Click on the above to see an op-ed piece by Warren Buffet, one of the richest men in the world. It clearly says something very different than the current Republican party mantra.
But what do I know….
This is going to be kind of serious post. It is hard to be humorous about this topic.
I just went through a comments round with an old high school classmate and her friends on Facebook recently. She was passing on what I deem a rather inappropriate joke about throwing the president and first lady out of an airplane. When I pointed out that “I don’t wish the death of our president and first lady under any circumstances” I’m sure I hurt her feelings. That was not my intent but maybe a necessary consequence of taking this action. Of course several of her friends told me to chill out and “it was just a joke”…
This situation brought back some very uncomfortable memories from my past. In the early 1970s I traveled to a company in the deep south on regular business trips and as a result was regularly exposed to Mel. Mel was a fellow engineer that I needed to work with in order to get my job done. He was what I pictured as a typical “good old boy” as they called themselves in the south at that time. The trouble with Mel was that he constantly “joked” about “little black babies”, “boys”, and of course the “N” word was a part of his regular repertoire. At lunch we would go to the company cafeteria and the whole time there he was rattling off his jokes. It was obvious that the African-Americans who were also in the room were his intended listeners as well as those other good old boys sitting around his table.
Growing up in a small Midwestern farm town this type of stuff was very foreign to me. Since Mel was quite a bit older than I was I usually just sat in silence when he was telling his stories. But one time I got the nerve up to ask him why he constantly had to put down other people just because the color of their skin. His response was “hell boy, they are just jokes…” There was many a day since then that I wished I had more directly confronted Mel but I never did. He was the center of attention of the group he constantly hung around with. Mel couldn’t tell any of his “jokes” without the whole group bursting into laughter. After about two years of being exposed to Mel I was transferred to another job that did not require any more contact with him. I heard about five years after that last time that he had died of lung cancer.
To this day I am very sensitive to these types of mean-spirited “jokes”. I see them for what they are and that is just a way to relay hate of others. So when my former classmate, who at least when I knew her would never pass a joke such this did, an immediate knee jerk reaction happened. I hope that she and some of her obviously very conservative friends at least stop and think before they pass the next one on in their Facebook pages. These types of jokes were also prevalent during Mr. Bush’s time in office. I was just as much offended by them then as I was offended by this one. Just because you wrap something in a joke does not make it any less damaging, hurtful or offensive.
But what do I know….
Once a person reaches their senior years should all the aspirations have been completed? First of all I guess I should make clear just which definition of the noun I am talking about. The aspiration I am talking about is:
strong desire, longing, or aim; ambition: intellectual aspirations; a goal or objective desired
[Aspirating or taking a breath is something all of us need to do. To stop doing that is to literally stop living ] Now with all this silliness taken care of let’s move on the to topic at hand.
When we talk about aspirations it is typically about our youth. Things like “he aspired to be president one day”. But is it proper or healthy for seniors to have aspirations too? If you ask the younger population I’m sure most would say that seniors should have already accomplished everything they dream of before that time in their life, so the answer would probably be no. Of course I can’t answer this question for all seniors but I can answer it for myself. I continue to have dreams for what I want to accomplish with my life. I hope that I never comes to the day when that isn’t the case.
One of the perfect, and probably most used, stories about senior aspirations was Colonel Sanders who started up his chicken business after he turned sixty-five. There are many seniors who have accomplished great things in their later lives. But what about us more common seniors? Of course that answer lies inside each of us but I think it is healthy for all seniors to dream and aspire to future goals. No, we don’t have to start a multi-billion dollar fast-food chain but what about aspiring to make a difference in your local community?
I will reluctantly give you a couple of my personal aspirations as examples. I personally aspire to help those in the community around me to have at least a few good meals every week. I do that by cooking a couple of days a week at a local soup kitchen and providing many of the ingredients that are missing from even the most elementary recipes. I don’t aspire to end world hunger but if I can ease it just a little in my community… I also aspire to being a better follower of Jesus Christ on a day-by-day basis. Part of that is by making Christians aware of things that they might not normally think about. I do this via my RedLetterLiving.net blog. Without these aspirations, and a few other similar to them, I’m sure that life in my senior years would not have nearly as much purpose for me as it does. But with these aspirations I can’t wait to wake up each morning. I feel I have accomplished more in my senior years than I have any other period in my life.
I am not giving you my personal examples of aspirations to boast or to make you feel somehow inadequate and I sincerely hope you don’t take that to be the case. I am only giving them to you as maybe a little incentive to , if you haven’t already, make up a list for your personal life in your senior years. We can all make a difference in this world no matter how old we are.
One of my favorite quotes is from Gandhi
Whatever you do will be insignificant, but it is very important that you do it.
The most significant accomplishments in the world are made in very minute steps by ordinary people like you and me. Singly they might not seem like much but put together with others they are mighty indeed. Get off your couch and aspire to contribute something in your senior years.
If you think too much about being re-elected, it is very difficult to be worth re-electing.
I don’t talk much about one of my heroes and that is Woodrow Wilson. I find that so much of what he said nearly one hundred years ago applies just as easily to these times as to his. I guess that, and his great empathy for others and for peace, is what draws me to him. I see the above quote as being at the root of so much of what is wrong with this country today. Our representatives in Washington are much more concerned about catering to their base than they are for doing what is best for the country. Ninety percent of what they do is for re-election purposes only.
There seems to be a rising tide around this idea in the country and I am among that group. I believe it is time to send a clear message to our government representatives by voting the current crop out of office. If we do this enough times surely they will begin to get the message. While voting them out is good in principle it seems weak in practice. The logic usually goes as such.
“Yeah all those guys need to be replaced but my congressman/senator is doing a pretty good job so it is up to other to vote the scoundrels out”
This mentality seems to sink the concept of voting them all out. Until we get over the idea that ours is good, especially if he belongs to my party, but everyone else is bad we will never accomplish the sea change that is needed in Washington today.
So to my Republican and my Democratic friends, let’s all get on board with the “vote them out” even if it means that someone from the “other” party might at least temporarily be representing me.
I know of people who think having a passion about something is a detriment. They say “why are you going overboard about this (or that)”? This topic can be applied across life’s spectrum but I will try to limit this post to those of us in our senior years. Let’s look at how the dictionary defines passion:
pas·sion [ noun]
1. any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate.
2. strong amorous feeling or desire; love; ardor.
3. strong sexual desire; lust.
4. an instance or experience of strong love or sexual desire.
5. a person toward whom one feels strong love or sexual desire
Although the second through the fifth definition is not a bad thing, especially if it is directed to your mate of many years , the kind of passion I am talking about in this post is the first type. It is a powerful or compelling emotion about a particular subject, thought, or idea. Another word for having this type of passion is zeal. I love the saying about having zeal in your life. Of course passions run the gamut; it can be anything from a strong love of baseball (as our last retired president seems to have) to compassion for our less fortunate fellow human beings and trying to make their lives better (as the president before him has chosen for his senior years). To me life with nothing to be passionate about is hardly worth living. I need some reason to get out of bed in the morning other than the early morning sun shining in my bedroom window.
I can’t understand those who deem having a passion is “getting carried away”! The antithesis of passion is apathy and apathy in our senior years can be very damaging indeed. For those who see passion as “getting carried away” maybe their “passion” is somehow their daily routine. Maybe the morning coffee, afternoon nap, and evening in front of the TV day after day after day is what they live for but I personally can’t see that possibility for myself. I know the Bible tells us to not think too much about the past and don’t worry about the future but to live in the present. A big part of life is that daily routine that most of us seniors, for one reason or another, get ourselves into but to live life without any passions, without anything that you feel very special about is like limiting yourself to only vanilla ice cream. It is somewhat flavorful but also somewhat boring…
So from my personal prospective everyone, especially we seniors, needs to feel some passion about at least a few things in their life. But,we shouldn’t let that passion dominate everything else in our life; that is called obsession and that is not a good thing. I know the times when I seem to let depression get grip on me is when I don’t feel I am passionate about anything. Part of entering my senior years was finding what to transfer my passion for my occupation that I was leaving to something else. I spent more than a year searching for that substitute. After I settled into it I found it much much more fulfilling than the job I left behind in the corporate world.
For those who might ask why I picked the picture I did for this post the answer is I don’t know. It just seemed kind of indirectly appropriate to the subject. Or maybe some of the cold pills I have been taking are still lingering in my system
OK, this mountainous Canadian cold is finally beginning to loosen its grip on me so I will start my regular blogging again soon. There is so much that has happened since my hiatus it is hard to even try to figure out where to begin. I will be thinking about that in the coming few days and will begin building an advanced inventory of posts (I usually write a post about a week or so before it is actually used. That gives me plenty of chances to edit and re-edit).
We made it home from Nova Scotia on Sunday afternoon. After doctors appointments on Monday we learned that my wife has a pretty severe eye infection and a rough Canadian cold. I can personally attest to the cold as I also got it! Other than that we will recover. I will likely hold off blogging for a few more days and then try to get back to my usual schedule.
It is nice to be home and our house sitter did a pretty good job taking care of things while we were away. Our tomatoes are in full ripe mode now. Too bad we are both really too sick to thoroughly enjoy them (ha). Other than unpacking I haven’t got much accomplished; hopefully that will change today as the side busting cough is starting to subside.
Made another 500 miles today so should be home sometime tomorrow. Usually I don’t spend a lot of time on the Interstates. I prefer State roads and a more casual drive. In the last three days I have driven more than 1200 miles of interstates and have refined my opinion of them. When I used to drive them about fifteen years ago they were mostly numbing. To be driving at a constant speed for hours at a time was deadening to the senses.
But I have a different opinion of them now. It seems there are two modes to today’s Interstate. Those who go 50 mph and those that go 80 mph! I think many of those who go the slow way can’t help themselves. They include some pretty old RVs that just can’t climb more than a two percent grade without coming to an almost stop. And then or course the fully loaded semi-truck, which those of us in the mid-section of the country are more than familiar with, also slow going up hills. If you try to go the speed limit in the slow lane there seems to always be one of these guys just ahead of you.
The other lane of the highway is populated by those going mostly 80-85 mph or at least trying to. They seem to almost dare anyone from that slow lane to creep over into “their” lane. When you do that are always about 1.2 inches off your rear bumper trying to intimidate you back to where you came from. When I used to drive regularly on the interstates it wasn’t like this. There were a few crazies that seemed to have a death wish but they soon got pulled over by the many State police cars who patrolled the roads.
That is the biggest difference between years ago and now. I think in my 1200 miles of driving I have only seen two police cars and they were behind stranded motorists. There is just no one out there now to keep the crazies in line and their speeds down. The funny farm has taken over the interstates! Being a truck driver must be the most stressful job in the world right now.
Before I close this post I want to also make another statement about the past beliefs. I think we all know the statistic about 50% of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of the coast. I personally evidenced that fact yesterday. There are about six different interstate loops around Boston. I took the one the farthest away from the city. I must have been at least 50 miles from the downtown area. I came into the area in the early afternoon on Friday. Almost as soon as I hit the loop so did about 10,000 other cars we all proceeded down the eight lane wide highway in an astounding 5 mph or less. After two hours of that I finally made it the 30 miles or so to start heading west, away from the coast. It was still bumper-to-bumper for another two hours or so before it started to thin out.
Having had this experience I am hereby declaring that the 50% of the population can have their 50 miles. I won’t be impinging on their territory anytime again soon..
And the journey goes on….
My wife has decided that she wants to go home so we will head out this morning. It will take two to three days to get there from here. Since she is not feeling well I will be doing all of the driving so it will be a long couple of days. Give us a little prayer that we get there safely.
And the journey (home) goes on…
Here I am banging on the keyboard in Bangor Maine. We made about 500 miles today which is the most for one day on this vacation. Unfortunately I had to do almost all the driving. My wife started feeling poorly yesterday so we cut our time in Nova Scotia short and started heading back this morning. She wants to rest and try to get a good nights sleep and then see how she is in the morning.
We may just make a dash for home from here. It is about 1250 miles and will take about 23 driving hours. I should be able to do that in a couple of days unless her condition deteriorates. Her condition is not life threatening but it does put a definite damper on any sightseeing. She really wants to go to NYC and see Ground Zero while we are this close but I told her we can do that on another trip if necessary.
Given that her health was not that good when we started it’s almost amazing we have made it as far as we have. But even without this latest event her endurance has continued to go down daily throughout the trip. It might be wise to just call it quits here.
And the journey goes on… or doesn’t…. more on that tomorrow…
Since this post is getting much too long I am going to quit here. I think generally life is better for Canadians than it is for us in the U.S. especially with all the political insanity going around us now in the States. Canadians just seem less stressed than we are and that is a good thing. But I don’t envy those in the desolate areas that must cope with the bitter winters! I wish we could learn some of the good things our neighbors to the north could teach us. But as pompous as most of us United Staters are I doubt if we ever will.
And the journey goes on…..
Not much to report today. We did wander into town for about four hours yesterday for lunch, shopping, and picking up food for our in-room supper tonight. Lunenburg is a very picturesque town as shown in this picture I bought. It was set up by the British in the early 1700s so establish an English foothold into the French dominated territory.
Spent the rest of the day lounging around the motel room. We had dinner in our room consisting of some kind of lunchmeat of which I didn’t recognize and oreo cookies. We will be going into Halifax today for sightseeing. Right now Yvonne is on the fence as to whether to move to a motel around Halifax or do the two hour round trip to here and back again tomorrow. One thing I have learned about my wife’s decision making is that it is a very last minute thing.
And the journey goes on..
I was unable to post the above in our previous motel room due to the wifi going down so I will update our day to be included here:
My wife did decide to leave the motel in Lunenburg and to head to Halifax. It was about an hours drive east. We went to the Citadel and the Public Gardens in the city and then tired of the urban environment decided to leave Halifax and head further east. We ended up about an hour east of the city. This was basically the first motel we came to on a very desolate road. Fortunately there is also a restaurant here that doesn’t close until 8pm so we are set for dinner. I couldn’t tell you the name of the town; we passed through scores of them. Each named town typically had maybe five or so houses and nothing else. The town we are in now does have this motel with restaurant and a gas station so it is a major hub in the area . But most importantly as far as Yvonne goes it does have a view of a cove off the Atlantic Ocean although she won’t admit that it is actually better then the one we left this morning.
So here we are again in the sticks for tonight but at least I think I have internet access (I will know as soon as I try to upload this post). Tomorrow we will likely head north to the mainland access for Nova Scotia and then down into Maine. It will be nice to get back to the U.S. and to our de-valuated dollar. One good thing about this trip is that the money we converted to Canadian dollars two weeks ago has actually increased 3% in value since we left (that is the Canadian dollars that we are holding are actually worth three cents more than when we exchanged them two weeks ago). It would have taken more than five years to have gained that much value in our savings account!
And the journey goes on again…..
Deja Vu all over again. Wilson said this almost one hundred years ago. Will the current crop of willful men finally do it?
A little group of willful men, representing no opinion but their own, have rendered the great government of the United States helpless and contemptible.
I am sitting in a small motel room in Lunenburg Nova Scotia writing these words waiting for my wife to wake up to tell me what she has planned, or maybe doesn’t have planned for the day. Lunenburg is on the “South Shore” of this province. Two days ago I told my wife that she was going to be in total control of our time in Nova Scotia. I would offer no comments or suggestion and would agree to everything she decided. After the fact she seems to always say that I was the one who decided everything so I was not going to allow that comment any validity this time.
We left Prince Edward Island yesterday morning and came across the ten mile bridge back to the mainland. Nova Scotia was just a few miles south of the bridge. We stopped at the first welcome center here and Yvonne spent the next hour working with one of the greeters there to find the “perfect” cabin! She wanted something on the water where she could sit and look at it for a few days. This motel was supposed to meet all those needs. When we got here after driving 250 miles in Nova Scotia we found that it does have an ocean view but it is about one hundred yards away and has a road between us and the water. Unfortunately the only place to park the car is between our room and the water thus somewhat blocking the view.
I am going to try my best in the coming days here (I don’t know how long she want to stay) and put on a happy face for her. Sitting and doing nothing is just not my thing but I will do it for her. I have internet access from the room although it is very spotty and sometimes very very slow so I guess I should be content. She wants to leave the world behind; I want to take at least a part of it with me.
We did go into town last night for supper and it was pretty nice. Hopefully she will decide to at least spend a few hours there touring the area today or tomorrow. It is a small (probably 5,000 people or so) fishing town that has turned more into a tourist area lately but still has a great deal of charm. As Sarah Palin said if I had binocular eyes I could see Maine from here as it is only about 50 miles west of us. I am getting a little anxious to return to the U.S. even with all the total nonsense that is going on there now. When we leave here it will be down into Maine and our New England part of our adventure.
Depending on what is on the agenda, I have no idea on what it might be right now, I may spend some time today wrapping up my thoughts about our neighbors to the north and telling you some of the conversations we have had with them.
All this political foolishness is getting insane. I just wish the president would grow a backbone and tell congress to give him what they gave the previous president seven times. Give him a “clean” bill that raises the debt limit in the next three days. Yes we need to look at spending but we don’t need to put the country in a totally unnecessary peril to do that. Those guys are risking everything I have spent my life saving for my retirement.
This game playing stupidity has gone on for much too long now. Its time for some “grownups” in our nation’s capital to take charge….. Where will we get them??
President Obama please don’t let me down once again.
But what do I know….
Will Rogers answer to education reform. It makes sense to me.
. . . why don’t they pass a Constitutional Amendment prohibiting anybody learning anything? And if it works as good as the Prohibition one did, in 5 years we would have the smartest race of people on Earth.
Will Rogers -January 4, 1925
Here we are already beginning our third week of our Canadian adventure. Today we did something that we don’t often do and that is take a tour bus. We decided instead of driving the 100 or so miles around the island we would let Graylines do it for us. It was a very pleasurable trip. Our driver/guide is a lifelong resident of Prince Edward Island (PEI) who told us much about the local history and how the island has changed during his lifetime. The bridge we went over is several times longer than we have ever encountered and several times for expensive (about $45 toll). He said it was finished in 1996 and has somewhat changed the face of the island as now PEI gets about 30% of its economy from tourism.
Of course there were the usual local battles about whether to build the bridge or just continue to rely on the 2+ hour round trip via the ferry. Some say the bridge wrecked the lobster fishing on the south end of the island; some say it was never that good to start with. The lobster population, despite severe government regulations has continued to decline but the blue mussel population has more than replaced it. PEI ships their mussels all over the world including a very substantial amount to Japan. So, I have decided to try the blue mussel for dinner tonight and reserve our lobster dinner for Maine later in the week.
Our tour today took us to the north side of the island to the Cavendish National Historic Site of the famed novel “Anne of Green Gables” by Lucy Montgomery. A PBS series about the novels played in 1986 (I can’t believe it has been that long ago!!)about the story of Anne Shirley of Green Gables PEI is still rather fresh in my mind. As usual the story was a fiction but based on the experiences of the author. Above is a picture of the house that inspired the novel. I looked into getting a set of DVDs of the series but they were priced at about $120 Canadian (about $140 usd with taxes). Fortunately there was wifi in the shop so I checked out the cost on Amazon and found it to be about $50; so I will be ordering the series when I return.
From the historic site we went to a beach on the north shore. There was a front that came through the area last night that cooled the temperatures from the mid-70s yesterday to the mid-60s today. Evidently that also brought some rare white caps on this beach as shown in the picture here.
We are now resting in our hotel and getting ready for dinner in a few hours. This will be our last dinner on PEI. Tomorrow we will tour a couple historic sites and then head down to Nova Scotia. I have decided to let Yvonne do 100% of the decision making of what we do and where we go in Nova Scotia. This will be a very interesting couple of days for me to see what she decides to do. After NS it is down into Maine and to NYC.
And the journey goes on.
Today we spent the day meandering around the city of Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. The island is much bigger than I thought. I expect it is 50 miles or more long and 20 or so wide. It is a separate province (State). We spent quite a bit of the day walking its mile long boardwalk along the bay and collecting a few souvenirs in the shops that lined it.
After lunch (I had haddock with lobster sauce, Yvonne had a cheeseburger) we went to Confederation Hall which was where the original Canadian confederation was formed in 1867. The museum there covered the times between 1800 or so and 2000. Canada has a pretty complicated history in forming the country we know today. There were the usual regional disagreements along with the French cultural issues and the allegiance with Great Britain. It seems that one of the main reasons all the different areas wanted to come together in a union was the fear that now that the U.S. Civil war was over they would be invading Canada in an attempt to take over the territories. This was a big deal to the Canadians, particularly those in the maritime provinces. I seem to remember someplace that mentioned a possible Canadian invasion but it is just a small subtext to our overall history.
Tonight we will have an exciting dinner and after dinner event. Actually they both will likely take place at the same time. We found a small establishment down by the bay that has a grill and a laundromat combination. So, we will be doing two plus weeks of laundry and eating grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner while watching our laundry spin in the dryer. What more exciting night could you ask for.
We stopped by the Grayline tour place near Confederation hall and discovered that they have a couple of opening tomorrow for the northern tour of the island. It is four hours long and covers the area mentioned in the famous book “Anne of Green Gables”. I must admit that I enjoyed that series when it was on PBS many years ago. So, instead of driving it on our own we will be on a tour bus for four hours enjoying the scenery and hearing the French then the English versions of what we are seeing.
Tomorrow night I am going to have to convince Yvonne to have a lobster dinner before we leave the island on Monday. PEI like Maine, not too far to the south, is proud of their lobster catches. Yvonne enjoys lobster as long as they remove the head before presenting it to her. She is such an animal lover she can’t stand to have something watching her as she devours it. Even if it is long since expired.
And the journey goes on…
We had a wonderful day at the Acadian village yesterday. We got there just as it opened at 10am and spend the next four hours experiencing the Acadian life of the 19th century. We had a little rain but not enough to put a damper (pun intended) on the day.
There are about fifty building in the village and most of them had an interpreter to tell us about the person who owned the building. All of the interpreters were bi-lingual and I guess they got their clue for your first words as to whether they would talk in French or English. Here is a picture of one of them.
The only clue that we weren’t actually back in the 19th century were the tire tracks in the muddy road from the service vehicles of the night before. I know it is in the triple digits in much of the U.S. right now but most of the buildings here had fires in the fireplaces to take the chill of the early morning air. It did get up to the middle 70s later in the day. The lady shown here was actually making a very robust looking stew (not a fake one!). It smelled so good I told her I would be back for lunch.
After leaving the village we headed south for Prince Edward Island, or PEI as the Canadians call it. It ends up that the distance traveled was quite a bit further than I had anticipated so we didn’t get into our hotel until after 6PM. The hotel we are staying at here was built in 1913 as part of the chain of hotels that hosted the trans-Canadian railroad in that period. More on that in tonight’s post.
I apologize for not posting yesterday. After we got into our hotel and got settled we went to a popular pub just down the street for seafood chowder. It seems every place on PEI claims that their chowder is the best. It was pretty good where we ate but seemed to lack some of the necessary spices. This has been the usual here; Canadians just don’t seem to be very friendly with spices. But their local brew was very good. In fact I had two pints and thus the reason I didn’t post here last night
Today we will be investigating the sites. There is a 3 km board walk along the harbor here in Charlottetown that will be one of the first places we visit. I will let you know more about that this evening. That is if I don’t overindulge at a local pub again.
And the journey goes on….