Tuesday, August 22, 2017

LIVING ON BORROWED TIME


Today a friend approached me, sadness in his eyes, as I was having my morning coffee and croissant at Cole’s Coffee. He sat down next to me, put his arm around my shoulder and patted me on the back as if to comfort me.  I was surprised for I needed no comfort.  Perhaps, I thought, I have misinterpreted his look.  Maybe his look was due to a suppressed belch, a swallow of bitter and cold coffee; or perhaps he needed comfort.   

Then he spoke.

“Well, Kerry, in a week you’ll be living on borrowed time.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked, expecting a humorous punch line.  But no humor followed. He was deadly serious.

“Well,” he said, “in one week you will turn 80.  The average life expectancy of a Caucasian male is 79. You are about to exceed that.  You are borrowing time from guys who didn’t spend all their allotted years.”

I have no idea whether his statistics are correct, and rather than ask Google.com Ph.D., what is my life expectancy, I decided to explore the guts of his statement that I was living on “borrowed time.”  Am I somehow indebted to those males who did not fulfill their life expectancy?  The life insurance tables tell me that when I was born in 1937 my life expectancy was 58 years.  My goodness, I have already, according to the reasoning of my friend, borrowed 22 years!  Current tables tell me that at 80 I have a life expectancy of 8 years, but a baby boy born on my birthday this year will have a life expectancy of only 77 years. 

So from whom am I borrowing?

Of course all this is rather frivolous and unscientific.  One’s life expectancy changes each year as he or she ages.  Having outlived my original life expectancy, and temporarily being in the position of exceeding the life expectancy of this month’s baby boys, I have to accept my friend’s conclusion that I am somehow indebted to someone or something for my good fortune to have lived so long, to be able to commence my ninth decade, or as I prefer to say, early old age.

In pondering a bit about this, I thought of a few of the things to which I am indebted:
  •  To the accident of fate that I was born in the U.S.A. to a loving middle class mom and dad. 
  • To my father who in 1937 at the moment of my birth somehow knew how to administer mouth to mouth resuscitation. In those days women often received ether during the birthing process. My mother received so much ether that it knocked me out in utero. When I emerged the M.D. could not get me to breathe.  Looking into the delivery room and realizing something was terribly amiss, Dad burst through the doors, grabbed me from the doctor and puffed gentle breaths into my lungs until I breathed on my own. 
  •  To the physicians who started my heart after my scalp split open by the falling bed of a dump truck on which I was riding on the running board during a construction job. My heart stopped during emergency treatment and the physician was able to restart it with a shot of adrenaline.
  • To the accident of fate that after being drafted in 1961 I was not sent to Viet Nam along with many of my fellow basic training draftees who fought and died there. I was sent to  Monterey, posted to the very safe and cushy position of Military Representative to the Monterey Peninsula Visitors' Bureau.

I could go on and on enumerating my debts.  But in my remaining years (8.1 per the official tables) it is more important for me to make some repayment. To do so, I will contribute in whatever ways I can to the improvement of the lives and well-being of my fellow human beings-- family, friends and strangers, old and young, men and women, whatever their race, sex, sexual identity, religion, social status or ethnicity may be. 

The slate won't be wiped clean, but the erasure marks will demonstrate that I tried.     


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

WHO IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE

The press is enemy of the people??? Well, let's look at the facts:
1. The press does not advocate taking health care away from 20 million people.
2. The press does not advocate castration of the EPA
3. The press does not advocate sweeping up whole families of immigrants and deporting them with minimal legal protection.
4. The press does not hate Muslims
5. The press does not advocate shutting down immigration by refugees.
6. The press did not support appointment of Mnuchin, who profited in the 100's of millions by fraudulent foreclosures of mortgages held by struggling homeowners
That above just includes a small portion of the harmful acts taken by the administration against the people of the U.S.
WHO THEN, IS THE ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE? You got it, it's our so-called president, Donald Trump, EOTP.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

HOW DO I LIE TO THEE

HOW DO I LIE TO THEE
(By Donald Trump with Apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning)
How do I lie to thee? I’ll count the ways.
I lie to thee to the depth, breadth and height
My ego can reach, texting in the night
Stretching truth and seeking praise
I lie to the level of every day’s
Political needs, by twitter’s light.
I lie to thee freely, damning the media’s slight,
Lying endlessly, desperate for your praise.
I lie to thee with the passion put to use
In my lusty groping in my piggish ways.
I lie to thee with campaign skills I used
Even though the popular vote I did lose.
I lie to thee with cheating, smirks,
Corruption and I'll still tweet lies vehement
Even after my rigged impeachment.

Monday, January 23, 2017

MY NAME IS EVERYMAN


In these dark, divisive and foreboding times, we must turn to the light of love and strive for unity.  Therefore, in the spirit of love, unity and inclusiveness,
I declare:

That my name is Everyman;

That my name is Everywoman;

That I am black, brown, yellow, red, white and the hue of all fellow human beings;

That I am male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, bisexual and asexual, transsexual and transvestite, and all sexual identifications that are freely chosen or inherent, and not harmful to others;

That I will fight against demagoguery, hate, xenophobia, egoism, misogyny, sexism and all other isms, creeds, beliefs and practices that demean, denigrate or destroy the well-being of my fellow humans;

That I will denounce and oppose by my actions and words the acts and positions of politicians, legislatures, courts and law enforcement personnel that infringe upon the rights and dignity of my fellow humans;

That I will denounce and oppose by my actions and words the degradation and destruction of the environment by those who would exploit the earth for personal enrichment;

That I love my neighbors, however they worship, be they Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus or of other religious persuasions that practice peace and love;

That I make this pledge fully knowing that my actions may adversely affect my comfort, personal freedom and well-being, but also fully knowing that my failure to so act would demean me before my God, my family and friends, myself and the world.

I so pledge.
Kerry Gough


Friday, December 23, 2016

TIS THE SEASON TO BE JOLLY (REALLY?)

      If you are a Facebook Friend you have already seen a version of this blog.  If not, please read and enjoy...it is not entirely dark, and ends on a positive and hopeful note.

For years my wife Leila and I have had two predictable conversations in the weeks following Thanksgiving:

     1. When to put up the Christmas tree.    She insisted that it go up right after Thanksgiving.  I always responded that that is too early, that the tree will dry out, catch fire and burn the house down.  We compromised at 10 days before Christmas. We solved that annual dispute by buying an artificial tree, which you can't tell is artificial without touching its needles or sniffing at it and not getting that woodsy, pine smell.

    2.  Getting the annual Christmas Letter written.  I always threaten not to write one, usually with the excuse that there's nothing to write about. Those of you who have received our letters over the years have learned not to expect tiresome recitations about vacations, kids, accomplishments, blah, blah, blah layered with braggadocio.  Our letters over the years have been filled with a lot of make believe, teasing and outright lies, enthusiastically received, or so the recipients report.

Which brings me to a recent marital conversation:

Says Leila:   "You, better get started on the Christmas letter, Kerry.
Says I:          "After a year like this you want me to write one of my humorous,                           compelling, prevaricating letters.  Not this year.  I just can't do it."

Says Leila:    "There are lots of things you can write about:

      • Your trip to Bandon Dunes for a week of golfing.                        (That was enjoyable, except for the sinking feeling in my  stomach when I left Interstate 5 and navigated country roads  towards the coast, greeted at each turn of the road with red, white  and blue "Trump/Pence" signs.  Doesn't Oregon have litter laws?)
      • The trip to Atlanta for your nephew's wedding where you got to see your brother for the first time in 8 years. (A beautiful inter-racial wedding, except it was there that I learned that my brother voted for Trump.)
      • And NYC where we saw the Book of Mormon. Freaky Boots and Front Page, and ate sumptuous meals at great restaurants. (and where we had dinner with Pearce Brosnan and Leila sent him a martini, "shaken, not stirred."  Well, she later wished  she'd sent him the martini, but he was sitting just one table away, so you might say we had dinner with him.
      • Celebrating your daughter's 50th birthday party. (What a way to make a guy feel old!)
                   "See, there are lots of things to write about."

Says I:        "You left the most important things out."

Says Leila:  "What did I leave out?"

Says I:         " The election, hate crimes, Black lives matter, wars..."

SILENCE
MORE SILENCE
AND EVEN MORE SILENCE

Finally says Leila:   "But it's a Christmas letter. Tis the season to be jolly."

Says I:           "Yes, tis the season to be jolly?
                       (Fa, la, la, ignore the folly.)
                      "Ignore Aleppo, it's not so bad,
                       (That's what Assad said.)
                       "Let's ignore Putin's hacking,
                       (Helped us see security's lacking.)
                       "Let's ignore Blacks got shot,
                       (Cops just doing what they're taught)
                       "Ignore hate crimes on Muslims and gays,
                       (Cause they don't follow American ways)
                       "Ignore a bigot's election win,
                       (He'll make America great again.)"
                       "Oh yes, tis the season to be jolly,
                        But I cannot ignore all that folly."

       We must not let the evil in the world blind us to how very blessed we are.  We must turn aside evil by sharing our blessings, reaching out to those who are less fortunate, here and abroad.  And, as difficult as the concept may appear, we must pray for our elected leaders, including the head of state, that they forego thoughtless rhetoric and callous disregard for the poor, the minorities, the immigrants, the gays, the working and struggling 99 percent, but rather that they be guided by what is truly best for all people or our greatly diverse nation.

      An evil man named Saul, who lived over 2000 years ago, was bent upon persecuting, jailing and killing Christians.  One day, as he traveled on his way to Damascus to carry out his hellish mission, he was struck down, blinded and spoken to by the Lord. "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?"  As a result of this incident, Saul, later known as Paul, regained his sight and was converted. He became a defender of Christians and suffered persecution himself as a result.

     Let us hope that Donald Trump has a Saint Paul's Epiphany as he proceeds down Pennsylvania Avenue to his inauguration.

     After all, miracles do happen.

12/23/16

Thursday, December 1, 2016

MNUCHIN IS NO MUNCHKIN


Munchkin:  A person who is notably small and often endearing. 
Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Steve Mnuchin, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of the Treasury, is neither notably small physically, nor endearing.  He’s six feet one inch, which puts him in the top 16% of American males, height-wise, but he doesn’t stand tall in any other respects.

As a banker he made a fortune foreclosing on working families homes.

His bank targeted seniors who had reverse mortgages, which tanked in the Great Depression, and homes in low income neighborhoods, where his victims were Blacks and other minorities.

He profited by leading an investment group that in 2009
purchased  IndyMac, a leading subprime home lender which failed in 2008. According to the FIDC he paid “pennies on the dollar for the assets being acquired.”  Mnuchin renamed it One West and eventually sold it for over $3.10 billion, more than twice what he paid for it. Since FDIC covered the overwhelming majority of IndyMac’s losses on bad loans, Mnuchin’s bank profited mightily on the deal (all at the expense of suffering homeowners and our tax dollars).

OneWest falsified and robo-signed fraudulent documents in order to criminally foreclose on homes.  It admitted its wrongdoing in a consent decree.

OneWest discriminated against minorities in its lending practices, locating its branches so as to avoid neighborhoods of color and minority census tracts. *   So now we will have a bigoted Attorney General and a bigoted Secretary of the Treasury.

Mnuchin has no experience in politics or policy.
(But then again the President-elect has no experience in governing, politics or policy. It is the blind leading the blind.)

When it became clear that Trump had been elected, I uttered, “Oh, God, save us!”   Then I thought about St. Paul, who was on his way to Damascus to round up Christians, take them to Jerusalem for persecution and even execution.  Suddenly in the middle of his journey, he was blinded by a bright light, spoken to by the Lord and converted from a persecutor of Christians to their defender.

So, I offered a silent prayer: “Lord, may Donald Trump experience a St. Paul Epiphany as he travels down Pennsylvania Avenue to his inauguration.”

After all, miracles do happen.

Kerry Gough, 12/1/16

*(Source of the above facts, Chris Isidore and Danielle Wiener-Bonner, CNN, Nov. 29, 2016)

Saturday, November 19, 2016

EVOLUTION OF A FEMINIST, a guest blog by Leila Gough

I am not a feminist.  I have never been a feminist. Sure I have experienced harassment and discrimination in my career, but I have always just ignored it. I was hired in the investment business in 1981.  At the time there were two of us applying for the job.  A male with no college degree but sales experience (car sales) and me with a college degree and no sales experience.  I was 22 years old.

In the securities industry, when you are hired to be an advisor, you are given a desk to study for the Series 7 exam for three months.  Pass the test, move on; fail, you are let go.  The male was given the desk to study.  I was hired, but as clerical help with the proviso that I could study at night, or when things were slow and if I passed I too could get a desk.  We both passed the exam and I was given a desk.  Instead of being angry, my narrative was that because I had done some clerical work, I understood how to get things done for my clients right from the beginning.  

A few years later I was working late afternoon in the office as were others.  The manager walked by and grabbed my ass.  Yes, just grabbed my ass.  I did nothing.  I don't even think I told my husband.

Fast forward to the 1990s, I am in a conference room, full of men (it is after all, a male dominated business) waiting to hear from our new regional manager.  I was in the front of the room.  He walks in, looks at me and says, "I wonder what you had to do to get that ring."  I said, “get married.”

None of these incidents in my career has made me change my point of view about feminism.  For years I have watched the sons of business owners get handed the business on a silver platter.  Or the advisor who doesn't always have his clients’ best interests at heart get the corner office. Or the less qualified male get the managerial job over a qualified female. This is just the way the world works.

But then something happened the day after the election.  There are a dozen TVs in our office, but only one in the office of a female advisor who happens to be my business partner.  Hillary Clinton was giving her concession speech and I went in to watch. In addition to my partner, three female admins were also watching. We watched in silence as she gave her speech.  Kleenex was passed.  It was a sad and emotional moment. I got very angry at all the times I have seen the more qualified female passed over for the male with the silver spoon in his mouth.  And this AGAIN.

 I am still angry, and I am grieving deeply for this country. I am worried about much more than me and my feminism.  I am worried for my black grandson, for my friends of color, for those that serve me in the check-out line who may not be here legally.  For my gay friends who are so fearful.

I can hide for the next four years behind my white privilege; even though I am a Brazilian anchor baby, I certainly don't look the part.  But instead I hope to become an activist feminist; calling my congressional and senate offices (all women by the way); calling Paul Ryan's office; speaking up against injustice; donating to causes that work to stop discrimination and hate; and doing what I can to help those in need.

And of course, working and voting in the mid-terms for change.

Yes, I guess I am a feminist.

Leila Gough