Strangers in our midst

Times may change but looks can be deceiving and trust only those you can trust

We grew up the same

Eating and shopping in the same places

Supporting the same teams (mostly, despite some friendly rivalries)

Saluting the same flag

So when did we change?

When did we divide?

What makes us so angry?

Do you have enough food, clothing, shelter?

Are you living in the woods and eating out of a dumpster?

So why the angst?

What would it take to be on the same page, united in a common goal?

911 didn’t unite

Covid didn’t unite

Global warming/climate change doesn’t unite.

Do we need an alien invasion to pull us together?

And I’m not speaking of refugee aliens around which we certainly do not unite.

If outer space aliens invaded, would we blame it on the democrats, the liberals, the republicans, the conservatives?

Maybe aliens would see our dissension as an opportunity to divide and conquer. Then again, maybe they would just pass us over letting our animosities dissolve us without their intervention. Maybe they would assume we’re too divided and insignificant to conquer, exclaiming “there’s no intelligent life down there”. 

Sadly, the way we are behaving and thinking, they may be right.

So what’s been your experience?

Who is now a stranger who used to be your friend? What socio-political-cultural influences precipitated the transition?

I’m looking for feedback to make sense of the current societal, dysfunctiona climate and I’m researching for my upcoming menoir entitled EXIT INTERVIEW: Reflections on family, friends and acquaintances.

Sound Bites…Bumper Stickers…Food For Thought

As I reviewed my note pad observations of bumper stickers after working as a Mall Cop patrolling parking lots for 15 years, I present the following “gems” and observations. Note that they are presented in no particular order of priority . In some cases, they do not reflect my own beliefs/views. Note also that this notion that bumper stickers can reflect socio-cultural, political trends is baked into one of the chapters of my upcoming novel entitled Mall Child: Raised By Wolves (so stay tuned for details and announcements). If any of these bumper stickers trigger conversation on your behalf, I would love to hear from you and dialogue further.

That said, here we go on a bumper sticker/reflection oddessy:

  • Life begins at the end of your comfort zone
  • 3 people can keep a secret if 2 are dead
  • Give peace a chance
  • Think kindly, act boldly
  • Science is not a conspiracy theory
  • Eco vs. Ego: There is no planet B
  • Retros vs. Futuros (this is one I made up and it ties in with some of the themes of my novel and it reflects my distain for those whose politics/policies live in the rear view mirror. Reminds me of an old Kentucky expression “you can’t plow straight when your looking backward”)
  • Trump makes me a mad scientist
  • If you don’t believe in science, its all fiction
  • Obedient women are never remembered in history
  • If you obey all the rules, you miss all the fun
  • You can follow me, but it’s gonna hurt
  • If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention
  • What are the most clear and present dangers….taking a knee during the national anthem or preventing the next mass shooting. Worrying about whether someone identifies as a male or a female or preventing the rape of a woman by a mysoginistic pig. Worrying about the mother with a child who are refugees escaping from a hellish, violence filled contry or the local criminal born-in-the-USA who goes on a crime spree terrorizing your community
  • Proud of my country, appaled by my government.
  • Patriotism is fully supporting your country and your government when it deserves it.
  • America; esigned by geniuses, run by idiots
  • What will happen to these folks when armageddon strikes?
  • How do you annoy a bigot? Start thinking
  • Say “sleeveless T” and not “wife beater T”

Common Denominators

The phrase sends chills down my back with memories of math classes and phrases like “solve for X”

However, in the world of politics and current events, the viability of our democracy is at stake if we do not learn the value of Common Denominators. What follows is a lesson not in math but rather common denominators in politics with a healthy dose of pragmatism.

Every politician needs to list policy goals. What’s your plan, vision, proposal?

However, for every proposal to do something and spend something, there needs to be a countervailing proposal to cut waste, increase efficiency and eliminate unnecessary and cumbersome regulations. Unfortunately, many persons ears only perk up when discussing what you will NOT do, what you will cut and what in their opinion is an over-reach of government. Their eyes glaze over when you discuss policies. They act like a deer in the headlights when you proposewhat what could be done and what should be done. Any position AGAINST something shouts louder than a position FOR something. So identify true cases of waste, over-regulation, ineptitude and inefficiency and lead with that so your ultimately positive policies can be implemented. Example: Make it clear that for employees who are not doing their job, sleeping on the job and expenditures on any boondogles (aka financial sink holes) will not be tolerated.

Concerning matters such as criminal justice, social justice, restorative justice and holistic solutions to vexing problems of crime and juvenile delinquency (all noble goals), there needs to be examples of consequences for misbehavior, social disorder and chaos. Make it clear that the political and policy equation includes equal parts compassion and consequences. What resonates with many persons is that justice has been served and there are consequences for the scoundrels. There’s a reason why the phrase “crime doesn’t pay” is so popular. Lead off with rational, reasonable consequences and compasionate solutions will follow. Prime example is allowing repeat offender car theft juveniles to be detained for longer timeframes by the police in one jurisdiction until it can be determined that they are not wanted in other jurisdictions for the same or other sorts of crimes.

Make it clear that you are not advocating solitary confinement but you are advocating intensive, theraputic confinement over an extended timeframe for all persons in the criminal justice system so we can get to the root causes of their anti-social behavior. Don’t just say for any violent offender or threatening offender “lock em up and throw away the key” but make it clear that they will be removed from society for an extended timeframe receiving intensive counselling until such time that they are deemed ready to return safely to society. Again, tough-love, compassion and consequences.

For every lofty goal expressed concerning the social safety net (making sure nobody freeses or starves, for example) there needs to be specific examples of accountability so the root causes of distress are addressed. Unfortunately, many persons are more concerned about the revolving door syndrome (aka, good money after bad) than the pervasiveness of hunger, homelessness, poverty, and economic inequity. Focus on mitigating the “frequent flier syndrome and revolving door scenario” of users of public services so their basic needs are met (primarilly food and shelter) while root causes of their circumstances are addressed. In sum, deploy tough-love tactics providing assistance while insisting upon participants active role in addressing circumstances that necessitated assistance in the first place.

Following the “common denominator” formula we can get the attention and build the trust of persons before we can get them on board the “train of progress” to address some of the more esoteric and long term solutions.

An exit ramp for mass shootings and gun violence

Take the exit ramp to get off of the road to hell

The following is my proposed roadmap of actions which are reasonable and might bring together seemingly opposing viewpoints:

Universal background checks required nation wide for all persons seeking to purchase a gun. Seems reasonable so persons with history of violence and/or mental illness/emotionally disturbed persons do not get to buy a gun. If you commit felonies (which by definition are crimes of a serious nature) in my opinion you have given up your right to own a gun. Non-violent misdomener offenses should not preclude you from purchasing a gun. With regard to restricting gun ownership for persons with mental health issues, their medical records privacy should be protected by HHPA. However, if there is a criminal record (particularly with respect to violent or felony offences) this should be the factor that precludes them from obtaining a gun. Reasonable?

  • Red flag laws and procedures that track and treat all persons who indicate intention to do bodily harm to themselves or others. This could apply to any sort of threat particularly if it includes intention or capability to use a firearm. The tracking could be generated by any source (i.e, verbal intention, altercations, social media, etc.) My focus on the “trace and treat” proposal was spawned by the focus on “tracing and treating” deployed during the pandemic. Since we have a pandemic of violence, why not deploy the same methodology. I further propose this idea of tracking and treating as a means of violence mitigation having been on a mall cop on the secne of many a fight. Instead of just breaking them up, issuing Promises To Appear in court, why not deploy an intensive series of treatment sessions with the combattants and their respective families to get to the source of violence.
  • Maybe we could develop a computer analysis matrix where the following ingredients of speech/writing/communication could trigger (no pun intended) follow up to appropriately track and treat. The following “perfect storm” of intentions could be….hate speech…..specific plans/intentions…..purchases (stockpiling of weapons and ammo). Only if a clearly identified toxic mix is documented, would the red flag be raised necessitating tracking and treating. For example, just researching about guns/ammo would not generate concern but when taken in the aggregate this would necessitate follow up.
  • Consider a recent suggestion which I think was offered by Elon Musk in which a special permit would be required for the purchase of any assault rifle. The special permit would require more intensive background checking and vetting. This might be preferable (and more realistically doable) that trying to implement a ban. I got to thinking, maybe we could even go further in this direction and create specially designated enterprises where people could try out and practice with all sorts of weaponry and tactics. I might sign up for this endeavor where I could experience the thrill of firing an assault weapon, tossing a grenade, firing a bazooka, tossing a molotov coctail, firing an RPG, and maybe even get to blow something up (all of the aforementined activities with training and supervision of course). I consider this endeavor akin to going to a race track and getting to drive a formula one racer in a safe environment. As with a race track where you do not get to drive the race car home with you, the weaponry would have to remain on-site but you would get to experience the thrill of using it on site while the rest of society remans safe. My thinking is that this scenario might address the demand that people have the right to access weaponry. Like I said, I would sign up for this experience and I’m sure I’m not alone.
  • The military have the mantra that “we leave no one behind” , religions make frequent reference to “being each others brothers keeper” and signs in subways and public places always implore us to “see something, say something”. Got me to thinking, what if as a society we all took it upon ourselves to more closely monitor each other for signs of impending mass shooter and violent outbursts. Without becoming a “big brother” society, maybe we could become a more compassionate (and curious) society that’s more alert to the tell tale signs of trouble (i.e., isolation, hatred, depression, etc.). Take this a step farther and specifincaly create a “buddy system” so everybody pledges to make sure that at least one other person does not “fall off the radar screen” and decend into a hell for themselves and the rest of us.
  • If we were to implement all of the above referenced ideas this could coincide with the reimagining of our police. Instead of the cops riding around being on the lookout for unknown threats and criminals, maybe their time would be better spent teaming up with therapists, outreach workers, social workersl youth counselors, probation officers, parole officers, peer mentors/violence mitigators. If done correctly, it might even make the role of being a cop more satisfying and meaningful.
  • Of course, there is always the option of hardening the targets. This includes bullet resistant windows/doors, controled access systems, check points with screening, I.D. verifications, pat-downs, video surveillance and facial recognition. All of these measures have their value, espeially in public, high-target settings such as schools, public facilities, malls, etc. but target harding can only go so far. Remember how the castles and moats in the middle ages were effective for a while but ultimately were penetrated from both inside and outside their walls.
  • As always, I’m always keen to hear feedback. In closing, if we continue on this course I fear that we will devolve into a very dark anarchistic place that will resemble the scene from The Kingsman movie where violent mayhem overtakes a church revival while the song “Free Bird” plays in the background. Check this video clip out if you get chance, let’s hope it’s not a window into the future.
Let’s do something now or continue on the road to perdition

The Narrows and the Shallows

Don’t be narrow, Don’t be shallow. Think big, Think Long Term. Don’t be distracted by mundane events and small talk


Their line of sight is narrow

They can only think in one direction

They can never back up. They can not Re-chart. Re-tool.

They only talk to each other.

They only listen to each other.

They only listen on rare occasions, always keen to positions that match their stance.

They only know what they know.

At best, they ignore others. At worst, they berate them.

Life is simple but lonely when your a narrow.


Their channel used to run deep. in some cases.

But they stopped thinking, stopped questioning.

In other cases, they never thought deep. Beyond soap operas, talent shows, pop culture trivia. Their world is Americas Favorite Videos, Americas Got Talent, Access Hollywood.

They gossip at work and parties while innocents are killed by drive -byes, nations attack each other and the planet surges toward extinction. But they are up-to-date on the latest trends in pop culture be that shopping, music, dance and retail discounts.

They are the shallows. They don’t vote, they don’t support causes but they do plenty of talking on the phone, watching tv, binge watching, internet surfing.

The SHALLOWS bring to mind the phrase “rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic”

My call to action…..Don’t be a NARROW. Don’t be a SHALLOW.

Get involved. Do something significant. To borrow the motto of the Air Force…Aim High

50 Shades of Patriotism

Patriotism is not a one size fits all formula
Just another example of how we cut some slack for the rich

So if you’re looking for some steamy story in this blog, you will be disappointed.

The inspiration for this blog was the following observaton:

An oversized pick up (mint condition without a speck of dust having never done a day of gritty manual labor) came roaring by (wasting gas using up what remains of our fossil fuels) and sporting 2 massive flags. One of Old Glory and one of the Confederacy (the guys who severed ties to the Union and essentially gave their their finger to the USA). Anyways, this guys truck was plastered with stickers proclaiming to be a true patriot, god-fearing, supporter of all that is righteous. Maybe it’s just me, but whenever I see this display of patriotism, I get the feeling that this guy thinks he’s a true American and I’m somehow a wimpy, less patriotic American.

He’s entitled to his opinions and his right to display them. Thankfully, we would agree that we live in a country where such freedom of expression is allowed.

What irritated me was the feeling I get from him and many others is that he is somehow more patriotic, more religious, more morally grounded, more hard working than the rest of us peasants.

Got me to thinking, what about me? Am I not a patriot? Here’s the contribution that I and my ancestors have made to this country.

  • I’ve worked 2 & 3 jobs for the last 30+ years. That’s no weekends free, no vacations for 30 years. Why? I’ve been supporting America. Paying mortgages, car payments, putting kids thru college. Now that’s patriotic.
  • I’ve worked 30+ years in non-profits and governments in fields that include the following: affordable housing, community development, redevelopment, economic development and mental health. I’ve done the best I can with the resources available to me (just like patriots have been doing since the origins of our republic). In the course of my working in a wide variety of fields this has afforded me opportunities to meet an amazing array of persons of various socio-economic, racial, ethnic, cultural backgrounds. Having a first hand view of the strength and diversity of America, it makes me both proud and optimistic about America. Now that’s patriotic!
  • I’ve worked over 15 years on weekends as a mall cop. This has exposed me to a combination of the good, the odd, the bad and the ugly (which is the title of one of the chapters of my novel entitled Mall Child. A fictionalized recap of the life of a mall cop).Instead of turning me negative on America, I have come to understand it and appreciate it with all its blemishes. Being a mall cop has forced me to confront my own prejudices and contemplate the challenges and opportunities of reimagining the criminal justice system (from cops to prosecutors to judges and jails and restorative justice). Being patriotic is more than waving a big flag, slapping a bumper sticker on your car, shouting a sound bite, living in the past and thinking linear in your own sound chamber. Being patriotic is questioning authority, thinking more deeply, building upon what’s good and tossing what’s bad.
  • As for my ancestors, they were patriotic in an understated manor. They served in WW2. They didn’t march around in camo outfits on Main Street or in the Mall. They didn’t talk much about what they did. They got busy. They came back to raise families, attend school and got busy working/contributing. Being Irish-American, most of them were cops. They carried revolvers on their service belts like a carpenter carries a hammer on his work belt. Like carpenters, their gun was a tool of the trade to be used as necessary. Growing up in this environment, I never experienced the culture of gun fetishes’ that permeates the wanna-be cops, wanna-be soldiers who never seemed to grow out of childhood fantasies of playing army and cops/robbers games.

So what’s the call to action for us “Silent Majority” Patriots

  • Be proud of the contribution that you and your ancestors have made, just as I have outlined above concerning me and my ancestors. Don’t be ashamed of being an understated patriot quietly going about your life, your work and supporting your causes.
  • Don’t shrink from reminding (tactfully) the boastful patriot’s that you are also a patriot in your unique way. Maybe you will broaden their perspective. If they remain hell bent on claiming to be uber-patriots, know that it’s time to cut your losses and focus on uniting the Silent Majority Patriots (the SMP’s)
  • Be creative and determined to network with fellow SMP’s so that on election day the loud mouth patriots and the sideliners (persons who can not decide, can not take stands) will be shocked by overwhelming turn out by the Silent Majority Patriots (SMP’s).
  • Utilize the tactics and techniques of an underground resistance force supporting each other when threatened. Act like volunteer firemen who responding to the fire bell. Act like the original American patriots (aka, the Minutemen of New England) who jumped to action upon hearing that “The British Are Coming”. Constantly be in communication with each other while constantly recruiting like minded members.
  • The following quote (one of my favorites) sums up the message of this blog and it’s call to action:
  • Patriotism is fully supporting your country and your government, when it deserves it.
  • Dissent is Patriotic


This blog started as a message to my adult children (as much of my blogging is an attempt to share with them my reflections and suggestions based upon a life of experience from which I hope that they might benefit from long after I’m gone)

That said, this theme of RESILIENCE is a broader message to the rest of us….as in the USA.

No matter what happens personally or nationally, it’s my observation that RESILIENCE is the key to staying the course and moving beyond to bigger and better.

Over the Easter Holiday I had “the talk” with my adult children. Not the talk about where babies come from but “the talk” that tells them that no matter what the future holds and no matter what trials and tribulations they experience, DO NOT let that get them off track and get the better of them.

Just because there are curve balls and setbacks in life (and there surely will occur, sometimes in quick and devastating succession), be RESILIENT. It’s ok to be sad and depressed for a while but don’t let it fester and become a life-long funk.

Our ancestors had plenty of set backs and tragedies but they forged on and so can you.

As for the rest of us…..the USA…..dark clouds are gathering but likewise RESILIENCE is essential if the storm is to be weathered. Adaptability and resiliency are the keys to survival personally and nationally.

The Hour Glass

Time is running out while we scamper about oblivious in our distractions
  • You don’t like what you see, but you still watch the TV
  • Go ahead and take another selfie
  • You don’t like what you hear, but to the ballot box you will not go near
  • You offer your thoughts and prayers but the shootings go on for years
  • You feel fine and figure there’s time, but health fails and life as you know it pales
  • You don’t like the behavior but in your world the stocks are the savior.
  • You still get to speak your mind but it’s only a matter of time before they tell you to get in line
  • The clock is ticking, the earth is taking a licking.
  • Truth is on the decline, while leaders have lost their spine.
  • You won’t wear a mask. You won’t keep your distance. When your hospital bill lands, I’m gonna sit on my hands
  • There’s still time, but only if we find our spine.

Stay tuned for more reflections on written from Arkham Asylum

Give credit where credit is due

When it comes to what Democrats and Progressives do and what they get credit for, there appears to be a disconnect that hurts them at the voting booth.

Got me to thinking there should be a 3 column litmus test to match up the following:

What they accomplish

What they get credit for

Who they need to win over.

The following are presented as examples:

Health care coverage for persons with pre-existing conditions

Every beneficiary should be considered a supporter. Don’t assume they’ll be a supporter. Dem’s need to connect the dots between not having coverage and getting it.

Medicare recipients support Medicare generally giving it high marks and support the concept of Medicare for-all. Many of the Medicare recipients are older, working class persons who tilt toward conservative right wing candidates. Why do they not like the Dems who support the programs that they like and programs that they need?

Crime and Punishment issues/policies

Dems are frequently pegged as soft on crime.

But they support sensible gun regulation such as universal background checks. All polls show that the majority of Americans (of most political stripes or no political stripes) support for this. So why don’t the Dem’s corner the Tough On Crime market?

Sadly, there are so many victims of violence and gun violence in particular, why couldn’t all the extended families become stalwart supporters of sensible gun regulations.

If Dem’s could firmly establish themselves as tough-on-violent crime, they might actually get back those voters for whom crime and safety is a top issue.

Child care tax credit

Dem’s are synonymous with this popular program. The question remains, will all those who benefit make their way to the voting booth.

College Debt Forgiveness

Dem’s have not yet passed this and it’s prospects are doubtful. However, even if college debt got forgiven, based on past history of ingratitude among beneficiaries it’s doubtful that Dem’s will benefit at the voting booth.


For every bridge built and rail line upgraded, make sure it’s the Dem’s that did it. Make sure that all contractors, small businesses and working class/blue collar workers know who brought them the bridge, rail line and whatever is built.

Small Businesses, Contractors, Working Class need to be brought back into the Dem’s tent

For every program show how your employees (and by default your company benefits). Examples: Day care and health care (affordable) means employees are happier and you are not on the hook for providing these benefits.

Democrats and Progressives need to become the Party of Consequences & Personal Responsibility


Make sure every proposal and every program includes consequences for bad behavior and requirements for personal responsibility.


Health insurance…..if you don’t take steps to improve your health, don’t complain about high rates

Crime/Addictions…If you don’t mend your ways (stop committing crime) and don’t get the therapy/rehab that you need to beat your addictions, don’t complain about doing the time.

Child care……At some point you need to stop having children that you can not afford.

Dem’s need to be the party of Tough-Love:

Tough as described above concerning consequences and personal responsibility

Love as described above keeping people healthy, safe, and educated all in an affordable manor.

The Boiling Point

Are you worried about world problems? Not me, not yet

We’ve all heard the story of the frogs in the pot of water that gradually gets so hot that it boils them and they miss the opportunity to hop out of the pot,

Got me to thinking…there’s all sorts of pots that are heating up to the point of no return if we are not careful.


Global Warming: So much written about this I can not add much but let’s consider the following:

  • wild fire every day
  • hurricane every day
  • crop failure
  • famine

How bad does it have to get?

Mass shootings….does there have to be one every day….in every community?

Regular shootings of the day-to-day local community variety. This is actually happening in high crime areas. But it has not hit the “boiling point”. Why? because its not happening every day in every neighborhood, every community. I’m not saying this should happen but at what point would the expression “enough is enough” really be taken to heart by everyone? Do we have to reach a point at which you had a 50-50 chance of getting to your car without being shot before we collectively did something about it?

The national debt/deficit: The ultimate example of out-of-site, out-of-mind until the shit hits the fan and money is worthless and it’s too late.

Racism and police brutality: Follows the pattern of “it’s not real until it happens to you”.

What do all of the above situations have in common

  • They’re insidious. They sneak up on us.
  • They affect other people. Until they affect us (and it’s too late).
  • Our political system (binary winner take all format) and never ending campaigning cycles do not allow for strategic, long term tackling of issues that require dedicated, forward thinking strategies.

So….until the day comes when every family of every socio-economic, cultural, racial, ethnic sector of our society is directly negatively affected, the respective problems will not be sufficiently real. The frogs got cooked and so will they.

Lastly, there are those that insist that the covid-19 pandemic is hoax and there is no reason to get vaccinated or wear a mask even when the virus causes their death. These frogs not only remained blissfully heating up in the pot, they made a conscious decision to remain in the pot.

If you have any further insights or comments concerning my dire predictions, I would be delighted to further understand these existential threats.