57 Things

Condado57 Things

I started the “Things” blog with “50 Rants” which I wrote on the occasion of my 50th birthday, mostly as a writing exercise. I haven’t been faithful every year with it. In fact I’ve written one every two years so this year you’re about to get hit with yet another of my rants and peculiar brand of wisdom. You may or may not be bettered by it. You may or may not be entertained by it. You may be offended. You may completely change your mind about me, for better or worse. I don’t care. I don’t say that to be mean (or arrogant which I will discuss in this rant at some point). Not caring about what people think of my writing is what allowed me to finally finish a novel after years of starts/stops because of worrying that no one would read it. So a little narcissism is in order. I’ll try not to repeat myself from my previous blogs but it’ll be difficult since I wrote Fifty Rants, Fifty-three Things and Fifty-Five Things. I mean come on, do you expect me to have over 158 points of knowledge to share? In any case here you go:

  1. There for the Grace of God go I. This is a very powerful message I learned while attending Alcoholic Anonymous meetings with my father as a teen (I went to Ala-Teen). I didn’t give it much thought then but I do now. It saves me quite a bit from being too judgmental, and even when I am, I understand that “There but for the Grace of God go I”.
  2. You must, must, must tackle something that seems impossible regardless of your chances of success. It is in the trying that you grow. I’m reminded of a Tom Hanks quote from the movie A League of their own. “If it wasn’t hard, everyone would do it. It’s the hard that makes it great”. That is 100% correct except I’d add the caveat, “it’s the hard that will make you grow.”
  3. My all time favorite movies by category are: Drama-Casablanca, Martial Arts-Enter the Dragon, Comedy-Blazing Saddles, Musical-Fiddler on the roof, War-The Great Escape, Western-The Magnificent Seven (both versions), Romance/chick flick-Hitch. Monster-The Creature from the Black Lagoon. Sci fi-Star Trek II (The wrath of Khan). Adventure-The Three Musketeers/The Four Musketeers (the Michael York versions). Horror-I don’t have one. I don’t like horror or slasher films. Christmas movie-a tie between It’s a Wonderful Life and A Christmas Story. I am not a film critic and I don’t judge a movie based on its cinematic quality. My criteria for judging them is how many times I can watch them and be thoroughly entertained by them.
  4. I made it out of High School (dropped out) without taking an Algebra class and I have never knowingly performed an Algebraic equation. I’m sure I have, I just didn’t know it. Still don’t.
  5. One of the all-time funniest cheesy jokes: “A drunk walks into a bar with a giraffe and the giraffe curls up in the middle of the bar and goes to sleep. The bartender says ‘Hey! What’s that lyin there?!’ So the drunk says, ‘Sss not a lion, iss a jiraffe’.” I tell this joke to my class every time I hold squats with them. Every single time. I believe it helps them. It certainly takes their minds off the pain of holding a squat if for just a few seconds no matter how many times I tell it. Besides, I still think it’s funny. One of my students cracks up every time he hears it.
  6. I don’t get humility naturally although I have great respect for those who do. One of the best and most famous martial artists I’ve trained with is Dan Inosanto. He’s also one of the humblest in light of his life’s accomplishments and skillset. Another one of the best I’ve trained with has been Grandmaster G.K. Lee. Same thing. Being humble is a good thing most of the time. At times it is not. Even arrogance has its place at times. Apparently arrogance comes more naturally to me than humility. You know that’s true when your mother tells you at age 14 that she had no idea where I got my arrogance (having lived with my father for 10 years I believe she was being rhetorical). Knowing when to be arrogant and when to be humble can be tricky.
  7. As a follow on to the previous point, being applauded by a large group of people in public is intoxicating and challenges my previous premise about humility.
  8. I used to know 5 things about 99.9% of women. I now know 6. The 6th I’m going to keep to myself. For now.
  9. I don’t understand the universal appeal of sushi. I have tried it several different ways and still haven’t developed a taste for it. I even made some on a U.S. Navy warship in port in Trieste Italy on New Year’s Eve. Yes, that happened. One of these days science is going to determine that sushi is very, very bad for you and that is the day I’m gonna yell “Aha! I knew it!”
  10. I read somewhere that there are 7 women for every man. I want to personally thank the gentleman/men who took those other 6 off my hands. I have all I can handle with just the one.
  11. After almost 37 years of living with the same woman I have discovered that I can no longer impress her. I also can’t disappoint her. I’ve also discovered that I’m not really funny.
  12. There’s only one worse thing than taking a dump on a cold spring morning out in the woods sitting on a folding chair with a hole cut out of it and a toilet seat on top of it. Taking a dump in a Middle Eastern public restroom. It’s worse but not by much. That I know this because of personal experience should convince you of its veracity.
  13. On the same subject, Jack Nicholson said it best. “After 50 never pass up a bathroom. And never trust a fart.”
  14. This one’s a repeat I’m sure. I probably say it at some point in all of these. Be bold in the pursuit of your dreams. They are God’s gift to you. I mean if John Lindo can ballroom dance you can probably pretty much do anything.
  15. Javelina poop is the nastiest, smelliest poop in the animal kingdom. I haven’t smelled every animal’s poop but I have smelled Javelina poop and I’m pretty sure nothing smells nastier than that. Someone oughtta develop a self-defense weapon out of it.
  16. On the same subject, a skunk is one of those animals that can exact revenge even after death. If you doubt this drive over a dead one.
  17. A nice, comfortable, private office space makes any job better. I recently moved from a pretty nasty office area and all of a sudden, my job seems like a much better job. The work didn’t change. Neither did the people. I’m sure CEO’s know this but probably are trying to save a buck or two. Gubmint is completely clueless about this.
  18. I would like to build a small otter enclosure on my property and raise some otters. If I get a little down I’ll just go out there and watch them. No one can be sad after watching otters play.
  19. Everyone who wears Che Guevara on a t-shirt is a clueless tool. I can safely make that generalization. Even if they have a clue, then they’re most definitely a tool. Also they are clearly the type of person he would have executed.
  20. The one thing that totally should discredit communism is the cell phone. It’s astounding to me to see a person carrying a cell phone who would endorse a system of government under which the cell phone would have never been invented.
  21. Nothing beats a good belly laugh. Nothing. You should try one every day. The problem with a good belly laugh is they’re very hard to plan. They’re better when they’re spontaneously initiated. I’m talking losing your breath, tears in your eyes body shuddering belly laughs.
  22. If I were completely honest with myself I wish I could still smoke. It was an activity I thoroughly enjoyed. Yes I know the damage done and how much better off I am, but still, like I said, I totally enjoyed it. Someone needs to invent a cigarette that smells good, cleanses your breath and is good for your lungs. How come in this modern era we can’t seem to do that? I do corrupt myself with a cigar every once in a while but cigarette smoking was my favorite. Here’s where the martial arts and working out saved my life. I quit because I reached a point where I couldn’t do both. Actually it’s not extending my life that I accomplished since I believe my time will come when the good Lord wants to call me home. I simply improved the quality of my life. Except for the weight gain. That sucked.
  23. Becoming a grandfather is one of life’s greatest pleasures. This applies no matter how many grandchildren you have. I recently found out we are going to be blessed with our eighth. Having 7 grandsons you can’t help but kinda hope for a granddaughter. Kind of dread it too. My daughters already own me, I can’t imagine how wrapped around a tiny finger of a granddaughter would be.
  24. Hoping your children fulfill their potential is a little frustrating. On the one hand you don’t want to tell them what choices to make, while on the other you hate to see them make, what you believe, are the “wrong” choices. Or choices that don’t advance their potential. I don’t suppose my parents worried about that. At least my mother was probably happy I didn’t end up in jail. One of the greatest lessons I ever learned from my parents, albeit unconsciously, was the one about wasted potential. My father’s intelligence was probably at genius level and he died in poverty and alone. My mother was one of the most charismatic women I’ve ever known and she also died in poverty and alone. They were both the result of their own choices in their lives and I wonder if they gave much thought to how they could have alternatively ended up had they made different choices. I never asked either of them whether they lived with any kind of great regret about any of their choices. One of the saddest statements is “I coulda been _______ if ______.”
  25. I have a habit of offering to buy coffee to the person standing in line behind me. I started this habit at the Green Bean coffee shops at Camp As Saliyah in Doha Qatar, where I worked for 19 months. In fact I wrote a blog about it. At first I would buy coffee for any service person standing in line behind me, but then I just extended the courtesy to anyone in line behind me. I get that I probably get more out of it than they do. I continued the habit after I returned stateside. Reactions differ but what’s most incredible to me is the amount of people who flat out turn me down. Not a single soldier/airman/marine/sailor ever did. But civilians do. Mostly women. As if I’m trying to pick them up or something. I don’t insist since I don’t know why and I don’t want them to feel uncomfortable, but for the life of me I don’t know why anyone would turn down free coffee. Particularly at Starbucks. I’m completely amazed at the one or two who are actually insulted by this gesture. As if I have some sort of agenda. I will continue to do it undeterred by people’s reactions because, like I said, I probably get more out of it than they do.
  26. I still want a pet tiger. I get that in the end it’s a wild animal and completely impractical as a pet. I’d still name it Zeus. Unless it was a female. Then I’d name it Alexandra. I suppose it’s the idea of having a pet tiger I enjoy. It will all probably lose its luster the first time I have to clean up Tiger poop.
  27. Is it weird that at several of these are about poop? And now here’s another one. Lesson learned; when you’re blocked write about poop. Must be a guy thing.
  28. I have worked for the Department of Defense for 40 years. I had a brief break of 8 months when I worked as a bodyguard and 5 months when I was laid off, but pretty much since a week after my 17 birthday I’ve worked in the service of my country. I’m honored to do so and grateful I can still serve.
  29. When you’re invited to a friend’s house, either for the evening or to spend the night be sure to bring some good hooch as a gift. You will always be welcome back. Even if you’re an annoying guest. They’ll say, “Man that Tony is annoying but he brings over some good hooch when he comes.” Also bring bacon. It makes the morning after better, particularly if you made an ass of yourself after drinking too much of the good hooch you brought. Not that this has ever happened to me. I act like a perfect gentleman when I drink good hooch. It’s the rotgut that makes me act like an ass.
  30. Be better today than you were yesterday. Try to apply this to all aspects of your life.
  31. I put in a 12-14 hour day 5 days a week and 4-5 hours on Saturday. Sometimes I also work Sunday. Been doing this for over 12 years. For 19 months working in the Middle East I put in 12 hour days 7 days a week. I’ve been told I work too long and that on my dying day I will regret the amount of time I spent working. I disagree. My work ethic has supported my family in a manner in which I’m proud to do, and it has enabled my passion for training in and teaching the martial arts. It has allowed me to travel and meet people I would have never met otherwise. I’ve had amazing life experiences that would only have been possible because of my work schedule. At the end of the day, whether I become financially wealthy or not as a result, I can say without regret that I did something significant with my life. (Cue Frank Sinatra singing “My Way”).
  32. A few of those hours I spend working at my business ventures. Owning my own business is one of my greatest pleasures. My martial arts business just celebrated its tenth year of operation. In ten years of being in business I’ve learned lessons I would have never learned simply working for someone else. For one I learned that when you cut someone a break in business it burns you 90% of the time. For another you should never go in business with family (I’ve posted those before). My business has enabled me to do more than just put money in my pocket. I have supported many a charitable cause, contributed directly to our local economy, paid up to 4 salaries, and to steal from my Senior TKD instructor, it has changed lives. So even though I don’t derive 100% of my own financial support from it I’m happy and proud to have built it from the ground up. I’m also happy to have something to pass on to at least one of my sons. I’m told many businesses rarely make it 3 years and most fold before 7 years. I’ve made it to 10. I’m not that smart, but if there’s one thing I have in abundance is tenacity. You can call it stubbornness but I’m going with tenacity. Oh and an almost arrogant belief in my ability to succeed.
  33. Here’s another set of 3 rules. Don’t shop when you’re hungry. Don’t date when you’re horny. Don’t update your Facebook status when you’re drunk. Full disclosure. All 33 of the previous items were written in a complete state of sobriety. I make no guarantees for the remaining 24.
  34. I once had myself tazed to see what it felt like. No I’m not crazy or a glutton for punishment. I’m a self-defense instructor. I needed to know what it felt like for those purposes. I’ve also been tear gassed, maced, pepper sprayed, choked out, and punched full force in the face (that last one I didn’t really volunteer for). With the exception of being tazed the others I had no idea what they would feel like until I did them. But since I had done the 6 ma dance on a Navy ship I figured I kinda knew what being tazed would feel like. It was the 60 ma shuffle on crack. So I will save you the trouble if you decide you’re curious. It’s awful and you can do without the learning experience.
  35. Just in case you didn’t know why you got a 13 donuts in a baker’s dozen. From Metal Floss: “In the 1260s, British breadmakers were notorious for shorting customers with skimpy loaves. King Henry III was so irked by the problem that he implemented a new law to standardize the weight of a loaf-selling puny loaves could result in beatings or jail time. Since bakers wanted to stay on the right side of the law, one common trick was to give 13 loaves to any customer buying a dozen. Even if the loaves were light, the extra would cover the shortfall. It was an easy fix for bakers, and since low-carb diets were still seven centuries away, customers rejoiced”. Some may be appreciative for the extra donut as those 13th century bread eaters were grateful for the extra loaf but here’s the thing; Gubmint (or in this case, the Royal) meddling still didn’t fix the problem of crooked bakers. It would have been better if an honest baker would promote his larger loaves and the population would then flock to his bakery and ultimately either get the crooked bakers on board or they would go out of bidness. So now bakers give you an extra donut. Unless you buy them at a supermarket. Then you’re just getting 12. Cheap bastards.
  36. I am a guardianship investigator for the Cochise County Court. I recently conducted an for a lady in her 80’s whose son was assuming guardianship/conservatorship over her. He was living in his parents home caring for them both when they had to place her in an assisted care facility. I spoke with her husband who was heartbroken. With a shaky voice and tears in his eyes he told me how much he missed his wife of 65 years. It was heartbreaking to listen to him speak lovingly of her. He said 65 years passed in the blink of an eye and how he wanted them back so he could live them with her again. Lesson learned sir. Cherish your significant other. Tell them you love them often. Show them. It goes by in the blink of an eye and they can be taken from you just as abruptly.
  37. Bacon. Made from the belly of a pig. Accept no substitutes.
  38. System Administrator rule number 1: Users lie. System Administrator rule #2: System Administrators are users too.
  39. WARNING: Political post! Skip it if you hate politics (or Trump). For some people admitting they’re wrong is the hardest thing to do. Particularly when they were so assured they were right. It often makes them irrational in the face of continuous evidence that they were wrong. This past presidential election is one of the most perfect examples of this principle. Just about everything every Trump hater said about Trump was wrong. And not just slightly wrong, but massively so. So called “experts” who always predicted things with 100% certainty (Larry Sabato for one) predicted that Trump would lose the election. And not by a small margin either. They predicted the stock market would crash as a result of his election. They predicted the economy would crash and burn. The craziest predictions were that Trump would rule like a tyrant. None of these predictions came true. They were, in two words, dead wrong. So even in the face of massive improvements to this country the Trump haters will still not admit they were wrong. These improvements are occurring in the midst of a constant barrage of negativity and resistance to the President’s agenda; too often from his own party. I suspect they will continue in their denial. I’m not a psychologist but this is what I consider to be a mental disorder. And it’s sad because people should be celebrating and instead they’re trying to kill the goose that is laying the golden eggs. People of both sides kept harping on how DC was broken and they needed someone who was not a career politician to finally occupy the White House and do something different because what had been done for the last possibly 100 years was not working and we continued to do it over and over. Then when Trump appeared on the scene they harped on how he was not a politician and therefore could not execute the presidency which required a politician. See the irony? They don’t.
  40. I have been criticized for discussing politics and writing political posts on social media. I’ve been told to stop writing them. Do I ask you to stop watching and discussing football? Posting your meals? Your workout of the day? Your pictures of your cats/dogs/pet iguanas? Politics is my hobby. I don’t get paid for my political analysis (although I’m not turning down any offers). I’m not a politician in the sense that I don’t hold public office (I like what H.L. Menken said about this). But I am a politician in that I campaign for myself and mine. We all do. In getting jobs, promotions, girlfriends/boyfriends, wives/husbands, purchasing goods etc. We campaign whether we know it or not or whether we like it or not. So those who say they don’t “play politics” are actually saying they suck at it and have given up. Not wanting to discuss politics is like saying we should simply ignore what our politicians are doing. You know, just let them run things. You are free to discuss your newest needlepoint project and your child’s latest accomplishment. I do those too (not the needlepoint). Am I going to affect any change by posting it to social media? Dunno, but if I don’t my head will explode so it’s a process of letting some steam out of the pressure cooker. But telling me I should not discuss politics is simply telling me you don’t want to hear it. Guess what? You don’t have to. Just move on. I’ve been unfriended by my own sister for my political posts so clearly I don’t care what you think.
  41. Whew! Sixteen to go!
  42. It is a biblical principle that in relationships, men crave respect and women crave love. These are the two principles that the bible specifically discusses about marriage. In various books the bible directs women to respect their husbands and that men should love their wives. I believe that almost 100% of the difficulties in relationships would be resolved if we both just observed these principles without reservation. We can’t mostly because of selfishness and pride. Oh and we’re fallen people.
  43. People’s personalities are often judged by their tastes in music. There’s probably a Facebook quiz that does this (if there’s not I should develop it!). In many cases they’re dead wrong. For example, one of the toughest guys I know enjoys listening to romantic ballads in his car. I’m a fan of Latin romance ballads myself. I have a pretty eclectic taste in music and I often listen to singers simply because their voices are soothing to me. Examples of this are Taylor Swift (mostly her old stuff), Karen Carpenter and Anne Murray. The lyrics and melodies of their songs are secondary to the sounds of their voices and their soothing effect. My wife is not necessarily a singer but listening to her sing has the same effect as these professionals on me. Plus, it’s free!
  44. Life has a way of weeding out those who are not your true lifelong friends. My siblings are still my greatest friends, but I have 3 non relative friends I’ve had since childhood (grade school). We are still great friends although we rarely communicate and our lives have taken very diverse paths. I learned how true their friendships remained last year when I went to PR for my mother’s passing. I’m lucky to have them. Blessed is a better word. Other than my two siblings, it is these friends I could count on for support under any circumstance. It’s a good thing to know.
  45. I’ve received many accolades in my jobs. Received medals in the Navy, some for being at the right place at the right time, some for my individual performance. I’ve received monetary awards and certificates from my day job and some awards from the American Taekwondo Association. It’s not that my ego needs stroked. My wife says that my ego and I should not be in the same room together and it should have its own bedroom. (I don’t know what that means and I consider it hyperbole). The greatest “awards” I’ve received however have been comments made to me by my students. I’ve heard things like “thanks for changing my life”. I don’t really take credit for changing anyone’s life. At best I’m a facilitator. I only show them the road. They have to walk the road. They have to make the decision to begin training and continue training so in essence they change their own lives. Still nice to hear. I’ve had parents in tears thank me for what I’ve done for their children’s confidence and behavior. For believing in them. I recently received one I’m particularly proud of. An adult hearing impaired student of mine told me recently that I am an amazing example of 1 Thessalonians 5:11-Always helping people see something amazing in themselves. That is true praise indeed! It’s why I do what I do. Not for the praises but because of what my job does for people. It is a truly amazing thing to watch someone grow and change and become better each day than they were the previous day/week/month/year.
  46. It’s amazing how dependent on technology we have become. I recently had to manually process a test for my Academy. This process has been automated for the last 15 years. The automation portion of the website is broken and I had to manually enter my students and their test and promotions the old school way. The idea of it was actually more daunting than the process. I was able to do it in a little longer time than the automated process. So what does that say about the automated process?
  47. President Trump is going to prove to be one of the greatest presidents in our history. That statement just left some people choking or spitting out whatever they were drinking. Of course that was the same reaction I’d get when I told them he would be elected president back when he announced his candidacy. They scoffed, they laughed, they ridiculed. And here we are. Some people who have made it this far are probably going to stop reading now.
  48. I had a goal to finish my third novel by the end of this year. Heck I can’t even finish a list of 57 things. I’m pretty busy. I will finish that 3rd novel but it’s obviously not going to be the end of this year. I’m okay with that. My writing has not made me too much money to date so I have to feed the beasts that grow. I am however happy to not be a “one book wonder”. I finished two. Not that I’m going to rest on those laurels, but there are two novels out there with my name on them. Want a copy? Order it from Amazon. Tell your friends to buy one. This way I can give up one of my jobs and replace it with writing books. Wouldn’t that be cool?
  49. Texas recently passed a law enabling their citizens to legally and openly carry a sword in public. The minute Arizona passes this law Imma be strappin! I have a cane with a sword in it but it’s not the same thing is it? A society where everyone is carrying a sword will probably be a more polite one. I don’t know why this is so appealing to me since I already carry a pistol but there’s just something inherently cool about walking around with a sword on your belt.
  50. I’ve learned that people who preach the most about tolerance are some of the most intolerant. They simply want you to tolerate their lifestyle/beliefs.
  51. I have offered free self-defense clinics to non-profits and women’s groups for years now. I’ve also donated free 2 hour self-defense clinics to groups for their fund raisers. It’s astounding to me how few take me up on this. I have a theory about this. I believe that if people had to take a self-defense class they would have to acknowledge that they are vulnerable and there’s a possibility they may be attacked. They would rather not face this and would rather live in denial and roll the dice. Here’s the problem, most people will be the victim of a physical attack at some point in their lives and they will often be scarred for life as a result. It’s such an easy problem to solve too. They have no idea how little they need to know in terms of physical techniques to successfully defend themselves.
  52. I’ve had non-written bucket list items for years. Some I’ve been very happy to give up on as the years go by. Others have become unimportant to me as well as the years have passed. One that I MUST check off is taking a cruise on a luxury ocean liner. I’ve spent years at sea on Navy warships and I loved going to sea. I just would like to do it in the lap of luxury and an atmosphere of leisure. I’ve heard great things about Cruising from those who do it repeatedly. My problem is my wife refuses to go with me. She is a landlubber and a little claustrophobic and prone to sea sickness. We discovered that when she went to sea for a day with me on my second ship. Not that there’s any comparison between that ship and a monumental cruise ship. Yet she still refuses. So I’m gonna have to do it by myself. I’d just rather have her company. Of course if she’s gonna be miserable she can just stay ashore with the rest of the delicate, fragile, non-adventurous landlubbers! Arggh matey! Anchors aweigh!
  53. A lesson about tattoos. Don’t get one unless you can afford to get the one you truly want as big as you want it. And don’t barter with your tattoo artist. You want the person who is going to mark you for life to be happy with the money he/she is making for their work. And tip generously. Particularly if you’re going to use them again.
  54. Being alone and being lonely are two very different things. They are, however, both still a choice you make and can therefore change.
  55. I’ve said before that my children are my life’s greatest achievement. My Magnum Opus if you will. Obviously this was just an opinion. My grandchildren however, offer irrefutable proof of this opinion. They are all God’s greatest gift to me and my gift to the world.
  56. The older I get the more I appreciate Dylan Thomas’ poem “Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night.”
  57. And here I am. Number 57. My current age. As I said in my “50 Rants”, if you’ve made it this far you’re my favorite person. Also as I said in that rant, I’m not one to make light of my birthday nor do I dismiss it as “just another day”. It is another day my Father gave me to enjoy my life, my children and His magnificent creation. My uncle (and surrogate father) did not make it to 57. My maternal grandfather died at 57 or within a year or so of it. My maternal grandmother lived to 84. My father made it to 69 and my mother to 75 (not sure how either of them made it that long). So my time could be up at any moment or I could walk this great world for another 30 or 40 years. I don’t know which and I don’t think anything I do will guarantee it. So yes, damnit I’m fifty-fucking-seven years-old-exclamation-point. I’m thankful for each and every one of those years and I’m also grateful I live with little regret. My story has not just begun but it clearly has not ended so I intend to cram as much life as I can in my remaining years. I will enjoy my family, my friendships, my work, and my passions. I will strive to improve myself and bring myself closer to God. And above all, I will eat life. Then ask for seconds.

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