Archive for the ‘change’ Tag

04-29-2014 Journal Entry – Life in the Vault!   1 comment

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I mention my better-half in this blog often.  With Mother’s Day approaching I thought a salute to her would be appropriate.  She’s raised her three children, seen them graduate from college, and watched as they moved on with their lives.  She is and should be proud of such a major accomplishment.  Now since her nest has emptied it was time for the next stage of her life with me to begin.  It was time for both of us to readjust to a new and different style of living.

As I’ve gotten older I find myself looking back and reminiscing at odd times.  I have many wonderful memories that I reflect on occasionally and that was always part of my master plan.  Growing up I decided early on to build an archive of memories that I could enjoy after I was too old to create new ones.  I always pictured myself sitting in a rocking chair on the front porch of my home looking back at all the fun I’d had in my life.  I looked forward to the day I could mentally relove any number of women and remember them as being even better than they actually were.

My normal approach to living was if something looked interesting I just jumped right in and tried to experience it.  Why not? I was slowly filling up my mental filing cabinet for use after my retirement. It made for a pretty cool life all in all but there were many bumps in the road as well. That was to be expected and those not-so-great memories also made their way into my mental “vault”, to lamely quote from a few Seinfeld episodes.

As a young and middle aged man I saw life in my sixties as something totally different from what it actually turned into.  When I was thirty I felt twenty, in my forties I felt twenty-five, and in my fifties I felt thirty-five.  It was in my mid-fifties when I first met my better-half.  I’d heard the term “better-half” used for years by others but I just thought it was something people said to convince themselves they’d found that elusive soulmate we all search so diligently for. Little did I know that I would all of a sudden become a real believer.  One can never know when that thunderbolt will hit but OMG when it does, it really hits hard. Things haven’t been the same since we met and I’m all the luckier for it. I felt like I was sixteen again both mentally and physically which was more than just a little scary at first.  But I adjusted.

I was forced into retirement much earlier than I ever thought possible thanks to the downsizing of the state government here in Maine.  I was afraid my master plan had been seriously compromised. Now I’m sitting on that famous porch of mine with my better-half, my cat, her grandson, his parents, and all of the new memories we’ve been creating over the last decade. The vault is full to overflowing, I’m happier than I’ve ever been, and I see many more terrific years ahead of us.

Of course, I’m writing this to brag a little but also to let all of you know that life can be good regardless of your age.  My fantasy now is to sit on that infamous porch when I’m In my nineties and hopefully remember the things I’m experiencing today, tomorrow, next week, and next year.  I imagine I’ll be feeling like a man in my sixties then which should be a weird and amazing turn of events. It’s incredible how our minds work  to help us to adjust to these constant life changes.

It will happen to you too . . . . . . .  Wait for it!

AND A HUGE HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY TO MY BETTER-HALF.

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12-03-2013 Stupid Government–The New Tradition   Leave a comment

As we progress through these times of trouble I sit back and watch what our politicians have put forth for consideration to solve our problems. Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, and Independents are almost interchangeable with only a few minor exceptions. The one true common denominator is their desperate need for reelection and their ability to BS and double talk around the tough questions.

(Sarcasm on) They have a tough job, no question. (Sarcasm off) Excellent salary, best medical benefits ever (exempt from Obamacare), best pension and retirement plan, and the ability to sell themselves to any lobbying organization once they’ve been ousted from office. I think it’s time we the public should use the most important and only tool we have, something called the vote. After watching these inept politicians for the last few years it’s becoming painfully obvious who they really care about.  THEMSELVES! If they want to be reelected we must make them earn it.  Being swayed by charisma and ignoring the facts will be the death of this nation.

I try to point out as often as possible that stupidity is running amok in the government because it’s becoming more obvious and overwhelming and I need to vent.  It’s our responsibility to take the time to look and recognize it for what it is and to stop it. Stupidity is not a new thing to this government or to any other. These following definitions may assist you in identifying those in government who are truly stupid and acting against our collective best interests.

* * *

STUPIDITY

1. Slow to learn or understand; obtuse.

2. Tending to make poor decisions or careless mistakes.

3. Marked by a lack of intelligence or care; foolish or careless: a stupid mistake.

4. Dazed, stunned, or stupefied.

5. Pointless; worthless: a stupid job.

n.

A stupid or foolish person.

* * *

Now that you have the definitions in hand, look around, identify those who fit the bill and vote them out.  No party or group should be permitted to continuously make decisions against the best interests of us all. As this year comes to an end it’s time to look at the results of this administration’s efforts and ask the big question.  Do we want more of the same or is it time for real change, not some insincere election slogan repeated over and over again. The next presidential election is fast approaching and I hope we as a people choose intelligently this time.

“Wooden-headedness consists of assessing a situation in terms of preconceived, fixed notions while ignoring or rejecting any contrary signs.  It is acting according to wish while not allowing one-self to be confused by the facts.” – Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989) “An Inquiry into the Persistence of Unwisdom in Government”

“In public affairs, stupidity is more dangerous than knavery.” – Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) “The New Freedom: A Call for the Emancipation of the Generous Energies of a People”

“Kid, life’s hard. But it’s a lot harder if you’re stupid.” – Robert Mitchum (1917-1997)  In Tom Tico, letter to the San Francisco Chronicle, 29 July 1997.

“STUPID IS AS STUPID DOES” – Forest Gump

09-17-2013   Leave a comment

Fall has officially arrived here in Maine and I can tell because it’s six in the morning, I’m sitting in the living room and I can see my breath.  We normally wait until October to turn on the heat and this year will be no different. With the cost of heating oil being what it is we’re forced to suffer with some cold temperatures for a few more weeks.  We actually covered what was left of our garden last night due to the anticipated frost that our expert weather people are calling for.  For a change they were spot on.

I’ve always been adamant about not liking hot weather and that hasn’t changed much over the years.  The worst part for me is the short periods of time between the seasons where I’m forced to adjust to the change.  I’m sitting here this morning fresh from my bed where my ever so popular electric blanket continues to keep my better-half warm and toasty.  I was finally forced to get it out one morning last week when I woke up at three AM with with my feet freezing and my teeth chattering.  Transitions can be a large pain in the backside but what can you do?

In another week the garden will be finished and I’ll begin storing things away to prepare for the first snowfall.  I’m looking forward to that as I usually do because believe it or not I enjoy the coziness of winter.  It’s a quieter time that allows  us to snuggle in and to enjoy each other’s company. It’s a time to take care of long delayed projects and for reflection on the past year and the beginning of expectations for the next.

With the tourists out of the picture we can start visiting many of our favorite places that we’ve avoided for the last few months.  No more ridiculous parking fees and never ending beach traffic.  We can now bundle up and return to walking the beach to enjoy Mother Nature without gangs of visitors clogging up the area.

Hopefully within the next hour or two the sun will come out and warm things up a little.  We’re anticipating temperatures today nearing seventy which is nice but not long after sundown the temperature will drop suddenly into the high thirties and low forties.  We’ll eventually make the adjustment and in no time be ready to sit back for a few months and enjoy the season.

I know it’s really Fall since my arm is stiff and sore from that damn flu shot I got yesterday.  I guess I’m ready for just about anything.  We’ll be taking lots of photographs in the coming month which is always enjoyable and the Fryeburg Fair is just weeks away.  It will be the last big get together for the state of Maine this year and my better-half loves reconnecting with all those farm animals she hasn’t seen since last year.  She’s what you might call a closet farmer with a passion for piggies and a secret wish that she’d been born a hundred years ago on a farm.

I’m almost completely awake now and after one more cup of hot coffee I’ll be ready to face the day.

09-04-2013   3 comments

Today I’d like to talk about retirement. Being retired has it’s pluses and just as many minuses.  You have the all the time you’ll ever need to do just about anything you’ve ever wanted to do. You have a type of freedom you’ve never experienced before.  The main thing missing from the mix is motivation.  Having that much time on your hands can lure you into closely examining your entire life, both good things and bad.  You can also fall into the trap of second guessing every bad decision you’ve ever made and make yourself crazy. That’s the worst and most dangerous thing about retirement.  If you can’t find a way to control it you just might become one truly miserable SOB with no friends or close relationships.

My transition to retirement has been a challenge to say the least.  It’s took me almost four years to make the changeover to where I could maintain a level of happiness and calmness about my life, my aging, and my relationships with others.  There’s no longer room for self-recriminations, whining about old mistakes, and rethinking of failed relationships.  As they always say "Life is too short." I’ve been able to make peace with my past life and I’m ready for the next phase.  I still spend time thinking about my childhood and my childhood friends many of whom have passed but it’s no longer a painful process and has finally become just a plethora of fond old memories.  I sat down and started making a list of certain things I do miss from those days and the following are just a few that quickly came to mind.

  • Spending a summer weekend at my grandparents house so I could attend the local carnival which came to town for just one week each year.  It was a big deal for that small town and all of us looked forward to it all year long.
  • I miss my childhood friends and knowing how to pretend. We had more fun using just our imaginations than we’d ever have had sitting in front of a TV playing a video game. Believe me, I’m not biased against video games at all.  I’ve been a member in good standing with  X-Box and Microsoft for decades. Imagination always offered me much more in the way of entertainment value.
  • Playing catch with my best friend for hours and hours.
  • Spending my summers playing baseball and roaming through the woods and streams near my home.
  • Playing with friends on and in the Allegheny River. Jumping from bridges, rowing an old bathtub across the river, being escorted to shore by the Coast Guard for being in places we didn’t belong.
  • Spending quality time with both of my grandfathers.  I miss them both everyday.
  • Eating baked potatoes with the family cooked in the ashes of a bonfire in the back yard.
  • Eating fresh apples stolen from a nearby orchard. They always tasted so much better when you could run faster than the owner who was chasing you.
  • Sledding with all of my friends in the hood of an old car. Ten of us flying down the hill together with no fear of anything.
  • Skiing with friends on skis made from barrel rungs. We couldn’t afford real skis. I never skied much further than twenty feet anyway before I fell on my ass and rolled down the hill laughing all the way.

That’s just a few of the many memories I love reliving.  I’m no longer pissed off that I can’t do most of those things anymore, I’m just happy that I had a chance to do them at all.

06-24-2013   6 comments

I spend a great deal of my time these days adapting to a whole list of changes to my life I never anticipated or expected.  I thought that as I grew older things would settle down somewhat and the amount of change I’d be forced to deal with would lessen.  Wrong once again.

One  obvious change that occurs to us all eventually is getting older.  Adjusting to it sounds easy but as all of you will find  out eventually, it isn’t.  You must learn to adapt to your new position in society of being the older person, constantly accused by almost everyone with being out of touch with our current reality.  Even people you know and love begin treating you differently and it can be hurtful.

Everyone assumes that once you reach a certain age you’re all of a sudden a mouth-breathing moron with no working memory.  Snide little comments from loved ones are especially hurtful but you must learn to adapt.  Some seniors become bitter and spiteful only because they can’t think of any better solutions.  Those kind of actions just further that ugly senior stereotype that require the infamous eye-roll or the subtle shoulder shrug between people you’re talking to when you’re not looking.  It’s disrespectful and rude but your hands are tied.  If you confront them then  your being old, difficult, and set in your ways.  If you turn the other cheek it just makes the possibility of it occurring again much more likely.

So here’s a few tips for you seniors out there.  Keep up with all of the Pop Culture nonsense so when someone in their teens or twenties mentions a celebrity you have a clue.  Be able to talk about something other than your current medical conditions.  Fight the stereotype everyday.  If you take a backseat to discussions that make you uncomfortable that’s where you’ll be relegated to stay for the rest of your life. 

Our past memories really don’t interest most people because "it’s all about them”.  Only people your own age can appreciate many of the things from our youth and the drastic differences we now must deal with.  It’s hard work to keep up with  this balls-to-the-wall insanity we call our every day life.  Spend time with people other than other seniors.  Carry on meaningful conversations about politics, relationships, and child rearing.  Not everything we remember is just old-folks reminiscing.  We’ve already experienced this stull and can be helpful if we pass the information along intelligently and not preaching.  No one likes to be preached to.

The following information should make most seniors smile.  If read by anyone younger it would seem to them like they’ve been foraging through an archeological dig in Egypt and found a transcript of life in the days of old.  Read on and learn something if you’re interested, if not don’t.

* * *

HIGH SCHOOL — 1958 vs. 2013

Scenario 1:

Jack goes duck hunting before school and then pulls into the school parking lot with his shotgun in his truck’s gun rack.

1958 – Vice Principal comes over, looks at Jack’s shotgun, goes to his car and gets his shotgun to show Jack.

2013 – School goes into lock down, FBI called, Jack hauled off to jail and never sees his truck or gun again. Counselors called in for traumatized students and teachers.

Scenario 2:

Johnny and Mark get into a fist fight after school.

1958 – Crowd gathers. Mark wins. Johnny and Mark shake hands and end up buddies.

2013 – Police called and SWAT team arrives — they arrest both Johnny and Mark. They’re both charged with assault and both expelled even though Johnny started it.

Scenario 3:

Jeffrey will not be still in class, he disrupts other students.

1958 – Jeffrey sent to the Principal’s office and given a good paddling by the Principal. He then returns to class, sits still and does not disrupt class again.

2013 – Jeffrey is given huge doses of Ritalin. He becomes a zombie. He is then tested for ADD. The family gets extra money (SSI) from the government because Jeffrey has a disability.

Scenario 4:

Billy breaks a window in his neighbor’s car and his Dad gives him a whipping with his belt.

1958 – Billy is more careful next time, grows up normal, goes to college and becomes a successful businessman.

2013 – Billy’s dad is arrested for child abuse, Billy is removed to foster care and joins a gang. The state psychologist is told by Billy’s sister that she remembers being abused herself and their dad goes to prison. Billy’s mom has an affair with the psychologist.

Scenario 5:

Mark gets a headache and takes some aspirin to school.

1958 – Mark shares his aspirin with the Principal out on the smoking dock.

2013 – The police are called and Mark is expelled from school for drug violations. His car is then searched for drugs and weapons.

Scenario 6:

Pedro fails high school English.

1958 – Pedro goes to summer school, passes English and goes to college.

2013 – Pedro’s cause is taken up by state. Newspaper articles appear nationally explaining that teaching English as a requirement for graduation is racist. ACLU files class action lawsuit against the state school system and Pedro’s English teacher. English is then banned from core curriculum. Pedro is given his diploma anyway but ends up mowing lawns for a living because he cannot speak English.

Scenario 7:

Johnny takes apart leftover firecrackers from the Fourth of July, puts them in a model airplane paint bottle and blows up a red ant bed.

1958 – Ants die.

2013 – ATF, Homeland Security and the FBI are all called. Johnny is charged with domestic terrorism. The FBI investigates his parents – and all siblings are removed from their home and all computers are confiscated. Johnny’s dad is placed on a terror watch list and is never allowed to fly again.

Scenario 8:

Johnny falls while running during recess and scrapes his knee. He is found crying by his teacher, Mary. Mary hugs him to comfort him.

1958 – In a short time, Johnny feels better and goes on playing.

2013 – Mary is accused of being a sexual predator and loses her job. She faces 3 years in State Prison. Johnny undergoes 5 years of therapy.

* * *

Is it any wonder why we at times choose to look back.  This is the reason we occasionally reminisce and really, do you blame us.  If I could go back and do my life over again I sure wouldn’t do it now, in this time and place. Just saying.

06-16-2013   Leave a comment

I’m about a month away from completing my fifth year of retirement.  I think a celebration of sorts is called for because this has been one of the most difficult transitions I’ve ever had to make.

I’ve always been someone who readily adapted to change.  I’ve lived in many places over the years as required by my jobs and I worked my way up the corporate ladder twice with two different national companies.  I had hopes of a great retirement and pension but unfortunately both companies were purchased by other companies and neither survived that purchase.  You adjust because you must.  When there is no choice at all you pick yourself up and get back to work.

Fortunately that was one of the things my father made sure I had.  I had no fear of hard work and I also had a killer work ethic.  I worked my ass off for thirty years, 6 days a week, tons of travel, and change, change, change.  I started three business over the years and had reasonable successes with two and failed miserably in the third.  Shut up, get up, and keep on keeping on.

Making the change to early retirement was something I never thought I would get to do.  I’d already  excepted the fact that I’d be working until they found me slumped at my desk or in my car.  As in all things timing is everything.  After the failure of my two most important employers I took a public service position  with the State of Maine.  My fear of having another company hire me and then fail had sent me there. Whoever heard of a State going bankrupt?

The State of Maine surprised me a little.  They didn’t go bankrupt but they did call me in to tell me my work load was going to increase by 30% without a comparable wage increase.  I received a confidential call a short time later from a friend in the state capital who told me my position was on the chopping within two months. I had no choice and was lucky enough to be able take early retirement before the axe fell.  Hooray for me right?

Making the transition from workaholic to retiree was the worst.  I made the change immediately by giving Goodwill all of my suits, shirts, ties, and dress shoes.  I threw away my wrist watch because it was no longer something I needed.  It took at least eighteen months to find a comfortable rhythm for my life and to end the depression I was suffering with.

I hate making this sound like a sad story because it isn’t. I’m retired for God’s sake.  How can I possibly be whining?  I found these quotes recently that just made me laugh not because they’re all that funny but because they’re all so true.  My sense of humor has gotten through a lot of change and it’s things like these quotes that really help.

  • The money is no better in retirement but the hours are! — Author Unknown
  • "According to your latest data if you retire today, you can live reasonably well until 5 p.m. tomorrow."— Dave Erhard
  • My retirement plan is to find a shopping cart with good snow tires.
    — Patty Doyle
  • ‘The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does.’  Anonymous
  • ‘When a man retires and time is no longer a matter of urgent importance, his colleagues generally present him with a watch.’  R C Sherriff.
  • ‘It is time I stepped aside for a less experienced and less able man.’  Scott Elledge.
  • ‘There’s one thing I always wanted to do before I quit…retire!’  Groucho Marx
  • Retirement kills more people than hard work ever did – Malcolm Forbes
  • Except for an occasional heart attack I feel as young as I ever did – Robert Benchley
  • What do gardeners do when they retire? – Bob Monkhouse

I love being retired.  It gives a lot of freedom to do all those things I said I was going to do but never did.  I spend most of my time concerned with the care and feeding of my better-half who is still caught up in the rat race.  I try to be her stress reliever and to keep her as happy as I can.  I may bitch and complain about a lot of things but my life is good.  I’m what my Dad used to describe as, “fat (not too much), dumb, and happy”.