Monday, May 27, 2013

On this Memorial Day

On this memorial day we remember those who gave their lives for our freedom.  

The vast majority of those who have died in war over the last two decades have died in what many term a holy war (by any other name as valid).  A war based on religion.  

Those who try to rationalize this put blame on a small group of what are termed "fanatical" which could be interchanged with the term "crazy".  But the fact is that however big or small this group is they have a belief that is a strong or stronger than your religious belief whatever it is.

These people believe that they are doing what is right for the world and for their people.  They believe in what they believe in.

And YOU believe in what you believe in.

You are not much different from them in your following.  You follow a god that has no tangible element.  You practice a way of life dictated by a book and by people who interpret that book for you.  The latter more than the former.

I don't dispute that for some religion has value but I tend to think that the vast majority just haven't evolved.  That those who are strong in religion need to escape.  Escape from temptation, escape from excess, escape from "their demons".  That is fine and good for the world no doubt.

But for the majority of you who were raised with this and still participate in it 40 years later I think you have just not awakened.  You are either stubborn or scared or you don't know another way to be.

My parents led me down the best path they could as a child and part of that was to not impose religion on me.  To give me the opportunity to explore for myself.  And I did.  I spent three years trying to find this warmth and togetherness that my faithful friends told me they had.  I tried a number of different sizes and shapes of religion.  Many flavors and colors from one god to many and in the end I was left thinking no.  There is nothing here.  There is community sure and I can see the value in this but it is not de rigueur to include a supreme being.

It's just not.

If you could end war as we know it in this world but giving up your religion.  

Would you do it? 

Thursday, March 07, 2013


I like stuff.

I like to write when inspired.
I like to discover new things.
I like to share my discoveries with others.
I like the joy I see in someone’s face when they have experienced the delight I have come to know.
I like wine, beer, food and the challenge of pairing them.
I like travel and variety, exploring.  Napa, Tahiti, Vegas, Portland, Spain, (insert new destination here).
I like spending time with Nina, she is the best.
I like collecting and organizing (that’s the geek in me).
I like the media, radio, TV, film (that’s what my Dad left me).
I like the Opie & Anthony Radio program
I like to talk, I like to listen, but I prefer the talking part.
I like to counsel, I like to advise, I like to share my experiences, my mistakes in hopes that others will not repeat them.   
I like to take care of people (This is from Mom)
I like to play a part. I like to play a role. I like to take the lead at times.
I like comedy when it’s funny and I fancy myself a funny person.
I like my personality, my sense of humor, my charm and I hope others are not just playing along when they seem to like it too.
I like games but I don’t like the time they take away from me; does this mean I don’t like games?
I like the people around me and I like the fact that there are times that when I am in a group of people that may not be good for me that I have the wisdom to recognize it and change course.
I like the idea of living in a small town but need a big city from time to time.
I like to matter.  I like to make a difference.  I like to get credit for my successes.
I like to brew beer.  I like when someone likes what I have brewed.
I like to review.  I like to share my opinion and I believe my opinion is valuable and others consider it.
I like to demystify things.  I like to make plain those topics that due to their complexity scare people.
I like it when I provide a wine recommendation and it results in someone reaching beyond their comfort zone and opens their eyes to possibilities.
I like the day I discovered Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich DIPA.
I like the day I introduced my brother to Bootleggers Knuckle Sandwich DIPA.
I like the three months I spent in Napa studying wine at the CIA, dreaming about the future making good friends, living what became WINE LIFE.
I like Oregon. I like my family in Oregon. I like spending time in Oregon, but I like California too.
I like Oregon beer.  I like the idea of distributing Oregon beer down to Southern California and I hope one day to know the steps to take to make this happen.
I like money, not in terms of hoarding but in terms of what it can get me.
I like gambling but not to the point it gets boring, and it does.
I like road trips (like Huell Howser did) but I don’t like commuting.             
I like the idea of reading this list of likes in an Andy Rooney voice.
I like the NFL and the Raiders and even though I may complain about those who judge me for being a member of the RaiderNation I love the controversy. 
I like staying up late when I am busy doing things but I like getting enough sleep.
I like the fact that this list is only a partial list of my likes and I could go on forever...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Christopher Dorner – What did we learn?

As the story of Chris Dorner comes to a close (or is it?) it seems that a post-mortem is in order.  I preface this piece by stating that I do not condone the actions of Christopher Dorner.  What happened to the innocents he gunned down is tragic. 

But you have to ask yourself in the midst of his ranting manifesto was there some truth?
You have to ask yourself does it make sense to heed the message of a Madman?

For me it comes down to a lack of faith in the machine that runs this country.  Federal, State and Local officials have shown time and time again that they are not equipped or do not desire to run this country effectively.  Whereas at one time politics was a tool of government now government has become the tool.  Money and influence controls our lives today and not an objective fair body of individuals who share the same purpose, the same goals, as our forefathers planned.  The US Government is no longer about freedom, equality, fair judgment, and independence.  It is about whom can raise the most money to buy the most votes and influence the most people.

What does this have to do with Christopher Dorner?  Though he seemed to be bipolar at best, a madman at worst, he faced a challenge many of us face.  Unfairness in the work place.  To what degree, who is to say?  But I believe that there must have been a root of truth to his allegations that set things in motion.  He was wronged in some way.  Many of us at some time in our lives are wronged in the workplace.  The way we cope with it is to cuss out the boss during happy hour, talk it out with the spouse at the dinner table, file a workers comp claim, or more likely find another job.  Most of us don’t have a killer’s mindset; most of us do not hunt down innocents.  But many of us can empathize with the plight of Dorner.

The nearly 15,000 people who have liked the Christopher Dorner Facebook page are evidence that empathy is alive and well in cyberspace.  I hope that the LAPD reopens the case and re-evaluates the evidence and methods used.   Not to find blame but to determine reforms that will prevent the birth of the rage in Dorner’s heart.  To determine ways to be more transparent to the city of Los Angeles where possible.  To create a world where the public will not question the existence of a “blue code” or “blue line” because such things have no fuel to live.

Whether or not Christopher Dorner was a madman all levels of government need to address the mental health challenges of this country.  What do the beating of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police, the Sandy Hook murders, the Aurora movie shootings and Christopher Dorner have in common?  It’s not guns.  It’s mental health and the fact that this country has fallen far short in its care of the disabled and mental challenged in our community.  Enough with all this talk about gun control (soon the media will dub this “weapon control”) address the real challenge that America in 2013 faces.  Mental Health.       

Wednesday, February 06, 2013


THE REINVENTION OF JAMES – a first in a series

I’m bored. Uninspired. Lacking drive. Motivation levels are low. Need a Reboot.

I have spent most of my life doing something that I am pretty good at. I went to school to study it. I make good money doing it. To be honest I don’t hate it. It’s just same old same old.

Engage rut.

I have searched down avenues of reinvention in the past. Looking for what inspires. Trying to determine what mark on the world I want to leave behind. But more importantly looking for something that I can do every day all day and be happy doing it. Never losing focus, always excited, weary at times but never tired, never bored. And if I can make enough money to live well doing it that would be sweet.

Often times I find myself using the “but” word.

“I would love to work in the wine industry, discovering new wines, sharing my discovery with others, but how can I make money doing this?” – me.

I am not an expert on anything. Sure there have been times when I am the smartest guy in the room but it’s usually because I know just a tad more about something than everyone else. In a competitive world where there are hundreds of others who want to do the same as you odds are you won’t be the smartest guy. I would love to be a wine distributor or be in wine sales but there are many more who have dedicated their entire life to this and have far more experience than I have.

There I go again using the “but” word.

Seems there is always a gap between what we want and what we can get. That chasm shrinks with knowledge, experience, and a bit of luck. Many of the hugely successful among us are a result of being in the right place at the right time. I am smarter than those people.  :-)

I just don’t have their luck.

So it’s with this thought that I begin a personal journey that I will share with you. A journey of reinvention. A walk down a somewhat familiar path toward a goal that at this point is a bit murky. But it’s there and it’s screaming out to me. “JAMES I AM THE GUY YOU NEED TO BE!”

Sunday, February 20, 2011

What Price Recycling?

As there is in many states California has a tax the government puts on the sales of bottles and cans that are sold with various beverages therein. This amazing tool to make our world "Green" is a few pennies per bottle but when you buy a case of something it sure can add up. This tax is called CA REDEMPTION VALUE. And that is exactly how it is displayed on the bottle "CA REDEMPTION VALUE" a billboard to tell you that you have paid more in taxes today.

The thought behind this tax is that it will encourage people who buy a soda to recycle the bottle instead of throw it in the street because they have in some way invested in it. The truth is the person who throws trash in the street doesn't give a crap about the few extra pennies spent. What is more likely is that the loser throws the bottle in the street and a homeless person collects it to take it to the recycling station to enable him to remain homeless. Thanks California for encouraging the homeless to live on the street. Where the money lays.

But why do I still have to pay CA REDEMPTION VALUE? I mean I separate my recycling daily and put it in a special container that I pay the trash guy to pick up and recycle.


I pay to purchase the bottle and then I pay again for someone to come pick up the bottle so that he can make money off the CA REDEMPTION VALUE of that bottle?
That's my damn CA REDEMPTION VALUE! I paid for that!

That's pretty fucked up if you ask me.

And on top of that there are built in charges I pay the trash guys to sort the trash which I have already sorted.

I need to get a job where I get paid to do something that has already been done for me.

It's time to rise up against CA REDEMPTION VALUE and other such taxes.
Or maybe a should just get another beer...

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Susan G. Komen for the Cure is not.

Mark my words, there will be an investigation of this organization that will reveal that a very large chunk of the donations they take in are for the purpose of "awareness". This huge tent known as "awareness" will cover things like big parties, travel expenses, elevated salaries, PACs, and other wasting of your heartfelt donations. If you thought that donating to this organization (or the American Cancer Society for that matter) would help lead to a cure for cancer you were mislead.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

I am blogging about wine.

More to come.