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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Nothing Lasts Forever

Nothing Lasts Forever

Those of us that have some life experience know that everything is ever changing.  However, subtle everything evolves constantly.  As long as I bring it to mind, try to think of anyone thing in your life that has not changed.  I personally have caught myself saying, “I’ve always known that this is the one thing that will always remain constant."
As an example that may come to mind is a mother’s or father’s love for a child.  I would like to think that with time love grows.  In some documented cases it actually can diminish based on such things as mental illness.  The extreme being where a parent or off-springs become estranged or worst.

Another example could be my love for my wife, I know that over the years, my love for my wife has become stronger (changed for the better).  On a more material level, a house might appreciate in value (dependent on the economy) but the actual condition of the house will deteriorate (weathered) or improve depending on level of maintenance.

This post is triggered by today's headline news about extreme weather around that USA, and the world for that matter.  We as individuals need to maintain vigilance on our local environment (the area where we dwell).  Counties in Texas that haven’t ever experienced floods are now under water and worst yet, because of the unpredictability of the situation many lives have been lost.

I realize that high value is placed on water front property, be it ocean, lake or river, but analyze the history of the area for flooding, if ocean front, storms (tropical or otherwise) even tsunami due to earthquakes across the ocean.  Oil spills are also not uncommon anymore (think Santa Barbara CA, or even, the Exxon Valdez, Washington State).

I like to brag that I live in the Pacific Northwest by choice because of the mild weather, and I am correct to a degree.  25 years ago our beautiful Spring (1980) was disrupted for a year plus by the eruption of Mt. St. Helen.  Speaking of the Pacific Northwest there is the sword hanging over our heads that someday Mt. Rainier could erupt (I live less than 67 miles from the base of the mountain). While I love the northwest, I would be the first to relocate at the first rumblings of Mt. Rainier.

So when I talk about inevitable change at least in this instance, I am thinking about the constant safety of where we live.  Don’t ever assume that you are safe because so far you have always been.  I’d rather be thought of as a worry-wart than find my family in danger because I assumed otherwise.  My prayers go out to all those people that find themselves in the path of extreme weather.  The best is yet to come……….

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Better to Give Than Receive

Better to Give Than Receive

Today was a near perfect day for me, pretty much like many of my days lately.  That is not to say that I don’t have body aches and pains like most everyone else.  I also have bills and other responsibilities like everyone else.  I do however, only take on responsibilities that I know I can handle with my existing resources.  I’ve worked hard all my life and planned for my early retirement.  I’ve said many times previously on this blog that my family and I are blessed, not so much because we have a life of plenty, but more because we appreciate the blessings that we do have.

My wife and I regularly (daily) count our blessings as we say our prayers (morning and night).  We give thanks for a brand new day and the opportunity to enjoy one more day with our family, and at night we pray to give thanks for all those things that are most precious to us, our children and their spouses, our grandchildren, and great grandchildren, and our friends (we even include our pets in our prayers).

I’ve never felt a need to impress anyone growing up, I did, however, feel that I needed to set a good example for my children.  Telling them what to do usually works, but showing them what to do, has a better chance of success.  I am very proud of my children, and their accomplishments.

Yesterday I was feeling like my day had gone remarkably well, and decided to treat my granddaughters to pizza, and give my wife and myself a break from the kitchen.  When I arrived at the Pizza place there was an apparent homeless person sitting on the sidewalk with his back against the building.  I had never seen homeless people in this area of town so it surprised me.  I was even more surprise when he greeted me very kindly instead of asking for anything.  His exact greeting was, “good evening, you have a nice car brother.”  I returned the greeting and continued into the store.  While waiting to be served I kept thinking about the man outside and I purposely bought an extra pizza and a bottled water.

I didn’t want to be presumptuous so I walked to my car and put the pizzas on the floor of the back seat.  Then I walked up to the man and asked him how he was doing and if he needed anything.  He could have asked for anything but instead he said he could use some candles because the place where he sleeps is pretty dark.  I walked back to the car and brought him a pizza, a bottled water, and some money so he could buy some candles.

His response was that I was very kind and generous.  He followed those comments with God Bless you and your family!  As I drove away I understood how my day had just become better than a great day. I felt wonderful inside knowing that I might have made someone’s day a little better.  The rest of the night I couldn’t stop thinking of how fortunate we are to have a roof over our heads and a warm meal whenever we get hungry.

If you get the opportunity to make someone’s day better don’t hesitate, the Lord will bless you for taking care of his children.  The Lord works through others to make his works happen.  The best is yet to come……….

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sooner or Later

Puerto Vallarta

During more innocent times I used to think that some things happening elsewhere in the world would not touch my life or affect me in any way.  Well, reality struck home.  When 9-11 happened it seemed like, that world event would not be reaching the west coast (at least for the first 5 or 6 months it seemed that way).
My business continued to move right along as it always had (entertainment business).  Wedding bookings kept coming in as they always had.  While emotionally and even physically we were affected, it seemed that we had weathered the brunt of the affect that people on the east coast had endured.

Almost on cue right at about 6 months, my business was cut by about 40%.  Living in Western Washington, I should have known that the military bases would affect the economy. 

Young men and women as well as men and women of eligible military age were enlisting by previously unseen numbers.   Weddings and other life celebrations were being postponed indefinitely, due to the war effort.  That was the beginning of my realization that not only our country but in fact the world was intricately connected.  The next major affected change was my love for travel.  Airport security and baggage policies made me curtail my travel by approximately 90%.  The inconveniences and higher costs were just not worth the effort to maintaining my love for travel.
Airport security lines

If you had audio on this post you would hear the drum roll right about now.  Here is the most recent way that world events have touched my family.  One of my sons recently booked a vacation for two to Puerto Vallarta, and no sooner had he received confirmation that the State Department issued a ban on travel to Puerto Vallarta.  The reason for the ban was the daily battles going on in the city streets between law enforcement and the drug cartel gunmen.

  • The Canadian and U.S. embassies in Mexico have issued warnings for tourists and travelers in and around Puerto Vallarta and Guadalajara after another outbreak of drug-gang-related violence.
  • The warning includes reports that gas stations, banks and other buildings have been set on fire in the states of Jalisco and Colima. Municipal police in Puerto Vallarta are asking residents and visitors to remain in their homes and hotels.
Fortunately because of the State Department’s ruling on the matter, my son was able to get a full refund and switch his vacation destination to Hawaii.  Once upon a time a visit to Mexico was as simple as crossing the border or boarding an airplane.  Anymore you need to check the money exchange, the weather forecast, prices for flight and accommodations, plus body count in your choice of destination.

I can’t help but wonder if we will ever return to the days of rule and order.  A time when money and drugs or fanaticism won’t be the ultimate barrier to peaceful coexistence.  How do you rule in a society where a large portion of the people don’t fear dying in pursuit of their greed, addiction, or extremist views?  Hopefully; the best is yet to come………

Travel Arrangements

Travel Arrangements

Once again a major holiday weekend is fast approaching and with it the hustle and bustle of people heading out of town for a well-deserved get away.  The airports are filled to their limits, and so are the train stations, bus depots, and the gasoline stations.  Travel trailers and RVs are competing for space on the roads with semi-trucks as they transport goods to market, and the work commuters that stay behind and hold down the fort.
Memorial Day
·       Memorial Day is a federal holiday in the United States for remembering the people who died while serving in the country's armed forces. The holiday, which is observed every year on the last Monday of May was formerly known as Decoration Day and originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the Union and Confederate soldiers who died in the war.
·       By the 20th century, Memorial Day had been extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. It typically marks the start of the summer vacation season, while Labor Day marks its end.
·        Many people visit cemeteries and memorials, particularly to honor those who have died in military service. Many volunteers place an American flag on each grave in national cemeteries. ~ Wikipedia
·       “As we enter into the summer travel season with warmer temperatures and tulips in bloom, thoughts of historic cold are still fresh in the minds of Americans in many parts of the country,” said Marshall L. Doney, AAA Chief Operating Officer. “The winter blues appear to have given Americans the travel bug and a case of cruise cabin fever as travel for the holiday is expected to hit a new post-recession high.” ~ Heather Hunter, AAA (Triple A)

As for my family, we have made plans to stay at a 5 Star accommodation, where the best chef in the world practices his craft.  That’s right we are staying home and getting together at our home to BBQ some very quality steaks and Salmon (plus special consideration to a couple of family members that are vegetarian) with all the trimmings including of course corn on the cob, We are going all out with the food especially considering all the money that we will save by not traveling.

Since I am retired I prefer to plan all my travel while everyone has their nose to the grindstone.  To those of you hitting the road, I wish you a safe trip, lots of fun and a safe return home.  Whether you are traveling at home or abroad, stay on your toes at all times, remember that criminals take advantage of people outside their normal element and routine.  The best is yet to come……

Monday, May 11, 2015

Graduation – Bittersweet Outcome

Graduation – Bittersweet Outcome
On May 9th 2015 I attended my grandson’s graduation from Washington State University.  I drove approximately 16 hours roundtrip from my home, and sat through two plus hours of Commencement Ceremony.  I enjoyed every moment of it, and like a good (make that great) supporter of the educational system, happily sat through until all the graduates had their moment in the spotlight.
Amongst the many presentations and speeches (every one inspiring) there were so many words of wisdom being shared, that I started taking notes.  In my life I have attended many social events because of a sense of duty or respect for a group or individual.  This was a participation for love plain and simple.  I held that little boy in my arms soon after he was born, and watched him grow, keeping close tabs on his progress as he worked his way through the educational system.  I attended football games, wrestling matches, even graduation from Kindergarten and high school.
So when the time came, nothing short of divine intervention was going to keep me away.  Here are a couple of facts as they relate to the graduating student class of 2015.
  • How many students will graduate this year?  The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) projects 1,855,000 students at the bachelor's degree level will graduate as the Class of 2015.
  • What are the top personal qualities employers look for in college graduates?  The top 5 personal qualities/skills employers seek, according to NACE's Job Outlook survey, are:
    1. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
    2. Ability to verbally communicate with persons inside and outside the organization
    3. Ability to obtain and process information
    4. Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
    5. Ability to analyze quantitative data ~ National Association of Colleges and Employers
As I mentioned above, much wisdom was shared with the graduating class about going into the real word, but something was lacking.  I just couldn’t figure it out right off the top of my head.  Of the wisdom shared two things stood out foremost:
·        If you ever find yourself lost and in need of regaining your bearings, please return to this campus, this will forever, going forward be your home.  You belong here, this will always be your home.  It gave me a special feeling inside, kind of like having your parents tell you once you are ready to move out, that you can always return home.
·        If you ever find that all your objectives and aspiration are being accomplished, please stop and re-analyze your goals and objective, because you are not challenging yourself enough.
On Monday May 11th I woke up with the answer that I was looking for at the Commencement Ceremony (that something that was lacking).  The first thing on my mind was my grandson and what must be going through his mind. I never heard anyone at the graduation address this subject.  I messaged him the following though Facebook Messenger (privately):   Good morning son! Welcome to the first week of the rest of your life. I remember when I got done with school, I had a well-deserved feeling of accomplishment, but I also felt a sense of loss. Something so familiar for so long, was now a thing of the past! Enjoy the summer break, and reset your mind for the challenges ahead! We love you and are very proud of all your accomplishments. Hope to see you next weekend.
Medical School is next; the best is yet to come……

Friday, May 8, 2015

True Confessions

True Confessions

Some people are more private than others.  Most men even more so.  I reckon I was raised with the edict that little boys don’t cry, especially as you get older; men don’t kiss and tell, men by virtue of being men have to grin and bare it.  If you don’t agree with this trend of thought, don’t blame me, after all I didn't invent it.  Especially if you were raised in either the farm or a rough neighborhood (I was raised on the farm), I guess you could call it a Code of Silence.
My mother’s famous words, and coincidentally also my wife’s, “Get Over It.”  It goes without saying that we suffer in silence, and of course suffering level is in the eye of the beholder.  2015 weather in the Pacific Northwest started out with spring like days.  For that matter, we seem to have skipped winter all together. During the month of February we had some very nice 60 degree days, and so my son and I made plans and a tee time for an early March round of golf at a popular and expensive country club.  A credit card is required at the time of scheduling the tee time with a required 24 hours for cancellation.

When the day came the temperature was in the low 40s, and a Monsoon type rain prevailed all day accompanied by a strong breeze.  With 4 of us at $130 a pop we weren’t about to cancel.  The golf course is in what is considered a weather convergence zone, meaning that the weather is subject to change with little or no notice.  The rain was coming down so hard at times that the water was just running on the surface of the turf.  Being a high class course of course we had very expensive electric golf carts with GPS, and every luxury but a built in bar.  Unfortunately they were so sophisticated that if you drove off the track/trail it would shut off (as I found out).
I am a good enough golfer to tell the ball where to go, except for one place, near the track/trail.  On the tenth hole, right after taking a break for lunch and to get out of the rain (warm-up if you will), I hit my drive into an area far away from the track into a hilly area.  Before I continue I must explain that I don’t normally like to take even over the counter aspirin, but in this case I consulted with a body building friend about what I could do to keep from pulling a muscle in the cold weather.  He offered me a muscle relaxant that wouldn't make me drowsy but would sap my energy after it wore out (he instructed me to take only have of the birth control size pill). 

By the tenth hole I could feel my energy going down fast, so I made the executive decision to take the other half of the pill.  I had to climb some pretty steep hills to reach my second shot, and I did hit it well, but returning to my cart, I slid down a very steep and long hill despite my golf shoe cleats.  I twisted my left ankle and my lower back had a slight “distant” pain.  I showed everyone my wet pant and joked about how I had decided to squeegee the side of the hill.  I continued to play five more holes, and looking back fairly well considering the weather.  The discomfort grew as the effects of the pill wore off, and so I threw in the towel.

My son later mentioned to his sister that he thought that maybe I could no longer handle a round of golf.  By the time I was dropped off at home I was limping slightly, but I was also dragging form the effect of the pill sapping my energy.  My wife asked me if I was alright, and I mentioned that I had taken a fall but I would be fine in a couple of days.  A week went by before my wife talked me into going in to see the doctor.

As it turned out I had dislocated my left hip, and they had to pop it back in place.  My advice to anyone reading this post, don’t take chances with your health and comfort, life is too short, and most of us have medical insurance any way.  The days of having to bring in the harvest no longer apply, health and comfort first.  I am still undergoing physical therapy, but the prognosis is for a full recovery.  I got lucky, even if I will look a lot tougher from here on out, especially if I don’t lose the John Wayne “swag” walk.  Take care of yourselves, the best is yet to come…

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice…

Fool Me Once, Shame On You, Fool Me Twice…

On my previous post: I ended that post by saying that we were being scammed.  My second post on the subject: I addressed factually about being scammed, but wait; there is more!

·        HBO analyst Max Kellerman thinks Mayweather-Pacquiao's failure to live up to the hype did more to hurt than help the sport in the eyes of the masses.
·        Jim Lampley  "Was it a plus because of all the mainstream media attention, a minus because it was a clinic rather than a war, or a mixed bag?"
·        Max Kellerman “A minus, obviously, because just when all of the attention of the world is focused on boxing -- 'look, this is the best we have to offer!' When that works out well, like Ali-Frazier or Hearns and Hagler, or some fight like that, it's amazing. Because casual fans and even non-sports fans, if it transcends sports, are drawn then to boxing.
·        "But when it works out this way, just when all the focus is on the fight, and you get the most predictable and boring outcome -- like, heading into this fight, what were we thinking?  Just don't let Floyd win 9-3, 8-4, minimize exchanges, and afterwards have Pacquiao say I thought I won the fight, all he did was run. As long as that doesn't happen, we'll be OK!' And that's what happened." ~ The Fight Game with Jim Lampley: Max Kellerman (HBO Boxing)

I grew up with Gillette Cavalcade of sports (Friday Night Boxing), all the men in the family gathered in the living room to catch the fights (I only speak for my family), and we are talking about the boxing that would someday be considered the best of boxing.  Such names as: Cassius Clay, Floyd Patterson, Sonny Liston, and Archie Moore to name a few.  Among significant boxers in lower weights, were middleweights Emile Griffith, Nino Benvenuti and Dick Tiger,

Here is an example of just one year of the exciting sport of boxing:

  • February 10- Young Cassius Clay, fighting in his tenth professional bout, recovers from his first knockdown, a first round fall, to beat Sonny Banks by knockout in round four, Madison Square Garden, New York.
  • March 24- One of boxing's most famous tragedies happens when Emile Griffith knocks out Benny Kid Paret in round twelve, to claim the world's Welterweight title. Paret is taken to the hospital, where he subsequently dies.
  • April 3- Benny Paret dies.
  • April 21- Carlos Ortiz becomes world Lightweight champion with a fifteen round unanimous decision win over Joe Brown in Las Vegas.
  • July 13- In his first fight since the Benny Paret tragedy, Emile Griffith retains the world Welterweight title with a fifteen round unanimous decision of future world Jr. Middleweight champion Ralph Dupas in Las Vegas.
  • September 25- Sonny Liston becomes world Heavyweight champion, knocking out Floyd Patterson in the first round, at Chicago.
  • October 10- Fighting Harada becomes world Flyweight champion, knocking out Pone Kingpetch in eleven rounds, Tokyo, Japan.
  • October 23- Dick Tiger becomes world Middleweight champion, defeating Gene Fullmer by a fifteen round unanimous decision in San Francisco.
  • November 15- Muhammad Ali (then Cassius Clay) knocks out former world Light Heavyweight champion Archie Moore in five rounds at Los Angeles.
  • December 20- Denny Moyer becomes the first world champion in history in the brand new Jr. Middleweight division, defeating Joey Giambra by a fifteen round decision for the vacant title, Portland. ~ Wikipedia

Fights were seen on color television for the first time, and one of the most famous tragedies, Benny Kid Paret's, was also shown live on TV.  I seriously could go on forever.

There is talk about Pacquiao’s undisclosed injury prior to the fight, and the possibility of a rematch next May (2016).  I say bring it on, but you better offer me a free pay per view, if you expect to reel me in, after all; Fool Me Twice Shame On Me!

The best is yet to come…..

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Scam (Fight) of the Century

The Scam (Fight) of the Century
  • Perhaps you are one of the millions of people who forked over $100 in hopes of watching the fight of the century between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao. You bought into the hype and hysteria. Mayweather was risking his 47-0 record against a 36-year-old Pacquiao looking to resuscitate a flailing career. These, you told yourself, were the two best pound-for-pound fighters of this era.
  • How could this not be a great fight?
  • Mayweather’s fight was excellent. It was, and if you dispute that, you didn’t bother watching his 47 fights prior. He boxes, he doesn’t fight. This affair was never going to feature a scene from Rocky. Mayweather danced for 12 rounds, carefully picking punches, strategically denying Pacquiao momentum.
  • Some call Mayweather’s strategy cowardly, others call it boring, but no one can dispute its effectiveness. ~ FTW-Mike Floss

On my previous post: I ended that post by saying that we were being scammed.  Now after the fact many agree that we actually sat around and watched; The Retirement Plan of the Century.  I joined in and paid the $89.99 (non-HD) for what I expected to be prime entertainment (I was disappointed).  I had a few friends over and we caught the broadcast on the large screen.  Plenty of food and drink (non-alcoholic) but the thing that was missing at the end, was a lack of consensus about who was the better fighter.  If I want to see two people get bloodied or break bones I am smart enough to know that I need to watch the UFC fights.
While boxing isn’t exactly a “Gentleman’s Sport,” it has always been a sport of strategy and endurance. On this particular event no one can dispute that the prevailing Champion came to box, not fight.  Within my own group (home gathering) the audience was evenly split for the fighters.  Those of us on the side of Mayweather, were abused by the other half in what seemed like Pacquiao’s beating of Mayweather.  I am very grateful for good conscientious judges, that knew what they were looking at and judging, and were not swayed by the constant crowd reaction in favor of Pacquiao just because he kept swinging his arms at where Mayweather had been just a split second earlier.
For those of us that ended up on the side of the win, the fight was great entertainment, and a knockout over Manny would have been the cherry on top, but I enjoyed Pacquiao’s performance even though he is also beginning to show his age, and only recorded half the punches that he usually throws in a fight.
People are starting to say that this is the end to boxing, that there is no longer young worthy fighters in the horizon to keep the sport going.  Those or mostly young people around 30 years of age and younger talking.  I used to hear that same discussion after every Ali fight, and throughout the years since.  It won’t be long, someone will be promoting The Fight of the Century soon. 
Disclaimer:  I am aware of Mayweather’s troubled life outside the ring, but I am not responsible for punishing him for any wrong doing, I don’t approve of any part of his life other than his skill in the sport of boxing.  The best is yet to come…..

Saturday, May 2, 2015

The Fight of the Century

The Fight of the Century
As usual this is one man’s humble opinion, if you don’t agree, I am perfectly fine with it.
·       In 1971, both Ali and Frazier had legitimate claims to the title of World Heavyweight Champion. An undefeated Ali had won the title from Sonny Liston in Miami Beach in 1964, and successfully defended his belt up until he had it stripped by boxing authorities for refusing induction into the armed forces in 1967. In Ali's absence, the undefeated Frazier garnered two championship belts through devastating knockouts of Buster Mathis and Jimmy Ellis. He was recognized by boxing authorities as the World Champion. Unlike Mathis and Ellis, Frazier was plausibly Ali's superior, which created a tremendous amount of hype and anticipation for a match pitting the two undefeated fighters against one another to decide who was the true heavyweight champ.
·       Ringside seats were $150, each man was guaranteed 2.5 million dollars, in addition to the millions who watched this amazing hour of sporting history unfold on closed-circuit screens around the world the Garden buzzed with a sell-out crowd of 20,455 that provided a gate of 1.5 million dollars. ~Wikipedia
Mayweather vs Paquio
Today once again the Fight of the Century is being hyped and this time the fight is serious money for all involved including the consumers and sports fans (in some instances one and the same).  For the consumer the just to stay home and watch it on pay per view $99.99 on your local cable service.  Anyone traveling to Las Vegas to be close to the action I hear that hotel rooms that normally go for $200 dollars this weekend they are going for $1600 dollars according to reports earlier in the week.  That is 10 times higher than ringside seats went for during the fight of the century in 1971.  At last report earlier this week the going price for the cheapest ticket at the live event was $16,000.00 online.

I am not complaining because I am not in position to spend that kind of money on any kind of sporting event, but if I was, I’m sure that I could find a better way to spend my millions.
We are talking about two individuals that are going to knock each other’s brains out for all of maybe one hour, and each stands to make over 100 million for their participation.

I hate to think that there are people around the world whose life might be on the line because they don’t have the funds (20 or 30 thousand) to spend on a medical procedure that would save their lives, and our society very much like in the time of the Romans are gathering at the coliseum to watch two gladiators fight to near death (possibly). I like sports as much as the next guy or gal, but we are being scammed big time.

The best is yet to come….