Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Whilst I'm on the subject of retirement

I had an interesting exchange with the social security agent last week. By the way, Social Security is to be commended for the customer service focus their employees have. I have not talked to a person on the phone or dealt with an agent in person who was not courteous, polite, and helpful. A far cry from the usual stereotype we imagine when dealing with government employees.

During the course of our conversation I explained my own reasons for not wishing to retire now, or when I hit the full benefits age of 66. Frankly, I enjoy my work too much and still feel the thrill and energy derived from the challenge. This person's comments to me were he'd seen a number of people delay retirement only to pass away before they collected their contributed portion of the taxes, or their employer's contribution. He told me that it is estimated that at full benefit you get what you paid in in taxes back in the first three years of collection. You get back what your employer paid in during the years 4-6. His ending comment was you want to make sure you get what you paid in before you die.

Well, let's examine that. Suppose I had not built up a nest egg, that the only source of income I would derive would be from social security. Perhaps I still owed on a home, credit cards, personal loans on a boat, motorcycle or some such item. If I retired at age 62 my retirement income would be $1100 per month. I couldn't make it. I could not survive.

The real issue is each person is responsible for their own decisions. While I've heard financial experts explain that if you start drawing at age 62 and live to age 85 you will draw a larger sum of money than if you wait till age 65 and draw till age 85. So what? What if your monthly income is not sufficient to support your financial needs during that period. What kind of anxiety and stress will that create not only on the person but his/her family? I don't particularly care if I get my tax money back. I care more about being able to support myself and my wife, to be able to do more than just subsist than I care about the total amount of money I get over 23 years as opposed to 20 years. I am out to maximize my cash flow not get my tax money back. I don't have use of that tax money now, nor did I have in my earning years. Why should I be concerned about getting that money back when to do so wouldn't accomplish my aims in retirement.

It just goes to show that you really need to understand your needs. You have to understand the best way to fulfill or accomplish those needs. Financial counselors who advocate long term benefits over short term needs are not necessarily providing the best advice. You really need to look at the streams of income you will receive upon retirement and whether or not those streams will be sufficient for your needs. That's the decision point.

Urban and I have the same problem

I just finished reading an article on CNN by a writer discussing why Urban Meyer, Head Coach of the Florida Gator football team, changed his decision from quitting to taking an indefinite leave. Essentially the pressures of the work created health problems. But in the article the writer also felt Coach Meyer had come to a decision that his coaching days would extend beyond his 5oth year. Urban Meyer's dilemma surfaced during a conversation between he and Steve Spurrier head coach of the University of South Carolina. During a dinner conversation Meyer asked Spurrier why he hadn't quit before he was 60. Spurrier told him that when he was Meyer's age he never thought he'd coach into his 60's. Then the real issue came out, "What else am I going to do" Spurrier stated. Therein lies the crux of the issue.

I am not rich. I do not have a six-figure job. My social security check will probably represent over 50% of my income in my retirement years. My goal when I was a young man was to retire at age 50 and spend the rest of my life fishing, hunting, and enjoying life. Now I am 65 and don't know when I will retire.

Money is an issue. I don't have much debt. Our debt consists of a mortgage on a piece of rental property and a home equity loan that I used to renovate our log cabin. Between the two the payments would be about $600 a month. Not bad. Our living expenses are low, taxes and insurance probably average about another $400 a month. Social security for both my wife and I will probably yield $2500 a month, another $380 in a retirement from Case, say $600 a month in rent income and maybe a little draw from my investments and I can get to around $4000 a month without too much trouble. So net living expenses could be $2500 to $3000 a month. That isn't too bad.

The problem is, what am I going to do? I have a work shop, I have a lot of tools, and Terry keeps my "honey do" list quite long. I now have a boat, a canoe, and I have guns for hunting. I haven't fished in years, I haven't hunted in years. I dream of doing both, but I haven't done them for quite some time. I have a nice set of golf clubs, but I only play golf once or twice a year.

Listening to others, reading about Urban Meyer's dilemma and I have come to understand what I have done to myself. I have taken my work into my life. Work defines who I am. All of my adult life I have lead organizations and managed people to achieve some outcome. I am very good at it. I have built self-sustaining organizations. I have provided people who worked in my organizations the opportunity to participate, to become part of the success, and to grow and develop their own careers. My interest has been in solving problems. I lie awake at night thinking and devising methods to overcome issues and enhance the outcome for the organization. When I work I have no hours. If I need to be in early I am. If I need to stay late I do. Nights and weekends my mind turns to the issues, the opportunities, and the outcomes. My workdays do not fit a routine or a schedule, I've never allowed them to.

My youngest daughter has built a wonderful life devoted to her family. Yet, the genes run deep. I know she gets caught up in the mental busyness of work. She doesn't sleep well because her mind turns to the issues. Yet, she does maintain a scheduled work day, in by 8 out by 5. My work day begins when I want it to and ends when I want it to. That is the magic of my job and what I enjoy. However, when home on a weekend, or as now between Christmas and New Years I find my ambition stymied. I don't do a lot of work in my shop, my "honey do" list gets ignored or feebly worked on. I can feel a restlessness and concern of what I should be doing. My health becomes an issue, aches and pains I don't notice when I'm working now make me feel old. I sometimes feel like I'm just sitting around waiting to die. I'm only 65 for cripes sake, and I'm in good health. I should have 20+ years ahead of me, many of them with me able to physically do things. Yet I find myself lethargic and worried.

I enjoy it when my wife is off and we can do things together. I don't feel so restless and directionless. Perhaps that is the curse create for ourselves when we allow work to become part of the meaning of life, instead of using work to allow us to develop meaning in our life. I don't know the answer, but I do know and understand Urban Meyer's dilemma. It is a problem many face when they reach that stage in life when success isn't the issue anymore. It becomes more personal than that. Good luck Urban Meyer, we'll both need some.

Monday, December 28, 2009

A New Pet Peeve

I am sitting here this morning looking at Face Book and seeing what is going on with the few people I maintain as friends. I also got a nice email from a person I work with that was a cute message with snowmen and sprigs of holly decorating the message. The content hoped my day was filled with the little things that occur that make the day seem to flow and be pleasant. It had a religious point to it, and I don't object to that. What I do object to is at the end of the message the sentences urging me to send this message on to someone you might be thinking of, or care about. Even that isn't too bad as I do have some friends I would like to tell them I am thinking about them and I care about them. However, then comes the threat. If you don't pass this on it means you don't care, or you don't believe in God's love, or some such threat. That pisses me off. I delete those emails regardless of content. I've seen emailed chain letters that threaten your economic status, your mental health, or you relationship with God if you don't pass them on. I delete them, every damn one of them.

This time of year I've heard parents say to children, "If you don't behave Santa won't bring you any gifts." What a hell of a thing to tell a kid. Why don't we just blame our lack of ability to teach, model, instruct or discipline behavior on some third party. I know, like God. If you don't behave you'll go to hell. That'll get the little buggers into the behaving mode.

Anyway it really makes me angry to get messages that imply that I am not a worthy person, or don't care, or whatever fault they emphasize when they do not know me. I might pass a really nice message on if I wasn't threatened.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Stop and think of the implication.

I recently received and email from an old acquaintance about sending a Christian Christmas card to the ACLU. The idea was to flood them with mail that would signify displeasure with the law suits they file about the separation of church and state. The implication was that the ACLU was controlled by atheists. Bunk. I am sure there are lawyers and employees with the ACLU that have their own belief system and probably some of it is rooted in the Christian beliefs.

I was struck by the implication that we need to have government backing to believe in God. The history of man centers around a belief system often quietly expressed in the home or close neighborhood of like minded individuals. There are thousands of families who quietly light a Menorah during their holy days. There are thousands of Christian families that gather about a tree and sing carols that reflect their belief. Do we need to have that expression on court houses, money, and as a banner that proclaims, yes people it is OK to be a Christian in the United States.

If we do, we are pretty morally bankrupt.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Growing old isn't so bad.

For some reason today seemed kind of special. I went to our local farm supply store. I like it there. Perhaps because it speaks to the out of doors. I looked at the heavy bib coveralls. I didn't buy, but I may. I looked at the cedar bedding for the dogs. Again I didn't buy, but I may in the future. I over heard an older lady at the checkout, we would refer her to as a country gal, talking about something she had purchased that needed to be charged before use. It did not work right and she was in to get a replacement. She wanted the clerk to open it up and see that the charger gave the proper signals. I suppose she wanted assurance that it worked before she carted it home. For some reason it struck me as good.

As I left an older man was getting out of a disheveled old car. He had a paper in one hand that looked like a check. Perhaps going in to pay a bill, it is the 2nd of the month. He had on old work cloths and a big old floppy brimmed had that spoke of gardens, pastures and such. I just had the impression that he was going in to take care of obligations. There is something American about that and he sure wasn't rich. However, I had the feeling he was making it the best way he knew how and didn't much concern himself with those things geyond his control or experience. Not a bad way to grow old.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Someone screwed up!

Years ago I read a comic book that contained the fable of "rain, rain, go away, come again some other day." The story dealt with a person who said that little poem whenever they were doing something that rain would interfere with. The comic closed with the person looking out the window while there were reports of massive flooding, that rain was covering all of the land. The narrator, they had those in comics you know, said that the end was coming as this was the "other day" that everyone had asked rain to be moved to.

Well, right now it feels like that "other day." It has rained steadily since 7 PM last night and it is 8 AM now. No let up, just a steady downpour. The thing is, it hasn't been a light rain, it has been quie heavy. So here I sit with two young dogs who would like to go out and play, rain up the bazooka, and it appears to be the "other day."

Monday, October 26, 2009

I forget that I try

My whole work life has been about overcoming obstacles and problems. I've been good at that and made a living creating new methods and battling status quo. Yet at home I seem to forget that. Things will mentally defeat me and hold me hostage until I finally drag my self to the battlefield and start to fashion an attack.

I have let our log home go until I have log rot that requires extensive repairs. I had to reface some of the logs myself and because I could not imagine how to do that or what was involved in the work I was held hostage for several years until I attempted the task and found that it wasn't as bad as I thought.

I have laid awake night thinking about the task of insulating the bottom of the trailer and how best to do that. Yesterday a major victory was won with the help of our daughter's live in boy friend. Zeb is his name and he is a hard worker, I mean a real hard worker. I was doing the work myself, but I am slow, I end up thinking too much about what I am doing and often over thinking the project. Zeb had installed insulation before and had an idea of what to do, little things that I would not have thought of. The insulation we were installing was what is called faced insulation meaning it has a plastic and paper facing that you can staple to the studs or floor joists. I was trying to be exact in the length of the batt and ended up cutting off about 18 inches on the other side of the trailer as I completed a course. Zeb just extended one batt about halfway and then rolled up what was left over, tucked it into the joist and outside rail and stapled it in place saving the time and effort of cutting the insulation.

Regardless, I did help him and can feel it this morning. But we did over half of the underside of the trailer and it was good workmanship. The trailer will be very snug in the upcoming winter and cooler in the summer for our efforts. I used to view the trailer as a temporary living situation, now I think I'll have it re-sided one of these years and a roof built over it and it will be our guest lodging, not that we often get many guests.

The mental pressure is easing on getting the trailer done. Zeb may work on it this week and hopefully we'll finish by next weekend. Then underpin the trailer which shouldn't be too bad and it is done with the exception of redoing the interior. But I can do that a little along. It is also the kind of work I am willing to undertake and isn't beyond my physical capability. The insulation on the bottom of the trailer was beyond my physical ability. I've encountered an annoying inner ear problem that is getting better but hasn't gone away. As a result when I lie on my back and tilt my head back, which is the position one has to get into installing insulation, I get dizzy. Yesterday I did install some insulation so at least I tried, but I did get dizzy and my stomach got upset. So I wasn't of much use other than helping load the insulation into the area between the joists and keeping the stapler loaded. Oh well, it is getting done and I am feeling so much better about our housing condition.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

One of the negatives about growing old

Growing old forces our perceptions to change. Thirty years ago I was invincible, my friends and contemporaries occasionally suffered health problems but most were colds, flus, back problems, seldom serious. Serious happened to other people. Now things are different, the odds are catching up.

A colleague, only in his thirties has cancer. He is having complications and the cancer is active throughout his body. He is undergoing chemo and probably will go into remission and remain cancer free for some years, but the risk is elevated.

An old friend I worked with at Case years ago has incurable prostrate cancer. The Dr.'s are treating him with a new drug that stops testosterone production that puts the cancer into remission but the doctors have told him average survival is between 1 and 8 years. The hope is that new treatments will prolong his life and he will die of something else besides cancer.

I talked to my sister today. A dear friend of hers from the Milwaukee area suffers from emphysema, and asthma among other issues. In addition an aneurysm along her aorta is getting larger and there is nothing they can do as she would not survive surgery.

My sister's husband is suffering leg pain from swelling in his left leg. They are going to a Dr. to see what can be done, but he is 86, so I'm worried about that outcome.

My contemporaries and older siblings are encountering health problems that are causing concern. People get angry with us when we talk about our health problems, but it is starting to surround us.

I hope I go like my grandma, go to bed one night and not wake up.

Life is tough, but it is still filled with magic. So I hope others won't think too ill of me if I speak of these issues. We all have to face these time, I just hope I have the grace to handle it well.

Arrogance makes Ignorance

Dick Cheney must be unbelievably arrogant. When asked a question by a reporter several years ago concerning polling information that indicated the majority of Americans were against the war in Iraq he responded, "So what?" I guess his point was that American national interests outweighed the will of the American people. That sounds like a contradiction.

Now Cheney, who was part of a fairly despised administration, it running around the country holding himself as the spokesperson for a humiliated political organization demanding we send more troops to Afghanistan. He has criticized the current administration as timid. Personally I think Obama's evaluation process is sound. Why would we want to put one more American life at stake when we have no assurances the political governance of the country we are fighting in will be stable going forward, is even is today.

Afghanistan isn't only a source of terrorism but a major producer of heroin. We want to sacrifice American lives without thinking out how the country will be shaped when we leave. C'mon Cheney, your arrogance has reduced your arguments to ignorance. Go back to Wyoming or wherever you came from and crawl back in your hole.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Recent Thoughts

I am now corresponding with three persons who have had or a loved one has had a bowel resection. The earliest article on this blog concerns my trek through recovery at home. I could not find any information on home recovery after that type of surgery. I did have a support group consisting of my children and two sisters. I talked to my two sisters daily. It helped that they listened and provided information on their experiences and cheered me on. One daughter is a nurse and helped provide research and information. What I was really after was what I was experiencing a common occurrence during recovery or was it a problem. I decided to write a log of my home recovery experience.

I am delighted that it apparently is helping some people. The article is rather blunt and is not the kind of thing one might think of as polite conversation. Bowel resection isn't polite though. I just added a counter to this blog to see how many hits I actually get because I'm sure not everyone who reads the article comments. The article remains at the top of the page on the Google page if you enter Bowel Resection Home Recovery. That means it must be of interest to some. That is a very satisfying feeling. I finally did something that is making a difference for some people in trouble. I am happy.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Morning Meanderings

Our daily walk, the dogs and I, began at 6:30 AM. Light was just making its presence known. I guess my mind was in one of those reflective modes that leads to no conclusions but certainly taxes ones mental capacity.

If God is so benevolent why is life so difficult?

If God is a loving God, why does he create a test that must be passed before one finds salvation? Or is it just Christianity that sets up the test?

Why do persons who fervently believe in God and have faith in the ever after use fear as a binding philosophy? And, why do they believe they are the only persons with the keys to heaven?

If God created the heavens and the earth then aren't all creatures results of his creation? If so shouldn't they all go to heaven?

As I walked pondering these weighty questions as I have done so often over the years, I came upon a small Vole making its way across a mowed section of the yard in the island area. I stopped and watched it. At first I wondered what was it doing out in the open, unprotected by overhanging grass? I thought it might be feeding on seeds, but then as I watched it was pretty intent on negotiating the broad expanse of ground. So where was it going and why? I also thought, well with one stomp of my foot I could end its existence. I chose not to. It wasn't near the house, wasn't even headed in that direction, so leave it be. The dogs were with me, and I wondered if they might happen upon the small creature and devour it. I did not try to interfere as I have a fairly strong belief in letting the events of nature unfold. That pass through the yard the dogs missed the Vole.

Now some minutes had passed and we were coming around again, the dogs sniffing and snooping as they do. As I approached the island area I began scouring the ground looking for the Vole. I saw it, it had made it to within a foot of the deep grass and was scurrying just as quickly as its little legs would negotiate the grass. I walked by it. The dogs were on the south side of the pine that makes the island the island and the Vole was near the deep cover on the north side of the pine. I thought if the dogs go around the pine they will surely spot the Vole and a snack will be realized by one of them. I looked back over my shoulder as I rounded the pine, the dogs were at the base of the pine sniffing. Had the Vole left a scent trail? The dogs turned back to the south away from the Vole and followed me out of the island area. The next pass I made past that same area showed no Vole, it was apparently in the deep grass, safe, perhaps scouting out some succulent seeds.

Now, back to God. We are an ingenious species. We create mechanical things that carry us on roads, on the air, and across the water. Our knowledge comes through questioning our surroundings and our relationship with those surroundings. Therefore, it must also be natural to question our relationship with God. If not our relationship with God then certainly our purpose and relationship with the world. We learn by discovery, but we haven't discovered the true nature of God. Could that be because there is no "Old Father" figure depicted by our forebears as God. Does God evolve? A great theological writer, Paul Tillich, once wrote on the evolving nature of God. I think it is more about the evolving nature of Man and his reconciliation of Man's concept of God to our current reality. A thousand years ago persons who might inject a vaccine into a person to prevent illness, or concoct a drug to overcome a health problem were burned at the stack because of their power of sorcery. Today they are scientists helping relieve the ills of mankind. So perhaps God doesn't evolve, it is just our perception of God that evolves to make sense of our environment.

I am getting old. These questions are becoming important. More important is to discover the answers to these questions. I don't have a lot of time left to discover those answers. Then again, if there aren't any answers how frustrating is our existence. I sometimes admire those who rely on strong Faith to help them. I have strong Faith, I just haven't found any beliefs that I can rationally put that Faith in. Why would God withhold those answers from us. What need does God have for us to show Faith. Perhaps our Faith should be in what we can deal with and really doesn't make any difference as to what that Faith is in.

So do I believe in God? I do believe in a Power greater than I. Some may call that power God. After all, that power did relieve me of the urge to drink and that is a miracle by itself. God has been good to me and my family throughout my life. I have met good people in my travels and work. So I guess at this point I won't worry about the outcome of life because it probably is being realized as we grow older. Like many things, the answers are probably in our surroundings, I just can't see them yet. I hope I get the wisdom to view those answers before I check out.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Trash talk

I do not like trash talk. Friday a very good football player for a team was suspended for the entire year because he sucker punched an opposing team player, and the game was over. It turns out the opposing team player was taunting him, or talking trash. I have watched people talk trash and I won't join in. I find trash talkers lack class. Bravado is their measure of success and while trash may be viewed by some as trying to get into someone else's head, I think it just indicates lack of respect and can create a dangerous situation.

Many murders are committed by family members. Often the trouble starts with verbal confrontation. Perhaps someone is trying to intimidate another family member. Perhaps they are angry, under the influence of some chemical that lowers there inhibition and good judgment. Then words come out. Words can be inflammatory, they can evoke strong emotional reaction that could lead to someone attacking, getting a weapon, or committing an act of revenge.

Teasing is a form of taunting. I have told people close to me, beware, teasing can lead to an angry confrontation and words can be spoken that like the bell once rung cannot be unrung. In the emotion of the moment people may seek retaliation and say things they never intended to say. Like the bell, a hurt once applied cannot be unhurt. I may pass if off, I may say it's okay after an apology but the truth is it is not OK. Sometimes the hurt is minor and can be dismissed. Other times the hurt wounds and while we may carry on the relationship it is altered. It is changed.

Barry Sanders, whom I feel could've been the greatest running back in the NFL was nothing but class. I watched him strike fear into his opponents. I heart his opponents speak of him with respect and admiration. Yet you never saw Barry Sanders get in an opponents face. When he scored a touchdown for Detroit he got up, ran back to the sidelines and would not accept fist pumps, fist bumps, or any other demonstrative show of immature ignorance. He had performed his job, he had done what he was paid to do. It is a shame that he cut his career short. Barry never played with a competent offensive line, he labored on a team that rarely won, and certainly was not a power. Yet without a line, and little help from his team he was recognized as one of the truly great runners. Had he any support there is no doubt in my mind that Barry would be the greatest runner of all time.

All that talent and class to boot. I have long felt that those who resort to relentless teasing, trash talking and that kind of bravado suffer from underlying inferiority feelings and mask that insecurity with aggressive behavior. The problem is, often they are very good people who are worth knowing but we never get to know the really good side because of all the smoke screen bullshit they pump out. I pity them.

So the guy who threw the sucker punch is out for the year. The opposing player who taunted will be disciplined internally the coach says. I say kick his ass off the team for a year too. He is a true asshole. I listen to family members around me make fun of people, tease relentlessly and say things that if the other person could hear them would hurt their feelings. I did that too, years ago. I try very hard to make a conscious effort to not make fun or belittle people. I do not talk trash. I've done that and had times I couldn't back up my trash and suffered the embarrassment of eating crow. For the past number of years I try very hard to treat everyone I meet with respect. To do that, I have found you have to adopt that behavior internally, you have to truly feel that way. It makes life so much more worthwhile.

Taunting, trash, harsh teasing have no place in our world. Those that practice it are bums.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Medical necessity guidelines

Hmm! Look at this:

Coverage process-contractual definition of medical necessity, which includes the following criteria for establishing the medical necessity of a service: appropriate for symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of a condition, illness, or injury; provided for diagnosis, direct care, or treatment; in accordance with the standards of good medical practice; not primarily for the convenience of the member or member's provider; the most appropriate supply or level of service that can be safely provided to the member. To determine what services meet this definition, Highmark has an information-gathering process that includes systematic reviews of published literature, a consulting program with practicing physicians, review of coverage decisions by Highmark managers, review by an independent Medical Affairs Committee.

This is a cut and paste from a site I Googled. Read the last sentence. Sounds like a constant review looking for ways or reasons to tighten a code. Kind of cold.

A Private Sector Big Brother

The debate on health care has turned to fear creation. Let's not have a debate or conversation, lets just say no and scare the hell out of the people who have insurance and feel a little insecure. Let's lie and say their are death squads, lets say that government will ration care. Lets create a fearful atmosphere that chokes off debate and the intelligent discussion of issues.

Two weeks ago I was hospitalized with an A-fib episode. It took 2 1/2 days to get the heartbeat straightened out. A week and a half later, today Friday August 28, 2009 I received a letter saying that my hospitalization meets the nationally recognized precertification procedures and therefore is certified. Which means insurance will cover the hospitalization. What if it had been a severe anxiety attack and I was fearful for my life. Would it have been certified? Who knows what the recognized national certification procedures are, I sure don't.

An employee of Arkansas Northeastern College who works for me is undergoing chemo treatment for a stage four cancer. The intravenous dose knocks him on his ass. The pills have their own side effects. Last week he had a pain in his left foot, it is a stress fracture of a bone in his foot brought on by the treatment. The guy has a lot of mental anguish. He is in his mid-30's. He has a daughter 3 years old, his wife is pregnant and due in October. The cancer has spread to two locations and is considered stage 4 even though each site by itself is stage 1 so it is a confusing issue. If it is truly stage 4 the five year survival rate is only 5%. A tremendous amount of mental anxiety yet you wouldn't know it.

Tuesday he was diagnosed with a blood clot in his lower right leg from the treatments. It is kind of like the shit is piling on. His doctor prescribed blood thinners, only he has to inject them because the oral type interact with his chemo. So he has a prescription for injection thinner and it is expensive, $2000. When he shows up at the Wal*Mart pharmacy he is told insurance will not approve the meds. It turns out that they have another source they use for the expensive stuff. So he has to go back to the doctor and fortunately the doctor has enough samples to tide him over until the prescription can arrive from the insurance company's source. Let's add a little more aggravation and mental stress to a guy who is already dealing with a life and death possibility.

It makes me wonder how in good conscience these assholes propagating the fear statements that have been debunked can make those statements. Hell we don't need death squads, they already exist. The rich will rule the day, the special interests groups will give up just enough so the politicians can claim a victory of sorts, and the American public will continue to put up with inadequate health care that is continually subjected to squeezing in the name of profits not care. Go to hell private sector.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Thoughts on some politicians.

Yesterday before leaving the hospital a man came into my room representing the hospital. He wanted to know if I was being treated OK? Were hospital procedures followed, and was the staff attentive? The answer was yes. I am very pleased with the treatment by the staff at NEA hospital. However, this isn't about the qualities of a hospital at all. This is about politicians.

The man's name was Al Brodell. I asked him if he was any relation to Hubert Brodell. It turns out he was, Hubert was Al's father. I know Hubert Brodell. Hubert was the mayor of Jonesboro for many years. I was told by Al that his father recently turned 80 and had back surgery. Hubert is active spending time between Jonesboro and Florida. He volunteers for some group and works still in helping his community in a volunteer capacity.

Then this morning I read a disparaging letter directed at Sen. Barbara Boxer from California. I know the incident the letter refers to and have thought for a long time that Sen. Boxer is an arrogant person who I believe does not act in the best interests of her electorate, but marches to her own drumbeat. So what is the difference?

I think it is the difference in the contact with the folks how have placed their trust in the politician. I do not know Hubert Brodell well, I would not call us friends. I ran into him for a number of years at a variety of functions around Northeast Arkansas and we would talk from time to time, but I observed his actions in his community for many of the years I've lived in Arkansas. Hubert seemed to try to do the best for Jonesboro that he could. There were things that happened that favored Jonesboro over Paragould, and Hubert was not friend to all. That is the nature of politics. Hubert's actions almost always were for helping Jonesboro grow, attract more business or improve the quality of life of its citizens. The same is true for a longtime Mayor of Paragould, Charlie Partlow.

I know Charlie, not as a friend, but I used to bump into him around Paragould and we would talk and I observed his actions. I recall the time that Paragould thought it had gotten the shaft in the placement of Highway 67 coming north from Newport. Two buses were chartered by Paragould residents and they came to Newport to a Arkansas Highway Department hearing over the routing of the highway. I remember Charlie, red-face with anger having a decidedly heated conversation with Nick Wilson a State Senator from Pocahontas. Nick was responsible for getting the route moved out of Greene County to Lawerence and Randolph county, his constituency. Charlie took on the issue and defended it well even though in the end the powers to be left the route alone. Charlie Partlow once again always seemed to act in the best interests of his constituency.

I feel the same way about the current mayor of Paragould, Mike Gaskill. I know Mike. He used to be the Manager of Hays Grocery store in Paragould, and I've agitated him for years at various Paragould functions. I have been impressed that Mike seems to act with the welfare of his constituents in mind and seems to be an honorable person.

However it seems the higher up the ladder you go the more our elected officials succumb to the lure of power. Special interest groups that pump money into campaign funds hold sway. I do not believe government should intrude too far into our private lives. However in areas where they should the actions seem prostituted and end up making me feel like our politicians think we have deep pocket books that can fund the engines of special interests. I really would like to see term limits for federal officials. When it comes to federal elected officials I do really believe in the old saw, "throw the rascals out!"

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Darn, darn, darn!`

I know quite a bit about the operation of the human heart. Mine acts up. I have an irregular heart beat, it consists of something called premature ventricular contractions, pvcs and premature atrial contractions, pacs. I've had this condition for years although it was first diagnosed in 2000 at a Jackson, MS clinic. Once I was able to associate the sensation in my chest with what the doctor found on a EKG I realized I'd had that sensation for years before 2000. I did not give it much thought. As the result of the diagnosis in Jackson I underwent a heart cath procedure to see if I had blockage. I did not. So I was told the irregular heart beat is common and benign.

Fast forward to 2007, I underwent the stress of having a cancer diagnosis and successful removal of about six inches of my exhaust system to eliminate the cancer. Nonetheless to be told you had a malignant tumor creates a great deal of inner turmoil. Three months after the bowel resection I ended up in the local hospital with an A-fib episode which is a very irregular heartbeat. Once cleared up, I did take some medication for about a year until another heart specialist called an electrophysiologist or EP weaned me off the meds and I continued to march.

Monday morning, August 17 about midnight I woke up with that "old sensation." A-fib. I rolled over and went back to sleep, that is how numb you get to the problem after a while, and when it persisted for about 6 hours I told Terry that instead of going to work she and I were going to Jonesboro to the NEA Hospital emergency room. This is my fourth visit to this facility in as many years.

I was in A-fib and placed in observation for 24 hours. The problem still persisted after 24 hours, so I was admitted and moved to a private room. About 2:30 AM August 19 my heart converted to a good solid sinus rhythm. I was released and sent home with two new medications called rythmole, which I have taken before, and Cardizem which I have not taken before. I will probably be on these two drugs for the rest of my life. That is a sobering thought. I don't know why so much, Terry is a diabetic and takes insulin just ot stay alive. I take a blood pressure med and a cholesterol med, but I think of that as a part of life. I do not like the idea of a heart arrhythmia. Not that it is so scary, but I feel like I am being forced to give into age.

I am not happy with this situation, but quite honestly I did not get put on blood thinners yet. I hope I do not have to. In talking with the cardiologist I was told I have a slow heartbeat. The two new meds reduce the heart rate. I was told by the cardiologist that if my heart rate slows too severely I will have to have a pace maker to insure it keeps on a ticking. One of the interesting things is that a real slow rate is not a number, but is how you react. If you start having troubles rising from a seated position, or bending makes you dizzy or pass out, then that is too low a number.

None of this is doom or gloom. However, it is indicative of the aging process and I am very aware of that. So my heart is in actuality strong and will last a lifetime. It just needs some help. In the meantime my brain is dealing with another issue that marks the passage of time and the appearance of finality. Darn, darn, darn.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

How do you describe? Part II

OK, a couple of days have passed and I have my wits about me. Two weeks ago lying under my truck sanding some electrical connections I had to tilt my head severely back and to the right to be able to examine the contacts I was cleaning through my bifocals. The minute that I did that I had instant dizziness and nausea. I got out from under the truck, staggered around for a few minutes while the dizziness passed and then sat for a couple of hours until the sick stomach sensation passed, then completed the job.

Friday morning I got up from a sound sleep to go to the bathroom and had the episode I described in the earlier blog. Friday night I did not experience any dizziness except when I rolled from one side to the other. I often start out on my left side then roll to my right when I really want to go to sleep. Moving 180 degrees caused a momentary spat of dizziness that passed about as quickly as it came. It was disturbing.

This morning I walked with the dogs for 40 minutes, no problem. I had thoughts of going to an Urgent Care Clinic run by the Doctor's Clinic Terry and I go to. Before doing so I remembered my brother-in-law Chap has had vertigo problems for many years. So I called him and visited about his condition. Seems like he often gets up in the night, aims for an open door and misses. He does nothing for the condition. He also told of a next door neighbor, just 50, who had a bout of severe vertigo that disabled her from work for a period of time. She is fine now. The reason I was checking was because I recall that when I had a severe episode of vertigo years ago that put me in the hospital the Neurosurgeon that came in to examine me for a possible stroke told me that a simple head tilting exercise would help keep vertigo in check and that other than that there was not much they could do other than surgery and that is a last resort because there is a hearing loss associated with that procedure.

So I did some internet checking and came across some information that detailed exactly what I had done, tilting the head back severely and experiencing some dizziness. Like the old story about the Dr. who was told by a patient that it hurts when he raises his arm told the patient, then don't do that. That was essentially the advice from the article. Be careful of head position if you are susceptible to this form of vertigo called BPPV. The treatment prescribed is a set of exercises and it usually goes away in several weeks, the exercises may speed the cessation of symptoms.

So, I decided not to go to the clinic and waste some money on what I already knew. I feel fine. I did some of those exercises this noon and determine it is my right ear as that is the side I get dizzy on when I do these exercises. In addition, that is the position I had my head cocked when the problem first came on. So on to other things. If it does persist for several weeks or more I will have it checked out. For now, I've other more important things to do.

Friday, August 7, 2009

How do you describe?

I woke up at 2:30 AM this morning and had to use the bathroom. As I walked to the facility I all of a sudden lurched forward as though I was going to fall on my face. I did not feel dizzy, but I did feel disoriented. After going to the bathroom I returned to bed and lay down. All of a sudden I became disoriented again, in the new position. Once again I was able to focus on objects, it was not like the room was spinning, but I did feel a little queasy. I got up again and did some head exercises a Dr. had told me about that consist of bending your head from one side then to the other so your inner ear mechanism that contributes to balance gets some exercise. I then stood on one leg with arms outstretched and held that position for half a minute, then the other leg. It is kind of a balance check. I kept having to flex my foot to stay upright, but I was able to maintain that position for a while. In the meantime you get scared.

Strokes can cause that disorientation. My brother Dean suffered a stroke while playing golf. His golfing partner told of the episode that when they got to the locker room at the country club Dean complained of seeing double. Some days later he passed away. My family has a history of strokes so I end up with some fear there. However, I also have a slow heart beat. Yesterday for example when I was in Wal*Mart I used the BP cuff and got a reading of 133/78 but my pulse was 58. The Cardiologist I have seen has told me that some day I may need a pace maker because of that slow heart beat. I have for a long time staggered from time to time when I rise from a prone position to upright, and have been a little unsteady on my feet once and a while, but not too often. My dad, in his later years, talked about walking like a drunken man from time to time, but didn't suffer any ill effects. Still one worries.

I came downstairs to just sit and get stabilized. I seem OK as I write this and my vision is not blurred nor do I feel lightheaded. Jenny, I know you will read this but I am typing this more for a record than anything else, so don't get upset or feel you have to call, although I do enjoy talking to you any time and look forward to hearing your voice.

I also know that people do have equilibrium issues over the years and live just fine. I have a problem with I want to feel perfect and when I don't I begin imagining which is not good for me. I really do feel I'm in pretty good health, I am due for a check up later this summer and will make sure I bring up this episode to the Dr., but I don't know what to make of things now. Perhaps I just sat up too fast and that caused some reaction, because I do feel normal sitting here typing.

As my Dad once told me years ago, sometimes you just can't let things bother you. You have to just go on because that is how life is. It isn't the same for every person. So I'm going back to bed and have a good rest.

Friday, July 31, 2009

She-it!!!

A young man who works for me is facing a terrible time. He is in his mid-30's, married with one child 2 years old and a baby on the way due in October. His children are his life, pictures abound his office, we are bombarded with pictures of his wife and daughter, almost ad nauseum.

Many months ago he was diagnosed with a growth in his abdomen that doctors felt was more of a cyst than anything and attached no importance to it other than they told him when he was ready they would surgically remove it for him. He was in no hurry but felt it should get taken care of sometime soon.

When his wife became pregnant for the second time he felt he would like to have the little issue behind him before the arrival of #2. So he scheduled the surgery. During the course of the pre-op work up a small mass was found at the base of his esophagus as it enters his stomach. In addition, a suspected tumor was discovered in his shoulder. Some more tests indicated the small mass at the base of his esophagus was cancerous, but had not spread to the underlying tissue so a resection of the esophagus would fix that. In the meantime during a pet scan they found a spot on his liver. A second CT scan with a dye enhancement did not find the spot on his liver, so one test said yes, another said no. They decided to do a needle biopsy of the tumor in his shoulder. They said the CT scan indicated some calcification, so being a local professional wrestler in his youth he felt he had injured his shoulder so often that it was probably some form of scar tissue.

The test came back, no it was also cancerous. At first they felt that it was two different types of cancer both localized. Late last week they found that the cancerous polyp in his esophagus and the tumor in his shoulder were the same cancer, so metastisis had taken place.

He is supposed to begin a chemotherapy regime next week with the intention of shrinking the tumor in his shoulder and esophagus, then at some future time he will undergo surgery to remove the two growths from the sites.

Today he is having a liver sonogram to find out if there is something there or not, after all one test was positive, one negative. They are doing a echocardiogram to ascertain the strength of his heart as the chemo does do some heart damage and they want to know if his heart will withstand the side effects. They are also going to do a brain scan to determine whether or not there is another problem area.

He and I talked yesterday. The odd thing is he has no symptoms. The doctors are puzzled because each tumor by itself they would diagnose as a Stage 1 cancer with a fairly high level of success in treatment. However, two locations indicated metastisis take the cancer to a Stage 4 with a survival rate of one year or more at less than 5%. So on the one hand the doctors are confused because they feel he should be having some symptoms, yet he has none. They have not ruled out the liver yet, and we shall have to see what the brain scan indicates. I hope and pray his will be OK. He has too much going for him, his family is in growth, and his wife is a very emotional person anyway. Right now his attitude is he will be OK. However, I also know that in the dark of night when everyone else is asleep your eyes pop open and you begin to wonder. You begin to speculate and of course your mind turns to dark thoughts. It is scary. I am scared for him.

I do not know how I will act if the news isn't good. I've had people I've known die of cancer, my mother died of breast cancer. However she was in the hospital two weeks before she died and I was stationed in El Paso, TX at the time so I did not see her during the waning days of her life. I know I will be positive and strong for this young man. He is a good guy and I hope he turns out OK.

Oh yeah, the cyst in his abdomen. It was an infection, they have finally found the right combination of antibiotics and the cyst is about gone. Perhaps God put it there so they'd find the other stuff.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Golf is played by humans

Sometimes the miraculous golf shots of Tiger Woods become expected. What creative, courageous shot can he pull of to salvage par, a birdie, or the tournament. This year's British Open did not have Tiger in the final field. Yet an old man taught us about humanity. Who would ever have thought that Tom Watson would take the lead on the first day of play and then relinquish it on the final putt on the final hole. Who would've thought in this day of weight lifting, chiseled athletes playing the refined game call golf and old man would hold sway.

I am proud of the way Tom Watson played. I am proud in the style with which he accepted the loss. He is a true champion, even more so now than in his hey-day. Tom proved that age is only a barrier if you let it be. Tom proved that even the aging can summon the ghosts of the past and relieve the excitement and the elation of the competition.

I am sure many professional sports writers will say a man of that age shouldn't be competitive. I am sure they may even say that the sport suffered because an old man could be competitive in such an event as the British Open. I say they are wrong. I say that on this day the true character of a man was on display for all to see. I contend that he faced odds few of us encounter and over came those odds to the very end when perhaps age did play a part in adding to the pressure of that final putt. Some may say it is a shame, he came so close. I say Tom Watson proved that the human condition is magnificent, that on a given day from the ashes of age rose a man who overcame and while he didn't triumph on the course his spirit triumphed on a day of wind and sun to show us again the reason we are such unique beings.

Friday, July 17, 2009

What do you say?

A young man, in his 30's has been found to have esophageal cancer. He has had a cyst or some sort of growth in his abdominal region for several years, but it was not felt to be dangerous so he postponed surgery. Finally he decided to have the cyst or growth removed. During pre-0p testing they found a small mass at the base of his esophagus and did a test on that. Polyps were discovered and they turned out to be cancerous, however according to the CBT they had not penetrated the underlying tissue so it was felt removal would be all that was necessary. He was encouraged by the news.

However, the Dr.'s wanted to do a PET scan to see if there was anything else. The PET scan revealed a spot on his liver and in his shoulder. He now has to go in to have a needle biopsy of the liver spot. He should find out the results on Monday. If it is cancer they will refer him to a specialist in Memphis, Little Rock, or St. Louis, his choice. If it is not cancer they will check out the shoulder, however he has a history of shoulder injury and it is felt that that object is either scar tissue or a bone spur as it appears calcified. If that checks out he will have surgery on the esophagus August 31.

Seems like a lot of problems cropping up and at his age. In addition he and his wife have a two year old daughter and his wife is pregnant with their second child. A pretty hefty load to bear.

So, what do you say? I just focus on the process, try not to worry too much although from my own experience that is just about impossible, and be upbeat about his outcome. In the meantime I keep up the work requirement because he needs some means of relieving the stress in his mind. I do hope that all is well. He is a good guy and valuable employee.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Price of Aggravation

During our ice storm clean up last spring I suffered a small cut in my right rear lawn tractor tire. It resulted in a slow air leak that would leave the tire soft after a couple of days. I used some tire plugs to try and plug the leak but because it was a cut I couldn't stop the leak completely. So I decided that instead of having the leak repaired I would simply air up the tire when I need the tractor using my trusty old air compressor. I did this for about four or five months. However it was an aggravation to back my tractor up to the garage, start the compressor and air up the tire. It didn't take long, but I do like convenience.

This Saturday I decided to see if I could get the tire fixed, or replaced. I have suffered enough aggravation. The end result was I took it to a tire repair center where they put a tube in the tire for me. Now the tire maintains pressure and the problem is solved for now. The cost was $20.50 to have a new tube mounted in the tire. Now one has to wonder, how much is my time worth? Insurance companies and the IRS say my time is worth zero, zip, nada. So then how much to fire up the compressor, a few cents, lets say $0.05, that means I could could air up my tire 410 times before I spent $20.50. If I used the tractor twice a week that means I could go 205 weeks before I hit break even. Almost four years before I reached the cost of having a tube installed, and I still have an old tire. Hmmm, what price aggravation???

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The measure of a fine lady

We now are the owners of two fine Labrador pups. They are basically white in color, although the hair along their backs does have a yellow tinge to it. Terry brought them home from her mother's. I was not against the idea of having dogs again, and I had even thought that if we had dogs I would want two so they kept each other company. I just wasn't ready at this time, and was caught off guard. For the first month or so it seemed like taking care of them basically fell on me and I began to resent the time commitment when I have so many other things to do. Terry seemed to stand off a little bit, helped a little in feeding them and seeing that they had water down, but other than that I seemed to have the bulk of the work. I must admit I had thoughts that this didn't seem fair.

However, change was in the offing. A few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night and realized the lights were on in the house and Terry was up. Normally, I get up in the middle of the night and let the dogs out to potty so they don't soil their sleeping area. This night Terry was going to let me rest while she dealt with the dogs. If I get up in the night to take the dogs out I just go out in a pair of flip flops and my sleep shorts, no shirt, no bug dope, just get up and go. I could hear Terry moving about but wasn't sure what was going on so I got up in case she needed help. I walked into her dressing closet and her she was struggling into jeans, had a long sleeve shirt on and was going to take the dogs out. She was upset with me for getting up as she wanted me to have a good night's sleep. God Bless her.

Last week we had some serious discussion about the pups being too much for us to handle and we should look for a home for them. Both of us agreed that they are good dogs, very loving and well mannered for how young they are. We kind of agreed that we should continue to try to get them controlled and work through their adolescent period. Perhaps! That evening Terry said she was aware she was not pulling her share of the load and took over the evenings chores of walking the pups, taking them out for the evening bathroom stroll and I should stay in and relax.

She made the mistake of not leashing them. For some reason I am gaining control over their actions with my voice, Terry is not. It was a hot evening, still in the 90's. All of a sudden the door opened, this intense yet disheveled woman came in and slumped in the kitchen table chair. The dogs had seen a neighbor's pet rabbit and chased it. Terry had gone after the dogs and could not get them to come home. Finally she picked up Molly and carried her back home, some several hundred yards. The dogs now weigh in the 30's and Terry is not a physically strong woman so it took all of her determination to carry that dog home. Where one dog goes, so goes the other so Lily follow Terry and Molly home. Terry was hot, beat, sweaty, thirsty, all of the things that cause her discomfort that she so detests. But, she made it. She had swung her weight, and even though she perspired, which she dislikes, and lacked strength she brought the dogs home, and got them in the house without too much incident.

That effort and partnership is the measure of a fine lady. I did not know the difficulty she was having otherwise I would've gone outside and helped. But she would not have wanted that, and I am proud of her, grateful for her love, and love her all the more for her effort.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WTF W/Politicos

A senator apologizes to his colleagues because he had an affair. A Governor apologizes for an unannounced trip to Argentina to see a person he is having and affair with. Time after time politicians overstep their boundaries and commit adultery then when caught apologize to all they've hurt, yet they don't step down. How farrogant. They should resign. They should be recalled, they should be drummed out of the damned Congress, State Government, or wherever else those assholes make a living. Shame on the electorate for tolerating their lame excuses.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Vagaries of a Bug's Life

Jeesus Christ, I get into the most ridiculous situations. Here I am at work. I have to go to the bathroom. So, I'm sitting peacefully on the throne surveying my kingdom when a small millipede encroaches on my territory. The bathroom has a tile floor and is quite clean, you don't think I'd go in anything else do you?

Anyway, the bug is approaching my shoe. Instead of stomping on it I moved it to one side. It curled into a ball, a purely protective move, and lay still for 15 or 20 seconds. Then it's little antennae started twitching and pretty soon it is trying to turn itself over as it is on its back. The bug has an oval shaped shell that makes it kind of like a turtle trying to right itself after having been turned over. The problem is the tile floor is too smooth for the bug to gain a foothold to turn itself over, so there it struggles.

Now I start to reflect on the bug's life. What a predicament! There it was, minding it's own business going on a trek across a vast expanse of tile. Then all of a sudden its on its back and can't get turned over, oh dear, oh dear! I start to think about its existence. What if I stomped it? Will it know eternity, is there a bug heaven? Does it deserve to go there? Does it deserve such an ignoble death as being stomped upon by a person sitting on a commode? What is an honorable death for a bug? Battle? Fending off vile predators so it can go home and nurture its baby bugs? What the hell am I thinking???

In a fit of remorse I try to right it with my index finger. All it does in roll itself into a ball and become defensive. So I am obliged to wait another 15 -20 seconds until it's faint passes and it's antennae twitch to see if it is on the right side. Nope! Still on its back, waving its multiple feet like a little accordion player who has no accordion to play.

Now I get inventive. I tear off a sheet of toilet paper and place it on the floor next to the bug. I think maybe it will now have something to grasp and be able to right itself. Now my mind is thinking, once righted I can smoosh it and wouldn't that be the ultimate frustration, killed after having succeeded in getting to its feet. Gees!

In placing the sheet of toilet paper next to the bug I caused it to faint again. I guess you can imagine sitting on the floor and all of a sudden out of nowhere comes this gigantic sheet of something and plops down next to you without warning. Maybe we'd faint too.

Now I have to wait another 15-20 seconds while the bug recovers. My ass is getting sore. Pretty soon the antennae twitch and sure enough the bug grasps the edge of the toilet paper and pulls itself right side up. Now the edge of the toilet paper looms as an immense obstacle so the bug sits. Finally I quickly slide the toilet paper away from the bug which causes the bug to faint again. For Christ's sake!!!

My ass is now sore enough that I get up and tower over the bug like some immense figure. At last I have gained the stature to which I think I was entitled all along. Having zipped up my pants I continue to wait. Sure enough the bug comes around again and this time is on its many feet. It slowly turns, turns some more, turns a little more and then starts off headed directly at me. I can't stand it any more. I have given this bug humanity and now I have the sense that it is lurching toward me with its two front feet outstretched crying Daaadddddy as it heads towards its savior. I can't squash it now, it is beholden and appears to have loyalty.

I unlock the door and leave, the bug still heading in the direction I had been. So passes and insignificant moment.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Flush Rush

Sonia Sotomayor is our latest nominee for the Supreme Court. Immediately Rush Limbaughger Cheese attacks reverse racism, or how the hell is it reverse, the term is just racism. That's like people using the word irregardless, it is just regardless no "ir" prefix. The guy is just a fidiot. Yeah, lets attack her, someone with impeccable qualifications. Perhaps her past decisions might yield a clue about her future renderings, but past history is not a predictor when it comes to Supreme court rulings. Retiring Justice Souter was nominated because of his conservative nature and turned out to be a liberal on the court.

So the Senate should do a good job of questioning her. I've read the text of her so called faux paux on the role of the Apellate Court and she is actually correct in her statement. The interpretation of the constitution does alter law over time. Who would have ever thought the Supreme Court would use the clause on the control of interstate commerce to prosecute a person for raping a person along side a federal "I" system highway in the Southeast. In fact, that was the argument the Supreme Court supported to allow the federal government to try a rapist when he had been found not guilty in state court. Of course court ruling expand, interprete and alter the original intent of our constitution, yet it provides frameworks for those ruling and hopefully our courts don't get too far afield.

I say question Ms. Sotomayor, insure she is qualified, then approve her. In the meantime, Flush Rush!!!

Sunday, May 24, 2009

They finally got to me

I try not to take too much extreme rhetoric to heart. I feel the size of the electorate and the views of our populace tend to moderate extremism. That said, some extreme talk really infuriates me. Two colleagues sent me a copy of a letter this week purported to be written by a Fourth Grade teacher in Missouri. I could barely read the letter without seeing red.

The letter is highly critical of President Obama, which I do not ordinarily mind. However this one derided Obama for bowing to the King of Saudi Arabia, for reaching out to Muslims, for allegedly saying that Americans provided aid to the world and doesn't Europe know how much we help rebuild them after WWII. A letter veiled in so called patriotism was nothing more than an extreme hate letter written by a teacher of our young minds, God help us.

Obviously this woman thinks that because we rebuilt the economies of France, Germany, Italy, but she left out Japan after WWII we should be viewed as some great savior country. The fact is we would not have had the tremendous economic expansion if we had not created overseas markets to take out goods. The real mistake we made was greed. Instead of listening to the people who had fashioned quality standards that made our military superior in WWII we took the attitude of get it out ASAP and damn the consequences so all kinds of quality procedures that had been built into the military procurement methods were abandoned. We produced goods, but even in our own country the quality image of our manufactures became a joke.

In the meantime countries who had long histories of craftsmanship and quality, plus Japan who learned from the Americans who had helped establish the quality procedures during the war listened and learned and eventually took markets away from us. We founded the electronics industry, it went offshore. We founded mass production of automobiles, we allowed offshore competition to make huge inroads into our auto industry until it is on the verge of collapse today. Our position was here, these are goods made by the great and wonderful U.S. Take them, pay us, and bow to our superiority. It didn't take long until they shoved our superiority up our ass.

This woman goes on to criticize Obama for bowing to a Saudi King. It could've been a head nod. Regardless, it seems to me that we need to reach out to someone in the Mideast. I've nodded my head in recognition of someone, even a slight bow is a sign of respect not subordination.

This woman then goes on to say how dare President Obama reach out to Muslims, doesn't he know that this country is founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic. There's an idea. First this country was founded on the principles of independence, independence to choose and act in a manner that we choose. People who came to this country also came to escape religious persecution, which means you have to freedom to practice any religion you choose. Now as to the idea that we were founded on the Judeo-Christian ethic, there a good idea. In the middle ages some of the worst atrocities and most cruel actions were initiated by good Christians trying to liberate Jeruselam. Our J-C Ethic allowed people to go to church on Sunday and bid at auction on slaves on Monday without batting an eye. Our J-C Ethic permited the wholesale slaughter of Native Americans and subjugated them so thoroughly they have not recovered to this day. Some hate crimes are committed by overzealous self-rightous defenders of the faith.

I do not agree with everything that President Obama is advocating. However, I do think it is time we reach out to our enemies. I think it is time to end the boycott of Cuba. I think it is time we actively pursue partnerships with our South American brothers. The economy is now global, our dependence on that global economy is very deep. We need to quit pursuing this holier than thou attitude and pursue friendship and building relationships with others in the world. There is that old saying, "Pride goeth before the Fall." That saying doesn't mean that pride disappears before the fall, it means that first come pride, then comes disaster. We can take pride in materials, pride in our materialism and stick it where the sun don't shine for all I care. I take pride in members of my family, my daughters, but I certainly don't think the sun rises and sets with them. This teacher in Missouri, if she really is a teacher should be fired before she inflicts any more self-rightous propaganda on her students.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

New Walking Partners

This morning I took our two new dogs, Molly and Lily on my morning walk. They stayed right with me for 30 minutes. I shortened my route so I did not have to go down near the road, Fairview Drive, which would be a possible danger for them. We did walk along Fairview at one point the the yard at our other property is elevated and the dogs are actually kind of hidden or some feet above Fairview so I do not feel they would get away from me. However as they spend time here and get familiar with our surroundings they may tend to wander, right now they stay close.

My morning walk is altered. Usually I start rather slow and as I loosen up my pace picks up and I find myself striding down the paths and over the yards. Today instead of stride, stride, stride in measured rhythm it was more step to the side, pick up a foot, shove, kick, half step, partially stumble, stride and so on. That will improve as they become familiar with the territory and who knows I may end up having to leave them home. Right now it is fun to watch them sniff, snoop, and ponder their new surroundings.

We did come to the realization that we were underfeeding them. The bowls we used held a cup of food and that is what they got morning and evening. Reading the label on the bag we realized they should be having at least double that measure so we brought out larger bowls and now they have plump round bellies. As I write they are both asleep on the floor of the living room, stuffed and resting after a 30 minute walk and a sumptuous breakfast. Can't help but admire their trust and lifestyle. Me, I have to go to work.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

An Answer to Abortion

A dear friend sent me an email from another friend who is a strong Catholic. In his short essay he made the case for praying for President Obama and other like minded persons to change their mind about Pro Choice and swing toward Pro Life. I disagree. I replied in that vein to my dear friend. I then received a reply that while he hates to see a child brought into a loveless life, or hates to see an unwanted child potentially ruin a young woman's life he decries man playing God.

So I have an answer. We are a democracy. Lets vote in our society that science shall develop an infertility method that renders males impotent and sterile, and females unable to produce eggs and also sterile. Then when proof of insurance, stability of income, and stability of emotional behavior are demonstrated, after age 25 the effects are reversed and they are able to bear young. Then the Pro Lifers would be satisfied, and the Pro Choice people would be satisfied. Abortions could be done away with by lack of necessity rather than making it a moral choice.

Welcome to 1984.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

New Additions


Last Sunday, May 3 was Mother's Day. Terry called her Mom to wish her a good day and tell her that she was planning on taking a day trip to Hardy, AR to visit her. At the time she learned that her mother had taken in two Yellow Lab pups who had made their way to her doorstep in the midst of a terrible thunder storm. They were bedraggled and frightened. Terry's mother's home is not set up to handle a pair of pups. It is an old trailer with little accommodations and they already have an aging Border Collie who didn't cotton to the pups. The situation was not a good one.

Terry asked if we didn't need a couple of dogs. I was not prepared for that event, however I also know that Terry likes to have some company around if I'm not here. I left the decision up to her.

Monday, Terry brought the pups home. Two very cute Yellow Lab pups. Her Mother had asked neighbors if anyone had some dogs run away, and no one came asking if anyone saw some pups. This was for over a week. So Terry felt like whoever had the pups wasn't really looking for them.

Now we have two rambunctious, rolly polly, pups. I judge them to be about 4 months old. Right now I think that they are pretty pure in their breeding. Their color seems to be white. I don't know if they will darken over time, but they are obviously sisters. Now things have to be picked up, things have to be moved and toys added to accommodate the fact that pups learn by tasting and chewing. There is competition between them. Even though they each have a chew bone when one is chewing on a bone the other wants it even though there is an unoccupied bone. They are surprisingly well behaved. At night we put them in the main bathroom and for the most part they spend a quiet night. I am thankful for that. We do have some urine to clean up in the morning, and one morning one of them had pottyed in the room. However, they do seem to have the idea that going outside is where they are supposed to go.

We have decided to name them. One will be Lily, they other will be Molly. So welcome to the family Lily and Molly. May you have a good, long life and provide us with companionship we enjoy.
video

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Wallering in a Waller book

Robert James Waller wrote the book "The Bridges of Madison County." I just finished another of his books titled "The Long Night of Winchell Dear." I read it in a day, actually I read it in about 5 hours. I tried to read it slowly and enjoy the different descriptive style Mr. Waller employs. I did not succeed. I would not characterize his book as gripping or deep, although some of the quotes used make one think. One quote struck me, but I can't say I make much sense of it, here it is: "So my nephew, listen to me and know my words: In the high desert, Time is an old, sly rider, a bandit of legend who will seal your days and take your woman and be smiling down at you as He boards the evening train." Hmmm!!!

I recommend the book."The Long Night of Winchell Dear" is an easy read. It is a pleasant book to while away some hours. It takes a number of characters somewhat unknown to each other yet with pasts and present that will intertwine and have an impact on each other. It causes a change of direction in the main character Winchell Dear who probably embodies the characteristics we would all dream about but would not undertake. The action part of the book takes place in the last couple of pages and is over almost as an after thought, yet central to the theme. It is an interesting book, I recommend it.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Will Republicans Recover

My Father was a Republican in a Democratic county. He used to jokingly say that Alger County should be in Georgia. Republican's did not have much of a say in Michigan at the time. However, raised in a Republican home I eventually did adopt the ideals of the party, I thought.

I used to think that the GOP stood for individual rights, minimal government interference in our private business, lower taxes, and individual accountability. Somewhere the party got hijacked. Somewhere we picked up this so called religious right or moral majority (after the last election a misnomer if I ever heard one.) All of a sudden we want to pass laws that violate what I believe to be a fundamental constitutional philosophy of the separation of church and state. Now we want to pass laws that forbid freedom of choice, we want to Christianize our country which I believe flies in the face of religious freedom.

I am working my way through the Federalist Papers. The "papers" provide insight into the arguments and intentions of the framers of our constitution. They do not refer to the growth of a federal government as being a goal of the constitution. In fact other than regulating commerce, limited taxation making treaties, and providing for the common defense most other issues are left to the states.

Yet here we are with the Republicans on the run. A group of party leaders are going around the country participating in town meetings to hear what the people have to say. My concern is that so much rhetoric has been blasted at us by the bombastic conservative talk show hosts that all that will show up at the town hall meetings will be persons who want to further the aims of that small but vocal part of the party.

I tend to be a fiscal conservative. I believe in individual rights and accountability. I believe that people should stand on their own and that public support programs should only be used in times of need and are not entitlements. I believe that government interference in our lives should be limited. I further believe that government should be transparent, I reject the hawkish designs of the former administration. It is people like Dick Cheney, and Karl Rove, with their secrets and designs that will result in catastrophe for our society.

The world is changing, more rapidly than many are capable of dealing with. We should have dialogue with all countries. We should remove the sanctions against many countries, particularly Cuba. Hell, we've supported dictators and tyrants in the past. The fear of communism as a viable means of providing economic equality to all is an unworkable dream in the fashion of the cold war. It is time to get on with establishing a true new world relationship. We are in danger of making our country irrelevant.

I hope the GOP is able to refashion itself, however I don't think it will.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Republican Party

I'm not sure I believe in the old two-party system Republican and Democrat. Either party seems to be a blend of the other. The democrats were tax and spend, today they are spending a great deal, but I'm not sure they have a choice. The Republicans used to stand for individual rights, now they want to tell women they have no choice, they want to tell gays they have no rights. It seems the the Moral Majority, which it isn't, wants to dictate, rule, and subjugate citizens to some moral code that flies in the face of reality. I've always admired the strength of the Catholic religion. I have always thought the Pope foolish, abstain, do not practice safe sex. We're fouling the nest here for cripes sake. It seems that passing legislation that outlaws abortion flies in the face of a fundamental precept of Christianity, free will. They get down on their knees and get up and go into bars.

I am so disappointed in the Republican party. They seem to be populated and lead by a bunch of braying asses who seem to enjoy showing their keen wit and how they can shout down their opponent as opposed to providing stimulating conversation that will broaden and enhance decisions that may make life better. I say Flush Rush. He smells like Limbaughger Cheese. Arlen Specter changed parties for no other reason that to try to save his political skin. Isn't that what politicians do. Term limits prevent that outlandish maneuver. I say term limit them all. That is a movement I would get behind and I wish we could get it through the several states. Remove the "good old boys and gals." Lets get fresh stuff, then before it festers and molders replace it with more fresh stuff. I could handle that idea.

State Farm Insurance

I cannot give you an endorsement, nor can I be critical of State Farm. I have never had a homeowners claim in my life, and I've had several car accidents, but those were years ago. I do know that my treatment during my recent experience has been excellent.
We've had a mobile home, a manufactured home is the parlance, for 17 plus years just out the back door of our log cabin. It was purchased when Terry and I got married to provide a home for her kids as our log cabin was not large enough. It has been empty for a number of years now and provides a refuge for Terry when I'm watching football in the fall, or for me if Terry's into one of her old movies I'm not into. Guests stay in the trailer as it has two nice bedrooms and provides a significant amount of privacy and comfort for those infrequent visitors.

My daughter Jenny and Granddaughter Lindsey last stayed in the trailer over Easter weekend earlier in April. Several weeks before their visit I had replaced the kitchen faucet and had installed a new type of connection fitting. I didn't like the fitting. It is a compression type and I saw no positive restraint to the pvc supply hose, however I got it to work and it held for about a month until sometime in the middle of the night.


I woke this morning, 4/29/09 at 5 AM and headed downstairs to make coffee. I heard a loud gushing sound that was not rain. I opened the back door and heard the water pouring out of the trailer. I know right away what had happened. I shut the water off to the trailer and came back in and made coffee. Terry got up and we started to move stuff and vacuum up water using an old shop vac that I've had for some 35 years. The little vac sucked up water quite well. However, when I shut the vac off to empty it I discovered it had two little leaks in the bottom from years of use. As long as the vacuum was on the water stayed in. As soon as I shut the water off it gushed out. Terry emptied the cupboards. Then she found her floor scrubber and used that to suck up water from the kitchen.

I went to Lowe's and bought a new shop vac that would just about suck up the world. Then I called State Farm. The local agent's office was closed, however I got a message center that logged in my information and entered a claim number for me. Since that time the service has been excellent. Jason, the State Farm rep provided me with the name of a "mitigation" service that is here now tearing out carpeting and flooring to dry the place out. State Farm will pick that tab up, less my deductible of course. The adjuster should be out in a few days to evaluate the damage and then we will go from there.

Some tips about homeowners insurance for a manufactured home. Homes over 5 years old will not be insured for replacement value. State Farm will only pay off on the cash value of the home. However, I greatly underestimated the value of my home. I had thought it would be just a couple of thousand dollars. I did an little internet search and found some mobile homes that were older than mine and were for sale for $10-15K. The value of my policy is $29K. I thought about canceling the policy at first, but then I thought about reducing the policy down to an estimated cash value. I did neither. As a result, State Farm will make repairs to the home in the amount of the insure value, not the cash value. So it looks like I will get new flooring, carpeting, etc for the cost of my deductible.

This does leave one with a quandary. I've been paying over $500 annually for the insurance. I've felt that it was over priced for a trailer, excuse me, manufactured home. I had to maintain the insurance as the trailer was part of the collateral on my property for mortgage purposes. When I paid off the property I was considering canceling the policy. In fact, I had told my insurance agency to go ahead and cancel it. Then, as an after thought I realized I had a home equity line of credit with the property as the collateral. So I called the insurance agency and left a message because I did not know if I had to carry insurance for the line of credit. As a result, the lady I work with at the agency did not execute the cancellation order. Whew!

The other quandary though is, should you maintain your insurance policy at a higher value than the cash value of the trailer? It does not make good business sense, and I'm not sure I still understand the philosophy of State Farm that says if the trailer is destroyed they will pay off cash value, but if repaired they will pay of the face value of the policy. Regardless, I'm very happy no action was taken on the policy. It looks like we will come out OK.

I would say State Farm has done a good job and I appreciate it.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UAW Woes

To listen to the automotive unions you'd think their members were being disenfranchised. I do believe that the realization has set in that the lucrative, draining contracts the UAW built into the automotive industry are no longer viable. I have a lot of experience with the UAW. The workforce in plants I've worked in for 25 years were represented by the UAW. Their philosophy and gains that they achieved in the automotive industry were also part of the agriculture industry. Just imagine, a person gets laid off from his job and receives supplemental pay that amounts to 95% of his average hourly earnings while unemployed. I call that vacation. Just how long did the members think that golden goose would lays its eggs, and how can you say you deserve such largess for no effort.

The vast majority of Americans do not have the benefits the automotive industry employees enjoy. It is not an entitlement. Mismanagement, union pressure and the economy have exposed the iceberg. The heat of the economy is melting it down. Frankly, the rest of us Americans will be better off if the competitive pressures in the system are allowed to function and the market readjusts its level of consumption and forces prices down. People will get hurt in the short run but that is the system that works best to prevent excess waste and erosion of will. Don't feel too bad for those automotive people, after all just how long do you think life lasts?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Shut Up Cheney

I am a Republican. Dick Cheney disgusts me. Shut up Dick, go chase spot, see Jane run. Quit acting like an idiot, it simply serves to confirm the obvious, you are.

A Classical Gas

There is a song from the "Big Band" days called Night Train. It has some oowaa trombones in it. This morning cooking breakfast I let a fart that had that perfect oowaa sound. It made me think of the song Night Train, which immediately led me to Dick "Night Train" Lane a defensive back for the Detroit Lions back in the 50's and early 60's. He was a fearsome player and loved the song thereby coming to the nickname of "Night Train" Lane. It is strange where a fart can take you.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Miss USA Contest

I just read where Miss California has been criticized for her comments about gay marriage. I read her comments. She clearly stated she did not mean to offend anyone but she was raised to believe that marriage is just between a man and a woman. It is a shame that this person cannot express her beliefs without criticism. I support gay rights, without question. However, I also support an individual's right to believe in a manner that may be different than mine. As long as those beliefs do not harm me or tamper with my life then people can have a belief system I would not adopt. Yet this person was criticized for what the article states were her personal beliefs. Shame on our society for condeming persons for standing for their values system.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Extremes have one thing in common

Recently an extremely conservative South Carolina TEA party booed a congressman from that state for voting for the "bailout" bill. He was booed constantly and loudly for the entire time he tried to speak. Extreme liberals have derided so called conservatives and booed them loudly and vehemently trying to shout down different ideas and fixating on humiliating those who disagree with their point of view.

They all have one thing in common: They are all asses!

Good Things

Susan Boyle, need I say more. I've watched that video half a dozen times. I've read the stories on CNN about her. She is a whole lot more intelligent that we give her credit for. Her reason for singing the song she did on the British version of American Idol was it played to her wish to become a professional singer. Her frumpy look and awkward mannerisms make her an endearing character and I hope she never loses that. She also said on Larry King yesterday, that she does not feel like she will experience loneliness anymore. I hope she doesn't. I hope she gets a recording contract. I will buy a CD just to support her and her pluck. Way to go Susan!!!

Fear Rules

Some months ago I was reading a report by an organization that tracks first mortgages, not first time mortgages, but mortgages on our primary residence. At the time there were roughly 51 Million first mortgages outstanding, of which about 3.4 Million were at risk or in foreclosure. That is less than 10%. I thought then, that if these mortgages were folded into the investment instruments that are considered toxic, then the exposure to the investor is really minimal, unless most of the bad mortgages ended up in one investment security which would be unlikely. The rule that forced investment firms to write down their investments should they be considered excessively risky was not a good rule, and I believe the government has rescinded that rule. Regardless, the investments supporting the underlying debt load were too bad.

What became bad was when financial institutions were forced to write down these securities as the housing bubble burst. The balance sheets of our largest financial institutions, not only in this country, but around the world became suspect and then began the run. So what about now?

Yes, foreclosures have gone up dramatically. There are several reasons, one is that mortgages were approved for people who were poor credit risks. Another reason is that as the home values plummeted in some areas people became upside down on their mortgages and could not get refinanced because they were now a credit risk, the underlying collateral didn't support the loan value, and banks were unwilling to take a hit on the value of the mortgage so no refinancing was available to those who needed it. There were those unscrupulous firms and/or persons who rushed loans through, committed fraud and deception, or out right lied to persons wanting to buy a home and got high risk mortgages approved. We still fall for the lure of "easy" money.

I have long maintained that our economy is in trouble because of perception. A lot of the jobs that have disappeared should've, real estate brokers, mortgage originators, financial analysts and securities brokers. I think a whole bunch of other spongers should be gotten rid of and the idea of actually working and creating objects of value be reinstated.

There are signs the economy is turning. I do hope the overvalued homes have shaken out, although I have a feeling home prices have not fallen enough yet. However, home sales have started to perk up. Yes, many of the homes being bought are foreclosures being snapped up for investment or by those who can afford the distressed prices. To build the strength of our economy on the practice of building newer and more expensive homes to replace smaller and very adequate homes simply to service a life style is not sound economy. It has to stop someplace, and perhaps it did. It was not the majority of the population that put our economy in the toilet, it was the minority and they should be accountable, instead we all pay.

Bunch of bullshit if you ask me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Federalist Papers

I am struggling through the Federalist Papers. I've been at it off and on for about a year. There are over eighty letters each describing some facet of the proposed Constitution of the United States some 230 years ago. It is a project I wanted to do for a long time. I have felt we, Americans, do not study or know much about the roots of out country. I've read a history book about the Revolutionary War and now am tackling the Federalist Papers. It is a daunting task. I am not accustomed to the language and legalistic arguments used. The way ideas are expressed seem a little grandiose and are difficult for me to follow. I have a hard time staying with the thoughts being expressed as they tend to be arguments used to explain the intent of the document creators in the development of the Constitution. I read one letter and I can't recall the content. I am getting the general impression of things but the effort is taxing. I may read a few letters over the course of several evenings, then put it down for a month while I read for entertainment. However, I am determined to push my way through and I hope then to study the material a little to see if I can grasp the intent a little more firmly.

At this point I am convinced the Federal Government has grown in way and size never intended by the framers of the constitution. It is also evident that the state legislators were intended to elect the President and the Senate, the Legislature was the only body to be directly elected by the people. I don't know if that arrangement would've been workable over the long haul and perhaps the evolution of direct election of all of those offices would be too much to hope for, but it is clear that the will of the people is paramount. This is not the case today.

I shall continue my quest. I am only one man and must admit my ability to influence the political animal that towers over us is minimal, but I do believe that the citizenry of this country have an obligation to be informed, aware, and involved in our political process. I do not feel that is the situation today, and we are paying for it by a Congress that is bloated with special interests and does not reflect the will of the people.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Legalize drugs, hell ----- Yes!

I'll bet my kids would think I would say no. Not now, not given the mess we've made of things in our society. Parents shirk parental duty in teaching their children about the opportunities and pitfalls life holds for them. Unfortunately I ended up teaching my kids by example. However taking control of drugs, reduces the need for crime, reduces the need for accessibility. Use the money saved to mount education, get parents involved, learn again the concept of neighborhood and I have a feeling we will reduce the horrendous impact drugs are having on our society. Drugs are prevalent in other countries, but why does the U.S. seem to have such a huge problem?

However, when the large majority of Americans support social reform, why do our politicians act as though they aren't responsible to the will of the people. I do not hold out great hope for this shift in our society, but I think it is the right thing to do. Legalize drugs - Hell yes.

Some countries seem to handle societal issues with a more enlightened approach than America. Could it be the so called moral majority's retarded concept of how to deal with society's issues.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What is going on?

Yesterday driving back from work I met a small caravan of three pickup trucks hauling three new grain augers to some destination. At the corner of Highway C & N and U.S. 412 a farmer has his equipment sheds. Many times there are vehicles or equipment for sale on his property and they seem to move pretty well. Yesterday he had a fairly new John Deere cotton picker for sale and a Module Maker beside it. I wondered if he was getting out of the business or had he upgraded to a new piece of equipment I started to see in this area last year which is a combination cotton picker module maker made by both Deere and Case. Sure enough, there back in one of the equipment sheds sat a great big new John Deere picker with the module maker extension on the back end. So he upgraded.

A friend who is a John Deere dealer here in Paragould had let his inventory of equipment drop to very low levels last fall. When I talked to him about that he said he was very uncomfortable to see his inventory that low, but he had to do it from and economic standpoint. This spring driving past his dealership I see his lot is chuck full of new combines, pickers and sprayers. Big stuff, high ticket items. Now that could be because Deere is making incentives available to dealers that allow them to obtain large amounts of inventory, but Deere has been in this game for many years and knows the danger in artificially generating sales. Case damn near went bust of that issue back in the 70's.

Bo Adams, a very rich man who owns 48,000 acres of prime delta land is propping up his farm renters by forgoing rent charges. He will take a piece of the action at harvest time, but he will weather the storm.

My cousin Maureen who is a loan originator in California is back at work full time instead of one day a week a month ago. The low mortgage rates are stimulating all kinds of refinancing activity. Used home sales were up over 5% last month when experts predicted a fall. Even though much of the activity was in foreclosed homes I take that as a price adjustment to an over inflate housing values in the market as opposed to any other sign. The Real Estate boards aren't going to admit to an inflated market. They are a bunch of parasites as responsible for driving the price of homes up by 6% for every transaction along with the forces of greed that operated in house flipping strategies. In many large markets in this country everyone was forced into paying inflated prices for homes because of these forces.

So what does all this say to me. I think the economy has made its adjustment. There may be some more downward swings, and perhaps our little sample of what's going on is not correct. I just don't get the feel we are living in as desperate times as some pundits make out to be.