold Kunst
20 January
When given a few hours off unexpectedly the loser will gravitate to what is really important to him – and in the process reveal to us what kind of person he really is.

When given a few hours off unexpectedly the winner will gravitate to what is really important to him – and in the process reveal to us what kind of person he really is.

“Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.” – George Carlin

From “Lincoln 365,” by Arnold Kunst
January 20
They say that Senator Benjamin Wade kept a sawed-off shotgun in his desk drawer in the Senate chamber. Just in case.

'Every politician should have been born an orphan and remain a bachelor.'
- Lady Bird Johnson

Saturday, January 19, 2019

"We judge ourselves by our intentions, others by their behavior." - Anonymous

From “The Human Condition: A User’s Manual,” by Arnold Kunst
19 January
One day Joe, my teacher supervisor where I worked in a California state prison and one of my all-time greatest heroes, told me about the fun he had on a road trip from Santa Barbara to San Diego a few years ago. He was doing what he called manditory research for the Department of Corrections, and was thinking at the outset, “this is going to be B-O-R-I-NG! – freeways and plastic and smog stretching as far as the eye could see.” [If you don’t believe me, think of the following square-circle type contradiction: the sparkling architectural innovations awaiting discovery in a state prison complex.]
But Joe was going to see to it that this trip wasn’t going to be boring for him! He said that when he got to Malibu he decided break his trip and treat himself to a mocha. But he didn’t want to go to Starbucks – they were ok, he said, but every Starbucks mocha was The Same – from New York to Nirobi. They produced, he said, a kind of multinational corporate liquid construct.
No, he wanted to try out a mocha from some offbeat place. So after passing on a few places he eventually found a hanging-gardens-of-Babylon coffee shop in Malibu on the Pacific Coast Highway, overlooking the Pacific, and when he placed his order - “small extra hot no-whip 2% mocha” - the girl asked him for his name in the usual way, but when he gave it to her she didn’t write it down on the side of a paper cup the way other coffee shops did - even Starbucks. No, she typed his name into the cash register!
Now, that sort of thing is fairly commonplace today, but it was the first time he had ever seen it. Before he knew it, Joe said the excitement of doing this grass roots scientific survey was really kicking in. Before he know it he was looking for what he called the totality of the coffee-shop experience, with the quality of the mocha the single most important, but certainly not the only, consideration! Once he got his mocha he picked up what he called an orphaned newspaper and headed toward a chair on the small patio just beyond the completely exposed west wall of the place.
And just outside was a burgeoning sunset to die for over a beach straight out of heaven. He pretended to read the paper and dawdled over his drink while he watched a volleyball game out there.  
It was beautiful scene: the sea breeze, the seagulls, the distant sound of a soft Pacific surf, the subtle taste of salt on his lips, the distinctive tang of the expresso/chocolate combination. For Joe time stood still. Despite the caffeine jezz-up, he felt surprisingly relaxed, refreshed when he got back on the road. Other than the fact that the mocha itself was relatively tepid [so much for “extra hot!”] what he summarized as The Malibu Mocha Experience would be tough to top.
The next day after Joe finished his bit of business in San Diego, he headed out toward the zoo where he found another, different, hanging-gardens-of-Babylon coffee shop. Before he placed his order Joe made mention of his own bit of research; after all it had become a big deal for him! “Can you guys top the Malibu mocha experience?” he asked.  The place was kind of quiet at the time and all three of the barristas heard what Joe said and, maybe because they were bored themselves, were paying rapt attention.
Needless to say, they looked eager! “I’ll give you my final verdict at the end, ok?” Joe said to them.True, the order didn’t get typed into the cash register; instead, the guy actually wrote it out low-tech on a paper cup, then handed it to the gal who actually made it. “Points lost here?” thought Joe, then wisely decided, “the jury’s still out.” While he waited the girl asked, “Did you say you wanted that with low fat milk or regular?” “Regular’s fine,” Joe said, “just hold the cream. We’re talking heart-jolting caffeine here, right? We don’t want to OD on the health thing.”
When the mocha arrived it was just right – neither tongue-burning nor tepid, just the right caffeine kick, just the right chocolate tang. As he went to sit down with another orphaned newspaper he noticed a surfer dude with a pony-tail walk in. The guy had just stepped out of a 10-year-old Mercedes and ordered a double caramel latte. Then he found a table and chair where he plugged in his lap-top. Joe thought he looked a little seedy - “a faded hippie,” Joe called him – too much sun, too little security, too much weed, too little sleep.
The more Joe surreptitiously watched this guy the more he seemed like one of the original Beach Boys – a somewhat flabby bronzed California Adonis straight out of the 60’s. Once he started pecking away at that laptop, he immediately seemed to lose all sense of time and space.
In Joe’s [feverish?] imagination the guy, on his last emotional legs, was finishing up The Great American Screenplay. His imagination drifted illogically to that actor in The Wrestler – down to his last reserves, barely able to scrape together the bus fare to get to lunch with his good friend Sean Penn.
After awhile the surfer dude left, and then so did Joe. But first he gave his final verdict to three coffee drink-producing grunts who hung on Joe’s every word.
The outside view in Malibu, he said, was more interesting than the inside view in San Diego [the barristas looked like someone just killed their cat]; the surfer dude partially balanced out the view thing; but the deciding factor was the mocha itself: the Malibu mocha wasn’t as dead-on as the San Diego mocha [the three lit up like Christmas trees]. So Joe left them a $5 tip. Those three workers were elated – not so much by the $5 tip but by the excitement that seemed to follow this distinctive customer.

What became clear to those barristas had long since been clear to me: when Joe was involved, everybody won, and nobody won more than Joe who turned a boring, concrete-laden road trip into the ultimate, timeless Pooh adventure.