Category: 2018


“Daddy, is Santa Real?”


👀 My wife and I have attended the Christmas party of a good friend for many years and it’s always an enjoyable evening. Her home and yard are always abundantly decorated and a warm feeling always surrounds you when you enter.  This year many of her friends did not attend because of sickness, travel, etc., but we had a great time nevertheless.  We left her home around 10 pm with our stomachs full of food/cookies and our minds filled with lots of good conversation.  As we drove home, my wife and I were surrounded with the feeling of good cheer that only a Christmas Party at Joann’s can provide.  Hopefully,all the people that missed it this year will be there next year.  I miss our yearly visit with all of them.  To this day, I still remember my best Christmas as a young boy and the sacrifice my mother and father made to ensure that I got what I wanted.  As a father, I remember the Christmas that I was able to convince my two small children that there was a Santa Claus.  I also remember the one when my 9-year-old daughter asked me if there was a Santa and I assured her there was.  “Daddy, my friends at school are making fun of me for believing in Santa, so tell me the truth!”  I looked at her perfectly formed face, long blonde hair, and gently said, “No, there isn’t a Santa”.  A look of total shock covered her face, and it felt like I had totally destroyed the truth in her world.  If there was not a Santa, was there a Fairy Godmother?  As tears welled up in her eyes, I knew I had made a serious mistake. Her older brother had been telling her for several years that Santa didn’t exist, but because her mother and I kept reinforcing his existence, she believed us.  I remember exactly where we were and what time it was when I uttered those dastardly words.  I remember getting down on my knees and pulling her close to me as she cried, and trying desperately to comfort her.  But there was no comfort for her on that day, and I suspect Christmas was never the same afterwards. There have been many special Christmas’ for me during my 77 spins around the sun and lately they have become special just because I’m still here to celebrate each one.

 👀     A few days ago, I had my annual physical, and as I sat in the chair beside my doctor, he counseled me on fitness. “You need to lose some weight, stop smoking those awful cigars, and keep doing your daily exercises”, he said patiently.  Then he asked, “How many alcoholic drinks do you have weekly?”  I replied that, “Dr Mom (my wife) says I must drink 4 ounces of red wine each day, eat some peanuts,and I will live to be 100”, and so, that’s exactly what I do.  “That’s an old wives’ tale, so stop doing it”, he responded.  I sat silently and listened without responding, knowing Dr. Mom rules my universe.  Then he gave me a bunch of papers to read that would insure I live a happy, healthy life. As I prepared to leave his office he said, “You are the healthiest patient I have, I think you are probably a health nut.”  I smiled, wondering how that could be possible when I’m 15 lbs overweight.  A few days later, as I was reading thru the handouts, he gave me, one of the articles informed me that 80% of all Americans do not live a life that provides optimum health.  That statement left me a little confused, and I’m left wondering, ok, how many of us live a little less than optimum health but still live well enough to have a happy, healthy life?  A little farther on in the article it says health authorities have determined that 5 ounces of red wine each day helps promote good health. Whaaat!  Does he read the stuff he passes out to his patients? Don’t get me wrong, I like my family health care physician, I’m just a little disappointed in him.  Dr. Mom keeps telling me to follow her advice.  Maybe I should, but I’m still trying to figure out which medical school she attended 😊.  Sam Coleridge said, “Advice is like snow; the softer it falls the longer it dwells upon, and the deeper it sinks into the mind.” I kinda like that idea.

👀 I read the following in a magazine: “It began three and a half billion years ago in a pool of muck, when a molecule made a copy of itself and so became the ultimate ancestor of all earthly life.  It began four million years ago when brain volumes climbed rapidly in the hominid line.  Fifty thousand years ago with the rise of homo sapiens.  Ten thousand years ago with the invention of civilization. Five hundred years ago with the invention of the printing press.  Fifty years ago, with the invention of the computer.  In less than thirty years, it will end”.  The author of that proclamation is suggesting that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will end human existence within the next 30 years.  I will not be here to find out if that statement is true, but I strongly disagree with it.  Let’s see, if I train my dog to attack other people, then it stands to reason that somewhere in the process he will turn on me?  I don’t think so!  I believe the people developing AI will never allow that to happen.  Why would they?   The people writing the code for AI are very smart, don’t ya think they know in the back of their minds that if their gadget ever becomes smarter than they are it could spell T-R-O-U-B-L-E?  I think it’s a little far-fetched to believe something like that could happen.  It’s far likelier that the world, as we know it, will cease to exist because we ignored climate change.  Nicholas Berdyaev said, “Fear is never a good counselor and victory over fear is the first spiritual duty of man.”

 👀 Recently I decided the windshield wipers on our truck needed to be replaced.  They were a year old and made annoying noises as they moved back and forth.  Also, they weren’t cleaning all the rain off as they should in order for me to see clearly where I was headed.  I walked into the auto parts store, told them what I wanted, paid $50, and headed home in the rain.  The one thing I know is that replacing windshield wipers is a difficult task.  I have witnessed the auto parts employees having a difficult time doing that task for their customers.  As I was driving home and thinking about the task ahead of me, I wondered why someone hasn’t devised a simpler way?  I pulled into the driveway, got a small ladder (our truck is very high off the ground), and stared at the blades on the truck, trying to figure out how the darn things come off.  I looked at the new package of wipers and there was a note that said, “Scan this bar code to get a video on how to install these wipers”.  Hot diggity dog! I immediately got my cellphone, scanned the bar code and a video popped up showing me how to remove the old blades and install the new ones. I struggled to get the old ones off, but after a lot of effort I finally got them removed.  I then popped open the new ones and voila!  There in my crusty old hands are two new blades with a new way to install them!  Just unsnap the enclosure flap on the new wiper, slide it on the control wiper control arm, snap the enclosure closed,and everything is operational and ready to wipe away.  When those wipers need replacing, the job is just a snap away (pun intended).  In case you’re wondering about the brand name of the new wipers, it’s Rain-X.  Thomas Merton said, “Every moment and every event of every man’s life on earth plants something in his soul.”  I’m not so sure I agree with him.   

👀 The dreaded day finally arrived, I needed to replace my computer chair and I had become very attached to it.  I say that literally because I spend a lot of time in it each day.  It’s sorta like dreading to get a new pair of shoes, they take a while to break in, and you have aching feet for a period of time.  Well, the same thing applies to anew chair, but it was time for a replacement. A lot of the bonded leather was flaking off and falling to the floor and the chair looked miserable.  I went to my workshop, brought back some clear packing tape and stopped the flaking, but the chair looked like it was a homeless guy’s prized possession.  So, my wife told me one morning that it was time to go to OfficeMax and select a new chair.   Boy, do they have a lot of office chairs to choose from.  Nothing to do but sit in each chair and ponder if it’s the one I want? I was more inclined to be affected by price ($450+ for some) and leaned more towards the $135 range.  My wife kept encouraging me to ignore the price and select the one that was most comfortable. Finally, I pointed a crooked finger at my selection and told her,with firmness in my voice, “that’s the one I want”.  I looked at the price tag ($338) and flinched.  I immediately reached for my cellphone, scanned the bar code and observed that I could get it for $238 at the same store if I ordered it online and could pick it up in an hour.  A lot of things can bring a smile to my face,but saving $100 can slide one on there just about as quick as sliding a spoonful of pecan pie into my pie hole. I had the chair home (in a box) within a few hours and started assembling it.  An hour later it was sitting behind my desk, inviting me to give it a spin.  I am slowly coming around to liking the chair, but it will take time.  I took the old one to the city dump a few days ago, and as I tossed it into the garbage heap,I waved a sad goodbye.  Lots of my DNA on that old chair.  Ellen Glasgow said, “The hardest thing for me is the sense of impermanence.  All passes; nothing returns.”  I kinda think that is true.

   I hope that wherever you are on this wonderful planet, you are enjoying the ride. May those that love you show up at your door for a long visit during this wonderful month of celebration.  I am eager to greet the New Year and continue my journey.  If you have access to the internet, please visit my website:  www.tommyhale.net 


The Christmas Spirit


 👀 Our local thrift store had its “Christmas Open House” on Friday evening at 6:00pm a couple of weeks ago.  Many of our 12,000 residents look forward to that event.  We arrived one hour before the doors opened and there were, perhaps, 15 people already in line.  By the time the doors finally allowed entry, there we at least 75 people behind us.  Keep in mind that all of their merchandise has been donated by someone who used it before, potentially for many years. Nevertheless, year after year several hundred people show up to buy Christmas toys, decorations, and gifts. My wife and I devised a plan that had her going to the right after we entered and myself to the left.  We were to put into our basket anything we thought we might want, since it could always be returned to the shelf later if we decided we (my wife) didn’t want it.  The items were priced anywhere from $2 to $30 and, for the latter, you were getting a pretty good item for your money.  We left an hour and a half later and the bill came to $60.  Yeah, we got some good Christmas stuff, i.e., a bear that sings “Jingle Bells” and waves lighted batons when you push his button 😊.  but the most pleasure was derived from being around a lot of enthusiastic people whose eyes were wide, and their spirit filled with the expectation of finding that perfect gift, or decoration, at a ridiculously low price.  In addition, they had a snack table filled with delicious cookies, candies, etc., plus coffee and bottled water to wash it down.  I think the reason I enjoy it so much is that it gives me the opportunity to see the“Christmas Spirit” at least a month before it descends upon us like a cloak, and make us feel warm and comfortable deep down inside.  When I was a young boy in the coal mining camps of Virginia, that cloak always descended in early December.  When my two children were young, the cloak returned again every December.  Now? Not so much, except when we head off to the thrift store Christmas sale! I surely hope that you have something like that to tug you into the Christmas season, whether you are a Christian or not. I think I am never so peaceful as when the cloak arrives and peace is the angel resting on my shoulder.

👀 My blood pressure has been giving me “fits” lately.  Back in May when my son told me that he had pancreatic cancer, my pressure shot up to“Hypertension Stage2: 140+/ 90+”.  I normally take my pressure readings on Monday/Wednesday/Friday and each month I key the data into the software that I have on my PC.  Then in November when I go for my annual physical, I give the report to my doctor. After my son passed away in June, I expected my readings to start heading towards “normal” as I worked my way thru grieving over his death.  That happened when other family members passed away, and I expected it to happen this time also.  But, alas, here I am six months later and my readings are still disastrous.  I know my body is saying there is a lot of grief still within me and there is still along way to go to get over his absence in my life.  I am expecting my doctor to put me on medication, and I am willing to do that if he deems it so.  I have been very proud that at my age I do not take any prescription medication, but I fully expect that to change soon. 

“I do not know why it is, but everything penetrates more deeply within me, and no longer stops at the place, where until now, it always used to finish”.  …Rainer Maria Rilke  

👀 My wife and I normally walk the Kiln Creek Trail on Fridays and then she does her grocery shopping in then nearby Kroger grocery store while I head to the Starbucks coffee shop in that very place.  Well, on this particular Friday, I’m standing in line to order my steaming hot cup of coffee, slowly working my way to the front of the line, when I noticed there was only one barista (Emme) and she was working mighty hard. She appeared to be of Asian heritage and in her mid-thirties, and she was working as quickly as humanly possible, trying to please the customers waiting on their order.  I worked for 50 years, and I can tell you that I never worked as hard as that woman at that particular time.  I finally arrived at the front of the line and she came over to take my order when the woman she had just waited on came back and informed her that what she had in her hand was not what she ordered.  The barista looked as though someone had poured too much cinnamon on her oatmeal.  But she was pleasant to the lady and courteously said, “No problem, I’ll get you what you wanted’.  She turned to me and said that she would return soon.  I encouraged her to take her time, that I was not in a hurry, but off she went, twisting and turning like a tornado.  Within a few minutes she was back, asked about my order again (Grande, black) and quickly started making it.  She returned with my dangerously hot cup of “Pike’s Place”, apologized for the delay, and placed it on the counter in front of me.  I always pay for my Starbucks coffee with an app on my phone, so I pulled it up, turned the phone towards her so she could scan the barcode, and remarked that Starbucks surely doesn’t pay her enough and to please add a $5 tip to my order ($2).  She smiled appreciatively and informed me that she couldn’t do that (add a tip on the phone app).  Unfortunately, I seldom carry my wallet and was unable to reward her hard work with a little extra pocket change.  I’m gonna try to remember to take her tip on my next visit.  It is a great joy to do a good job yourself, but it is also pretty great to watch someone else do a great job.  Emme did a great job that day!

John Wayne said, “”Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes to us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.”  I’m learning that a great many of our young people are hard workers.

 👀 A few weeks ago we took a week long trip to North Carolina and Tennessee to visit family members that we don’t get to see all that often.  I have three great-grandchildren by my oldest granddaughter Robin & husband David.  I try to find ways to give my two great-granddaughters (12 & 14 years old) some money they can use at school (their brother is only 4).  I refrain from giving them money outright by giving them the opportunity to earn it.  I said to the 12-year-old 7thgrader, “Taylor, tell me the names of 15 US Presidents and I’ll give you $20”.  Surprisingly, she wrote down the names of twelve very quickly.  Struggling for the final three, her dad & I gave a few hints and she won the money.  Her older sister, Randi, was showing me her poker card magic tricks, which she performs at school to impress her friends.  She promised to tell me the identity of the single card I had in my hand, but I noticed that she made a counting mistake when placing the cards in different piles on the kitchen table, and I suspected that mistake would make her calculations incorrect. “Grandio, are you ready for me to identify the card in your hand?”  “Yes”, says I, “and I will give you $20 if you are correct!”  A big smile spread rapidly across her face as she spoke confidently of her guess.  As I slowly turned the card around for her to see, a look of bewilderment took up residency in her eyes.  She had done this trick many times before and had never failed to reveal the correct identity of the card.  I could see the wheels turning as she tried desperately to identify what had gone wrong. Seeing her confusion, I pegged the source of the problem, she tried it again and was successful.  I was happy that she succeeded and willingly gave her the reward I had promised. She also did several other card tricks which we haven’t quite figured out yet.  I have no idea what they will use the money for, I hope it is on a school trip of some kind.  Taylor went to the State Science Fair in Nashville the week after we left and finished 4th for all 7thGraders in the state.  Oh, how we brag about those we love. 

Nikki Giovanni said, “Some say we are responsible for those we love.  Others know we are responsible for those who love us.”  Now that’s a pony I can ride!

  I hope that wherever you are on this wonderful planet you are enjoying the ride. May those that love you show up at your door for a long visit during this wonderful month of celebration.  I am anxious to greet the New Year and begin my 78th trip around the Sun.

Does Integrity Have A Price?


😎​​ As​​ most of you probably know, my wife and I are downsizing and planning on moving into a retirement community within the next few years. ​​ So, we are continually trying to sell/giveaway possessions, some worth a little and some held​​ onto for way too long. ​​ A couple of weeks ago I sold the Carolina Skiff I had down at the pier,​​ and the other day I placed the little 3 horsepower outboard motor down at our front yard curb with a sale sign that said I was willing to let it go for a mere $25. ​​ The next morning, I glanced out the window and then remarked to my wife that it was still there. ​​ She remarked that it could be stolen by leaving it there overnight. ​​ Well, says I, during the day the price is $25, but during the night it’s free. ​​ I wonder if there are many people willing to sell their integrity for that much money? ​​ I’ve often heard that everyone has a price that will convince them to do what they consider despicable. ​​ I have great respect for the minister of our church,​​ and I would be very sad if there was a price that could induce him to violate his pledge to​​ the Lord. ​​ I believe it has a lot to do with your age. ​​ If you promise an old guy an additional 10 years of life, I’m of the opinion he’ll come in the middle of the night and take​​ that darn motor away. ​​ If you are in the age range of 20 – 50, then you’re gonna want money. ​​ My bet is that $500,000 would snare at least 80% of​​ those​​ asked to do that nasty deed. ​​ Yes, I know that is a pretty​​ low opinion of mankind, but I see a lot that​​ convinces me that I’m right.​​ 

By this time, you’re probably wondering what my price would be? ​​ It would not be the money because I quite possibly would not live along enough to spend it. ​​ But the 10-year thingy would definitely be enticing. ​​ Georges Duhamel said, “To drink is a small matter. ​​ To be thirsty is everything.” ​​ Stealing that outboard motor would be a small matter, but it’s effect on your integrity would be everything. ​​ Time to put this story to rest: ​​ A few days ago, we returned from our walk and an old guy was sitting in his dilapidated pickup truck, in front of the outboard motor, waiting for us to return home. ​​ I parked in our driveway and ambled down to greet him, shook his hand,​​ and began to tell him about that faded old engine that was way​​ past it’s prime. ​​ I could easily tell that he was kinda down on his luck, so I informed him that he could have the​​ everything free of charge if he wanted it. ​​ Who would have thought that​​ saving​​ $25 could brighten someone’s eyes that much? ​​ I helped him load it into his truck, wished him well,​​ and watched him as he drove away with a smile on his face. ​​ As that old truck faded into the distance, I noticed that he had left something behind. ​​ He had left part of his smile on my face too! ​​ I thought about it for a few minutes and as I slowly walked up the driveway towards the​​ house, I knew that I had received a lot more than the $25 I was asking. ​​ I could almost feel​​ the Lord tap me on the shoulder and say, oh so softly, “Now didn’t that feel really good?” ​​ Yep, sure did!

֎​​ I​​ recently read an article in the New York Times, written by Tim Herrera, about how to be a good conversationalist and I thought he had some excellent tips. ​​ According to Tim, there are three tiers of conversation:

  • Casual - Talk about sports, weather, pop culture, local celebrities,​​ and shared experiences.

  • Controversial – talk about religion, politics, dating,​​ and your love life.

  • Intimate – talk about family, finances, health,​​ and work.

Do not ask questions that put someone in a tight spot. For example, “Is your boyfriend here?” Instead, say, “Catch me up on your life, or what’s going on at work.” ​​ 

Two Harvard researchers in the​​ Psychology​​ Department​​ found that talking about yourself triggers the same pleasure sensation in the brain as food. ​​ People will forgo money​​ in order to talk about themselves (hmm, I don’t think I know anyone like that). ​​ The point here is, do not be a conversation hog! ​​ Share the​​ conversation pie. ​​ Share half if there are two of you,​​ and a quarter if there are four. ​​ Be attentive and make eye contact, also making active and engaged facial expressions. ​​ At times, repeat back what was said and ask questions. ​​ If something to say pops into your mind, don’t say it, go back to listening. ​​ Bring it up later if it’s important. ​​ If you say something that may be controversial, seek out the other person’s opinion.

During a daily walk recently, I made an anti-Trump comment to a dear and close family member,​​ and as soon as it slipped from my tongue, I knew that I had dropped a bomb. ​​ She is pro-Trump​​ and was​​ immediately offended, defending him with heart and soul. ​​ I felt so badly about my comment,​​ and after she finished,​​ I​​ quickly changed the topic. ​​ I am hopeful that she has forgiven me. ​​ I forgot rule #2: Don’t talk about politics (unless you know that all of​​ you have the same viewpoint).

Many​​ times,​​ we encounter someone that dominates the conversation,​​ and it is never pleasant to be excluded from participating in the gentle banter of friends. ​​ I often find that I am guilty of monopolizing conversations and when I realize it, I back off and let others​​ say whatever is on their mind. ​​ It is a humbling experience. ​​ There is a good chance that a lot of us do that without knowing we are “hogging” the pie of conversation. ​​ 

Probably, all of us already knew most of those things mentioned above, but it’s always good to bring them to the forefront and remind ourselves of the need to be a good conversationalist. ​​ 

Henry Hawkins said, “The time to stop talking is when the other person nods his head affirmatively but says nothing,”

👀​​ My daughter needed the storm door replaced on her townhouse and I agreeably volunteered to do that project for her so it wouldn’t be too expensive. ​​ Off we go, on a bright sunny Saturday, to a Lowe’s hardware store, to find​​ a new one. ​​ We found it rather quickly, checked out, and headed​​ to her house to install the darn thing. ​​ It took me about 45 minutes to remove the old door (I always struggle with these types of projects​​ 😜), unpack the new​​ one​​ and start the assembly process. ​​ We immediately noticed that a major part had a dent, but rather than box it up and take it back, I decided I could straighten it out with my trusty rubber hammer. ​​ After struggling with the thing for an hour, or so, I reluctantly decided​​ it should go​​ back. My daughter had been urging me to do that very thing since noticing the defective part. ​​ Ignoring her advice, I plunged ahead and then, ultimately, agreed​​ with her.

Frustrated, I drove back to the store, returned the door, and asked for a replacement. After reassessing my ability to do this job, I decided to hire someone to do it for me. ​​ Fortunately, I have a friend that does these types of jobs for a fee and would welcome the opportunity to relieve me of this stress. My dad used to warn me as a young lad to, “not bite off more than you can chew.” ​​ I believe I could eat that sandwich, I’m just not sure I want to. ​​ I am willing to pay my friend whatever he charges, within​​ reason, and​​ move on to other things. I want my daughter’s front door to look nice,​​ and I fear it would not if I did the job. ​​ There’s an old Yiddish Proverb that says, “He that can’t endure the bad, will not live to see the good.” ​​ Hmmm, that worries me a little​​ 🤢. ​​ ​​ 


Do You Wear A Pocket Protector


֎ ​​ I remember as a young man​​ only buying shirts with two pockets on them. ​​ The reason was that in one I had a pocket protector with several pens stuck in it and the other was used for​​ notes, or whatever else I accumulated during a normal day at the office. I think you can tell how complex a person’s life is by how many shirt pockets he has. Mostly, my shirts are minus any pockets. Occasionally, when I have to dress-up, my shirt will have a pocket on it, but most of the time there is not a shirt pocket to be seen. ​​ I have seen men wearing pants without any hip pockets on them, but I haven’t gotten to that point yet. ​​ I guess I could do that because most of the time I carry one credit card, my driver’s license and a $20 bill in the case that I use for my cellphone. ​​ I doubt most women could do that, my wife could overhaul a car engine with the stuff she carries around in her handbag. ​​ Heck, my daughter has to rent a forklift to carry the bag she carries around. ​​ She has a keyring with about 50 keys on it and she can identify the purpose of only 5 of them. But, then again, I’m guessing most of us have keys in our possession that we have no idea of what they open. ​​ If shirt pockets are indicative of a complex man, then it stands to reason that a shirt with no pockets belong to a guy without a worry in the world. ​​ In other words, a simple guy, with a simple, uncomplicated life. ​​ I wanna be that guy! ​​ I have made up my mind! From now on I only want shirts with no pockets! ​​ Katherine Gerould said, “The real drawback to the simple life is that it is not simple. ​​ If you are living it, you positively can do nothing else.” ​​ Isn’t that Just great? ​​ Now I have to come up with another plan.

 

 

֎​​ "The summit of happiness is reached when a person is ready to be what he is."

​​ - Desiderius Erasmus

I am certainly inclined to agree with that quote. ​​ We have all heard that, “happiness is the journey, not the destination”, and I also feel that is true. ​​ But, I kinda like the first quote best. ​​ I was 48 years old and, as a supervisor, felt I was qualified to be the next manager of our department. ​​ Instead, someone else was brought in to be the manager and I was distraught. ​​ After several weeks of worrying about my situation,​​ a miraculous thing happened! ​​ Without me being aware of it, the ambition that sweltered deep inside of me​​ disappeared. ​​ I didn’t immediately realize what had happened,​​ but I felt a sense of calm spread within me,​​ and I knew that something had changed. ​​ Eventually, it became apparent to me that the inner peace was a result of me accepting that I would never become the manager. ​​ Careers seldom turn out the way we plan​​ and that’s when you have to accept your fate and be at peace with who you are and​​ what you have accomplished. ​​ Maybe, you didn’t achieve all you wanted​​ but, perhaps, you got a lot of it done, enough that you can be happy. ​​ That’s what happened with me, I was ready to be the person that I was. ​​ John Cowper said, “Ambition is the grand​​ enemy of all peace”. ​​ Hmmm, wish I had said that.​​ 

 

֎​​ "A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned to walk forward."

​​ - Franklin D. Roosevelt

Up until a few years ago,​​ I considered myself a conservative. ​​ But as I have grown older,​​ I became aware that I should help those less fortunate than I. ​​ What brought that about, I think, is observing those around me, giving and helping without expectations of those efforts being responded to in-kind. ​​ I believe that selfishness​​ may be the one part of our DNA that we can change. ​​ To make that change does not require surgery, drugs, or a sit-down with the Dalai Lama. ​​ Empathy is easily acquired if you realize your life is great because you have been blessed with great opportunities​​ that others have not been exposed to. ​​ 

I think that as a conservative I believed everyone had the same opportunities and only some accepted the challenge and made a good effort to put them to full use. In other words, the beggar was homeless & jobless because he was shiftless and lazy. ​​ All the while acknowledging that laziness is the hardest darn human affliction to overcome. Have I become a Liberal? ​​ I think not. I believe that I’m somewhere between the two ideologies: ​​ wanting others to work for what they have, and realizing that bad things happen to good people and that I should help when possible. ​​ I want to tell old Franklin that, yes, I still think I am a​​ conservative,​​ and I constantly strive to put one foot in front of the other​​ 😊.  ​​ ​​​​ 

 

֎ ​​​​ A couple of​​ weeks ago,​​ we were warned by many weather forecasters that hurricane Florence was headed across the Atlantic Ocean, making a beeline straight for the east coast of the USA. Needless to say, we watched it closely as it approached our shore and, at some point, the 140-mile-wide cone they drew of its path​​ included us. ​​ We were inside the cone by a very small margin. Finally, it was predicted to come ashore within 4 days and many areas were warned to evacuate. I prayed many times for the Lord to spare us, but​​ in the meantime, we started bringing everything inside that could be blown, or floated away (we are 12 feet above sea level). A Category 5 storm would bring devastation. ​​ I called and made motel reservations for four nights at an inland area city about 2½​​ hours away. ​​ As we retired for the night I told my wife that the radar showed the storm had shifted a little south (away from us) and we were now slightly outside the cone. That gave us a small amount of relief. ​​ The next morning​​ we arose early,​​ and I dashed (sort of) down the hall, booted up my PC and went directly to the weather radar and the graphic showing the storm’s projected path. ​​ It told us that the storm had shifted a little farther to the south, so we were a little more removed from the cone. ​​ I​​ waited until noon, watching carefully, and then called the motel and cancelled the reservations. ​​ Sure enough, the storm came ashore​​ in North Carolina​​ as predicted (away from us) and has ruined many, many lives and destroyed so much property. ​​ We have close friends in some​​ of the areas that were almost annihilated and it didn’t take long for me to realize that by asking The Lord to spare us, I had unconsciously asked him to shift the storm away from us onto someone else. Needless to say, I have walked around for many days feeling guilty for making such a request. I guess that I have to believe God made the decision on his own, without regard to my pleas, and that he thinks I place too much credit to my imploringness.

Alex Carrel said, “Each individual thinks himself the center of the world. Nothing seems more important to us than our own existence.” ​​ Sadly, I believe that sometimes it is true. I just have to remember the next time I make a request​​ to include the caveat that if that would shift misfortune to others that he denies my plea.  ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​ ​​​​ 

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Just Mousing Around


֎​​ My wife and I noticed that we had a mouse in our garage because it had been getting into the bird food we store there. ​​ So, I retrieved our handy dandy mouse trap and placed a little dab of peanut butter on the trip and set the trap​​ before we went to bed. ​​ Next morning, I go out to check the trap and the little fella is stone cold dead! ​​ I kinda hated to see that happen but knew it was a necessary thing to do. ​​ Fast forward two weeks and that little guy has been reincarnated, so out comes the trap, another dab of peanut butter was placed gingerly on it and the trap was put back in the same spot as before. ​​ The next morning the peanut butter was gone and so is that darn little mouse. ​​ I re-baited the trap and next morning I got the same​​ results. ​​ My wife suggested maybe it needed a little oil, so out comes the WD40 and all the working parts get sprayed and wiped clean. ​​ On goes another dab of peanut butter, but this time another trap is added to my arsenal and both are strategically placed to insure success. ​​ We placed them there at nightfall and checked before we turned in for the night but they were still there, unmolested and tempting. ​​ The next morning the WD40 trap had been tripped, the peanut butter gone as well as the mouse. ​​ Trap​​ #2 was still in position, cocked, but the bait was gone and the interloper was nowhere to be seen. The following night we placed a​​ rather large piece of cheese on each trap, ramming the trigger deep into each piece and hoping Hopalong Cassidy, while tugging away, would release the trigger and be dead before the realization set in that he had not given this action a lot of thought. ​​ The next morning my wife jumped out of bed and headed straight for the garage to see if our efforts were successful. ​​ What she​​ found was the WD40 trap had been sprung, but old Hopalong, somewhat dazed, was stumbling around near the trap, bleeding a little but still strong enough to try to make a run for the hills. She immediately grabbed a plastic bag, put on gloves and swooped him into the bag, tying it tightly, and placing him in our outside garbage pail. ​​ Shortly, he gave up the ghost and travelled to wherever mice go when their life ends. ​​ 

Albert Camus​​ summed up my thoughts, “The climax of every tragedy lies in the deafness of​​ its heroes”. ​​ I think my wife is a hero! ​​ 

 

֎​​ “In the transition from the Mesozoic (230 million to 65 million years ago) to the Cenozoic eras (around 65 million years ago) when the North American continent began to take shape, much of what we call the Eastern Seaboard was under water. No human​​ beings existed then; it would be millions of years before any hominids evolved” …. Roy Scranton

I recently read the quote above in an article written by the author for the New York Times. ​​ It is difficult for me to grasp the concept of a million years, much less 65 million of them. ​​ Of course, it’s difficult for us Christians to accept a barren, desolate world. ​​ We are told in our Bible that God created the world in 6 days and rested on the 7th, probably from exhaustion. ​​ We are also told that God created man in his own image, consequently, the evolution of humans plays no role in our faith.​​ 

So, how do we faith-based humans square our beliefs with what science tells us actually happened? ​​ I will simplify my thoughts by saying that my son was always a Dallas Cowboys (NFL) fan, and I am a Washington Redskins fan. ​​ They play each other at least twice each season (Sept – Dec). ​​ Regardless of who won the game, I always considered myself a winner. ​​ I feel the same way about​​ religion vs evolution. ​​ If God created our world and I follow his edicts, then I get a free pass into Heaven. ​​ If it turns out that our world evolved, then I have lost nothing, I have lived a worthy life, and I will leave behind a world better for me having lived in it. It is tempting to deny the existence of God because it obviates the​​ need to follow his commandments. ​​ Even without being religious, following those rules make us better people, better citizens, and creates a much better society.

֎ ​​​​ I have often thought​​ it would be nice to look back in time and watch Columbus start his trip to America (1495), watch the very first inauguration of George Washington (1789), then watch how my grandfather Hale celebrated his 10th birthday (1905), see my Mom & Dad get married (1940), observe the celebration of my 10th birthday (1951), watch the birth of my son and daughter and my three granddaughters. ​​ As I look back at significant things that happened in my life and my country’s, I realize there is much to be thankful for. ​​ By looking back and recognizing the significance of those events it allows me to better define who I am, how those events affected me and played a role in my core values. ​​ All of us are a product of things that happened before we were born and then those things that happened to us during the unique trail we followed in our own life. ​​ I often assume that my thoughts on current affairs and family situations are due in large part to my age. ​​ What I have failed to realize is that they are primarily a result of my history and the history of my country as I perceive it. I believe it too simplistic to assume that attitudes handed down from previous generations are,​​ somehow, ignored by the following generations. ​​ How else do we explain the discriminations fostered on non-whites, women and foreigners? ​​ It takes many years to figure out the major characters and events in your life and how they have impacted you. ​​ Important ones may change, but major ones do not.​​ 

Some wise old codger once said, “You can get a​​ lot of facts wrong if you get your story right”. ​​ Not the right attitude to have​​ 😊.

​​ ֎​​ A few weeks ago, I was sitting in church on a Sunday morning, listening to the pastor tell us how Christ wanted us to stay in touch with each other. ​​ After he​​ finished his sermon, he informed us that the offering plate would be passed twice, once for the church and again for the local food bank. ​​ On the first passing of the plates I made a contribution and noticed the fellow sitting in front of me and he shook his head as the usher approached, indicating he wasn’t donating. ​​ As the​​ ushers approached with their plates for the second offering for the food bank, I again contributed, and as they neared the fellow in front of me, he opened his wallet and all he had in​​ it was a $1 bill. ​​ Now, I don’t usually carry a lot of money on me, but I always have my credit card and I use it constantly. ​​ The fellow had not a single solitary sign of a credit card in his wallet. ​​ All he had was that $1. ​​ I watched his fingers reach​​ for that $1, pause ever so briefly, then snatched it out quickly and​​ placed it on the plate.  ​​​​ I was dumbfounded! ​​ I had thought critically of him for not giving and now he had given, not the 10% that I gave, but 100% of what he had in his wallet. ​​ I left​​ church that day a little depressed because of my actions. ​​ Simone Weil said, “We do not acquire humility. There is humility in us – only we humiliate ourselves”. ​​ Yup! I think the old guy is right.