Speaking of Brands

I’ve been asked a lot of questions in my life. They ranged from the rather petulant ” Just who do you think you are?” to the whiney “Are you really going to arrest me, officer?” Until this week, no one ever asked me, “What brands do you associate with?”

Did I suddenly become a social media influencer or a rising hot commodity in the entertainment or sports field? I don’t think so. Though, I have been asked what’s your favorite brand of this or that sometimes. In most cases, such questions were for surveys, but occasionally, they were statements in disguise.

For instance, a friend asked me not long ago, “Do you still wear Levi’s?” He wanted to say he quit buying Levi’s when he heard Levi’s moved production overseas. First, though, he needed me to clarify my position, just in case.

So, where does the question inspiring this piece stand? Well, it is a bit open-ended. The question probably refers to manufacturer’s brands like the one I referenced. However, I’m from Texas, and I might think of a cattle brand that was pretty nifty, such as the Four Sixes.

The bottom line is this. I do not associate with any brand. I might drink a particular beverage brand more often than others, but I don’t associate with the brand. Others may associate me with the brand, but that is their bias, not mine.

Beyond having some fun with words, my point is that using the term associate here makes one question its use instead of addressing the question’s intent. Unless, of course, the goal was to flush out hairsplitters like me.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

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Monday Musings: A Lesson Learned

Have you ever had the experience of wishing you’d learned something earlier in life? I do not mean knowing the Theory of Relativity or not making the mistake the character below made.

I’m talking about life lessons. Something like how time-wasting it is to carry a grudge or allow someone’s actions to make you feel bad or hold you back. If we’re honest, most of us had that “if I’d only known” thought at least once.

For me, it allowed others to impact me negatively and feel powerless or less than at times. I learned that as a child, and it stuck with me for years. In some ways, it was a blessing but an exhausting one.

It was a blessing because it made me work hard and be the best I could be. That was exhausting, but it was even more exhausting when someone put me down, played games to take credit for something, or kissed the right butts to get the promotion I deserved.

I would be carrying the same baggage today if I had not encountered a personal development program that helped me look at myself and others differently. In that program, my years of higher education and experience in dealing with the training and managing of people came together.

Suddenly, I was looking back from a different perspective. I realized I had allowed the flaws in others to make me feel flawed. People who would stab their best friend in the back to get a promotion were the ones who were hurting. And I had let their negativity and inappropriate actions affect me.

Thankfully, my childhood gave me the tools to keep moving and succeeding in the face of negativity, backstabbing, and rumor-mongering. However, it would have been a much easier path to travel if I’d known what I know now.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

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Friday Follies: Another Humpday Night

It is so nice that people I’ve never met and probably never will meet are interested in my life. Yes! My little online muse posted a note wanting to know what I was doing that evening. That is so sweet!

Okay, whoever came up with that question is just trying to keep me writing, hoping it’ll help my and WordPress’s numbers. That’s fine because it also allows me to stroll down memory lane again and visit the past.

For those reading this in countries other than mine, I do not know if Wednesday is considered “Hump Day” in your world. Here, it is the traditional midpoint of the five-day workweek. So, it is the day you get over the hump and start sliding toward the weekend.

In this household, it is also the last night of traditions that started when we were kids and television was still in its infancy. Like many of our Baby Boomer friends, we were hooked on television variety shows as kids. Shows headed up by people such as Lawrence Welk, Ed Sullivan, Jack Benny, and Steve Allen, to name a few.

Some, including some of our children, cannot believe we’re wasting time on such shows. But there is a reason for our becoming couch potatoes on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights. Beyond reminding us of childhood time spent with our families, we have another connection to these nights and these shows.

They came back to us at a poignant period in our lives. Cancer raised its ugly head in our home. For months, our formerly active lives were dedicated to dealing with surgeries, chemo, and all that goes into surviving such a challenge.

Nights out with family and friends or inviting someone to dinner were on hold. Shows such as American Idol, Dancing With the Stars, and The Voice took our minds off the challenges and reminded us of days gone by.

So, the day this question was posed, it was Hump Day. We dined at home, enjoyed some decent entertainment, and remembered sitting on the living room floor watching Elvis, the Beatles, or comedic action on black and white television.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

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A Question of Distance

I was recently asked to write about the “farthest” I’ve ever traveled from home. Immediately, a short list of locations ran through my mind. And I pondered, “Which was the farthest from home?” With the help of Google Maps and a little patience, I started comparing distances.

Of course, my contrarian persona threw me a curve ball before I was finished. It whispered, “What did they mean by farthest?”

I know! Farthest usually means distance, but not always! Take New York City and Toronto. I spent time in both the late ’80s and early ’90s. They are less than 500 miles apart by car but might have been on different planets. The difference between Ottawa and Toronto was not as dramatic, but they could have been on different continents.

I could go on with the comparisons. I’ve been blessed to travel to wonderful places thousands of miles from what I’d call home. If you’d like, click the links below to read about some of those experiences. However, none of those trips meet the farthest I’ve traveled definition I have in mind.

The farthest I ever traveled from home was a round-trip of almost 2,000 miles that lasted several weeks. It was a sad journey, though it could have been a sadly amusing tragic comedy movie in hindsight. What made it sadly funny was where it ended.

My mother, brother, and I left home in the summer of 1963 and headed to my grandparents’ home in Indiana. It was not a vacation or a normal trip to see the relatives. It was a relocation journey. Thankfully, the relocation did not work out. After a few weeks, we returned to Fort Worth, Texas, our hometown. Unfortunately, we weren’t going home.

Mom and I ended up in a small house about a mile from where we lived when we left Fort Worth. While we were away, Dad moved to a garage apartment near my future stepmom, and my brother joined him. When the dust finally settled, the term home had a different meaning to all of us.

Before, the four of us lived in a large ranch-style home with a few acres, a barn, and two horses. The horses were not ours, but we cared for them. You might say we were their foster family. Mom and I were still within walking distance of the place, but it might as well have been in another universe.

Yes, farthest can mean something other than distance.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

A Question of Beauty

Speaking of Travel

A Reason to Give Thanks

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Monday Musings: Oops! I did it again!

If the title of this piece has you humming a Britney Spears song for the rest of the day, good! I wish I’d had it running through my head the other day when I did something I promised myself I would not do again.

Yes! I bought into a clickbait post concerning a topic near and dear to my heart. How those who serve our country in uniform, military or otherwise, are often treated when they are out in public.

I wore Army green in the late ’60s, police navy blue for almost thirty years after that, and buried my little brother with military honors during the Vietnam War. So, I am interested when someone tells a story about how anyone wearing a uniform is mistreated.

Sadly, as in the case attracting my attention, many of those stories are simply internet con games. This one started with the tale of a soldier who lost a close friend in combat.

Like my brother and one of his friends, they made a pact to get together when they made it home from ‘Nam. In both cases, the post and my brother’s life, only one made it home.

In the piece of trash doled out by the post’s author, the two buddies agreed to celebrate their reunion at a high-end restaurant the one who met his end in ‘Nam loved. The post was about how the survivor tried to honor his friend by dining at the restaurant.

The author of this piece of trash doled out the story in paragraphs separated by advertising, earning a few bucks for dragging people into his con game. Then, after a gut-wrenching tale of a soldier treated like dirt because he dared to wear his uniform in a “high-end” restaurant, the author explained the whole thing was a sham.

By then, I was expecting the “Hey, this is all a fairy tale I made up to get clicks” disclaimer. Still, using a story of this nature to make a few bucks or pick up a few followers is tantamount to the bullies many of us knew in school or hear about today. People who inflict pain on others to make themselves feel good about themselves.

And don’t give me any BS about the writer wanting to highlight how those in uniform are sometimes mistreated. Or how they can be supported in their post-deployment days or come together to help one of their brothers or sisters out in a time of distress.

I had the honor of meeting one of my brother’s buddies from ‘Nam and spoke with another several times by telephone. I also worked with many veterans of that and other conflicts. Few, if any, would find much solace in fake stories like the one inspiring my post.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

Posted in Ethics, Journalism, Morality, Uncategorized, Vietnam | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Monday Musings: Nice Butt Bubba

Well, I guess I should have expected it. In some ways, it began with the attack on Boomers. It wasn’t an all-out assault, but it was an attack. Posts began appearing on social media with titles such as “50 Things Boomers Should Quit Doing.” Suddenly, our traditions, our hobbies, our vocations, and our clothing were under attack.

Even our manners were under attack. Take the practice of holding a door open for someone who presented themselves as female. According to an issue of Cosmopolitan, a study conducted in the United States found a man holding a door open for a woman was likely an act of ‘benevolent sexism.” 

The current trend appeared more recently and first manifested itself in business attire. I still remember a high-end men’s clothing store salesperson trying to convince me that a suit coat that fit me like a second skin was the right size. I wasn’t buying, but many of my young colleagues were.

When your suit coat is so tight you can barely button it, that’s a bit of a stretch. (pun intended) When that wasn’t enough, trousers began to be half a size too small, and legs were tapered to the point a thin younger man looked like a stick figure.

Recently, I made the mistake of clicking on a post touting the latest version of men’s shorts and trousers for work or leisure wear.  They are, to be kind, one step away from being stretchable workout attire. In fact, one advertisement even touted how they fit the wearer’s hips and legs.

The picture to the right is a pair of “Athletic Fit Stretch Suit Pants.” They are not as workout-looking as some others I’ve seen, but do you really want to wear slacks that are so thin and tight people can see how much change you have in your pocket?

OneOldCop -2023

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Monday Musings: A Question of Beauty

Inspiration comes in all shapes, sizes, and formats. This little piece was inspired by a friend commenting on a post asking people to share the most beautiful place they’ve visited. Being the analytical nerd I am, I read a few responses and realized I had to write about the matter.

First, as you’ve read or heard many times, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. However, as I wrote some years ago in “A Blind Eye,” humans can find ways to see only what they wish to see in everything, from a mountain vista to their belief in God. So, just like one’s religious or spiritual beliefs, beauty depends on more than simply the colors, shapes, lighting, and setting of a view.

Take my first parachute jump, for instance. It was early 1969 at Fort Benning, Georgia. I was wrapping up my training and would be heading back to Texas in a couple of weeks, but I still had to step out of the door of an airplane at 1,200 feet a few times to earn my Jump Wings. And, as luck would have it, I was the first guy to jump in my platoon.

That meant the Jump Master had me step up and stand in the door of that noisy old C-119 forever as we approached the drop zone. As I’ve written before, I counted the rivets on the engine boom while standing there. I was afraid to look down for fear I’d freeze when the Jump Master yelled, “Jump!

He yelled. I jumped and remembered little except the rushing wind battering me until I felt a tug and looked up. My parachute was unfolding just as it was designed, and I cannot tell you how beautiful that was. Then I could look down and enjoy the view from a thousand feet in the air as I drifted over the forest toward the drop zone.

So what has all this above got to do with the point of this piece? First, the beauty I felt when I realized my equipment worked and I would not die that day differs from the beauty one may see on vacation or a less dramatic visit to a scenic area or locale.

I have been blessed to travel to some gorgeous places. I’ve been as far south as Brazil, west as Hawaii, east as Wales and England, and north as Alaska. I’ve been to mountain tops, the bottoms of canyons, the depths of caves, and many points in between.

From magnificent vistas in the Rocky Mountains National Park to a boat near Niagara Falls and swimming with the dolphins in the Caribbean, I’ve had some wonderful experiences and seen some beautiful things. The most magnificent was Glacier Bay.

Yes, Glacier Bay is at the top of my list. It is not there because of mountains, glaciers, the bay, or any one thing you might normally identify with something beautiful. In fact, the day we were there, it was overcast and hazy.

An iceberg is calved!

Also, there was the distraction of tourist groups full of chatterboxes yammering about everything and running around as if the rest of us were blind or didn’t exist. And there are always those who cannot wait their turn to get to the railing. They had to push to the rail to get a picture, even if it meant ruining someone else’s shot.

Eventually, the pushy, noisy groups were satisfied. They went back to their cabins or down to the lounge. Wherever they went, everyone remaining stood in awed silence or spoke in hushed tones to avoid disrupting someone else’s experience.

As we stood there taking it in, the glaciers would groan. An iceberg would occasionally be calved with a sound like a cannon shot. And a line of ships floated motionless and silent, strung out the length of the bay. It was magnificent, and it would be hard to imagine anything more beautiful. Even the critters were in awe.

Okay! The little critter below did not appear in awe as it floated around on its little iceberg. Instead, it exhumed an air of disdain and grudging tolerance. It was just waiting patiently for captains to crank up the engines and leave this piece of paradise to its natural inhabitants.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

Posted in Holidays, Travel, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Once Again: Into the Breach

Okay! Maybe it isn’t into the breach, in the classic sense. I’m not stepping in to save the day for someone. I’m not volunteering to stand between society and the chaos some seem to seek. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt.

I’m just trying to make it through the “Golden Years” without any more 4:30 AM ambulance rides or ICU visits. Thankfully, my shift from “Darn! You don’t look that old” to “Have you had any problems with anesthesia before” is relatively benign. At least the initial phase has been fairly low-key.

Yes, I am a brand new cataract surgery patient. With minimal fanfare but a long wait for an appointment, I had a relatively comfortable and pleasant experience having a five-figure lens implanted in my right eye. Of course, as with any medical procedure involving introducing a foreign object into your body, there is discomfort, worry, and adjustment when the anesthesia wears off.

So, here I go. Will my blurry vision in that eye at the moment clear up? Will the foggy look go away? The after-procedure instructions say you don’t rub the eye. Did I rub it while I was still befuddled by the sedation? Are the drops I need to put in the eye going to burn so much every time I put them in the eye? What happens if this doesn’t work? Will an optometrist be able to correct the poor vision left by the ophthalmologists?

Thankfully, the road I traveled to reach this point taught me many lessons. I cannot change what happened or didn’t happen this morning. I cannot let the potential shortcomings of the procedure interfere with my walk through this life. I have overcome and will overcome until my time here is done.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

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Monday Musings: Urban Nomads

When someone asks where I grew up, I sometimes respond, “How much time do you have?” At least, that is the first thing I think about saying. Usually, I only say that with someone I feel might have a sense of humor, but I’ll occasionally say it to see if the person is genuinely interested. Whatever I respond, the title should hint at my answer.

My family moved a lot. By the time I was six, I lived in three states, five cities, and seven residences. When I graduated from high school, I’d lived in eleven different towns or communities and sixteen different abodes, if my memory is correct.

Some reading this may think, “That’s not so bad.” Remember one thing before you think something along those lines. We were not a military family. Nor were we forced to move because we couldn’t pay the rent or Dad was being transferred to a new office.

We moved every time Dad got the urge for one reason or another. We moved to the “country” four times so we could hunt, fish, or whatever. Each time, we moved back into “town” a year or so later. Once, we moved back to town, and a year later moved less than a block before moving back to the country a few months later. Only once did we live in the same house for two full school years.

Sadly, I seemed to follow in my dad’s footsteps. My first years as an independent adult included several residential addresses. However, unlike my dad, I finally settled down, living and working in one city for twenty-five years. Then I relocated to the area I lived in when I finished high school and started college. I’ve been here for twenty-eight years.

If you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in here. There is a point to this piece beyond my lamenting my nomadic upbringing.

Thankfully, my wife and I have lived in a great neighborhood for over twenty years. It provides many opportunities to photograph the things we love about the area and share them with friends and family. Now I intend to start sharing them here at times. I hope you enjoy them. This is a small private lake within walking distance of our place.

© oneoldcop – 2023

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Friday Follies: You Talking to Me?

Last week I shared the beginning of a lifelong saga involving my identity. No, I was not confused about who or what I was. I was me, and I was happy with myself. At least I was as happy as the other kids I knew.

Like most families, ours had ups and downs that sometimes made life uncomfortable. In most cases, things turned out fine. Some were more irritating than others, and some took longer to resolve. Next to the nickname issue, one of the more irritating situations things about our family was the decision to treat my brother and me like twins.

It started with clothing. David and I wore matching outfits all the time. The clothes weren’t a big problem, but other issues arose as we aged. The fact Mom and Dad ignored the difference in our ages and sizes was almost amusing when I look back on those days. It was annoying then, but we were just kids and didn’t think about it often.

The nickname thing had nothing to do with the clothing issue. Regardless of how we were dressed, David was always called by his given name, and I was always called by a pseudonym. Any time Mom used my given name, I knew there was a problem.

The name thing did become confusing and sometimes problematic as I grew older. It was not a problem in public schools. Everyone knew me as Eric Jackson. Teachers, coaches, principals, and friends all called me Eric. They thought my legal name was Eric Jackson, as most people did until I had to get a driver’s license.

Yep! I was sixteen years old. Mom, David, and I were preparing for a road trip to Indianapolis. I was to be Mom’s backup driver, but first, I needed a driver’s license. There was one slight problem. My legal name was still Stephen Eric Jackson, and the State of Texas insisted my DL needed to match the name on my Birth Certificate.

Other than the shock of learning my identity had been an alias for most of my life, it was no big deal. No one else, schools, jobs, or whatever, really cared about my legal name. So, I was still Eric Jackson 99.999 percent of the time. Then I started college.

At first, nothing changed. Eric Jackson started college, held a part-time job, and bought his first clunker of a car. Then the academic powers began to react to the social changes in the U. S. It seemed higher education faculty were perceived as pompous and overbearing by the younger students. A change was mandated!

One semester your professor is all formal and uppity, addressing you as Mr. Jackson or Miss Smith and occasionally Mrs. Smith The laid-back culture of many new-age college students felt that it was “So Yesterday!” Accordingly, professors were forced to become more social.

Suddenly, the roll call was not “Mr. Jackson.” Instead, the professor would call out “Stephen” or occasionally “Stefan,” and no one would respond. Depending on the class or the prof, another calling out of the given name might happen before a disgusted sounding, “Is Stephen Jackson here?”

It was an interesting time for me. I’m not certain whether it was an unconscious rebellion or a cognitive issue. Whatever it was, it took a while for me to recognize the prof was speaking of me when they used the name, Stephen. But! I found a solution!

Yes, the professors had to learn a more personable way of addressing students. So, I decided there was a less confronting way of reminding them my name was Eric. I started using S. Eric Jackson on my papers and communications instead of Stephen E. Jackson. It took some time, but it usually worked. Then I went into law enforcement.

The first little issue was my background check. Try explaining to a background investigator why a twenty-something with no criminal record had multiple aliases. The next little communication problem came up when I started moving up the ladder in law enforcement.

I’ll share that little story another time.

© oneoldcop.com – 2023

Posted in Family Vaules, Higher Education, Humor, Police, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments