Author: Tommy


Relic From The Past


             Grandparents – Relics From The Past  

⚽ I read recently that grandchildren see grandparents as a relic from the past.  I certainly hope that is not true.  Being a grandparent with great-grandchildren, I was surely taken aback by that statement.  I have what I consider a healthy relationship with my grandchildren, and they have never given me the impression that I am a “relic from the past”.  Just the opposite, they have always conveyed to me the feeling that I am a relevant part of their lives and they love me very much.  As all grandparents know, watching grandchildren mature into adulthood brings a lot of satisfaction and deep affection.  I never recall conveying to my grandparent that they were not a vital part of my life, just the opposite, I tried always to let them know they played a vital role in the adult I had become and that I always looked to them for guidance in how I reacted to the ups and downs life placed in my path.  The most important thing they taught me was that religion should be firmly entrenched in my core values and should be a guiding light on how I treated the people I encountered during my travels on this wonderful planet.  I closely watched how my grandfather Hale handled life’s many obstacles and was always impressed by his calm demeanor and trust in God to help him thru difficult situations.  I never recall thinking of him as “old”, but wise.  He and grandma had six children, two of which are still alive (ages 96 & 91), and 17 grandchildren.  Each of us went to him when we had a problem that needed solving. When he passed away in the early 1970s, each of us knew we had lost a major player in our life.   Nope, I don’t believe grandparents are relics.  I am more inclined to believe English Poet, Charles Lamb, “Here cometh April again and as far as I can see the world hath more fools in it than ever”😊.

⚽  I’ve been thinking about going a week without making any negative comments.  Now, I know that will be a difficult thing for me to do, but I think it’s important to try.  I have never thought of myself as a negative person, but I’m beginning to have self-doubts.  What brought this on was a couple of weeks ago my wife and I were having a disagreement and she said to me, “Sometimes you make me feel stupid”.  My heart stopped for a moment, as if I’d dropped a piece of her fine china.  Was I really that type of person, one that could make the most important person in my life feel that way?  Did I make other people feel the same way?  Do I value my opinion more than someone else’s? 

I’ve given this a lot of thought since that happened, and I believe I need to try to be a better person, to listen more attentively, and be more appreciative of the needs of others.  I have concluded that I need to be a treasure trove of happy feelings, focusing on being energetic and always remember; do good, feel good.  I believe that people that reminisce have happy feelings, so I’m gonna try to do that more often.  I’m hoping that by being happier I’ll be less inclined to be critical.  As Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be”.  I can ride that horse 😊.        

⚽  There is a theory floating around that what you enjoyed doing when you were 10 years old is something you would enjoy doing today.  I don’t think so!  As a 10-year-old I was pushing a bike rim with a stick as fast as I could, pretending I was racing someone.  I also played dodge ball, Pick-Up-Sticks, Jax Rocks, Chinese Checkers, and various other games for days on end, but I haven’t revisited those games in more than 60 years.  About the only thing I can think of that carried forward into adulthood, and is still with me today, is the enjoyment I get from human contact.  Even as a young lad I enjoyed the company of others, often preferring that to being alone.  Today, as a retired person, I spend a lot of time with just me and my lovely wife.  But I kinda suspect that’s what happens when you get old.  We do visit family and friends often, but most of the time we are here at home alone, doing chores and taking walks.  Since early March we have practiced the social distancing recommended by the CDC because of the COVID-19.  It looks as though this will continue for quite a while.  We were totally unprepared for this pandemic and that is very disturbing.  Our hope now is that scientists will develop a vaccine and a drug to treat those that already have it.  I fault our leaders for their lack of foresight and believe history will judge them harshly.  I suspect that we will come out of this situation with 90% of our normal life restored.  How could it ever get back to normal after something like this?  Even though I worry a lot about our current situation with the coronavirus, I am more worried about something, if it does occur, will be more worrisome.  That concern is about climate change and the lack of our concern about it.  You see, when we get to a certain point in the pollution of our air and water, we no longer have the option of correcting it. 

How can we, as logical human beings, convince ourselves that we can take a trillion barrels of oil, vaporize it into our atmosphere, and expect that it will do little damage to our existence?

In February 1985, I was sitting at my desk at the office, the phone rang, and it was my ex-wife, yelling that the house was filled with smoke.  She had started a fire in the fireplace and failed to open the draft, so the smoke couldn’t escape up the chimney and spilled out into our home.  I jumped in the car and sped home to correct the situation, opened the doors and windows, and turned on the overhead fan.  Within 45 minutes, the smoke was gone and life got back to normal.

The point is, when our world is filled with a carbon induced haze and a vent that will allow it to be removed cannot be found, it will be too late to do anything constructive to resolve the problem.  We should not lose our focus on this approaching disaster.  Some people in our government tend to ignore the data and believe there is no such thing as “Global Warming”.  Here is the definition of Climate Change:

Climate change occurs when changes in Earth’s climate system results in new weather patterns that remain in place for an extended period of time.  This length of time can be as short as a few decades and as long as millions of years.  Scientists have identified many episodes of climate change during Earth’s geological history and more recently, since the industrial revolution, the climate has increasingly been affected by human activities and driving global warming. The terms are commonly used interchangeably.

Ok, time to get off the soap box and wrap this up.  Right now, there are approximately 8 billion humans on earth and by 2050 there will be 10 billion of us.  At some point in human existence a decision will be made to limit the pollution of our environment and hope things get better.  Wanna bet what they will think of our spendthrift ways?

The Dalai Lama said, “If you think you’re too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito in the room” 

We can all make a difference!

WOW#60


My Magnificent Adventure


⚽ In 1893 Frank Sprague installed the first modern elevators in Manhattan’s Postal Telegraph Building in New York City (he later sold his company to Otis Elevator).  This one act started the rise of tall buildings in that city and seeded the spread nationwide.  It’s estimated that the world’s cities now hold more than half the world’s population, but less than 3% of its land.  I was 14 years old (1955) when I took my first elevator ride.  My Dad loaded Mom, Jerry (my brother), and me, into our family car (1952 Hudson) and drove for eleven hours on Route 460 from our home in southwest Virginia (Oakwood) to visit Mom’s sister (Aunt Letha) in the eastern part of the state (Suffolk).  The next day Dad and Uncle Aaron took Jerry and me into town, and we walked into a building with four floors.  Upon entering, we walked over and stepped into a small room with an open door.  Uncle Aaron pushed a button, and it closed.  I glanced up at him with a puzzled look on my face and he returned my glance with a smile.  Suddenly, the floor started moving upwards and my brother and I had absolutely no idea what was happening.   Jerry started crying and held onto Dad’s leg, but being 16 months older, I refused to do so.  Both men could see the look of shock on my face and were unable to contain their amusement, bursting into laughter.  Within a minute it stopped, the door opened, and we got out and walked into an office of some sort for Dad & Uncle Aaron to do some business.  As I sat there waiting for their conversation to end, I tried to understand what had just happened.  Never before had I seen a floor move upwards on its own. What made that happen?  Twenty minutes later we walked out of the office and into that small room again. The button was pushed as I watched intently, then the door closed, and the floor started moving downwards.  Wow, now I was really confused!  What decided which way the floor was going to move?  In a few seconds the floor stopped moving, the door opened, and we left the building headed for the car parked around back.

As we rode home, I couldn’t wait to tell Mom & Aunt Letha about the magic I had just witnessed!  I was sure they wouldn’t believe me. There were flying carpets in my comic books, but I always knew that was make believe.  I had never ridden on a flying carpet, but I had ridden on a flying floor. This was big!  When we arrived, Dad and Uncle Aaron stood around with big smiles as my brother and I described our magnificent adventure to Mom & Aunt Letha.  They played along with the men and acted as surprised as my brother and me. That night I went to bed wondering what else this wonderful world had to offer?  If floors could fly, when would cars be able to fly, or could we humans learn to fly?  I dropped off to sleep wondering how much magic was still left for me to discover and a feeling of warmth deep inside me made me sleep with a smile on my face the entire night.

“What a wonderful life I’ve had! I only wish I’d realized it sooner” …Collette

⚽ I live in a small town on the east coast of Virginia and our area has a lot of military men and women.  The coasts of the United States are dotted with more than three dozen naval bases, the largest being Naval Station Norfolk in Norfolk, VA, which is just 20 minutes away.  It was founded in 1917 and is not only the largest naval base in the USA but also the largest in the world.  It covers nearly 3,400 acres and is home to approximately 150,000 personnel.  As you can imagine, we have people in our area from all over our great country.  Our economy is highly dependent on the money they spend.  We also have our nation’s largest shipyard (Newport News Shipbuilding) with a workforce of about 25,000. Langley AFB, with over 9000 military & civilian personnel, sits next door to our small community and the roar of aircraft is always present.  A favorite saying locally is that the aircraft sounds are not noise but “The sound of freedom”.  Fort Eustis is our local Army base (5,000 military) and is also an integral part of our community.  Just in case you are wondering, I’m not  divulging sensitive information, it is all publicly available and is, of course, only estimates.  I served in the US Air Force in the early ‘60s and my experience was that most communities under appreciated the military in their area and especially did not want the military men dating the local single girls. I was married, but I knew a lot of single guys that tried to disguise their military roots by wearing civilian clothing when they went into town. 

Today, our attitude towards our military personnel has thankfully changed and everywhere I go I see them being thanked for their service.  I think that is wonderful because I recall my experience of feeling rejected by the local community wherever I was stationed.  The only time I felt appreciated was when I went back home, where there was always a slap on the back and a welcome home greeting. 

In our local area, servicemen & women not only protect our freedom but contribute mightily to our economy.  Truth be known, we do owe them a debt of gratitude.  Yes, we pay their salary & they have good benefits, but a lot just barely get by on a soldier’s pay.  When I went into the US Air Force in 1959 as a lowly Airman 3rd Class, I was paid $75/month, and when I opted to leave four years later, my pay was $225/month.  During the last two years of my service, I worked part-time, 7 days a week, to give my family of four a decent living.  I sincerely hope we are paying our military better now.      

⚽ Abraham Maslow (Theory of Human Motivation) created a pyramid of mankind’s basic needs: Physiological–food, water, sleep clothes, shelter, etc.; Safety–personal, emotional, financial, health; Social belonging–friendships, intimacy, family; Self-esteem–feel respected, stable, recognition; Self-actualization–accomplish everything that one can; and lastly, Transcendence–giving oneself to something beyond oneself (altruism or spirituality).   

I think old Abe is on to something, beginning with our basic needs (food, water, etc.) and then as we move thru life, entering the other stages of his pyramid.  I can look at his chart and see my life as I grew older and how it felt to be in those different areas he described.  I am now firmly in the “Transcendence” phase of life, whereas my goal is to give myself to something beyond self-interest.  I believe most of us will ultimately arrive at this place in life.  In Acts 20:35, Paul says to the Ephesians; “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’”.

 However, during this time of tumult (COVID-19), it feels like a lot of us are sliding back into Maslow’s basic stage (Physiological) of food, water, shelter.  Grocery store shelves are barren as we grab everything in sight, fearing the worst, and attempting to insure we have what is necessary to survive.  I believe this fear of the unknown is a result of moving away from religion and relying only on oneself.  There were times in my adolescent life that my family was bereft of food, with little money to buy it.  But we had faith in a God, and we believed he would see we were taken care of.  Studies show that 60% of Americans believe in God, but only 23% of us go to church each week.  Our southern states (i.e. Alabama Mississippi) are “highly religious” 80% and our New England states (Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut) have the lowest percentage of those “highly religious” adults (45%).  The median church nationwide has, on average, 75 attendants each Sunday.  Since only 23% of us go to church on a weekly basis, that is, in my opinion, the reason we fear for our future.  Working our way through this pandemic will be decidedly easier for those of us that believe in a Higher Power showing us how to handle this tragedy.  It is up to us “believers” to show how our faith stills our fears and gives us the confidence we need to handle hard times. 

William Butler Yeats (1865-1939) said it well; “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say my glory was I had such friends.”


Appointment in Samarra


                          

⚽ A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Soon afterwards, the servant came home white and trembling and told him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman whom he recognized as Death. and she made a threatening gesture. Borrowing his master’s horse, he fled at great speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles (125 km).  There, he believed, Death would not find him. The servant’s master went to the marketplace and found Death and asked why she made the threatening gesture to his servant. She replied, “That was not a threatening gesture, it was only the stare of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad because I have an appointment with him tonight in Samarra.”  So, the phrase, “Appointment in Samarra” has come to mean that we may be trying to avoid death, but it will find us.

I have traveled thru life these 79 years not trying to avoid death but ignoring it.  I am guilty of doing many foolish things during my younger years that could have brought instant death; driving recklessly, jumping off high places into the water, and mining coal with my dad in a mine whose roof was only 27 inches high.  I’ve had 500 lbs of rock fall from that roof within 10-15 feet of me several times.  Never once was I scared, fearing that I barely escaped the grasp of the old man.  I never gave death a second thought, but little did I know he wasn’t done with me yet.  Yes, we all have an “appointment in Samarra”, we just don’t know when that will be.  I read once of a man who placed the following epitaph on his tombstone: “Remember friends as you pass by, where you are now, so once was I.  As I am now, so you must be, prepare yourself to follow me.”  

 I’m inclined to believe Friedrich Nietzsche when he said, “The dying man has probably lost, during the course of life, things more important than what he is about to lose by dying.”

⚽ Well, we have switched over to Daylight Savings Time (DST) here on the east coast of Virginia, and I have to say that I’m glad to see it.  Darkness has been blanketing our area around 6pm here of late, but now it will stay away until 7pm, giving me more opportunities to do chores you see😊.  As we move closer to mid-June, darkness avoids us until 9pm and the day seems endless.  I have plenty of time to do necessary things and time left over to do some very enjoyable things as well.  One of my most enjoyable activities is to plop down in my favorite chair in front of my workshop after a day of chores and call someone I enjoy talking to, and whom I know will be home at that time of the day.  I will normally be drinking a non-alcoholic beer or smoking a cigar.  The beer and cigar alternate days because I know the beer is less harmful 😊.  It’s surprising how uplifting a good conversation is to one’s spirit.  In a time when entertainment is just a moment away, on a device that can transport you to any place on earth via video, talking to others seems to be a lost pleasure.  Sure, contact is much easier via text & Skype, but to have a casual 20-minute conversation on the phone with someone you care about is incredibly enjoyable.  I try to limit my calls to that amount of time unless the conversation is of a serious nature.  I had two close friends pass away last year (Mary Ann & Patty), but I have many of their phone conversation tucked away in memories.  I always called Mary and began the conversation with, “Mary, this is the fun police and your neighbor called and said you were having too much fun, and it has to stop”.  I could feel her smile drifting thru the line and from there our conversation started.  She was suffering from dementia, and my calls always raised her spirit.

To Mary I would like to say, “Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world which I find myself constantly walking around in during the daytime and falling into at night. I miss you like hell…….Edna St. Vincent Millay.  She and Patty were wonderful sister-in laws.

⚽ My wife and I were preparing to attend the wedding of two of our church friends (Dana & Carey) at 11 am on a Saturday. We started getting ready around 9:30am, changing our clothes, combing our hair and trying to look good for the new bride & groom as they said their wedding vows.  I walked down the hall to our bedroom and my wife had two dresses out, debating on which to wear.  I asked her which one she had selected, and she responded that she didn’t know yet.  That amused me, and as I turned to walk away, I thought about how long it took me to make up my mind on what to wear.  Probably less than a minute, and that would apply to any occasion I would be attending.  I believe that is one of the many differences between men and women.  For the most part, we men pay scant attention to what we wear.  When I go into our closet to get a shirt, I normally grab the first one I come to and then quickly find the pants, belt and socks that I feel would come close to matching.  Sometimes, my wife takes me back to that closet and picks out what she believes looks better.  Am I offended when she does that?  No, most of the time I’m amused and am prone to tease her about it.  I started dating her in 1992, and after about six months into our relationship, she headed upstairs to my closet and removed everything I had in there that smelled of polyester.  I kinda liked polyester because it never wrinkled, but to her they needed to go because no one wore it anymore.  Needless to say, I complied and before long everything was replaced with more modern clothing.  I only control what I wear around the house and in the yard.  If I’m going out the driveway, then I’m wearing what she thinks looks good 😊.  You might be inclined to think that she’s bossy, just the opposite, she wants me to keep my “Tom Cruise” look.  If ever an angel came down to earth, it was my loving, caring wife.  I am so lucky to have her in my life.     

⚽ I have made an important decision on how to live the remainder of my life.  I don’t know why I didn’t decide to do it years ago.  It’s such a simple decision and oh so easy to do.  I have decided not to postpone any task that takes less than one minute to do.  I started it today, and I already feel better because I don’t have to worry about forgetting whatever task needed doing.  As I sat down to write this article on my computer, I realized I had left a note in my work pants, so I immediately got up, walked to the garage, and retrieved it.  I can see this having quite an impact on me.  As time goes by, I may change the time limit to two minutes and see how that goes, then maybe three?  I doubt doing three would work because it needs to be a task that can be done quickly, and three minutes is stretching it a little for me. Sometimes I wonder why I care about such trivial things, but I read something a long time ago that went like this, “All things are interesting to a wise man”. I think we all strive to be wise, but only a few attain that lofty goal.

⚽ I read the other day that the average American consumes 12 pounds of chocolate a year, thanks to Mexico.  Mexicans have been cultivating cacao plants since 1900 BC, and the Spanish transformed it to the delicious treat we know today.  Later, Hernan Cortes introduced it to Europe, and they are the leading producers of chocolate. 

Somehow, as much as I love chocolate, I doubt that I eat 12 lbs a year, or one pound each month.  Some of you people must be eating way too much of that scrumptious stuff 😊.  I remember that as a young boy of 8-9 years old, my mother took me to the doctor because I had a rash on my right forearm.  He looked at it closely, then leaned back in his chair and stared at me for a few minutes.  “Mrs. Hale, does Tommy eat a lot of chocolate?”  Mom responded that I loved it and ate it almost daily.  He politely informed her to stop all my consumption of it and the rash would rapidly depart.  Much to my consternation, my mother followed his instructions, and it went away.  Since then, I have always tried to moderate my consumption of that wonderfully tasty bit of happiness.  I firmly believe the reason it tastes so good is that I know I shouldn’t be eating it.  I read an article a while back that said chocolate had ingredients that helped fight certain types of cancer.  That was the only excuse I needed to get back on the wagon.  About the only thing that keeps me in check now is my wife.  If not for her, I would have a rash all over my body 😊.

WoW#58


My New Watch


⚽ I Took my wife to our local Kroger grocery store today (2/28/20), dropped her off, and headed off to walk three miles on the local trail with a close family member.  After the walk was complete (7,500 steps), I went back to the store and walked down the aisle to Starbucks to get a cup of their delicious coffee.  As I stood in line and waited, I pushed a button on my watch and when the attendant took my order; I held up my watch and she scanned the bar-code proudly displayed on my watch.  That was the first time I have ever paid for anything using my watch.  Normally, when I get coffee at Starbucks, I pay with my cellphone.  As I departed with a steaming cup of java warming my cold hands, I was reminded that as a kid in the 1940s, Dick Tracy, in Sunday’s cartoon paper, made phone calls using his wristwatch.  I’ll betcha that somewhere out there, someone has a watch that’ll make a phone call just like old Dick.  Maybe, before I kick that old bucket, I’ll have one. 😊 

As my wife and I left Kroger’s and headed towards the truck with our groceries, I asked her how the shopping went and she responded, “I made out like a bandit”.  That made me smile because I know how much she likes to work store coupons.  I know that at this stage in our comfortable lives, coupons aren’t as vital as when we were young, but I think it’s great that she still tries to save.  I asked her once why she still worked coupons so diligently and she responded that it was a hobby.  I believe that regardless of our age, or income, “making out like a bandit” pleases us all. 

Dr. William Menninger said so wisely, “The amount of satisfaction you get from life depends largely on your own ingenuity, self-sufficiency, and resourcefulness.  People who wait around for life to supply their satisfaction usually find boredom instead.”  Now, that dog will hunt!

⚽ “Almost half the entire adult population (USA) — have pre-diabetes or diabetes. Cardiovascular disease afflicts about 122 million people and causes roughly 840,000 deaths each year, or about 2,300 deaths each day. Three in four adults are overweight or obese. More Americans are sick, in other words, than are healthy… New York Times. 

Now that is scary!  I’ve been worrying about the coronavirus (COVID-19) and it appears that I should be more concerned about my weight and what I eat.  In fact, the odds of me dying from that virus is a mere.4%.  That means the odds are 99.6% in favor of me not dying from it.  There is also a 1 in 100,000 probability that I will get infected.  That means there is a 00001% probability that I will get infected.  If I get infected, there is a 2% chance I will die from it. I know that I should not ignore that terrible virus, but I also know that I should worry more about the flu virus that has hit us hard nationwide.  One of my granddaughters told me the other day that she had missed work because of the flu virus, and when I asked her if she had taken the flu shot, she responded that she had.  So, the shot doesn’t guarantee 100% protection, but if you contact the virus, studies show it will lessen the symptoms.  I have long known that to prevent the possibility of contracting a virus, I should wash my hands often.  In church on Sundays we have “Meet & Greet” during our church service (shake hands & greet other church members).  My wife and I always make sure we wash our hands upon arriving home.  I’m confident our fellow churchgoers do the same.  Our minister informed the congregation today that he would suspend that part of our service temporarily. It is recommended that after washing our hands, we use a paper towel to dry them. 

So, I have resolved to not worry inordinately about COVID-19 but keep up with its ability to spread easily.  I plan on becoming anti social until a vaccine is developed, or it goes away due to warmer weather.  I know that is impossible for those that must go to work or school every day.  But for this old retired guy, that seems the most feasible road for me to travel.  I’m hoping that when warmer weather arrives in April that this monster of a virus will disappear like SARS did in 2003 and MERS in 2012.  There’s reason to think that may happen since COVID-19 matches 79% of the SARS virus and 50% of MERS.

If you want to read an excellent article on this deadly virus, click on this link.

William Feather said, “The very moment everything looks serene, all hell breaks loose”.  Oh, how true those words are for most of us.      

⚽ I read recently that only 2% of people have green eyes and I thought that was interesting.  It is a result of pigmentation combined with the natural coloring of the eye that everyone has.  The two colors mix to create that wonderful color.  I have been married twice and both of my wives have that color, so I just assumed that it was common.  To my surprise, 8% of the people in the world have blue eyes, and the most common eye color is brown (which I have).  It is thought that up to 16 genes affect eye color, so it is possible for siblings not to have the same color eyes, and they may be different from their parents.  Studies show that people with brown eyes are considered more trustworthy, but we all know that’s just not a good basis for trust 😊.  Those of us with brown eyes enjoy some health benefits, such as being less likely to develop age-related macular degeneration, Type 1 diabetes, and hearing loss.  I always believed that blue eyes were rare and green and brown were common.  And I always thought that people with blue eyes tended to be smarter. 

I remember being in the 8th grade (1955) and being an avid reader of the “Readers Digest”.  Mom was also, and I sorta picked it up from her.  She saved copies of them all the way back to 1935.  I recall reading in one of those books that you could tell a person’s intelligence by the color of their eyes and the order was from bright to not so bright (blue, green and brown in that order).  That put me smack-dab in the “not so bright” group, and I was devastated.  So, from that point on I tried to prove to myself that I did not deserve to be there.  As bad as I felt at the time, it was probably a good thing for me to read because it encouraged me to try harder.  Kinda reminds me of the old Johnny Cash song about “A Boy Named Sue”.  Of course, some academics today still dabble in the theory that you can intuit intelligence by eye color but most studies indicate that those of us with darker eyes have darker skin and, therefore, less opportunity to advance our education, hence, not as smart as our brethren with lighter colored eyes.  I have known three exceptionally smart people in my life. One had blue eyes and the other two had brown.  That’s my story, and I’m stickin’ to it.

Some wise person once said something to the effect, “Intelligence is not something possessed forever.  It requires you to be open-minded, with a will to learn, and the courage to adjust anew.”  

Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me.  I know you will return their love abundantly.  That is my intent as well.  I am always grateful that you take the time to read my missives.  Until next time, be well…. Tommy. (Wow#57)


Baby Names


                                 Baby Names (WoW#56)

⚽  I read recently that the top newborn baby names from 2010 to 2018 were Noah and Emma and in general children are more likely to be given fewer common names today than in the past. The top names came from a total of 18 million male births and 17 million female births. That surprised me because we have been told for years that more females were born each year than males. As a matter of fact, in 2017 there were 166 million women in the United States compared to 159 million men, and the projection is that it will continue to widen.  That reminds me of a cruise my wife and I were on several years ago. We had disembarked on one of the islands in the Caribbean and were on a tour bus.  The lady from that island was giving the tour and informed us that she had two young boys and that on that island there were 13 females for every male.  I remember thinking that was a young man’s paradise, how nice it must be to be the only game in town.  Of course, for the female population, the choice of a mate becomes extremely difficult because he doesn’t have to earn her love and respect.  We know from experience, when men are left to their own devices, they are not prone to the best of conduct.  I suspect there is just too much testosterone flowing thru our body.  An area that suffers for us men is our social skills.  We tend to be loud and boisterous with a tendency to brag about our accomplishments.  Mingle in a few women and we become more civilized.  Thomas K. (“Stonewall”) Jackson, the famous Confederate Civil General, had these rules for conversation:  Be at peace in your speech, speak respectfully of others, try to be no more wise than the people you are speaking to, never be hurtful, nor deceitful, avoid bragging by saying as little about yourself as possible, and always speak late (refrain from dominating the conversation).  Now, that’s seven simple rules of conversation that make a lot of sense and would, perhaps, make us a little humbler. For anyone interested in the Civil War, I just finished “Rebel Yell” by S. C. Gwynne, about Stonewall Jackson during that great struggle.  I gave it 5 stars. I use that high rating sparingly.    

⚽  I have three granddaughters, all living far away, and I don’t get to see them very often.  So, in April 2019, I started sending them a text on Sunday mornings asking them to,” Tell me something I don’t know (TMSIDK)” about themselves.  Within that message to them, I tell them something about myself they don’t know.  All three eagerly accepted my challenge, and each week when they respond, I copy their answers and put it in my journal under their names.  Two of my granddaughters are in their mid-thirties and the other one is in her mid-twenties.  I have been pleasantly surprised at some of their answers, and I’m sure they were surprised at some of mine.  Last week in my TMSIDK (tell me something I don’t know) to them, I said I was 19 years old when their dad was born.  One of them replied, “Goodness, that was young!” Playfully, I wrote her back, “Too young, but not uncommon in the mountains of Virginia.  Of course, without that happening, I know of three wonderful girls that wouldn’t be roaming this wonderful planet” (she and her two sisters).  I’m confident that brought a smile to her face.

This simple little act each Sunday morning allows me to maintain contact with three of the most important people in my life, even though distance limits our physical presence.  I know these three girls love me unconditionally, just as I love them in the same way.  This also allows them to know a little more about their grandfather.  My grandparents never kept in touch after I left home in 1959, but I wish they had.  I always visited them when I went home each year, but they never initiated contact.  If I could roll that ball back up the lane, I would make sure that changed.   Rosa Parks said, “Memories of our lives, of our works and deeds will continue in others.”  I believe this is true.

⚽ There are 7 people on my cellphone plan with Verizon, and recently I noticed a $5 monthly charge on two of those phones that I had not seen before.  So, I signed onto their website and clicked on “Chat” and a lady came on and I explained the problem.  Twenty minutes later, thru some other adjustment, I knocked $54 off my monthly bill.  That made me a happy camper!  She then informed me that they have a new router that will increase my internet speed by 65% and my Wifi by 63%.  Nothing left to do but order that jewel!  Within 2 days, it was sitting on my porch ($318) begging for installation.  I chose to buy it verses rent at $20/month for the rest of my life.  Anyway, I got it installed and checked my internet speed and was very surprised.  The average internet speed in the USA is 25 mbps (megabits per second) and mine was 928.  I was getting very close to jumping out of my chair and dancing a little jig, but there was a disappointing downside to my cheerfulness.  A lot of my Wifi gadgets needed the slower speed (2.4 GHz) to connect to the internet, meaning my security cameras wouldn’t work, neither would the smart plugs I used to control lights within our home.  When I walk into my computer room and tell Amazon’s Alexa to “Turn on Tommy’s lamps”, all my lights come on and the radio starts playing my favorite station on XMRadio.  Now that doesn’t happen because my router is too fast.  You would’ve thought my best friend died.  I was saddened when I realized I would have to turn those things on manually.  I guess it’s sorta like getting in your car and having to manually crank your windows up and down.  I was completely unaware that my life had become so easy and me so spoiled. 

Anyway, I got back on the phone with Verizon to try to solve my problem and, as it turns out, they can help me fix it.  I’m waiting on a new router as I write this missive that should get me back to my old spoiled self and allow me to also keep my Richard Petty internet speed.

Update:  I received my new router and installed it as directed, but the same problems persisted.  I eventually resolved the problem myself, and now everything works as intended.  I felt awesome because three of their “experts” were unable to resolve the problem and the “Old Guy” did.  Life still gives me pleasures!

An old Proverb says, “Everyone is wise until he speaks”.  Regrettably, that applies to me.

Wherever you are in this world, I hope your family loves you as much as mine loves me.  I know you will return their love abundantly.  That is my intent as well.  I am always grateful that you take the time to read my missives.  Until next time, be well…. Tommy.