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Resistance and Patriotism

Given the snarky nature of my FaceBook and blog posts, I often get taken to task for ‘Rooting against America.’ I can see how some might interpret the words I’ve chosen as unpatriotic. The fact is though, there’s a method to the madness.

Good sportsmanship was high on the list of lessons my parents tried to teach. I seriously doubt that anyone who has played a board game or an athletic game with me since about 1970 would comment that I’m a poor sport. My hope is just the opposite. This is what makes it challenging to be an unapologetic part of the #resistance to the GOP agenda led by the most unethical President in the history of this great country. I write and say things that sound like sour grapes — like I’m a sore loser or something. If that’s the perception by a few, then I can live with that. I’d add that there’s more to what meets the eye though.

Few people have provided Americans with more inspiring quotes than Robert Kennedy. The one that rings true for me the most right now is:

The sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country. –Robert Kennedy

At this point, I’ve given up on the ‘railing against the machine’ approach. Given the players in the clown-car and the predictability of the outcome, more often than not I simply share the enjoyment I receive watching the dysfunctional soap opera coming from the West Wing of the White House. Admittedly, I’ve been the recipient of an extremely high entertainment factor since November 8th.

Am I anti-patriotic for sitting back and enjoying the shit-show? On the contrary. The main reason is that the criticism is absolutely warranted and justified. One cannot be a champion for social justice by being complicit in today’s world events. Silence is acceptance.

Have you ever had to deal with someone who is struggling, wanted help, but you didn’t quite have their attention yet so your words fell on deaf ears? That’s how I feel about the state of the union today. We haven’t reached rock bottom yet and until we do, we won’t have the attention of the hard line GOPers who are still pedaling the myth of trickle down economics. I firmly believe it’ll take another financial crisis similar to 2008 or the great depression of the 1930s or — God forbid, an attack on the homeland before we have the attention of the GOP faithful.

So in the spirit of wanting what’s good for America, I’m rooting for us to reach rock bottom as soon as possible so that it can be turned around for good. At that point, the debates about Trickle Down, throwing people off HealthCare, increasing our obscene military budget, treating immigrants like terrorists, building walls, defunding public education, and ignoring ethics in the federal branch of government can come to an end. Once and for all. Rush won’t be able to peddle that crap. Hannity won’t get away with it, nor will Tucker Carlson. The debate will have ended and I see that as a necessary thing to have happen.

Call me unpatriotic if you want, sometimes things have to reach rock bottom before things can get better.
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Letting go of the Sauce

Today is July 8th, 2017 and I have made what I think will be a life changing decision for myself for the better.

This might come as a surprise to many, or maybe not. Maybe you could see it coming better than I could. I would not classify myself as an alcoholic, but I have progressed from light social drinker to heavy drinker in the past 5 years or so. I’ve decided it’s time to give it up.

I don’t expect much difficulty moving forward with this decision. I’m not someone who is tied to the sauce to the point where I would need to enter a rehab facility to get dry or anything like that. I’m just someone who has finally realized that it’s not in the best interests of my health to continue. There is a family history of addiction in my family, and I’ve noticed that in myself there are just some things that are difficult for me to moderate.

Diet soda was one for example. I haven’t consumed a diet soda in about 4 years, but when I did drink diet soda, I was an over the top consumer of it. I could easily go through a 12 pack of cans a day, or an 8 pack of the 20 oz. Pepsi bottles. Every day. I knew it was getting bad when I practically had to carry around a 2 liter container with me everywhere I went. I’d had this issue since childhood. When I became an adult and was responsible for buying my own groceries, there were just no limits. I was pretty conscious of my weight back then and I saw it as a way to try to stay full with zero calorie beverages and manage weight that way. Ironically what everyone eventually learns is that it stimulates cravings for sugar, which is the root problem anyway. So it makes it harder to manage weight, not easier. Having stressful jobs along the way doesn’t help either. The caffeine becomes necessary to work the hours required. Pretty soon you depend on it. I had given up diet soda probably 20? 30? times in my adult life and failed every single time, complete with massive headaches during the come-down phase where I became lethargic and pretty much useless for 2 days before my body adjusted. But eventually I prevailed in 2014 – knock on wood.

Wine/Beer is different. For the vast majority of the time I drank, I never felt the need to get drunk. That would usually happen if I was somewhere and having a good time and not thinking about the choices I was making and then all of the sudden it would catch up to me, but overall, pretty rare. I was usually good with a couple of beers or, a couple of classes of wine and that’s it. But lately, it’s been a half a bottle of wine per day. Or like last night, 4 beers because I was having a good time. I rarely woke up hungover. It did cause me to get sleepy early however, and I think it messes with my sleeping patterns, which is never helpful to one’s health.

After a pretty fun-filled week with a good combination of social events, and physical events (a challenging hike and a few really long walks), I began to feel like I’d overdone it. My clothes were getting tighter than usual. That’s usually a signal to me that something major is going to need to change pretty soon because that’s not sustainable. I was feeling uncomfortable from the moment I got out of bed and for the rest of the day. In the morning I read an article on CNN about how alcohol is the worst contributor to belly fat because it’s just all empty calories. It has no health benefit whatsoever and sure, if I could moderate a few drinks a week and work out more, I probably would not be writing this. But that’s not how it’s been working for me. A few drinks per week has turned into a few drinks per day. Not all the time, but more often than I should.

The CNN article was not news to me. I, like a lot of people had read that many times. I just conveniently forget about these things until some other factor comes into play and then it’s like, oh, right. Not such a good idea.

With 2 days of vacation left and feeling like I’d had a little too much fun for the week, I’d made the decision my Saturday was going to include a longer walk of about 5 miles or so. When walking long distances by myself, I get in my head as my wife likes to say, and thoughts start running deeper than normal. Having read the article on CNN just before I left, some what-if scenarios started going through my mind.

What if wine/beer is just like diet soda to me and I’ll never be able to moderate it? What if I just quit altogether — what would that look like? I started thinking of all the positive benefits that would result and the list started to get pretty long. After a short while, the answer just seemed pretty obvious. Do it. You’re 57. Your quality of life will improve noticeably if you take this step, based on the benefits that just came to mind.

These included things like weight loss — I’m positive it will result in some but it isn’t the only contributor to the extra flab, but certainly managing weight will become much, much simpler. Sleep patterns will improve. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to get up at 3am to go to the bathroom and then not be able to get back to sleep. I’d frequently lose 1, 2, even 3 hours of sleep because of this interruption (admittedly, my affection for Twitter doesn’t help in getting back to sleep either). More energy overall, and with that more likely that I’ll feel like getting some exercise and pursuing the hobbies I supposedly love, but haven’t felt like doing lately. Will look better and feel better. Not that I got completely drunk very often but never having to experience a hangover again is a definite plus. Not having to ever worry about a DUI is also something I’ve thought about. It will probably increase my life-span. I’m almost positive of it. I’ll save a ton of money. At this point I can’t think of a reason not to do it.

I did consider the downside of it. It will make some social situations a little more awkward. Right now a big part of our social life is centered around food, drink, and friends. But I think this change is manageable there. I probably won’t get invited to do any wine tours and those opportunities come up once in awhile living in the middle of wine country. Or if I do go, I’m not sure how I’ll contribute to the conversation much. Last but not least, I think it will be a bit of an adjustment for my wife Donna, but I’m hoping she’ll understand the upside and get behind the new me.

Another factor I almost forgot to mention is the overall ‘path to better health’ I have been supposedly been on since my stroke in 2014. Because it was determined that I had extremely high cholesterol, I/we have made some food changes for the better. We consume a lot of fish and chicken and a I don’t eat red meat. I try to stay away from dairy, especially cheese and eggs. I was a heavy consumer of dairy for a while there. You’d think such fundamental changes would result in a healthier Bill, but if you combine a set of positive changes with a big negative change – like an increase in alcohol intake, then you’ve just negated that hard word. And that’s exactly what I was doing. My path to better health includes some weight loss and more exercise. Weight loss is extremely difficult to accomplish if you consume as many empty calories as I was doing. It’s nearly impossible. Exercise is also more difficult if you’re a heavy drinker because the number of hours a day at your disposal for exercise is decreased. After 2-3 glasses of wine in the evening there’s no way I’m working out on the weights or getting some aerobic exercise. My day ends before I get the chance. And it’s not just the exercise. It’s the hobbies as well. Music, writing, building stuff. All things I really enjoy doing but I think alcohol is getting in the way of me doing more of these.

So I’ve made a pretty major decision today. It feels right. This isn’t one of those things you proclaim “okay, I’m going to try it for a while and see how it goes.” I think you have to either be all-in or else forget it. At least it’s that way for me. I’m not particularly good at moderating and probably never will be. It’s just part of my DNA that I have to accept. It sucks that I can’t handle it like other people can, but that’s life in the big city.

So here we go. I appreciate everyone’s understanding and support! It’s not an easy decision to come to, but there it is.

-Bill

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Patronizing Local Businesses

One of the things I struggle with in the modern world is who to patronize with the measly amount of dollars that I float back into the economy. I know, it’s not enough money to lose any sleep over, it’s the principle of the thing. I’m a recent subscriber to Amazon Prime and while I love the convenience of home delivery, it bothers me that I’m making the Amazon executives richer with every purchase. I’d really rather patronize a local business and help a family in my neighborhood, but sometimes the convenience of it all is just too tempting to pass up.

One of the things that I appreciate about my parents (both deceased now) is the example they set in this regard. We belonged to a local Parish in SE Portland, which in and of itself is a community of people who are like minded in certain ways. Mostly in religious beliefs, but also in things like child rearing, education, morality, and work ethic. Not 100% aligned, but to a large degree.

My parents patronized their fellow parishioners to a fault. They didn’t have a ton of money to follow this ideology. Dad was a teacher. Mom was a part time nurse. With 4 kids, there was, as Dad used to say, “A little extra month at the end of the money.” Nevertheless, they were extremely faithful at patronizing their fellow parishioners who owned local businesses. The gas was almost always gassed up at Pliska mobile on Division street. The weekly grocery shopping trip was always to Hebers, a very small privately owned grocery store on Stark — which also had a hardware store adjacent to it. The two stores were owned by brothers Ed and Fred which was a family business for decades until the larger chains forced them to sell. Make no mistake about it, the prices at Hebers were not favorable to what they could have purchased down the street at Fred Meyers. But they went there anyway.

When we needed a fence built, or something fixed in the basement, the local carpenter from the parish Chuck Higgins got the call. Every single time. Cost wasn’t every a primary consideration. It was the principle of the thing.

This thought process crossed into my consciousness this evening as we tried a new local pub for happy hour called Stickmen Brewing. We loved it! There are a few places around that are locally owned. Ancestry Brewing is one. Haydens Lakefront Grill is another. Anything but Applebees or Olive Garden please.

Donna and I typically give this issue some thought before we decide on where to spread our limited cash around and we try, but it’s getting harder. The big chain grocery stores like Safeway, Winco, Fred Meyers and New Seasons have pretty much obliterated businesses like Hebers. People call Geek Squad for technical help. I challenge you to find a TV repair shop. I found one in SE Portland a year or so ago and the crook still has my broken TV. We had a falling out over his atrocious communication skills.

This just makes me think of two things. First, I appreciate the example my parents set for me, though I was to blind to see it at the time. Second, I think it’ll be a sad world in front of us if all we are able to do is rotate between Costco, IKEA, Winco, Target and Wallmart for our personal shopping needs. We need to look out a little bit for each other.

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Keeping up with Technology

Those of us old enough to remember the musical progression of LPs, 45’s, 8 Track Tapes, Cassettes, Reel-to-reel, etc., I remember seeing a funny article a while ago where a guy who had converted his library of music from each of these formats to the ‘new’ format of the day, at considerable time and expense, claimed that “If they change it one more time I’m going to shoot someone.” At the time I thought it was funny because I had gone through the same thing and as a kid, was on a low-budget.  It was frustrating.
Next came CDs (yet another library upgrade. Okay, sure I’ll take all my cassettes and import to CD format using my 1980’s technology… probably about an hour per tape.  No problem.
For 10 years I’ve had a rather large case of CDs, some imported to iTunes, most not.  The stuff I had on my phone was a small library and getting old and stale.
iTunes playlists are a pretty cool way to organize things into libraries but first you have to get the music in there.  So for 10 years I’ve had this backlog item I’ve procrastinated on to import the worthy CDs we own into iTunes and make a legitimate library out of it.
Over the Christmas break I finally bit the bullet and over the better part of 4 days, imported several hundred CDs ( a few thousand songs ) into iTunes and organized the libraries.  Musical Nirvana!   And it’s even backed up on a separate Disk.
Next I ordered a Bluetooth receiver that will be able to connect into the overhead speakers in the house wiring and in a few days, we’ll be able to point and click our iPhones playlist at this wireless device and presto, your musical mood of the moment shall be granted.  Same thing with the car and its Bluetooth receiver.
If they change it again however, I don’t know if I’ll be able to handle it.  This better be the last format change!

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Happy New Year

I’d like to write a really upbeat blog post about the upcoming year, but I just don’t have it in me.  I am sorry.  Apologies ahead of time.

I suppose I can take some comfort in the fact that our system of government is by design a very slow change management system.  It’s nearly impossible to get changes pushed through (witness the last 6 years of Obama’s presidency).

It’s also true that the Executive branch gets too much credit and too much blame for what happens on his/her watch.  An example of this would be that Obama wanted to invest in infrastructure / jobs but the Senate Majority blocked him every step of the way, initially to ensure Obama was a “one term” president, and subsequently, out of spite, they wanted his record to be clear of anything that smacked of an accomplishment.  It worked.  Ironically, Trump now wants to invest 1 Trillion into infrastructure and the GOP is split as to how to move forward with this idea.

Even more interesting will be to see what happens with immigration.  Trump campaigned on the radical idea of deporting 12 million illegal immigrants and got support from the rust belt states who are still hurting from globalization / NAFTA.  The majority of people in this country want something constructive done and there are many options on the table from mass deportation to full amnesty.  But here’s a prophecy for you.  Nothing will get done during the next 4 years for the same reason nothing has gotten done for the last 30.  Both parties’ establishment wings benefit from illegal immigration.  Major corporations want the cheap labor.  Progressives want the votes.  For Trump to get his way, he’s have to flip the bird at major corporations and the cynic in me says that’s going to be difficult for him to get through.  Anyone heard anything about the ‘wall’ lately?

Maybe we’ll press on with the status quo for a period, but having lost the White House, Senate, House and soon, the Supreme Court, I suspect change is coming in spades.

Not all of it will be bad.  Should the welfare roles be reviewed every year for fraud?  Yes.  I have no problem with the idea of cutting wasteful spending.  I do however have a problem with blanket cuts or privatization of Social Security and Medicare that hurt Grandma.

Progressives including this writer are in fact guilty as charged of elitism.  I’m guilty of staying mostly in the debate realm on social media and not getting up off my arse to do anything constructive about it.  That will change in 2017.  It’s time to transition from elitist to activist.  On my to-do list is to dig up some sign materials, find the spray paint can and a few staples.

I’ve been watching the country split in half since Bush v. Gore.  I’m learning not to be surprised by the outcomes.  I seriously thought Gore waxed Bush in 3 consecutive debates but alas the voting population felt otherwise.  I was initially skeptical of Reagan’s “trickle down economics” plan and it didn’t take long for me to figure it out.  I remember very specifically getting an extra $35 in my paycheck in the early 1980’s.  Boy did I ever stimulate the Marysville, WA economy with that!   Meanwhile, Reagan’s cronies were ordering new yachts ( to his credit, the yacht building business did boom during those years ).

I was not a supporter of Reagan or Bush, but I didn’t loathe them.  Critical policy differences, yes.  Loathe, no.  Both displayed tolerance for all faiths, minorities, and generally tried to be inclusive as the leader of the free world.

Trump however, cannot seem to go a day without be-clowning himself on Twitter.  I mean, what President Elect in history has stooped to the level of pouring salt on the wounds of his rivals with a faux New Years wish?

So I enter 2017 with a glass half empty I’m afraid.  Just being honest here.  As a very young man in my early 20’s I had my first encounter with a Jehovah’s Witness which resulted in several deep conversations where I learned what they were all about.  In the end I said “No Thanks”, but not before learning much about Armageddon and the End of Times prophecies.  I’ll leave it to your imagination as to why I’m reminded about these events to start off 2017.  There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t wonder if the Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t perhaps right.

Finally, I’ve read several articles on the 7 deadly sins as they relate to the ego of Donald Trump and as an exercise, you can Google each of them next to the word Trump and fill up 100’s of pages of results.  Just for my own personal amusement, I’ve done that.

Happy New Year!

-Bill

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  1. Lust
    1.      This is my favorite, with Falwell.   playboy    unadjustednonraw_thumb_23ca
  2. Gluttony
    1. 120719055137-trump-international-course-golfing-full-169
  3.  Greed
    1. Trump’s Views on Greed
  4.  Sloth
    1. chemprtwkaex6or
  5.  Wrath
    1. 160331200050-trump-quote-11-super-169.jpg
  6. Envy:  No A-List Celebs at the Inauguration.  Gee, I wonder why?
    1. 49442915-cached
  7. Pride
    1. An astute article on Trump’s pride issue

 

 

 

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Adios 2016, don’t let the door…

Back in the mid 1980’s, an activist friend of mind Dave Aldrich sent out a memorable Christmas letter that was definitely one of a kind.  In this short missive he astutely pointed out about a dozen things that are just wrong in this world, covering the gamut from wasteful military spending, the oxymoron of compassionate conservatism, greedy politicians, abject poverty, the decline of unions and the middle class, and tax cuts for the wealthy.  It was a pithy list of gripes and then he simply signed it –“Merry Christmas.”

At the time I grinned and though to myself “must have had a bad day”, but the point of it all was and still is, complacency bothers him a great deal.  I still remember a quote from a letter a few years later where he pointed out that we worry about these issues after we’ve swept the garage, washed the SUV, and spent out days reading and writing e-mails. We rarely ponder our existence or question the status quo.  I remember thinking to myself ‘guilty as charged’.  I don’t, but I should.

With that in mind and in the spirit of Dave Aldrich, I offer this summary:  2016 blew.

Not to go completely negative on you, there were some good things that happened during the year which I’ll touch upon, but overall, Donna and I were just talking about the benefits of getting this year behind us.

First, the good stuff.  Our two grandkids Kaden and Karter are growing into fine young gentlemen.  We can’t say enough good things about them.  Both competitive game players, both silly, both good-natured, and fun to be around.  I was going to say that we’re lucky but the more I though about it, luck has nothing to do with it.  Good parents have everything to do with it.  Great job Kelli and Kyle.

Donna and I spent about a week in Chicago and did a deep dive of the city.  The entire trip was scheduled around a Cubs home stand so that we could make sure to take in trip to Wrigley, but we also took in some incredible Blues, Jazz, improv, museums, Navy Pier, and an evening boat tour.  The Cubs beat the Dodgers an a sunny Memorial Day weekend and we really enjoyed the atmosphere.  Having invested in a jersey for herself, Donna became an instant Cubs fan and was glued to the set during the very exciting World Series finish where the Cubs pulled of an extra inning nail biter vs. Cleveland.  She was on the edge of her seat.

This summer the house got painted.  It looks great but it’s a huge time sink to get it done even if you’re not the painter ( see low-lights below ).

In October we traveled to sunny Sacramento, California for the wedding of my cousin Mike Eady to his new bride Shelly. Lovely wedding and always good to catch up with extended family.  We spent some time checking out Sacramento as well and were impressed.

We’ve been doing a new monthly-ish dinner / social gathering with some great friends and neighbor’s and sharing a lot of laughs.  Included a relaxing weekend trip to Manzanita where we ate, drank, played games, and golfed ( yes Glenn, Donna golfed ).

I’ve battled through some challenging health issues and am starting to get my musical mojo back a little bit.  I have a few recordings out on soundcloud and youtube, none of which are that good, but all were a lot of fun to do.

Donna keeps a schedule that I can only marvel at.  When she gets free time at home, stuff’s a moving.  It’s a literal beehive of activity with art and gardening projects.  She’s the ideas person of the family.  I’m the implementor – at least when it comes to the heavy stuff.  In addition to all this she’s got an aging parent to take care of.  Middle age comes at you from all directions.  She’s not a complainer though, she’s a doer.  That’s what I love about her.  The calendar gets pretty full fast, but no matter what’s on there, she just rolls up her sleeves and gets it done.

And lastly, if you know her you’ll understand why this is news.  I beat my sister Patty twice during 2016 at Words with Friends.  That would fall under the category of ‘exceeding expectations’.

So there, I mixed i some positive things.  Now for the overall 2016 Summary:

                          Major Buzz-Kill

Think Planes, Trains and Automobiles where Steve Martin’s wife is anxiously waiting for him to get home to an impeccably prepared Thanksgiving feast at an upscale Chicago home, followed by what it took for him to get there.

Words cannot describe the disappointment of November 8th.  It’s a gut punch when you invest so much time following the news for a year and a half thinking “no way”, and then see your worst nightmare come true.  Trying to hold the family together during a time where close family members feel personally threatened by the incoming administration is a challenge.  It’s emotional.  I’ll leave it at that.

At times like these, I wonder if the Jehovah Witnesses aren’t right after all.  Maybe we are getting near the end of times.  I’m only half kidding.

On the plus side, I feel less of a need to chime in and criticize what the current Mob Boss-elect is under fire for.  He’s perfectly capable of making my point for me with his twitter machine.  I don’t have to say a word.  Just sit back and watch the entertainment, and entertaining it will be.

2016 brought on some medical challenges for me that I was determined to conquer.  The biggest one is anxiety.  I spent about a year and a half not being able to drive on freeways, which is limiting and an added stress on Donna.  But after seeing several specialists, I think I may be getting real close to a solution.  I’ve driven to Eugene a couple of times recently.  It’s not perfect but it’s on the upside.  I look forward to having a less full calendar year of doctor appointments minus the added expen$e and trying to sneak in all these appointments while maintaining a busy work schedule.

The Ducks were 4-8 and lost to the Beavers and both Washington schools.  It doesn’t get much worse than that.  And the Huskies put up 70 on the Ducks at home.  Now I have to be quiet for at least another year, maybe longer.

I’m in my 4th year at Cambia and speaking of rapid change, 4th manager.  No complaints about the new job — great people, love the work, but it’s a ball buster.  There are days when I envy Ward Cleaver grabbing his briefcase and heading off to a job where he doesn’t have to worry about being outsourced every quarter, does a bit of work from 9-5 and the comes home to his happy family.  Such is not the case ( except the happy family part ).

Our go-to friends, Wayne and Tricia Wischmann moved to Arizona in June.  We understand why, but it sucks when your social network gets disrupted.   We have such fond memories of time at Haydens listening to Tim and Jim with them, among other events.  We’re planning a trip to Tucson in the February time frame to catch up.  We miss them.

There was the passing of several icons from my generation in 2016.  Gene Wilder, Prince, Mohamed Ali, and George Kennedy to name a few.  Seems like every time we turned around another one bit the dust.

Pickles spent the night in the ER ( that was more expensive than my trip to the ER ) with a really bad infection but is better now.  We were really worried about her but she made it.

So in the spirit of Dave Aldrich, this years missive just tells it like it is.  And it is what it is.

Merry Christmas!

( And bring on 2017, please ).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dave Aldrich

I first met Dave as a member of the choir at St. Mary’s catholic church in Marysville, Wa.  We both played guitar.  At times there were 6 guitars.  The church back then supported 2 Sunday masses.  The early 10 am mass was the more hip mass with more progressive music and while the 11:30 was for more traditionalist catholics who weren’t as keen on the hip music element of a mass.  Either that or they just didn’t like getting up that early.

We played a ton of music from the St. Louis Jesuits, who we found out later at a Saturday seminar that they weren’t from St. Louis, and they also were not Jesuits.  Didn’t bother us, the music was pretty hip.

The ‘choir’ consisted of guitars ( up to 6 ), upright bass, piano, and occasionally a flute + several vocalists, mostly women.  All good singers and fun personalities.  The piano players were top-notch sight readers and all we had to do as guitar players was strum some chords and belt out the tunes.

In typical fashion of me at that age, I underestimated Dave from the beginning.  He seemed like a nice guy, an ‘okay’ guitar player and sang good enough.  Better than myself which wasn’t saying much.  But as time went on and we changed leadership, Dave became the leader of the choir and it dawned on me that he was not only a solid guitar player, he was a terrific singer and leader as well.  He could pull off performances where he was the lead singer and player, and he sounded great.  So much for first impressions.  I was way off.  Before I knew it, I came to respect his playing and singing as he was doing things I wasn’t capable of.

Dave had a falling out with the priest at St. Mary’s in the late 1980’s, left, and never returned.  If I recall correctly, it mostly had to do with an overblown ego by the head priest and it rubbed him the wrong way.  So much so, that he checked out for good.

The 10:00 am choir was a fun very group of good-natured people.  Our annual ‘reward’ for rehearsing 52 weeks a year and showing up on Sundays was an annual dinner out at a nice restaurant, which we looked forward to with glee every year.  I just remember laughing an awful lot and enjoying the company at the annual dinner out, usually up in La Conner, Wa.

Dave was an outspoken critic on local issues including things like the Navy building a port in Everett, Wa.  His prose was frequently in the paper and he never pulled any punches.  He wasn’t afraid to call out local officials who had their own interests in mind over what he called ‘the rest of us’.  It’s perhaps an understatement to say that he had ‘a reputation’ that followed him around as left-wing Democrat with socialist tendencies.

In about 1997 his wife Toni, after having gone back to school to get her teaching degree, we held a party at our house in Mukilteo, Washington which included past and present choir members from St. Mary’s.  I remember writing a song for Toni who had just graduated but had not been hired yet which had the line in it “She’d probably have a job by now, if her last name, weren’t Aldrich.”  This of course endeared me to the Aldrich family as she knew exactly what I meant.

Since I had known Dave, and played with him for about 7 years or so, I kept in contact with him even after he left the choir.  He invited me to his ‘Sunday morning breakfast’ group at a local eatery in Marysville where we’d take on religion and politics and a wide range of subjects.  But mostly religion and politics.  It was this experience that turned the light bulb on for me at just how brilliant this guy is.

Berkeley educated ( in the 60’s no less ), with a degree in History and if I recall correctly, some background in studying the philosophers as well, Dave would articulate his points in convincing fashion at these Sunday morning breakfasts and leave my mind ready to challenge the old school of thought and re-think the basic tenets of the belief system I inherited at birth to formulate my own as an adult.  It was a transformation to say the least.

We talked a lot about why he left the church and come to find out, he had been an agnostic for a long time and was struggling with the church’s teachings but stayed a member mostly for the opportunity to champion social justice issues as well as reaping the benefits of being part of a church ‘community’.  I think it was the loss of the church ‘community’ the hurt the most for him.  The teachings he was struggling with anyway.

It was through this experience that I came to realize there are 2 types of catholics.  Those that are drawn to the social justice possibilities, and those that are comfortable with the repetition and look the other way at the church dogma that does not align with their political beliefs in the slightest.   I’ve written about this in previous posts .   In the 1990’s I used to participate in the local discussion through the Tualatin Times and this Soapbox comes to mind as one that was heavily influenced by Dave.  In fact, he may even find that a few lines in it were lifted from articles in his blog snohomishobserver.com .  I couldn’t resist.  He was just too brilliant.

Life has its changes and one of mine was moving back to Oregon in 1992.  I left a pretty secure job at Boeing to take on a new challenge in Portland, Oregon where I grew up so that both myself and my wife could be closer to family as well as the fact that we both liked the geographic location of Portland better than Seattle.

As a subscriber to articles published via snohomishobserver.com, I devoured every post with constant amazement at just how brilliant this man is.  I envied him to be so highly educated, so principled as to sacrifice material benefit for doing what’s right in his mind.  So passionate about social justice that he frequently excoriated foes publicly for their greed, selfishness, and stupidity.  I often thought of him as one of my main mentors.  The first person to really make me think.  How can you put a price tag on that?  You cannot.

This week I was shocked to get an e-mail from Dave’s wife Toni that he has stage 4 liver cancer and has about 3-6 months to live.  I was at a meeting over in an adjacent building near my usual office at 200 Market, downtown Portland when I felt my phone vibrate that a new message had come in.  The meeting was over so I decided to check it out on my way back to 200 Market.  In it, Toni revealed Dave’s health issues and prognosis.  I read enough to know this was one of those personally devastating letters you get in your life and between buildings let out a brief sob.   I couldn’t wrap my head around this loss and I still cannot.

A while ago I realized that each person encounters a few people in their lives who have a huge impact.  Top 5 I call it.  My father was one for me.  My wife Donna is another.  There are a few others I won’t mention who opened my eyes and gave me ‘aha’ moments that I am eternally grateful for.  They’ve had high impact.  Dave Aldrich was a high impact player for this smart guy wanna-be.  Reading his snohomishobserver.com posts I was repeatedly humbled at what a brilliant writer really is.  I am privileged to have known Dave Aldrich and his family.  He’s an incredible human being and I will never forget him or the causes he championed.  He’s shaped my thinking in ways I never would have imagined.

I think the best way to honor all the work Dave has put into his social justice causes is to grab a sign, get out there and start marching.  Question authority.  Be a champion for the poor.  Write about the hypocrisy that comes with individuals being born on 3rd base and complaining about the poor ‘mooching off me’.   The next 4 years will certainly provide some opportunity here.  Count me in, all the while remembering the incredible contribution of one David Aldrich.

 

 

 

 

 

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