Category: Widowers


Whatever happened to Mr. Magnum, P.I.?

Whatever happened to“The Fonz?”

Almost DailyBrett doesn’t remember learning about predatory reverse mortgages on “Happy Days.”

Using celebrities in advertisements has been de rigueur since the Earth cooled.

Some of us remember O.J. slicing and dicing his way through airports on behalf of Hertz.

There is element of sadness when you learn that once-well-known and admired actors and entertainers are now lending what is left of their reputation and fame to extol … reverse mortgages to susceptible elderly people with life-preserver nest eggs.

Usually the “Has it come to this?” questions apply to one-time headliners (i.e., REO Speedwagon, Grand Funk Railroad, Moody Blues, ZZ Top) being reduced to playing desert casinos or county fairs.

Guess, they can get out there and play “Sharp Dressed Man” just one more time.

From Magnum, P.I. to AAG

“I’ve done my homework. And I know how dedicated AAG is to helping retirees in a caring, ethical way. I trust them. I think you can too.” – Selleck reading the teleprompter during American Advisors Group’s (AAG) two-minute spot

“These companies (AAG, $400,000 fine, Reverse Mortgage Solutions, $325,000 fine, Aegean Financial $65,000 fine) tricked consumers into believing they could not lose their homes with a reverse mortgage. All mortgage brokers and lenders need to abide by federal advertising disclosure requirements in promoting their products.” — Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray.

Hey Tom, did your “homework” include the 2016 $400,000 fine by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) against caring and ethical, AAG?

According to the bureau, AAG “tricked” seniors into thinking they could never default on a reverse mortgage loan. The truth is seniors still must pay their property taxes, hold insurance on the property and maintain their residences. These loans are NOT zero brainers.

Do you still “trust” AAG, Tom? AAG has been fined for “tricking” seniors, and the ads — starring little ole you — are still running.

Do you care?

Almost DailyBrett has natural admiration/affinity for Selleck based upon the fact he is obviously talented, served as a Navy Seal, and went to the University of Southern California … May The Horse Be With You.

This blog post is one of sadness. Everyone has to make a living. We trade upon what we do well and in many cases, who knows us. We also have a precious personal reputation to safeguard and protect.

Once your good name is gone, it’s gone. And that’s the issue here.

As a public relations counselor, your author would have asked Tom Selleck:

‘Has it come to this, Tom?’ Really, Tom?

‘Is there no better way at this point in your successful career to make a buck? Does the indisputable fact that AAG was fined $400,000 for deceptive advertising mean anything to you? Do you really want to associate your good name with shameless false advertising?’

“Fonzie,” What Happened?

Henry Winkler, you were television’s answer to James Dean.

There you were, Mr. Ultra-Cool in your black bomber jacket and white t-shirt on Happy Days.

And here you are today in a standard light-blue colored shirt, a few belt sizes larger, pitching reverse mortgages for One Reverse Mortgage.

Seems like you and Tom Selleck caught the same dollar-driven disease.

Guess, coolness doesn’t matter anymore.

For the record, One Reverse Mortgage has not been fined by the CFPB. Does that really matter when it comes to Winkler’s image and reputation? Personal brands are indeed valuable.

Almost DailyBrett, who likewise is putting a few miles on the odometer (there is still plenty of gas in the tank) was shocked when he first saw Winkler in these reverse mortgage commercials. Getting old is a bummer.

This blog is already on the record about time shares, annuities and reverse mortgages. Each is a multi-billion business. The winners without a doubt  in each and every case are the salesmen/saleswomen, and most of all … the pitchmen to vulnerable seniors (e.g., Selleck and Winkler).

Reverse mortgage advertising star, former Senator Fred Thompson, couldn’t line his casket with his AAG money.

Messrs. Selleck and Winkler, you won’t be able to take your earnings to the after life either.

When your respective days are done, future generations will be left to ponder about your diminished reputations, if they think about you at all.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvAui0vUT88

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1eIIQ6s_u0

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vhhGparW6KQ

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://www.consumerfinance.gov/about-us/newsroom/cfpb-takes-action-against-reverse-mortgage-companies-deceptive-advertising/

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/23/business/would-you-trust-tom-selleck-with-your-life-savings.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/12/09/your-money/reverse-mortgage-lenders-fined-for-ads-that-tricked-older-borrowers.html

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2017/05/16/hasta-la-vista-to-timeshares-annuities-and-reverse-mortgages/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Selleck

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Winkler

 

 

 

We all lost a great one today.

He was one of the most popular governors in the proud history of California.

George Deukmejian was much more than the 35th chief executive of the Golden State.

For Almost DailyBrett, a former cub reporter with a fascination of all things political … and a little hair at the time (see photo above), meeting and working for George Deukmejian changed my life.

Instead of taking and keeping an eternal vow of poverty as a reporter, your author was serving as the press director of the Deukmejian Campaign Committee at 27-years-very-young.

My salary was $18,000 annually, but quite frankly I would have worked for nada for the experience. My transformation from a registered Democrat to a proud Reaganite Republican began in 1982. More importantly, my three-decade-plus career in public relations ensued with the gubernatorial primary and general election campaigns; we almost lost both until we won.

Sacramento was a hostile place in 1983. The other party controlled literally everything with the exception of the corner office. We needed the “Iron Duke” more than ever.

Feb. 26, 1983: California Gov. and Mrs. Deukmejian, left, watch as Mrs. George Finlayson, wife of the British Consul General, curtsies before Queen Elizabeth II in a reception line at the Broadway Street Pier in San Diego. This photo was published in the Feb. 27, 1983 LA Times.

Our friendly adversaries in the Capitol Press Corps, who were not predisposed to our way of seeing the world, deep down respected “The Duke.” They would state that George Deukmejian was a little dull (his favorite color was … “gray”), but his team was well-organized. The Deukmejian administration spoke in one voice from the first day to the last day eight years later.

It was well known that others were offering their champions as press secretary when the job came open in 1987. There was little secret that I wanted the job, primarily based upon my institutional memory about everything and anything George Deukmejian.

The governor had faith in me, and gave a chance so many others would have denied me. For three years, I served as his spokesperson and a chief message developer. The first day became the next day. The first week became the second week. The first month …

Looking back on his years as governor, your author still remembers pushing the media horde back just to give him a glimpse of the horrifically damaged Cypress Structure the day after the October 17,1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake.

LOS ANGELES – JUNE 07: Governor George Deukmejian campaigns for George Bush on June 7, 1988 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Grecco)

Each year after leaving the Office of the Governor in December 1989, George Deukmejian never missed sending a holiday card or a note now and then. When my first wife, Robin passed away, (he attended our wedding as governor), he called me to offer his condolences. That is the George Deukmejian I knew, kind and considerate right up to today … this sad, last day.

“We”, “Us”, “Our”

George Deukmejian always spoke in first-person plural, never wanting to draw undue attention to himself even though he was the chief executive of the largest state of the union. In a rare occasion in which he would employ the first-person singular, he once said: “my tear ducts are close to my eyes.”

His lifelong campaign was for public safety. He bravely called for California’s assault weapon ban when little Korean children were murdered by an AK-47 on a Stockton schoolyard. The NRA went crazy. What else is new?

The suffering endured by his ancestors in the 1915 Armenian Genocide always brought sad memories every April 24, and opposition to the Reagan administration’s stance on Turkey.

Many focus on his judicial appointments (yours truly wrote the vast majority of these news releases), his expansion of the state prison system, and his support for highways to get people to work … but seem to forget his lifelong dedication to human rights.

Then California Attorney George “Duke” Deukmejian and wonderful wife, Gloria at the Deukmejian for Governor headquarters opening in Manahattan Beach sirca 1982.

George Deukmejian was a committed fiscal-integrity, public-safety conservative. There were no flip-flops with the governor. He was at total peace with his philosophy.

And when the day was done, it was done. He went home to Gloria, his children, the noisy beagles and his one consistent vice, jamoca almond fudge.

Almost DailyBrett sensed this day was coming. My only regret is that I wished for the time and at least one more opportunity to be with him in these last years … just to say hello, and goodbye.

Your author will sign off with a tear from the ducts close to his eyes. He will make a promise to only use the first person plural. He will always remember the man who gave him a chance, when others would not.

George Deukmejian was the Governor, who changed my life.

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-sac-skelton-george-deukmejian-20180510-story.html

 

 

“Don’t mistake activity for achievement.” – Legendary Basketball Coach John Wooden

Almost DailyBrett has been reflecting on a deep conversation with my physician.

Philosophically, my doc pointed to the onset of one’s seventh decade as the beginning of the “Dying Years.”

The “Dying Years”?

Does the author of Almost DailyBrett really want to ponder this inevitable subject? Not really.

Having said that, consider the following:

There was a time when everyone in my immediate circle seemed to be graduating from college.

And then everyone was getting married or going to weddings in hopes of getting married and lucky … not necessarily in that order.

Weddings, receptions and honeymoons eventually led to babies, toddlers, kids and PTA meetings.

Next up were the wave of divorces, and once promising loves gone wrong.

Along the way, there were surgeries and medical procedures, providing far too many of us with the war wounds of life.

Some deal better than others when it comes to mid-life crises. There are those who purchase sports cars, but they don’t all have to be red. My little chariot is green.

And finally … friends and family start meeting the Grim Reaper. The years go by and more than a few have bought the ranch. Those 60-and-above are now in the “Dying Years.”

Death is a subject that no one wants to assess — let alone discuss — even though the end of life is part of life, and thus inevitable. There will come a day in which my ashes will start their eternal swimming and swirling in the Willamette.

Almost DailyBrett contends those in The Dying Years have a responsibility and yes, even a choice about how they approach and enhance these vital final chapters of life.

Every Day Is A Gift; Every Day Is An Opportunity

“Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.” — Apple Founder Steve Jobs

“Don’t cry. Don’t raise your eye. It’s only teenage wasteland.” – Pete Townshend, Baba O’Riley

If life is short and finite for everyone, isn’t there a personal responsibility to do the best we can with each remaining day of our lives?

How many have lamented about far too many people – young and old — wasting their lives, mindlessly spending hour-after-hour, day-after-day playing video games, watching “original content,” drinking PBR Talls – while the dishes pile up in the sink?

As the Germans say, “Life is too short to drink cheap beer.”

How about those who receive all of their news and information through their smart phones, Comedy Central and video games? According to Theologians, Jesus spent his 33 years on the planet and lived within a 150-mile radius of his Bethlehem birth place. His reasonable explanation, if asked: global transportation really did not exist in a 33 AD flat-earth world.

What is the excuse for those in the 21st Century who confine their lives to a 150-mile radius, when global transportation is ubiquitous? If you want to stroll The Ginza, walk the cobble stones of Red Square, traverse the once-forbidden arches of the Brandenburg Gate or shop gaze along 5th Avenue … you can and you should. The world is out there, Carpe Diem!

There will always be overachievers, such as Condoleezza Rice, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Phil Knight and Elon Musk, and then there will be the teenage wasteland crowd, which matriculates to adults running out the clock until that inevitable last day arrives.

In effect these people who are wasting their lives – more than 30 percent of working age males are voluntarily not working in today’s America – are already in their dying years.

Don’t we have a responsibility to leave the world in better shape than we found it? Naturally, we don’t individually have the means to end Third World famine in Africa and elsewhere, but we can serve our communities, countries and the planet … making them all better for our presence.

We also have a choice about how we approach these Dying Years. If we are conscious of our diets and exercise, we may be able to extend our active years into our 70s and maybe 80s. If we make the choice for a gluttonous sedentary existence, we hasten the demise of the quality of our lives, restricting our opportunities, until that day arrives.

The Dying Years is quite frankly not an easy subject for Almost DailyBrett, let alone anyone else. Nonetheless it’s a topic better addressed earlier than later, when we still can take responsibility and make the right choices.

Can’t tell you how many times, a commentator has referred to a passing as “an untimely death.”

When will The Dying Years, let alone death ever be timely?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baba_O%27Riley

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/10/25/prostate-cancer-a-piece-of-cake-compared-to-valley-fever/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/03/12/six-decades/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/02/17/running-out-the-clock/

 

 

 

“According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.” — Jerry Seinfeld

It was a Funeral for a Friend.

To be more precise, it was a service celebrating the life of my best man and my BFF.

John Newhouse moved into heaven at 62-years-young.The world would be a better place if there were more John Newhouses. Alas he was taken from us way too soon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was honored to deliver the third of four eulogies June 30.

Having long ago conquered Glossophobia, which hails from the Greek γλῶσσα glōssa, meaning tongue, and φόβος phobos, fear or dread, delivering a eulogy was still an unprecedented, daunting challenge. The emotion cannot be minimized. The semantic issues are real. Even the best orators are confronted by the strictures of the eulogy.

If the family requests a three-minute eulogy that does not mean you should double or triple that amount of time. As Carly Simon sang: “You probably think this song is about you.” It’s not. Time your presentation. Stick to the written script. Work on your transitions, timing and eye contract.

As an assistant professor, a PowerPoint, a laser pointer and a clicker are de-rigueur standard tools of the trade. Using the Steve Jobs technique, each slide is a prompt, making speaking notes superfluous. Alas, there are no PowerPoints or Prezis for presenting the eulogy.

Speaking extemporaneously or winging it is not an option. Don’t go there. The eulogy needs to be just right. Standing behind the podium and mentally searching for the right words at the right time in the presence of the audience can very well lead to an embarrassing rhetorical train wreck.

And yet even with a tight script, the English language simply will not rise to the occasion. Nonetheless, there must be chosen words and they may not be perfect – that’s not possible – but still they must describe my best friend for 41 years.

Borrowing from another tongue, the Latin words of the U.S. Marine Corps motto — Semper Fidelis/ Semper Fi (always faithful) — spoke to the character of John Newhouse.

Regardless of his given cause/affinity, John was always loyal: The Spirit of Troy, The Los Angeles Dodgers, our USC Fraternity Phi Kappa Tau, his fellow Rotarians, his youth baseball teams … and most of all his family.

Looking into the collective eyes of his grieving family and recounting John’s unshakeable commitment to his two sons regardless of the circumstances, and how he treasured his wife and instinctively knew he overachieved in marriage, is a testament to why the phrase Semper Fi is appropriate.

Even though the author of Almost DailyBrett endured 12 years of parochial school with its sentence diagrams and the petty tyranny of the nuns and priests, the question comes whether it is kosher to add a Biblical verse 1 Corinthians near the conclusion of a church eulogy.

“Love is patient. Love is kind … “seemed to work for this setting. John was patient, did not keep score (except at a baseball game), always protected, always trusted. Yes, 1 Corinthians did the job.

As the clock clicked past three minutes, it was time for the close and a promise to share a microbrew together, if your author ever makes it to the pearly gates.

There are a myriad of challenges that each one of us will face in life. We will do better with some than others. Crafting and properly delivering the eulogy is one of them. With proper preparation, an understanding the English language will not cut it, and with a confidence the words will make the mark, then it will be time to go forward to remember, celebrate and pay proper respects to a departed colleague, friend or dear family member.

“Love Never Fails.”

John Robert Newhouse: A Celebration of Life

“John Newhouse was my best man.

“John Newhouse was my best friend … forever.

“He was everyone’s friend.

“He was my fraternity brother … and a fraternity brother to several in this room.

“He was the kindest person I ever knew.

“John Newhouse loved the world, and was a renowned traveler.

“My grandfather told me there were two places he never wanted to go.

“One was hell. The other was Russia.

“John and I went ‘Back to the USSR’ during the height of the Cold War in 1981.

“More than a few thought we were crazy, and they were right.

“When one talked about going to The Evil Empire it was not to-and-from, but in-and-out.

“John saw Moscow, Leningrad and the Baltic States as just another adventure.

“We did come out of Russia. We came back to America.

“John literally visited every continent on the planet, and was always looking forward to his next road trip. Wendy knows this undeniable fact oh-too-well.

“Speaking about the world, we can all say ex cathedra, our planet is a better place because of John Newhouse.

“When celebrating a life of someone so special that ended way too early, the world’s Lingua Franca, the English language, simply fails us.

“The U.S. Marine Corps adopted from the Latin, Semper Fidelis or Semper Fi as its motto. Translated it means: ‘Always faithful.’”

“There are many virtues about John, but his passionate loyalty to the Spirit of Troy, his devotion to his beloved Los Angeles Dodgers, his commitment to his fraternity bros, his service with his fellow Rotarians, but most importantly his faithfulness to his family, stand out when one contemplates what made John Newhouse just so special.

“John Jr. and Scott. Let’s face it: From time-to-time, you drove him insane. Nonetheless he was proud of each of you, and he literally would do anything in his power to make your lives the best they could be.

“Wendy, you were always a miracle in John’s eyes. He was so proud to have you on his arm. He loved you dearly. I can state with impunity he was always Semper Fi when it came to you and your 33-years of marital bliss. He instinctively knew that he overachieved in marriage and he treasured your union every day.

“Considering that we are celebrating the life of John Robert Newhouse in a house of God, there are lines of scripture that seem just right in depicting why John was a gift to all of us. They come from 1 Corinthians:

“Love is patient, love is kind.

“It does not envy. It does not boast.

“It is not proud.

“It is not rude. It is not self-seeking.

“It is not easily angered.

“It keeps no record of wrongs.

“Love does not delight in evil.

“But rejoices with the truth.

“It always protects, always trusts.

“Always hopes. Always perseveres.

“Love never fails.”

“John, I love you. Your family loves you. Your wonderful spouse loves you. Everyone here will always love you.

 

“And on a personal note as your best man, John: If I am good enough to enter those pearly gates to join you in eternity, the first microbrew is on me.”

 

 

 

After at least four years of more lectures, labs, study groups, readings, papers and presentations than you would ever care to count, the prospect of taking up to another 18 months to attain a master’s degree or maybe even four years to earn a Ph.D is a prospect most graduating seniors would rather not even think about.

And yet the question still persists for some: Should you seriously consider taking the advanced degree plunge right here and now following graduation? Consider that even more employers are requiring advanced degrees; many want MBAs.

Before answering this perplexing interrogative: Consider the unmistakable NFW response by the author of Almost DailyBrett in 1978. Yours truly had just received his bachelor’s in Broadcasting Journalism from the University of Southern California. There was simply no way when it came to the question of signing up for even more college.

I was done, thank you very much.

Looking back at that easy-and-yet momentous decision, your author now regrets not pursuing a master’s degree right then and there, when he was as free as a bird … no spouse, no kidlet, no mortgage, no car payment … absolutely nothing.

Fortunately, Robert Plant and Jimmy Page were right in Stairway to Heaven: “Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run, there’s still time to change the road you’re on.”

A confluence of events in my life (i.e., widowerhood, adult daughter, real estate appreciation, fellowship) gave me that one-last-chance-in-a-lifetime opportunity in 2010 to pursue my master’s degree in mid-life at the University of Oregon.

The author of Almost DailyBrett was very fortunate, very fortunate indeed.

Died and Went to Heaven

When the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication offered me a fellowship, your author jumped at the opportunity in two nanoseconds or less.

You should do the same, if you are selected for an on-campus fellowship at a R1 university.

Becoming a Graduate Teaching Fellow (GTF) provides the following benefits:

  1. An absolutely free master’s degree or Ph.D … yep no-instate or better yet, no out-of-state or private school tuition;
  2. Medical, dental and vision health care benefits for at least the fellow, and maybe the whole family as well;
  3. A stipend of $1,000 or more per month;
  4. Invaluable teaching experience as a teaching assistant to a professor.

As Almost DailyBrett wrote before, I appreciated this unbelievable deal and thought I had died and gone to heaven. It was perplexing to say the least when the University of Oregon GTFs went on strike in 2014 … Patience, Kevin. Patience. Let’s not get started on this subject again.

Some have asked: Should I take an online master’s degree or Ph.D? My short answer is nein.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in public relations, marketing, journalism, broadcast, film etc., it is best to be on campus to directly interact with your colleagues and Ph.D professors. Sorry to say, file sharing and texting just don’t cut it.

If one is pursuing an advanced degree in accounting, an online program may be appropriate. Having said that, communications requires – face-to-face interaction and diplomacy – no online program can help you advance these interpersonal story telling skills.

What about the necessary evil? The Graduate Record Exam (GRE)?

Brace yourself and come to full acceptance mode as quickly as possible. Any graduate school worth its salt (sorry University of Phoenix, that designation does NOT apply to you), particularly a Research One or R1 university, will require the GRE.

Your author took it twice, the second time after a prep course, and lived to talk about it. Take the prep course and do as well as possible on the GRE.

What About Grad School?

“No one does bull shit better than you.” – A compliment from one of my USC fraternity brothers

Trust me, bull shit does not work in Pro Seminar.

The two-night-per week, three-hours per class, was the most intense review of communications philosophy one can imagine (i.e., Kant, Marx, Althusser, Descartes, Hegel, Le Bon …). Don’t even think about going to class without doing the reading; you can’t hide in plain sight for three hours. Don’t even think about B.S.- ing a full professor with a Ph.D in Philosophy from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana.

And once you have navigated the benign sounding, but mind-numbing Pro Seminar class with its up-to-five hours per night of reading, you will be ready for … qualitative and quantitative analysis in the next quarter.

Sounds horrible? Right?

In reality, pursuing a graduate degree was an incredible and rewarding challenge. It soon dawned on me that I was only using a mere fraction of my brain. I made some great friends as well.

One of my profs said: “We are working on your intellectual growth.”

Intellectual growth? Me? Really?

Oh, did I mention that my master’s degree was an absolute prerequisite for landing a tenure track professorship in public relations and advertising at Central Washington University? Guess, learning about Immanuel Kant and his categorical imperatives was well worth it.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/08/11/taking-the-gre-again/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/are-striking-uo-graduate-teaching-fellows-certifiable/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/07/18/online-college-not-good-enough-for-pr/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/07/01/did-a-perfect-storm-lead-to-the-gathering-storm/

 

 

Oregon will never be confused with Tuscany.

In Tuscany, thousands wait in line for hours to check out Michelangelo’s “David.”

In contrast, somebody in Oregon is named, “David.”

In Tuscany, one can queue-up for hours to admire Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” standing in her perfect sea shell.

In Oregon, one can find sea shells at the coast, not sure about Venus.

Frances Mayes’ book, “Under the Tuscan Sun,” and the movie with the same title tells the story of an American (e.g., actress Diane Lane) in search of a life change, and a little love too.

She made a totally impractical, impulsive decision. Seemingly on a whim, she bought a classic “fixer-upper” in Cortona, Tuscany and lived to talk about it. The book’s story and the heroine, who took the ultimate plunge, set off a series of similar decisions as literally hundreds of upper class Americans rushed to Central Italy to buy their own Italian villa in the sun.

Reportedly, some even asked the locals for the Italian word for “cappuccino.”

The author of Almost DailyBrett eventually made the trek to Tuscany with his new bride, Jeanne, to celebrate our honeymoon. We stayed in a 12th Century Italian villa on a bluff overlooking Il Duomo de Firenze, but we resisted the temptation to buy the Torre di Bellosguardo.

That does not mean your author is innocent when it comes to rash, impulsive decisions. In 2010, I came to Oregon at 55-years-young in search of a master’s degree, Oregon football games in the fall, and maybe a little love too.

The impulsive part comes into play when one asks: Why would a middle-age widower (being kind here) decide to buy a three-bedroom, two-bath 2,000-square-foot “tree” house for himself and his American shorthair feline, Percy?

Wouldn’t renting make more sense, particularly when one contemplates widespread academic prejudice: my chances of landing a teaching job at University of Oregon after graduation would be next to none? Renting easily made more sense, except for the George Carlin “stuff” factor.

Carlin’s comedic monologue about the never-ending acquisition of “stuff” (i.e., beds, dressers, chairs, tables, washer/dryer, fridge …) results in a predictable crisis. Can the author of Almost DailyBrett downsize from a 2,200-square-foot Monopoly (ranch-style) house in Northern California to a 1,000-square-foot apartment, and still find sufficient space for his stuff?

Let me interject right now: your author does not do orange metal doors surrounded by Berlin Bunker concrete (e.g., storage units = unintelligent loss of legal tender).

So what did all of the above make me? A displaced Californian with equity to transfer, looking for a tree house to display his stuff, and live and study as well … Under the Oregon Clouds.

Spider and The Fly

On more than one occasion, it has been questioned why would a single-at-the-time, follicly challenged mature dude acquire a 2,000-square foot house with a deck, hot tub and occasionally serving prosciutto and melon with Sangiovese? Was my Eugene house the human equivalent of a spider’s web, looking for “some little girl to fly on by” as suggested by Mick Jagger in The Spider and The Fly?

Almost DailyBrett will piously declare the primary purpose for the turn-key Eugene house with next to zero backyard maintenance was to serve as a place to study, research and finish a master’s degree in Communication and Society. The next steps were finding a full-time teaching gig. The wonderful new wife came later, even though my eyes were always surveying the horizon for both.

The aforementioned Jeanne became Mrs. Brett on her own recognizance, and yours truly was offered a doctoral fellowship to Arizona State University and a tenure track professorship at Central Washington University, taking the latter position.

What that on-the-one-hand and on-the-other-hand decision meant was transporting my new bride, two alley cats and our  “stuff” to a townhouse in Ellensburg, Washington and renting out the house Under the Oregon Clouds. That plan worked for two years until the renters (e.g., Stefanie and George) decided to move.

Considering that our move back to Eugene was not coming anytime soon, we made the decision to sell the house Under the Oregon Clouds. Think of it this way, a house is bricks and mortar or some variation of that theme. We can always buy another house, another day maybe with sun above. Right?

And yet, the house did not sell as the rain fell during the winter. The house Under the Oregon Clouds is quirky (e.g., it has character). It has three flights of stairs, a car-port instead of a garage (for your stuff). Das Haus ist nicht für Alles.

It did not sell. We couldn’t be happier.

Someday, we will once again visit the 12th Century Firenze villa Under the Tuscan Sun.

More importantly, we will surely move back to that special tree house Under the Oregon Clouds.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Under_the_Tuscan_Sun_(film)

http://www.francesmayesbooks.com/under-the-tuscan-sun/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvgN5gCuLac

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0CSs4Nf-64

“Believe in the Power of the Run.” – Legendary University of Oregon and U.S. Olympic Team track coach Bill Bowerman

“Food is the enemy.” – Former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee

“Drive-throughs are killing more people than the drive-bys.” — LA Gangsta Community Gardener Ron Finley

Went to the big-box store looking for a men’s reversible belt. Supposedly, you are supposed to buy one size larger than your actual waistline.DSC02471

Let’s see: There is size 38, size 42, size 46, size 50 …

Where the heck is size 34? Do they still make size 34 belts, let alone anything smaller?

Your Almost DailyBrett author may be vertically challenged. There is no doubt he is follicly challenged. Damn it, he will not be horizontally challenged.

No convulations over my size 34 belt.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 34.9 percent of American adults or 78.6 million are obese. The added medical costs nationwide amount to $147 billion or about $1,429 in additional doctor visits for each obese adult.

Day-in, day-out millions of Americans are literally eating, smoking and/or drinking themselves into infirmary. Wheel chairs, scooters, canes and walkers are just waiting to be purchased (an unfortunate growth industry) and the kidney dialysis centers are popping up like Starbucks.

This trend has to stop.

When you think about people in wheelchairs you feel sorry and sad particularly for what they can’t do in their lives any longer. There world is literally getting smaller and more restricted with each and every day.

For some, this state of affairs was unavoidable and unfortunate. They deserve our sympathy and support.

For others …

And then, there are the 400,000 Americans who die each other because of smoking-related diseases. Can’t they read the warning labels? Ah, yes it is the nicotine talking; it is always the nicotine talking.

Without Limits

More than a few don’t want to hear anything about running. There is a commitment to a level of pain when it comes to getting into shape.

Some correctly believe that it’s near-insanity to wake up early in order to run in 16-degrees (ski cap, gloves, thermal undies); others may see this commitment as dedication.

And some may be concerned about running in 90+ degree heat; better make sure that plenty of water is available.

Why should we even consider running? How about because we want to not only live, but live well?

Literally hundreds of thousands of people outrun little ole me on a daily basis. They have the 13.1 or even better, 26.2 decals on the backs of their cars. These stickers are tributes to themselves and to Pheidippides, who according to myth immediately died after  running 26.2 miles to deliver the good news of “Victory” after the Battle of Marathon.marathon

In My Time of Dying

“I see the smiling faces; I know I must have left some traces; And I see them in the streets; And I see them in the field; And I hear them shouting under my feet … “– Robert Plant and Jimmy Page

At 11 minutes and 6 seconds, “In My Time of Dying” is the longest Led Zeppelin song ever recorded. For some reason, it seems to be an apt title for a run of almost two miles. There are times when you actually believe: This run is really In My Time of Dying.

The question that needs to be asked, besides the obvious bout against overweight/obesity, why take the time and effort (particularly in extreme temperatures) to make a commitment to fitness and staying in shape?

The answer is multi-fold, but one of them revolves around having clothes you wore 20 years ago still fitting. Another is the little extra bounce in your step that arises from increased stamina. And how about the prospect of living longer, doing more, being sharper and enjoying life to the fullest?

If one needs further stimulation consider a mobile device with Nike+ software. The little tyrant actually awards you video game-style “medals” just to make sure that you run more than 30 miles each month.stonescuba

When the author of Almost DailyBrett contemplates the Rolling Stones are still bringing it on the road, even visiting Cuba for the first time just last month, in their collective seventh or eighth decades (i.e., Ronnie Wood, 68; Keith Richards, 72; Mick Jagger, 72 and Charlie Watts, 74), one needs to rebel against a lethal sedentary lifestyle.

Watching Jagger dance and perform in his 70s for upwards of two hours with a reported waist line around 30 inches-or -so is simply awesome.

momsledPondering how my mumsy at 97-years young has kept her slender build, just renewed her driver’s license for FIVE MORE YEARS, and still goes to Curves three days a week is motivation enough for me, and maybe it should be inspirational for others as well.

Yes, I am a tad biased on this subject.

Her father, an avid fitness kind of guy, made it to 100-years-young with all of his personal transmission running just fine.

Happy Birthday mumsy. You are still ready to hit the sled and drive the nose guard off the ball.

Something tells me, she will see the century mark and then some.

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/adult.html

http://www.cdc.gov/obesity/data/prevalence-maps.html

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6DUnOup4tVY

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Bowerman

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2014/03/18/split-an-entree-today-enjoy-a-free-lunch-for-two-tomorrow/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/11/11/life-in-your-years/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2015/06/21/plant-some-shit/

http://www.theguardian.com/music/2016/mar/26/rolling-stones-enjoy-historic-cuba-gig-havana-obama

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_My_Time_of_Dying

http://www.lakepowell.net/marathon.html

 

 

 

 

 

Meet the baby of the family, the unexpected/unplanned baby of the family.

This coming Saturday, Pi Day, the mathematically inept, right-brained baby will “celebrate” the successful navigation of 60 years on the planet, and look forward to hopefully plenty more.kmb2

Much has changed since the decade of Ike, Elvis, Disneyland, Sputnik, U2 (not the band) and “Senator, have you no sense of decency?”

The author of Almost DailyBrett has always been a tad vertically challenged; in time became follicly challenged, and still vows to never-ever be horizontally challenged. Looking forward to Saturday’s cross-training with Nike+, charting the results.

Tempted to mimic a lyric, “Oh, what a long, strange trip it has been,” but I was never into that kind of “trip.” When it comes to sex, drugs and rock n’ roll, always been a big fan of the first, still dig the latter (never was a Dead Head), and never understood the appeal of the “medicine.”

Baby Boomers are supposed to wax nostalgic for the 1960s and the demonstrations in the streets of Chicago and arrests on the quad at Berkeley. What the heck happened to your author? Instead, he pleasantly recollects the 1980s, when he tied the knot for the first time, became a father to Allison, when it was Morning in America.

California even balanced its budget, raised zero taxes and maintained a $1 billion for emergency. Almost sounds quaint when compared to today’s oceans of red ink for our children’s children to pay. Yep, the 1980s worked; they always will; historical revisionism be damned.

Come to think of it, during my life a Wall went up in 1961 (“Ich bin ein Berliner”) and it came down 28 years later (“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall”). O.J. sliced up UCLA’s defense in 1967 and Nicole Brown a generation later.

Nothing has ever been permanent, particularly disco, hem-and-tan lines.

Brady Bunch Neighborhood

Growing up in lily-white Glendale, California in the age of Hogan’s Heroes and the God-awful Brady Bunch, your blog writer will always be grateful for those priests and nuns who taught writing, reading and literature. They also transformed me into the rotten Catholic I am today with their unique combination of arrogance, boorishness and corporal punishment.

Sorry to say Padre, you were wrong: Mary Magdalene was not a whore.

There was the bitter divorce of 1967, but with it came life-long lessons about how to and how NOT to treat the fairer gender. Monogamy with a special one is best; you should try it and stick with it, fellow hombres.ibmselectric

My love of writing began at eight-years old, the very same year in which the school loud speakers told us about the death of a young president. This same infatuation with the pencil, pen, IBM Selectric, work station, PC, and now the mobile device continued as man walked on the moon, a president resigned, our diplomats were held hostage for 444 days, and planes crashed into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Growing up, always thought that Nixon’s first name was “Damn.” Came to appreciate that Tricky Dick and Slick Willie were spot-on names for my least favorite presidents. Thankfully, Nixon abolished the draft. There was no ‘Nam for me, University of Oregon instead.

The Earth Shook

Eventually graduated from the University of Southern California with a Rose Bowl ring and no loans. Yes I was fortunate, but a long career laid before me. Cut my teeth covering the Proposition 13 tax-revolt earthquake in 1978. Toured the Soviet Union in 1981, seeing the Evil Empire and its grip on people up close and personal. Recruited to serve as the press director for the Deukmejian Campaign Committee the following year. We won the governorship of California at 5 am the day-after-the-election. We recorded the biggest landslide in blue state California’s history four years later.

Sacramento has two seasons: Hot and Cold. Served as the Governor George Deukmejian’s press secretary as the earth shook San Francisco (e.g., Loma Prieta Earthquake). Was told “The Bay Bridge is in the Water.”  Whew, it was not true, even though the Cypress Structure mysteriously came down.cypressstructure

Next was trees, owls, chips and Japan, which led to the fifth most famous person from Liverpool, Wilf Corrigan, and LSI Logic. Saw the Internet bubble rise and inevitably it exploded, resulting in seven rounds of layoffs and a company on the brink. We survived and yet it was time for Wilf to retire … The world moved on to social, mobile and cloud.

Faced mortality twice, first with prostate cancer and then with Valley Fever/Meningitis. Fought off the first and battled the second to a draw, and yet it was my first wife, Robin, who lost her battle to cancer. Life is unfair. Life is fickle. Life is finite.

Attained the so-called “Holy Grail” of public relations, vaunted agency experience with a life-changing side-effect; subbing at Santa Clara University. Could I teach at the college level, maybe even at the school that caused time to stop with “Kenny Wheaton is going to score; Kenny Wheaton is going to score”?DSC01171

Accepted a fellowship to the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication and earned 15 months later my master’s degree. The attainment of a second career was complete with a full-time instructor position at UO, and now a tenure-track assistant professor gig, teaching public relations/advertising/corporate communications/investor relations at Central Washington University.

And best of all, the author of Almost DailyBrett turned his attention away from his blog long enough to survey the field of contenders on Match.com. The result was a love affair with Jeanne, fireworks on the Fourth of July, and trips in the little green chariot. Next up is our long-overdue romantic honeymoon to Bavaria and Tuscany, Mad King Ludwig’s castles and Under the Tuscan Sun.

I am one lucky dude.

Today, I am inspired by Mick and Keith at 71, Ronnie at 68, and geriatric Charlie at 73 on worldwide tour. To use more than a few metaphors, there is still plenty of gas in the tank and the engine continues to rev every morning. It’s pedal to the metal time.

“Oh what a long, strange trip it has been.” Looking forward to continuing the ride with the top down and my few remaining hairs flowing in the breeze.DSC01421

 

Why Widowers Make the Best Lovers

My seven-year involuntary bachelorhood, and more important my seven-year forced widowerhood (if there is such a word), ended with the autumnal equinox, September 21.

As a new happily married man, I am pleased to report that both my bachelorhood and widowerhood are over. If you don’t believe me, take a moment to review my all-time (nearly 2,300 page views and counting) post: The Trouble with Widowers.

Back then, I was a frustrated, disappointed and unhappy puppy. And it shows in this particular Almost DailyBrett post. Initially, I thought being a widower was an advantage compared to other single folks. I was coming to a completely different conclusion. Having said that, I never gave up on the notion that widowers make the best lovers.

“Mommy got sick. And it happened just like that. There was nothing anybody could do. It isn’t fair. There’s no reason. But if we start asking why, we’ll go crazy.” – Tom Hanks as widower Sam Baldwin in “Sleepless in Seattle.” sleepless

Sam Baldwin’s wife died of cancer. And Meg Ryan as Annie Reed was determined to meet him. The same fate happened to my wife and by extension to me as well.

Entering into compelled bachelorhood, I wrote that compared to other categories of Baby Boom singledom; it was best to be a widower. The alternatives were bitter divorcee, single-north-of-40 or worse yet, currently separated with the warring states engaged in pitched battle.

Nonetheless, there are so many Frauen und Frauleins that are unhappy with their widowers because they remember their deceased spouses; they still may have mementos (e.g., displayed pictures, commemorative art, photo albums); and they continue to love her.

In turn, these factors in many cases trigger a mental comparison between the present female and her real and perceived flaws and the dearly departed. There are some who insist and can’t resist: Competing Against the Dead. And yet, there is an undeniable reality. She is deceased. Finis. Endo Musico.

It has been suggested that my personal record number of web hits and (not always pleasant) comments for The Trouble with Widowers is a reflection of women who are frustrated with the knuckle-dragging gender, particularly those who are widowers.

An immediate thought that comes to mind is whether these unhappy members of the fairer gender are searching for ideal hombres, as if these animals actually exist or ever existed. Let me offer the following for what it is worth (keep in mind, I am not a romantic expert and never will be): Widowers make the best lovers. And let me provide an addendum: Not all the good ones have already been taken.

How can I make such a categorical and unequivocal claim with no escape clause that widowers are the best lovers?

Assuming the widower did not become a widower because of foul play, one can conclude based upon experience that a widower knows how to keep a relationship and by extension, a marriage intact. sleepless1

He is not single because he was thrown out of the house. He is not single because no one is interested in marrying him. He is not single because he is separated, and the war is just starting.

He is single because of-death-did-they-indeed-part. My apologies for the sophomoric statement: Cancer sucks.

Certainly widowers are not perfect, but who is?

If a marriage stood the test of time, then obviously the widower contributed in part to this success. As a former widower, I know that a relationship is an everyday commitment. It cannot survive on auto pilot. There must be an effort to keep the romance and excitement alive, even in the face of the mundane daily challenges (e.g., work and raising a family).

Every successful marriage must overcome challenges and inevitable disagreements. Widowers know this, and can bring this knowledge and experience to their next relationships.

Sounds like the widower is applying for a new job? Ever experience an initial Match.com date? There are two simultaneous interviews taking place with each person serving as the interviewer and interviewee. A widower has an excellent chance of succeeding in this setting, provided he has found The Right Woman.

corinthians Probably, the best advice I received from multiple females of the species: “Just be nice.”

That seems so simple, and yet so many men swing and strike out even with a fast ball being thrown right down the middle.

A successful marriage requires the patience, kindness and willingness to NOT keep score. There is a much better than even chance that a widower instinctively knows this and has practiced these biblical tenants during the course of his marriage.

And yes, he can love again. Believe that. I am loving again.

http://symbioticpublishing.com/widower.html http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sleepless_in_Seattle

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4J7gg1V0oak

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/ https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2013/07/09/the-right-woman/

The Right Woman

DSC00344

 

This is not a gushy blog.

Instead, it is a response to one of my earlier epistles that resulted in many pairs of panties getting themselves all in a twist.

It amazed this writer how my April 15 blog…as in the April 15, 2012 The Trouble with Widowers post managed to get so many (mostly of the feminine persuasion) so riled up. The offering is one that keeps on giving and gosh darn it; the piece helps my SEO as well.

Go ahead, I dare you…Type in The Trouble with Widowers into your Google search and let’s see what comes out on top. I am as confident as Muhammad Ali stepping into the ring.

Okay, it’s time for a little humility for a change.

I never wrote The Trouble with Widowers for pure SEO (Search Engine Optimization) glory. As a widower, I was perplexed and a little irritated … okay a lot irritated … why I was not doing better when it comes to the affairs of the heart.

Deep down, I am a nice guy with a fun career. I can communicate with the best of them; heck it’s my profession. If you don’t believe me, just ask me.

And yet, my efforts at honest, effective communication with the fairer gender were coming up empty. One of the problems was the image of the woman in my past: The one, who passed away eight years ago tomorrow.

May you rest in peace, Robin.

Looking back on the past 15 months, I am amazed how one blog could draw 1,338 page views-and-counting and a record 28 comments some of which telling me that I was “clueless,” an “attention seeker” and my favorite, a “martyr.” Ready to nail me to the cross?

As the famous cliché states, “You can’t always tell a book by its cover.”

The title, The Trouble with Widowers, may have been akin to Xmas morning for youngsters. The majority of the readers of this particular post (e.g., women) most likely saw presents under the tree in the form of a new avenue for male bashing. Let’s give it to those widowers…until…oh…the blog wasn’t pounding men with deceased spouses into fine grains of sand. Instead, it was a call for understanding and communication.

It was a call for the right woman.

There are approximately 3.6 billion card-carrying females on this planet. Thankfully for heterosexual widowers, there are more women than competing men. Finding that woman, an understanding woman, is an exercise in patience and perseverance. For me, it took seven years to find Jeanne.

Vice President (and fellow widower) Joe Biden lost one-half of his family in a horrific traffic accident in December, 1972. It was several years before he met his Jill. And it was even longer before he could think of his deceased wife and baby daughter with a “Smile of the lips before a tear in the eyes.” Jill is an understanding woman.

The same is true for me, even though one of my readers wrote: “God help the next woman who enters into a relationship with you” and another, who offered, “I doubt your girlfriend is as secure as you maintain.” Thank you, Gloomy Gus, Negative Nancy and the other human barbiturates.

What seemed in particular to get everyone’s bowels in an uproar was the prospect of a “shrine” to the deceased and the notion that a new GOW (girlfriend of a widower) or WOW (wife of a widower) was second best.

Growing up in Southern California, my mom at dinner time would turn on a small electric light to illuminate a large portrait of her mom (my grandma Peggy) and turn it off shortly before retiring. Was that a “shrine” to a deceased member of the family? What constitutes a shrine? The next question: Is it appropriate? I never questioned it.

As I offered before, photos of a deceased grandparent, parent, sibling, (Heaven forbid) child are kosher, but photos and art work from the late spouse are insensitive? Each and every one of them were family members. Why is it different if one married into the family?

And then there is the notion that the GOW or WOW is somehow “second best.” Let me ask this question: Does a mother with multiple children numerically rank her Kindern? Is this the equivalent of the BCS standings with the top two children vying for the mother’s number one spot when it comes to love? Will a trophy be awarded for winning the maternal, “Natty?”

There is no denying that a GOW or WOW is second, chronologically. That’s just common sense. The deceased spouse came first. That doesn’t make the new love of your life, second best. She is second. The same is true for children…only one can be the first child.

Let me offer the following: The venom that has been directed at me may be a cry of frustration. Dating a widower is not as easy as it seems. He usually does not carry the bitterness of many divorcees or those currently separated. He does not bring obvious questions of those post-40, who have never been down the aisle. In most cases, he brings to the party the experience of a successful marriage that was cut short by the Grim Reaper.

It all comes down to two-way symmetrical communication. Both need to understand. Both need to be accommodating. This is not a once-a-week practice, but it is every day. Relationships take work, even those with widowers.

A widower needs to work every day with the new woman in his life, just as he did in his past relationship. The same is true with the woman dating and loving the widower. It all comes down to the right widower and the right woman.

As one of my colleagues said to me last year: “When it’s good; it’s good.”

Thank you Jeanne. It’s been good, damn good. You are the right woman.

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/the-trouble-with-widowers/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/smile-on-the-lips-before-a-tear-in-the-eyes/

https://almostdailybrett.wordpress.com/2011/01/22/competing-against-the-dead/

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