Saturday, December 29, 2012


  I told our preacher one time, (after a seemingly lengthy sermon), that no souls are saved after 20 minutes. I guess I don't know for sure that 20 minutes is always the limit, but I have noticed that in many situations, the audience is done listening before the speaker is done speaking.

  I saw a link to a video the other day that was supposedly about 4 warning signs that happen just minutes before you have a heart attack. I thought it might be something I should know, just in case there was anything I needed to do before I checked out.

  When I clicked on the link, I noticed the video was 35 minutes long. Now, it seems to me it shouldn't take 35 minutes to list 4 warning signs, but then, I'm the type of person that thinks it shouldn't take 30 minutes to preach a sermon.

  While I enjoy a good novel when I want to be entertained, I appreciate it when someone can make a point in just a few minutes. And at my age, I try to avoid starting any long novels.

  But that's just me.

High Hopes, Lower Expectations.....

  I imagine most of us have had high hopes for the endeavors we’ve undertaken in our lives. We probably wouldn’t have undertaken some of those endeavors if it hadn’t been for those hopes. I also imagine that for most of us, our expectations weren’t usually as high as our hopes. Back at Millville Grade School, my old buddy Stinky Wilmont and I always hoped for straight A’s on our report cards. In actuality, we expected a little less. I’m pretty sure Stinky expected quite a bit less. Our expectations were usually more on target than our hopes.

  A while back, when the top prize in the Powerball lottery reached more than $500 million, I bought a couple of tickets. Of course I was hoping I would win, but in reality I wasn’t expecting it. Once again, my expectations turned out closer than my hopes.

  I think our expectations tend to temper our hopes a lot of the time. The nice day I hope for in June is considerably different than the nice day I hope for in January. I guess I just don’t expect quite as much in January.

  I’ve ran for office a few times on the Libertarian ticket, always hoping to win the election, but in lieu of winning, hoping to present an alternative to the current status quo, one that involves more personal responsibility and less government. After most elections, I can usually say that I did worse than I had hoped, but better than I expected. Occasionally, things turn out both worse than I had hoped and worse than I expected. I suppose that will happen once in a while if you are any kind of optimist at all. If it never happens, you may a little bit too much of a pessimist.

  The beginning of the New Year has traditionally been the time for new hopes. I’m sure a lot of people are hoping they can pay off their Christmas purchases before Christmas rolls around again. Most of us are hoping for better times for our families, for the economy, for our country, and for the world.

  It’s obvious that we don’t all agree on what would constitute better times. We don’t all hope for the same things, and we certainly don’t all expect the same things. That fact never becomes more obvious than it does during those elections that I mentioned. Everybody hopes their candidate wins, so their party can fulfill their expectations of government, but I don’t believe things normally work out as well as people hope even if their candidate wins, and I don’t believe things normally work out as bad as people expect when their candidate loses.

  However this New Year turns out, I hope you all have a better year than you had last year. And I hope you get what you were hoping for, unless you were one of those that were hoping for more government. In that case, I hope you don’t get what you want, although I expect that you will. That’s normally how it works when the government is involved. What I hope for is usually on the other end of the spectrum from what I actually expect.

  I guess what I would really like to see happen would be for the government to stop using so much force all the time, and allow people that are hoping for more government to participate in its many and varied programs, while allowing those people who are hoping for less government to go their own way in personal matters that really shouldn’t involve the government.

 I know that’s an awful lot to hope for, and probably way too much to expect, but hey, it is a New Year.

Monday, December 24, 2012



 I been hearing a lot of reports about the "fiscal cliff" that is supposed to get here in a week or so. Apparently our income taxes are going to increase "automatically". Now, I know a little bit about things that happen automatically. I use some nail guns at work, and when you shoot a nail out, another one automatically moves into place. I've noticed when I get a Clark Bar out of the candy machine another one automatically takes its place.

  I've also written a few pay checks in my life. It was a matter of figuring out  how many hours somebody worked, and how much they were making per hour, and then subtracting a percentage for some taxes, and picking a number off of a chart for other taxes. Which chart you used was based on whether or not the person was married or not, and how may exemptions they wanted to claim, and what county they lived in. Whenever a tax rate changed, the government would send out some new charts, and a note about the new percentage to use when figuring how much tax to withhold and send in.

  There was never anything automatic about it. I imagine most people have computers to do payroll now, that automatically figure how much tax to take out of someones pay check, but I don't imagine they will automatically change percentages or amounts on January 2nd. I suspect some one will have to go in and reprogram the computers for the new numbers. And I also suspect that if nobody reprogrammed the computers, they would just keep on figuring the taxes like they did on December 31st.

  But, I'm also pretty sure that if the government says it wants more money, just about every company will automatically start withholding more from their employees, and every tax preparer will start figuring from the new charts. It seems like we automatically agree whenever the government says it wants more money.

  I wonder if we will ever get to the point that we automatically say no. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

See you Saturday...maybe...

  I'm sure most people are aware that the Mayans predicted that the world would end this Friday. But I figure if the Mayans really knew anything about predicting what was going to happen in the future, they wouldn't have gotten so chummy with the Spaniards.

  On the other hand, I suppose there's a possibilty they called this one right. And even if they didn't, we know the world is going to end for around 200,000 people on Friday. It ends for about that many people every day. So even if Friday isn't the end of the world for all of us, it will be the end for some of us, and it will move the end a little bit closer for the rest of us.

  So I've decided I'm not going to treat this Friday any differently than last Friday. Mom always said to wear clean underwear in case you're in an accident or the world ends, so I'll probably keep doing that. And I think I've got things squared away with God. I know some people wouldn't agree, and I don't want to seem over confident, but I'm feeling pretty good in that respect.

  I guess if there's something really important that we've been wanting to do, we probably ought to go ahead and do it, no matter when our world ends. And then if our world lasts longer than we thought it was going to, we'd have time to do it again.

  That's what I think I'll do, anyway.

  And I'll see you Saturday.

  Or not.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Initial opinions...

  For the most part, I like Internet. It gives me access to a lot of news and opinions, which I think is a good thing, as long as I am able to distinguish between the two. The tragic deaths of so many in Connecticut has resulted in a lot of both. I've read a lot of stories about what happened, and a lot of opinions on why it happened, and a lot of opinions on how it could have been avoided.

  I'm not sure we can place the blame on one single cause, or fix  what is wrong with one single solution. I do agree that we live in a society that accepts and even promotes violence. I've read several opinions that place the blame, among other things, on movies, or video games, and even music. Maybe we would be better of if we steered our children away from such violence. Maybe, but those are not where we find the most widespread acceptance of violence.

  The school where the recent shootings occurred was a gun-free zone. I'm not going to argue that if a teacher, principal, or custodian would have had access to a gun, several lives could have been saved. I'll save that for another opinion. What I will point out, is that if a teacher, principal, or custodian would have carried a gun into school, they would have been arrested. And if they had protested and resisted arrest because they knew they would need that gun when a situation arose as it did last Friday, they would likely have been attacked by a SWAT team using the same type of weapons that Friday's murderer used.

  It turns out that we, as a nation, are not opposed to the initiation of violence. In fact, we expect it. But only if the violence is initiated by the government in support of a law or program that we personally support.  Every domestic law and government program we adopt is ultimately backed up with violence. Our current foreign policy is predicated on the initiation of violence, or the threat of it. Sometimes when administering that policy, sometimes when raising the money to fund it, and sometimes both.

  I don't know what the total solution might be, but I think a good starting point would be to take a stand that the initiation of violence is never acceptable. Not even if the government initiates it. Not even if a lot of people think it is alright. Not even if most people think it is alright.

  Maybe it would be a start if we stopped electing and supporting people who think it's okay for the government to do that. Anywhere.

  At least it's worth a try, in my opinion.


Sunday, December 09, 2012

Thanks Dawson...

  Forty some odd years ago, I went to work for a carpenter up in Mooreland by the name of Dawson Pope. An interesting fellow to say the least, but not overly talkative. Somebody told me that Dawson was stationed at Pearl Harbor in 1941. I asked him one time if he was there when the Japanese attacked. He said "Yup", and went on driving some nails. I don't remember thanking him at the time, but if I did, I'm pretty sure he didn't answer back. Dawson was like that.

  I read a story in the New Castle Courier-Times yesterday about Dawson and his time at Pearl Harbor. The reporter wrote the story after talking to Dawson's widow and one of his sons. I'm pretty sure if Dawson had still been around to do the interview the story wouldn't have been quite as long.

 My Dad always said that an honest man doesn't have to tell you that he is honest. I think that's probably just as true about a religous man, our a hard-working man, or a smart man, or a humble man. Or a soldier.

 On the other hand, I've had a few encounters with a man who signed up for the Marines, spent 4 years as a cook in Arizona, and is convinced that he single handedly saved the nation, and mentions it every chance he gets. It's not that I don't appreciate his service, but it would mean a little more if he could be a little more humble about it.

  Kind of like Dawson.


Saturday, December 08, 2012

Hair's looking at you, kid...

  We didn't spend a lot of money on haircuts when I was a kid. There was a little step stool on the back porch that me and my brothers sat on while Dad pretty much shaved our heads with an old pair of electric clippers. I'm pretty sure they were the same clippers he used when we were getting our calves ready for the 4-H fair. I did get to go the barber up in Mooreland once when I was getting fixed up to be the ring-bearer in my cousins wedding. All of the guys in the wedding party had to have flat-top haircuts to match the groom, and I guess Dad didn't feel qualified to create such an intricate do.

 When we graduated to Junior High, store bought haircuts became the norm. Once every two weeks, at 7:00 on Tuesday morning, after the milking was done and before school started, Dad would haul us in to Earl Rinehart's shop for his version of the "burr cut". I really didn't think I needed a haircut every two weeks, but I was never really consulted in that regard.

   When we got a little older, and were  allowed to wear our hair a little longer, Bob Davis took over in his shop in the back of Uncle Woody Bowman's Insurance office. Bob kept a stack of Playboy magazines in the cabinet beside his sink, and I decided that getting a haircut every two weeks might not be so bad after all.

  I didn't have much need for a barber after I graduated from high school and started college. Not that I had anything personal against them, but I was going for the hippie look, and barbers didn't really fit into that scenario.

  When I started looking for a job, I discovered that I probably needed to find a barber again. A young man named Danny Ballenger was working in Russell Stubbs shop at the time, and although I didn't go for what might have been considered a corporate style trim, Danny was able to find a happy medium so that I looked respectable enough to work for more mature crowd that paid my wages, but not so respectable that I couldn't get a date with the girls that weren't.

  Danny's been cutting my hair for about 40 years. I know I can't remember all of the stories he has told me and all of the stories I have told him over those years about parents, spouses and kids, but I can remember the good ones, and most of the funny ones, and even a few of the sad ones.

  I sure don't have as much hair as I had 40 years ago, and I always thought I ought to get some kind of a discount as my hairline receded and caused less wear and tear on Danny's clippers. He claimed that I was getting a discount, but the price remained the same after he figured in the hunting license and finders fee.

  I got my last haircut from Danny last Friday. He's retiring at the end of the year.

I guess we'll just have to swap stories about the grand kids at the coffee shop from now on.
And I guess I'll have to see if I can borrow his clippers and take them out to Dad.


Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Just so you know...

  My wife Susan suggested a New Years Resolution for me tonight. I think it was something about the timeliness of some paperwork, or something like that. I thought about it for a minute, and it's probably a good idea, but here's the thing....I'm 60 years old. I quit smoking 30 years ago. I quit drinking alcohol 25 years ago. I quit drinking soda last year. I'm done quitting.

  I'm 60 years old. I'm not going to get any better. I'm not going to eat any better, and I'm not going to lose any weight. I'm not going to keep my office or shop any better organized. I'm not going to jog or walk except as a means to get from one place to another. I'm not going to run a marathon, or a mini-marathon, or walk a 5K.

  I'm not going to watch less television, and I'm not going to read some 1400 page novel.

  I'm not going to wear my seat belt, and I'm not going to do my paperwork until the last minute.

  I'm not going to join any more clubs or organizations.

 This is as good as it gets.

 Sorry, Susan. That's just the way it is.