Movies and more movies

Since I have emerged from quarantine and am more than fine post-COVID infection, I wanted to share that I have been watching a number of movies. A large number. While the vaccines and booster kept the COVID wolves at bay, I still wanted to keep in “my hole” as I called it, until time passed and my wife and other son got their boosters.

So, between reading, puzzles and exercise, I watched a lot of movies. Here are a few that I found of interest. I will tell you some of these got low scores on Rotten Tomatoes, but were still a nice investment of time. I only turned away from a couple that I will not mention. If I watched again with my wife, I will note her reaction as well.

Since the number is large, I will just mention the movies with a brief blurb. In no particular order:

  • Queen of the Morning Calm (2019) – I had to watch this one because of the cool title. Tina Jung stars as a sex worker with a nine-year old daughter trying to make a better life for her family, in spite of an unreliable boyfriend. I did not recognize any of the cast, but my wife and I both enjoyed it.
  • The Last Right (2019) – Starring Michiel Huisman, Niamh Algar and Samuel Bottomley, the movie is about three people on a quest to take a man’s deceased body across Ireland to be buried with his brother who had died the week before. The interaction between the three and the underlying context makes this an enjoyable film we both liked. “Right” is spelled that way for a reason – doing something right.
  • Feast of Love (2007) – Starring a large cast with Morgan Freeman, Greg Kinnear, Jane Alexander, Rahda Mitchell, Billy Burke, Alexa Davalos, Toby Hemingway et al, this movie takes us through a range of emotions of love gained and lost. If watching with minors, beware of some surprising erotic scenes for such a known cast. Yet, the movie is good and we both enjoyed it.
  • Reindeer Games (2000) – Starring Ben Afleck, Charlize Theron, and Gary Sinise, the movie is about a group of truckers taking advantage of a released prisoner who had become a romantic pen pal with Theron’s character. The goal was to use his knowledge to rob a casino on Christmas Eve. It had a little more violence than my wife liked, but the story was interesting.
  • Downeast (2021) – Starring Greg Finley and Dylan Silver with a largely unknown cast, the story takes place in a harbor town on the coast of Maine. Finley and Silver are former lovers and she has returned to town to find out what happened to her deceased brother, Finley’s friend. The story is good, but the violence is prevalent, so my wife would only watch this one as we have relatives up there.
  • Defining Moments (2021) – this is a less acclaimed movie, but is still charming as Burt Reynolds leads an ensemble cast in his final movie. It also stars Sienna Guillory, Tammy Blanchard, Eric Peterson (who steals the film), Shawn Roberts, Kelly Van der Burg, Polly Shannon, Lara Jean Chorastecki, Christian McKenna, Graham Greene, et al. Reynolds’ character is dying which is why the added poignancy, but the movie involves the others’ stories as much as Reynolds’ character. Have some tissue handy.
  • The Station Agent (2003) – if you are in for quirky and poignant, this movie is for you. Peter Dinklage stars in this well before “Game of Thrones,” as a man who inherited a vacant train station manager’s house from his friend. It also stars Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale, and Michelle Williams. The movie is about an unexpected friendship between Dinklage, Clarkson and Cannavale after Dinklage moves in. Dinklage does an excellent job at revealing why a person of small stature is untrusting of people and the difficulty for sincere friends trying to break through that protective shell. Cannavale’s character offers this genuine innocence as he will not stop trying to be Dinklage’s friend. We both liked it, but thought it was a little bizarre.

I was planning on including “Paper Moon” and “The Last Picture Show,” but mentioned them last week after Peter Bogdanovich’s death. Both of these movies received acclaim and are worth the watch. Another couple of more violent movies that are good are “Safe House” with Denzel Washington and Ryan Reynolds and “Crisis” with Armie Hammer, Gary Odman, Evangeline Lilly and Greg Kinnear.

Tell me if you have seen these or about any other movies that caught your fancy.

Peter Bogdanovich in three movies (may he RIP)

The acclaimed movie director Peter Bogdanovich passed away yesterday at the age of 82. He directed several excellent films, but let me highlight three to give people a look into his work. Ironically, I watched two of his older films, “Paper Moon” and “The Last Picture Show” in the last few days, so I wonder if someone new the end was near and aired them..

Yet, the one I like the most he made in 1985 with Cher as a caring but tough mother in “Mask.” “Mask” starred Eric Stolz as a young teen whose facial bones grew in a distorted manner causing acute, tremendous pain and leaving him with a mask-like look. His mother would help him meditate through the pain to avoid giving him debilitating pain medicine. In my view, this movie was Cher’s best work, even better than in “Moonstruck,” where she won an Oscar.

The first scene in which you realize she is comforting her in-pain son is extremely poignant. Sam Elliot stars as Cher’s biker boyfriend. In spite of the pain and scary countenance, the teen was very smart and congenial, making fun of himself before others would. And, unless you saw the credits, you would never know the lead is played by Stolz, who is excellent, as well.

“The Last Picture Show” usually gets the most fanfare. Based on Larry McMurtry’s book and his co-written screen play with Bogdanovich, it is a black and white movie about small town life in Anarene, Texas in 1953. Cybil Shephard (in her first role), Jeff Bridges, Timothy Bottoms, Sam Bottoms and Randy Quaid are the high schoolers featured, but a great cast of adults play key roles with Cloris Leachman (who won an Oscar for Supporting Actress), Ellen Burstyn, Eileen Brennan, Ben Johnson and Clu Gulager.

Teen and adult angst are the key themes portrayed showing people will look for love even when they appear to have someone who fills the role. Interestingly, the only overtly protagonist is the silent role played by Sam Bottoms and maybe the sage like role of Ben Johnson, with all of the other characters being various shades of gray revealing our imperfections. Yet, you do feel for many of them at times, even though they do things you may not care for. Leachman’s Oscar is very deserving as she plays a dramatic role very different from her comedic future ones.

“Paper Moon” is another black and white film about a depression era con man played by Ryan O’Neal who travels Kansas and Missouri with his daughter. His actual daughter, Tatum O’Neal steals the show in the role and wins a deserved Oscar for her first performance. Madeline Kahn also plays a key role as the father’s new girlfriend and threat to the welfare of the younger O’Neal.

The lessons of making money through cons are passed down to the daughter, who he is traveling with to take her to stay with her aunt after her mother passes. She turns out to be an even savvier business-person than her father, knowing when to push on the accelerator or hit the brakes. She could also give an up-to-date accounting of the money her father owed her.

I wonder if the adult actor realized he was the straight man for this rising star. He does a great job in the role, but your eyes are on her facial expressions most of the time, as she is frustrated and bewildered by her father. Bogdanovich would later team with Ryan O’Neal in “What’s up Doc? with Barbra Streisand.

All three are excellent movies. “The Last Picture Show” though had an extra hurdle to overcome when it was given an X rating. It included a skinny dipping scene where some full frontal nudity is visible for a few females. To me, the scene was unneeded the way it was shot and much could have been accomplished with more subtlety. I forewarn you in case there are younger eyes in the room. Nonetheless, the story is good and worth the effort, as are the other two.

Monday morning you sure look “fine” – December 6, 2021

Since I believe I have used this title before, I will date this post. Fleetwood Mac fans will recognize the title as a lyric sung by Lindsey Buckingham in “Monday Morning.” The word “fine” has different meanings that fall in and out of favor. It also takes on different meanings with the tone of your voice.

It can mean things are going OK and don’t ask any more questions with a rebuttal tone. Or, it can mean a certain action is OK with you when askef permission. With a more welcoming response, fine can mean things are better than OK, actually pretty good or even good. And, it can be used as a noun to mean a penalty one must pay for a transgression.

My favorite meaning is from older times. Using a line from the Liam Neeson movie “Rob Roy,” about an honorable and heroic Scot, he would tell his wife, played by the lovely Jessica Lange, “You are fine to me.” In this case, he is telling her how beautiful she is to him. So, we have gone from OK to good to punitive to beautiful with one word.

It also finds itself in humor. I will avoid using a very funny, but very risque line from Richard Pryor in his bit the “Wino and the Junkie.” This is far from a PG line, so if you embark to hear it, you have been forewarned. Yet, it does address a couple of the definitions above in one sentence. One of my favorite cleaner lines about being “fine” comes from an unknown comic; “She is so fine the fine folks call her fine.”

After having my COVID booster shot on Friday, I am now fine after a sluggish Saturday. I may not look fine in the eyes of the fine folks, but I do feel fine and hopefully will avoid any fines in the future. Since it is the holiday season and we are eager to see friends and familly, let me quote two lines from the song “Fine fine day” by Tony Carey:

“It’s a fine, fine day for a reunion
It’s a fine, fine day for comin’ home”

Things are so fine, it has to be said twice. Have a fine, fine day.

Sports movies that echo real life lessons (a reprise)

Last month, I highlighted a sports movie that made even men cry called “Brian’s Song.”  The movie was about friendship between men of different backgrounds who were competing for the same job on a football team. So, the movie inspired me to note a few other sports movies, that echo longer, due to the story and/ or circumstances. There are many sports movies that can easily be forgotten, so those that are not have a reason for lasting in our memories.

To me, the most profound sports movie is called “Invictus” which chronicles the greatness of Nelson Mandela using the example of the national rugby team. Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon star in the movie directed by Clint Eastwood. Mandela would not let the Springbok team favored by white South Africans lose its support and galvanized a whole country behind it as it hosted and won the world championship. The team was a metaphor for inclusion and showed why Mandela was able to bring a fractured country together. Mohammed Morsi should have taken notes when he took over Egypt and he may still have a job.

“42” about Jackie Robinson becoming the first African-American major league baseball player is of the same ilk. The story is far more than about baseball, as Robinson (played by Chadwick Boseman) and Dodger owner Branch Rickey (played by Harrison Ford), showed a huge amount of courage to break the color barrier years before the Civil Rights Act. Both received death threats, but Robinson had to face so many obstacles, hatred and abuse by racists, fans, players and even teammates and do so, without responding with anger. Many people would not be up to this challenge and, at some point, would have reacted. By example, he helped pave the way for others.

A movie some might be surprised is on this short list is “Bull Durham.” The reason I picked this one is it captures the camaraderie of teams quite well and shows the not so glamorous side of baseball in the minor leagues. But, the movie is about an old player and unique woman mentoring a young talented pitcher with a “million dollar arm and a five cents head.” Kevin Costner plays the veteran catcher, while Susan Sarandon plays a unique and astute baseball fan. Ironically, Tim Robbins, who becomes her husband in real life, plays Nuke Laloosh, the pitcher who needs seasoning. It also provides advice for that would resonate in the non-baseball world.  Here a few:

– Strikeouts are fascist. Throw more ground balls, they are more democratic.

– Don’t mess with a streak. If you think you are on a streak because of….then you are.

– I am not interested in anyone who is interested in that boy.

– Don’t think, just throw.

But, one you may not have seen is a worth the watch – “Bang the Drum Slowly” which is similar to “Brian’s Song,” but about baseball. It stars Michael Moriarty as a pitcher who will not play unless his catcher played by Robert De Niro can play. The catcher has cancer, so this will be his final season, a secret only Moriarty knows.

There are several others that could have been highlighted. “Hoosiers” with Gene Hackman as the imperfect coach of a high school Indiana basketball team that beats all odds to win, is excellent. “Field of Dreams” is also excellent where Costner creates a baseball diamond in his corn field and has the best game of catch at the end. “Seabiscuit” and “Phar Lap” are two movies about race horses and people who should not win, but do while overcoming great adversity. The latter is an Australian movie and is worth the watch. “The Greatest Game Ever Played” about a teenage golfer, Francis Ouimet, who beat three of the best golfers in the world is a little cheesy, but excellent. “The Lou Gehrig Story” is cheesy at times, but with Gary Cooper playing Gehrig, it is worth it. And, even “Rocky” is a classic, although they should have stopped at one.

Let me know your favorites. I know I have left off some good ones,but would love to hear your thoughts.

A Beautiful Mind has it Right – the Nash Equilibrium shows the power of working together

The following post was written seven years ago, but holds true even more so today with the recently passed infrastructure bill as well as the need to work together in our global economy on trade, environmental, and human rights issues.

One of my favorite Russell Crowe movies is “A Beautiful Mind” directed by Ron Howard about the schizophrenic Ph.D. in economics, John Nash. If you saw the movie, you know that Nash won the Nobel Prize in Economic Science for his theory which became known as “Nash Equilibrium” that was used in game theory, economic development and other areas. In short it was all about maximizing everyone’s gain. From Wikipedia, this example might help define what Nash’s theory was all about:

“Stated simply, Amy and Will are in Nash equilibrium if Amy is making the best decision she can, taking into account Will’s decision, and Will is making the best decision he can, taking into account Amy’s decision. Likewise, a group of players are in Nash equilibrium if each one is making the best decision that he or she can, taking into account the decisions of the others in the game.”

The reason I raise is this is that we can all benefit more if we work with each other rather than against. If we all try to win the game, whatever that is, we will actually end up in a collective lesser state. This is a key reason why collaboration is vital to the success of most endeavors, including and especially politics. But, let me use a real example of how a region can benefit more economically through collective partnering under Nash Equilibrium.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, we have a terrific new “transmodal distribution facility” that is near the airport. The facility is adjacent to and incorporates railroad train tracks in the distribution process. It is also very conveniently located to three interstates (I-85, I-77 and I-485) and a fourth four lane highway (US 321) which connects to I-40 about forty miles away. If you know your North Carolina geography, you will know that Charlotte is right on the border with South Carolina and several towns in SC are actually included in the Metro Charlotte area.

A key reason for its success is more than the rail, highway and air access. Charlotte is also a convenient driving distance from ports in Charleston, South Carolina, Wilmington, North Carolina, Savannah, Georgia and Jacksonville, Florida. With the deepening of the Panama Canal set to be complete in 2015, bigger ships can sail from Asia-Pacific (China, Vietnam, Indonesia, Japan, etc.). Yet, unless these ports are dredged to become deeper, the bigger ships cannot enter the harbors there and will sail past. Activity has begun in various stages, but here is where Nash Equilibrium should come to fruition.

The states of North and South Carolina (and Florida and Georgia) should work collectively along with business and the Federal government to deepen all ports noted above. We will all benefit more greatly if we invest together. This would be true on other economic investments where we should work less at cross purposes and compete as a region. I recognize there have been pockets of success where this has been done, but to me, with the significant cost of dredging these harbors and the stalemate in fighting in Washington where Congress is moving money around to fund a very limited transportation budget for infrastructure, this a keen example of why we must work together to benefit more.

Former Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell have been promoting a bipartisan investment in our infrastructure, each representing the major political parties. LaHood said this is the best jobs program we could possibly have. And, as I have said before, borrowing money to invest in assets, is different from borrowing money for operations. This is where we need to spend our money as the collective return on investment is huge.

So, to the state legislatures and Congress, let’s get with it and work to invest in America’s ports and roads. As Rendell said, if we don’t deepen our ports, the ships will sail right by us to Canada. John Nash indeed had a beautiful mind. We should follow his direction to maximize our collective gain.

Banning Fahrenheit 451 – Really?

In an editorial in The Charlotte Observer yesterday called “NC is vulnerable to a new wave of book banning,” by Sara Pequeno, she clearly and correctly notes “Restricting books is a trademark of fascism.” Pequeno is referring to North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson who received a lot of flak a few months ago about his homophobic comments. It should be Mr. Robinson is proud of his comments and did not deny them offering they relate to specific books he wants banned from public schools. While several of the books are about sexual preferences, one was even more telling in its irony – “Fahrenheit 451.”

As more than a few folks may know, “Fahrenheit 451” is about an autocratic regime cracking down on people reading books. In fact, the title represents the temperature needed for a book to burn. The folks burning the books were called “firemen.” So, it is ironic that a book on banning and burning books is on a list to be banned. At least, banned in the mindset of the homophobic Mr. Robinson. What I take from this is Mr. Robinson does not want people knowing that banning books is not a good thing.

Here is a summary of the book and its origins from Wikipedia:

“Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by American writer Ray Bradbury. Often regarded as one of his best works, the novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed and “firemen” burn any that are found. The book’s tagline explains the title as “‘the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns”: the autoignition temperature of paper.

The lead character, Guy Montag, is a fireman who becomes disillusioned with his role of censoring literature and destroying knowledge, eventually quitting his job and committing himself to the preservation of literary and cultural writings. The novel has been the subject of interpretations focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas for change.

In a 1956 radio interview, Bradbury said that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 because of his concerns at the time (during the McCarthy era) about the threat of book burning in the United States. In later years, he described the book as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature.” 

It should be noted that anytime someone is equated with Senator Joe McCarthy, that is not a positive thing. Maybe they will ban Margaret Atwood’s book “The Handmaid’s Tale” as we certainly would not want people to see what living in autocratic, dystopian environment looks like. But, there is one thing for certain. If you want to bring greater attention to a book or movie, tell people they cannot read it.

Nice boys don’t ask questions like that said the minister (a repeat post)

The following post was written about seven years ago, but remains relevant today. As a person of faith, we should not shy away from askng questions. I truly love the encouraged dialogue in the Brown family.

Earlier this week, Dan Brown the author of “The Da Vinci Code” and “Angels and Demons” appeared on CBS Good Morning. It was fascinating to learn of his upbringing as he was raised by a mathematician father and a very devout mother who was the church choir director. Brown even sang in his mother’s choir. He said he was raised to ask questions and lived in a very healthy balance of science and religion.

Brown noted it was not uncommon around the dinner table to question all things, such as what if Jesus was not the son of God and was a mortal prophet? This type of questioning was encouraged as it opened his mind to discussion. It also let him gain a better understanding of religion in the context of greater scientific information. When he became concerned that the Big Bang Theory seemed to be at odds with the bible’s view on creation, he went to ask his minister. The answer he received was not welcoming of discussion. The answer resides in the title to this post. “Nice boys don’t ask questions like that,” said the minister.

He said this was a life changing answer. It had the opposite effect from what the minister likely intended. Brown said it told him that we should be questioning more things in the bible especially where the text doesn’t jive with scientific data and leading thought. Many who have discussed the Big Bang Theory have noted that it need not, by itself, contradict a divine hand of creation. But, that is not the answer he received.

Since he wrote “The Da Vinci Code” which is based on the plot that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had a child, he was asked on the show about the recent papyrus that indicated that Jesus was married, but was proven to be not authentic. Brown notes that religious scholars over time have discussed whether Jesus was married. The book and movie just made the issue more known to others. He was not saying Jesus was or was not married. Brown was simply noting that it has been discussed in religious scholar circles.

So, we should question texts such as the bible, especially when considering the context of when they were first written and later translated. I have written several posts about people of faith teaching against science and scientific exploration. For the home schooling mothers (and fathers) and owners of the Creationist museum that talk about the dinosaurs walking with man on an earth that is only 7,000 years old, this does a huge disservice to the children. They are being taught that others will try to dissuade you from these teachings, which will only alienate the kids from their teachers when the truths become more evident.

As someone of faith, to repeat a message that I have been noting in earlier posts, it is not possible that every word in the bible is true or any religious text for that matter. They each have good messages and teachings to live by, but even if divinely inspired, these texts were written by imperfect men, interpreted and reinterpreted by imperfect men, and translated and retranslated by imperfect men. God did not dictate, so the men related what they believed to be true in the context of their own biases, understandings of science, and human imperfections. And, they were men. Women are treated as second class citizens and even chattel in many religious texts.

For a minister to give the response to young Dan Brown’s question like he did, showed his own lack of faith in the document. The bible has many great lessons, but it also has parts that don’t get brought up much in sermons. We must question things. King Solomon, who is revered in the bible for his wisdom, implies God gave us a brain and we honor him when we use it. So, we should use it and ask questions.

We need to reconcile what the text means in the greater context of science and history.  For those who believe the earth is only 7,000 years old, when data literally beneath your feet refutes what you are saying about the age of the earth, then you should pause and think. If we don’t allow an updated understanding of the bible and religious texts, then people will pay attention less and miss the key messages that Jesus had for us. And, that would be a shame.

Dune – a remake that surpasses the original movie

“Dune” is a very good, complex movie about Frank Herbert’s complex novel. Yet, unlike the OK first movie, the remake did not take it on as one movie. So, there will be a sequel forthcoming.

Dune is a science fiction story around the politics and power of controlling production of a spice that aids in the navigation through the universe. The spice is found on the desert planet of Arrakis, where only the resilient can survive, primarily a vast tribe of people called the Fremen who value water and survival of the fittest.

The patriarch (the Duke Leto) of the Atreides family has been asked to oversee production on Arrakis by the emperor, but he is being set-up for failure. The story is more around his son Paul and his mother, the Lady Jessica who both have a capability that makes them each a powerful force. Paul is played by Timothee Challamet, Lady Jessica by Rebecca Ferguson, and the Duke by Oscar Isaac. Zendaya plays Chani who Paul dreams of and finally meets on the planet. 

Dune has a great ensemble cast to support the primary characters. Josh Brolin, Javier Bardem, Stellan Skarsgard, Jason Mamoa, Dave Bautista, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Sharon Duncan-Brewster, Charlotte Rampling, Babs Olusanmokun, et al, all add value to their roles. Skarsgard is quite good as major antagonist Baron Harkonnen, who used to oversee the spice production. Bardem and Zendaya will feature more in the sequel as Paul and the Lady Jessica have shown their worth to the Fremen toward the end of the movie.

The screenplay was written by the director Denis Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts and Eric Roth. They deserve a lot of credit for boiling the plot down from the book. While the movie includes violence, the underlying story of intrigue comes out. Plus, there is an allegiance to the unrelenting desert life in the filming. For example, Lady Jessica appears without make-up throughout which would not serve her well in the sandy heat. The Fremen debate whether an infiltrator is worthy of being kept alive versus the water his or death would result in for their benefit. The mechanical transport and machinery must withstand the deterioration of the sand.

I will leave out more detailed plot description. The movie is quite good, even for those who are not huge science fiction fans. Yet, I don’t want to undersell the plot intrigue and otherworldly context. It helped me to have seen the first movie. One of my sons has read the novel, so he said this version is more closely resembling the book the earlier one. So, he and my other son join me in giving it a thumbs up.

Climate of Hope – an update of a older post

One of the positives of the previous US president pulling out of the Paris Climate Change Accord is it galvanized the many who see the need to act to save our planet. Coupling the US exit with the former president placing climate change deniers and fossil fuel supporters in key cabinet roles, he placed the US government at the kids table, while the adults talk about solving the world’s problem. But, with the current president, this is changing, but even he is not moving fast enough. Getting the US back to the table is a huge plus, though.

Fortunately, even the former president’s actions cannot stop the momentum as a tipping point on renewable energy and other efforts have been reached. As reported in the book “Climate of Hope,” by former New York City Mayor and Governor Michael Bloomberg (he actually did some good before his sexual harassment caught up with him) and former Executive Director of the Sierra Club Carl Pope, cities, businesses and citizens have been leading the way. This is important as cities are significant contributors to climate change and can therefore make a huge dent in ameliorating its effect. And, they are sharing their successes formally and informally

Some of these efforts include:

– Restoring and renovating older buildings into green buildings. Bloomberg touts the renovation of the 1931 built Empire State as a key example.

– Building new structures with an even greener footprint. In India they deploy white rooftops to reflect away the sun to minimize cooling costs, e.g,

– Building more pedestrian areas which provide safer and eco-friendly access to shops, restaurants and businesses. These car free zones actually are part of a solution to reroute traffic to reduce carbon polluting stoppage.

– Building and nurturing buffers to allow nature to do its jobs to absorb the pounding of the ocean, since,  so many large cities are coastal cities with some below sea level. We should use nature to provide defenses that stand the test of time.

– Developing master traffic plans embracing car sharing, ride sharing, bike sharing, pedestrian pathways, electric vehicles from buses to taxis, and the elegant use of mass transit based on capital needs and restrictions. Bloomberg is big on measuring things, so installing GPS in New York taxis allowed them to measure success and make modifications to their plans as executed.

– Planting more carbon saving trees in cities and other areas, as well as using other plants such as mangroves in coastal areas as they suck carbon out of the air.

– Conserving food and reducing wastage. We waste huge amounts of food, both before and after it is cooked. Imperfect fruits and vegetables go straight to the dumps unless concentrated efforts prevent it and guide distribution to other users. Buying local saves on transportation costs and emissions, as well (but we need to buy more of what grows naturally in an area, as a caveat).

– Challenging manufacturers for efficient production and distribution. For example, a significant amount of wood goes to pallets that are tossed after one use. Look to more durable pallets that can be reused. Plus, the US does an excellent job of distributing products by rail and can do even better, as the rest of the world improves their efforts. These transmodal distribution centers that marry the efforts of ships, planes, trains and trucks provide huge efficiences and enhance trade.

– Dissuading the building of new coal plants. Active efforts have reduced coal from over 53% market share in 1990 to 30% market share of energy in 2016. Market forces are reducing this further as natural gas became cheaper and renewable energy cost fell to become more on par with coal. If new coal plants must be built, do it in concert with retiring older, less efficient plants. Fortunately, coal has become more costly to produce (not even factoring in its other costs) than natural gas which has its own set of issues) and is more on par with certain renewables.

– Making investment funds available to pay for upfront costs for renewable energy in countries that have fewer capital funding sources. India could do even more with available funding, especially as they electrify more of the country.

The great news is these things are happening. And, they are being shared. Please read this book. It is brief and optimistic. Also, watch the soon the sequel to Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” and the excellent documentary “Ice on Fire” to learn more. Also, there is a very practical book called “Rancher, Farmer, Fisherman” by Miriam Horn on dealing with climate change. Iowa gets over 40% of its electricity from wind energy with Texas getting about 20% from renewables. And, California is the 4th largest solar energy “country” in the world, by itself. Then spread the news about what is happening.

To be frank, these actions are positive and smart irrespective of one’s stance on climate change. And, a final note from Bloomberg is the millennials are paying attention. They want to work in places that are doing their part to fight climate change. Think about that as you plan. Yet, we still need to move faster than we are. In my view we are at least ten years behind where we should have been.

What if you took that other path or were forced to walk down it?

I think we have all thought about choices we made in our past that sent us down a path where we experienced life events. It goes back to Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken.” What if we took the other road? There is a new TV show that I have not yet seen, but the concept follows this thought process. It is called “Ordinary Joe,” and per the show summary, here is what it entails.

“Ordinary Joe” stars James Wolk and centers on Joe Kimbreau as he makes a pivotal, life-changing decision at his college graduation and follows him on three parallel timelines: as a police officer, as a music star, and as a nurse.

I am fairly certain this show will make all watchers think about their own lives and choices. But, as we ponder these choices, we need to realize it means what happened to your actual life may not or will not happen like it has.

As with many lives, we have experienced good and bad things. We hopefully learned from the latter and were made stronger, but we have experienced those wonderful things as well. With that said, if the bad things severely outweigh the good, thinking of other choices is a far easier thing to do. To me, those are more clear cut rueful circumstances.

There is another interesting movie a blogging friend reminded me of a few months ago, that follows this what-if concept. It is called Sliding Doors and a summary of its plot from Wikipedia follows:

“Sliding Doors” is a 1998 romantic comedy-drama film written and directed by Peter Howitt and starring Gwyneth Paltrow while also featuring John HannahJohn Lynch, and Jeanne Tripplehorn. The film alternates between two storylines, showing two paths the central character’s life could take depending on whether or not she catches a train. It has drawn numerous comparisons to Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski‘s 1987 film Blind Chance, the outcome of which also hinges on whether or not the protagonist catches a train.

“Sliding Doors” is an excellent movie, although it is hard to follow at first, as it flips back and forth as to what happens if Paltrow’s character misses or makes the train. But, once you get in the groove of the action, it is spellbinding. Hannah is her co-star – you may remember him best from “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and his memorable eulogy for his close friend.

The concept is fascinating to explore, but be prepared as you examine your own life choices. We all have made dumb mistakes and rued decisions, big and small. But, it is also true those decisions and mistakes are part of our fabric that hopefully helped us down the road. Maybe, by handling a few relationships poorly, we were better able to nurture the right one when he or she (or they) came along. Or, maybe we are able to make a different career move or understand its ramifications better..

I remember one life moment around changing my mind after accepting a job. The life altering moment came as I was packing my office up, so it was very late in the game. I called my wife and said “I can’t do this” and she replied “Pack?” and I said “No, leave.” Had i taken the job, it would have been fine, but by staying and gracefully backing out of the offer, I was able to go work for the same company in a much better job. Plus, I loved my old job and was not ready to leave, just yet.

Robert Frost was onto something. Sometimes that decision to walk down a the road less traveled does make all the difference. But, if you took the other one, you would have made the best of it. And, you may not have known what you missed,.