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Posted by on Mar 17, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 2 comments

Social Media Distancing

 

social media distancing

 

Note:  This was posted to my Facebook page.  I’m sharing it here since many of you likely have the same issue to deal with on Facebook and elsewhere on social media.

 

I am making a change. Effective immediately.

I’m implementing a new policy on Facebook which I will call “social media distancing.”

Just as some people are infected with a virus, others are infected with the toxicity of ignorance. I have no use for either. According, they shall be quarantined. Let me explain.

For many years, I’ve exhibited extraordinary tolerance for the broadest range of opinion. As someone who is naturally curious and has always welcomed an open exchange of ideas (even bad ideas), I hoped my posts/threads/articles might in some small way contribute to bridging differences and fostering greater understanding. I will continue to adhere to this guiding principle.

Unfortunately, the law of large numbers of friends means more trolls and irrational outliers. I hoped discussion and debate might open some minds. Darkness is dark only until the light gets in. However, there are simply some minds which are so shuttered and locked that it’s not worth my time, nor the energy of my friends to waste time trying to do the impossible. Let’s treat the treatable, not the terminally ignorant.

Allow me to provide some examples. In the last week, I’ve cut ties and or blocked the following persons. Names will not be listed. I see no point in embarrassing them or giving them any additional attention:

CASE 1: In a thread about Alex Jones (the hate-spewing conspiracy nut) someone expressed admiration and support for his content. Right then, I made a calculated decision that there is nothing this person can say or write from this point forward that I can trust. I have nothing to learn or gain from someone who thinks Alex Jones, who has called the parents of children murdered in a mass shooting “crisis actors.” Moreover, I do NOT want to know this person. He was blocked. Easy decision.

CASE 2: This one is more complicated. In an exchange about public policy, someone stated President Obama did nothing on domestic infrastructure while in office. I proved otherwise (this was very easy, which took about 5 seconds on Google). The poster doubled down and refused to acknowledge a simple fact which was shown. I decided there was no point in engaging this person any further, since showing him an easily-searchable fact, didn’t trigger the expected reboot to reality. If we can’t agree on simple, undisputed historical facts, I see no reason to waste time or energy in future discussions with this individual. That said, the person is polite and communicates well, so rather than imposing a draconian punishment like blocking, I simply informed the individual I would no long engage him, but he remains free to post and contribute to my threads.

CASE 3: This was a poker-playing friend who I know marginally (met him a few times) but I would not call a friend. I tend to welcome invites from people because it’s a way to connect to new ideas and even learn things. While scrolling down my Facebook home page, I saw this person post. It was a rambling long-winded conspiracy rant about the Coronavirus crisis being a Leftist conspiracy designed to bring down Trump. He pulled every rancid chestnut out of the toxic toolbox, even alluding to 9/11 inside-job stuff. That was eye opening. Once again, this made my decision easy. There is nothing this person can write or post that gives me any faith in their opinion or judgment. None. And so, the persona non grata button was pushed. Poof! He no longer exists. Blocked. My soul is cleansed.

A WORD ABOUT TROLLS:  Finally, there is the wacko category, comprised of trolls. People who contribute nothing to a discussion. Some are even dangerous. My life has been threatened a few times, and one of those had a Facebook home page with photos of lots of guns and hate-filled topics. After he once threatened to come and kill me and my wife, I reported him directly to the FBI (some of you might remember this from a few years ago). These are easy to identify and deserve to be blocked. While I wouldn’t normally tell others what to do, I strongly recommend social quarantine against these types of individuals.

Please note that I rarely block anyone for having ideas different than my own. I have dozens of Trump supporting friends and even more conservative-minded contacts on my social media feed. Virtually all of them are civil and occasionally do post good content. I also will admit to some inconsistency since I allow those people I know very well (no names) tremendous latitude that I wouldn’t normally afford to someone who is anonymous. I try my best, but I’m not perfect in my enforcement of my own rules.

YMMV. Everyone can make up their rules. I have decided that my time is way to valuable to be wasting it on (Case 1) overt haters, (Case 2) people who do not listen to facts, and (Case 3) conspiracy nuts.

Thanks to everyone for reading and supporting my amateur attempt at exchanging ideas. I recognize my posts are often inflammatory and off-putting in language and content. I do remain a work in progress, flexible to many topics, tones, and tactics. If someone is offended, I suggest they unfollow me. It’s that simple.

Over and out.

__________

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Posted by on Mar 16, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Las Vegas, Personal, Travel | 2 comments

Yes, You Can Still Go Out and Have Fun and Here’s How (Surviving Las Vegas During the Coronavirus Crisis)

 

marieta dalla

 

I don’t know when it will come but at some point during this “social distancing” thing, many of us are going to go stir crazy.

This is especially true if you live in Las Vegas, like me.

We’re used to going out and having fun.  We’re accustomed to casinos, and restaurants, and world-class entertainment within a short drive.  We’re spoiled by instant gratification.

Let me be very clear:  I fully support and encourage following every recommendation and guideline put out by any authority — at least those put out by people not named Donald Trump and Mike Pence.  The draconian measures of social distancing, and in some cases “self-quarantining” are sure to save many lives.  I beg everyone:  Please follow them.

But let’s also be realistic.  Many of us are going to go outdoors.  We will leave our homes and drive places.  Some destinations — such as grocery stores and medical facilities — are mandatory.  Others, such as amusements are optional.

Fortunately, Las Vegas is blessed to have some really cool places closeby.  Everything about these spots is positive.  I think many readers might enjoy them if they can get outside and are willing to try an adventure.

In recent years, I’ve discovered a few amazing places that I want to share.  Each destination is easy to reach from Las Vegas.  So, if you are a local resident, or visiting, these are very doable.  Best of all they are safe and cost next to nothing!

 

OPTION 1:  TAKE A HIKE AT RED ROCK CANYON

Distance from Las Vegas:  5 miles

Time Required:  A few hours (or more is optional)

Don’t be put off by the word “hike.”  I promise — it’s not that difficult.  There are many leisurely walks through the Red Rock Canyon National Park.  Some take no more than an hour.  Others are more challenging and can take up to a full day.  The option is yours.

The main thing is — the views our here are magnificent.  More like breathtaking.  And, since it’s March, the weather should be great this time of year.  The same goes for April and May.  So, even if this health crisis continues for months, Red Rock Canyon will be there waiting to welcome us.

The many times I’ve been to Red Rock Canyon, it’s never been crowded, like a city attraction.  Sure, several hundred people might be at the canyon at one time.  But they are spread out of many miles.  So, there’s virtually no threat going out and doing something that’s fun and good for you — walking and hiking.

Here’s my report of an amazing hike I did a few years ago with a friend, Nick Christenson.  Nick knows these trails very well, so I was glad to have him as my guide.  If you’re interested in learning more, please read this column, and if you really want to find out where to go, share the discussion on Facebook.  Either Nick or I will be glad to address it.  Read:  TAKING A HIKE:  THE OTHER SIDE OF LAS VEGAS

 

OPTION 2:  DRIVE AND VISIT VALLEY OF FIRE STATE PARK

Distance from Las Vegas:  50 miles

Time Required:  4 to 5 hours (can be done in a half-day)

Valley of Fire is about an hour-long drive to the northeast, about halfway to the Utah border.  It’s a pristine setting with lots of rock formations and natural beauty.

There’s no urban development out here, meaning no hotels or gas stations.  The natural splendor is what makes Valley of Fire so attractive.  The park is located next to an Indian reservation, which has a tobacco shop as the main cut off from the highway onto a single-lane road, which takes another 10 miles, or so.

I’ve visited this park many times, usually with family or out-of-town guests.  Everyone I’ve gone with enjoys the quiet solitude combined with the beauty of the unusual landscape.

Unfortunately, I have not written about the Valley of Fire in the past.  So, instead, I will provide this link to their OFFICIAL WEBSITE.

 

OPTION 3:  DRIVE AND VISIT DEATH VALLEY (DANTE’S VIEW)

Distance from Las Vegas:  120 miles

Time Required:  8-10 hours (full-day)

People hear “Death Valley” and they think of unbearable heat and barren desert.  But it’s not that way, at all.  Or, I should say, it’s much more than that.

One of the park’s best-kept secrets is an amazing landmark that overlooks the vast natural treasure, which is about a two-hour drive from Las Vegas.  This is one of the best day-trips you will ever take from this city.  For reasons inexplicable, I’ve met very few Las Vegas residents (or anyone else) who has done this wonderful mini-vacation.  Don’t be like them!  Do it!

Remember, during this period, we want to be cognizant of social distancing.  Well, a visit to Death Valley is about as socially isolated as it gets.  The closest you will come to other people might be cars on the other side of the highway.

This article I wrote about Dante’s View will give you some idea of what awaits those to make the drive.  Trust me, it’s worth it.  And, once you are there, it’s a nice spot to get out and spend a few hours.  The view never gets old.

Be Warned:  There is no food or services out here, so please make sure you are well-fed and stocked up before heading out.  Oh, the area is totally safe.  You just need to make certain you have plenty of gas and don’t leave hungry.  Because you won’t find a fast-food place around for 50 miles.  And that’s what makes it so wonderful.

Try Dante’s View.  This is an amazing experience.  Read more:  DANTE’S VIEW:  A GREAT LAS VEGAS GETAWAY

 

There are more places to visit than just these.  Utah has some astonishing parks within a reasonable distance.  Of course, it’s also okay just to go outside and take a walk.

I understand these are unusual times.  For everyone.  We’ve never been in a spot like this before.  I encourage those I know and those I haven’t had the opportunity to meet yet to stay safe.  But also — please volunteer and help when and where they can.

Just as important….I also think it’s vital to live a little and enjoy life.

Visiting one of the parks within driving distance is a breath of fresh air and a very responsible way to take advantage of this disruption of our normal lives.

The best way to appreciate Las Vegas right now might be to leave it, if for only a few hours or a day.

Please share with me if you decide to follow any of these recommendations.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

 

Join the Facebook discussion on this topic HERE

__________

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Posted by on Mar 15, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 0 comments

If You Can’t Do a Lot, Then Let’s All Try to Do A Little

 

nolan dalla charity

 

Every little bit helps.

We don’t need superheroes. What we need are more people to do small things. Ordinary people like you and me.

Even a seemingly small act of kindness can make a difference. Just ask the beneficiary of anyone on the receiving end of a generous act.

No one can lift a ton. But many people in an organized effort can not only lift a ton, but move mountains. It’s the basis of my fundamental belief in cooperation instead of competition.

Yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to receive a phone call from a grocery store that will remain anonymous because what they are doing isn’t allowed by the company. For about three years, Marieta (she deserves the credit) took “old” produce that was going to be discarded and shared it with some charitable organizations working with the needy. We made more than 100 deliveries, usually 5-10 boxes at a time, about once a week. Unfortunately, the produce manager left that store and we were not able to do anything after September of last year.

Sure enough, yesterday this person called and is now working at another location. In light of the current crisis, he asked if we wanted several boxes of fruits and vegetables. Of course, we jumped at the chance to get back involved. We gave this shipment to a local church group that is doing good work. Just to be clear, I don’t do nearly enough good deeds.  Marieta is more involved in charity work and motivates me to get off the sofa and so something.

I have spoken with many people about what’s going on and how it’s going to impact our lives. Not all of us have money, food, transportation, and the means to get to food and things we need. I strongly suggest you find just ONE PERSON, maybe a neighbor or a senior or someone you normally would not reach out to and make the effort to see if they need anything. Just knock on a door and introduce yourself and ask if you can help.

And, if you don’t find a person to help, then — I beg of you — by all means, help an animal. Many animals are desperately in need when there is a crisis. I’ve seen this firsthand at The Animal Foundation, which has way too many cats and dogs that we have homes for. If you hear a dog barking at unusual times and something doesn’t seem right, then please go and check it out. We might be okay. But not all people and animals are able to get what they need in times of shortages. Help those people. And help the animals.

One good deed might even save a life.

Please, do what you can.

No act is too small.

__________

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Posted by on Mar 6, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal | 1 comment

Thirty Years Ago Tonight

 

Nolan Dalla and Marieta Dalla 1990 Bucharest Romania

 

Today marks an anniversary, of sorts.

Thirty years ago tonight, March 6, 1990, I went on my very first date with Marieta.

I went on a blind date with a Romanian girl named Marieta Petre. She lived across the street from the national soccer stadium in central Bucharest. I picked her up at 6.

The instant I laid eyes on her, I thought I stood no chance. There was no way this was happening. She was too beautiful. I suppose it was that sense of having nothing to lose that made me relax and somehow carry on a dinner conversation that was good enough to keep her interested, leading to a second date.

Our first date was at Pescarus (which is still in business). But, thinking my chances of developing a serious relationship were at best a longshot, our second date wasn’t until after Easter, in late April.

The most interesting thing about our unusual courtship was that it all took place just as Eastern Europe’s Iron curtain was falling and the future was uncertain. Bucharest was in chaos for six months after the revolution, with marches, protests, and sporadic outbreaks of violence.

We “dated” almost every day. I got off work at the Embassy around 5. Marieta, who worked for the nearby office at Manufacturers Hanover, got off about the same time. We met up at the daily protests at University Square, which were filled with 5,000-10,000 people every single day.

One afternoon, the provisional government which was fragile and struggling to hold power, tried to break up the protests and sent in the Army. Thousands of troops tried to clear the streets. That caused the crowd to riot, torching vehicles and breaking lots of windows.

Someone took this photo of us during one of the riots. It’s our first photo together.

After the riots, that just made the protests grow larger. Crowds were so large that it was often difficult to find Marieta. So, we made a pact that we’d meet at the burned-out Army truck each day at 5;30. I think this burned Army truck sat in the streets for three months.

I have lots more fun stories to share and the old photos are fun to go back and look at — and remember. I’ll share a few more over the next few months.

Thirty years ago tonight — our first date.

__________

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Posted by on Jan 21, 2020 in Blog, Essays, Personal, Rants and Raves | 0 comments

My 2020 New Year Resolutions — Twenty Days Later

 

train crash

 

So, how are the 2020 New Year’s resolutions going?

Now so good, huh?

You’re not alone.  Here’s my 20-day update into the year 2020:

 

RESOLUTION #1: Lose Weight

People carrying a few extra pounds typically announce that they’re going on a diet when a new year begins. A week later, we’re at the All You Can Eat buffet pounding down a second slice of cheesecake.  Sure, we want to lose weight. But why kid ourselves? We’re not chasing a magic number. A weight scale shouldn’t be our barometer of happiness. Instead, our goal should be — to get healthier. To feel better. Losing weight shouldn’t be the end game, but rather one numerical consequence of striving for something higher. There are certainly ways to reduce one’s weight (so, I hear), but they aren’t always healthy. Some are even risky. Our top priority should be to enjoy life to the greatest extent possible. Sure, I’d like to drop a few pounds. But if I get through the year 2020 at 225 pounds (my current weight) and maintain my health, that’s a victory.

 

RESOLUTION #2: Travel Less

I love traveling. That is, once I get there. Unfortunately, the journey getting from point A to B is often a miserable experience. Flown lately? Been strip-searched by overzealous TSA agents? Paid nearly the cost of the air ticket for baggage fees? Been sardined into a middle seat? Sat beside the rapper yapper or the screaming infant? Leisure travel can be a tremendously rewarding experience. But traveling just for the sake of going somewhere and then returning home again is often more stressful than a typical workday spent at home. Especially if you’ve got kids or pets and have to board them (board the pets I mean). I hope to travel less in 2020 unless there’s a first-class hotel and wine involved.

 

RESOLUTION #3: Manage My Stress Better

Zen philosophy is becoming increasingly popular. I can certainly understand why. The problem with Zen is, it encourages us to disengage from challenges. I wholeheartedly reject this approach. Some things in life must be confronted. Always. Always. Always. And passion is the rocket fuel that lights the engine. Vested emotions and intensity can be a great motivator. Sorry, but Zen people don’t usually change the world. Action-minded people do. Those with passion do. I want to get fired up about life, not skate through it calmly. Forget worrying about rocking the boat. Rock the hell out of it. That’s my motto.

 

RESOLUTION #4: Drink Less Alcohol/Quit Drinking

If drinking is a problem in your life, then, by all means, do try to cut back and/or get some help. But let’s face it. Drinking serves as a wonderful bonding experience for many people. Without drinking, I doubt many people would be as close as they are. Booze is both a sugar cube and a truth serum. While this freedom can be dangerous when abused (and there’s lots of abuse), the loss of inhibitions can also be tremendously liberating. Think of it another way. I have a theory that outlawing bars (and forbidding drinking/intermingling of sexes) in Muslim countries frustrates the hell out of a lot of people, especially young men, and that’s what causes much of the world’s problems. Here’s a thought:  Open bars all over the Middle East.  Acts of terrorism would be cut in half.  Yes, I believe that. As for me, I plan on drinking exactly the same amount with the same frequency in 2020 as I’ve done in the past. I see no reason to make changes. And, to reiterate my point — some places in the world need a lot more drinking, not less.

 

RESOLUTION #5: Get Out of Debt

I’d love to be debt-free. I’d also like to be 25-years-old again and a member of the Rolling Stones. Fact is, when the date December 31st, 2020 rolls around, most of us are still going to be in hock up to our asses to the banks. We’ll still owe on our mortgages, own credit card debt, and have to beg some joker dressed in a golf shirt for a new car loan. I take a much simpler approach, a goal I can actually achieve. It’s this. Try and stop the bleeding first, which means not to take on any more debt. That’s the first goal everyone currently in debt should have, since our poor spending and saving habits likely got us into trouble in the first place.  Especially me.

 

RESOLUTION #6: Eat Healthier

I don’t believe in diets of denial. I want to eat good food and plenty of it. That means I won’t be ashamed of enjoying my large portions, my red meat, my loaded baked potato, my real butter, my rich desserts, my deep-fried foods, and pretty much whatever I want. That said, I refuse to eat fast food or consume prepackaged garbage that’s sold in supermarkets because that’s poison. And, I’ll never drink a soda, which is packed with sugar and chemicals. Never! So, that means I can enjoy just about everything else so long as it’s natural. A side note: I suffered a health scare late in 2019, so this might change — but all tests showed diet wasn’t a factor.

 

RESOLUTION #7: Be a Better Father/Husband/Friend/Son/Whatever

Sounds all warm and fuzzy, doesn’t it. The mantra goes something like this — I don’t spend enough time with so and so, which means I must change. Says who? You work hard, right? You earn the bread, right? You love your family and friends and are there for them when they need support, right? I think it’s vital to be comfortable in our own skin. You also need your time, just for you. If people get offended by the things you say or do, maybe the problem lies with them — not you. Think about that. Be who you are and take time for yourself. You probably deserve it. And there’s no reason to apologize for feeling this way, just as those you care about also deserve their own time and space.

 

RESOLUTION #8: Go Back to School/Get an Education

I’m all for learning. But getting an education doesn’t have to cost you 30 grand a year. The education lobby and the lending cutthroats have warped our sense of reality. They’re loading up millions of kids with crushing amounts of debt, and then providing few tools to escape the chains other than slaving away for years to pay off the loans (this is entirely by design). Yes, I believe people should learn as much as they can, and get an education. However, it’s far easier to read a book on your own, or become part of a social club, or join an Internet group which provides opportunities to learn just as much. And, it’s basically all free. Self-learn. Take a guitar lesson online. Get a library card.  Volunteer to coach a kid’s soccer team.  I’ve done all three.  Learning shouldn’t be a once-a-year resolution. Education should be a lifelong mission that never ends.

 

RESOLUTION #9: Donate Blood/Give to Charity

This one will piss-off some people. I’ve donated blood before. Many times. However, many blood banks (and drives) are nothing but scams. Make sure the blood you give is really going to someone needy and won’t be sold off for a profit by some medical company. When it comes to donating time or money to a charity, be sure they do what they say. And check out the salary of the head honcho running the show (non-profits are required to make this information public). Some of the biggest charities in America are detestable, horribly-managed, money-making enterprises. I give to charity when I can. But I refuse to give anything to a charity that pays fat salaries to its executives or is based in ridiculously expensive cities like New York and Washington. Move the charity to someplace where operating costs are significantly cheaper so more good can be done. The point is — give, but with greater discretion. I also volunteer, once a week.  I wish I could do more, but this is the right balance.  I recommend trying to find your own balance, whatever it is.

 

RESOLUTION #10: Quit Gambling

You’re kidding, right?

__________

 

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