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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Paranoid or Careful

Paranoid or Careful

For as long as I can remember, I have used the following saying: “Just because you are paranoid, doesn’t mean they are not out to get you!”  I probably take it more seriously than I should, but my other favorite saying is “Better Safe Than Sorry!”

Every day that passes by and with every news story on mainstream news, we are given proof that we are not as private as we would like to think we are or used to be.  I’d like to think that I spend an adequate amount of money to keep up with the advancing technology, and yet, I constantly am surprised at how some third world country resident is trying to get my personal information, or worst yet the banking institution’s data bank information.

On the plus side, it’s good to know that I will never be homeless.  I know you are wondering where my optimism comes from, well at least 4 or 5 times a year an extremely wealthy Prince of widow of a Prince reaches out to me.  Yes, you guessed it, they want to leave me their fortune and they are trying to figure out how to send it to me.

So far, I haven’t responded, because I’m still trying to get over the terrible head ache.  What headache you ask?  The one I got after I fell off of the turnip truck!


To make things worse, my wife keeps asking me to turn off some of my modern technology.  She hates the way Amazon Echo Unit (Alexa) keeps waking us up from the middle of a sound sleep in the early morning hours to ask what we meant because she didn’t understand the command.  Imagine being paranoid about that!

I already cover the camera lens on my computers, just in case someone is checking up on us, like everyone’s favorite uncle.  You know the one, Uncle Sam or one of his Minions. 
Everyone once in a while, I’ll be in town and notice that my cell phone is telling me that I am only 6 minutes away from home, the traffic is good and the weather is 54 degrees, and rain showers will stop in 26 minutes.  That information means that someone or something knows where I am at and what environment I’m in.


Sometimes, just sometimes, I long for the days when the only way to guess that it might rain, was because you could see the dark clouds in the distance coming your way!  Hang in there, the best is yet to come……

Sunday, April 30, 2017

It Is What It Is

It Is What It Is

Have you ever heard the popular saying: “it is what it is.”
It is what it is:

  • A cliché, popular within the circles of coaches, business execs, and those of us who just want to say "It's happened. 'I'm going to forget about it. I'm going to move on. There is nothing that can be done about it." 
There are so many things in our families and personal lives that we can change or minimally influence, and then there are some things that try as you may, you just have to let go of, and move on.

Those things that we can’t change we must come to terms with and live with.  One thing in particular that I can think of in my life is the following.  Life takes us all through various stages (examples): graduating from school and attending friends and relative’s celebrations, Attending friends and relatives’ weddings, etc., etc.  However, as we get older and start getting invitations to retirements, it seems that our social calendar also starts filling up with invitations to memorial and celebration of life services.

One of my friends soon notice my apparent deliberate absence from friend and coworker memorial services, and pulled me aside about 10 years ago.  Because I loved and respected this friend, I embraced the question and his input.  When asked, the why, I honestly answered that I never knew what to say to people that were grieving the loss of a loved one.

My friend explained that people were not expecting soothing words from me and that my presence alone would be lending the support they needed. I have attended many services since then, and have gained as much as I have given by my presence.  Facing up to this one thing that was causing me discomfort has definitely turned into a blessing.


One other “it is what it is,” situation for many people it's either their appearance or even voice or both.  Your voice will always sound different recorded or amplified compared to what you think you sound like.  With regard to appearance some people hate participating in photo opportunities because they don’t like how they come out.  Here definitely, it is what it is!  As I like to say, “What you see is what you get.”  What you see that you don’t like in photos is what everyone else sees day in and day out.  Your recorded or amplified voice is what others hear every day.  Just roll with the punches and enjoy life.  The best is yet to come……

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Pluses and Minuses

Pluses and Minuses

I still remember like if it was yesterday, how incredibly nice and empowering it is (was) to be young and have things going your way.  I was in my early twenties starting a family studying and held a job in mid management.  Among my passions, I lived for driving my muscle cars which I upgraded on average every 18 months.

In today’s socio-economic environment I feel bad for my children that they didn’t get to have the kind of easy going life that people my age enjoyed.  Yet, I am so proud of their accomplishment, and ability to handle the challenges that come their way on a daily basis. 

Pluses:
One parent got to stay home and guide the children through their formative years. There was abundant work to be done (no exaggeration here) The only way you didn’t make a living is if you were ill or were otherwise plain lazy.  You didn’t have to pay gym membership because there was plenty of physical activity to be involved in, you drove into town and parked your car and walked to every store to shop or pay bills.  Family activities were almost always outdoors: biking, hiking, baseball, game of tag, and so much more.

Minuses:
We didn’t have the internet, or the electronics (iPads, iPods, cell phones).  Our knowledge was still there to be gained, just at a slower pace (encyclopedia vs Google).  You always had to have coins in your pocket in case you had to use a payphone while in town.  Dating was so much less risky back then. Today you could end up dead if you hook up with the wrong person (illness).  Today a college degree doesn’t guarantee you a job or better yet a career.  In the old days even without a high school diploma, as long as you had a strong back you could support a family.

That is just the surface of the Pluses and Minuses, if you are willing to give it some thought you can come up with so much more.  Today I constantly get an earful about how fast food service doesn’t pay enough to support a family; DUH, it was never meant to!  With higher pay will come higher cost fast food, can you imagine McDonald’s selling value meals at gourmet priced hamburgers?



That job was meant for people transitioning between, high school and college or perhaps transitioning between living at home in mom and dad’s basement and sharing an apartment with a friend.  Bottom line:  it’s a vicious circle, if you raise the pay to make it a livable wage, better qualified people will apply and compete for the fast food jobs, you will also have to compete with robotics (if for no other reason), because they don’t complain about long hours and or better pay.  The best is yet to come……………

Saturday, April 22, 2017

First Time I Did It

First Time I Did It

When the family gathered all its belongings and moved to Washington State from Texas I was an innocent young pre-teen.  You could say I was sheltered beyond normal. I am not embarrassed to admit that my brother and I were mama’s boys.  That used to happen a lot to young boys when they are raised by the stay at home mothers.  Add to that, the fact that you are raised strongly in the Catholic faith and don’t dare do anything out of the ordinary without considering that you will be in church on Sunday and participating in the Confession process.

All justifications aside, I loved and respected my mother and would have no consideration for being raised differently.  Our life style was very repetitious but never boring.  Mother was a wonderful cook and while we were typical of the families of the time, the dinner options were restricted to two:  Take it or Leave it! 

Being of the Mexican culture, Corn and flour tortillas were always part of the lunch and dinner meal.  Bread was not a staple that we were too familiar with.  I don’t recall ever hearing of hamburgers, or hot dogs before we moved from Texas.  I do know for a fact that McDonald’s was already in business in 1954 so for at least 5 years prior to moving to Washington State (1959) I had never even heard the word hamburger.

After that lengthy introduction, I need to get back to the subject at hand.  The first time I did was at the drive-in theater.  There were two movies playing but I still remember the main attraction: Hercules Unchained starring Steve Reeves.


I remember that my older step-brother and his wife went to the snack bar (just before intermission to avoid the crowd) to buy popcorn, soda and candy.  When they returned, they brought back something that smelled especially tempting and delicious.  I asked what it was and she told me but I had no clue what she was talking about.  So she allowed me to take a bite and I was hooked to this day.  That is the first time I heard of it and had my first ever taste of pizza (Saturday, October 1959).  Since the first time I did it, I’ve never said no to an offer of a slice of delicious pizza.  The best is yet to come……

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Lost Art

Lost Art
I’m willing to bet that many people in my age group remember working diligently to learn cursive handwriting in the classroom from the earliest school grades.  I actually mastered it early on, similarly succeeded with the futuristic skill of keyboarding in high school.  That’s right, I was the only boy in a class of 21 young lady students taking a typewriting class.  I signed up on a dare but the challenge to improve my speed kicked in and I was off and running.

The beautiful young ladies I was surrounded with were a definite inspiration, and in the beginning, I do remember Ms. Burkholder telling me to stop dropping my papers on the floor.  My instructor suspected that I was doing it for purpose to try to sneak a look from closer to the floor level.  Couldn’t have been further from the truth.

Once the challenge of increasing my speed surfaced, I stopped messing around and the papers stopped dropping on the floor from my desk.  I actually overheard my instructor brag about how well I was doing and how they should actively recruit more of the young men to enroll.  The following year after I broke ground (at my school anyway) 6 guys enrolled in typing class.


The whole reason for this post is that once again, I took on the challenge of writing a whole letter in cursive writing, and it took me longer than I thought it would.  Guess what?  It’s not like riding a bike!  By the middle of the third paragraph my hand was cramping.  The quality was not anything to be proud of.

We need to encourage cursive writing in the classroom as a subject.  In the future, if we get away from it, cursive writing will become like a different language altogether.  Many historic documents are written in cursive and many of our young children are growing up writing in text shorthand (OMG, LOL, LMAO, etc.).


As usual, I don’t expect a response by everyone that agrees or disagrees with me.  Food for thought is all I intended to do.  The more we think about our future (youth) the more we need to stay involved in their development, and the educational system.  The best is yet to come…….

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Wake Up Call

Frequent and timely health checkups

·       Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” ~ Bill Keane
How often do we hear this quote and for most of us, it goes in one ear and out the other (at least I know it used to for me)?

As our families mature (our children) the family extends because of the friendships that they develop and eventually the marriages that follow.  With the extended families come a whole complete set of new family ties.  This includes: an equal partner, in-laws (spouse’s parents, siblings, grandparents, nieces, nephews), including extended friendships.  In essence a total and complete new social unit (nuclear family).

Up until recently, I thought of myself as slightly removed from that extended unit, simply because I felt like it would affect my child who marries into that family, and not me directly.  However, if you truly love your child (which I know that I do without a doubt), anything that affects him or her (especially emotionally) affects us, his or her parents.

As usual I won’t mention any names or get into too much detail to maintain a level of privacy.  At the end of last year, just before the Christmas Holidays, a mother in-law to one of my children fell and hurt herself, she was not known for frequenting doctors’ offices or clinics with aches and pains.  She loved her church and had a great big faith in prayer, which she heavily relied on for her ailments.

After a few days of lying in bed for he bad back pain, one of her children practically forced her to go to the emergency room to be checked out.  Approximately 9 days later she passed away from advanced (terminal cancer). I am still in shock that life can be that way.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: there are two professionals that we must communicate with, probably the most important is your physician.  The other professional deals with finances (feds).

I implore you, that if you have any personal pains that persist or that you can’t explain, please have it checked.  If you have an elderly loved one or friend that has a condition that hasn’t been checked out, please convince them to go to the doctor.  If you can’t influence them to do it, talk to other family members and gang up on them to take action.


We all deserve every day that we can extend our life with our loved ones.  Because I have had this wake up call, I feel that the best is yet to come………….. 

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Surprise At Every Turn

Surprise At Every Turn

Do you remember a time when you felt in control of most aspects of your life?  Perhaps I am unique and no one else ever felt that way.  A possibility but doubtful.  Even if raised in poverty I believe it's human nature to be optimistic.  I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, but thanks to the love and nurturing of my parents, I had all my needs and many wants.

Special treatment growing up didn't set me up for false expectations, but did encourage me to strive for attainable realistic successes (goal outcomes).
Two key words so far are "optimistic and realistic."

Optimistic
  • someone who is optimistic is hopeful about the future and tends to expect that good things will happen
  • optimistic about: She said that she was optimistic about the future of the company.
  • be/remain optimistic that: I remain optimistic that a peaceful settlement of the dispute can be achieved.
Synonyms and related words
  • Feeling hopeful and optimistic: the glass is half full (empty), hopeful, optimistic...

Realistic
  • The definition of realistic is someone who has a good grip on the reality of a situation and understands what can and cannot be done, something that is a practical, achievable idea, or something that resembles the actual truth about life.
  • An example of realistic is a person who knows his own limitations and isn't going to expect to be an amazing opera singer when he can't even carry a tune.
  • An example of realistic is having a steady job that pays a monthly amount and realizing that you have to keep your budget within the constraints of your pay.  In other words, don't plan on a 30-day vacation at a 5-star resort if you budget can't handle the expense.


Because of my love for my country I am optimistic that we will survive the political turmoil that we find ourselves in, evidenced by the 100s of thousands of demonstrators in our country and around the world.

I won't admit to what side I stand on, but it doesn't matter.  Even a blind person can see that we are a country with its citizens divided.  One side sees the country in need of being saved from self-destruction to include carnage.  The other side sees a country in need of improvement from within and by the people themselves.

I am optimistic enough to know that we have survived times in our history worse than what we are going through right now, three examples are: 1) two world wars plus other undeclared wars possibly worse, 2) The Great Depression of the 1920s. 3) the assassinations of presidents.  Believe me when I say that many books can be written about all the bad times that our country has survived.


I am realistic enough to know that the ship won't right itself, we will need to roll-up our sleeves and put our shoulder to the wheel.  I consider what's happening in our country a wakeup call.  Many of us have become complacent, and confident that our country will continue to be great on Auto-Pilot, not so my friends.  You can interpret this post anyway you want, just don’t take your eye off of the desired outcomes.  The best is yet to come……….

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Caught in the Middle

Caught in the Middle

I’ve served my time at getting caught between, being there for my gracefully aging parents while meeting the demands of my own children growing up.  Well, it has now been more than a dozen years since my parents went to be with the lord.  I’ve enjoyed the relief that comes with knowing that that they are free of their aches and pains and in a better place all together.

Now enough time has gone by and it pains me to see my children begin to struggle with the realities of aging in-laws.  Our children are fortunate that their parents (us/we) are healthy and enjoying life to the fullest with minimal discomfort.  As with most people when young couples meet and marry they have no way of foreseeing what awaits at the end of the line.
One rule of thumb that I strongly believe in and promote is:  get to know the family before you get married, especially the older family members (particularly) the parents, because what you see is what you get.  Many times children have a way of mirroring their parents.  There are many exceptions to be sure, many children turn out great despite their parents and upbringing.  Can’t move on without mentioning that some relationships will be great, just because the people involved are so special to each other.

This writing comes to be because I am seeing one of my children struggle with the emotions of dealing with an in-law that is struggling with serious (possibly terminal) health issues.  I wish I could be more helpful, but every situation is different and I am not close enough to the developing situation to know what to say.  I do offer my support and understanding as much as I am allowed without intruding.

I am willing to bet that I am not the only one and that this situation is not unique.  This scenario must play out time and again all over the world.  It just hurts to witness it affecting people that I love.


Life is not discriminating when it comes to love and suffering, sooner or later we all come to that intersection of life.  The best is yet to come……

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Tear-Jerker

Tear-Jerker

Everyone knows that some of the best tearjerker movies are also known as “Chick Flicks,” a great example that I can think of is “Love Story.”

This morning I woke up to some of the best company possible, my three youngest granddaughters and newest addition to the family (two-year-old grandson) spent the night in order to give their parents a well-deserved break.  My grandson is so energetic and bordering on over-active that he woke up a couple times during the night ready to start his day.  Grandma managed to get him back to sleep, after all 2:30 and 3:30 in the morning is a bit early even for grandpa and grandma.
Finally, at around five am we gave in and walked him to the family room to watch his latest favorite movie “Toy Story 3.” 
  • With their beloved Andy preparing to leave for college, Woody (Tom Hanks), Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen), Jessie (Joan Cusack), and the rest of the toys find themselves headed for the attic but mistakenly wind up on the curb with the trash.

While not a recent release in general, it is to my grandson.  He totally loves it. The idea was to have the movie playing in the background so that he might fall asleep for a couple more hours, after all it is Sunday morning.

Well, the plan backfired.  We have had that movie around since it was first released in 2010, but I’ve never taken the time to view it.  My grandson got energized by it and all the action that makes up the storyline.  I slowly got into the plot and it got me into comparing my growing up years, and even wondering where all my toys and comic books might have ended up.

I got into the movie so much that I actually might have shed a tear or two towards the end.  To be clear, there were no witnesses, so I am not owning up to it.  The question is something like: if a tear falls and no one sees it, did it actually happen?

Since my grandchildren are the center of my Universe, I’ve decided that I will spend some more time enjoying some of their movie entertainment (besides Star Wars and the like).  The quality entertainment available to our little ones is unbelievable, and definitely enjoyable. 


I would encourage anyone that isn’t already sharing their children’s and grandchildren’s entertainment to test it out, you just might get hooked.  The best is yet to come…….

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

An Ounce of Prevention

An Ounce of Prevention

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.                                                                     Meaning:

·       You use this proverb to say that it is much easier to do something to prevent a problem than to deal with it after it has happened. 

·       This proverb expresses a similar idea to that of A stitch in time saves nine.

Example:

·       I strongly recommend backing up your data at least once a day. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

·        This vaccine costs $25, but it would cost you at least $1500 if you caught the disease and had to be treated in a hospital. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. ~ dictionary.com

At the risk of jinxing myself I will tell you that I have always been blessed with great health.  This isn’t a testimonial for the vaccine controversy but I can give credit to my mother for making sure that I had all my vaccinations while young and continued the habit after I grew up and left the nest.

I can point out to the fact that right around 1951 there were almost 60,000 cases of Polio in the United States and it definitely was a motivator for mothers to vaccinate their children.  In my small circle of friends, I had one friend that had Polio, and in my elementary school I was aware of two others that wore braces due to Polio.

Washington State Department of Health reports that the 2016-17 Influenza year records 46 deaths due to the flu.  Any preventative effort taken is worth the effort in cutting down the risk.

Many members of my immediate family have come down with the flu this season and are fully recovered or recovering as I write this.  While standing in the middle of it all serving as a caregiver to my family, I have not yet caught the flu this last year or any of the last 5 years (fingers crossed).

Up until 8 or 9 years ago, I didn’t think that I could benefit from the annual flu shot especially that the vaccine doesn’t always cover the strain of flue that will hit on anyone given year.  It is, however, estimated that the flu shot has an 80% possibility of protecting the public of the strain that is affecting the population on a given year.

I’ve been known to be stubborn, but then again, I also have a reputation for being sensible.  One day it just seemed to make sense that I should take a chance on the flu shot.  My (lady) doctor whom I only visit twice a year for checkup and lab work convinced me that I should try it out.  Haven’t had the flu since.


If you haven’t tried it, take it from me (I get mine free from my care provider) nothing to lose and everything to gain.  Remember an ounce of prevention is worth a week or two in bed recovering (or worst).  The best is yet to come……….