Right Turn On Red

Our great state of Illinois has a law that allows a right turn on a red light. Many states have the same law. The way I understand this law, a person stopped for a red light wanting to make a right turn, may do so, even if the light is red. The following conditions must exist: there is no traffic coming from the left, there are no cars turning left into your path, it is safe to do so, and you choose to do so. That last part is the part that got my dander up today on two separate occasions.  I don’t always choose to turn right on a red. Today, I got the horn and a shrug of shoulders from the driver behind who thought I should have been moving instead of sitting.

The law seems to be evolving from a choice to a requirement, or at least some drivers believe. When did it change? I have seen some drivers drive right through a red light into the right turn. No attempt whatsoever to stop first.  What wrinkles me is if this is a real law, we should obey it, and it should be enforced. Mayhem would ensue if we allowed all traffic signals and laws to be transgressed. Am I wrong, or am I just too old to understand?

“Warm and Fuzzy Weekend”

I had the great pleasure of not only enjoying a “warm and fuzzy” moment, I had a “warm and fuzzy” weekend. So many positive events transpired it is difficult to understand. First, I spent two days writing thank you letters to friends. These are people that responded to my appeal for the Frankfort Lions Club Charity Sweepstakes. I won two ways. I sold sweeps tickets, and I heard from friends that I hadn’t communicated with for months. Next, Peggy and I drove to Michigan to my family reunion. My daughter and grand daughter came with us. That alone was a beautiful time. It is rare to have one on one time with Jacque anymore.  She is way to busy raising her family.

The family reunion was smaller than expected. All of the cousins stayed home for various reasons. That meant spending time with my kids, my brother and sister-in-law, neices, nephews and their families. The weather cooperated and added to the beauty of the day.

This morning, Peggy and I slept in. We did make it to eleven o’clock mass. Before mass, Deacon Dan struck up a conversation that made us feel we were part of his family. After mass, and much to my surprise, Peg suggested that we go to the club for lunch. I love eating at the club. The parking lot was crowded, but all were at the pool or on the course. The dining room was empty except for another couple, who had been in church with us. They were neighbors from Aberdeen Road. Hanns and Lydia have been married just short of fifty years. Both were born in Germany, he in Hamburg, she in Stuttgart. They met in the U.S. and raised a family here. We had lunch together and had a totally enjoyable time.

Peggy and I spent the remainder of the afternoon searching for perennial plants on sale at Home Depot. We got some really nice plants to add to the collection.  On the way home we stopped at the Creamery for a tastee freeze. How much better can it get?

Older and Wiser

Wow! Too many projects, too little time to get them all done. Does that sound familiar? Let me tell you something folks, it doesn’t change with age. As long as a person has his health, and mental faculties, he will continue to want to be a useful citizen of this earth. I had a question last night from one of my Lions Club friends. We touched upon the election in our discussion. He is concerned because he is a conservative in all his views, yet he is questioning about voting for an old man.

He looked at me and asked, “how old are you Joe?

“Seventy,” I replied.

“Do you feel that you have the energy and mental capacity to be president?

“Yes,” was my answer. 

The real question in my mind is whether nature will be good to me, and let me keep my health and energy as I age. I fully intend to stay healthy, and today, I am reasonably healthy, but will I stay that way for much longer? I don’t know, neither do you. Only the Lord knows what is ahead of us. All we can do is, “Remember yesterday, Dream tomorrow, Live today.” 

So what if our current conservative candidate is old? He will select a younger Vice Presidential partner, who will rise to the occasion if it is necessary.  It is also a fact that young men die too. Many of them live a higher risk life style than older men, so their chances of meeting with injury or accidental demise is probably greater. Remember Christopher Reeves, “Super Man,” broke his neck while enjoying his passion, i.e. riding a horse. More recently, Heath Ledger died of too many medicines at one time. To quote a line from the movie “Forest Gump,”

” Shit Happens.”

 Life is filled with stories about people who die when they shouldn’t.

Instead of worrying about a candidate’s age, and his prospects for surviving life, we should concentrate on which political philosophy we want our kids, and grandkids to grow up with. We should be discussing our life values and the reasons that we believe in them.

My parents were staunch Democrats. They made one “X” on their ballot. They believed in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt as the saviour of the working class. Mom and Dad, lived through the depression, they blamed President Hoover for everything that went wrong with the economy. Yet, when I think about how they taught me to live, they were as conservative as the day is long. They never spoke of conservatism, but they lived it. They wouldn’t have understood what “Green” meant, but they lived more “Green” than any modern citizen does today. Their bottom line philosophies:

“If you don’t have the money, don’t buy it.”

“When you have land, you will always be able to feed yourself.”

Mom wasn’t talking about acres or hundreds of acres, she was talking about a back yard. She made our tiny yard into a farm. She raised vegetables, chickens, flowers, and some grass too.

“Never waste.” Mom knew how to mend socks, shirts, and pants. She knew the value of re-cycling hand-me-downs, and somehow we managed to survive without knowing we were poor.

“Welfare is for people who are worse off than we are.” My Dad would have hung himself before he accepted money from the government. He came to this country with the clothes on his back, got a job, learned English, took abuse from his co-workers, and managed to feed and educate three kids.

If you believe in big government, and the philosophy that Big Brother should take care of you, that’s okay. You should vote for the Liberal.

I happen to believe that the government is way too big, and the National Debt is out of control. If you want to tax me to pay off the debt, okay. If you want to tax me to pay for more social programs, go fly a kite.

I’m voting conservative even if the candidate is 101 years old. He’d be the much wiser choice.

Stinkin Thinkin

The world of BLOGs is new to me, so I still explore regularly. Quite frankly, the more I explore the less I want to. I go to the BLOGs that are listed under   “Fastest Growing WordPress.com blogs.” Well, my experience of late has been one of disappointment. Many of them are filled with hate. Thousands of words directed at peoples, organizations, religions, with no end except to register the writer’s hatred for them. As an example, I read one BLOG which was written by a so called “Catholic Christian,” which made some sense except for the fact that the blogger hated all “Jews.” My impression was that he was muslim, but he professed to be a catholic. The commentors were not better. The first commentor registererd hatred toward all christians, “Kill all Christians.” was his comment. The comments directed hatred toward the blogger for his views. My own opinion is that I will not spend any more time reading such diatribe. WordPress would be wise to shut down immediately if that is the kind of content they want to spread. 

Many other sites dedicate themselves toward racial hatred. Much is directed toward the election. They do it under the guise of politics, and personal choice. The bottom line is that the liberals are hating the conservatives and the conservatives are hating the liberals. War is another topic that incites hatred. Sure we shouldn’t be in the Afghanistan or Iraq war, or any war for that matter. Had we stayed out of the civil war, we’d all own slaves today. If we stayed out of WWII we’d be marching the duck step, and we would all  have blond hair, and blue eyes. The rest of us would have been sent to the ovens, or we’d be slaves. Had we stayed out of Korea, the North and South of Korea would be under one rule. They would all be starving, and we wouldn’t be buying cheap TV’s and Hyundi cars. Had we stayed out of Viet Nam, our population would be 50,000 stronger, and the population of Canada would be less. There are bloggers venting hostility toward our government for all of these events. We blame the government for everything, yet we put them in office. If we don’t like what they are doing, we should vote them out. We should write to them, call them, e-mail them with our discontent. Instead of taking action, we sit on our asses and write thousands of words on the world wide web to spread our hatred for the best government on the globe. The problem is that less than half the voting population votes, so we place ourselves at the mercy of the forty percent that do vote. 

Today, I had lunch with a retired school teacher. She related stories about how testing under the “No Child Left Behind Act,” makes no sense at all. The kids still don’t learn, don’t want to learn, their parents don’t give a shit, but the President and the legislators have taken it upon themselves to make it happen with the new law. It’s an impossible task, so the educators  tailor the testing to get students, without a brain, get through school with what they do know. I wanted to puke. I know now why I am a conservative. The government should not be allowed to interefere with any educational matters. We’d save a bunch of tax money if we eliminate the Department of Education immediately. There I go, I’m venting just like all bloggers do, so I’m caught up in the ether of hate, just like everyone else. You know what? Life was much simpler before the internet and the  world wide web.

Are all of these words that vent all this hatred getting us anywhere?

Join My Little World

New Pond Looking NorthWest

New Pond Looking NorthWest

Happy Birthday Barb! Today Peggy and I went to mass at Saint Anthony’s. The mass was said for you. You would have been seventy years old today, and officially older than me. Remember when I’d joke about it, and tell the kids that you were older than me?  Remember when I used this three week period to refer to you as the “Old Battle Axe?”  Now that I think about it, it wasn’t very funny, was it?  I miss our birthdays together so much. Because we were born in the best part of the year, it made for some really fun celebrations. The celebrations are no more. They exist only in my mind.

After mass, we drove to Pets Mart to pick up some fish food. The goldies in the pond are beginning to respond to being fed. We bought two koi. Immediately, they became Peggy and Joe. We don’t know what sex they are, probably never will either. We’ll know if they are a pair if the pond over populates with little koi.

We came home, and I placed the plastic bag into the stream to equalize in temperature. I left it there for an hour. As I did this, the flash appeared again. This time I saw the landing. It is a frog. Freddie has been verified. Peggy was distraught to learn that there was a fish eating frog in the pond. She asked me to net him and put him back in the swamp. I gave her a lecture on nature and the importance of predators to keep balance. She ain’t buying it. This is going to be an interesting summer.

When I let Peggy and Joe out of the bag, the current of the stream carried them into the big pool. Immediately they got lost in the school of goldies. The koi are three inches long while the goldies are six. Eventually, they will grow larger than the goldies. They will be obvious because they are 80% white with a touch of gold and black too.

The pond and the fish have become a mjor source of enjoyment for us. I often sit at the table and watch the action in the yard. Fish jumping, birds flying in to feeders, the squirrels jumping on the patio furniture, and the rabbit eating my precious tender plants. Occasionally, the yard becomes totally empty, not a bird or squirrel in sight, then it appears, the hawk. He observes the yard from a perch high in a cottonwood tree. When he leaves, frustrated, the action begins all over again.

A few evenings ago, I was riding my bike home from a meeting in town. As I approached the bridge crossing the wetland (swamp), a red tail fox crossed the road in front of me. Another natural predator has joined the eco-system. I love it!

Freddie the Frog Wins!

A few days ago, in my post titled Fish “Fry,” I asked myself which would be first to show up at the pond, a frog or a heron.  The question was answered today. It is a frog. I spent time on the patio this afternoon, repairing the gas grill. When I finished, I knelt at the edge of the pond in the shade. I was looking for some of the baby fish or “fry.” Suddenly on my right, I saw a streak arc into the water with a splash. I didn’t really see it well enough to identify it as a frog, but my fifteen years of experience as a pond owner says, “it is a frog.” Where did he come from? Our yard is on the edge of a wetland, or “swamp,” as I refer to it. This year there is plenty of water in it too. The swamp also has plenty of food for the frogs. Why did Freddie pick my pond over the swamp?

This moment verified that the pond is one step closer to ecological balance. Now, I await the villan. When will Bruce, the Great Blue Heron, show up?

The Best “You”

Everyday, I try to do “something” that will make me a better version of myself. Sometimes the “something” is questionable, but it is “something.” It’s kind of like the Nike comercial, “Just Do It.”

One of my favorite people is Benajmin Franklin. He was always making lists of something that he could do to improve his life. He kept logs and journals to record his progress. I can’t refute that his life was not productive, it was, he is responsible for some of the world’s greatest inventions, (Daylight savings time, public libraries, etc.) Another guru in the world of Quality Control by the name of Joe Juran coined the phrase, “if you can measure it, you can improve it.” After forty years in product design, I can attest to his credibility with that one. Measurement is one key to making improvements.

In my own life, I keep logs, lists, and diaries of the goals that are important to me. Many of them have titles like “Dates With Peg, Theaters visited,  People to call, and People to Pray For.”   The lists remind me of my goals to improve in various areas of my life. One of my favorite motivational speakers is Matthew Kelly. He introduced me to the phrase, “Make yourself the best version of yourself that you can be.” I love it. The challenge does not imply that you should become the best in the world but rather the best you are able to become. Is that being too easy on yourself?  Certainly, one can always set the bar a silly millimeter higher. Just think, if a person makes himself a little better today than he was yesterday, how much better would he be in 365 days, or in ten years, or in a lifetime? The object is to make the goals and take the steps, baby steps, toward self improvement.

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