Mountain Views News, Combined Edition Saturday, March 18, 2023

MVNews this week:  Page B:3



Mountain Views-News Saturday, March 18, 2023 






Susan Henderson


Dean Lee 



Patricia Colonello




John Aveny 


Peter Lamendola


Stuart Tolchin 

Audrey Swanson

Meghan Malooley

Mary Lou Caldwell

Kevin McGuire

Chris Leclerc

Dinah Chong Watkins

Howard Hays

Paul Carpenter

Kim Clymer-Kelley

Christopher Nyerges

Peter Dills 

Rich Johnson

Lori Ann Harris

Rev. James Snyder

Katie Hopkins

Deanne Davis

Despina Arouzman

Jeff Brown

Marc Garlett

Keely Toten

Dan Golden

Rebecca Wright

Hail Hamilton

Joan Schmidt

LaQuetta Shamblee




Alright, “Listen” is a strange title for a newspaper column. 
Maybe I should have titled it “Look” or “Read”. Or “Ignore”?

I want to talk, err, write about communicating with people. 
Face to face. Improve the quality of their (and your) lives 
through meaningful interaction.

The fact is, there are two steps you can take to improve the 
quality of interpersonal communications with others:

1. You talk less.

2. Encourage them to talk more.

Realize the amount of talking YOU DO is often inversely proportional to the positive 
and meaningful influence you might get lucky enough to have in the life of someone 

Calvin Coolidge, President almost exactly 100 years ago was known as a good listener 
and a man of few words. In fact, his nickname was “Silent Cal”.

A story is told of a dinner where the lady seated next to “Silent Cal” turned to him 
and admitted she had made a $100 wager that she could get the president to say three 
words. Coolidge’s response:

“You lose!”

Possibly Coolidge’s most memorable quote defended his reputation of few words this 
way: “No one ever listened themselves out of a job.”

Another President…named Lincoln (some believe it was Mark Twain) said:

“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and remove all doubt.” 
(Hmmmm. I need to consider that quote.)

If you want to make a difference in the quality of the lives of people, practice full contact 
listening. Here is a suggestion or two.

Don’t open a conversation employing a question that could be answered yes or no. 
Don’t ask questions that can be answered in one word. “How are you?” “Fine.” “What’s 
new?” “Nothing.”

Ask open ended questions.

Possibly the most important rule in one on one communications, particularly if it 
involves being there for someone who is struggling: “When you are listening, don’t 
get distracted and start formulating a “clever” response while the other person is still 

It's tempting as you want to say the right thing (and look good). But, don’t do it. Why? 
Because when you start formulating a response, you stop listening. It’s okay, actually 
makes you look better to take a moment to formulate a response. Shows care and 
concern. And ask God to be in the middle of the conversation. And help put words in 
your mouth.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Saint Ignatius*: “Be slow to speak, and only after having 
first listened quietly, so that you may understand the meaning, leanings, and wishes of 
those who do speak. Thus you will better know when to speak and when to be silent.”

· Saint Ignatius, born Inigo Lopez de Loyola was a Spanish priest and theologian 
who founded the Jesuit order in 1534. He did not attend Loyola University.

A truly amazing phenomenon is the less talking you do, the more brilliant and profound 
you will appear.

So, I hope you’ve been listening, I mean, reading. Enjoy your week. You deserve it!

 When you 
go out early 
in the morning, 
to walk your 
dog, do you 
notice the laborers 
working high 
up among the 
roofs and wires 
and trees doing whatever it is they are 
doing? Obviously what they are doing 
is important and vital in addition to being 
scary and dangerous. I have never 
talked at length with any of these workers 
because obviously we don’t travel in 
the same social circles or even speak the 
same language. One morning I heard a 
man scream at me from high in a tree 
across the street. The word he screamed 
was “oso” and I remembered enough of 
my Junior High School Spanish to know 
that he was yelling at me about a bear. I 
looked around and sure enough there 
was a bear at the corner of my house 
more than potentially endangering my 
dog and myself. Before running back 
into the house with my dog I yelled up 
“gracias” to the man and that was about 
the extent of our conversation

 When I see the men, and as far 
as I can tell, they are always men I feel 
kind of disgusted with myself and my 
politics. I am a Berkeley graduate and a 
big supporter of civil rights and equality 
and fairness and all sorts of other good 
things. Nevertheless, right in front of 
me there exist this glaring example of 
the kind of unfairness that allows many 
of us to live our fairly comfortable lives 
in our comfortable little town without 
thinking much about it. When I do 
think about it I know these men are 
probably migrant workers left to navigate 
our American healthcare system 
without insurance and probably with a 
language barrier.

 I know there is a lack of government 
regulation to protect these workers 
who frequently work long hours in 
adverse conditions for little pay. I assume 
that these workers are subject 
to heat stroke, sun stroke and injuries 
caused by storm conditions and probably 
are ineligible for much medical 
help. Really, other than in the mornings 
I don’t think of them that much. 
I am much more concerned with the 
threats to my Social Security payments 
and every year around tax time I get 
angry that my received Social Security 
Payments are subject to Federal Income 
Tax even though, to my mind, these 
payments are not income. In fact, as 
I understand it, Social Security Payments 
are not subject to the California 
State Tax and although it all makes little 
sense to me I, like everyone else, just go 
along with the program.

 As a retired, practically 
isolated person, I have come to 
realize that one of the things most connected 
with my happiness is my connection 
to other people. I never knew 
other people were so important to me 
until they were not around any longer. 
So given that one might presume that I 
would be very respectful of other people’s 
politics and opinions just to maintain 
pleasant relations. Unfortunately, 
this is not the case. I think that people 
who don’t believe in the things which I 
feel are important are really evil ignorant 
people with whom I do not wish to 

 How can one maintain that 
fairness and equality and diversity are 
not important? How dare one oppose 
higher wages and benefits because 
such policies are potentially inflationary 
things cost too much already? 
How dare any one not care about the 
struggles of impoverished people and 
their families and be indifferent to the 
injustices of class inequality. While I 
become angry at the blindness of such 
people I sometimes actually remember 
about the morning laborers, of course 
underpaid and unprotected and undoubtedly 
living in uncomfortable conditions. 
Our little street in the canyon 
used to be inhabited by couples and 
their children. Now, because of marital 
breakups, and deaths, and the children 
growing older and living elsewhere, 
many of the houses have only one occupant. 
Sometimes the houses are vacant 
for months at a time while the occupant 
is vacationing or on a cruise or something. 
Given these conditions does any 
canyon resident offer their home as a 
refuge to others?

 Of course not! That is not how 
we Americans live. Only as students do 
we content ourselves living with roommates 
and then only because of financial 
necessity. So we might want to stop all 
this talk about fairness and equality and 
such. Back in School many us learned, 
or should have learned that inequality 
was a vital part of American prosperity. 
We know that unpaid slave-labor 
did all the back breaking cotton picking 
that lead to all kinds of revenue for others, 
but not for them. The awareness of 
the plight of migrant farmworkers doing 
the work that other Americans will 
not do is well known and continues. So 
perhaps I, along with many of the rest 
of us, should just shut up and feel fortunate 
that we had the foresight to be 
born where we were born with an approved 
color of skin and even gender.

 Let’s continue making our 
charitable contributions, especially 
ones that cause no personal discomfort, 
and pretend that’s enough even though 
we know it isn’t. Maybe the only solution 
for me is to not get up early in the 
morning so that I don’t notice those already 
hard at work. Maybe as long as I 
am mobile I will go directly to the golf 
course and let the dog take care of himself. 
After all, just like us he’s lucky to 
have a home.

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A member of 




It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me

It was 

moments of 

that led me 
to this point. A “retro” Chevy PT 
Cruiser passing by, my upcoming 
high school reunion (it’s once every 
75 years to keep the guest list and 
catering costs down), a summertime 
concert featuring Billy Joel and Stevie 
Nicks “tribute artists”.

When the ads popped up promoting 
the real and still very much alive 
Billy Joel and Stevie Nicks for their 
“Two Icons, One Night” concert in 
LA, the draw of nostalgia tore me 
from my nightly dinner routine with 
Gibbs and Ducky of NCIS, and before 
I knew it, Ticketmaster had charged 
the tickets and added an exorbitant 
amount for service fees. 

Google Maps calculated our drive to 
the stadium would take 62 minutes, 
37 of which was the last 2 miles. I 
wish I could say we crawled along the 
street but that would imply movement. 
No doubt because of the rising 
cost of gas, the guy 2 cars ahead of us 
got out and pushed his car up the line.

We finally entered the SoFi stadium, 
home of the LA Rams and Chargers. 
Opened in 2020, it’s the most expensive 
sports and entertainment venue 
in the US. More than double the cost 
of other recently built stadiums, its 
final price slid just a touch under 5 
billion. That’s the equivalent of Elon 
Musk’s alimony (3x) and childcare 
(9x) support.

The architecture firm HKS was challenged 
by Stan Kroeke, owner of the 
SoFi stadium and LA Rams, as quoted 
by Lance Evans lead designer, “to 
come up with great experiences at every 
price point.” 

Thus began our Death March to the 
bowels of the earth, winding down a 
concrete ramp of 6 floors, each level 
the length of a football field. If you 
were a skateboarder it would have 
been a great experience but like food, 
alcohol and non-translucent bags, 
skateboards were not allowed in the 

We found our seats, strategically 
chosen in the first row of a section 
so we wouldn’t have people in front 
of us dancing and blocking our view. 
That the audience was primarily 
made up of eligible AARP members 
made that assumption somewhat 
plausible, though the overwhelming 
scent of Bengay and Tiger Balm said 

It was the coldest night on record for 
Southern California. Inside it was 
frosty, windy and wet - Stevie Nicks 
who despite being clad in the ephemeral, 
flowing gowns she’s known for, 
powered through her set while exclaiming 
at one point, “It’s freezing in 
here!” Yes, the 5 billion dollar building 
did not come with heating. 

To their credit, the enormous staff at 
the SoFi stadium were super friendly 
and helpful in getting everyone to 
their reserved seat, who then abandoned 
it later for better seats on 
the floor. And as a public service, 
SoFi has a Drive Safe policy, pricing 
a can of beer at $20 to prevent 

But back to the concert, after a well 
deserved standing ovation for a true 
Rock icon, who at 74 years old could 
crush your grandma at Aqua Aerobics, 
Stevie Nicks left the stage for 
Billy Joel to amble on, he joked about 
not being able to hit the high notes.

The timber of his voice was of a man 
50 years younger, I wish I could hear 
better but the woman behind me, 
mistaking the concert for a karaoke 
bar, sang along like a desperate feral 
cat tied to a chalkboard.

As we made it back to the parking lot, 
it was eerily quiet. 50,000 attendees 
and there was no rush of crowds leaving. 
Later, “Breaking News” reported 
that 20,000 seniors were stuck overnight 
in the stadium waiting their 
turn for the elevators to take them 6 
floors up to the lobby level.

Ah, nostalgia - it’s a dish best served 
hot with a side of Gibbs and Ducky.

Dinah Chong Watkins column appears 
every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month.

Mountain Views News

Mountain Views News

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