Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A Father's Admonition

My father came to this country in 1921. He loved his birth country, Norway, and visited often until he passed, but he loved America also and valued what it stood for and what it promised...the persuit of happiness. Norway, you see, was and remains a democratic socialist country. Medical and Old Age is provided for by the country. So...why did my father come to America?

He came (his words) because you had the opportunity to succeed here on the basis of your own effort, your own work. And if you really worked hard, you could get ahead and better yourself. In Norway you couldn't fail but you couldn't advance either...the taxes kept you from putting aside something for yourself so you could start a company on your own. Now, it is helpful to know that my father was extremely poor...he had no collateral to take to a bank and no rich friends to approach for an investment...he had to do it all on his own.

The constant message from him was that socialism destroys the desire and the need to be better, to "over" perform, and rewards "just going along" and encourages a dependency, not on yourselves, but on the government. I'm almost as old as he was when he died. I've watched what has happened in America and continues at an accellerated pace today...the Roman empire did not decline as fast as America is falling right now. The so-called "fairness" is socialism...and we have made our choice.

As an older person, I have no desire to emmigrate to start a new life, but to protect the one I have it is necessary now that I look, choose, and remove myself and whatever wealth I have accumulated to support me (without government aide) for the rest of my life (I understand Nicuaragua has a very nice ex-pat community).

But what do I tell my son and my daughter (and my grandchildren)? Where can they find a country that, as America used to, allows and rewards a person's work ethic instead of punishing it?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"No" to politics, "Yes" to education

Just couldn't take it anymore...voted a week and a half ago and have been switching stations, turning the TV off, muting and otherwise just running for cover and my sanity ever since. They are all just like a combination of door-to-door subscription salesmen morphed into used car salesmen...they slip and slide all over, and they come with a host of supporters who are also as slimy(sp?!) as five day old banana peals mixed with seaweed. There has to be a separate, special hell for politicians. If they were in any other line of work, they all would be prosecuted under the RICO act.

Now...I recently had a series of conversations about the current state of education in this country. Is there anyone out there who can explain the reason behind a mandate that all children have a highschool education? I totally understand the desire to make it to all, but requiring it for all is illogical.

Years ago I suggested to a friend (who was a teacher) that I could solve all of his discipline problems in two semesters (I was kidding, folks, in order to make a point, so lets not have responses on this). Just constitutionally provide immunity for each teacher for killing up to 5 students and/or 10 parents or parental substitutes per semester per class...and have the right to trade for additional kills from those teachers who happen to have well-behaved classes.

The point being made is that non-motivated students who are reqired to be in a class are disruptive and take teaching effort from those who actually want to learn for no additional learning benefit to the person who is disruptive. And think how much better it would be for a non-motivated student to have to explore his or her options without a highschool degree (without the "thrill" of "cutting" class), learn to value it, and come back to an educational venue with that knowledge...ready to learn and perhaps to share with his or her peers and give them the opportunity to learn from those experiences without having to do it themselves.

And removing the mandate would take school from being a "forced" activity, against which it is "cool" to rebell, to being an sign of superiority and schievement, something to be valued, worked for, and an opportunity to not only be protected but to be taken advantage of.

Additionally, schools should insist on, and lobby for laws that require,respect for all teachers and other school personnel. Again, dismiss those who do not value education and educators until they can show that they have gained the "vision" of the value they are being offered.

Our insistance on retaining students is counterproductive and prevents teachers from helping students achieving to the extent of their abilities. Oh...on more point... The Constitution guarantees the of happiness, its achievement. Besides, the longer I live the more I am convinced it is not the goal but the trip that is to be savored.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

The Last Time

I am a Yankee fan.

It wasn't by choice. As an eight year old, my family went to Yonkers, NY, to visit their best friends (they had been their best man and maid of honor when they had been married.) The best thing about the trip to me was that we were going to travel across the Yonkers ferry, so I would have both a car and ferry trip at the same time. was 1949, and when we arrived I say my first television set (an Emerson brand that was very large, but had a 13 inch screen). A Yankee game was on channel eleven, with Mel Allen announcing, and Joe DiMaggio hit a home run.

I was hooked...and a Yankee fan. Then, Mickey Mantle arrived and he became my hero. Well, those of you who are fans of other teams understand...

Today, far away from my beloved Yankees, I watched the last game in Yankee Stadium. I had gone to several games in the '50's during the world series. It was a different world. My best friends parents dropped us of (we were 10-11 years of age) near the stadium and picked us up after the games were over.

In later years, I went to key games. My son and I went to the game when Reggie hit three home runs (I still have the ticket stubs), and there are many other memories of good times.

But...tonight I watched from half a continent away and realized that it was the last time I would be able to watch a game in a place that I KNEW. I knew where the men's room was, I knew how to get in the quickest way, I knew where to park... reminded me of a country where patriotic attitudes were the norm...where we believed in America...where the country my father and mother believed in still existed. Yankee stadium will be taken down later this year. But what this country stood for to my parents and others of their age is gone. Now we look for, not opportunity..but, handout and guarantee. We forget that we were offered opportunity and pursuit, not result. Now, it is a socialistic attitude.

Don't bother posting your "talking point" arguments suggesting I am "whatever". I don't care and I don't intend to read them... write them if you are made to feel better, but please understand that it is for yourself, not for convincing others...I wrote this for myself, my parents, and for our forefathers who are gone...and I feel better now. Those who disagree are, I am sure, comfortable with your thoughts, groups, and beliefs. I am happy for you.

I will miss the Yankee Stadium.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Plants are People Too

I am not a plant person. Some people have a green thumb...mine is black. My wife can walk into a room and a dead plant will start to stir and begin to grow once again. I walk into the room and every plant starts to droop...and I have nothing but good thoughts and intentions. But...I digress.

We have 9 pots outside this summer. The majority of these plants have large, long, flat leaves. Since we live in the Southwest, my job this summer has been to water these plants this summer, usually on a daily basis. Surprisingly, they have accepted water from me without objection and have done well.

Last week, while I was in town, we had a heavy thunder storm. I experienced rain, but as I drove out of town I observed what looked like snow at the edges of the road. This was the first sign that in places the rain had been accompanied by hail. I thought nothing further of it until the next morning when I went to water the plants.

Many of the plants had leaves that were broken and a surprising number had holes in the middle of their larger leaves!

That is when a random thought struck (I think many people have random thoughts, but most don't allow them out.)...What if plants are people too? I you are, outside in the sun, kicking back and getting some rays. Suddenly it gets overcast and starts to rain and then God starts shooting you. Can you imagine the consternation? If is was me, the thought would be something like this..."Hey, what did I do to deserve this? Here I am minding my own business, not bothering anyone, doing my bit for mankind (turning CO2 into Oxygen), not making any noise when all of a sudden I getting holes shot in my fronds. What's up with this? Hey, God...can we talk?" And, to complete the analogy, you find that you have no tongue so, cannot talk. In their place, I would be royally ticked-off.

They continue to take water daily and, while some of the leaves have died, some of them with large holes remain green and continue to stand proud. Only time will tell what long term effects will be. But I came away with an appreciation for our ability to run, dodge, and build structures to protect us from hail, and projectiles of all kinds.

So, next time you pass a plant, think kind thoughts, give it some water and wish it "Good luck."

Monday, August 11, 2008

Illegal Immigration

When you want to find out what is causing an action, the answer is to "follow the money or the power." The dangers of illegal Immigration are clear:

1) When we have more than enough trouble identifying lawbreakers who are already citizens of America, we now ignore hundreds of thousands who come across our borders with no background check. Look at the horrible crimes that have been committed here that would not have victimized citizens and others if immigration laws were enforced...and we have no idea how many terrorist recruiters have taken up illegal residence.

2)We are establishing an attitude that laws aren't to be obeyed; that we, the people won't enforce the laws; that laws are "optional" in terms of being honored and obeyed. If you don't like a law, work to change it...don't violate it.

3) The silly notion that lawbreakers are entitled to the rights and privileges of citizens is preposterous; The constitution is essentially a contract between the people and the government...anyone who tries to enforce a contract has to show that they have abided by the contract in order to have the other side perform as promised. Illegal immigrants have not abided by the law and therefore should not be entitled to the benefits of the contract (constitution).

Now, look at what and to whom benefits flow if illegal immigration is unchecked and those who are here illegally can vote; where is the money and the power flowing?

1) Business’ gets cheaper labor and therefore can make higher profits or sell at lower cost (in some cases, I am sure, both are true);

2) Those who despise the United States would love to see our country overrun by those who have no patriotic feelings or duty felt to the country;

3) Those of a liberal bent (who want to take other's money and give it to those that they deem in need [as long as it isn't their money]) believe that if illegals are given status and citizenship that the new citizens would naturally vote for those that championed their cause and provide a new and overwhelming majority to sweep said liberals (opps, "Progressives") into power with no threat from "non-like-thinkers."

These are the, destruction, and power. And no one is going to do a thing to stop it, because politicians put their own self-interest ahead of the Country...because the last thing they want is to lose an election and have to come back to where they started and have to actually earn a living and live with the laws that they passed.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Smokey and Dusty leave

I promised to complete the story of Smokey and Dusty...

As the years went by, each cat developed a different relationship our family. Strangely enough, although Smokey seemed to consider each member of the family as pretty much equal, and would let each pet her and, on occasion, pick her up, Dusty was quite different.

She never developed a "warm and fuzzy" attitude about us (with on exception, which I will get into in a moment). She would NOT be picked up, and preferred to eat without anyone watching. She and Smokey would eat at different times, and she never "hung around."

The one exception was when I came home from work. She would jump up on the car, then step across to my shoulders and perch there for a moment, purring, then jump down. I was not allowed to pet her or scratch around her ears. Nor was I allowed to pick her up. This was the sole evidence that we served any other purpose that as a provider.

This degree of appreciation fit beautifully with my stated stance on these cats: I complained at every opportunity in the presence of others that these cats were freeloaders and we should not be treating them so well (although, during the winter months I would make sure the garage door was up high enough to let them get in out of the most intense cold).

They got old. We didn't know how old, since we had no idea of their birth date, but they got thinner and moved a bit slower.

One night I came home from work and was walking from my car to the back door when I was stopped in my tracks by what I can only describe as a "screech" from behind me. I whirled around and there, sitting next to the hood of my car behind me, was Smokey. When I turned around, she got up and walked up to me, rose on her hind feet stretching her front feet up my pants leg...she wanted to be picked up. This hadn't happened before.

I bent over, picked her up and she curled up on my arms, purred, and licked my hand. After about thirty seconds, or so, she squirmed about, telling me she wanted to get down. I gently put her back on the cement floor. She walked toward the door, stopped about two feet from the garage door and looked back at me, then left.

We never saw her again. We looked, but...she had gone.

A year or so passed. Dusty get older and more gaunt.

One evening, as I was going from the car to the house, I heard "the screech" and for a moment thought Smokey had come home.

I turned, to see Dusty sitting there. She walked over, rose on her hind feet with her front paws (claws withdrawn) on my trouser leg. For the first (and last) time in her life she asked to be picked up. I did so and, miracle of miracles, she coiled up in my arms, purred, and licked my hand, right between my thumb and first finger. After about thirty or so seconds, she wiggled (gently) asking to be put down. I did so.

She walked toward the garage door and, as Smokey had done, stopped and looked back over her shoulder at me then walked out the door and disappeared. We never saw her again.

I always envied them. I hope that when it is my time, I can walk out with as much good grace, appreciation, and independence. They knew themselves. It's a shame people aren't as good at it.

I miss them.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Animal Relationships

I have never owned a pet. Everyone else in my immediate family has, but never me. Let me see: My wife has had three dogs, at least Five cats (two at the present time); my son had one dog and one cat (when he lived at home); my daughter had one dog and one cat (also when she lived at home); and, oh, we had two feral cats that owned us. Now, this might not be an exact count, but you get the idea.

This does not mean that I had no relationship with these animals. I did feed them, walk them, contribute to the costs of maintaining their health and stand with them and cry when the time came for them to leave us...but I never owned one.

Which leads me to the point of all of this: who (or what) owned who?

The cats, it seems to me, took out leases on all of varying degrees, depending on their perception of how much we were in control. They didn't seem to own us so much as expect us to take direction well. A small deviation from this point of view were the two feral cats.

Smokey came first. She had a dirty gray coat when she appeared one day, appearing very bedraggled and thin. It took a long time of putting out milk and food for her before she allowed as it would be OK if we continued to do this and leave the garage door slightly raised during the winter to allow her access, but she had no interest in a litter box in the garage...she could take care of that herself.

BUT she wasn't above claiming certain "poshness" for her and hers. One late spring morning I got into my car (which had a T-top, removed during this extended spring period) and started out to work. About a mile down the road I became aware of a faint "mewing" sound. I pulled of the road and searched for the sound...and found it on the floor behind my driver's seat. Smokey had had kittens and chosen the carpeting in my car as their due while she went out about her morning chores.

Well, I drove back to my house and Smokey was waiting by the garage door with what was clearly an attitude of disappointment and disapproval. As soon as I stopped and opened the door, she went right in, licked each kitten to re-assure it and then removed each of them to a corner of the garage (exactly where was never shared with me). Shortly after that we made sure she didn't have any more was hard enough finding good homes for seven kittens once, did not want to make it a career. At least by this time she allowed us to pick her up.

Dusty showed up about two years later. Dusty had a dirty yellowish coat that tried but never made it to calico, and she was very dirty. Additionally, she had one frosted-over eye and was missing a major portion of one ear. I would have hated to see the other guy.

Dusty allowed us to feed her and provide a modicum of warmth by leaving the garage accessible during the winter, but that was all. She would never allow herself to be picked up (more on this later), and when it came time to have her "fixed" it took two weeks of putting her food in a cage to just get her into it. And it took a certain speed to close the door to keep her. She was displeased and angry.

I put her on the front passenger seat and set out for the vets. Half way there, she forced up a side of the metal cage and got her head and front feet out, and prepared to get the rest of herself out. Fortunately, I had a large bath towel prepared and got her controlled. At the vet, I brought her in totally wrapped in this gigantic towel with just her angry head visible, and strongly advised the attendant that she should probably sedate Dusty before removing the towel. She advised me that she knew how to handle animals and I shouldn't concern myself.

I left.

When I picked up Dusty at the end of the day, everyone at the vet's seemed to have a new respect for Dusty. The attendant had a series of bandages that I did not recall from the morning and even the vet himself came out to talk with me and explain that he would prefer if I could find another medical professional to take care of Dusty's needs in the future.

I guess I could understand his position...but I did warn them, so I couldn't feel too sorry for them.

Well, this is enough for now. Next time I'll finish the story of Smokey and Dusty. They allowed us to serve them for a time and when it was time to leave, they did it on their own terms and with more grace and dignity that most humans ever show.