Free 2 Day Shipping With Amazon Prime

Friday, February 28, 2014


Super Friends
This post is part 2 to: “What is FRIENDSHIP? Posted 3/13/2013
I’ve said before that if you are lucky, you will have one or two “Best Friends,” in your life time.  I guess I am very lucky in that sense.  Great friends don’t have to be in constant touch.  However, whenever the opportunity presents itself to communicate in writing or verbal, it’s like there hasn’t been a long passage of time between contacts, you just pick up where you left off.
I have 3 or 4 great friends that I stay in touch with, I am not a person that needs constant attention probably because I come from a large family.  While I am an only son from my father and mother, I did have a couple of half-sisters (one older and one younger), growing up, and then went on to have 7 children.
My life has been moving at 120 miles per hour down the highway of life, and I haven’t had time to meet with my friends.  We’ve communicated by phone, text, email, and Facebook but not an in person meeting for close to 6 months.  We all live in the same town so no great effort is required to make it happen.  We are all very well settled down people with comfortable retirements, and happy families so we all have pretty full lives, with plenty of family social life, and thus the difficulty in getting together.
I finally left a voice message for one of my friends and told him what my schedule was like so we could connect and have a breakfast or lunch.  The very next morning he called me and wanted to meet for breakfast in 15 minutes, so we made it happen.  The first question I asked is how have you been, and how is life treating you.  As real friends we ask because we care, it’s not just a greeting.
We spent the time while we waited to be served comparing notes on how the wives are treating us (as it turns out like kings).  Once the food arrived we got into some serious conversation.  He starts with, did I tell you I fell off my roof, and I was shocked because he and I don’t joke about serious things like that.  As it turned out he was cleaning his roof, while his wife was at work, while on the roof he got dizzy so he sat down to gain his composure, and he lost his grip and started sliding until he went off the roof.
I asked him how badly he was hurt and he said he was lucky he landed on his feet and rolled as soon as he made contact with the ground.  I should explain that he was an MP (Military Police) with the Air Force, and still has a few moves under his belt (no Chuck Norris to be sure) but most likely someone was looking over him.  He has yet to tell his wife about it.  He said he isn’t afraid of her he just has high respect for the little lady.  I don’t blame him, I wouldn’t tell my wife either, if I could walk straight after taking a fall like that.
The point that I am trying to build up to is twofold; 1) he is very comfortable financially, and should be paying some professional to handle the heavy (or dangerous) work, 2) we need to stay in touch with our friends because I would hate to have some serious injury happen and not be aware.  What kind of friend would I be?  I know that we have our hands full with life and our families in general, but these aren’t just anybody, this is our close circle of friends.  I have known this friend for 30 years.  It seems that the dizziness while on the roof was caused by problems with blood pressure. He was taken to his doctor to check his blood pressure and his doctor sent him immediately to Emergency Care because he felt that the level of blood pressure he was experiencing could have brought on a heart attack (his blood pressure was controlled with medication).  I can’t imagine losing a friend like that, when he only lives about 5 blocks from my house, and I not be aware. 
I make a commitment right now in front of my readers, and to myself, to be a better friend.  Conversely, I ask my readers to take a clue from my experience, be the kind of friends that stay in touch, and check up on your friends.  I also ask you to consider how dangerous the projects you are involved with, might be to your well-being.  The best is yet to come……

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Bottom Line

The Bottom Line
Have you ever felt like OSHA will have to require that handles be installed if more people are to climb on your back?

·      OSHA's Mission:                                                                                                                          With the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA)* to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women by setting and enforcing standards.

Every time we turn around some large corporation, government agency or small business, is trying to somehow get more money out your pocket or bank account.  Most people don’t realize the amount of taxes per gallon of gasoline they pay in their respective States.  In the State of Washington the tax on a gallon of gasoline is just under 50 cents per gallon.  Do you realize that for every 30 gallons of gasoline you buy you are paying $15 dollars out of pocket before you even get a drop of gasoline in your tank?
 Washington: Cents per gallon 37.5 other taxes .096 includes HASMAT fee and Oil Spill Admin Fee
Today I was hungry and decided to stop at a place where I’ve stopped a few times in recent years and was surprised that they wanted an extra 40 cents for using a credit card.  The total was under $4 dollars so the surcharge amounted to more than 10%.  I mentioned to the cashier that it was a bad move on the owner’s part because he would lose business.  Her answer was it’s not his idea it’s the banks.  I explained that I am also a businessman that the cost is more like 1.5% per transaction.  I don’t know about the rest of his customers but I for one don’t plan to go back even if I have cash in my pocket.
What the owner should have done is add 5 or even 10% to all his menu items, and not mess with the transaction.  I doubt that anyone would notice the increase on such small prices. I don’t feel that I am being petty, because I probably do 10 to 20 transactions per day, and if everyone decides to add 40 cents per transaction that adds up to 8 dollars a day.  I enjoy dealing through my church for charity’s sake, but then again every time I go to pay for anything at a cashier stand everyone wants a dollar for one charity or another.

The following information shouldn’t surprise anyone, but then again it might:  How Much Does the Average Person Pay in Taxes?
  • Answer: The amount the average person pays in taxes is between 40% and 54.4% of income. The variance is due to where they live and income levels. Each state and even municipalities have their own sales taxes and various usage taxes which must be figured into the total. On top of the self-employed people pay the entire amount of Social Security as opposed to employees whose employers pay half. The overall tax picture requires that people consider the fuel taxes and other taxes when determining their average tax amount.  ~ Reference:
Imagine the disappointment of realizing that whatever wage you earn you only keep around 50% or less.  All of a sudden 40 cents per transaction, and a dollar for charity every time you go through a cash register adds up.  I don’t start my day by wanting to be a cheapskate, but aren’t taxes supposed to go in part to help the less fortunate?  The best is yet to come…..

Monday, February 24, 2014

A year In the Life 2

A year In the Life 2
Perhaps it’s just that I try to see the good in everything.  There have been so many points (years) in my life where I can see, especially in looking back, where my life seemed to switch directions or shift into overdrive.  I suppose that if I really tried hard and devoted enough time into it, I could rate each one of those years into some sort of level of importance.  Yet each one of the years that I can highlight were stacked upon each other: that’s to say that progression was possible because of each year’s events.
As an example of sequential occurrences (progression):  my parents made the decision to move to the United States, after that transition everything that happened in my life happened in the U.S., because of the time spent at the border town waiting for permanent residency in the U.S., my parents separated and eventually divorced, after a couple of years of struggle, my mother met and married my step-father, etc., etc..
The significance of 1959 in my life is paramount to not just my life but the life of everyone that crossed (or is otherwise became involved in) my life’s path to this very day.  It was this year that my step-father was offered a job in the Pacific Northwest (while living in Texas).  We arrived in Washington State and our new home (life) just prior to Labor Day of that year. 
While almost everything that my life evolved into is rooted in the northwest, including the people that have played significant parts in my development, my past is undeniable in importance.  I realize how intricate my trend of thought is, and I agree that you almost have to read what I am writing at least twice to be able to follow along.  Even I find myself going back and reading my own material to make sure that in the end it makes sense.  Consider that I was born in Mexico to parents of means, moved to a border town to (legally immigrate to the United States, arrived in California, soon after my parent’s separation, moved to Texas and in 1959 to Washington State.  The trajectory of migration is not anything that could have been foreseen or even planned.  The word destiny comes to mind.
I believe that we are all destined to live out a life that is planned for us, but we affect it to some degree by the decision that we make at certain crossroads.  I apologize if this post seems to be deeper than most, but for some reason I was compelled to wake out of a deep sleep to write this material at 2:30 in the morning. To make this post more interesting I will share with you other events of importance that happened in 1959:
Some songs released; Platters, “Smoke Gets In Your Eyes”; Lloyd Price, “Sugar Lee”; Frankie Avalon, “Venus”; Fleetwoods, “Come Softly To Me”; Wilbert Harrison, “Kansas City”; Bobby Darin, “Mack The Knife”. 
On February 3rd: Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P Richardson are killed in a plane crash near Clear Lake, Iowa.  They are the first rock stars to die.
In my life, I have left a wake of many happy people for having crossed my path along the way, and at least a couple miserable ones that I am aware of.  The best is yet to come……

Friday, February 21, 2014

Overnight Success

Very Early Beatles
How many times have we heard of something or someone on the national or world spotlight for the first time, and assume it was overnight success?
Here is the perfect example of the road to overnight success:
Before They Were Beatles: 1957-1959
  • John Lennon was just 17 when he formed his first band, The Black Jacks. The band was made up entirely of classmates at Quarry Bank Grammar School in Liverpool, and almost immediately after they started, they changed their name to The Quarry Men. They played skiffle music, a mixture of folk, jazz, and blues which was popular in England at the time.
  • In the summer of 1957, The Quarry Men were setting up for a performance in a church hall when another member of the band introduced Lennon to Paul McCartney, then a 15-year-old self-taught left-handed guitar player. He auditioned for the band when they finished their set, and was immediately invited to join, which he did in October, 1957.
  • By February 1958 Lennon was moving increasingly away from skiffle and toward rock 'n' roll. This prompted the band's banjo player to leave, giving McCartney the opportunity to introduce Lennon to his friend and former classmate, George Harrison.
  • The band, which then consisted of Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, piano player Duff Lowe and drummer Colin Hanton recorded a demo consisting of Buddy Holly's "That'll Be the Day" and a Lennon-McCartney original, "In Spite of All the Danger."
  • The Quarry Men broke up early in 1959. Lennon and McCartney continued their songwriting, and Harrison joined a group called The Les Stewart Quartet. The Quarry Men briefly reunited when Harrison's group fell apart, and he recruited Lennon and McCartney to help him fulfill a contract with Liverpool's Casbah Coffee Club. When that gig ended, Lennon, McCartney and Harrison continued performing as Johnny and the Moondogs. ~ Wikimedia
Now for another example of overnight success:
Catalog Stores (mail Order):  Many of us remember becoming aware of catalog sales in the 1950’s and 60’s when some of our mothers would order our back to school clothes through Sears or Wards Catalogs.
  • The heyday of the mail-order business occurred between the 1890s and the 1910s, when it was dominated by Montgomery Ward and Sears. During this period, these companies became two of the largest business enterprises in the United States. Wards, which opened several mail-order branches across the country during the first part of the twentieth century, was employing over seven thousand men and women in the Chicago area by 1910. By 1913, Wards was selling about $40 million worth of goods per year.
  • Even more astounding than the rapid growth of Wards was the rise of Sears. The firm of Sears, Roebuck & Co., which settled in Chicago in 1895, was the creation of a Minnesotan named Richard W. Sears. After getting his start in the 1880s by selling watches through the mail, Sears (whose partner Alvah C. Roebuck started as a watch repairman) established a general mail-order company along the lines of Wards. Only a few years after its birth, Sears overtook Wards as the leading mail-order company.
  • Like Wards, Sears issued giant catalogs and succeeded in attracting orders for a variety of goods from hundreds of thousands of rural consumers. By 1905, Sears had about nine thousand employees, and its annual sales approached $50 million. Much of Sears's success was overseen by Julius Rosenwald, who became a partner in the company in 1895 and became its president after Richard Sears retired in 1909. By 1914, when Sears had branches in Dallas and Seattle in addition to its central operation in Chicago, the company's annual mail-order sales had surpassed $100 million. ~ Wikimedia
Always remember that just because you become an overnight success it doesn’t mean that you will be around forever.  The arrival of was the end or decline of catalog sales as we knew it.
  • Jeff Bezos incorporated the company (as Cadabra) in July 1994 and the site went online as in 1995. The company was renamed after the Amazon River, one of the largest rivers in the world, which in turn was named after the Amazons, the legendary nation of female warriors in Greek mythology. ~ Wikimedia
As always the best is yet to come……

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Shopping History

Shopping History
Intelligent businessmen have been trying to get to our money for as long as money has been around.  Shoppers have willingly parted with their money in ever faster ways.  Today we don’t even have to leave our homes to buy products on line and we trust total strangers with our credit card information somewhere and everywhere around the world.
I still remember times in the past when we operated with the premise of cash on delivery (C.O.D.).  C.O.D. was the ultimate guarantee that you could trust the company or individual you were dealing with.  The Company or individual was so sure of his product and integrity that he was willing to deal on a C.O.D. basis.  Imagine this, the seller was incurring the shipping cost, risking that you may not accept and pay for the shipped product.  In today’s world the buyer (customer) assumes all the risks.
When I talk of shopping history I am only making reference to the period that covers our particular time of existence (perhaps our parent’s existence-late 50s to present day).  During this period of time I experienced many efforts to change the shopping experience:  from door to door sales to Pyramid, and including the arrival of large department stores.
Almost forever large department stores have had a bargain basement section.  The bargain basement is where you found bargains at clearance prices.  This bargain items were always typically the end of a season clothing, the last of a product line where as an example there may only be one or two select sizes left, or even a discontinued line of a product.
Here are some histories of your most common shopping experiences:
Amway (short for American Way)
  • Is an American company using multi-level marketing techniques that sells a variety of products, primarily in the health, beauty, and home care markets. Amway was founded in 1959 by Jay Van Andel and Richard DeVos. Based in Ada, Michigan, the company and family of companies under Alticor reported sales of USD$11.3 billion for the year ended December 31, 2012—the seventh consecutive year of growth for the company. Its product lines include home care products, personal care products, jewelry, electronics, Nutrilite dietary supplements, water purifiers, air purifiers, insurance and cosmetics. ~ Wikimedia
Discount Stores:
  • During the period from the 1950s to the late 1980s, discount stores were more popular than the average supermarket or department store in the United States. There were hundreds of discount stores in operation, with their most successful period occurring during the mid-1960s in the U.S. with discount store chains such as Kmart, Ames, E. J. Korvette, Fisher's Big Wheel, Zayre, Bradlees, Caldor, Jamesway Howard Brothers Discount Stores, Kuhn's-Big K (sold to Walmart in 1981), TG&Y and Woolco (closed in 1983, part sold to Wal-Mart) among others.
  • Walmart, Kmart, and Target all opened their first locations in 1962. Other retail companies branched out into the discount store business around that time as adjuncts to their older store concepts. As examples, Woolworth opened a Woolco chain (also in 1962); Montgomery Ward opened Jefferson Ward; Chicago-based Jewel launched Turn Style; and Central Indiana-based L. S. Ayres created Ayr-Way. J. C. Penney opened discount stores called Treasure Island or The Treasury, and Atlanta-based Rich's owned discount stores called Richway. During the late 1970s and the 1980s, these chains typically were either shut down or sold to a larger competitor. Kmart and Target themselves are examples of adjuncts, although their growth prompted their respective parent companies to abandon their older concepts (the S. S. Kresge five and dime store disappeared, while the Dayton-Hudson Corporation eventually divested itself of its department store holdings and renamed itself Target Corporation).
  • In the United States, discount stores had 42% of overall retail market share in 1987; in 2010, they had 87%. ~ Wikimedia
We didn’t even cover online shopping definitely the biggest and fastest growing way to shop.  Next time we will cover the big players in the arena to include Amazon, Ebay, Craigslist, and others.  I will also include the package shipping industry giants: FedEx, UPS, USPS and DHL.  The best is yet to come…..

Monday, February 17, 2014

Getting Pushed Around

Getting Pushed Around
The ultimate slap in the face by a corporate giant.  “I am mad as hell, and I am not going to take it anymore!”  That is a quote from the Movie “Network” (1976),
I realize that everyone is always attempting to improve on a good thing.  However, the old saying about “don’t fix it if it ain’t broke,” comes to mind, Present day corporations have been known for some time to be not just greedy but beyond stupid greedy.  First off all I am part of a group of people within the boomer generation, secondly bordering on being passive.
There are many things worth fighting for, but we need to take a stand somewhere and begin to push back.  Here is my dilemma:  The Tonight Show with Jay Leno has been in the First Place ranking amongst late night entertainment since Jay Leno has been the host and since before that with Johnny Carson.  The reason for the success can be directly attributed to the fact that Leno grew old alongside of my generation.  Beyond that he understands our sense of humor and our lifestyles.  All of sudden some braniac (not) at the top of NBC has decided to protect their future investment by bringing in a younger host, that a younger audience can identify with, and protect their future ratings and investment.  All this reasoning as if they will keep the audience they have and add their new found younger audience to the numbers.
It might not be a half bad plan if it had been negotiated properly, and at least gave the appearance that somehow they were working in our (the present audience) best interest.  Many viewers such as myself showed our displeasure, and yet, we were totally ignored due to the lure of future ratings and dollar signs.  Because I believe in Karma, I don’t have ill will for them in their future endeavor, and by no means am I calling for a boycott of the new show or their sponsors, but I can personally not tune into their show, and also not buy the products that sponsor the new Tonight Show.
I grew up from a very young age knowing certain truisms like: A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush, if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, and finally if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything.
This isn’t the ultimate or only, possible solution, but one I might have implemented:  Renew Leno’s contract for two more years, have Leno working 3 day workweek with Fallon filling in the other two day for two years, while similarly training and sharing the workweek with Fallon and a possible replacement on Fallon’s show following the Tonight Show.  In this way it would allow us the audience to get used to Fallon and maybe show that we liked him or didn’t.  At the same time they would be training Fallon’s replacement.
When NBC acted like a bully sending Leno to pasture while being very productive and a cash cow to the corporate higher ups, they caused me to be unhappy and turn off the Tonight Show, and worst yet I won’t even catch the 11 pm news on their network, I will now go to their competition.  If you feel as I do, I hope you will follow my peaceful demonstration, and feel a tinge of satisfaction as you repeat the following mantra:  “I am mad as hell and I am not going to take it anymore!”  My best wishes for a very successful retirement go with Jay Leno.  I happen to know that he is very wealthy, and to a very large degree very happy (with his wife and car collection).  At this point in my life I can’t even aspire to those heights of success, but you never know, stranger things have happened.  I just feel that we all should have enough control to decide when we want to walk away especially if we are discharging out duties in a very successful way.  On a personal note, I retired early, and I am very happy and healthy because of it.  When I first retired, my friends and co-workers told me that I was a pretty smart man.  Since then, I have run into some of those friends and co-workers who no call me a genius.  The best is yet to come…..

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Fool’s Economics

Fool’s Economics
During the 1950’s and early 1960’s there was a sense of stability like we haven’t seen before or since.  During the above mentioned period you could work on your personal budget and be off by a very few dollars year after year.  You knew a year or two in advance what a gallon of milk was going to cost or the price of a gallon of gasoline within a couple of cents month to month.  You could also plan on your house rent and car payments staying stable. 
Granted your wages also didn’t fluctuate much but there also were no imminent lay-offs.  For extra income there were plenty of side jobs, or overtime with your own employer.  There were also opportunities like Avon sales, Kirby Vacuum cleaner sales, Encyclopedia sales.  Of course there were also ample opportunities to start your own business if you wanted to (examples: landscaping, painting houses, and etc.).
The fool’s part of the economics, comes and has been around for way too long, when consumers are looking for savings anywhere they can get them at any cost (did you catch the irony).  A very popular saying comes to mind: “If it’s too good to be true, it most likely is.”
I am way too sensible and common sensed to be lured by obvious tactics.  Any time you get a special coupon from a newspaper or magazine offering, “40% off today only!”  My response is, if you don’t have that product or service in your must buy now list don’t.  Stay home and instead of saving 40%, save 100%.  If one product is being offered at regular price with a 40% rebate, and a competitor is selling it for slightly cheaper with no rebate, I say skip the rebate and save a couple of dollars on the spot.  The reason rebates are not redeemed are:
  • Sixty percent of study participants who failed to redeem their rebates said procrastination or forgetting was to blame, compared with 20 percent who said the redemption process was too much effort, and 20 percent who lost their receipts, mistakenly threw out the required packaging or faced some other constraint.
  • Rebates are a popular marketing strategy of manufacturers because they boost sales yet result in little payout, since few buyers bother to redeem them. They are most frequently used as a tactic to promote consumer electronics, where redemption rates, even on larger-ticket purchases such as computers and televisions, are well below 50 percent. ~University of Florida News
During many years of marketing competition, manufacturers offered towels, glasses, cups, saucers within their boxed products (example: laundry detergent).  Cereal manufacturers offered popular music releases in 45 rpm records in their boxes to get the kids to ask for a particular brand as opposed to another.
It seems that everyone offered Green Stamps at one time or another.  Cigarette manufacturers offered their own coupons that could be redeemed for anything and everything in their catalogs.  I remember my step-father’s friends used to poke fun at him, asking if he was saving enough coupons to get an Iron Lung.  The silliest part of all is that in most instances, if you spend $800 dollars on product you will have enough stamps to receive a prize valued at $1.50.  The fallacy is that if you stop smoking you could spend thousands of dollars buying all the prizes you want (no coupons required).
Not much different than spending (wasting) $300 dollars in a Casino to come out a $50 dollar winner at the end of the Casino visit (if a winner at all).  In the case of the saucer in the box of detergent; you could spend your money on the cheaper detergent with no gift inside and then buy a saucer for thirty cents (at 1960’s prices).  To make it event worst, they would hook you until you acquired the whole set of plates.  I will need to follow-up this post with more comparisons.  Up next:  Have you ever benefitted from any service or product that the government has Regulated or De-Regulated?  I know the answer, do you?  The best is yet to come….

Thursday, February 13, 2014

A year In the Life

Typical US/Mexico Border Crossing

For some of us every year of our lives is historic, for others the years go by with minimal notice.  I guess it’s a matter of choice and placing the appropriate value and importance on a given year.
For my family 1955 was a very significant and historic year.  We didn’t realize how significant the year would be until Thursday September 15th when we showed up for an interview at the immigration office (located at the border crossing and on the USA side).  We had anticipated the interview for some two weeks, but over a year and a half we had attended so many interviews with hope in our hearts only to be told that we needed more supporting documents.
This time the meeting was different in that the gentleman that met with us was all smiles, and while we had met with him previously, this time around he wasn’t all stiff and strictly business.  If I had been able to guess at the reason for his happy disposition, I would have to say that he was experiencing a very satisfying and happy day.  What we didn’t know is that we were about to get the best news ever and it was my family that would be having a very happy day. 
He mentioned that we were going to go through one final interview, and if that went well, we would be receiving our Permanent Residency Green Cards on that day.  The final interview consisting of making sure that the adults in the family had not committed any crimes since the last interview.  Also that we were not in the middle of any legal action against us.  Happily we passed with flying colors, and we were handed a government envelope with what would change our lives and futures forever.  I felt like we should just keep going north and leave everything behind, but what did I know, I was just a kid.
We went back home and my father contacted family in Los Angeles to arrange for someone to transport us to our new country and home.  We also had to return the rental house that we lived in, and except for a few items of importance my parents gave away about 75% of our belongings, including furniture and clothing.
For my family everything going on in the US during this year was alien to us (no pun intended) for those of my readers that already lived in the USA, this is what was happening that year.
  • Movies:  The Seven Year Itch –with Marilyn Monroe; Mr. Roberts- with Henry Fonda, James Cagney, William Powell, and Jack Lemmon; East of Eden-with James Dean, Julie Harris, Raymond Massey.
  • Popular Songs: McGuire Sisters, “Sincerely”; Bill Hayes, “The Ballad of Davey Crockett”; Perez Prado, “Cherry Pink and Apple Blossoms White”; Bill Haley and His Comets, “Rock Around The Clock”; Tennessee Ernie Ford, “Sixteen Ton.”  Chuck Berry gained immediate success with his first release, “Maybelline,” which is followed with many more hits including; “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “School Day” (1957), and “Johnny B. Goode (1958).”
  • On September 30th Actor James Dean, twenty-four, is killed when he crashes his Porsche roadster.  November 16th the option owned by Sam Phillips of Sun Records on Elvis Presley’s recording contract is purchased by the RCA Record Company for thirty-five thousand dollars.
That was the Pop Culture of that year (1955) that would soon become the pop culture of my new life.  Drastic changes that would tear our family apart awaited us in the years to come.  All those unforeseen changes and turmoil were never part of our plan for living the
American Dream, and yet because of very strong willed and hard working parents, they each individually carved out a share of the American Dream for themselves.  Looking back I can say, that I and my future family would be the ultimate winners of all my parents’ sacrifices.  The best is yet to come….

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Meaning of Life

Meaning of Life
I will start this post by stating once again that I have a very blessed life.  I can’t say that my life is perfect, because no one’s life is perfect.  I am grateful that I don’t get to plot every day in my life because I wouldn’t know how to plot the perfect day every day of my life.  I enjoy the variety that comes my way every day.  What makes my life blessed is how I respond to and deal with the multitude of things that come at me every day. 
With todays advanced technology many things are getting predictable.  I remember when I was a teenager working on the farm during the vacations from school, I loved going to bed at night and not knowing exactly what kind of weather I was going to be working in the next day.  Sometimes the smell of wet ground in the morning, and seeing the rain clouds moving away gave me a special sense of energy to start my day.  Today, I can look at the weather report and know what area of my town the rain or snow is going to be falling in.  I can see how fast the wind is going to be blowing, when it will pick up and when it will subside.  I realize that being able to predict the good and bad weather is a good thing, but a small piece of mystery and adventure is removed from everyday life.
Today is my birthday and that also is a good thing, I don’t like the alternative.  My youngest daughter woke up my 7 year old granddaughter and mention that today was grandpa’s birthday.  My granddaughters response was an incredulous response, “really, it’s never grandpa’s birthday!”  My idea of celebrating my birthday is a family dinner at home, or out to dinner with family members, minimally and every bit as good is dinner at one of our favorite restaurants with just my wife.  I am often asked what I want for my birthday, and I am sure you have heard the most common dilemma, what do you give the person that has everything.
I am fortunate to get whatever I want or need whenever I feel like it.  It sounds like I am bragging, but you would have to know me to understand what that means.  Within reason and within my means.  My seven year old granddaughter asked me today what I wanted for my birthday, and I told her that I was just glad to spend time with her, and her cousins (and family in general).  As I dropped my granddaughter off at her school she told me that she couldn’t wait to get home so we could play a game of Angry Birds, and some Mario Brothers.
If it weren’t for my grandchildren, I would simply be growing older, but because of them I was able to cheer us up on the way to school by playing Moves like Jagger, through the Bluetooth from my iPhone to the vehicle stereo system.  It’s funny how things change: when my children were young they had no choice but to listen to the oldies but goodies radio station whenever we traveled. Today you can find the likes of Justin Timberlake, Sy (Gangnam Style), Katy Perry, Pink, Black Eyed Peas, Train, and Christina Aguilera, on my iPhone.  Do you have any idea how awesome that makes me in the eyes of youth?  I can also move like Jagger if occasion calls for it!
Once again, my life is not perfect but it is awesome, when you have a happy and healthy family you are definitely blessed, and that is what I am.  Waking up every day of my life to my wonderful wife gives me the edge I need to start my day with a grateful heart.  I forgot to mention that I also have longevity going in my family line, many of my relatives lived into their 90’s, I guess that makes me almost middle aged.  The best is yet to come….

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Frugal Is In

Frugal Is In

No one in my life was a better example of frugality than my grandparents and then to a lesser extent my parents.  Frugality doesn’t just appear one day, in fact it is an acquired talent.
The best reason for the frugality being in my grandparent’s life is that they experienced in their life time two world conflicts that totally changed the world as they knew it.  They survived a Depression, and the two world conflicts, they experienced the changing work force from the husband being the provider to the women having to hold the home front while the men were away fighting wars.

Rationing was all around, it became a necessity to grow your own garden for the sake of savings and availability.  While front yards continue to be a sources of pride and what we now call curve appeal, the backyard became something else altogether.  Instead of the normal happy family hangout for entertaining, the backyard became a mini farm. A totally different family entertainment atmosphere, more of a food source value.  Most everyone got into gardening, and raising chickens in their backyards.  Oh that’s right, I forgot to mention that was in a time when government didn’t have so many restrictions that prevented you from raising chickens through land use regulations.
I still remember my grandmother darning sock by using a light bulb to shape the sock while making them good as new with needle and thread.  I’ll bet most homes had needle and thread plus a thimble as part of an everyday kit.  Today I am a culprit of throwing socks away when one of the pair of socks begins to show a little wear.  I also remember my mother using iron on patches on worn blue jeans (Levi’s) on the inside of the garment.  Today our silly youth actually wear-out their pants on purpose to look in style or spend hundreds of dollars to buy pre-worn-out jeans.
Sometimes my grandmother would crumble a handful of saltine cracker and add them to scramble eggs to make the meal stretch, even when there were plenty of eggs. Simply because that is the definition of frugality and out of habit.  If you were to get a treat for a drink you would get a pitcher full of Kool-Aid for .05 cents instead of a soda pop each.  By the way the Kool-Aid never had enough sugar for my taste (Bingo-frugality).
The family had a car but we didn’t drive the car around town; we drove to town and parked at the grocery store parking lot, and we walked everywhere from there.  Sometimes the family would go in different direction (example: the men would go to the barbershop, the ladies would go to the drug store, and other shopping).  We always had a pre-arranged time to meet back at the car.  The treat was a stop at the A&W Root Beer for a grilled ham sandwich with French fries and a frosted mug of root beer.  I don’t remember ordering a hamburger back in those days.
We are just coming out of two wars that have lasted about 10 years, not to mention high rate of unemployment.  I think it’s time that frugality came back in style.  You don’t have to wait for it to start trending, we are in charge of our family units, and we need to start yesterday.  The sooner we start the better.  The best is yet to come…..

Monday, February 10, 2014

1950’s Pioneer Spirit

Small Town USA
When you hear talk about the Pioneer Spirit or the reference to the Pioneer type woman (with reference to strength), I always imagine a strong and stout woman with a near perfect posture.  In fact the pioneer spirit that we refer to is something that people simply endured or grew into for survival’s sake.
You and I can elect to be strong by choice or be made strong by circumstance.  What I mean is that back in the 1940’s and 1950’s people chose the pioneer type spirit to survive, where as the time shown on Little House in the Prairie (the television series) that was the pioneer times.
In today’s society if you have a wood burning fireplace, you can cut your own wood if you have the Pioneer Spirit or you can simply Google “firewood,” and have it delivered and stacked in the back patio already cut to perfect size.  Back in the 1950’s some people had the option to buy the product but most chose to cut their own, and many times it was used in the wood burning stove that served for cooking and heat.
Imagine having an ice box instead of a refrigerator, and waiting to catch the iceman when he came by on your route every other day.
  • The ice trade, also known as the frozen water trade, was a 19th-century industry, centering on the east coast of the United States and Norway, involving the large-scale harvesting, transport and sale of natural ice for domestic consumption and commercial purposes. Ice was cut from the surface of ponds and streams, then stored in ice houses, before being sent on by ship, barge or railroad to its final destination around the world. Networks of ice wagons were typically used to distribute the product to the final domestic and smaller commercial customers. The ice trade revolutionized the U.S. meat, vegetable and fruit industries, enabled significant growth in the fishing industry, and encouraged the introduction of a range of new drinks and foods.
Another small struggle of the early 1950’s was the need to maintain a supply of kerosene usually in five gallon cans for the purpose of lighting the homes after the sun went down (using kerosene lanterns).  One of my uncles created a job for himself by keeping the neighborhood supplied for a fee. 
You also grew your own supply of vegetables, and anything you couldn’t eat you would trade and barter with.  Homes for the less fortunate ones didn’t have running water or any kind of indoor plumbing.  Imagine having to answer nature’s call in the middle of the night and going to an outhouse with a newspaper in hand (dual purpose including reading).  Taking a bath was not as easy as it is today.  You had to plan it by first warming up water, and later disposing of the used water.  Is it any wonder people didn’t bathe more often?
The fortunate people that had cars would usually pick up friends and coworkers every day on the way to work and dropped them off on the way home.  Others would use public transportation or ride bicycles by necessity not just to conserve or be cool.  Walking was a very acceptable mode of transportation, is it any wonder why they didn’t need Fitness Center Membership to get or stay in shape? 
This post is a very small snapshot of what life was like in the 1950’s (for a slightly less than well-off family).  The majority of these people were so satisfied that they had no clue that they lived in poverty.  If you have memories of your grandparents being strong and healthy the reasons were many, including fresh air plenty of sunshine and hard work, many natural foods that included plenty of fruits and vegetables, and minimal addictions.  The best is yet to come…..