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Thursday, January 30, 2014

Sports Influence

Sports Influence
My life’s foundation includes a generous mix of scholastic sports participation.  If you break life down to the basics, you will find that life is a competition, whether you want to admit or not.   In the beginning level of life (at birth) if you are a twin, you will start competing from day one.  Whether it be for the next feeding, diaper change, or just mom and dad’s attention.  In my generation, my parents expected me to excel in everything from school work to sports to chores around the farm.
Even friendly family competitions were played to win never to lose or draw.  When I entered school sports in high school, I was expected to minimally letter in the sport.  My parents felt like they were spending money on insurance, and sports equipment. Not to mention giving up my time after school when I could have been performing chores on the farm, so they wanted to hear that I was amongst the best performers if not MVP.
Well I grew up with a very competitive spirit and I passed it on to my children growing up.  To this day you should see how rowdy our board game nights get when the family gathers around the dining room table to spend quality time together.
I remember occasions when I visited my relatives in California and my uncle Frank would take me to Dodger baseball games or my father would take me to championship boxing matches also in Los Angeles.   At the time I couldn’t understand their enthusiasm for Baseball and boxing.  Being from the Pacific Northwest myself, I didn’t have the exposure to professional sports that southern Californians have always had.  However, it wasn’t long after my exposure to boxing in southern California that a young fighter entered the competition (Cassius Clay) and I became a fanatic.  All of a sudden the fights were not boring, here was a fighter that would call the round he was going to knock out the opponent, and actually did it.  I started attending Close Circuit Television viewings in select venues around the northwest with my step-father and step-brothers. I can honestly say that those were exciting times.
In 1976 I was very fortunate to get on the fan wagon of my favorite team ever.  The Seattle Seahawks arrived and I have been a fan ever since.  In 2005 the Seahawks made it all the way to the Super Bowl, and were able to compete with the opposing team, but were not prepared to take on the officiating team also.  I already gave full disclosure, I have been a fan from Day One.  This coming Sunday my team, the Seattle Seahawks will once again be competing in the Super Bowl.  This time our team is going against the recognized best quarterback in the NFL.  I only agree to the title because he probably is, considering his accomplishments, and secondly because when my team beats his team, I expect my quarterback to inherit the title.
While my team is well prepared in all aspects of the sport, we are going against the best possible team that we could compete with.  It’s unfortunate that after Sunday, no one will care who came in second place over all.  Having said that, I will admit that, that is the way I was raised, and that is the way I like it.  The second place team will begin the rebuilding process the very next day (Monday), and that is the way it should be.  Like in everything, especially in sports, there needs to be winners and losers.  It’s just how we keep score, and it builds character.  GO SEAHAWKS!!!  The best is yet to come…..

Bucket List Minus #2

Bucket List Minus #2
2. I will go on a trip to a city 50 to 100 + miles one way by train.  
Please see Posting: Making a Bucket List (February 13, 2014)
I am happy to report that traveling by Amtrak is easier then traveling by airplane, and at least 10 times easier to make arrangements. For the record no turbulence to report, another plus.  An approximate distance of 120 miles round trip for a total cost of under $60 roundtrip Business Class (equivalent to First Class).  Luxury and comfort all the way, with no traffic bottle necks.  I was as productive as if I had stayed in my office while on the trip.  I worked on my laptop connected by the hotspot on my cell phone the whole time without interruption.
In my case there is only one negative, and that is that there was an approximate two hour delay for the return trip.  I suppose most people would have had a real purpose for the trip while my only goal was to make the trip for the sake of satisfying the Bucket List Item #2.
While the scenery was very breath taking it wasn’t anything I had not seen before.  Every once in a while a glimpse of traffic bottle necks on the freeway.  While I undoubtedly would have saved cost by driving myself, we often don’t see the savings in stress that traffic creates in us.  To any one that regularly makes the commute, I would recommend Amtrak, while the ticket price might seem costly to someone making a daily commute the benefits are priceless.  Not everyone uses their free time productively, but if you do, this is the way to go.
I’m sure you have heard the saying, “time is money.”  Well, this is the perfect example of what they are talking about.  If you are a salesman that needs to be on the telephone (safely), on a 60 mile trip one way you gain 2 hours of phone time.  How many calls can you get in two hours?  How many sales can you close in two hours?  How about computer time?  Once again two hours of time on the computer, while care free riding in luxury.  There are ample electrical plugins for your electronics.
For most salesmen on commission, one solid sale could pay your commute for the month.  At the end of the day on your commute home, you extend your work day by two hours (on a 60 mile commute).  Or if you prefer you can start relaxing the minute you sit for the trip home.  If your work is the physical type you can gain four hours per day for rest and relaxation.
The trip was very enjoyable, and I would even recommend taking a vacation trip just for the experience.  The best is yet to come…..

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

State of the Nation

State of the Nation
Never want to upstage someone as important as the leader of the free world.  I only mean that in the sense of posting my perspective of where the Nation is at, ahead of his State of the Union speech.
Every once in a while aging does come with benefits:  knowing from experience what to expect with regard to a pep talk (which a State of the Union speech is meant to be).  When you hear enough of this speeches and then live through the period of time that follows you learn to read between the lines.  I would be the last person to say that a politician lies but they do embellish, and you have to give them credit, they are optimistic about how they can improve things with their plans for us.
If you want to get a real feeling for how the nation is doing you should consider that not everyone is affected in the same exact way at the same exact time by prevailing conditions, political or otherwise.  I’ve always measure improvements by getting it down to the lowest common denominator.  First of all, how am I (my home) doing since the last State of the Union speech?  The next level might be to assess the status of your job or business.  The next most important measure to an individual should be, the family.  How are your children doing?  How are your brothers and sisters doing?  How about your parents:  the ones that can least afford a negative condition in the state of the nation.  Before you counter; some of our elderly that have had a nice life may actually be in better shape economically to withstand a temporary downturn in the economy.  However, generally speaking elderly population with a fixed incomes have limited ability to withstand even temporary downturns.
Now for the tools to measure how we are doing.  Take a look at the property tax statement for your home, if you are one of the fortunate people to own or to be buying your home.  You can usually see a comparison from your past property valuation to your next increase or decrease in valuation, and taxes due.  Take a look at your bank account are your savings stable or has it been declining?  Check your credit card balances are your credit card balances down or up?  Certain things affect us all equally, as an example the unusually cold weather we are experiencing in parts of the nation.  According to some news reports utility bills are doubling in some areas because of the extreme and prolonged cold weather.  If your personal situation is stable, you should be able to withstand the fluctuation in your utility bills, but if you are not doing well, it could be the difference between buying groceries and keeping warm.
Another area to measure is the security issues that have been prevalent in the news.  Are you more concerned about privacy with regards to electronic communications?  Are you experiencing problems with your health coverage (have you recently been dropped?)?  Has your health coverage costs increased significantly?  Most of us can withstand the flu or a cold, maybe even a sprained ankle without insurance.  However, a major surgery event in the family can bankrupt you, if you can even get medical care without insurance.
It turns out that I am not reporting the State of the Nation, instead I am giving you some ideas on how to evaluate on your own.  Having read the State of the Nation post, how are you and yours doing?  The best is yet to come……

Monday, January 27, 2014

Freedom of Choice

Freedom of Choice
When it comes to Freedom, the majority of us understand that it isn’t “free.”  With regards to the freedoms we enjoy in this great United States of America, many of our men and women in uniform have paid dearly with the ultimate sacrifice.  The gift of freedom is not something that we can place a monetary price on.  Not everyone sacrificing went along willingly or had a choice, and by that I am making reference to the parents that lost a son or daughter, or the sons and daughters, brothers and sisters who lost a loved one in the pursuit of defending freedom.
There are other freedoms that we enjoy, which we may not take the time to analyze but which always come with consequences.  Some of this freedom of choice decisions are made every day with grave and immediate consequences.  A bad example is the choice a drunk person makes to get behind the wheel of their car to drive home. The spectrum of consequences in this instance goes from bad decision to the extreme of being responsible for the taking of someone’s life.
I am writing this post triggered by an article I saw online.  When I was young and in high school probably 20% of the student body smoked cigarettes most of them were smoking for the sake of being cool in their peer’s eyes.  A handful of the students that smoked, looked more stupid than cool, because until they became used to the cigarette smoke they coughed and choked on the smoke every time they inhaled.  Some of the people that hung around me smoked and had the habit (although good manners) of offering everyone in the group a cigarette every time they pulled one out for themselves.
Eventually my gym teacher talked me into signing up for the school track and field team. Lettering in that sport led to being recruited for the football team and lettering in that sport led to being recruited for the wrestling team.  At that point in my life and getting all the attention I needed from sports, my future was sealed with regard to, ever smoking a cigarette.  Eventually I got some of my friends to quit smoking around me, and I dropped the friends that would not honor my request.  The sports minded students that I hung out with and other friends that didn’t smoke started hanging out together.
The most unfortunate side of cigarette smoking is that the price you sometimes pay isn’t always immediate.  Growing up there were plenty of cool marketing reminders of why smoking was cool.  Some examples were our more popular television and movie actors in their movie roles.  From the Camel cigarette, the Camel character Joe Cool.  The Marlboro Man.  Not to mention the added bonus of Green Stamps, plus coupons that were included in some cigarette packs, and cartons.
  • The Marlboro Man is a figure used in tobacco advertising campaign for Marlboro cigarettes. In the United States, where the campaign originated, it was used from 1954 to 1999. The Marlboro Man was first conceived by Leo Burnett in 1954. The image involves a rugged cowboy or cowboys, in nature with only a cigarette. The advertisements were originally conceived as a way to popularize filtered cigarettes, which at the time were considered feminine.
Well, the demise of the Marlboro Man came January 10, 2014 at the age of 72, from Lung Disease.  That is the case of a delayed consequence of the decision to smoke in this instance.  Some might think that he had a nice long life (72), but in fact his life wasn’t a quality life for many years.  Lawson was also survived by six children, 18 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.  May Eric “Marlboro Man” Lawson Rest in Peace.  The best is yet to come….

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Where Does Time Go

NASA Space Program
I can’t tell you how many times my wife or some other family member will talk to me about something that happened in the past and I will be surprised at how much time has gone by.  Some things are more memorable than others, and that’s when time seems to slip by the fastest.  A most common passage of time is when we run into someone we haven’t seen for a while, and we asked them about their little one, only to find out that their youngest is graduating from high school or college and the older ones already have kids of their own.
Consider the following article from “Today In History,” from our local newspaper:
  • In 1961, President John F. Kennedy held the first presidential news conference to be carried live on radio and television. 
  • In 1971, Charles Manson and three women were convicted in Los Angeles of murder and conspiracy in the 1969 slayings of seven, including actress Sharon Tate, who once lived in Richland, WA.  Idi Amin seized power in Uganda by ousting President Obote in a military coup.
  • In 1981, the 52 Americans held hostage by Iran for 444 days arrived in the United States. 
  • In 1994, maintaining his innocence, singer Michael Jackson settled a child molestation lawsuit against him; terms were confidential, although the monetary figure was reportedly $22 million.  /the United States launched Clementine, an unmanned spacecraft that was to study the moon before it was lost and “gone forever.” 
  • Ten years ago NASA’s Opportunity rover zipped its first pictures of Mars to Earth, showing a surface smooth and dark red in some places, and strewn with fragmented slabs of light bedrock in others.
In today’s digital world, a presidential news conference is no longer special news, and usually doesn’t even get coverage from all the available networks.  Charles Manson still makes the news every year as he goes before the board of parole, and gets denied.  Iran is still making news as terrorist country.  Michael Jackson is no longer with us.  NASA and the Space program is for all intents and purposes on hold for budget reasons we are flying missions to the international Space Station by hitching a ride with the Soviet Union’s Space program. Many of the friends that we don’t see on a regular bases grow older faster than we do (I hate to think what they think of our aging process.  The best is yet to come…..

Friday, January 24, 2014

Honor, Integrity and Loyalty

Johnny Carson
I have been a loyal fan of the Tonight Show ever since I discovered The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. While I still feel that no one can replace Johnny Carson and I hated it when he announced his retirement, I supported his choice for replacement.  It’s one thing to have Carson himself anoint the person that would be his replacement, to having the head of NBC making moronic decisions for future wealth considerations. 
At present time and for a long time now, the Tonight Show with Jay Leno has been the leader in late night talk shows bar none.  You can’t possible feel that the NBC Network is replacing Jay to strengthen their position in the ratings.  They are replacing Jay with Fallon because they feel that the move amounts to an investment for future ratings with a younger host most likely to appeal to the younger viewers.  News Flash!!!!  The younger audience is most likely to be entertained by night clubbing, or Cable Networks rather than the fare offered by a Tonight Show format.  If their assumptions is true; why isn’t the Late Night with Jimmy Fallon more popular than the Tonight Show with Jay Leno?
NBC already tried to back stab Jay Leno once before with Conan O’Brien, and later fired Conan to bring back Jay Leno because the ratings had dropped and finally settled in third place amongst the competition.
What the network morons don’t realize is that we have larger numbers in Leno’s demographic audience than Fallon has in his younger demographics.  We of my generation have a great understanding of the things that matter: Honor, Integrity, and Loyalty.  Equally important I appreciate quality.  I personally will watch pre-recoded programs from earlier in the evening if I feel the desire to stay awake late.  When the network drops Jay Leno they are dropping my viewership.
This is an instance once again where the mucky mucks of television programing are ready to cram their money making ideas and plans into our viewing time.  Well sir, not to me, and not this time.  When Leno steps away for the last time, so does NBC at 11:35 weeknight as far as I am concerned.  Their biggest problem may be that I may decide to catch a different network for the 11pm news cast.  I only watched NBC because I knew that Leno followed.
I am not trying to influence your thinking, I just could not allow this travesty to go down without posting my 25 cents worth.  If Leno goes to another network, whether with a talk show or a show about his fine car collection, that is where you will find me.  I wish Mr. Leno the best because a fine individual like him will land on his feet (not to mention that he is already doing mighty well).  The best is yet to come…..

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

1950’s USA Economics 2

Hop fields
I was way too young to understand what was happening with the economy nationally, but I did understand that our (family’s) economy specifically was getting better by leaps and bounds.  As I mentioned in the previous post: January 21, 2014, “1950’s USA Economics” in 1956 and 1957 we acquired our first brand new car (right off of the showroom floor), and our first 3-bedroom house respectively.  My step-father earned a respectable $4,000.00 annually and according to the Census bureau the average median income was somewhere around $4,200.00 annually.  There is no doubt in my mind that he earned his money working a 6 day work week and 10 to 12 hour days.

The Decade of Prosperity

·       The economy overall grew by 37% during the 1950s. At the end of the decade, the median American family had 30% more purchasing power than at the beginning. Inflation, which had wreaked havoc on the economy immediately after World War II, was minimal, in part because of Eisenhower's persistent efforts to balance the federal budget. Except for a mild recession in 1954 and a more serious one in 1958, unemployment remained low, bottoming at less than 4.5% in the middle of the decade.

·       Many factors came together to produce the Fifties boom. The G.I. Bill, which gave military veterans affordable access to a college education, added a productive pool of highly-educated employees to the work force at a time American businesses were willing to pay handsomely for engineering and management skills. Cheap oil from domestic wells helped keep the engines of industry running. Advances in science and technology spurred productivity. At the same time, potential competitors in Europe and Asia were still recovering from being bombed into smithereens during World War II. ~Shmoop University, Inc.


Mid 1959 my step-father received a job offer that required us to move from Texas to the Pacific Northwest.  The offer consisted of being second foreman in 10,000 plus acre ranch that included: cattle, hops, beets, wheat and corn. The pay offered was perfect for my step-father because of his natural instinct to be a workaholic.  The pay was $3.50 per hour plus a free of cost 3 bedroom house, and a pick-up truck (free gasoline and maintenance) for his use 24/7.  Oh, I almost forgot the best part of the deal was all the hours he wanted to work (and he did: averaged around 14 to 15 hour days, Monday through Sunday).  His total compensation was worth approximately $400 per week (year round).  During the Winter months there was cattle to feed, and maintain, as well as time spent in the shop welding and making other repairs to farm equipment, including harvesters, tractors, bulldozers, trucks, repairing fences, etc.
The only thing that kept me and my step-brother from living the great life is that my step-father was still extremely tight with a buck.  The only part he didn’t like about his new found wealth was every year April 15th; you got it, tax time.  While I couldn’t freely share my step-father’s hard earned money, I did have one major unexpected benefit.  After a year my step-father became the number one foreman, and I became the oldest son of the number one foreman.  I loved to work then I still do, so I took advantage of my position to work as much as I could, whenever possible.  I have no complaints, life was great, and I developed a taste for the better things in life, but also the value of a dollar.  The best is yet to come….

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

1950’s USA Economics

1956 Ford Custom V-8 4-door
From my youthful recollection the whole time of the 1950’s seemed like a laid back time almost sleepy in all aspects of life.  In reality the 1950’s was a vibrant progressive time that I couldn’t guage, because after all I had not witnessed the 1930’s and 1940’s. 
The 1930’s were a time of struggle and sacrifice.  A time when you worked extra hard just to reach a level of survival.  We are talking about the 10 years that followed the Great Depression.  Everyone used every penny they could bring together just to have a meager meal of bread and water.  Soup was a luxury for most of the country.  If you happen to have a large family you were in for a real struggle.  Those were times when parents many time would go to sleep hungry just so their children would have something in their stomachs.
The 1940’s were not much better than the 1930’s until the war started and most able bodied men signed up to defend the country.  Women took the placed of men in the factories to supply the war machine, and the economics didn’t improve much because sacrifices needed to be made because of the war effort. 
The 1950’s were in fact a Decade of Prosperity.  Young people like myself were aware that all our needs were being met, and didn’t question how.  By 1956 my family bought the first brand new car a 1956 Ford Custom V-8 4-door.  Our car payment was $24 per month.  By 1957 we bought our first brand new 3 bedroom house.  I don’t remember the cost of the house but the mortgage payment was $58 per month all inclusive (Interest, insurance and tax if there was one).  1957 was also the year we bought our first black and white Philco Television.
  • To put this in perspective, 1957 is considered to be the height of the baby boomer generation.  Dwight D. Eisenhower was the United States President and Richard Nixon was the Vice President.  There were around 170 million people living in this country (compared to 300 million today).  The 1957 Best Picture of the Year (The Bridge on the River Kwai) grossed $27,200.  In 2007 the movie “The Departed” grossed $125 million.  No one owned a computer fifty years ago.  The only games were “board games” and make believe games.  Girls still wore dresses and guys still dressed up to take a girl on a date.  Mothers stayed at home to raise the kids and fathers were happy to be the breadwinner of the family.
  • A lot has changed in fifty short years.  The United States of America bears little resemblance to the country bearing its name not even two generations ago.  States that were mainly deserted deserts fifty years ago are now the fastest growing states in the country (Arizona, Nevada and Utah).  Areas that were farms fifty years ago are now cities with hundreds of thousands of people.  There was only one Interstate Highway fifty years ago and that was I-70.  Now people can travel all over the country on multi-lane super highways going pretty much as fast as they want. 
  • In 1957, the average income of America’s 44 million families (according to the United States Commerce Department) was $5,000.  There were actually 4 million families whose income was over $10,000.  There were also 6.5 million families whose annual income was under $2,000.  The vast majority of American families, 33 ½ million of them, had annual income between $2,000 and $10,000. ~Shmoop University, Inc.
In the 1950’s and even 1960’s most of us didn’t have fitness center memberships and if we did it, it was the YMCA.  Most of us drank water from the tap (faucet) for free, not bottled for a fee.  Most of our exercise came from walking almost everywhere, or doing chores round the farm or around the house.  We performed many of the physical jobs that are now performed by robotics also for exercise. My family treated the children to a hamburger or a ham sandwich twice a month, today a majority of children and adults eat fast food as much as twice a day. Hang in there, the best is yet to come…..

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Inner Turmoil

Inner Turmoil
I was raised to love and respect my parents and grandparents, aunts and uncles as well.  So I did; never understanding what a grown-up’s life and/or emotions were like.  I do remember that like most families there were arguments that sometimes ended in separation or worst yet divorce.  I recall favorite uncles and aunts that would go from being loving to each other to being unhappy, and arguing or even physically fighting.  As children, we were told to look the other way or at least stay out of harm’s way and to not question the turmoil.
Children during those times were supposed to be seen and not heard.  In my recollection few relationships (at least in my family tree) ran smooth from start to finish.  Almost always the road of life (at least where romance is concerned) is full of potholes. I could never understand why good looking and kind (nice) people with good looking children, would have a reason to argue and fight.  I was way too young to understand about the intricacies of life and romance (real love), and wicked lust.
The majority of the problems that I saw all around was man made (or woman made), because of third party involvement.  As a young person I didn’t have the experience or the right to judge the developments (of course even now I don’t have reason or right to get in the middle) in my family member’s lives.  As an adult I have a tendency to see the good in everyone.  I have been in situations where someone I thought I knew well (not related), was telling a fib (lie), and it went right over my head, until someone else pointed it out.  It seems that there are some experts at abusing alcohol, and medications that can tell a lie with a straight face.
Not all separations and divorces are driven by romantic entanglements.  Sometimes people get involved that had no business being involved with each other.  Wrong chemistry, wrong religion, wrong politics, wrong ethnicity, and wrong ethics.  I could write a couple more paragraphs of what could be wrong for two people's pairing.  As I get older I begin to realize that not all relationships need to start near perfect to succeed, if there is enough love and attraction between two people they can try a little harder and make it work.
When I think about how I (we) don’t know what’s in people’s hearts and minds, I am reminded of a popular program in the early years (somewhat before my time) and it goes something like this:
  • The introduction from The Shadow radio program "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
  • At the end of each episode The Shadow reminded listeners that, "The weed of crime bears bitter fruit. Crime does not pay... The Shadow knows!"
This post came about because I was trying to remember how much I really know about my maternal grandmother’s life.  So I got to thinking about how I remember her.  The only thing that I really remember is that she was very stern (strict), unwavering (I used to think cold hearted in her strictness).  I didn’t get to know my grandmother very well because I never lived close to her.  By the age of six we moved across the country and eventually immigrated to the United States. But there again, I was not aware of her trials and tribulations, her likes and dislike.  She was highly respected, and looked up to in her community. 
One of my memories that I have of her is that her third husband (she was twice widowed) was a few years her junior and she was extremely jealous especially as she aged.  On any given Saturday night he would take his boat across the river to a tavern where they played live music, and he would hang out with his friends, and who knows who else.  He would eventually return under the influence of alcohol, but until he returned my grandmother would pace the floor affected by anger and jealousy.  I never heard them fight or argue, mostly because my grandmother would act indifferent, and unaffected.  I wish I could have played a bigger role in affecting her happiness and well-being.  Then again, she appeared happy with her life.  The best is yet to come…..

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Relationship Maintenance

View from our balcony
For a number of years during the period in our lives that our children were below the age of 8 years (with the youngest being 2 years of age) my wife and I hardly spent any quality time together during the week.  It was during that time that we decided to find a way to date even if only once or twice a month to maintain our sanity and romance strong.
It seems that all our waking hours were spent taking care of the children and their needs and wants. Responsibilities included taking care of my mother who had come to live with us at my wife’s invitation.  Don’t get me wrong my mother didn’t add to the list of chores, in fact she was a special blessing.  We could always trust my mother to look after the children for short amounts of time while my wife and I tended to the family business, and I of course also maintained a full time job (and at times night school).
Quite by accident we discovered a brand new hotel on the water front, when we took the children for ice cream and a stroll on the Marina.  I was so impressed by the location that I got away long enough to check out the rooms, and view, as well as the costs involved.  While there I made a reservation for a couple of weeks down the road.  It was meant to be a surprise get away for my wife, so I kept it to myself.
Our typical stay there included a chilled bottle of champagne, and twelve roses set up in advance of our arrival by the hotel (by pre-arrangement of course).  The place had what I considered a huge Jacuzzi in the master suite, and a balcony that was right over the water overlooking the Marina.  We most often had a rushed day even as our check-in time approached.  We would, however, always make time to stop at a grocery store to buy more fruit than we could eat (pears, apples, oranges, bananas, mangoes, etc.), and more magazines then we could read while spending one night away.
View from restaurant
Right next door was a new and considered amongst the best in the area, seafood restaurant. The evening consisted of a very nice and relaxed dinner, followed by a walk along the Marina.  Once back at the hotel we would relax in the balcony reading and enjoying the sound of seagulls over the sailboats anchored near our window.  We would follow this relaxed time by an even more relaxing time reading in the Jacuzzi.  Almost any talking we did was conversations about the children and what each one of us had been doing during the week.  The total cost for the one night normally ran in the neighborhood of $300 plus dollars, I know it sounds a little extravagant especially for early 1980’s, but look at the bright side:  we were 6 miles from home and could be there in under ten minutes if we were needed.  No cost for travel to out of state vacation.  Plus it saved us from spending that much or more on therapy.
Hotel Lobby
If I were to justify this post it would be simply to keep fresh in my mind the responsibilities that goes with forming and maintaining a loving relationship that endures beyond the years after the children leave the nest.  Saying I love you every day for a lifetime is important, but keeping the relationship fresh and interesting is equally important.  At some point when the children start arriving they totally disrupt the romance if you let them.  You owe total focus to the children, but that only means that you have to step up your game, and make time for the one person that you fell in love with and give adequate effort to the love affair.  I know that what I am talking about borders on a perfect life, and I’ve said it before that we are blessed.  None of our story was without effort.
If you are presently faltering even a little bit in your relationship, there is plenty of time to step up your game.  Keep in mind that it takes two to tango, but be persistent.  The best is yet to come…..

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Dinosaur Destiny

Dinosaur Destiny
For many years Dinosaurs ruled the earth.
  • About 230 million years ago, a group of animals called dinosaurs ruled the earth. They lived in many different habitats, from open plains to forests to the edges of swamps, lakes, and oceans.
    Dinosaurs were reptiles and most of them hatched from eggs.
  • Some dinosaurs were as tall as a five-story building, and there were others no bigger than a chicken. In between the largest and the smallest, there were dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes. The dinosaurs had tough skin, some with scales or feathers. Some were armor-plated and covered with spikes.
  • The name 'dinosaur' means 'most fearsome lizard'. However, dinosaurs were not lizards, though related to them. Some scientists think that dinosaurs were more closely related to birds.
  • About 65 million years ago, it is believed that a huge meteor hit the earth, causing enormous clouds of dust to block the sun's rays so that the earth became dark and cold for a number of years. Huge tidal waves flooded low-lying land and acid rain fell. Small animals could find shelter and enough warmth and food, but the huge dinosaurs could not. They died out. ~ Sydenham, S. & Thomas, R. The Age of Dinosaurs
Based on the very short story I just related the dinosaurs lived approximately 165 million years (give or take). Now to the point of this post.  We all know from experience that nothing lasts forever.  Everything has a start and a finish (end).  What might be the cause of demise for the Human Race?  The question here is what and when, not if.
I realize as I read what I just wrote that my thinking sounds fatalistic.  Perhaps the reason for my attitude today is the kind of news articles that are going around on television and the Internet.  Just a handful of stories I saw today:
  • A confrontation in a theater while seeking entertainment and relaxation accompanied by their spouses, one man is shot dead and his wife is wounded over a texting incident inside the theater.  The 71 year-old man shot in what he felt was self-defense as he felt threatened by the much younger 40 something dead victim. 
  • On another news article a dash-cam shows a car in front swerving all over the street, crossing street traffic divider lines and eventually jumping the curve, and hitting a tree, and light pole before the car flipped over on its top.  The driver didn’t die but he could have and he might have killed pedestrians on the sidewalk.  This accident happened because the man was texting and driving.
  • A school shooting incident in a New Mexico school left two teenagers 14 and 13 years old wounded, and the shooter a 13 year old was arrested,  The cause?  Witnesses said the shooter was being bullied in school.  
  • Neiman Marcus said over the weekend that cards of some customers had been used fraudulently, but provided little additional information.  The announcement follows a breach at Target that could become the largest in U.S. retail history. The discount retailer acknowledged Friday that up to 110 million customers were affected.

Many people that have never been affected by computer hacking have no idea of the level of disruption that their lives are in for.  We can’t just sit around passively waiting for something or someone to reach out and start destroying our lives.  You can help yourself by being more aware of your surrounding when out and about.  Avoid confrontations with strangers if at all possible.  Check your credit card statements every month looking for irregularities.  Remember always that the only time you win in a confrontation is when you get to go home unhurt with and to your family. 
Will the human race require a large meteorite to strike the earth or will we self-destruct from our technological advances?  The best is yet to come….

Monday, January 13, 2014

Super Power

Super Power
There is an emerging and quickly gaining popularity, belief that “Common Sense” is so uncommon as to be considered a “Super Power.”  Being one of those rare individuals with the unusual ability to reason, and analyze situations before taking action (as in using common sense).  I’ve given thought to what my Super Hero name might be, if I were to decide to use (share) my super power for the good of mankind: The Common Sense Cruzader!
Imagine having a 9 year old responding to an adult saying, “it hurts when I do that” (referring to raising the right arm above his head).  My answer was filled with common sense: “until you have a doctor look at it, don’t do that.”  My answer didn’t resolve the problem, but it prevented further discomfort and pain.  That instant in my past has always stuck with me because, I secretly realized that as a 9 year old, I was possibly a notch or two smarter than a 23 year old with 14 years more life experience.
There are so many examples of the lack of use of common sense in everyday life, that I can’t help but wonder where society went wrong. 
The Death of Common Sense:
  • Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn), reliable parenting strategies (the adults are in charge, not the kids), and it is okay to come in second. A veteran of the Industrial Revolution, the Great Depression, and the Technological Revolution, Common Sense survived cultural and educational trends including body piercing, whole language, and "new math". But his health declined when he became infected with the "If-it-only-helps-one-person-it's-worth-it" virus.
  • In recent decades his waning strength proved no match for the ravages of well-intentioned but overbearing regulations. He watched in pain as good people became ruled by self-seeking lawyers. His health rapidly deteriorated when schools endlessly implemented zero-tolerance policies. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate, a teen suspended for taking a swig of mouthwash after lunch, and a teacher fired for charging that a reprimand of an unruly student only worsened his condition. It declined even further when schools had to get parental consent to administer aspirin to a student but could not inform the parent when a female student was pregnant or wanted an abortion.
This is written to sound funny but at the same time serious.  The reasoning for the death of common sense is real enough, that no one could argue otherwise.  And so it goes that common sense is now considered a “Super Power.”  I will now ponder whether it would make sense (of the common variety) to share my gift with mankind.  If the inclination should be to go forth, the name of the new masked hero shall be “The Common Sense Cruzader,” (please note the spelling of cruzader with a “Z.”  If the decision is to stay in the shadows, you shall not hear of this super hero ever again.  Common sense dictates that the best is yet to come…….