Lessons my parents taught me

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    I’ve been reminiscing about some teachable moments that I had while growing up. I think that some of these lessons were presented in unusual and possibly unorthodox ways. It has taken the experience of growing up to really appreciate the messages that my parents were trying to get across.

    Feel free to share similar experiences that you had while growing up.


    My dad was working as a college Spanish professor. One night, I was riding in the car with my dad, my brother, and my mom. My dad pointed out a bar that we passed by, and he said something like:

    “Some of my students talk about going to this bar. It is a place where women dance and take off their clothes.

    I would never go into that place. First of all I am a married man, and it would be very hurtful and disrespectful to Mom if I went there. Also, if my students ran into me there, it would make me look unprofessional, and it would be embarrassing to the university.”

    1) Exotic dancing is not appropriate entertainment for married men. Wives should be respected.
    2) Sometimes adults have to make sacrifices for the sake of their jobs. As long as the activities in question are legal, it is a judgement call on how much one should give up (I look at the current marijuana decriminalization situation in this way).


    My mom was talking about a French friend that she had. She said something like,

    “When I go out to lunch with my friends, I notice that this French lady is the only person at the table to order wine with her meal.”

    I asked, “could your friend have a little bit of a drinking problem?”

    My mom and dad glared at me and with a flabbergasted yelled, “NO!” My dad then said something like,

    “Americans would drink Coca-Cola with their steaks. That is a complete lack of culture. French people would have red wine with that steak. For them, the wine is part of the meal, and the type of wine is deliberately chosen to match the flavor of the foods. They are not drinking to get drunk.”

    1) Not everybody drinks to get drunk.
    2) In some cultures, specific alcoholic beverages are used to enhance or complement the flavors of the foods in a meal.
    3) Some adults can drink responsibly, and this type of drinking is not a problem.


    My Mom always said growing up…”your sins will find you out” when she could not pin down the bad kid…which later found out it was a scripture…Numbers 32:23


    Scripture is garbage. Is it real or made up? Even so, who cares?

    Going to a titty bar as a married man is not an issue. It’s entertainment, just like a movie or your local live action role playing (LARP). It’s all good until it becomes a regular activity. Once in a while, okay. All the time, not good. Just like anything else in this life.

    Granted, someone going to a titty bar and seeing someone else they are afraid of seeing needs to remember that, that person is there too! Kinda like the time I saw a prominent conservative local business owner at at Casa Diablo.


    All that said Vit…your sins will find you out–:)


    Sins are made up.



    I used to go to Club 205, often with my brother in law, to get steaks to go. Price was good, and we could get a drink and a dance while waiting too.

    Who wanted those steaks?

    Mrs, of course.

    Did she care about Club 205?

    In fact she did, and it was usually when she was feeling frisky that she would ask for one. Then it’s dinner, a movie, and some fun times in bed that evening.

    No sins in there that I can see. 🙂

    Plenty of good times though!

    Honestly, there were not too many lessons from my own parents. We did not get along, and I was very different from most of my family.

    Grannie had some. I’ve put her, “If you want to live in a nice world, start with the person in the mirror” statement here in the past. It’s potent and very true. Thinking about that over the years has driven me to do good where I can, and it’s a part of me now. Subtle, but very good

    Another was culture of mutual respect. Sometimes people are very different from us. Understanding that can be a source of endless interest and much joy and companionship in the world. I never saw Grannie judge. She would entertain it and then form her thoughts and then act on them. This gave her a quiet power and respect among her peers.

    Finally, there was just do stuff. Who cares? Do stuff you want to do. The year before she died, she was found in a Kayak having a good time in the rapids at 83!

    The one thing I do remember from my Dad was politics. We agreed on so very little, but he did manage to get me interested. “Speak or be spoken for” made a lot of sense, and he also shared with me the idea of politics isn’t just the national scene. It’s your office, friends, etc…

    The lesson is awareness of politics means awareness of people on a level that can really matter in your life. Sadly he did not always take this to heart, but he did manage to model it successfully enough for me to see it for the good thing it is.

    I’ve two uncles who made a big impact in my life. Let’s call ’em D and R.

    Uncle R was always curious. He read a lot, and would then go do lots of things, build stuff, fix things. Uncle D would often send me lots of stuff he didn’t need anymore. Take apart type things. These two cultivated a life long love of tech and the workings of things.

    The lesson is simple: Pay attention, read, think, do, grow. You will spend less in your life and suffer far fewer dependencies than your peers. This has played out very well for me so far.

    The other lesson: You are probably smart enough. No worries beyond that, just work.


    Fortunately, my parents did not use Bible passages to justify their actions or as an attempt to communicate.

    I hope that I am not crossing a line of good taste in telling these stories. To put things in perspective, my parents experienced, as adults, Augusto Pinochet’s military coup in Chile and the dictatorship that ensued. There were about 3,000 politically motivated assassinations (often called “disappearances” because the cadavers couldn’t be found) of people who worked for or were believed to be loyal to former president Salvador Allende. As a result of having had this experience, I think that my parents were (and probably still are) hyper sensitive about the prospect that they might be giving others an opportunity to gossip or start rumors about them. I think that my dad perceived that there was a double standard that just had to be accepted: his students could get away with enjoying strip bars; If he were to do the same and he were caught, students might start gossiping, and if the gossip were to reach somebody in a position of authority, the gossip might work against him.

    I know that there are couples who do go to strip bars as a sexy form of entertainment. There are also people who see stripping as a serious form of performance art. I can also appreciate that the women who do exotic dancing are taking advantage of the fact that their youth and beauty allow them to do this job, and they know that youth is a very transient thing. (I knew a girl in college that was a stripper, and she did it for supplementary income to help get her through school.)

    Where I am a big fuddy-duddy is that the only two times that I have visited strip clubs were with co-workers (the first time as a farewell when I was an intern and the second at a bachelor party). Both times, my impression was, “this is OK, but I don’t feel compelled to come back here.” Both times, there were several married men that were there with me, and I wondered how their wives could be OK with this. (Perhaps, they didn’t know?)


    When I came to the US in 1981, I encountered customer satisfaction surveys for the first time. We were at a restaurant, and there was a card, with several multiple choice questions, at the table. My dad was not interested in filling out the card.

    I asked my dad, “What would happen if we said that we did not like the food?”

    My dad replied, “You wouldn’t want to do that because if you did, that nice young woman who served us our food with a smile would be fired.”

    “They wouldn’t fire the cook,” I asked, rather perplexed in that I couldn’t grasp how the waitress could be at fault in the quality of the food.

    My dad explained that even though they might look old to me, the people who wait tables at restaurants were typically high school students, and from the restaurant’s point of view, they were the most easily replaceable employees.

    To this day, I don’t think too highly of customer satisfaction surveys. There is no way to know how the data from these surveys is used, nor whether management uses it to make the right decisions.

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