My Takes

Just my humble opinion…

Remembering Ali

Cover of "King of the World"

King of the World

I remember it well just as if it was yesterday although I was only ten years old back then.  I felt it coming weeks in advance. My uncle, who I lived with at the time, talked about it almost daily.  The adults in my neighborhood discussed it with passion and excitement in their voices.  I didn’t know what to expect but like Alice in Wonderland, I grew curiouser and curiouser.

Muhammad Ali The Greatest was set to fight Foreman.  That’s what all the hype was about, rightly so, as this Ali was going to fight four men!  Well at least that what my naive mind thought as I had never heard anyone called ‘Foreman’ before and I knew nothing about boxing.  And yes, I was a bit slow on the uptake.

The fight couldn’t come soon enough and when it did, it found my uncle and I sitting in front of a small black and white television.  Back in those days, it was the biggest television I had ever seen, even though it was only a 13 inch.  There were no pay-per view and we had just the one channel but I guess the fight was broadcast to all the networks as we were able to watch in on our one-channel television.  Oh the good old days…

I didn’t know what to expect but the hype was contagious.  I could feel something epic was about to happen but I had no clue what it was.  I didn’t have to wait long.  As I watched, a procession made its way to the ring.  It was Ali!  He was surrounded by policemen and his team.  He smiled at the crowd and looked very relaxed.  Ali entered the ring and immediately started bouncing and shadow boxing. He did the famed Ali shuffle as he waited for his opponent to show up.

Then a brute of man walked into the ring.  The big brutish looking guy was announced as George Foreman.  It didn’t take me long to make the connection and correction, although Foreman could have passed for four men.  His arms were like black steel and he looked ready to inflict pain on whoever was brave enough to step into the square ropes with him.  Foreman didn’t smile and I hated him right away as he reminded me of the bullies in my school.  Ali bomaye!

My first fight was epic indeed.  I had no idea what I was watching but my uncle and I wanted Ali to win.  My uncle was in a frenzy.  He kept jumping up and throwing punches in the air while yelling, “Hit him! Yes! Hit him!  Knock him out!” It didn’t seem like a nice thing to say but as long as my guy Ali was doing the hitting I was alright with it.  I doubted if there was a bigger fan of The Greatest that night. I was like a pre-teen girl at a Justin Bieber concert.  For years after that night, I saw his round baby face dripping with sweat, pointing at me from the television and telling me ‘I am the Greatest! I am King Of The World!’  I never doubted him in the least.

The fight was not an easy win for Ali. My uncle and I thought he was done when he laid back onto the ropes and took punishing hooks to the body.  We learned later that it was part of Ali’s plan and was called ‘The Rope-A-Dope’ and designed to wear the big bully out. It worked.  Foreman was dead tired in the later rounds and wasn’t able to make the count after falling to a combination from Ali.  The Greatest, The King came through once again.  Beating the odds like he always did.

That night, I never knew that this Ali had also defied the odds prior to this fight and taken the boxing title away from a boxing legend named Sonny Liston.  I never knew that this man had traded all that boxing had giving him, fame and fortune, to take a stand against something he didn’t believe in.  The Vietnam war.  His response to his being drafted, ‘I ain’t got no quarrel with the Vietcong. No Vietcong ever called me Nigger.’ and “Why should they ask me to put on a uniform and go ten thousand miles from home and drop bombs and bullets on brown people in Vietnam while so-called Negro people in Louisville are treated like dogs and denied simple human rights?are forever etched in my memory.   For his refusal to fight, he was subsequently arrested, stripped of his title and suspended.

After being away from boxing for three and a half years, Ali returned and soon reclaimed his throne as the King.  The Rumble In The Jungle was the fight that gave him his crown back.  The Greatest was still The Greatest.

After that fight, I was hooked on boxing as I wanted to see more of Ali. I wanted to see his flash, hear his taunting poems, his boasts, his predictions, I wanted more Ali.  As I learned who he was beyond his pugilistic skills, I liked and respected him even more.

Although ravaged by Parkinson, Ali is still The King to me.  His face no longer baby smooth and boyishly handsome but now aged and etched with visible signs of the disease.   I do not look at him with sadness or pangs of pity.  I still see before me, the man who made me believe.  The man who defied odds. The man who I wanted to be like.  The Greatest.

I hoped that one day, fate or destiny would have given me a chance to meet Ali but sadly, yesterday, Friday June 3rd, 2016, the man, the legend, the myth, the one they called The Greatest, floated away like a butterfly, he had lost his bee sting.  Rest in peace, Ali.  I will always remember you!

Edited from my original post written March 26th 2012

She’s In Love With The Boy, Or Is She?

While at a recent Garth Brooks concert, his wife Trisha Yearwood was singing her hit song, ‘She’s In Love With The Boy’ and as she sang, my mind wandered, as it is wont to do.  It wanders all the time, even while wandering.  It wandered this, “Pretty soon that song won’t be politically correct”.

You are probably going, “Why wouldn’t it be?  What cheap drugs are you on now?” Well think of the way our society is going.  He is she and she is he or both.  Where we once made do  with male and female washrooms for a two-gendered world, we are now adding a third for those not under this umbrella.  The ‘both’ group.  See where I am going with this?  I can’t hear you!

If you are still in a fog, let me aid your defogging.  Gender identity is slowing becoming non-existence or a non-issue. (Too bad I can’t say the same for race).  There’s no longer a clear distinction.  We are slowly dispensing of the systems that identified us as men or women.   Inclusivity is the order of the day.  (I still remember LGBTQ when it was just LG).

Saying all that, it won’t be long before someone asks the question, “Why are all these love songs about a boy and a girl?  What about the gays and lesbians?” Yes, what about them? Why are we eager to change and be more accepting yet it’s still a hidden taboo to sing about a man in a relationship with another man? Or a woman in a relationship with another woman? How come the ‘Kiss Cam’ at sports game never zoom in on an obviously lesbian or gay couple?  Is it that deep down, we really want HER to be in love with the BOY?

Just another one of MY TAKE

 

Who Are You?

Do I know you? Do you know you? That may be the better question.  Everyone wants everyone to be like…yes, everyone but themselves. Why can’t you be like so-and-so? As a young kid, my aunt wanted me to be like The Baileys.  The Baileys were our upper-class family friends, quite naturally, their kids were classy and well-mannered.  At least in the public eye.  My aunt didn’t know they farted without saying excuse me.

There is so much conversation on young people being forced or pressured to look and act a certain way.  As parents we resent and discuss this with disgust but in many ways we are guilty of setting the trend.  How many of us ask our halves to be different?  “Honey, why can’t you be like this?  Do it for me.  Wear this…”  I have seen it in friends who were once wild and free with independent minds, becoming zombie-like as they lose their own identity and take on that of their other halves.  They just melded.

Sometimes a change is good.  Your wife finally gets you to loosen up and try something you have never tried before, you did and found out you loved it!  In fact, you are a natural at it!  This does not change who you are.  It just means you have added something new to what makes you.  Kudos to the wifey!  Life is a life-long learning experience.  You sometimes learn that you are not one-dimensional after all!  I for one have found out I like chips after all! Thanks honey!

On the flipside, I have seen my once-funny friends get involved with Debbie Downers and turned into Boring Bobs.  (Isn’t it funny that it rarely works the other way?).  A happy you is the real you are and being anything other than that is compromising or rejecting the very things that characterize who are you.

Don’t be like the Baileys or anyone else for that matter.  Be YOU, but first, find out who you really are.

 

 

 

 

Making Trouble From Nothing

“Carlos, you are just making trouble out of nothing!” Our German International Student, Hanna, used to say to me when I stress over something that she thought was not worth stressing about.  She was, and still is, right though.

You see, I am a stresser, (not really a word). I like to, as Hanna put it, make trouble out of nothing.  I stew over things, no matter how small.  Sleeping for me is work time for my brain.  That’s the time when all of my day’s issues get solved or I devised other ways of dealing with them.  A presentation at work?  When I’m done with it at about 2am, it’s a finely-honed delivery without any hiccups, too bad my audience would never hear it, instead they were privy to the water-down version.  Well it wasn’t that watered down, since I actually did stew on it a few nights prior to the delivery date.  My nocturnal labor has solved worked problems that I was working on and even found lost items! I retrace my wife’s steps to the likely places she could have ‘lost’ her cell phone.

I am an avid sports fan, especially hockey.  When my team loses in the playoffs, it’s time for this fan to break down every what-ifs and near-miss scenarios.  What if the puck hadn’t hit one of our players?  We probably would have scored. How about the breakaway that he missed the open net on?

Maybe it’s a mental health issue and I need to talk to a brain sweeper to clear out the cobwebs that have been taking up residents in my cranial attic. (Wow! Did I just say that? That’s some serious lingo!) My wife insists that I should just shut my brain off and go to sleep. Easier said than done.  Maybe she has a brain switch but I wasn’t blessed with one.

You might ask why don’t I do all that stressing and over-thinking during the day and sleep at night?  Great question! Mind if I get back to you on that?  I just need to maybe…stew on it a bit tonight.

Just My Take!

Lessons my dog taught me

It’s been about over a year now since we got Reilly, our Lab cross.  She is all grown now but technically still a pup.  I would be telling a lie if I said that I have no regrets about getting a dog. I was never really a dog lover. I tolerated them and give them just the right attention, but they were like grandchildren to grandparents, give them attention and treats then send them home to their parents.  For some strange reason, the wife and I decided that having a dog would be great for the kids.  Plus they promised they would do all the dog duties.

I envisioned getting a dog like my friends’.  One that sits and cuddles and walks around the house without wanting to eat everything, including the house.  A dog that I could take walking or jogging and he would not trip me.  I could even ride my bike while he trots alongside.  I am not dreaming, I have seen such dogs! And that’s the dog I wanted.  What I got was Reilly.  The total opposite.

Reilly is as cute as any dog could be. She just wants to play, my wife always says when I am mad at her for not complying, even after being told over and over and over again. Yes, I have done the treats thing, some obedience classes and whatever you were going to prescribed. She’s still just a puppy, everyone says that too.

A puppy is like a little baby.  Always exploring and getting into things, so it was no reason for me to flip my lid over poor Reilly’s inability to comprehend that Daddy gets mad when she goes upstairs or sits on the couch or grab edible and non-edible items off the tables. She’s just a baby or a puppy. The thing is though, I wasn’t ready for another baby. With 3 little boys, I had my hands full. What was I thinking?  Or was I even thinking?

Having Reilly has taught me a few things.  As hard as rabid dog lovers/owners try to push dogs on everyone, they are NOT for everyone. Just like kids aren’t for everyone.  It’s totally ok, you or anyone else do not HAVE TO love dogs. No, just like you don’t HAVE TO love or want kids.  Just don’t abuse them is all you need to do. Many of my friends are anti-kids.  Doesn’t mean that I won’t trust my kids with them.

Dogs, like kids, can also grow on you.  They could be therapeutic as they are very forgiving and trusting. One of my most disgusting pet peeves was seeing dog hair on people’s clothing.  Eew! I couldn’t have a dog in our house that leaves its hair all over the place, no way! Now I barely notice the strands of Reilly’s hair that decorate my clothes as I leave for work. Or even the odd stray hidden in my food.  I probably have a small fur-ball growing in my stomach by now anyways.

Yes, dogs and kids can teach us some lessons.  If we could only stick around long enough.

 

A Thought

Think on this:

If today is the best day of your life, it won’t last. Tonight might be an inch short of hopeless; it won’t last either. Whatever has brought you to this moment is only part of the story of your life and relationship. The rest is yet to come. Put all of it—dark thorns and shining threads—into God’s hands, and he will sustain you.

Shut up and let me sleep!

They all start off the same. Falling into a nice deep sleep before the end of an episode of Modern Family.  By 1am, so deep in Lala Land I could be mistaken for a citizen or a Lalatian.  Unfortunately, like all the other nights, I get deported before I could even be considered a landed immigrant.
Last Wednesday night I fell asleep just after 10pm.   I was very tired so I had no doubt that I would be sleeping the whole night through.  Just before 3am I found myself awake and alert.  My mind sensing this, decided to start a conversation.  Oh there you are! Sucks about your friend dying eh?  So many people dying young these days. How is your health by the way? How is the blood pressure that you had tested?  How about work?  Let’s see what you have to do when you go in tomorrow. Or maybe I should say this morning.

My mind bombarded me with thoughts like those.  I chewed on some and dismissed some.  I tried to shut it off, telling myself I need to get some sleep but my mind wouldn’t relent! What time is it anyways?  Oh almost 3am.  Almost 4am.  Almost 5am…oh oh, someone needs to be getting up soon.  Aaarrrghhh!!

 

 

 

DST

Image result for daylight savingsIn this hectic world where we wish daily that we had one more hour in our days, losing an hour is a big deal.  When it’s done on a Sunday morning where the next day is the much-dreaded and hated Monday, it’s an even bigger deal.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that this tactic has ran its course but the decision-makers continue to flog this dead horse.  Maybe they just don’t want to admit defeat.  Saying this,  I have a work-around that could make this DST work and benefit everyone.  Make the change on a weekday, preferably Monday, at about 3pm!

How would that benefit everyone?  Well when the time changes on a Sunday, employees show up to work tired and unproductive.  That’s if they do turn up, some prefer to call in sick.  If the time goes forward an  hours closer to the end of their work day, employees get to leave on hour earlier AND start their evening chores earlier too! It’s almost as if they gained an hour! It’s all in the mind of course because really, who doesn’t want to leave work early? Happy employees=production=happy employers.

Thank me later.

Hell! It Can’t Be Real! Or Is It?

I have been thinking a lot about Hell lately. You know the Hell your parents and your church warns you about.  The place where bad people go to burn forever.  With the horned devil perched on his seat while he pokes sinners who dare to try to escape his fiery pit.  Try as I may, I just cannot fathom something so unimaginable.  (As a little boy, I would look at the big painting on the wall of my aunt’s house of Satan sitting with a harpoon and watching as tormented souls writhed and burn in his fire.  For some reason, I was always mesmerized by this painting, even as a kid).

Pardon me if you perceive that I am venturing out on the edge of blasphemy here.  It’s just your perception, I am a proud believer in God.  Now this Hell thing is what confuses me.  God Is Love, the ultimate unselfish lover whose love and forgiveness is bottomless.  I love my kids to no ends but that pales in comparison to the love that God has for his children.  And we are all his children, sinners and…never mind, there’s no ‘and’, we are all sinners.  There is nothing that my children could possibly do to make me sentence them to a life time in a burning pit of fire, in fact, there’s nothing anyone could do that would get me to wreak such a punishment on them.  God gave me that kind of Love.  If my puny love could transcends whatever wrong was done to me, how could his much greater love allow for any of his children to suffer this way? Yes, they broke a commandment and did not repent but does stealing a goat equate to an eternity in burning flames?   The funny guy in me is imagining a conversation between two burning souls:  Soul #1: So what are you in here for? Soul #2: Oh for murder, you?  Soul #1: I made a graven image.  Soul #2:  What the H E double hockey stick is that??

Maybe I am missing a big chunk of the picture and someone with a deeper understanding of the Bible needs to bring me up to speed or maybe it’s just my cynicism.  See my last blog here.  So, is Hell for real?  Would God really allow his children to suffer in anguish and torment while he feeds his other kids milk and honey as they walk the golden streets of Heaven?  I have to say no.  But then again,

That’s just My Take.  If I’m wrong, I pray God will forgive my ignorance and save me from the pits of Hell.

 

 

Are You A Cynic Too?

So I have been diagnosed as a cynic. Well it’s not a legit diagnosis done by a qualified doctor or anything like that.  In fact, it’s not even a medical condition. It’s a self diagnosis borne out of the realization I am a person who takes everything with a grain of salt.  Everything!  Ever seen those people who reach for the salt as soon as their food is brought to them, without even doing a taste test? Well that’s me.  Except for the food part.

What am I cynical about? Every darn thing! See above.  Take for example the good old tried and true recommendation that one should hide underneath a door frame during a hurricane.  Do I believe that?  Nope.  I saw photos of Haiti after it was hit by an earthquake.  Not once did I see a doorway just standing there, in the middle of the carnage. Not one doorway!  Indonesia, no intact and untouched doorway there either. In fact, in all of the photos of earthquake devastation, I have yet to see proof that this works.  That’s not the only example of my cynicism though. There’s more. A lot more.

I am also a cynic of political promises.  Do  you really think I believe one word uttered by those smiling, well-dressed politicians? No way Jose! Why do I vote for them?  I do because I am tired of listening to the ‘If you don’t vote you blah blah blah’.  Newsflash! They are all the same.  And if you don’t believe that, show me solid proof that they aren’t.  I didn’t think so.  Just like that phantom doorway…

You are probably thinking that I have to be positive about something right? Maybe world peace.  Lmao! World Peace? Isn’t that an oxymoron? I do pray for world peace but I know that this would never be achieved.  Not while humans walk the earth.  End to racism? Sure, when pigs fly.  While humans of different color, class or creed share the planet, never happen.

So you get the picture, I am as cynic as they come.  Are you one too? Or do you share and like Facebook posts that promise blessings and winnings if you like or share?

I join the masses in praying for the stuff that I am cynical because cynic or not, you never know, and I have had misplaced cynicism before.   I do, however, cover the spread.  I pray harder for patience to deal with the undesired stuff that comes to me. Understanding to discern why it is happening and strength to deal with it.  I also pray for a small portion of the faith that Job exhibited in the Bible.  Without it, all is lost, cynical or not.

 

My Take

Who’s Holding The Trump Card?

If you follow NHL hockey you would have heard about John Scott, the goon-turned-all-star.  After an online campaign, fans voted for Scott, who had just 5 goals and 1 assist in his career, to be the captain of the Pacific division team.  Yes, it was a joke.  The NHL in its embarrassment, tried everything they could to ‘right’ this ‘wrong’.  They had him traded from his Phoenix team to Montreal, hoping to make him ineligible since he would be a different division.   He was even sent down to the minors!  It didn’t work.  A win is a win and Scott had won legitimately, it didn’t matter his credentials. At the All Star game, Scott scored 2 goals and won not only the MVP but over 90 thousand dollars.  No one saw that coming.

Donald Trump’s Presidential  mirrors the above.  I am sure everyone thought it was a joke  No one really thought the Donald had a chance.  He had nothing in his portfolio to suggest it was anything but a joke.  In fact, Trump claimed that he knew nothing about politics.  Well the joke’s on America.  Trump has rolled down the Republican hill as a small snow flake but has now grown into a huge snow ball and gaining momentum!  Trump is for real!  You can see it coming.  The Republicans, like the NHL, are seeking ways on how to quietly end this  embarrassment, but could they?  Is it too late?  The people have spoken?

The fact that the KKK and other white supremacists groups pledged allegiance to Trump speaks volumes as to the type of person he is and what he is about.  Not that anyone needed proof, his tweets and loose tongue already revealed such.  Trump, in his honest defense, claimed that he knows nothing about white supremacists or the KKK when asked about the endorsements.  He just doesn’t know.  I doubt he knows that his wives are immigrants.  If he did he might think twice about his stance on immigrants.

It seems like what Trump wants, Trump gets  because the more he fumbles and bungles his way through his campaigns, spewing hate, sexism, racism and taking cheap and immature shots at anyone who dares to oppose him, the more popular he gets!  He is contradictory and barely knows what goes on outside his personal space.

A man who refuses to make his tax returns public and declared “I try to pay as little tax as possible,” is the forerunner in race for President.  There was never a better time for Americans to seek God’s blesssing.  From Obama to this?

Unlike Donald Trump, John Scott is a good man who deserved the good things  he go.   Sorry for the comparison, Mr. Scott.

My Take.

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