Archives For Off The Top

Random things that fly off the top of my mind

Waiting For Wife….

July 24, 2014 — 3 Comments

2014-07-03_08-05-24

I had to clip this from a post of a friend on Facebook. One of the duties I didn’t know a husband had before I got married almost three decades ago was waiting for your wife. Shopping is just one of those areas where waiting is called for. When I go to a store I usually have a list of what I want. I find those particular things and then am ready to check out. My wife has a different strategy. She can spend 20 minutes looking at purses even though she has no need for a new one and doesn’t intend to buy one.  She could easily spend two or more hours in the store and leave with nothing. For that reason my wife and I seldom go shopping together anymore.

Another thing is that when dinner is ready she disappears for several minutes. I do most of the cooking for us and announce “dinner is on the table”. She usually comes in within a couple of minutes and then promptly disappears. Where she goes I don’t really know but I end up waiting for her while the food gets cold.

Waiting should be in some husband’s book of instructions to forewarn us naive suitors. They say patience is a virtue and you will need a lot of it waiting for your wife….

 

 

SCOTUS Said So…

July 21, 2014 — 2 Comments

2014-07-07_08-52-54My religious belief strongly oppose war. I think our military budgets are totally outrageous! We, 5% of the world’s population, spend more on our war machine than the rest of the world combined.  With the latest ruling SCOTUS (Supreme Court Of The United States) tells us that religious groups can pick and choose which laws they choose to obey. Thanks to you my tax bill just got smaller. Thanks Mr Scalia and your co-conspirators for making it happen.

You guys never fail to amaze me as to how far you are willing to go to reshape this country to your views. You say you are against “activist judges” but you end up being the epitome of that category by your very rulings. First you upend our voting practices and now you are giving religions power they were never intended to have.

As Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wondered aloud in her dissent, “Would the exemption … extend to employers with religiously grounded objections to blood transfusions Jehovah’s Witnesses; antidepressants Scientologists; medications derived from pigs, including anesthesia, intravenous fluids, and pills coated with gelatin certain Muslims, Jews, and Hindus?”

SOURCE:  8 Other Laws That Could Be Ignored Now That Christians Get To Pick And Choose.

I certainly align with Justice Ginsburg’s comments. If a corporation says we are aligned with a religion that believes that God will take care of all our medical needs does that give them the right to ignore ACA? The whole argument just reeks of possibilities.

For any IRS  or NSA folks who might read this blog I am only kidding about not paying taxes so don’t come after me. ;)

2014-06-29_08-08-44

1. You will spend your life chasing a net worth number you think you will make you happy, but never get there.

People talk about their “number,” or the amount of money they think will make them happy and content. I’m convinced these numbers are what most people live for.

But they’re dangerous. People are bad at forecasting almost everything, but trying to predict how you’ll feel in the future is a whole different level of delusion….

2. A lot of what you know is wrong, incomplete, distorted, and subject to revision

There’s a bias called the “end of history illusion.” It says that people think changes in taste, new ideas, and learning in general occurred in the past, but today we’ve got it all figured out.

The truth is we’re always learning how wrong we were in the past…..

3. People are less impressed by your success than you think

Most people in the developed world are about as comfortable and safe as they’re going to get in their lives. Their incentive to get richer is to impress other people.

But while people spend their lives trying to impress their friends, a trait they find most attractive in those friends is humility. Few of us ever connect these dots….

SOURCE: Unfortunate Realities You Should Get Used To.

The folks over at Motley Fool have struck another chord with me. Here is a post about worrying on your wealth. Let’s take them a number at a time.

Number 1 – I don’t think I have ever spent any time chasing my net worth number. Money has just not been an important a topic with me. But of course that is probably because I had a fairly good career path and put away enough to now be comfortable. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not some closet millionaire but I am pretty sure I have enough to last out my years.

Yeah, people are usually very bad at forecasting anything. I am a planner at heart and of course most of those plans change because of circumstances. Nothing ever goes as planned. The ability to adapt is what is important.

Number 2 - I don’t know how many times in my life that I figured that I now had all the needed knowledge of life. Of course that was, and will continue to be, just naive thinking. I am still learning many of life’s basic lessons when I was sure I would have it all figured out by now. Learning how wrong we were in the past, how true that is.

Number 3 - I am a contrarian and in this regard because I am just not impressed with the wealth of a person. At least in monetary terms.  Personally, trying to impress others with wealth is way way down on my radar screen and anyone who IS impressed by wealth is usually not going to be much of a friend of mine. Humility  and how you treat others is way further up there for me….

Hope vs Cynicism…

July 14, 2014 — 9 Comments

2014-07-09_08-34-43WASHINGTON AP — To hear President Barack Obama describe it, there’s a creeping case of cynicism setting in across the country, leading Americans to suspect that not only is Washington broken, it’s beyond fixing.

If that line of thinking continues, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy with dire long-term ramifications, Obama says. If compromise-minded Americans get so frustrated they just tune out, lawmakers will feel even less pressure to work together for the good of the country.

SOURCE: How ‘hope’ became Obama’s fight against cynicism – Yahoo News.

Hope vs cynicism? Of course everyone wants to be on the hope side of that choice. But in order to be there we must be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Yes, someday I “hope” we get over all this extreme partisan bickering and get back to a healthy dose of compromise. I really hope that but I am very doubtful that will happen until we run off the cliff so to speak.

I dread the possibility of a totally Republican controlled government. To me that would mean abandonment of almost everything I hold dear. All brother’s keeper issue would be flushed down the toilet. We would likely become a nation intolerant of any religion except Christianity. The rich would get even richer while the poor were left to the scraps of the table.

No, I don’t see a lot of hope on America’s horizon. I have maybe another decade on this earth and I “am” hoping that we can hold it together for at least that long so I don’t have to see the consequences of going down the tube. It won’t be pretty. But I still hold out hope that we can, like we have done several times in the past, get to the edge of the cliff and then manage to step back instead of forward.  We have had a good run of luck in that regard but as always luck, however you want to define it,  eventually runs out.

I am holding out hope that someone will come along to lead us to a better way. I am now convinced that the black intellectual person currently in office is despite his hopeful rhetoric is unable to do that. Maybe there were just too many prejudices in his baggage to ever make that possible? Hillary is part of the problem in this area due to her own baggage. If she is elected the Republican establishment will likely get even more stubbornly in opposition than it is now, if that is even possible.

Just give me a slight glimmer on the horizon and I will try to grab onto some form of hope. Just give me a glimmer….. please…..

2014-06-29_08-08-44Consider this headline from a recent survey of retirees: “Many Regret Decision to Take Social Security Early.”

Sounds ominous, right? Well, the problem is that the title isn’t entirely supported by the survey’s actual results, which found that only 38% of respondents “say they wish they would have waited” longer before taking benefits. According to this, in other words, somewhere along the lines of 62% of respondents, or a large majority, evidently don’t regret the decision.And why should you?

As Motley Fool contributor John Maxfield explains in the following video, the Social Security Administration has designed the benefit formula to pay the same amount of total benefits over the life of a typical person irrespective of when they elect to take them. Additionally, as John goes on to discuss, taking benefits sooner rather than later can facilitate an earlier retirement, which allows retirees to escape the physical and psychological wear and tear associated with many jobs.

SOURCE: Social Security: Why You Shouldn’t Regret Taking Benefits at 62.

The source of this article is “Motley Fool”. I readily admit that they are on my daily read list. They, like me, have a somewhat contrarian philosophy. Maybe that is what draws me to them.  I don’t know why the topic of the article isn’t talked about much. Since I know that many of my readers are approaching or are in retirement, I thought I would talk about this again.

The fact is if you have a relatively normal or shorter life line in your genealogy then it makes good sense to take Social Security early. As the article mentions SSA has a formula that basically gives you the same overall amount independent of when you take it. I think the calculated age at death is currently 78. If you die before this age you will come out ahead if you take social security early. If you live longer than you may come out ahead if you wait.

The other thing that even this source article doesn’t mention is that if you take it early and  are able to invest the money profitably you will bank even more. Now I know in the age of almost zero percent bond rates and very fluctuating markets investing anything for a substantial profit takes work and some risk but even a small return will allow you to come out ahead.

In my case I look at the family tree and I see parents, grand parents, and great grand parents dying before the 78 year mark so I took it early and like usual I am not looking back on that decision.  I am among those 62% who don’t regret that early decision. It allowed me to bank about an additional $75,000 that is still growing today six years later.  If I live to be an old ornery fool of ninety I  would have been better to wait but at  ninety I probably won’t even be able to appreciate that fact. :)

2014-07-04_09-49-37“I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.”  – James Baldwin

I am so encouraged to read in my Bible that there have always been people of God who have chosen to be prophetic over being patriotic. I am part of a tradition that has always had prophets to speak out against the evils of war, injustice, and poverty. Although I love this country, if I have to choose, I would rather be a prophet than a patriot. I refuse to let my love of God be overshadowed by a sentimental, uncritical love of country.

The thing that many people misunderstand about prophets is this: they critique the country not because they hate it, but because they love it and want it to be better. Even though Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, he wept bitterly over the city when it happened just read Lamentations. Prophets are not afraid to call their nation out so that it can become even greater. That is true patriotism. It means loving your country enough to want it to be better and live more faithfully to the ideals it claims to believe.

SOURCE:  Prophet or Patriot | Shawn Casselberry | Red Letter Christians.

These words spoken by Shawn Casselberry over at Red Letter Christians almost totally reflect my feelings about this issue. I love this country and celebrate the fourth of July just as adamantly as anyone else but I keep my love of country in perspective with the rest of my life. First comes my God, then family followed by humanity and then finally country.

I have often been labeled unpatriotic on this blog and other places because of some of my criticisms of my country. But as James Baldwin and Shawn above say I criticize it because I want it to be better….

Happy Fourth of July Everyone

The GOP Brand….

July 2, 2014

2014-06-27_18-22-44The GOP brand has become a foul-tasting stew of wars against women, insults against seniors, alienation of Hispanics, dog-whistle undertones of racism against blacks, abusive congressional hearings and internecine warfare of Republican against Republican.

Thank you, Karl Rove. May pundits extol your brilliance and Republicans applaud your sleaze.

SOURCE:  Rove, Benghazi Lift Dems | Brent Budowsky.

It seems that the Republican party is hell-bent on becoming extinct. Fox News is the face of the GOP for most of us. We know that the median age of viewers of that channel is above seventy years of age. We also know that the viewers are generally predominately white and male.  As a result of this knowledge when I think of the GOP  the following picture gets stuck in my head.

I think of grumpy old white guys hunkered down in their homes looking out through the curtains on the world that simply terrifies them.  They see more and more “people of color” in their neighborhoods. They see women in positions of authority.  All of this simply terrifies them!!

The Republican brand is a dying brand. They are fighting among themselves as to who can be the most conservative. They think that If only we could get back to the good old days where everyone knew their places everything would return to their John Wayne or maybe Dirty Harry like world.

As I said this is the picture I see when I think of the GOP.  Now I realize that there are many who still cling to that brand that don’t fit this scenario but it seems that even those moderate Republicans who don’t see the word “compromise” as being a treasonous are quickly being disheartened by the GOP.  Many are now calling themselves “independent”. In other words they are seeking an alternative.  I once considered myself a Republican but the Republican I was has long ago been driven out of the party.

This whole scenario reminds me of one other group now extinct and that is the Shaker religious sect. I certainly admired them. They prospered for a period but became extinct due to some of their rigid beliefs.  Here is a little of what Wikipedia says about them.

The Shaker movement was at its height between 1820 and 1860. It was at this time that the sect had its most members, and the period was considered its “golden age”. It had expanded from New England to the Midwestern states of Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio…..

There were only 12 Shaker communities left by 1920. The Shaker communities continued to lose members, partly through attrition, since believers did not give birth to children…

The only remaining active Shaker community in the United States is Sabbath Day Lake Shaker Village in Maine, which as of 2012 had only three members…

At one time the Shakers were a thriving well thought of community but now there are only three remaining members. I kind of think that some day, maybe not in the too distant future, there will be only three remaining Republicans someplace still dreaming of the good old days.

 

2014-06-26_11-57-11This is going to be one of my soapbox posts so be warned.

Iraq is back in the news now with the latest insurgence. It seems the Shiite Muslims just don’t want to go down without a fight and the Sunni Muslims who now have most of the power don’t want to give their rivals any breathing room. Civil war is the logical conclusion where one religious group is battling another. History has certainly seen a lot of these type of wars.

Let’s flash back to the year 2000 when Saddam Hussein had iron fist control of the country. There was relative peace at least if you were a Shiite and for the most part Sunni. The dictator did now allow the drug trade or Al Qaeda into the country that his enemy often Afghanistan promoted.  There was a general peace among the populace and IEDs were unheard of. Yes, it appears to be true that Hussein did kill about 3,000 of his citizens over some perceived control things.  He insisted that he have ALL the power in the country and for the most part he did.

Then comes 2003 when President Bush decided that the leader of Iraq was developing nuclear weapons and was responsible for much of the current Al Qaeda movement.  It turns out that both of these things were grossly false but we invaded anyway. As a consequence over 150,000 Iraqi citizens have been killed and many more maimed.  Now that we have left, a religious civil war is in the process. By any standards we have made life much more miserable for the vast majority of people of that country.

Another devastating fact of that war is that we have lost about 4,500  of our kids  and seriously maimed another 32,000. No, it was not as lethal as Vietnam which was the war of my generation but still too many kids’ lives were extinguished in a totally unnecessary manner.  A famous saying that I will paraphrase is that we wonder why when we continue to do the same thing over and over again we don’t get a different result. Why can’t the leaders of one generation learn from those who went before them?

It is likely that no matter how many years we continue to throw our kids lives and our wealth into that country the final result will be the same.  Sectarian violence will rule out and Iraq will likely split into two or more religious theocracies.  In the end it comes down to which version of God you want to follow. I don’t think that is what God intended us to do when he created the universe…. Shame on us for allowing it to happen….

 

You Have To Use Them…

June 30, 2014

2014-06-23_16-39-48I heard a comment recently that has stuck to me. It went like this

You can’t just say you have rights, you have to use them to prove you have them”

I know of so many people who scream about the first amendment right to free speech but then villainize those who speak out against things that they don’t agree with. It seems, at least from their standpoint, that freedom of speech is a one-way street going only the way they go.

Some of the most vitriol comments I get on this blog is for saying things that others don’t agree with and since I am for the most part a contrarian I often go against the popular trends of the times. It just seems that someone has to do that to keep us from getting into a complacent attitude about things or to think that our way is the only way.

Freedom of speech and for that matter to protest and redress Grievances is something that has to be practiced to be real. We can’t simply put them on a shelf and admire them for their virtue. If they aren’t used they will eventually become worthless.

The ACLU often comes to the defense of those we don’t agree with. For that reason that letter combination is often treated with disdain. It is only through their practices that our freedoms are maintained and even advanced. If you don’t use them you lose them as the saying goes.

 

 

Growing Up…

June 26, 2014

HighSchoolAs youth we all want to grow up or at least grow as fast as we can.  We desperately want to get there. We grab as many opportunities as we can.  But growing up means we have to leave some people behind. Sometimes we make the choice not to grow up for that reason. We just don’t want to end up alone.

Some people can’t seem to leave their high school years. They simply don’t want to leave all those cherished friends behind in order to venture out into the vast unknown. For some of us that happens when we graduate from college.  We are expected to use all our learned knowledge to take our place in the world but we can’t seem to leave the college lifestyle behind. I think that is especially true for those who were members of sororities and fraternities.

I have known some friends in both of those states. One was a jock in high school. He did leave to get a college education but then went back to be a coach of the high school team he once belonged to. He spent 30+ years beyond high school in various capacities in the school he graduated from years before.

A couple of other friends, like myself are graduates of Purdue University. They went on to jobs in the private sector but for their entire lives remained loyal booster of the various sports programs. They were season ticket holders for multiple sports and proud alumni members for decades. When they retired they moved back to be close to the college campus.

I for the most part took a different tract in life. When new doors opened in my life I went through them and pretty much left the old life to my memories. I did go to my forty-fifth high school reunion a few years back but really didn’t have much memories or things to talk about with my classmates. Part of the reason for that is due to my deafness. When my old classmates learned that I am now deaf they for the most part avoided any attempt at a conversation. That made the event less than pleasurable for me. I readily admit that a big part of the responsibility for that lack of communications was self-inflicted. I am having serious doubts about attending the fiftieth reunion.

Now that I have been retired for fourteen plus years my work life is also somewhat of just a memory to me. The hurts and accomplishments are things of the past. I try to live my life in the here and now instead of spending much time looking backwards.  Just another aspect of my personality I guess. I don’t burn bridges but I don’t often travel back on ones I have already crossed. Those times are better left to memories as far as I am concerned….