Sunday, December 24, 2006
Twas the day before Christmas when all through the town
Everyone was rushing and wearing a frown.
Christmas day was drawing near
And all the packages weren't even here.
The children were talking with friends and checking their lists
Of the toys they had listed and the toys they had missed.
Mom was in the kitchen, and I was in my chair
Planning for guests who would soon appear.
When out on the street there rose such a clatter
That I sprang from my chair to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Drawing back the curtains and sidestepping the trash.
The sunlight reflecting from the autos below
Dazzled my eyes with their bright, shiny glow.
But then I saw what made all the noise
It was a UPS truck crammed full of toys.
The driver was haggard and slim
I knew in a moment it had to be Jim.
His old brown truck was cluttered and slow
But he always got there, even in snow.
He had trouble finding a spot on the road
to park his truck so he could unload.
The packages were large, not small
And way too heavy to have to haul.
Finally, he found a place
From which he could race
To the doors of every house
Whose inhabitants he had to rouse.
As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly,
When they meet with an obstacle, mount to the sky.
So up to the doorways the driver he flew,
With his arms full of packages and boxes too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard at the door
The clatter of packages placed on the floor.
As I drew in my head, and was turning around,
Jim rang the bell and listened for sound.
He was dressed all in brown, from his head to his feet,
And his clothes were all pressed nicely and neat.
Packages of toys from the truck he'd acquired,
And he looked like he was all worn out and tired.
His eyes-how downcast! his frown how wary!
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry!
His droll little mouth was drawn down like a bow,
And the teeth in his mouth were as white as the snow.
The stump of a pencil he held tight in his teeth,
And his hat encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a narrow face and big strong shoulders,
That handled the loads like a large pair of boulders!
He was slim and trim, a right jolly old elf,
And I admired his looks, in spite of myself!
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know I had nothing to dread.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Unloaded his packages, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his pencil back in his pocket,
He hurried back to his truck, like a rocket!
He sprang to his truck, put his key in the ignition,
And away he drove like a man on a mission.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove down the trail,
"If you send it back, send it back by MAIL!"
Friday, December 22, 2006
All we need is another 100 billion dollars on top of the 80 billion this year and thousands of more troops with more in the future! That's the word coming down from the mountain.
They don't listen to the people, the voters.
This reminds me so much of Vietnam where we inserted ourselves into a civil war without a real plan. First it was just advisers. Then we had to support the government because they were too unstable to handle it by themselves. Our people said NO, but the politicians wouldn't listen. We had invested too much effort and lives and money just to walk away from it. Finally, the congress had to cut off the funds before the leaders and the military would let it go.
Now we are doing exactly the same thing. Back then, we were worried about the “Domino Theory” where if Vietnam fell to the communists, the rest of the region would follow. Now we are trying to “stabilize” the middle east by bringing democracy to Iraq, whether they want it or not. Our leaders and our military aren't listening to the people. The boys are over there doing their duty and following orders and getting mutilated and killed just like they did in Vietnam. Now we are friends with communist China and communist Vietnam and not worried about the “Domino Theory”. Now we are worried about the Islamic countries of the middle east. We don't understand them any better than we understood the Vietnamese or the Chinese.
George doesn't want his legacy to be just about the Iraqi war, but it's his war that he created, in spite of world opinion. It was for his “weapons of mass destruction” that we invaded another country without provocation. It's because he can't admit a mistake that we remain there in spite of his own people's opinion. He keeps talking about winning, but he has never defined how we will know when we have won. He keeps talking about bringing democracy to Iraq, when they want a theocracy.
It's part of their culture to have their religion deeply embedded in the government of their daily affairs. When we leave, there will be bloodshed until the majority of their people settle who will govern them. This religious debate (war) has been continuing for over a thousand years and we won't stop it. We are outsiders (unbelievers, infidels) who they don't trust and won't ever truly trust. They believe, rightly, that we have our own agenda in occupying their country and won't be happy until we leave.
Somehow, the world continued after we left Vietnam. We realized that we can't settle all the world's problems. We have trouble enough with handling our own crime, poverty, education, medical needs, disasters, etc without taking on the troubles of other countries. We don't have to be the policemen for the whole world. Why should we be?
Thursday, December 21, 2006
Okay, I haven't done it yet but it looks like everyone else is doing it – so I better.
I'm talking about the Christmas newsletters that everyone is sending out. I think they are really great and it's nice to know what has been happening to my friends and relatives – you feel a bit closer. I have been delinquent in doing the same. My life isn't filled with thrills and spills, but it is comfortable and friendly. I have never felt like everyone really wants to know what I have been up to but, since I appreciate knowing about their lives, I will try.
This year, 2006, has been a quietly active year.
January I was fighting a bad cold
February I was making bad investments in my IRA Switched into safe investments (Canadian trusts)
March I started a diet (lost 15 pounds)
Had some chest pains and spent 1 night in hospital (first time ever in hospital)
Had a lot of tests run but couldn't find anything wrong
April Drove down to Albuquerque to visit my daughter and son-in-law for 2 weeks (gained back 10 pounds)
May Worked for one week preparing steel estimate (too long out of the business – not again) Started diet again (through September lost 24 pounds)
June Daugher and grandson from Wyoming spent 3 weeks with me (zoo, fireworks, park)
July Recovering and dieting
August Began house remodeling – wallpaper removed, all walls and ceilings painted, bathroom tiles replaced, put up murals in entry and living room, changed light fixtures
September Continued remodeling
October Continued remodeling (gained 5 pounds)
Cousins from Minnesota dropped by for a nice visit on their way to Branson
Had a big drop in what I thought was safe investment (Canadian trusts)
November Enrolled in Medicare (finally, after going without insurance – a big relief) Daughter and son-in-law from New Mexico flew in for Thanksgiving holiday Had annual birthday dinner at Jess & Jims steak house (all sisters and brothers) (gained 5 pounds)
December Preparing for Christmas with sisters and brother (a wonderful time of the year) Preparing for back surgery in early January (30 year old injury from skiing finally needs repair) (gained 5 pounds)
All in all, it was a bad year for investments and dieting and a good year to see a lot of my relatives. My house now looks like I want it to on the inside and I feel very comfortable there.
I have a mural in the entryway of a woodland waterfall with ceiling spotlights really showing it off well. In the living room, I have a mural of a deep woods and it lends an aire of peace and relaxation to the area. Elsewhere in the house I have enlarged and framed some of my favorite scenic pictures that I took in different areas of the country – they remind me of other times and places. My daughters and son-in-laws and I have grown to become great friends – it took a while, but it was well worth it. They are wonderful people. My sisters and brother and I get together just about every week for a bit and we all care very much about each other.
If you haven't figured it out yet, you're listening to a very happy man.
The only other thing I can say is “MERRY CHRISTMAS”!
Wednesday, December 20, 2006
The fire in Iraq is growing and growing. Idiots over there are throwing gasoline and their furniture onto the fire and sniping at our firemen as we try to bring it under control. It's almost reached the out-of-control point where you pull back and let it burn.
Now someone says: “Let's throw some more firemen into the fray and hope that somehow more bodies can bring it under control”. Even the smart people in Washington are listening to the dumb ones and saying “Well, maybe it will work – I don't see how, but maybe they know something I don't know.”. After all, what's a few more firemen? Didn't they volunteer for hazardous duty? Let's just ignore the idiots over there that are throwing gasoline on the fire. The fact that all the people are clapping and chanting for the fire doesn't mean anything. I'm sure in their hearts they really love our firemen.
Obviously our leaders understand a lot more about the situation than I do. I'm sure that it's very important to our welfare that this fire in Iraq doesn't spread clear over to us. I'm sure that we know more about what's better for the Iraqis than they do. Once we build some fire stations over there and help them control their businesses and oilfields and help them understand that we are there as friends with their best interests at heart, they will welcome us with open hearts and flowers as their liberators.
Meanwhile, we estimate that the total cost for this expedition may end up costing 2 Trillion dollars. That's a lot! That's a lot more than we pay to educate our kids or to medicate the uninsured. That's a lot of Katrinas and earthquakes and forest fires and floods.
I don't see the logic. To me it seems a huge waste of lives and dollars that could be used in so many other helpful ways in our own country. I feel so bad for the wounded and dead and their families that they tried so hard to do their duty and that their efforts were misdirected and wasted.
30 or 40 years from now when we are friends with our former enemies (England, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Japan, Germany again, Italy, Korea, China, Vietnam, Russia, Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Iraq again, etc), some will wonder whether the sacrifice was worth it.
I wonder now.
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
The rise in wholesale energy costs was led by a 17.9 percent jump in gasoline prices, the biggest increase since June 2000. Natural gas for home use, home heating oil and diesel fuel costs all posted big gains at the wholesale level as well.
The 1.3 percent rise in core wholesale inflation was the biggest one-month gain since a similar 1.3 percent rise in July 1980.
Isn't it interesting how energy costs fell until right after the election?
It's probably just a coincidence. No one would deliberately try to control the cost of energy for political gain, would they? I'm sure the big energy companies just have our best interests at heart. They are more interested in our welfare than they are in profits, aren't they? They probably don't even care who is elected to what post. How could political pundits affect the energy companies? Who, besides Cheney and Bush, was ever connected to the energy businesses?
Monday, December 18, 2006
I had one of those great, monumental, change-the-world insights that dawn on you in the middle of the night --- and I didn't write it down.
Now it's lost with all those other great thoughts that whisper by when you least expect them. I knew that I should write this wonderful thought down on paper, but I was sure that I would remember it and pass it along to all those loyal bloggers out there today.
I apologize, for I can't seem to find a thread of that great fabric my mind wove last night. I'm absolutely sure that it would have been a great boon to someone out there and would probably have changed their life forever, but now they are chained to their current situation without hope.
I must say, though, that sometimes the thoughts that I have scrawled down on paper in the middle of the night didn't always make a lot of sense – or the logic had a few flaws in it. But, I'm sure that last night's thought was really stupendous. It's comforting to know that your mind is still able to compose these great works of mental agility even though it won't let you remember them.
Maybe someday, with the proper drugs, I can bring my thought processes into alignment with my memory – if I don't forget.
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
As stated in the Iraq Study Group Report:
“The United States has made a massive commitment to the future of Iraq in both blood and
treasure. As of December 2006, nearly 2,900 Americans have lost their lives serving in Iraq.
Another 21,000 Americans have been wounded, many severely.
To date, the United States has spent roughly $400 billion on the Iraq War, and costs are
running about $8 billion per month. In addition, the United States must expect significant “tail
costs” to come. Caring for veterans and replacing lost equipment will run into the hundreds of
billions of dollars. Estimates run as high as $2 trillion for the final cost of the U.S. involvement
Despite a massive effort, stability in Iraq remains elusive and the situation is deteriorating.
The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the
United States. Iraqis have not been convinced that they must take responsibility for their own
future. Iraq’s neighbors and much of the international community have not been persuaded to
play an active and constructive role in supporting Iraq. The ability of the United States to shape
outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out.”
The Iraq Study Group recommended most combat troops be withdrawn by early 2008 and the U.S. mission changed from combat to training and support of Iraqi units. It also called for an energetic effort to seek a diplomatic solution to Iraq's violence by engaging its neighbors, including Iran and Syria.
Bush, cool to both of the commission's central ideas, had been expected to follow his information-gathering with a pre-Christmas announcement of his own altered blueprint for U.S. involvement in Iraq. But the White House, citing the president's request for more time to refine and game out new policies, said Tuesday that Bush would wait until early next year.
The message to Bush, the defense specialist who requested anonymity said, is that the U.S. cannot withdraw a substantial number of combat troops by early 2008, as suggested in the Iraq Study Group report, because the Iraqis will not be ready to assume control of their country.
"It has been six weeks since the American people demanded change in Iraq. In that time Iraq has descended further toward all-out civil war and all the president has done is fire Donald Rumsfeld and conduct a listening tour," Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev. Incoming Senate majority leader said. "Talking to the same people he should have talked to four years ago does not relieve the president of the need to demonstrate leadership and change his policy now."
Meanwhile, George and friends had plenty of time to produce a nice video about his dog, Barney.
You just have to take the time to work on the important things.
Besides, he already made up his mind long ago and he never admits to making a mistake.
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
These things are nice, but they aren't that important after years have passed and newness has worn off. It's all about the people you've met and the memories you have created.
Christmas is like life – you get pretty stressed out trying to get presents for all the people on your lists and going to all the functions and decorating and sending out cards – and when it's all over, the only thing that really mattered was the friendship and good feelings you shared. All the “things” associated with Christmas are just fancy window dressing. It's all about the pleasant memories of friends and family getting together or talking on the phone or sending letters and renewing old ties. The presents get soon forgotten and all the hubbub wears you down till you have that after-Christmas letdown. But, the love you shared feels warm and good way down deep inside. You can carry that feeling with you for all your years – it's that good. I don't remember all the presents that I received as a child, but I do remember the smiles and the hugs and happiness that surrounded me when Christmas came. It's that warmth and glow that I want to rekindle each Christmas.
In life, it's the same. When you get older and friends and relations have passed out of your life, it's not the “things” you acquired but the memories of times gone by. That's the warmth and glow you carry with you into the twilight.
Have a Merry Christmas and treasure the good feelings. Smile a lot and hug a friend.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and have great memories as well.
Friday, December 01, 2006
We had about 6” of snow (up to 12” in some areas) and it looks nice and bright and clean today. The first snow of the new winter season is always exciting. Of course the weather turned much colder – last week it was in the 60s and now it's in the low teens. It was great watching a fire in the fireplace last night while a winter storm was blowing outside. Now we must face the aftermath – slick streets and sidewalks, horrible traffic and bitter cold. Winter is here early.
Now that everyone is sick of leftover turkey, it's time to think of Christmas – a pleasant thought. Christmas seems to draw out the kid in each of us. It must be the decorations and the music and the gift giving that reminds us of our childhood. It was a time of wonder and anticipation and of family. Everyone seemed to be just a bit friendlier at this time of the year. It's hard to single out a particular Christmas memory – they all were special in their own way. When I was young, it was all about what I would get from Santa. Later, it was about what I would give to those I loved. Now it's wonderful to watch the youngsters and their joy and to remember when I was the same. It really isn't what you get or what you give – it's all about the joy of sharing and the wonder of the season and the hope.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sound of Music
To commemorate her 69th birthday, actress/ vocalist Julie Andrews made a
special appearance at Manhattan's Radio City Music Hall for the benefit of
the AARP. One of the musical numbers she performed was "My Favorite Things" from the legendary movie "Sound Of Music". However, the lyrics of the song were
deliberately changed for the entertainment of her "bluehair" audience.
Here are the lyrics she recited:
"Maalox and nose drops and needles for knitting,
Walkers and handrails and new dental fittings,
Bundles of magazines tied up in string,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Cadillacs and cataracts, hearing aids and glasses,
Polident and Fixodent and false teeth in glasses,
Pacemakers, golf carts and porches with swings,
These are a few of my favorite things.
When the pipes leak,
When the bones creak,
When the knees go bad,
I simply remember my favorite things,
And then I don't feel so bad.
Hot tea and crumpets, and corn pads for bunions,
No spicy hot food or food cooked with onions,
Bathrobes and heat pads and hot meals they bring,
These are a few of my favorite things.
Back pains, confused brains, and no fear of sinnin',
Thin bones and fractures and hair that is thinnin',
And we won't mention our short shrunken frames,
When we remember our favorite things.
When the joints ache,
When the hips break,
When the eyes grow dim,
Then I remember the great life I've had,
And then I don't feel so bad."
Julie received a standing ovation with repeated encores that lasted over
One or two of these have to affect most any older person at one time or another.
I especially like the final phrase - it is a goal for all of us to strive for.
So, don't feel so bad when something hurts - it's just part of life.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Today, our president is visiting our most hated enemy of 25 years ago – Vietnam. Many thousands died in that conflict for their countries and now we no longer hate them and will trade with them. What was the reason for that conflict? Why did all those young men and all those natives have to die? Now we are engaged in another conflict in Iraq that in 25 years won't matter, but people are dying anyway.
Can someone please explain why we have to force our way of life on another people who apparently don't want to live like we do?
And another thing – How can we now deal with Vietnam and still boycott Cuba? It doesn't make any sense at all. We almost went to war with Russia when they sere setting up missles in Cuba and now we are good friends with Russia, but still treat Cuba as an enemy.
It appears that we have some ignorant, stubborn politicians directing our foreign policy who don't have a clue. It's frustrating and heartbreaking.
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Pentagon announced Friday that 57,000 U.S. troops, including five combat brigades, have been told to deploy to Iraq early next year - a move that will maintain current force levels there. The deployments, which will serve as replacements for troops leaving Iraq, will largely maintain the current force level of 141,000.
Friday, November 10, 2006
I look for a brighter future for most of us. We will see.
Monday, November 06, 2006
Quotes from the internet news today.
Think what you want about corporate control of natural resources, but according to the United Nations, two-thirds of the world's population won't have access to enough water by 2025. Water is a huge problem and dilemma that receives relatively little attention.
The lower prices at the pump today will not last long; we can easily expect oil prices to rise to $100 a barrel over the next five years.
According to the scientists' data, Greenland's ice is melting at a rate three times faster than it was only five years ago. “We have only been watching the ice cap melt during a relatively short period,” physicist Jianli Chen said Thursday, “but we are seeing the strongest evidence of it yet, and in the near future the pace of melting will accelerate even more.” The same satellites tracking Greenland's ice cap also are monitoring the melt rate of Antarctica's ice cover, and there too the melting is adding to the global rise in sea level, according to another team of scientists. The result could be a critical change in the composition of the main ocean current that flows past Europe's northern edge, blocking off warmer waters that normally flow there and -- ironically -- making Northern Europe's weather colder than normal, at least temporarily, while the rest of the globe continues warming.
We run out of water and oil doubles in price and the ice caps melt and the world heats up and we have more people than we can feed.
It reminds me of the Kingston Trio song where it ends with the statement:
“what nature doesn't do to us will be done by our fellow man. But, we can be tranquil and thankful and proud for man's been endowed with a mushroom shaped cloud. And we know for certain that some lovely day, someone will set the spark off and we will all be blown away.”
So, why worry?
The good news is that we have enough oil and water and food for now and it's a nice day today.
Friday, November 03, 2006
I get between 4 and 6 calls everyday from complete strangers asking for my help in getting their candidate elected. I also receive about 10 emails a day and 3 or 4 lettters a day informing me of how important I am in the overall scheme of this election. People want to take a poll of my opinions and they want to know just what I think of this or of that.
I feel really special!
Of course, when I try to engage the caller in a meaningful conversation they tend to want to cut the conversation short while I want to delve deeper into what they really believe about the underlying problems. It's hard to have a meaningful discussion in just a few minutes. Next week I will probably sink back into my anonymity just like a month ago. But for now, I just want to revel in my importance.
Does anyone out there want my opinion on anything? Anything at all?
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
And I don't take as many reckless chances as I did when I was a teenager. And I'm a bit slower than I was when I was a young man. But, I still feel and think in my mind that I have never really grown up. I still have moments when I want to whoop and holler, maybe just not so loud.
The years flew by, many without my even noticing them. All the dear friends from my youth have gone their own ways for many years, but I still remember each and every one of them as they were long ago. The world has kept on turning and the old problems have disappeared or changed into new problems. Life goes on and friends and relations pass away or move away and my world becomes just a bit sadder and just a bit lonlier. I still enjoy the sunsets and the mountains and the fresh spring air. I still enjoy the smells and the sounds.
Life can be so sweet at moments, and yet there are times like this when I feel age beginning to creep in on me and I cringe because I really don't want to grow up yet.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Now that I have reached retirement age, I find myself thinking more often about the world of my youth and the friends that I have left behind. It seemed that the world of my youth was slower paced and the flavor of life was sweeter and simpler. Now I find that friends of my youth are facing the ravages of age and some are dying and I feel my time slipping away. I see earlier generations fading from memory and my generation, which I always thought of as young, now becoming the elder generation. I know that this is the way of life, but I still feel young in my mind and I find that life is so sweet and so short. I wish that I could have held on to all those great friends of my youth. We had a special bond that held us together and we looked forward anxiously to the benefits of being in complete control of our lives as we became full fledged adults. Those days were just the other day in my memory and are clear and sweet
To those friends from my youth, I wish to say that you helped make my memories very dear and you helped mold me into the man I am now. Thank you all.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
Calling the Democrats the party of "cut and run," Bush said voters need to ask: "Which political party has a strategy for victory in this war on terror?'"
This kind of rhetoric flows from a flawed logic. Somehow the war in Iraq has become a “war on terror”, which has never been proved and more and more shows itself to have been an error in judgement.
Our president cannot admit to making ANY mistakes and therefore will not admit that starting this war and invading this country was WRONG. No matter how many lives are lost and no matter how much money and resources it takes, he will not allow himself to admit that he was wrong. This is not the type of person who should be head of the most powerful nation on this planet. We need a LEADER who will attempt to make wise decisions, admit when a decision is wrong, and proceed to correct it. We would follow someone like that. We don't need stubborn, bull-headed, dogged, stuff-it-down-your-throat leadership. Here is a man who pulled strings and avoided war when he was young and now has sent thousands of young men to their death for an error in judgement. When we leave Iraq, their civil war will escalate and they will have their islamic state, whether Sunni or Shiite, and we will be a bad memory to them. They don't want us there, some never did. Others are regretting this war and all the upheaval that has followed. They will be glad when we are gone. They have no intention of ever becoming anything but a religious islamic state. Democracy is not part of their heritage or their basic philosophy. They want to be ruled by a theocracy and once we leave, they will be.
Saturday, October 07, 2006
I didn't know that anyone was actually reading my blatherings. I thought I was writing my thoughts as they occurred for my daughters to read someday and get to know the real me as shown by these writings. One of my favorite relatives from Minnesota stopped by the other day and said how she usually checked on my blog to see what was happening in my world. It was a surprise to me that anyone was checking in on me.
I apologize to any of you secret and very quiet readers that I have been remiss in writing over these last few months. Everything has been smooth and orderly for a while and I have had no complaints. My daughter and grandson visited with my for 3 weeks earlier in the summer and I have had the house insides being repainted – ceilings and walls over the month of September. The house should be almost like new in another month or so. I am having large murals put on the entry wall and one of the living room walls. These murals are of woodland scenes and should bring a lot of depth and color to the house. At the same time I am having the bathrooms retiled and repainted so they will seem much newer. It's been a mess around here while this was all being done. Furniture was moved from one area to another and everything stripped off the walls. I'm not sure where everything was put, but I'm sure it will all show up someday.
Meanwhile, I still have the same feelings and thoughts regarding our world.
I truly believe that we are all in this together and that we all need to look out for each other. It shouldn't be every man for himself. It should be all for one and one for all. If this makes me a liberal, then I am proud to be one. I believe that we have established and ordained our own government to help us watch out for each other and to help us keep order and to protect ourselves. When the government acts against our will and acts to help special interests against the greater good, it needs to be changed. I believe that we need our government to help us with our education, our health and welfare and our protection. If we have a healthy, educated population it will help us all live better lives. If only the rich can afford the good education and the healthcare that all people need, then our government is failing to fulfill one of it's basic purposes. Of course, it needs to regulate and oversee many aspects of our society to keep the cheaters from taking advantage of the rest of us, but it shouldn't be helping them.
Right now, it seems to me that special interests (especially the larger corporate interests) control our government and we are losing out. The rich are getting richer and the middle and poorer classes are losing out. The longer this take place, the harder it will be to correct. Hopefully, it won't take a major catastrophe to awaken the people and change what's been happening.
Saturday, September 16, 2006
It's been hectic the last 2 weeks and will remain so till the end of the month.
My ceilings needed to be painted and they needed some repair where the sheetrock tape was loose and showing seams. I thought I would have them textured to give them a newer, cleaner look and to hide the flaws.
When you have the ceilings textured, it adds quite a bit of moisture to the area and if you have any loose tape, it will come loose, and it would do the same to any wallpapered areas. I had to have the wallpaper stripped and walls and ceilings repaired, then all walls painted. In the bathroom some mold was discovered behind the tile so it had to be torn out and replaced.
Now that the walls and ceilings are bright and clean, the rug looks dingy and will have to be replaced in the high traffic areas. The old curtains and drapes need to be replaced or at least dry cleaned. I'm replacing the floor and table lamps.
One thing leads to another and it all ends up being done at the same time.
A simple idea with good intentions often leads to a complicated course of actions and a lot of cost.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
A U.S. Labor Department study shows that down at the middle and lower ends of the wage scale - where people often drive pick-ups - real earnings have gone nowhere since 1979. Median wage earners realized a total gain over the entire quarter century of just 2.3%. Low wage earners lost 3.7%. While the picture is dark at the center and below decks, the upper berths on this vessel have enjoyed sunshine and smooth sailing - with real earnings up 20.3% since 1979.
“Meanwhile, local homeowners say it’s a bleak housing market these days, even with some price slashing going by some motivated sellers.
‘We have an oversupply of houses and few buyers out there, for whatever reasons.’“‘The experienced agents are telling me this is one of the worst markets they’ve seen,’ remarked Sue Kappel, who has operated since 1972.
From the East Coast, we get word that the housing market around Washington, D.C., once one of the hottest, is cooling off fast.
The anecdotal evidence is not too thin to conclude that the housing market is not just liable to a mild 5% decline, which would wipe $1 trillion from household wealth. Rather, it is likely to see a full-scale retreat, in which the bids disappear altogether. Some experts are predicting as much as a 20% to 40% collapse in prices, which would be as much as $8 trillion in “wealth” knocked off homeowners’ balance sheets.
On to those poor people who are no longer homeowners! The foreclosure rate is climbing; now, one out of every 1,245 households is in foreclosure. But we note that that still leaves plenty of room for growth.
Tuesday, August 29, 2006
The other day I received a voting form from Fidelity requesting my proxy or vote for the proposed upcoming board of directors. I sat down and reviewed the various directors and their compensation. Years ago, T Boone Pickens of Mesa Petroleum spoke on public radio about “the good old boys club” of directors of various companies and how he was invited to join – he refused at the time.
Most of the directors for Fidelity are on the board of directors of various other companies and were once presidents or chairmen of still other companies. I was amazed that most of their backgrounds had nothing to do with running a mutual fund or investing. The board of directors apparently choose the direction they want the fund to steer toward and appoint a manager who handles all the details. They just sit back and direct. The minimum compensation for this directing amounted to slightly less than $400,000.00 per year each. Assuming that they served on two other boards, that gave them over a million dollars a year to hold their quarterly meetings. I'm sure that their meetings are elegant and cordial, but are they really worth that? SWEET!
The rich get richer and have very little understanding of how the common people live.
The inequities of our system are splitting farther and farther apart and there is little effort to correct this basic flaw. It seems that there is less and less sympathy or empathy from the upper caste of our system. “If they have no bread, let them eat cake” has a familiar ring to it. As we suffer through the upcoming trials and tribulations, I hope there will be a leveling of the playing field.
Monday, August 28, 2006
People who build in an eqrthquake zone are taking a gamble. People who build in a tornado zone are taking a gamble. People who build on hills that have mudslides are taking a gamble. People who build in the middle of a forest without a fire break are taking a gamble. People who build close to a volcano are taking a gamble. People who build in the flood plain of a river are taking a gamble. When these natural events eventually occur, there should be no gnashing of teeth and wailing and complaining – it was a gamble that these people took for whatever reason and should have known the possible consequences. They had their reasons for taking that gamble, but it not up to the public to help them make the same mistake again.
Here in Kansas City, we have an area along the Kansas River called southwest boulevard. It is in the flood plain and it floods to some degree just about every other year. Sometimes the flood is worse than other times. People continue to rebuild, over and over, in the same area hoping that it won't happen again. Guess what – it will! These same people will turn to the government (FEMA) and cry for help and understanding each and every time. Some people even brag that they have endured flooding 5 or 6 times and that they WILL REBUILD again!
It's hard to feel continuing sympathy for people who don't want to learn from past mistakes. They are bound and determined to make the same mistake again come hell or high water. I believe in helping people who have endured misfortune, but I don't believe in helping them to be foolish and repeat mistakes. New Orleans has always been a city waiting for a catastrophe just like San Francisco. Just like Kansas City's southwest boulevard. Just like Seattle's Mount Ranier. It's just a matter or time.
Now that New Orleans has experienced this event, perhaps it's time to help remedy the situation. Why should we try to rebuild in the same place and ask for the same continuing chance of future catastrophe? Why not abandon those areas which are foolish to continue and strengthen and safeguard those areas that stand a chance? Let's help those who can't rebuild to relocate and help a new New Orleans have a better future. Surely we have the intellectual prowess to solve this problem intelligently.
Or, not – in which case, never mind.
Friday, August 25, 2006
About 1,200 British troops had been stationed at Camp Abu Naji in Amarah, 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, and the base had come under almost daily attack. The troops pulled out Thursday to redeploy along the border with Iran to crack down on weapons smuggling.
Shortly after the troops pulled out, Iraqi police managed to disperse looters by firing warning shots into the air, said Dhaffar Jabbar, spokesman for the Maysan provincial governor's office. But the looters returned Friday.
"The British forces left Abu Naji and the locals started looting everything," 1st Lt. Rifaat Taha Yaseen of the Iraqi army's 10th Division told AP Television News. "They took everything from the buildings."
When we finally leave Iraq, this is more than likely what will happen to our areas of operation. It will be as if we had never been there. Iraq can then proceed with it's religious squabbling which has been going on for over a thousand years. Whichever group gains control will then squelch the others and the area will stabilize until the next confrontation. We don't understand them and we never will. We should just get out of their way and let them figure out what they want.
But, then, that's just my opinion based on historical fact.
Thursday, August 24, 2006
Actually, summer isn't officially over. But, since school has started in many places it seems that summer has now passed and autumn is coming. It's just a month until Autumn offically starts. Isn't it strange how, during winter, we wish so much for warmer weather but when summer has dragged on, we are so grateful for the cooler weather of fall?
I've taken a summer vacation from writing in this log, but now I need to take the time to write down my memories and thoughts and passing feelings. It's a way to communicate with others and leave a bit of myself for future generations. For me, it's a way of saying that “I was here and here was how I thought and felt”. If noone cares, it still feels right to leave these thoughts for others to discover.
Much has happened in the last few months. It appears that the world is now wrestling with itself over whether to confront Iran and Syria for not following the traffic rules. I suppose that George would prefer to shoot first and ask questions later. It would give us another “war” to overpower all other criticisms and complaints during the upcoming elections. Once you can get a war going, your poll numbers increase and you can question others about their patriotism without explaining your mistakes.
I've seen tremendous changes over the years. If Richard Nixon were alive today, he would be considered a liberal, Lyndon Johnson would be considered a communist, Herbert Hoover would be considered a conservative and someone like Mussolini or Hitler would be a neocon. The political world has shifted so far to the right that anyone who acts for the common man is considered a dirty stinking “liberal”. Liberal has become a bad word. Have you ever looked up the definition of liberal?
a. Not limited to or by established, traditional, orthodox, or authoritarian attitudes, views, or dogmas; free from bigotry.
b. Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
c. Of, relating to, or characteristic of liberalism.
d. Liberal Of, designating, or characteristic of a political party founded on or associated with principles of social and political liberalism, especially in Great Britain, Canada, and the United States.
a. Tending to give freely; generous: a liberal benefactor.
b. Generous in amount; ample: a liberal serving of potatoes.
A person with liberal ideas or opinions.
So a liberal favors progress, is tolerant of ideas of others, and is generous. Not bad. I guess I'm a liberal.
1. Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change.
2. Traditional or restrained in style: a conservative dark suit.
3. Moderate; cautious: a conservative estimate.
a. Of or relating to the political philosophy of conservatism.
b. Belonging to a conservative party, group, or movement.
1. One favoring traditional views and values.
2. A supporter of political conservatism.
So a conservative is opposed to change, is restrained and cautious. Perhaps a conservative is a bit tight with his money and his friends. Doesn't sound so awful bad, does it? I suppose there is a bit of conservative in all of us.
Somewhere along the line, our government got aligned with business and the desires of the rich few and opposed to the people and the desires of the many. It and they became stingy, not generous, became cautious, not open to new ideas for progress, became restrained, not tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others. This government, of the people, by the people and for the people became a government bought and paid for by special interests. I give you a million dollars to help you get elected and you give me a billion dollars worth of business – don't tell the people.
It is definitely time for change but I don't see anyone out there working for us. They are ALL paid for by the same special interests. Take my candidate from my left hand or take my candidate from my right hand – they both owe ME, not you.
Some people keep bringing up campaign reform, but it never really changes. The rich get richer and control our government. They have gotten more blatant with their opinions and their demands and we, the common man, suffer in their wake. You can suffer the slings and arrows just so long as you are allowed a bit of freedom and a bit of peace. When decisions take away some of our freedoms and affect the lives of those around us, we cry out for change. It appears that most of us now want some kind of change in our leaders and we're just waiting for the right man, or woman, to step forward showing that they care about US.
Wouldn't that be nice?
Friday, August 04, 2006
Read this and tell me "Why are we still there?".
BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - Hundreds of thousands of Shiites chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America" marched through the streets of Baghdad's biggest Shiite district Friday in a show of support for Hezbollah militants battling Israeli troops in Lebanon.
No violence was reported during the rally in the Sadr City neighborhood. But at least 35 people were killed elsewhere in Iraq, many of them in a car bombing and gunbattle in the northern city of Mosul.
The demonstration was the biggest in the Middle East in support of Hezbollah since the Israeli army launched an offensive July 12 after a guerrilla raid on northern Israel. The protest was organized by radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, whose political movement built around the Mahdi Army militia has been modeled after Hezbollah.
Al-Sadr summoned followers from throughout the Shiite heartland of southern Iraq to converge
on Baghdad for the rally but he did not attend.
Demonstrators, wearing white burial shrouds symbolizing their willingness to die for Hezbollah, waved the group's yellow banner and chanted slogans in support of its leader, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, who has attained a cult status in the Arab world for his defiance of Israel.
"Allah, Allah, give victory to Hassan Nasrallah," the crowd chanted.
"Mahdi Army and Hezbollah are one. Let them confront us if they dare," the predominantly male crowd shouted, waving the flags of Hezbollah, Lebanon and Iraq.
Many walked with umbrellas in the searing afternoon sun. Volunteers sprayed them with water.
"I am wearing the shroud and I am ready to meet martyrdom," said Mohammed Khalaf, 35, owner of a clothes shop in the southern city of Amarah.
Al-Sadr followers painted U.S. and Israeli flags on the main road leading to the rally site, and demonstrators stepped on them - a gesture of contempt in Iraq. Alongside the painted flags was written: "These are the terrorists."
Protesters set fire to American and Israeli flags, as well as effigies of President Bush and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, showing the men with Dracula teeth. "Saddam and Bush, Two Faces of One Coin" was scrawled on Bush's effigy.
Iraqi government television said the Defense Ministry had approved the demonstration, a sign of public anger over Israel's offensive and of al-Sadr's stature as a major player in Iraqi politics.
Wednesday, July 26, 2006
Life can seem so short, no matter how long we have. Who is worse off - the person who lives years and years only to die young or the child who never has a chance to enjoy any of the pleasures of life?
It is all a matter of perspective. No matter how long you live, there is always something you will miss. It's all about living each moment and loving every moment you live. Abigal was surrounded by love and attention for those few short months and enjoyed each sensation as she discovered it. She never knew the heartbreak or pain of losing loved ones. She never knew the joys of accomplishment. She did know love. Whenever our time comes, it is never convenient – it is just a natural part of life and if we haven't enjoyed every golden moment, it is our own foolish fault.
Are you ready?
Thursday, July 20, 2006
You get very few second chances to correct the mistakes and right the wrongs you left in your past. Childhood, while seeming endless at the time, is just a fleeting wisp of a memory later in life. Your days of schooling, while seeming to be grueling at the time, seem in retrospect to be wonderful carefree days of youth and friendship and exploration. And life races on. Those friends you left in your past linger in your memory and you wish you had had the courage to express how they touched your life and how they are still vibrant and alive in your thoughts. Loved ones you slighted and friends you argued with over some petty insignificant forgotten subject have faded from your life and you regret having lost those you once held so dear.
Life can end at any time, without warning, and you'll never have the chance to apologize for your mistakes or to correct any wrongs you performed.
A dear friend from my college days died earlier this month.
I hadn't seen him in many years and had lost touch with how his life progressed. I regret that I didn't take the few moments necessary to communicate with him and to let him know that he still dwelt in my thoughts as a wonderful young friend from long ago. I have been remiss in communicating with many people who have helped shape my life and helped make me the man I am today. I would tell them all how much they mattered to me and how memories of them and the times we shared still bring me much joy.
So, if any of my friends from the past happen to read this, please know that I am talking directly to you when I say that your friendship is still carried in my heart and I fondly remember the times we shared.
Friday, July 14, 2006
Excerpts of an article written by Congressman Ron Paul
WHY ARE AMERICANS SO ANGRY?
“It seems bizarre that it's so unthinkable to change course if the current policy is failing. Our leaders are like a physician who makes a wrong diagnosis and prescribes the wrong medicine, but because of his ego can't tell the patient he made a mistake. Instead he hopes the patient will get better on his own. But instead of improving, the patient gets worse from the medication wrongly prescribed. This would be abhorrent behavior in medicine, but tragically it is commonplace in politics.
If the truth is admitted, it would appear that the lives lost and the money spent have been in vain. Instead, more casualties must be sustained to prove a false premise. What a tragedy! If the truth is admitted, imagine the anger of all the families that already have suffered such a burden. That burden is softened when the families and the wounded are told their great sacrifice was worthy, and required to preserve our freedoms and our Constitution.
But no one is allowed to ask the obvious. How have the 2,500 plus deaths, and the 18,500 wounded, made us more free? What in the world does Iraq have to do with protecting our civil liberties here at home? What national security threat prompted America's first pre-emptive war? ...
These questions aren't permitted. They are not politically correct. I agree that the truth hurts, and these questions are terribly hurtful to the families that have suffered so much. What a horrible thought it would be to find out the cause for which we fight is not quite so noble.
I don't believe those who hide from the truth and refuse to face the reality of the war do so deliberately. The pain is too great. Deep down, psychologically, many are incapable of admitting such a costly and emotionally damaging error. They instead become even greater and more determined supporters of the failed policy.
They refuse to accept that the real reason for our invasion and occupation of Iraq was not related to terrorism.
They deny that our military is weaker as a consequence of this war.
They won't admit that our invasion has served the interests of Osama Bin Laden. They continue to blame our image problems around the world on a few bad apples.
They won't admit that our invasion has served the interests of Iran's radical regime.
The cost in lives lost and dollars spent is glossed over, and the deficit spirals up without concern.
They ridicule those who point out that our relationships with our allies have been significantly damaged.
We have provided a tremendous incentive for Russia and China, and others like Iran, to organize through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They entertain future challenges to our plans to dominate South East Asia, the Middle East, and all its oil.
Radicalizing the Middle East will in the long term jeopardize Israel's security, and increase the odds of this war spreading.
War supporters cannot see that for every Iraqi killed, another family turns on us-- regardless of who did the killing. We are and will continue to be blamed for every wrong done in Iraq: all deaths, illness, water problems, food shortages, and electricity outages.
As long as our political leaders persist in these denials, the war won't end. The problem is that this is the source of the anger, because the American people are not in denial and want a change in policy....”
Monday, July 10, 2006
Please excuse me – I had my daughter and my 7 year old grandson visiting with me for the last 3 weeks. I'm worn out.
Don't let anyone tell you that 7 year olds aren't full of energy and questions. Their bodies and their minds run at full tilt from early morning until late night. They are filled with wonder and their minds are like sponges absorbing every detail of the world around them. They seem to run everywhere and never stop. They are just amazing. My daughter helped me clean out some rooms and kept me working or going places most every day. She was a great help and we had a nice visit.
Now I can finally slow down and stop watching cartoons.
Wednesday, June 14, 2006
To whom will Ford be selling their new cars?
When Henry Ford first set up the assembly line, he created his own market by giving his workers higher wages so they could afford to buy the product they were manufacturing. It seems that the only cars that will eventually be made in the USA will be by Toyota, Mazda, Nissan and Volkswagen. Maybe Ford and GM will be selling to the wealthy people in China and India?
DETROIT (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co. (F), which is slashing jobs and closing plants in the United States as it seeks to return its North American operations to profitability, is preparing to invest up to $9.2 billion in Mexico to leverage its low operating costs there, a Michigan newspaper reported on Wednesday.
The Oakland Press, a Detroit-area newspaper, said the investment was detailed in a confidential, 28-page document turned over to it by a Ford employee.
The document, part of which had been prepared for a presentation in early April to officials from the Mexican government, said Ford, the No. 2 U.S. automaker, could invest a total of $9.2 billion in Mexico over a six-year period from 2006 to 2012, according to the newspaper.
Ford spokesman Oscar Suris declined to comment on the report, calling it "speculative."
The newspaper said a second source familiar with Ford operations vouched for the authenticity of the document, "which suggested the automaker's investment could potentially create up to 150,000 jobs in Mexico within the next decade."
"The Way Forward - Mexico (offers an) opportunity to further leverage Ford of Mexico cost advantage and location to reduce corporate fixed costs," the confidential document said.
"We will leverage our global scale like never before and Mexico is a key partner as we're targeting lower fixed costs, better quality and speed to deliver our Way Forward plans," the document said.
Ford, which is struggling with rising costs and declining U.S. market share, currently has two assembly plants and an engine plant in Mexico. Under Ford's restructuring plan, which is dubbed Way Forward and was first announced in January, the automaker plans to close 14 plants and cut up to 30,000 hourly workers in North America.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
If I didn't read the national news or watch the television news, I probably wouldn't be aware that the world as we know it is about to end. The dollar is going to go into a tailspin and inflation is going to cause us to wheelbarrow our money to the market in order to buy the diminishing amout of goods available. Meanwhile, the Chinese and Indians will dominate the new world commerce and will cause a shortage of all essential goods and energy products. Our country will go bankrupt and our new retirement plan will be to work till you die and our health plan will be to stay healthy. They say this looming depression will be far worse than the last great depression and our excessive debt has brought us to this crucial point in history.
Before the fall of our american empire and the beginning of the next dark ages, I plan on enjoying the great life I have right this minute. The first thing I'm going to do is STOP WATCHING AND READING THE NEWS! I can't stop the world from falling apart. I can't control what other people in other countries do. I can't stop other people from wasting their money or wasting their lives – I can only control how I live my life and how I think about life. The world may fall apart sometime in the future, but it won't happen overnight. If the quality of life as we know it declines, it will happen slowly and we will adapt. We just don't need someone running around telling us “the sky is falling”. My dad and his family lived through the great depression, but they didn't know that it was the “great depression” until it was over. They only knew that things were a bit rough and everyone had to pitch in and help each other. They made it through and they were able to find the joy that was available. We will too.
Saturday, June 03, 2006
More than a dozen efficiency efforts are set for trims or elimination as the administration pushes long-term projects.
By Mark Clayton
A few years ago a little-known US Energy Department program helped produce a design technology for lightweight cars and trucks that in 2004 alone saved the nation 122 million barrels of oil, or about $9 billion.
Even without that breakthrough, the tiny Industrial Technologies Program routinely saves the United States $7 worth of energy for each dollar it spends, proponents say.
So, with energy prices spiking and President Bush pushing for more energy research, the ITP would seem a natural candidate for more funding. In fact, its budget is set to get chopped by a third from its 2005 level. It's one of more than a dozen energy-efficiency efforts that the Energy Department plans to trim or eliminate in a $115 million cost-saving move.
You can say the right words and sound sincere, but your actions really tell the story.
Tuesday, May 30, 2006
Wars continue to happen and young men continue to die.
We can't seem to learn from our mistakes.
Our leaders can't seem to be able to negotiate peace, only war.
All the graves of all the young men from all the wars are peacefully laid out in neat rows continuing on forever while the young men who had so much to live for become distant memories and characters in television shows.
Saturday, May 27, 2006
May your memorial day be filled with pleasant memories.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006
372 messages is a lot of wasted effort.
Monday, May 15, 2006
If we had a national health care system that gave adequate health care to all people, wouldn't the entire country benefit? We would have less emergency health problems to deal with and less health related absences from work. Our healthier children could more easily realize their full potential.
Why can't we, the richest and most powerful country on earth, give these basic benefits to our own people? We have taken the job of being sheriff to the world and trying to meddle in all countries decisions outside our boundaries, with no recompense. Why can't we turn aside from their problems and be a little selfish and solve a few of our own problems?
Friday, May 12, 2006
Thursday, May 11, 2006
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
You can gain confidence.
You can draw attention to yourself.
You can gather acquaintances.
But, you must remember that love is a gift. You can't make someone love you. You can't earn somebody's love. You can't buy someone's affection. Love is given freely with no strings attached. Love can be one-sided. Just because you love someone with all your heart, it doesn't mean that your love will be returned. When you love someone unconditionally, you forgive much and overlook more. It's not necessarily your choice – you just happen to love that person -no matter what. Once you have loved someone completely and been hurt, it's hard to expose yourself to further pain. I have found that love doesn't stop when the other person has left your life and moved on – the love is still there. I love people that I haven't seen in years. And when you run into someone you love after all those years, it's like no time has passed by at all. You can't always control who you love, you just have to go with it and accept it. Just remember that your love is a gift you give freely to someone else. They may or may not return the feeling, and life will go on.
Luckily, in my family, I am surrounded by love. The love and respect that we all share gives our lives much enhancement and much comfort. I wish all could be as lucky as we.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
The Financial Times goes on to note that it took 204 years for the U.S. government to accumulate its first $1 trillion in debt. Now, it adds that much every 18 months. George W. Bush has added more debt than any president who ever lived. In fact, he's added more debt than all the presidents who ever lived...combined.
AND HE STILL THINKS TAXES FOR THE RICH SHOULD BE CUT?
I DON'T THINK ECONOMICS WAS HIS BEST SUBJECT.
Thursday, May 04, 2006
Tuesday, April 18, 2006
In a GATA (Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee) dispatch of an article in the Financial Times, they have forwarded the news that says, "The U.S. dollar extended losses in European morning trade on Tuesday amid a call from a Chinese politician for China to stop buying U.S. Treasuries. Cheng Siwei, a vice chief of China's National People's Congress, was quoted as saying that 'China can stop buying dollar-denominated bonds, and gradually reduce its holdings of U.S. Bonds'."
The central banks are (and have been) doing everything they can to prevent the dollar from rolling over, but that may soon be history. Paul van Eeden writes, "Mr. Hu Jintao, the Chinese President, is scheduled to visit Washington later this month while the United States continues to put pressure on China to let its currency appreciate against the dollar. It seems China is going to comply: In December Mr. Yu Yongding, who is a member of the monetary policy advisory committee to the People's Bank of China, said that China should weaken the link between the yuan (renminbi) and the U.S. dollar."If China starts reducing its holdings of U.S. debt and assets, or even slow the pace of buying more, then who is going to finance our current account
deficit and the federal budget deficit? Net result?
The dollar goes lower and things that we import (like oil and nearly everything else) will cost more - much more.
The good news about a falling dollar is, they say, that this lower dollar thing will make U.S. exports cheaper on the world market. So, the trade deficit will automatically shrink because we are exporting more and importing less. Unfortunately, as soon as these greedy corporations find that their prices are lower than the competitor's, they will raise prices! So, we will have the worst of both worlds: higher import prices and higher domestic prices!
Thursday, April 13, 2006
I've always been able to lock out the world and give a problem my full attention. It's a blessing sometimes and sometimes a curse. My one-track mind helped me in the business world when I was a project manager and had to work out complex timeing problems of construction. In the everyday world of multi-tasking, it was a hindrance. I determined long ago that some of us are sprinters and able to go full out for a short time with maximum benefit immediately and some of us plod along willing to work out all the details and take the time to find just the right solution. Those of us who plod can't often dash, but we do accomplish difficult tasks. We may not have the flash pizazz of the dasher, but they don't often have the ability to stick with the problem as long as we can. We need both in this tricky world of ours. There isn't always a quick fix for a problem and that's where the plodders come into their own. But, when there is a need for an immediate solution, it's time for the sprinter to shine.
You sprinters go on ahead and us plodders will eventually catch up and together we will solve most of the problems presented to us.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006
I'm not sure where to turn. I'm thouroughly upset with the Republican congress and president running the country for the benefit of their own special interests and not really paying attention to the ordinary citizen. But, I don't see the Democrats offering any alternatives. Each of the parties are good at pointing fingers and blame at each other but poor at offering viable alternatives. I get the strong feeling that I'm being offered the special interests left hand for one party and their right hand for the other party. We seem to have the best political parties that money can buy. With all the wheeling and dealing going on and the continuing overpowering debt and the continuing war and the continuing loss of good jobs overseas, the average american citizen seems to have been left out of the formula. I watch Lou Dobbs to get an idea of what's going on behind the scenes but I don't see anyone to turn to. We get a lot of sound bites and a lot of phrases that sound like something good is going to happen, but it turns out that noone is watching the store and it's all for show. It sounds like we are spending our future right now and later it will be every man for himself. While the rich are getting richer, they are also transferring many of their assests overseas. It appears that the really wealthy are abandoning this country for China and India where there is really cheap labor and not so many protections for the workers. It feels like every last dollar has been wrung out of our society and now they are looking elsewhere. If that is really true, our immediate future could look really bleak.
Tell me it isn't so. Give me some hope. Show me the candidates that really care and who have at least some answers.
Sunday, April 09, 2006
We hold a true and abiding love in these few people and they are our backup when we need to share our fears and hopes with someone. They are our support system. They are necessary and vital to our lives.
That's why it hurts so deeply when one of these few people are taken from our lives. We have a hollow spot down deep inside that will always remain empty. It takes time for us to harden ourselves around this deep and empty wound. There is much to grieve and only time will allow us to adjust. We live in the past with the hopes and love and dreams that we once shared. It's difficult to turn our hearts away from what was and will be no longer to an uncertain future, but this we must do. We don't know what lies ahead, but we must look for the joy that may be just around the next corner. We must not curl up into a fetal ball and cower from the life that remains. We must lift our heads and look ahead. The earth holds many marvels for us to view and feel and smell. There is more to learn and more to share. Treasure the memory of what was, but don't let the memory blind you to the beauty that still remains.
Whatever time remains is a gift to be explored.
Thursday, April 06, 2006
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. high school seniors continue to struggle with personal finance basics, according to a study unveiled on Wednesday at the Federal Reserve by a nonprofit financial education group.
The study tested 5,775 12th graders in 37 states on issues such as whether stocks or bonds have higher long-term returns (stocks do), whether they have to pay taxes on interest earned on savings accounts (they do), and whether they would keep their health insurance if their parents lost their jobs (they would not).
Only 14 percent said stocks were likely to have higher returns, just 23 percent realized that interest on savings accounts may be taxable and only 40 percent understood that they could lose their health insurance if their parents became jobless.
The average score for the survey was 52.4 percent -- a failing grade in most U.S. schools. Surveys in 2004, 2002 and 2000 also yielded scores in the 50-percent range.
"What we are looking at are students who by any educational standards are flunking the test of their financial lives," said Lewis Mandell, a professor of finance at the State University of New York in Buffalo, who conducted the study for the Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy.
The results come despite stepped-up financial education efforts as Congress dismantles boundaries between banks and investment firms and as financial companies offer a broader array of products to consumers.
"It is clear that students don't appear to be learning or retaining those things that are needed for making important financial decisions in their own interest," he said.
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
“Willem Buiter, a monetary astronomer at Goldman Sachs, comments:
“‘With the US trade gap in October 2005 widening to a new record U.S. $68.9 Billion, the US current account deficit is unsustainable. Its correction will require a large depreciation of the real effective US Dollar exchange rate, on reasonable estimates by no less than 30%, and quite possibly by more.’"
I guess it's no surprise. What happened to the tax surplus a few years ago? Who got all the money? From the sounds of Goldman Sachs, we are all going to end up paying for excesses of the last few years with money that is worth less.
Monday, April 03, 2006
I started working parttime in the summers when I was 14. By the time I was 16 I had a steady parttime job throughout the summer and parttime weekends and some nights during the week. I worked steady throughout my life (except for my major trip) till I was 62. I always envied my friends who didn't have to work while going to high school or college. They had plenty of time to study and to play. That would have been a dream life. My Dad started working when he was 18 and worked steady till he was 68. My Granddad started working when he was 15 and worked steady till he was 68. I feel like I'm cheating a bit right now, because I get to enjoy the springtime weather and I'm not even 65 yet. I'm just like a kid again. It's great to just sit back and watch the clouds roll by without a worry in the world – no pressure – no great wants or needs. Life is good. I'm looking forward to visiting my daughters in New Mexico and in Wyoming. Maybe I can get up into the Rockies again this year and become a “rock” for a short time. I want to get out to see the redwoods again soon and enjoy the Oregon coast. There is so much I have seen and that I would like to revisit. There is much beauty in this nation and many wonderful people once you get away from the furor of the cities.
It's great to be a kid again!
Sunday, April 02, 2006
Usually the politicians pass the tax increases without asking us. They know best and we just have to accept their better judgement and groan. This time I guess the staggering amount of half a billion dollars was just too much for them to swallow without consulting with the public. I know that I really want to raise my taxes on everything I buy so that the billionaire owners and the millionaire players and the wealthy business men who profit from the sports business won't have to front the money themselves. I used to be able to afford to go to a game now and then, but that was 20 years ago or so. Since then, I would rather buy food for my family or pay a bill than spend the money to go to a game. They keep telling me all the good things that sports have done for me – all the business revenue that they have brought to our fair city. That's probably why my property taxes and sales taxes have only increased by 50% over the years instead of doubling. Now don't get me wrong, I think sports are good character builders for young men and women and the fact that some of the professionals take drugs or set bad examples shouldn't detract from the sport. It's a game. It allows young men to play a game for a few years before they have to settle down and work. In the old days, the players knew this and enjoyed their years of play, knowing that eventually they would have to settle on a career. Now many of the players consider the few years of play a career in itself and plan on retiring after their years are up. We have allowed (or rather, big business has allowed) this new concept to develop and here we are. Big business would sure like us, the public, to pay for their excesses and finance their business so they just have to worry about making money. That's why it's nice that we get to vote ourselves a nice tax increase, even if we can't afford to go and watch them play their games.
Friday, March 31, 2006
By the way, what do I do with all the daylight I'll be saving?
I don't really need that much extra daylight. Is there someway I can redistribute the daylight I save to those who need more? Besides, whenever we start messing around with the clocks, I'm always early or late (when actually, I'm right on my time). It gets so confusing. I don't know whether to go to bed early and sleep more or go to bed late and sleep less. I have seen homes with solar panels on their roofs – have they found a way to hoard daylight? I wonder what kind of interest you can get on saved daylight. Can you release the saved daylight late in winter when it's so darned dark? If we can save daylight now, why don't we save it all year long? I guess the old saying “late to bed and early to rise keeps you confused, worried and wise” still holds true. Wake me when it's over.
They do have one day a year just for me. I can be a fool today and get away with it. It's expected of me!! You notice they didn't make a May grumpy day for you or a June sleepy day for him or even a July dopey day for the other fellow - NO, they just made my day for me. Yes, I freely admit it – I'm the April fool for which this day is named. I've always been an April fool – I fell in love with April in my youth. I just want to hug April and frolic about – maybe fly a kite or sing in the rain. When you're an April fool, you can do any silly thing you feel like doing (people may frown, but under their breath they will mutter “look at that April fool”. I used to be a young fool, so I got a lot more frowns. Now that I'm an old fool, people just shake their heads and walk away.
Enjoy my day. I give permission to any and all of you to celebrate the April fool in each of your souls. We may be fools, but at least we'll be having fun.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
"In the first place we should insist that if the immigrant who comes here in good faith becomes an American and assimilates himself to us, he shall be treated on an exact equality with everyone else, for it is an outrage to discriminate against any such man because of creed, or birthplace, or origin. But this is predicated upon the man's becoming in very fact an American, and nothing but an American...There can be no divided allegiance here. Any man who says he is an American, but something else also, isn't an American at all. We have room for but one flag, the American flag, and this excludes the red flag, which symbolizes all wars against liberty and civilization, just as much as it excludes any foreign flag of a nation to which we are hostile...We have room for but one language here, and that is the English language...and we have room for but one sole loyalty and that is a loyalty to the American people."
Theodore Roosevelt 1907
"Americanization" was a favorite theme of Roosevelt's during his later years, when he railed repeatedly against "hyphenated Americans" and the prospect of a nation "brought to ruins" by a "tangle of squabbling nationalities."
He advocated the compulsory learning of English by every naturalized citizen. "Every immigrant who comes here should be required within five years to learn English or to leave the country," he said in a statement to the Kansas City Star in 1918. "English should be the only language taught or used in the public schools."
He also insisted, on more than one occasion, that America has no room for what he called "fifty-fifty allegiance." In a speech made in 1917 he said, "It is our boast that we admit the immigrant to full fellowship and equality with the native-born. In return we demand that he shall share our undivided allegiance to the one flag which floats over all of us."
My grandfather came to America with his family in the 1880s. They learned English (would not speack German again). They didn't consider themselves to be German-Americans - They were Americans and proud to be so. They did their best to be good citizens and to blend in with all the other people here who all had immigrants in their family history. We should all try to blend - not maintain our separateness. The people who came to this country showed real pioneer spirit and great fortitude to leave all behind and start a new life in a strange new world. We should be proud of their spirit and honor their commitment by being good Americans.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
I didn't know my grandfather very well, but I have this image of a very kind and thoughtful man who worked hard to keep his family happy and healthy. He lived a long time and was very intelligent. I would like to be remembered like him.
Grandad was born in Berlin, Germany in 1877. His father was a carpenter and they lived on Belejank strase near what became Templehofer air field. Granddad attended Kindergarten under Kaiser Wilhelm when Germany was being militarized. The children would march at recess. Grandad's folks wanted to get away from that, so they sold everything and left everybody they knew and traveled by boat and train to this strange new frontier town of Kansas City, Kansas in 1884. Mud streets, no street lights, saloons and cowboys – quite a change from civilized Berlin. They had to learn new language and new customs and start a whole new life here. This was before the reforms of Teddy Roosevelt – no child labor laws. Granddad learned his letters and numbers and at the age of 15 went to work in the meat packing plants for 5 cents an hour. He worked hard and eventually made 10 cents an hour. In the late 1890s he married an irish lass from Chicago and they ended up in Wichita, Kansas. They were married for over 50 years. Grandad worked in the meat packing plants for over 50 years and raised 6 children. Although he had little formal education, he read constantly with an enquiring mind and insisted that all of his children complete their high school education. Grandad would get the Chicago Tribune Sunday paper and read from front to back and then discuss the events and discoveries of the times. Grandad lived through the early days of electricity and electric lights, radio, automobiles, airplanes, television, two world wars and the great depression until he died in 1969. He was 92.
His legacy: He cared for his family. He was loyal. He worked hard. He enjoyed life. He kept learning his whole life. He was a kind and caring man. He left behind a loving family and they, in turn, have passed on his traits.
I hope I turn out to be just like him.
Monday, March 27, 2006
No, I mean food is really good!
Throughout my life food has always been a reward. You were a good boy, have a cookie. Be good at the dentist and we'll get you a milkshake afterwards. Christmas is coming, have some candy. Easter is coming, have some candy. Halloween is coming, have some candy. Be good and you can have an ice cream cone. Her's some money to get some popcorn and candy at the show.
I learned my lesson well – I have excelled in all courses of food. There should be a degree is eatery – I would have my doctorate. I've been such a good boy that I reward myself way too often. It took a lot of time and money, but I've done well. I have eaten my way through life and have all this wonderful weight to show for it. I've always held to the principle that I would rather have a short enjoyable, delicious life than a long miserable, tastelss life. You only go around once in life – so reach for the gusto and the chips and the cookies and enjoy life, every golden crumb.
I suppose I would feel differently if I had been whipped or mistreated at each mealtime. I wasn't. Supper was a pleasant experience with the whole family sharing the moment after smelling the wonderful smells emanating from the kitchen just prior to supper. We had Sunday drives with the family and usually stopped and got an ice cream cone. Vacations were wonderful experiences of stopping in strange diners and eating prepared meals at the counter or cafe table. As we traveled we snacked on the local produce or locally prepared delicacy. Harvest time was canning time and we had apples and tomatoes and peaches and greenbeans coming out our ears. When the various fruit seasons came along, we always ended up with bountious quantities of oranges or strawberries or apples. We would get bushels and eat until we couldn't eat any more. It seemed to me, as a child, that mom spent most of her time in the kitchen preparing meals. Mom was sweet and kind and always had a smile and a treat for us.
When company came into town it was a time for special meals and dressing up the dining room table. With PTA or scouting or church activities there was always some kind of pot luck dinner or special cakes and cookies and pies. Summer was picnics in the park with deviled eggs and potatoe salad and hotdogs and soda pop.
As I was helping to raise my kids, we had an annual event where they could pick out the finest restaurant in town, get all dressed up, and choose anything on the menu. They looked forward with great anticipation to each year's choice.
So, here I am – a heavyweight. I've worked all my life to get here with great diligence and effort and great taste. I do envy many of you wonderfully thin people and your trim, athletic bodies, but that's not me. You see, I was born with a special tongue that loves every taste of everything that is put into my mouth. With a tongue like that, you have to keep feeding it. I am well along in my short enjoyable, delicious life now but hopefully there will still be some delicious new tastes to encounter and smells to enjoy.
Meanwhile, enjoy your long miserable, tasteless lives and think good thoughts of me.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
I washed a load of clothes and one unmatched sock turned up. I keep all the unmatched socks separately knowing that if I threw out the unmatched socks the other sock would then come out of hiding. I believe there is a nest of unmatched socks somewhere in this house plotting their escape. I don't know if they mate for life – I'm not up on native sock lore, but I'm sure they believe that somehow they will reunite. Now remember that socks aren't too smart – after all, they are lacking brain matter – even when they are full. But, they are sneaky – very sneaky. You know how sometimes at night you wake up and don't know why (perhaps you heard something). You listen and then return to your slumber. It was one of the sneaky socks slithering away to hide in some unseen sock haven.
I thought I had figured out a defense for these escapees – I bought all black socks (a whole drawer full). I knew now that whenever one of my socks escaped I could match up the remaining member with another black sock.
Unfortunately, some black socks are heavier weight than others and some are longer than others and some have patterns woven into them and some have imprints of diamonds or stripes on them. I had to go out to the wholesale club and buy 8 dozen identical black socks (I wasn't going to let them win!). I also had to warn my friends and relatives not to give me socks for any occasion – they would just try to escape.
When I bought all those socks from the wholesale club I threw away my former socks – a fresh start! I felt much better then.
This morning one of the escaped unmatched socks turned up.
I think I'll hang it up on one of these extra hangers that keep turning up. (I have a whole closet full now).