Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The Importance of Being Racist

Apologies to Oscar Wilde, and anyone who thinks I’m about to defend racism.  Yeah, that ugly word for that ugly act is in the news again.  Or still.  You’d think that the 21st Century would be some sort of enlightened age, where humankind finally accepts that while we’re all different, we’re all the same in that no one gender, race, nationality, etc. is higher on some sort of scale than any other.

Bigotry, racism, prejudice, bias, call it what you will.

We should be discriminating, but only on those points where there IS a difference.  He’s taller…she’s a better bowler…they have better coffee…they scored more points…this car gets better mileage…etc.  I cannot fathom any descriptor or comparison where one could legitimately say, “All blacks do X” or “All gays do Y” or “All men do Z.”  Because they don’t.

All of those who make up some sort of classification don’t all do bad things, or good things.  Individuals do bad things or good things.  Individuals do stupid things.  Donald Sterling did a stupid thing this week, and it got him in a heap of trouble.

The thing is, from what I've gathered from the multitude of media reports, is that it’s not the first time he’s done stupid things.  It’s not even the first time he’s done THIS stupid thing.  It IS the first time anyone decided that someone should do something about it, and that’s a shame.  That someone DID do something is fine, but let’s ask ourselves…why did it take so long?  Hell, even Fox News reported on Sterling’s racist past and the fact that it was no secret in the NBA. The comments in question (the ones that cost Sterling $2.5 million and his ouster from the league) were made in September - last year.

Do we really tolerate this kind of behavior?  Well, yeah, but there are limits.

Had Sterling made such comments in a pickup basketball game with a bunch of buddies, he might have gotten a few laughs.  Had the comments been made in night league with a mixed race composition, he might have gotten his ass kicked.  As it was, he made the comments “supposedly in private” (to two people) acting as an owner of a team in the NBA – a league of professionals where more than three-fourths of the players are African-American, and almost half the coaches, too.  Of course, non-white ownership is puny (as it is in all professional sports).

In my opinion, such a statement is stupid (and depending on your bent, “wrong”) in any context.  I know a little about racism, as my father shares many similarities with Sterling.  He was also named Donald, loved basketball (two-time high school captain for Ann Arbor High School), and was a bigot from the word go.  He’d call a spade a spade unless he was a dago, a hunky, a frog, a wetback, or a yid.  I remember watching Norman Lear’s “All in the Family” with him, and I asked him what he thought of the show.  “Pretty funny for a bunch of kikes,” he said.

I don’t know why my Dad was racist, but he was.  He worked with a black laborer for 14 years and never said a bad word about him.  When he went to the race track in Northville or Hazel Park he hung with the railbirds, many of them black (or as Dad called them “colored.”).  He was no stranger to the N-word, of course – that’s how the family knew someone had pissed him off somehow – the individual went from “colored” to “N------.”

But it wasn't just race – Dad was a WWII marine who fought in the Pacific, so we heard stories about the Japs and Nips and all of the slant-eyed gooks when the Vietnam war was raging.  Jews…Polacks…you name it.  All except Germans (which runs in our family tree, mostly).  He even defended Hitler in a classic argument with me:  “Well, what’s the hell’s wrong with Hitler, anyway?  Dad was always bad at math, and couldn't count to six million, I guess.

So yeah, racism is stupid.  It always has been.  It always will be.  So please, can we stop pretending that it doesn't matter and that it’s invisible and that it’s OK when rich people and famous people do it unless it’s a media circus and then maybe not?

Bigotry and denouncing all parties of a group is stupid and horribly incorrect.  Except for one group.  Racists.  They’re ALL assholes.  Even my Dad.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Poster Child for the PPA

Lots of organizations have poster children.  So-called because their image adorns the posters for these organizations, the kids are usually sad, oppressed, pathetic victims of whatever disease or malady the organization is trying to stamp out.  And they are terribly effective.

The Poker Players Alliance does not have a poster child.  John Pappas is a handsome man, and Rich Muny equally dashing.  Neither are sad nor pathetic.  And I’m not certain that the PPA needs such an icon.  But if they do, I know the perfect poster child for the sad and oppressed victims of “no-online-poker-itus.”


I'm not sure if you’ve noticed, but there seems to be a rash of online surveys asking participants; “Where would you rather play poker - Live, Online, or Both?”  A couple of them ask for more than just a vote, giving a box for you to explain why.

So I did.

And the responses (no one believed me) lead me to believe that there is no one more sad and oppressed than I.

I wrote that I don’t have much of a choice in the matter, as where I live makes Live Poker a non-issue.  Online is pretty much the only choice, as no matter which direction I go, it’s a haul to find a live game.

Go south, and the closest casino is in Lincoln City, OR, a 2.5 hour drive (that’s one-way).  It is the only place I ever played live - once.  I happened to be there for another event, and we stayed overnight and I indulged myself into entering a $25 NLHE tournament.  Finished third, BTW.

Go north, and the closest casino now is in Tokeland, WA…and I don’t even know if they have poker (and it’s still a two-hour drive).  Long Beach, WA is only an hour away, but Six-Card Charlie’s closed five or six years ago. It’s a thrift store now.

Go east, and it’s Portland and its card rooms, a 90 minute drive in summer.  But I can’t go in summer (I work in tourism, seven days a week).  So that leaves the off-season, and I have to take US 26 over the mountains, so if it snows…forget it.  And if I played for any time at all, I’d be coming home in the dark.  Over the mountain.  In winter.  Uphill both ways.  At my age, that’s as smart as betting into the nuts.

Go west, and I get wet, as I live about 500 feet from the Pacific.  Hey, the closest casinos are in Macau!  Seriously!

So that’s why making online poker a reality is a big deal to me.  I explained why I joined the PPA in an earlier post, but this is the benefit part of why I joined.  I really want to play poker online.  For real.  For money.  Yeah, I play online now, but play money ain’t the same.  And you know it.

I can see it now:

“This is Mikey, one of millions of unfortunate poker players who cannot access real online poker.  Deprived of the ability of play poker for real money, Mikey and his ilk roam the Internet playing meaningless games of Zynga poker, and diving farther in their cups for a whack at Farmville, Deal-or-no-Deal Slots, and Angry Birds.  Once in a while Mikey will click his old PokerStars icon (replaced a few years ago with the .net version for U.S. players only) and he’ll try to recapture the vicarious thrill of what it meant to play poker for real.  But then, the pop-up screen will ask him if he wants to buy more play-money chips, and his dreams will be smashed again.  Don’t let Mikey go to bed hungry for victory again.  Join the PPA to help restore online poker to its rightful place at Mikey’s computer and laptops of millions of wanting Americans.  It’s the right thing to do.”

Sheldon and the Baptists

Go ahead...pull my a jackpot!
I spend a lot of time lately trying to understand things that baffle me.  I’m not sure if it’s because of advancing age, or if the world has gone completely batshit crazy.  You decide:

Why do teenage girls take up smoking nowadays?  The dangers are real, and we’ve known about them for decades.  You can shorten your life by years, bring on all sorts of nasty diseases, and, when you kiss your boyfriend, you taste like an ashtray.  Where is the upside here?

Why did thousands of American white males and an entire TV new network (I’m looking at you, Fox) go gaga in defending a deadbeat rancher who drapes himself in the American flag, rallies behind the 1st Amendment, and yet claims not to recognize the U. S. Government (proud sponsors of both the flag and the 1st Amendment…and the land he’s using for his cattle)?  Would this story have been any different if it wasn’t Cliven Bundy, but his neighbor, José Hernandez?

Why are Southern Baptists backing Sheldon Adelson?  After all, The Southern Baptist Convention, through its resolutions, has condemned gambling as “immoral,” “harmful,” and “devastating.” Sheldon Adelson is one of the most successful casino owners in the world.  For those of you hard of hearing, that means HE GETS HIS MONEY FROM THE VERY THING THE SOUTHERN BAPTISTS THINK IS IMMORAL.

Yeah, I don’t get this.

Adelson was quoted as saying, “My moral standard compels me to speak out on this issue…I don't see any compelling reason for the government to allow people to gamble on the Internet.  Understand that if this sentence was three words shorter, it would be the stupidest sentence ever uttered by a casino mogul.  Drop the last three, and you have Adelson saying: “My moral standard compels me to speak out on this issue…I don't see any compelling reason for the government to allow people to gamble.”

Is that a WTF moment, or what?

There was more, but let’s do this one step at a time, beginning with the second sentence.  If there is no “compelling reason for the government to allow people to gamble on the Internet,” that means there should be compelling reasons to PREVENT people to gamble on the Internet, as opposed to preventing them from gambling, period.  And what are these reasons?

Sheldon’s coalition (the Coalition to Stop Internet Gambling) has indicated that online gambling might be hazardous in allowing money laundering and collusion, perhaps even a way to sponsor terrorists. In the last few years there have been investigations into such practices and other illegal activities.  In casinos owned by Sheldon Adelson.

Another bullet from Adelson’s Coalition is the harm online gambling may have on our youth, causing teens to go out of control and gamble away their college funds.  Just recently a casino in Pennsylvania came under fire for underage gambling - with fines totaling $220K for four different infractions.  In a casino owned by Sheldon Adelson.

Finally, the Coalition deplored the idea that online casinos would be expanding gambling to make it “available in every college dorm room, every family’s house, every poverty stricken neighborhood  They even have the wonderful tag line “Click a Mouse and Lose your House.”  Speaking of famous mice, there was a casino company that was trying to expand land casinos in Florida, the land of Mickey Mouse and family entertainment. 

Anyone wanna guess who owns the company trying to do that?????

Hey Baptists, turn your good book to Matthew 23.  Or maybe Matthew 6.  Or Matthew 7 or a host of others spots in the Bible*.  Adelson is a hypocrite of the first order, and by getting into bed with him on this issue, you have opened yourselves up to scrutiny and further actions have to be viewed with one eye cocked askew.  The Washington Examiner said it best: “Whenever you see someone pushing a regulation for the environment, children or public health, it’s a good idea to sniff out the bootlegger funding the campaign.

Sheldon is the rum-runner, BTW.

* is anyone surprised this non-believer knows his Bible?  I actually read the thing (it’s been a while).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lawlessness and Anarchy

Note picture of man who does not recognize U.S. government holding U.S. flag.
 Do you know the difference between lawlessness and anarchy? 
  • Lawlessness: not regulated by or based on law, unrestrained or contrary to the law, not governed by law.
  • Anarchy: a state of disorder due to absence or non-recognition of authority.
We seem to tolerate a great deal of lawlessness here in America, but we tell ourselves that anarchy would be dealt with swiftly and surely, should it ever come to be.  There not much difference to me, ‘cept that it seems that if one or two people are doing it, it’s lawlessness; if everyone does it, that’s anarchy.

I bring this up because I’ve been bothered for the last few months about the cell phone law here in Oregon.  Now, it’s not a new law - it’s been on the book since 2011.  Pretty much everyone involved with driver safety agrees that driving while using a hand-held cell, or texting while driving, is a dangerous pursuit.  In Oregon, it’s not just risky - it’s not legal.  The law is four years old, and the fine went UP on January first of this year to $142 (minimum) - that’d one expensive phone call. 

So why do I see so many people using their phones while driving?

It can’t be that they don’t know about the law - it’s been in place for FOUR FRICKIN’ YEARS, and it’s discussed constantly on the news, talk shows, etc.  It has to be blatant disregard for the law.  When we take our daily walk to the beach in the off-season, we see maybe 10-20 cars along the way.  We have NEVER had a day where NO ONE was using their cell phone, and often we see two, three, or more driver’s happily chatting or texting while careening down 12th Avenue (that’s how we lost our power pole two years ago - taxi driver, alone, texting a friend, and dislodging the pole with his taxi’s front end).

So that’s lawlessness.  But if EVERYONE did it, would that be anarchy?  Is anarchy just a measure of how many folks are not playing by the rules?  Must disorder be in multiples?

And that brings us to Cliven Bundy, the Nevada rancher who is a bit behind in his grazing payments to BLM.  He is called a patriot by some, and to me this is like calling a dog’s tail a leg.  No matter what you call it, a dog still had four legs.  No matter what you call Bundy, he’s breaking the law, regardless if he recognizes the authority or not.

Bundy claims not to recognize the U.S. government (which is why there are so many US flags at all of his speeches and rallies, right?), but  last time I checked, he was an American citizen.  So, that means he has to play by ALL the rules, not the ones he doesn’t like.  He used to pay his fees, but stopped.  TWENTY YEARS AGO.  He actually acknowledges that he owes money, but the amount and who should have it differs. He says $300K and Clark County; BLM says over a million dollars, and the U.S. government.  One side note - even though Bundy recognizes State of Nevada and Clark County sovereignty, he hasn’t paid THEM, either.

So what if EVERY rancher stopped paying their grazing fees?

It would hardly be anarchy, but it would be costly.  And who pays?  Well, you do.  Just like you’re paying Bundy’s share.

See, here’s the thing - when so other guy cheats on his taxes or doesn’t pay his fees or breaks the very laws you follow every day, they are making a knowledgeable choice to do so, and usually (like so many things) the choice is economically motivated.  If they pay less in this zero-sum game we play called “life,” someone else pays more. The guys and gals who play by the rules.  You and me (well, certainly me, and most likely you).

Here in Oregon we have more than $3 Billion in Income taxes, parking tickets, and court fines, unpaid in the last decade.  The Department of Revenue is responsible for collecting debts, but hasn’t done a very good job.  They recognize that owed money could ease the burden on taxpayers or pay for better services.  And yet they don’t change a DAMN thing in their methods. 

Bundy could move here, but no thanks.  We have enough lawless moochers.

Monday, April 14, 2014

What I Need is a Good Book Review

I have no right to be in such a pissy mood. 

Life is good, and today was evidence of it.  We made a large deposit from the week’s activity at the ice cream parlor – lovely weather and the tail end of Spring Break gave us (another) record weekend.  It was another sunny day at the beach.  I avoided getting called for jury duty AGAIN (only two more weeks to go). 

And you know those articles that claim that millions of Americans have billions of money on hold for them in state escrow accounts, and all it takes is a simple search “to find your missing money?”  I did that, and today I got a $127 check from the State of Louisiana for an electricity deposit at a home I rented…22 years ago.

Life is pretty damn good, but not perfect.

The warm weekend weather exposed another problem with the store’s new air conditioning unit.  Contacting the manufacturer answered my questions but raised a more troubling issue (which might necessitate litigation…an unhappy thought).  The sun left and turned to clouds and rain, meaning I’ll miss tonight’s lunar eclipse.  I forgot to post something funny today at 4:14 4/14/14.  And I still have two weeks left to get out of jury duty perform my civic responsibility in Circuit Court.

So despite the overwhelming good over the bad, I’m in a pissy mood.  And I know what will help: a good book review.  That is, a good review of one of my books.

Here’s another area where life is good – sales of my books.  The last two months have been great – on Apple’s iBooks, phenomenal (the best ever).  The new book, ABC’s of Craps, is now my second best seller (behind ABC’s of 21) in just three months.  I’ve sold books in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Mexico, and Australia (where I believe they speak a form of English, too).  I believe I’ve hit my stride (I’m no Stephen King, or Mike Caro, but I’m happy - and profitable).

But reviews?  Lately, kinda sparse.  As in, nada.  Spärlich.  Clairsemé. Nothing.

So to make me feel a bit better, how about dusting off the old laptop and writing a five-star review of one of my books (assuming you actually bought it, of course)?  Don’t be a I-didn’t-buy-the-book-but-he’s-a-friend troll and lie – if you bought any of my four eBooks on either Apple, Smashwords, Amazon, or Nook (yes, I have sold a few there…surprised me, too), go do your own civic responsibility and toss our 30-50 nice words about my book and don’t forget the five stars.  And if I actually gifted you one of the books, you owe me, and don’t forget the five stars.

On the other hand, if you haven’t bought any of the books, I won’t unfreind you.  That’s not how this works.  That’s not how any of this works.  But go buy one.


Oh, and if you happened to buy one of the books and didn’t like it, have a pissy day.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Sexual Ignorance

This isn’t about poker (unless you recall the old sign for the Man Cave that read, “Liquor in front, Poker in rear).  It’s about sex, specifically teen sex, and the ongoing battle to “educate” our young people about sex.  That word is in quotes because there is education, as described as teaching about how it works, how to prevent disease, and how to prevent pregnancy.  There is also “education,” as in scolding, pressuring, denying, and holding out that the ONLY way to educate youth about sex is to say, “Abstinence Only” over and over and over and over and over again.

In 2014, no less.

I bring this up because my little town of Seaside is once again hosting the state’s Adolescent Sexuality Conference (this year’s theme: Building Blocks of Youth Sexual Health).  It’s been going on since the late Seventies, and this year there was something new added – a protest.

I was downtown on an errand when I saw the protesters form their picket line.  It was early, before the conference started, and there were dozens of cars parked at the OTHER end of the parking lot (next to the Catholic Church…coincidence?).  Although the big-city TV stations that covered the protest highlighted the “pornographic content” and the idea of “local control,” I saw the signs the protesters held.  I know what they really were protesting.

The idea that teens have sex.

Like it or not, teens will have sex.  Always have.  Always will.  Is this a good thing?  A bad thing?  Like so much in life, it depends.

I don’t disagree with the idea that persons should not have sex if there’s a chance of unwanted pregnancy, or potential of transmission of disease.  I consider such individuals unknowledgeable and unready to engage in what some refer to as “safe sex.”  In cases such as these, no sex is better than safe sex.

But you’ll note that I did not attach any age to such a condition.

Many “kids” aren’t ready.  I can also vouch that many adults are not, either, including many who ALREADY HAVE KIDS.  It’s not about age – it’s about maturity.  It’s also about knowledge, which means education, which means “no quotes” around the word “education.”

Abstinence only “education” has been shown to be NOT PRODUCTIVE.  Over and over and over.  Often the “education” is riddled with lies, distortions, half-truths, and scare devices.  Kids need support, facts, caring.  It’s a difficult enough issue without the crap coming at you from the “just say no” crowd.

In the fourteen years we’ve ran the ice cream parlor here, we’ve hired more than 50 young women (OK, teen girls).  I’ve lost a number to other jobs, college, and fired a few as well. 

And I’ve lost two because of pregnancy – one sixteen year-old, and one fifteen-year old (who was impregnated by a thirteen year-old boy).  I learned (later) that the sixteen year-old had the child, had another, married another man, and it seemed that she got her life on track OK.  So she said.  I never heard from the fifteen year-old, but figured she’d wind up like her mom (many kids, different dads, lather, rinse, repeat).

I can’t help but think that perhaps, with a little more education and a lot less “education” things might have turned out differently.  I don’t know.  I also would assume that these two are NOT the only ones who have had sex while working here (just an assumption on my part based on stuff I hear is all).  And I could not say for certain whether those who had sex and didn’t get pregnant had more or less education or “education” that the other two.

But I can tell you that the time to get our heads out of the sand and admit that kids need facts, not a waving finger (with a “no, no, no” sneer).  Abstinence only does not work and should not be tried.  Or funded. 

Advocate self-discipline and practice moderation, but above all promote education.

Quit fucking around with “Abstinence Only pseudo-education.”

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Underage Gaming – Don’t “Kid” Yourself

There are more things wrong with Lindsay Graham’s (R-Adelson) anti-online gaming bill than there are digits in my newly-minted PPA membership ID number (and that’s a lot), but I wanted to just look at the first sentence to debunk it and the new Coalition “Don’t Bet on It” ad (thanks to Mike Qualley for the pic).

Here’s the first sentence:  “To restore long-standing U.S. policy that the Wire Act prohibits all forms of Internet Gaming…” 

Hell, couldn’t even make it all the way through.

The Wire Act was made law in 1961, fifty-three years ago.  The Internet had yet to be created. The first poker website came about in 1995.  Americans played online without government interference until 2006’s UIGEA, which did not require compliance until 2009, and was not enforced until Black Friday, April 14, 2011. 

Long-standing policy my ass.

Secondly, all forms of “Internet Gaming” are not now prohibited, nor have they ever been.  I’ve had accounts on YouBet and Xpressbet since the nineties.  Perfectly legal.  Ironically so, since the original intent of the Wire Act was to suppress illegal bookmakers who took most of their action on…wait for it…horse racing.  The Wire Act actually made it POSSIBLE for simulcasting and with it, the online betting industry we know today.

Which gets us to point three: “carve outs” in the Graham Bill.  It is expected that the horse racing industry will again get a “free pass” in the implementation of this bill, as may online lottery ticket sales (the latter is under debate).  But there is one more “carve out” currently in place that receives little discussion but has been mentioned in the same breath as horse racing for exemption: Fantasy Leagues. 
And here’s where the hypocrisy of the new Coalition ad comes in.

According to the new ad, online gambling is dangerous to our youth, as it’s “so easy” (and cool) for kids like the boy shown in the ad to “just find” Dad’s account and start plopping down big cash at the roulette wheel and poker table.  Just like Angry Birds, almost, we’re told.

According to a September, 2013 article on Yahoo Finance, 20% of all teens (age 12-17) played in Fantasy Leagues in 2012.

Let me repeat that.  20% of all teens (age 12-17) play in Fantasy Leagues.

Do you think that kid in the Coalition’s ad is more likely to sit down at a virtual roulette wheel, or join a Fantasy League (or two or three or more)?  Where would Dad’s credit card be more vulnerable – at some new game he’s never played, or at something HE’S ALREADY DOING AND LOVES?

Politicians have no business introducing bills where they are totally ignorant of the implications or effects.  HR4301 is the poster child of that crap.

Working on Your Scruples


Now there’s a word you don’t hear every day.  Morality, sure.  Conscience, yes.  Ethics, duty, principles, standards…every damn day.  But scruples?  Not often, unless it’s in the negative, as in, “He has no scruples.”  The word comes from the Latin scrupulum, a sharp stone, implying a stabbing pain on the conscience.  To “have scruples” would mean that one has a conscience and that one knows right from wrong.  But more than that, for the definition states that scruples are “An uneasy feeling arising from conscience or principle that tends to hinder action.”  And in my book, if you have scruples, you don’t just keep them in a box.  Rather than hinder action, you let loose.  It’s one thing to KNOW right from wrong, and another to actually do something about it.

This brings us to yesterday’s post.  I discussed people who paid forward in our store, and compared them to those who exhibit bad (selfish) behavior.  They had scruples in spades, and took action to help others.  I suggested we all do more of it.  And that we were actually doing it, and that this also had to do with the current battle to legalize online poker.  And I never explained that.

So now I will.  Explain.  And by explaining, I hope you’ll collect all your scruples and keep taking action.

About two months ago I first caught wind of Sheldon’s Adelson’s Coalition to Stop Online Gambling.  No stranger to the idea of gambling interests fighting other gambling interests, I found it curious that he seemed to be playing the “morality card” in that preventing online gambling (actually, stopping what was already legal in three states with more on the way) was the “moral” thing to do.  The Coalition has used the over-worn themes of underage gambling, money laundering for terrorists, and overreaching government intervention (irony, anyone?) in their quest to prove that “Internet gambling takes gambling too far…(and) crosses the line of responsible gaming.” 

Whatever the hell that means.

Since then I have written (mostly) about this campaign, and the campaign AGAINST it, in this blog.  That’s unusual.  I’m usually not a “get involved” or “political” kind of guy.  I often feel as if I am just one person and not a very powerful one at that.  I’ve gotten involved by reading (lots) of other posts from many who feel just like me.  I’ve reposted and retweeted posts condemning the latest Adelson ad or stupid statement, or better, responses from politicians and the PPA and the new Coalition for Consumer and Online Protection.  I’ve added new FB friends and Twitter followers (and followed and friended dozens more) to keep up with the latest developments.

And so have many more.  That’s cool.  People are taking:
  • a stand against a ban of online poker,
  • a stand against rich politicians buying their way into favorable legislation,
  • a stand against moneyed interests in government, and
  • a stand against government prohibition.
But what’s even better is that those who are taking these stands are coming from every spectrum of the political circle.  Left, right, and center.  Conservative and Liberal.  Those who favor strong government and those who prefer more laissez-faire oversight.  I never thought the day would come when I would agree with something John Stossel said (of course, he was arguing with Bill O’Reilly, so what chance did I have?).  And imagine me, of all (progressive) people agreeing with Tea Partiers and columnists for TownHall.  Of course, some of my favorite Liberals feel this way, too.  As do many who actually are IN the gaming industry.

So I feel exceptionally good about all of this.  Yes, we’re in a battle, but we’re fighting! We’re together!  We’re not people with various labels like Liberal or Conservative or whatever…we’re advocates for online poker and we’re mad as hell and we’re actually doing something about it.

Just one more thing to do, and as of today, I’ve done it.

I mentioned a few months ago in a post to Rich Muny of the PPA that I would sign up as soon as I got my next royalty check.  I was serious.

If you haven’t joined PPA, don’t wait.  Lotsa benefits. 

It’s the one more thing you can do.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Spring Break Dance

It is now three days after the end of Oregon Spring Break (all public schools get out the same week here - it makes sense), and I have to admit that this post is NOT the one I originally thought I’d write.  Oh, some of Spring Break was the same as ever - I am recovering from a cold (traditional, caused by continued contact with people after a winter of virtually no contact).  We made enough at the ice cream parlor to show a profit for what is normally a slow month.  And there was evidence of the “bad behavior” that Spring Break around here is known for - we’ve had more of our share of incidents (never call them riots) with heightened police action, broken windows, etc. 

The picture is from a Spring Break back in the sixties, and it shows some of the “water sports” the kids had with local officials.  Fun times!  Of course, today they are closing one of the bridges to downtown so they can fish a Mitsubishi SUV from the bottom of the Necanicum River.  Drunk driver, of course.  So some things never change.

And this wasn’t the only bad behavior I saw, and it’s not what I intended to write about.  The bad behavior I witnesses was what some see as “no harm done” stuff - more bad manners than bad behavior.  But really, both start with the same “self absorbed” attitude that causes people to do things that they may very well castigate others if someone else did them, but “they” had a “good reason” - or some shit like that.

Littering.  Tossing your kids diapers under the car parked next to you.  Cutting in line.  Letting your kids crayon on the walls…in the store…while you are holding them.  Really. Stuff like that.  I am not certain why people do stuff here that they’d never do at home, and then, I sincerely wonder IF they actually DO these things at home. 

Some people are just not right, and do not understand how their actions affect others.  Some do not care how their actions affect others.  I am not certain which is worse, or if there is any difference.  Because I no longer care about these people, in that I will not let them ruin my life.

I care more about people who DO care about how their actions affect others, and occasionally go out of their way to show it.  While all sorts of bad behavior occurred during Spring Break, so did this:

At about 6pm on a rainy evening, a family came in to buy ice cream. While they were considering their purchase, a man came in and stood behind them, waiting.  The family let him go ahead of them, and he bought three pints. As he paid, he tossed some money on the counter and said, "Pay it forward - take the change and pay for their (the family's) ice cream."  And so we did. Or tried to...when the Mom found out what he had done, she ALSO tossed money on the counter and said, "Keep it going."  And so we kept it going.  Not everyone participated - some just paid for their own ice cream, some just said, "thanks," but maybe 70-80% of all of the night's customers "paid it forward!"  We finally ran out of the Pay-It-Forward fund just before closing time.  But we enjoyed almost two straight hours of strangers being nice to strangers.

I wrote about this on the store’s Facebook page and again in our monthly newsletter.  I was that taken by what happened.  I’ve been part of a “pay it forward” event before, as a participant (coffee drive in, so it was kind of faceless).  This is the first time it’s happened at the store, and I was touched.

Touched, because if I thought about the previous week when so much bad behavior occurred, I would not thought it possible, and certainly not by those who came in that fateful evening.  For they looked just like the folks who littered, cut in line, and allowed their kids to deface others’ property.

Y’know, just like normal people.

That’s all it takes to deal with the problems of life - normal people - coming together - acting for themselves AND for each other, to benefit not just themselves but others as well.  There are lots of names for this, I’m sure.  Human Kindness.  Empathy for others.  And so on.  Call it what you will.  And whatever you call it, know that it’s not just good for others, as this article shows that acting good for others causes good for yourself. 

So do more of it.  Well, you are, actually.

And what does this have to do with the current battle to legalize online poker, since I did tag the post that way?  A great deal (see highlighted sentence above), and we’ll discuss that in the next post.