Fifty Three Things

Three years ago on the august occasion of turning 50 I wrote a note called “Fifty Things” (!/notes/tony-hubble/fifty-rants/468644568128) . The following year I recycled the blog and added one more item. Being a writer I’ve since decided that was just cheesy and so I tried to see if I could come up with a brand new list of “Fifty Three Things” without duplicating the others (even though they all remain germane to this day and still a testament to my genius/lunacy). Again, they are in no particular order of importance (except for the 1st one) or relevance but the result of spit balling on my part. Some are observations, some advice, some are things about me you may or may not know.  Again, they are my opinions so if you take offense to any of them you are taking yourself way too seriously (that was one of my “Fifty things” btw).

So, fifty-three things.

  1. God is great. All the time. This is indisputable. I consider this realization the greatest indicator of the growth and maturity of my soul. 
  2. I once had an atheist tell me that worshipping a God, any God is “barbaric, “stupid” and “medieval”. When I told him (as I tell all atheists eventually) that we’ll see how that works out for him in 50-60 years (should he live that long), he actually told me that if God himself stood in front of  him and told him to kneel that he would point blank say no. Now, whether you believe in God or not that’s a fairly stupid statement. I’m pretty sure that’s not how a conversation with an omnipotent being will go down. So we’ll see how that works out for him in the end.
  3. In business, when you cut someone a break it burns you about 85% of the time. It is my opinion that the 15% it does not burn me makes up for that 85%. Knowing this has not made me jaded or changed the way I do business. I’m just more aware is all.
  4. It may be trite and overstated but skydiving out of an airplane is, in two words, exhilarating and life changing. I did a tandem jump recently so I suspect my first solo jump will be even more so. That’s right, I’m doin it again. Few things compare to that moment when you’re looking down at the earth 13,000 ft below and are conscious of the fact that you’re are about to leap out of an airplane. I got almost the same kind of feeling when I cliff dived as a teen but this one lasts longer. My biggest fear when jumping? I worried about losing control of any body functions. What’s that say about me that I worried more about embarrassment than my parachute not opening?
  5. “You’re entitled to your own opinion but you are not entitled to your own facts” is a quote that has become more and more relevant to me in the last few years.
  6. In the same vein, people who “don’t like labels” just don’t like what they’re being labeled as. Labels exist for a reason. You can look at a turd and call it a flower but that wont change the fact that it’s a turd and it stinks.
  7. I was a movie extra by accident once. It was an Animal Planet movie titled “Rain” and it was about Army dogs in the Vietnam war. It was filmed in PR. My son was hired as an extra and the Assistant Director asked me if I wouldn’t mind sticking around. It kind of mystified me because the casting call was for young men 18-24 and I was clearly past that bar. But I agreed, found a uniform that fit and spent 12 out there in the island sun. I was filmed in several scenes, but apparently someone may have seen them and decided there were no middle aged Ricans in Vietnam so my scenes wound up on the cutting room floor. You can still see my son in the movie though. So I got $50 for my trouble and a memorable experience with my son.
  8. My favorite colors are red and black. I was ecstatic when the ATA went to those colors.
  9. Travelling with someone you cherish is a thousand times more fun than travelling alone. This may seem obvious to many but I’ve done most of my travelling alone and only recently has that changed and I’ve had a basis for comparison.
  10. Never stop attempting to surprise yourself or others. This obviously requires you to take risks. Therefore, never stop taking risks. It is the spice of life!
  11. For the most part I’ve stopped worrying about which idiot or congress of idiots is running the country. The cream always floats to the top and I’m convinced I will succeed regardless of how difficult the environment may be. Bill Gates started his business in a recession and so did I. Someone’s gonna make money in any environment. It may as well be me.
  12. A good friend told me this the other day, “If your dreams don’t sound crazy you aint dreaming big enough.” She was just riffing but truer words were never spoken.
  13. I clearly have no musical talent although I love music. I’ve recently begun piano lessons and am playing the bongos. I’m not any good at either but I sure do enjoy hittin those bongos and ticklin them keys! I also enjoy singing although I’m not good at it either. I’m not fishing for a compliment. I know how poorly I sing, but I do it anyways. It’s not like I’m gonna try and make a living out of it or anything. I’m like Big Bird. I don’t worry that it’s not good enough. I just sing.
  14. Denial is not just a river people swim in. Often it’s a vast freaking ocean.
  15. I’m an Alanis Morissette, Jewel and Taylor Swift fan. I’m not even very sure why since I’m way too old to relate to teen angst and neither of them are my “type” of women when it’s all said and done. Okay maybe Jewel is. They aren’t my favorite female singer/songwriters but I do consider myself a fan. Like other mysteries of my likes and dislikes I don’t spend too much time analyzing this. I will say this, I’ve seen Alanis in concert and that lil girl is one tireless bundle of energy!
  16. I’ve written three songs, countless really bad poems, multiple short stories, volumes of opinions, notes, blogs, three magazine articles and one novel. I don’t make my living as one but I’m comfortable calling myself a writer.
  17. Dance once a day. You don’t have to dance for very long and you don’t even have to be good but it must be done! It changes your perspective immediately. If you’re bold enough to do it publicly and don’t care what others think you should do it publicly, both for your sake and for the sake of the people watching. It changes both of you, if only for that moment. It’s best to dance with a partner but if you have no partner you should still dance.
  18. Smile frequently. For the same reasons as you should dance.
  19. Do pushups every day. If you only do one exercise a day pushups should be it.
  20. When you look women in the eye, the vast majority of them will look down and away. It’s one of the un-safest things they can do and it’s one of the first things I try to change in my female students. The one exception to this is women who wear a full Abaya with veil in the Middle East. Well in Qatar at least. The vast majority of them will hold your gaze even though it’s contrary to the tenet in their religion. I wonder if being completely covered makes them bolder.
  21. Every guy should have a “cool guy job” at least once in their lives. I’ve been lucky enough to have had three. The problem with cool guy jobs is they rarely pay much, but when you’re old and feeble you can smile and remember the cool times at the cool guy job. Plus you can shock your children and grandchildren when they find out you were once a bartender, ski instructor, bouncer, bodyguard, lifeguard, cowboy, bullrider, mountain guide, pit crew member, etc.
  22. Being a bodyguard was one of the funnest jobs I’ve had (see cool guy job item above), but my most satisfying moment did not come from escorting some big star or act. It came one time when I was working access security at a concert watching the entrance to stage right. My least favorite of all security gigs. At the end of the gig when I was about to leave the venue, a backup dancer came to me and asked me if I wouldn’t mind walking her to her car in an underground parking lot. She said she would feel safer. How do you beat that?
  23. Having said that, my jobs pale in comparison to what others do for a routine living. My sister once told me excitedly how she had her hand in a patient’s chest pumping his heart with her hand. My wife and daughter have both cared for people unable to care for themselves one day and then taken care of them after they died the next. If that ain’t operating on another dimension I don’t know what is.
  24. Always engage in an activity or activities in which you have to compete against others. The activity and the outcome are both irrelevant. Whether it be a physical activity or a mental activity is not as important as the act of competition. Competition changes you and always for the better. Competing against yourself, although also good is not good enough. You have to pit yourself against others.
  25. Conquering your fears is the best way to feel alive! “Living with fear is a life half lived” is one of the most poignant quotes I’ve heard. I don’t know who said it first. I heard it in a movie about ballroom dancing. Fear will stop you from attempting things you want to do and lead to regret later in your life. For example, it is my opinion that people who avoid competition do so for one simple reason. Fear. That in itself is reason enough to throw yourself into the ring. When you break through that fear barrier, in most cases you’ll realize that your fears were unfounded. The best definition of paralyzing psychological fear I’ve seen was penned by Gavid de Becker in his book The Gift of Fear. It is False Expectation Appearing Real. Genius!
  26. Never underestimate the mental stimulation of eccentricity. However, being weird and being eccentric is often not the same thing.
  27. Genetics is a mad scientist! I have five children and they have all the hair color and eye colors available. Brown, black, blonde and red hair. Brown, blue and green eyes. That’s right baby, I’m taking a bow.
  28. I have been a practicing martial artist for 41 years. I cannot imagine not being one and don’t understand how other people can give it up. There was a statistic I read years ago that stated that the attrition rate of the martial arts is 99%. I’m very proud to call myself a 1 percenter. I may be slower, less flexible, have some broken parts, some replacement parts, but one thing I know beyond any doubt. I’m clearly too dumb to stop. Oh, and I’m a bad ass! That is all.
  29. I’ve recently discovered something that’s funner than hitting someone with a padded stick. Hitting them with two padded sticks. It’s double the fun.
  30. I regret few choices I’ve made or opportunities met but I am human and I have a couple of regrets. For example, I kinda regret not training more in archery, fencing and Aikido. A little anyways. I’ve found suitable replacements for all three of them.
  31. My favorite animal is the tiger. There are few more majestic. I wrote previously that I would love to have one as a pet. I received some criticism for this statement. I realize how unrealistic this is and how a domestic tiger may be less majestic than one in the wild but I don’t think the tiger would care. Thinking that a tiger would prefer to hunt and live in the wild than to be fed and cared for is anthropomorphic. Actually, most humans would rather be fed and cared for than go out there and “hunt”. It’s why socialism is so attractive to some people. See how I got political there?
  32. My second favorite animal is the otter. They are the perfect combination of cuteness and ferocity. Plus, and this may be anthropomorphic as well, but they always look like they’re having the most fun.
  33. The praying mantis is the epitome of the axiom that size does not dictate ferocity or hunting prowess. I once watched one for about 20 minutes successfully hunting and feeding on flies. They usually rely on camouflage to stalk their prey but this one was on a brown pallet in the middle of a shipyard. It was an equally fascinating and gruesome sight. I walked up on one on the walkway of my house and almost stepped on it. I noticed it had reared up on its hind legs and had its front legs pointing at me kung fu style. Gotta love an insect with attitude.
  34. I once tried to breed praying mantises. I went so far as ordering 3 ootheca (egg capsule) and “planting” two in the wild and one in an aquarium. The one in the aquarium turned out to be a dud and I initially thought birds ate the two sacks I planted in the trees in my yard. Then, a year later I found a bunch of them on the outside wall of my house hunting by the light bulb by my front door. I wonder if they were the hatchlings from the egg sacks I planted.
  35. Few forces of the universe are more tenacious than a woman who wants to have children. Once a woman decides she wants a child nothing will stop her. She will have a child, whether with you or with someone else. This has to be a gift from God as men do not have a fragment of this drive. It’s even more amazing considering what a woman has to go through to bear a child.
  36. I would love to own a coffee plantation. I don’t want to work it but I’d love to own one. I worked on a farm that had various coffee bushes growing wild and I remember how wonderful the aroma was walking amongst them. Besides I could wear a cool plantation hat and ride a horse around my farm supervising the picking. I think I’d wear khakis and a nickel plated Colt .45 revolver with an ivory handle in my leather holster. I’d change my name to Fernando so people would have to call me “Don Fernando”. Ha ha! Admit it, you just got a mental image.
  37. Some people are chronic complainers who would just rather wallow in their misery. They will complain no matter how good they got it. These are the same people who like to blame others for their misery. No amount of counsel will help them because they can dispel any possible solution to their misery. I like to be annoyingly upbeat around them. Not because it’s going to change their outlook but because it’s fun and I’m a juvenile at heart. Besides, I’m an annoyingly upbeat person no matter what. It is not an act. In fact when I was younger I tried to be fashionably moody and glum because I thought it was “cool” but discovered that it only appears cool on film. Moody and glum people are just that. Plus they’re fun to mess with as I’ve stated.
  38. Two things will cause an immediate visceral reaction in me. The first is for someone to shush me and the second is witnessing someone being bullied.
  39. Women who pride themselves on being bitches deserve the treatment they get. The good news for them is they’re rarely disappointed and they justify that this treatment is why they’re bitches. It’s a self fulfilling vicious cycle.
  40. I spent 10 years of my Naval career on ships and I thoroughly enjoyed going out to sea. I’ve been wanting to go on a cruise ship ever since I retired from the Navy. The only reason I haven’t is because I’d have to go by myself and how sad would that be? I’m coming closer and closer to the decision to do it anyways.
  41. If I were granted a mutant power I’d want amphibian power. My favorite “monster” growing up was the Creature of the Black Lagoon and I was probably the only person to enjoy the movie Waterworld, mostly because of Costner’s character.
  42. I’m always surprised by some people’s misconceptions about me. Not because I haven’t earned them but because how off some of them can be. For example I’ve been described as arrogant. How can that be? Arrogance is a character flaw.
  43. By the same token I’ve been confused with various ethnic groups, most of which are not any part of my actual ethnic makeup. Arabic mostly, Greek, Italian, French (okay I am part French), and even Philippino once. Rarely Hispanic and never Puerto Rican. For the record, the ethnicities I’m aware that I am are Scott/Irish on my Gringo side and French/Spanish on my Rican side. There are unverified rumors of Native American and African but I haven’t been able to substantiate any of those. I will say this, when I lived in the Middle East I finally got the Arabic comparisons. It was like a family reunion over there! I’m pretty sure the Arabic comes through my Spanish heritage.
  44. When I was a child most people regarded me as a painfully serious, no nonsense child. This was mostly because at a very young age I had to start taking care of my siblings. I remember making a conscious decision at the age of 10 to stop playing with toys since they were for “children” and I was no longer a “child”.
  45. My two least favorite household chores are ironing and cooking. You would think I’d have developed a love for cooking since I had to learn to do it at a very early age and you would be wrong. I still don’t like it and do it only when essential to feed myself.  Besides I’m not very good at it. I didn’t have to iron until I was older and I still hate it. My decision to buy clothes is mostly governed by how much ironing I’ll have to do. It’s why I only have two linen shirts.
  46. I kinda always knew I would enjoy grandparenting, but I clearly had no idea how much I would truly love it!
  47. I always thought I was a good father until I watched my sons with their sons. They are much better than I ever was at their age. I’d almost ask for a do over except that I wouldn’t want them to turn out any different.
  48. I still need to learn to dance the Tango. Being able to Tango elevates your coolness factor significantly! Some of the coolest dances I’ve seen on film have been the tango (and no the scene in Scent of a Woman is NOT the tango). I took like 2 lessons about 20 years ago but couldn’t afford any more. I understand that in Finland the Tango is like the most popular dance. They also have like the highest suicide rate. I hope the two aren’t related.
  49. I’ve trained with some of the very elite in the martial arts, some not so famous but exceptional from whom I’ve learned a ton. But there are several people I’d really love to train with, all for several different reasons. Right now the top five list consists of Bruce Lee, BJ Penn, Chuck Norris, Steven Seagall and Dana Abbott.  Obviously Bruce Lee’s gonna be impossible, but I did train with his student Dan Inosanto so that will have to do. The others I’m not sure how I’ll manage but on the list of possibilities Dana Abbott and BJ Penn present the best possibilities. 
  50. Some of the things that I have discovered “As I’ve gotten older…” are often things I wish I had not discovered. Or maybe it’s just that I didn’t want to get older.
  51. Learn to recognize and act on incongruous behavior around you. This is one of the best pieces of self defense advice I can give you. People who commit crimes will act incongruously right before they commit their crime and your radar will pick up on it always. Everyone has this ability. They simply train themselves to ignore it or take no action. You may not have to do anything but pay attention. Once you focus on the person exhibiting this behavior your readiness levels automatically increase and should something occur you won’t be paralyzed by inaction.
  52. Writing this list has been brutal! Much harder than my original 50. This item is a freebie for me.
  53. I was born on my father’s birthday, but I had almost no relationship with him. I have four things to be grateful for to my father, even though they were given unintentionally. One was a piece of advice which he gave me based on his misconception of what I was feeling at the time. However it stuck with me. He told me to not take myself too seriously because no one else would. The second thing is I understand the importance and power of a father’s role in a child’s life. Particularly a daughter’s life. I did not realize this because of his presence in mine but because of his absence. The third thing is the genetic gifts I inherited from him which I consider to be significant. My father was an incredibly intelligent and kind man. This makes the final one the saddest. It has to do with unfulfilled potential. Potential is not all that significant a factor in determining ultimate success but it is sad when it goes unfulfilled. I attended my father’s funeral when he passed. Not because he earned it but because there is a major rule about parents.  There were five people at his gravesite. The two soldiers who presented me with his flag (he was buried with military honors), a friend he met late in life who gave him work periodically, the funeral director and me. It’s a sad testament to the sum total of his life’s accomplishments but it was the result of his personal choices. The saddest thing is he missed out on what I consider to be his greatest legacy. A relationship with his children and being able to meet his grandchildren and great grandchildren. I’ve taken these four lessons to heart. It is a great comfort to me to know that not only did I have something to do with bringing ten souls into the world, I am proudest of my relationship with all of them.

 If you’ve made it this far you clearly have nothing better to do, but I thank you anyways! Take this list with a grain of salt, but if something I’ve said or written impacts you positively it will have been worth the small effort.  I would like to thank those in advance who will be wishing me a happy birthday. Just as I mean it when I wish it to people I believe you do as well. After all, every day you wake up is a gift from God full of possibilities and with every birthday comes the opportunity to fulfill His plan for you.