Fifty Five and Counting

Stargazer Lilly

Stargazer Lilly

Fifty five years is a long time to be married to the same partner, and today, Peggy and I helped celebrate such an honor. It is a tradition at St. Anthony’s for married couples to renew their marriage vows on milestone anniversaries. I am sure this tradition is universal across the world in churches of all denominations. An anniversary of this duration is quite an accomplishment in our current culture. When fifty percent of marriages end in divorce, a fifty five year marriage is not only a milestone, it is an event of major magnitude.

As a young man, I thought there was nothing special about long marriages. I always maintained that the only impediment to reaching a “golden” anniversary is dependent on the couple living long enough. My parent’s marriage ended just a few months short of their sixty fifth anniversary. They lived long lives, and showed us that way to a long marriage.

Making adjustments to living with another person is a daily habit. If one cultivates the habit and adjusts his attitude accordingly, there are no irreconcilable differences. Living your life in this manner takes work. It does not come naturally, it has to be learned. Who better to learn from than our parents. I can only surmise that the high divorce rate is the result of too many parents who did not try very hard to love each other. If two people truly, and openly love each other, they will automatically telegraph the message to their kids. Divorce would not be an option.  Reconciliation would be the order of the day.
Peggy and I recently celebrated three years of bliss. We had experience behind us, each being widowed. Her husband died just a few weeks short of their fiftieth anniversary, and I just short of forty two. We thought our new marriage would be a snap. After all, with ninety two years of experience between us we have experienced just about every situation a married couple could encounter. How wrong we were. We were a new union of two people totally strange to each other. Even after our third anniversary, we continue to grow. We learn new things about each other daily. We compormise daily too. In other words we work at it.
Perhaps, if we live long enough, and reach our tenth anniversay, we will renew our vows at St. Anthony’s.

For This, I Give Thanks!

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

Flashy ZinniasHappy Thanksgiving!

Today, I give thanks for the following gifts:

I thank the Lord for allowing me to wake up.

I thank the Lord for the precious gift of time.

I thank the Lord for allowing me to be born in the USA.

I thank the Lord for three wonderful kids, and seven wonderful grandchildren.

I thank the Lord for my wife Peggy.

I thank the Lord for two step children and three step grandchildren.

I thank the Lord for my brother, sister, nephews, and nieces.

I thank the Lord for my abundance.

I thank the Lord for allowing me to belong to the Lions Club, the bike club, and the garden club.

I thank the Lord for all of my wonderful friends.

I thank the Lord for Aunt Marie who is ninety three.

I thank the Lord for this wonderful sunny day.

I thank the Lord for my health.

I thank the Lord for this Weblog.

I thank the Lord for all of the people who read this.

I thank the Lord for President George W. Bush for leading the country for the last eight years.

I thank the Lord for President elect Barack Obama, and his preparation to run the country for the next four years.

I thank the Lord for giving me the faith to believe in Him.

What About Bob?

Pinewood Derby TrackKiller-93A couple of weeks ago my grandson Joey, son-in-law Jeff, and I had a terrific day building pinewood derby cars. Joey is a Cub Scout, and his Pinewood Derby was coming up. The Cub Master had a special “Outlaw” event for Dad’s and grandfathers. Unlike Joey’s event, the Outlaw race had no rules. Of course, Joey, Jeff, and I worked diligently to build a first class racer for Joey’s event.

For those of you who are not familiar with a Pine Wood Derby race I will describe it as simple as I can. It is a father-son project to build a miniature race car from wood. Each scout buys a kit with all the essentials; a block of wood, four wheels, four axles, and a set of directions. The cars race on a track provided by the Cub Scout Pack. It is usually made from wood. The track is about thirty feet long with one end raised four feet above the ground. The first quarter of the track goes downhill and transitions into a flat section. The cars are placed at the top of the track and restrained by a starting gate. A wooden strip defines the lane and keeps the cars from crossing into each other, or from leaving the track. A typical race lasts for about two seconds. The starter pulls a lever which drops the starting gate and the cars begin the descent. It is amazing to watch them descend and then coast to the finish line.

Joey designed his own car. He came to my house with his sketch in hand. Grumpa Joe helped him transfer the design to the block of wood and to cut the shape on the band saw. After the cut was completed, Joey went to work with sanding, shaping and adding details. He painted the car in his favorite colors, green and silver. While he sanded and painted, Jeff and I were polishing axles and truing the wheels. In between those tasks, Jeff and I spent time on our own Outlaw creations.

The day went by quickly. We were mesmerized by the activity. We envisioned our cars coming across the line ahead of everyone. Joey and Jeff went home with very little left to do. I had to finish the wheels and paint. The race was the next day; not too much pressure.

Race day came, and Joey’s Den was last up. The rocket car blazed to a win. His little car easily beat two others. In the next heat, he was up against the winner of another round. Joey’s rocket car finished just a few inches behind. He ran his last race. It was disappointing to say the least. It was Joey’s last time as a Pine Wood Derby Racer until he has the pleasure to work with his son in about thirty years.

After the Cub Scouts raced, the Cub Master called for the Outlaws. Jeff’s car and mine ran in different heats. We were eliminated immediately. We had fun being together and giving it our best. After all was done. We put our cars on the track together; Joey was first, Jeff a close second, and Grumpa Joe a close third. The three cars finished within six inches of each other.

A week later I had the most wonderful dream. I saw my buddy Bob in the dream. He was the starter for a pinewood derby race, and I was at the finish line as a judge. I never saw any scouts, but I did see lots of cars racing down the track. Bob was dressed in his grey sweat suit and smiling as he let each set of cars go. It made me happy to see him this way. Bob’s life and mine had many parallels. He was involved in Scouting as was I. He was an engineer, and made a career out of running a machine shop, my own engineering career involved running a machine shop. Our wives died about a year apart from each other. The deaths of our spouses really cemented our relationship, and we became fast friends.

Bob and I were good therapy for each other. We ate supper together at the local dining room several times a week. Often we closed the place down. After his wife died, a year before mine, he began meeting with a group of men. They were all widowers. It’s funny that he knew so many men who lost their wives about the same time. He asked me to join the group. I did. We went to supper every Tuesday night. The evenings were filled with discussion about anything from politics to technology. The group still meets, but without Bob.

I asked Bob to be the best man at my wedding. He was the best best-man he could be. After our wedding, we continued to meet on Tuesday, and also as couples. Bob paired with a widowed lady friend. About eight months after my wedding, Bob suffered a stroke. He became paralyzed on one side. While in rehab, he suffered more strokes. They impaired his memory.

Bob’s only son lives in Portland, Oregon. The son commuted to care for his father. Bob’s friends kept looking in on him at the nursing home where he settled. Eventually, his son made the decision to take him to Portland to care for him there. It was the right thing to do. I lost Bob as my best buddy.

Two months ago, Peggy and I traveled to Portland to visit Bob. It was the first time we saw him in two years. New strokes had debilitated him further, but he recognized us immediately. We had a beautiful visit.

The dream with Bob is on my list of “warm and fuzzy moments.”  How strange it was that my brain worked to connect Joey’s pinewood derby race to an old friend who also built pinewood derby cars with his son.

Barack’s Self Fulfilled Prophecy

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

Today, I saw another interesting news bit. This time it was a map of the US showing the states that are asking for a bailout. Of course, my home state of Illinois is up there with its hand out too. We have good company though; New York, Ohio, California, Arizona, and a few others. All of these states share a common trait. Their political populations are Democratic.  What is it about Democrats? Why are they lined up with their hands out? Do they know any other way to live?

I can only speak for Illinois,  but I’m sure the other states have similar problems. The biggest problem in Illinois is that our leaders have never heard of the concept of a balanced budget. They do, however, know how to spend, raise taxes, and raid pension funds. Recently, Cook County President, Todd Stroger instituted a sales tax increase which makes the residents of Cook County among the highest tax payers in the country. The ink isn’t even dry on the law yet, and he is asking for a bailout. When is enough, enough?

Without a curb on spending and learning to live within our means, the deficit grows, and grows, and grows. Each of the states listed in the bailout demographic has a long time penchant for spending except Arizona. These states have never learned to say “no.” I was surprised to see Arizona included in this demographic, until I realized that they too have become democratic in recent years. At one time, Arizona was a very conservative state. They are now faced with shortfalls, and debt that is beyond their means to pay. Is this what appeals to Democrats? 

Our Federal  Government is no different, except it owns the printing press, and the plates for making money. Each Democratic government from Lyndon Johnson to Bill Clinton supported spending beyond the means to pay back. They invented social programs which caused the banking system to fail, and legislated laws governing everything from fuel mileage to drilling  for oil.

Democrat Bill Clinton brags about his balanced budget and a predicted budget surplus. It is my thinking that the government should have lowered taxes to give the surplus back before the temptation to spend it went into high gear. Our representatives in Washington only saw it as an opportunity to spend it all before we figured it out.

Along comes Barack Obama who for the past two years has been brainwashing the country into believing life is really bad. He created the concept of “failed economic policies,” and turned the idea into a “self fulfilling prophecy.” In very eloquent rhetoric he hypnotized the populace into believing the failure was real. Then, very cleverly, he blamed it on George Bush. I am not a big supporter of W, but give me a break. He is not the reason the banks failed. He did stretch us with the war, but not the subprime loan curse. Had he found WMD in Iraq, things might be different. We didn’t find them, so we have a huge expenditure we don’t need. 

Now, we are faced with a prophecy that is becoming reality. Barack was so good at brainwashing the country, he is being called upon to correct his largest problem, i.e. keeping the country from going into a full blown depression. The number of states lined up with a hand out is a glance into the near future of “Change We Can Believe In.” He never did define what the change would be, did he?.

If Barack Had Balls

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

This morning I watched Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher being interviewed on Fox News. I am infuriated at the treatment this man has received and continues to receive. His privacy has been violated to the ‘nth degree, but no one seems to care. Why? Because the liberals believe that “the end justifies the means.” I’ve heard that doctrine before. It comes from the Machiavelian manifesto of protecting your ass. Where is the ACLU? I thought they were supposed to take up the cause and protect us from such invasions against our civil rights. I guess because Joe is not queer nor an athiest, he doesn’t count. Last night, I saw an ACLU agent asked about what the ACLU was doing about Joe the Plumber, “they are looking into it.”

 Where is the law called HIPAA? I know, I know, HIPAA affects only my medical information. Why then, does every bank, credit card, and business give me the third degree when they call to sell me something. Immediately, they want to verify who I am by asking for my personal information. I believe, Joe’s personal privacy has been violated under this law. His civil rights have also been violated by someone who should be sensitive to civil rights violations. Of course the Ohio worker who dug into his records was certainly working for “change you can believe in.”  That made it okay to dig deep and smear a citizen who had the audacity to ask Barack a legitimate question.

What else can we believe in: The ACLU will work for gays and athiests only, the HIPAA law applies only to medical records, its okay to destroy the life of your fellow citizen if he challenges your candidate?

Come on Barack, if you had balls, and really walked the talk you could make it right for Joe the Plumber by asking for the resignation of the Ohio worker, and apologizing to Joe.

Accomplishment!

Trees Over PacificSorry for the delay in writing new posts. I have been trying to catch up on my “other” projects. My Lions work has suffered through the pre-election days, and now I must put it in gear to give the Lions their due.

I find it useful at this time of the year to reflect and prepare an accomplishment report of my activities. I just completed one for the Lions Club. I will begin preparation of my personal accomplishment list soon. Why is an accomplishment list useful? When I worked for a living, the list served to remind me of what I had completed for the company. I had fresh recollection to remind my boss at “review” time just what I did for the company.

 Usually, at the end of the year, I beat myself up thinking that I have not accomplished any of my goals. It is natural to remain unsatisfied when the new year stares you in the face, and asks “what’s next?”  Disappointment takes over as the predominant emotion, and a feeling of despair follows. I begin to question why I wasted a year without any hard fast results to show off. That is why I began to list my personal accomplishments. It is encouraging to recall, and see all of the “baby steps” I did take, and all of the projects I did complete.

It is easier than you think to do this. Just sit in front of your computer, and start. I use the word processor, and begin by listing the first thing that comes to mind. Such as “I initiated a BLOG. I BLOGGED 85 times. I set up a new website for my club, etc. The list goes on for a couple of pages until I run out of recollections. I number each item on the list to give me an indication of progress. Usually, I don’t run out of ideas until I reach one hundred and fifty.

 If you chose to start a list of your own, I recommend that you include all the important areas of your life. I recommend using your “High Payoff” activities list for this. When you concentrate on how you spent your time in a specific arena, the recall flows, and your accomplishments build. Of course, if the list in a specific High Payoff activity is short, it points to an area for improvement.

By the time I have finished this excercise, I am energized and ready to begin planning another year of goals.

We May Indeed Be Nuts!

My Flag Flies Everyday

My Flag Flies Everyday

I am almost over the election. I haven’t blogged because the need to do so dried up when BO won. This week, however, I have to speak my piece on the latest of Uncle Sam’s idiotic moves. Why do we want to bail out GM? This car company has consistently thrown poor quality, and reliability at us in the name of “Made in the USA.” The same goes for the UAW. I tried my best to hold out by buying American for many years. I owned an Oldsmobile Intrigue for eight years. It was without a doubt, the best GM car I ever owned. I bragged about it’s reliability and performance. I tried in vane to get my kids to buy “American.” No amount of reason or guilt worked. Two of my kids  don’t even know that there are cars made in America that are not Honda or Toyota. They grew up on Honda, and Toyota. They are brand faithful. At the same time I was bragging about my Intrigue with 110,000 miles on it, my daughter bragged about her Honda with 180,000. All she ever did was change oil, and put brakes, tires and gas in it.  At 111,000 miles my Intrigue crapped out. It leaked fluid into the cyclinders and locked the engine tight. After I spent $1800 to replace a leaking intake manifold, I learned on the I-net that GM cars are notorious for this failure. They have had the problem for years, but have never taken any steps to fix it. 

The US car companies, management and the UAW, have let the Japs take them down. Now GM wants the tax payer to bail them out. The argument is that if they are allowed to go bankrupt, many thousands of jobs will be lost, thus fueling the recession.

The truth is that filing for bankruptcy will not be a loss of jobs. They can go on making crappy cars as is their usual business. The difference is that they won’t get any “free money,” from the taxpayer.

A few years ago, GM divested itself of a division called Delphi. Delphi makes electrical systems for GM and other car companies. GM gave Delphi as much pension debt as they could. Eventually, Delphi filed for chapter eleven. They couldn’t make a profit with all the baggage GM dumped on them. I know, because I am a stockholder. Want to know what happens to the stockholder when a company files for bankruptcy? The old shares become worthless, meaning the stockholder loses his investment. GM didn’t give a hoot about losing Delphi, it became Delphi’s problem.  Even though Delphi filed for bankruptcy, it has continued to operate for several years. They keep on shipping orders. They even entertained the purchase of another electronics company. How can a business that is in bankruptcy buy another company?

What GM is afraid of is all it’s incompetent managers losing their options and bonuses paid in stock.

The capitalistic system rewards companies that can design, make, and sell useful products that buyers want. GM does not do any of these things. They design cars that have a shorter life than their competitors, their designs are ugly, and they are made by the most unproductive union in the world, i.e. the UAW.

If we reward GM and the UAW with a government bailout, we are indeed nuts. Let the system work, we’ll all be better off for it. We won’t have to worry about BO turning the country socialist. WE will hand a socialist government to him on a silver platter.

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