Friday, March 31, 2006

Friday March 31, 2006 Saving Daylight

Start saving daylight tomorrow night!

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.

Saturday April 1, 2006 Tis my day!

Oh happy day!
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

Wednesday March 29, 2006 Teddy Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt on Immigrants and being an AMERICAN

"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

Tuesday March 28, 2006 Immigration

I'm turning into my grandfather! Hopefully!

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

Monday March 27, 2006 Food for thought

Food is good.

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

Saturday March 25, 2006 Unmatched socks

It happened again!

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).

Monday, March 20, 2006

Monday March 20, 2006 Just another thought

All men are NOT created equal.

I'm sorry, but it just isn't true.
Some of us are taller, some are fatter, some at smarter, some are stronger, some are richer, some are healthier. Some of us will live longer than others. Some will have a happier life while others will muck around their whole lives. Some of us were lucky enough to have two loving parents. Not all of us have the same advantages.

Last night I was watching a special about Ewing Kauffman. He was the owner of Marion Laboratories here in Kansas City. He amassed a large fortune and was good enough to share his wealth with fellow Kansas Citians. He believed that if you gave a young disadvantaged student a chance to get a good education, that young person could achieve a better life. Ewing made a contract with hundreds of students here in town that if they would work hard and complete their high school education with adequate grades, he would provide them with a four year full scholarship with books and room and board. Many of these kids took his offer, stuck with school and completed their college educations at various universities around the nation. It proved that if you give everyone an equal chance and opportunity, they can improve their lives. Mr Kauffman firmly believed that education is the key to making your life better and he helped show that.

Unfortunately, there aren't enough Kauffman's around to do the same for the thousands of students in school today. Many of these students will not have the finances to fund further education. Now with the manufacturing facilities leaving the United States in greater and greater numbers, it is vital that we find some way to improve the plight of the upcoming generations. Education has been free to all children through high school for some years now and it helped the nation to have educated workers available to our various manufacturing requirements. Times have changed and the requirements now require greater levels of education. Why don't we take it upon ourselves as a nation to provide higher education to all students? If a student hasn't the aptitude for college, he should be given technical training to help him find a better job. If we invest our money in creating a better educated populace, won't it pay off in the long run with higher paying jobs and higher collected tax revenue? We spend so much money on special interest projects and throw away so much money on wars and war materials. We defeated our old nemesis, Russia. We now have ties with China. We are the remaining super power on Earth. We shouldn't have to have any wars with these little countries that are no threat to us. There should be a peace dividend. Instead, we create wars to keep our expensive military machine well oiled. Why can't we invest in our own future?

To me, it makes sense for our elected government to help us all to better ourselves. It makes sense for the government to step in and make sure that all of us are healthier and better educated. We would be pulling ourselves up by our own bootstraps and ensuring a better future. As it stands now, the health and education is distributed primarily to those who can afford it and the rest of our citizenry are left on the outside staring in. They know that they aren't equal to those who have the advantages and never will be.

Monday March 20, 2006 SPRING?

Spring has SPRUNG! - a leak.

The sky is leaking, the sky is leaking.

Here all winter has been pleasant and dry – warm temperatures and sunny skies and no snow. Now that spring has arrived, it gets cold and rains (talk of sleet). That's not right!! Spring breezes should waft over us as we gaze contentedly at the puffy March clouds and think of picnics and flying kites. But NOOO, we have to bundle up and watch the grey sky fall over the whole grey earth turning everything grey and cold and damp and dark and dreary.

I would move someplace else but everywhere is grey today.
I think I'll go back to bed and wait for the real spring.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Saturday March 18, 2006 Lucky Thirteen?

Thirteen is supposed to be an unlucky number to some. I'm not sure why.

I was reading the other day that the average American lifespan is about 78 years. This means that I may have 13 years left in this life. 78 breaks down into six batches of 13. I have spent 5 of my batches getting to the age of 65 and now have my final batch of 13 to look forward to. Those batches seem to be shorter and shorter with the years. The first batch of 13 took a long time to pass by. I learned to walk and talk and write and all the fundamental requirements to get along in life during those 13 years. The next 13 years, I spent in high school and college and establishing a foothold in a career and gaining a wife and children and a home – Very busy years!

The next three batches of 13 years are a blur with a collage of memories stumbling over each other leading through a myriad of adventures culminating in this very moment.
Here I am at retirement (just the other day, I was a young man starting out).
Life flew by so quickly.

I have maybe 13 years left in this, my life, to enjoy. I understand now that life is to be savored and tasted – not to just be consumed. I understand now that each day is special and has some redeeming quality to be remembered – if you just take the time to recognize it. Each season has it's flavor to be experienced – not just endured. Some grey days may have a bitter taste with heart-wrenching memories, but they must take their place in your memory. They will help make the sweet tasting days seem that much sweeter and add color to your memories.

I hope that the next 13 years are lucky years. I will try to notice the sunsets and listen to the music and feel the wind.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Friday March 17, 2006 Was Saint Patrick really Happy

Happy Saint Patrick's day!
The question is: "Was he really happy?". Did he really drive all the snakes out of Ireland? Did he really like green beer? Did he ever participate in his own parade? I think maybe he had a great publicist and we are left with the hype. But, it is an excuse to get Irish and to get Crazy.

I remember as a young college fellow getting the green tongue from drinking all the green beer. Those were the days! You could stay up all night partying and carrying on and still take on the work or study of the following day with your head half on your shoulders. I got an email the other day from one of my fraternity brothers of those long ago days. It brought back many wonderful memories of days gone by when I lived each day to the fullest with very few worries and very few obligations. We shared some glorious hours together back then. St Patrick's Day would have been just another excuse to celebrate our youth and our lives with vigor and recklessness. We were lucky to survive, but we did have fun.

St Patrick was a roman citizen from Britain who converted many of the Celts on Ireland to Christianity. I think his day was originally a celebration of his accomplishments, but it has now been adopted all over the world as a day of Celtic celebration - a day when everybody can celebrate the bit of Irish in himself. Have a happy day.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tuesday March 14, 2006 No coherent thoughts

I must be in a spring daze - I can't seem to put my thoughts into any sort of meaningful sentences. Words and images and thoughts tumble through my brain but I can't seem to communicate coherently. What, me worry? When you are in a daze, things don't faze. Life can be sweet, if you don't retreat. If you're hale and hearty, then you can party. No query, no worry.

Better thoughts ahead.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Tuesday March 7, 2006 Almost Spring

Almost spring!

It's that time of the year again, almost spring. We have been cooped up in the house all winter with cold winds and grey skies – we yearn for blue skies, spring breezes and fresh air. We start thinking of adventures we might have to look forward to - even the simple pleasure of lying back in the grass and watching the clouds or having a picnic or flying a kite.

Almost spring gets the blood to pumping. We take any break in the weather to get outside and breathe. St Patricks Day is a great excuse to ignore the weather and enjoy the first thoughts of spring. We're like bears who have hibernated all winter and are now just coming out of our caves.

I'm ready.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Friday March 3, 2006 There is always tomorrow

The pain I had the other day made me sit up and take notice.

It turned out not to be a “killer” pain, but I didn't know that when it came. I suddenly realized that I had put off way too many things for the future. I had a will form and a living will form, all ready to fill out but put off till some future date. I had an idea of creating a list of accounts and resources and deeds and getting everything organized, but I had put that off till some future date. There was a long list of things that I had put off till some future date and when I was heading over to the hospital, I figured it might be too late.

It worried me.

Luckily everything turned out well and now I have time to get organized and leave things in order in case anything happens. I have never been one to keep a neat and tidy desk. I always know where to find things, but it would be a tremendous job for someone else to sort through and find important documents and such. Now that I've had a warning, I know that I really shouldn't put these things off any further.

One of these days I will get everything organized and labeled and easily found. I'll even get my will and living will made out. I have these things on my list now so that relieves me quite a bit. I've had a list for some time now which includes cleaning my bedroom.
I'm going to do that – very soon.
I need to clean out the garage too, once it gets nice.
I would clean out the basement, but my back gives me quite a bit of trouble. I have that on the list too.
The attic fan quit working about 10 years ago and I need to fix that.
The faucet in the kitchen leaks a bit, so that needs some fixing.
I really should paint the ceilings and have new walpaper put up.
The carpeting needs cleaning.

When I get to thinking about it, the list just keeps on growing.

Maybe it's bad to make lists – too much pressure. If you don't think about it, it won't worry you. There, that feels better. What worries? What list? I think I'll go watch some TV and rest my back.

There is always tomorrow.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Thursday March 2, 2006 Life can be a pain

You know how some auto mechanics are better than others? Sometimes, it's the neighborhood service station mechanic who has a better feel for what ails your car than the specialist at the dealership. Sometimes even they can't figure out why the red light on your dashboard is on saying “check engine”. My check engine light has been on one of my cars for about 6 years (100,000 miles) and each time I ask a mechanic, he can't figure it out. It may be a glitch in the computer. Keep an eye on it and see if you notice anything different.

I consider doctors much the same as auto mechanics except they are human body mechanics. Some are better than others. Some have a better feel for what ails you. Sometimes they can't figure out why you're having a problem. They can often run batteries of tests eliminating one thing or another, but if those don't give them an answer, they figure it must be a glitch in your computer. Keep an eye on it and see if you notice anything different.

I had a pain the other day and it worried me enough to go to the doctor (which is unusual for me). The neighborhood doctor couldn't immediately figure it out so he sent me to the emergency room to see if they could figure it out. The emrgency people ran some tests but they couldn't figure it out, so they admitted me and had a specialist run some tests. He eliminated most of the main worries (heart, lungs, etc) and told me to go home and keep an eye on it and see if I notice anything different. I'm to go back to my neighborhood doctor in a week and start over again from square 2.

Now that I know that the pain is not likely deadly it doesn't bother me as much, although it is still there. You can live with aches and pains when you know why they are there or know that they aren't going to kill you. I've lived with a bad back for many years and as long as I can get by without surgery I'll wait for further developments. Doctors and auto mechanics do their best, but sometimes it's difficult to figure out what's wrong with the old machines and unless you are lucky enough to find just the right one, you're going to have to learn to live with some of the problems. It's really hard to replace the old body – you can't just trade it in on a new one.