Five Years….

RJs Autobiography BannerI spent a very enlightening part of my life between the years 1965 and 1970.  Those were the years I was at Purdue University supposedly learning how to be an engineer. It was there that  I was first exposed to the diversity of life. I met people who were very different from me. For the most part those experiences made me a better person. On this post I want to concentrate on a few of those I encountered during those years.

KnuteMy first dormitory room-mate was a high school classmate. He got married at the end of the first semester and was replaced by Knute.  Knute was a Norwegian and spoke broken english.  He worked his way over to the U.S. from Oslo Norway on a freighter and that was impressive to me.  I later learned that his father owned the freight lines but that only slightly stained the story. 🙂  Knute loved to party,  I never actually saw him study much.  He came over with a half-dozen or so buddies. They exposed me to people from other countries for the first time. After that final semester of 1965 Knute went over to live with his friends in a rented house.  I don’t know if he ever graduated or just partied his way through college. Six of one half-dozen of the other I imagine.

Bob-2Bob was my room-mate for the final four years. We got along very well.  That was very important when you understand that unlike today we shared a 10 x 12 foot room so getting along with your room-mate was critical to your sanity. When we graduated a group of us vowed to get together five-year later on our graduation date but I didn’t make it there for whatever reason. I don’t know if any of them did or not?  I lost track of Bob and have been unable to find him in the forty years since.  I wished I had done a better job of keeping track of folks from those years. I would be interesting to discover what Bob made of his life and to just reminisce about the good old days at Fowler Courts residence hall and dorm kitchen where we both worked throughout those years.

Ohh GinnyAnother very memorable person during those years was Ginny. I admired her on several different levels. She was the secret love of my life.  I did date Ginny once, we went to a campfire/cookout with several friends. One of the main regrets of my life is that I never told her how I felt about her. I was just too shy around women and the emotions I felt for her were very new to me. Ginny also worked in the dormitory cafeteria where I became the head waiter.  Ginny was a year or two behind me and when in my senior year it came time to recommend my replacement I chose her. But… there had never been a female head waiter there before and the management just didn’t see that as being the time for one. I often wonder how my life would have changed if I expressed my feelings towards her. Don’t tell my wife but I still think about her now and then.

These three were just a small sampling of the friends I made at Purdue. I will likely talk about others in future posts.

Betrayed by Friendship….

Banner - Will Rogers
Betrayed by friendship is not a bad memorial to leave. – 16 June 1931   Will Rogers

FriendsWill, I had to think about this one to understand what you were talking about. I think it means that is it better to have friends even if some end up betraying you than it is to have no friends at all.  That’s kind of deep but knowing you as I do I suspect that is your point. It kind of like the one about “its better to have love and lost than not to have loved at all”.

Yeah, some friendships can result in betrayal but that is just the chance you take. I have one encounter with betrayed friendship in my life and that did hurt me pretty deeply.  But I have lost  several friends due to taking a different paths in life.  One of my best friends of past years is now someone who I would never associate with. He has gone from a compassionate and caring person to someone who is reeks of prejudice and spite for those outside his political and religious beliefs. I don’t really understand how that happened?

I have had other friends, some I considered pretty close who never even tried to keep communications opened when we were ejected from a local church over failing to fall in line with all the denominational beliefs. I don’t regret having those friends even though I now realize just how shallow they were I deemed them good friends at the time and was sad to see them drop away.

Friends are hard to come by and to lose them for stupid reasons is hard to accept. But that is just life I guess. But there are some friends who just seem to love us no matter what our circumstance or beliefs are and they are our canine ones. Thank heavens for them.  As Harry Truman said years ago  “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog”. Maybe we should expand that to life in general.

Mighty Rich But….

We can get mighty rich, but if we haven’t got any friends, we will find we are poorer than anybody. – June 1, 1930  Will Rogers

I am totally embarrassed that it has been so long since I used any of my hero Will Roger’s quotes on this blog. He is my inspiration for sitting down and doing this on a daily basis. When I lose track of Will my writing tends to drift over more to the dark side of life. Our lives are just too short to live over there for long. So here I am back to talking about a quote from Will.

Old time movies are filled with this sort of thing about rich people being lonely. But is this really true today? It seems like there are a lot of very very rich people around today that I image don’t have a lot friends but they seem to be ok with  that. The bible tells us that the love of money is the root of all evil. It seems the richer you become the more you cling to your riches instead of people.

The rich guys will spend millions of dollars to get in the politicians in office who will give them a few more tax breaks. They just want to keep as much of their money as possible. I have been accused of painting with too broad a brush with these types of posts so I will say here that, yes there are many examples that go against this hypothesis. Two of the most glaring examples are at the top of the heap, Bill Gates and Warren Buffet. Both of these guys are giving the bulk of their riches to philanthropic foundations. But it seems that there are also many others who just won’t let go of their riches.

I personally don’t know any of these rich guys as they run in a different circle than I do but I do see them often enough on TV shows where they are paying big bucks for antique cars. After becoming bored with home remodeling stuff and then the food channels I am in to the automobile stuff and I see the rich guys putting down a million bucks for a rebuilt car from the 1960s and 70s. All these guys seem to be happy enough with collecting whatever is their favorite thing.  Are they really poorer than me because I have more friends?

I want to warn some of your younger folks here that as you grow older your friends tend to just fall away naturally.  When we leave the work place our friends even with the best of intentions almost always disappear and it seems as we get further and further into our retirement years they either die off or end up moving south 🙂  It is work to keep a cherished few around. I imagine that the rich folks have it worse than we do but I just don’t know. Maybe with the big bucks their friends stick around hoping to be put in their wills.  Maybe I should win a big lottery pot and find out. But that would be kind of hard considering I never buy lottery tickets.

But one cliché I do know is true and that is that a dog is man’s best friend and a few million bucks will buy a lot of dogs 🙂

New Military Strategy, Same Old War Mentality

Source: email from Friends Committee on National Legislation “Until our policymakers start recognizing that clinging to visions of global military domination only undermines security, we’ll be stuck with the same old war mentality wrapped in a shiny new strategy document.” — FCNL’s Bridget Moix   …

If the US really wants to shift to a new, more effective strategy for promoting national and global security – as Obama and Panetta claim – then policymakers should get serious about planning to prevent wars, not fight them. After all, decades of planning to fight various numbers and forms of warfare at any given time has led to, well, various numbers and forms of warfare at any given time. Go figure.

This unquestioning reliance on military hammers as the tools of choice for dealing with security threats, and the enormous expense in lives and money of doing so, has sapped the imagination, human resources, and funding for alternative approaches. Approaches that are based on the realities that our security in this country is inextricably linked to the security of others. In other words, the fewer wars that are fought, the safer everyone is. (Not rocket science really.) And we need a strategy that faces the fact that the threats the Pentagon itself identifies – violent extremism, weapons proliferation, climate change and regional instability – require non-military tools to manage.

What will it take to get our politicians off our old line war mentality? That is perhaps the question of the century. We spend much much more of our government income on our war machines than anyone else on the earth.  So here we are getting ready to pull out a significant portion of our military from the Middle East. The “Arab Sunrise” which the citizens pretty much accomplished themselves has made our presence for the most part unwanted in that area of the world.

This would seem to be an excellent opportunity to draw down our military and its bloated budgets. But the “hammer makers” (when all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail)  has it appears even convinced Mr. Obama, despite his rhetoric in 2008, not to do that. Instead we are planning on just moving it to the Pacific rim area. Let’s hope that we don’t antagonize China by this move. They have  ten times as many young people available to be soldiers and of course they are awash with U.S. dollars as we now depend on them for almost all our consumer goods. What would happen if they became our next enemy?

I know the century is pretty young yet but if we can’t get beyond spending so much of our assets on “military hammers” then we will eventually be in big trouble with or without riling China. Eventually is a relative word but it can come on us much faster than many believe. Let us all pray that someday our representative in congress take to heart the God-given idea of beating our swords into plowshares. That idea comes from a source worth listening to.

But what do I know….

Laverne & Shirley???

My wife Yvonne was born in a small town in northern Wisconsin in the 1940s. When she graduated from high school she decided it was time to move to the big city. Milwaukee that is. After spending some time housed at the local Y she ended up sharing an apartment with a girl friend from the same small town. From the stories she tells they had quite an adventure together and some of those adventures included some big city boys. Anyone over fifty or so should be now saying that sounds like the old TV show called  Laverne & Shirley? That show was about two single girls and took place during that same period and in the same city. No, my future wife and her friend did not work in a local brewery but from some of the pictures here they did partake of the brew on a regular basis.

I know in the TV series Laverne was always the whackier one. I’m not sure if Yvonne took that role or her friend. Maybe their version had two Lavernes? :). Over the last twenty five years I have had Yvonne’s “Laverne and Shirley years” narrated in occasional spurts. I’m sure there are still many adventures that happened to these two girls that I have yet to hear.

I won’t give you the name of my wife’s friend but they do still talk and visit to each other from time to time. A lot of water has gone under the bridge but I’m sure they still have fond memories of those years. Luckily Yvonne’s photo archives showed some of those whacky times. Especially the one showing her friend sitting in a closet covered with beer and champaign bottles!!

I love having my own little version of Laverne and always will. She still has much of that spark she had then.

And the journey goes on…