04 August 2018

Angry people

I have to say that I am very saddened by all the hatred being spewed forth.  No one seems to be capable of calm, honest discussion.  As soon as someone disagrees or favors the other side, they are immediately labelled a "troll" or other name.  It just goes downhill from there and everyone leaves angrier and more ignorant.

When I was younger, I was a "black and white" guy.  Things were that simple.  Either it was right or it was wrong and no shades in between.  As I've gotten older, the grays and other shades started to appear.  I think the best way to put it is how a former boss put it, "There are two sides to every story and the truth is somewhere in the middle".  Simplistic but it does remind me to try to look for the other side.

What also amazes me is that so many people are willing to believe a random meme without doing any research.  One I saw tonight involved Chase Legleitner and Lamar Lloyd.  Both are young adults that committed robberies in Florida.  The Herald Tribune cited these two as an example of racial disparity.  Legleitner got 2 years in prison while Lloyd got 26 years for "the same crime".   I'm sure you've guessed by now that Legleitner is white and Lloyd is black.

I did mention to the person that posted the meme that there were some mitigating factors.  Legleitner and his co-defendants robbed 3 men in a drug deal.  Legleitner later agreed to testify against his co-defendants and cut a deal with the prosecutors.

Lloyd and his co-defendants robbed a Pizza Hut while it was open for business.  They walked in and pointed a gun at the employees.  They later went to a Sunoco gas station and robbed the clerk.  Oh, and Lloyd had a 3 and a 5 year old children with him in the car while committing the crimes. 

The Florida 12th Judicial Court investigated this situation after the news story and pointed out the differences.  In particular that when Lloyd committed his crimes, he endangered the general public by robbing businesses that had innocent customers present.

So was it fair?  I don't know.  I'm sure there are other mitigating factors that I don't know.  But I do know that by showing remorse and cutting a deal with the prosecutor to testify against your co-defendants will buy you a lot of points.  I don't know if Lloyd was cooperative/remorseful or not.

Anyway, the point is that the meme was over-simplistic and doesn't even come close to telling the whole story.  It only served to inflame passions with incomplete information.


27 July 2018

Just got back from a short road trip.  I need to hit the road again soon before the summer is completely gone.

On Day 1 we drove from Tacoma to Bellingham, near the Canadian border.  We stopped for the night at the Holiday Inn.  It was the start of a heat wave with temperatures going up to the low 90s so it was nice to move from an air condition vehicle to an air conditioned hotel room.

After resting a bit, we wandered about Bellingham and visited a nearby shopping mall.  Soon we called it quits for the night and went back to the hotel.

On Day 2, we left Bellingham and drove to Sumas.  It's a bit farther than I thought it was.  There is a border crossing there that is supposed to be much less busy than the one at Blaine.  There have been times in the past we have spent over an hour trying to cross the border at Blaine.  At Sumas, we got there and there were 3 cars in front of us.  We were thru in about 10 minutes.

We drove north a few minutes before turning east on the highway.  We were soon doing 100 kph (about 60 mph) and making good time.  After about an hour of driving, we encountered Bridal Veils Falls.  It was a good time to take a rest break so we pulled over and visited.

The 300 yard walk thru the woods was very pleasant as the air was still cool.  The falls were a pleasant stop but it was time to hit the road again.

We got back on the highway and soon passed thru Chilliwack.  We soon saw a sign urging us to check our fuel status as the next gas station was 120 km away (about 74 miles).  We still had 3/4 tank so we were good to go!

The speed limit soon went up from 100 kph to 120 kph (about 74 mph).  There were many really pretty spots on the Trans Canada Highway but no where to stop.

What was funny was that we stopped at two rest stops along the way.    One was a simple building with two toilets and a room with benches.  The other was a pull off with two pit toilets.  After stopping at each, we hit the road again and not 5 minutes down the highway encountered a new and modern rest stop complete with WiFi.  I wish they had put out signs mentioning the newer rest stops!

We eventually stopped for the day at the Kelowna Holiday Inn.   After dropping our bags off, we had time to drive into town.  We parked near the City Hall and visited a small park nearby.  That area was full of restaurants and bars. It looked like the tourist zone.  We also saw this tour bus:

The customers are sitting at a bar while pedaling their way around town.  The tour guide is sober and he's steering.  Still, not something I would want to do in that heat.

We grabbed dinner and then headed back to the hotel.  As the sun was setting, we sat out on the back deck and watched a distant fire on a mountain across the lake.

On Day 3, we left Kelowna and headed for the border crossing at Midway.  That is a very small border crossing there and the border agent said it was a very low traffic crossing point.  We chatted about mundane things for a bit before moving on.

Just down the road, we stopped at the Ranald MacDonald gravesite. 

MacDonald was the first to teach English to the Japanese and helped Perry negotiate a trade agreement.  After wandering the world, he returned to the Pacific Northwest and passed away nearby while visiting a niece.  His burial site is also the smallest state park in Washington State.

Another half hour down the road, we encountered the ghost town of Bodie.

Another small check mark on the bucket list of life.

Got to go for now but will pick it up later.  I have to say that I love driving thru remote areas.  There is practically no traffic and a decent speed limit.

22 July 2018

Youngest daughter is in an abusive relationship.  I'm very frustrated because she knows that it is but can't bring herself to break away.

I actually sat down with her and talked about the things that he has done to her.  I then asked her, "If your best friend told you that her boyfriend were doing those things to her, what would you tell her?"  She looked down and said, "I would tell her to leave".  It's incredibly frustrating for me but she's an adult now.  She has to make the decision on when to pull the plug.  I can no longer make that decision for her.

It's very irritating because when she comes to visit us, he is constantly texting her asking "why are staying there so long?"  He is constantly accusing her of meeting other guys and cheating on her.  Even when she is at work he constantly goes into fits and accuses her of cheating on him.  During her last visit, he texted her and demanded that she leave here immediately because he knows that she is bad mouthing him to her parents.  She gets very irritated by his behavior.  I get very upset because she's just visiting. 

Youngest daughter has let on that he's afraid of me.  Despite being 40 years younger than me and 6 inches taller, he is afraid of me.  I looked at her in surprise and asked why he was afraid of me?  She smiled and said after their last fight, he came here looking for her.  I read him the riot act even though she wasn't here.  I did.  But I had repeated an Army phrase.  He said his life was hell.  I told him that he didn't know what hell was but I was willing to take him there personally - I know a shortcut.

I guess we're not allowed to say that anymore....

21 July 2018

I was just thinking again about how quickly 2018 is passing.  July is almost gone.  There is still so much I want to do.

Health issues have popped up again.  It sucks to grow old.

14 July 2018

Retired Life

Retired life continues....

I’m now past the 2 year mark of being retired and life is going well.  I’m sad to see so many of my friends must continue working past 62.  Even my brother, now 64, has just announced that he will work until 67 for financial reasons.

I’ve been very fortunate and grateful for that.  My living expenses do not come close to exceeding my retirement income.  In fact, I decided to start drawing my Social Security.  I received the first payment a few days ago and have not had a need to even think about it.

But I did want to talk again about being thanked for my service.  I served 20 years of active duty and 12 years in the Reserves of the US Army.  I’ve been downrange twice and on standby a couple other times.  I have spent a lot of time away from home, missed a lot of birthdays, and worked a lot of weekends.  Having said that, I would do it again in a heart beat.  For all that, I drew a pay check and benefits.  Yeah, the base pay was not as good as some of my friends in the civilian world but I volunteered for this.  I could have left at any time and did for a while (92-97).

Military pay has increased significantly since 2002.  When I first joined the Army in 1978, no one below the rank of Sergeant/E-5 could afford a car.  Privates and Specialists lived in the barracks, ate in the Dining Facility, and pretty much spent the weekends drinking in the barracks.  They couldn’t afford to do much more.  These days, young Privates are driving Escalades or incredible motorcycles.  They are making a lot more than their counterparts in the civilian world.

When I first joined, many people talked about doing their time then getting out to make some real money.  Now I see a lot of soldiers talking about staying in because they can’t find a job on the outside that pays as well with the benefits.  Thanks to the military, my two oldest children were able to go to college and graduate with no student debt.  That’s right - no debt!  The Department of the Defense paid for it.  

So where is this going?  I guess I just want to say “Please don’t thank me for my service”.  I volunteered, was paid, and now have a comfortable retirement.  I’m the one that is grateful for the opportunity to do what I did.  Sure, there were tough times but I volunteered for it.  I’m glad I went to war.  It tested me in ways that just cannot be done in the civilian world.  Many of my friends that never joined the military now wish they did.  Going to war was like playing in the Super Bowl after decades of practice.  Did bad things happen?  Yes!  But I wouldn’t trade it for the world.  I would do it again in a heart beat.

06 February 2018

Getting Old and Tired...

Someday Death will approach me.  I will look him in the eye and ask, "What took you so long?"

24 November 2017

Life Flys By!

It's hard to believe that I retired almost 2 years ago.  Since then, it's been a blur of activity and it seems like my wife and I are busier now than when we were working!

We just returned from a Viking River Cruise.  It was the Grand European Cruise of 15 days.  It started in Amsterdam and ended in Budapest.  It was a great time and I made a lot of friends on that cruise.  The wife is already looking at other river cruises.

After the cruise ended, we flew home and then I turned around and flew to Honolulu.  I'm back watching my dad who has severe dementia.  His memory is about 3 to 5 seconds.  That is SECONDS!  He will ask a question, you answer, and he will forget it in that instant.  A second later he is asking you the same question.  Rinse-Lather-Repeat. 

I have to admit that there have been times I have had to step outside away from him.  I just answered that damn question for the umpteenth time and he's asking again.  It really isn't his fault but it sometimes just gets to me. He is also extremely paranoid that someone will break in and steal everything.  OMG!  That window is open slightly!  Someone is going to break in and steal everything!  Nevermind that it's broad daylight and we're sitting right here.  He will keep all the windows, doors, and curtains closed.  It gets stifling hot in the Hawaiian weather but he still gets into a panic if a window is open.

This is the second time I've come back to watch him and I think it's the last.  I really hate seeing him this way.  He used to be a dynamic, vibrant man that made his way.  He arrived in this country with $20 in his pocket and retired a millionaire.  But he doesn't remember any of that.  He's terrified that he has no money. When I try to tell him that he has a lot of money in the bank, he gets very angry and screams that I don't understand.  He now lives a pathetic life.

I have told my wife that if I develop dementia, I do not want to live this way.  I want to die. I don't want to stress my family.  What my dad is doing is not living.  He truly is better off dead.  He's already dead but just doesn't know it.  I hope my wife will find a way to let me escape should I go down this path.

So I will be here in Honolulu for another week.  I have scheduled some personal time here to relax after my time watching dad.  Truthfully, I really don't enjoy being in Honolulu anymore.  I remember the Honolulu of the 60s and 70s.  Seeing the city now with all the crowds, traffic, and other big city problems is like running into an old flame in a whorehouse.

20 August 2017

For years, I worked in a public relations office.  A good part of our duties included interacting with the public by telephone, email, or in person.  After a while, it got really tough dealing with some of the public in a polite or respectful way.  There really are a lot of kooks out there.

We literally got phone calls from people claiming that we were spying on them, putting thoughts in their minds by radio waves, spraying mind control chemicals into the air, and more.  We had to treat them with courtesy and seriousness.  Laughing at them was not allowed.  No, really...not allowed.  There were a few emails that I just had to shake my head afterwards because they really did believe the bizarre things that they were saying.

So where am I going with this?  I really don't want to join the tin foil hat crowd.  But I really am wondering if there is a move by the media to polarize the people of this country.  I wonder if they are trying to create fear and anxiety where none exists.  Or where none should exist.

In our local newspaper and on the TV news the other day, it was blaring headlines that 6 police officers had been shot with 1 confirmed killed.  My immediate thought was that there was a street war beginning and a temporary collapse of society. Were the streets on fire?  Were gangs roaming the streets pillaging and killing?  No.  2 officers were shot in PA and 4 in FL.  Yes, very tragic and sad.  But it's on the other side of the country from us.  Yet the news was making it sound like it was happening right here and now.

The recent demonstrations in Virginia where various white supremacist groups and counter-demonstrators clashed.  While I think the white supremacy groups are reprehensible, they do have a constitutional right to demonstrate and I read that they had applied for all required permits.  Those permits were approved so they were legal.

It was the counter-demonstrators that did not have permits and were illegal.  Having said that, if they stood on the side and protested peacefully, I would have no issue and really wouldn't care.

Where I'm going with this is that a very small group of (I read about 300) white supremacists marched.  They were opposed by about 500 counter-demonstrators.  So about 800 people from around the country gathered in one spot and clashed.  Out of a country of 300+ million people, 800 people clash and 1 person died.  And the news is making it sound like the country is about to collapse.  I really do wonder if the media is playing mind games on this country.
Summer is passing too quickly....

I guess I must be having fun because time is just flying by.

We're currently having some work done on our house so there have been a steady parade of workers passing thru our house.  I have to admit that I'm not very happy about having all these strangers coming into our house.  Perhaps I'm getting paranoid in my old age but I worry if any of them are part-time criminals.  These guys pretty much know the layout of our house and where my gun safe is located.

I don't have a lot or very expensive stuff but they don't know that.  Most criminals don't care.

Before this renovation began, the wife and I were joking about whether we would still be talking to each other by the end of it.  I have to admit that I've been pretty upset with her and not due to the renovations.  It has been other things that have been festering for a while.

Recently we celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary.  I remember thinking about how wonderful it would be to live under a bridge.  That struck me as a very odd thought but it really did seem appealing.  I'm not in danger of being homeless.  My house has been paid off for a while.  We have money in the bank and other than monthly bills, I have no debt.  We have been fortunate due to good luck and also carefully saving whenever we could.  So why do I feel like hitting the road?  I have a pickup truck with a cover over the bed.  The other day I lowered the tailgate, placed a pad in the bed, climbed in and fell asleep.  I had thought about buying a RV or camper top.  Maybe not needed.  I may buy a tent though.  The wife has stated that she will not sleep in a tent anymore.  She will not sleep in a truck bed.  Her idea of camping is a RV or better yet, Holiday Inn.  I guess I might just have to go without her.

01 July 2017

2017 is passing quickly.  I can't believe it's already July!  There are still so many things that I want to do but have not gotten around to it.  Summer will be gone before we know it.

I have been an avid firearms enthusiast since I was old enough to buy firearms.  I joined Junior ROTC in high school and part of the training involved shooting .22 caliber rifles.  When I got into college, I continued into Senior ROTC.  I fired the M-16A1 and was thrilled beyond words.

When I was old enough, I started buying firearms.  I have owned firearms since.

Along the way, I learned that reloading ammunition was a great way to save money.  Buying a box of ammo from the store could cost you $20.  But reloading the used brass would bring the cost of that box down to around $8.  Well, that is if you're not counting the cost of the reloading equipment and your time.  There are many advantages to reloading ammunition.  One major reason is that with care, you can produce better and more accurate ammunition than the generic factory stuff.

Anyway, where I'm going with this is that in the early 1990's, something happened and I just walked away from a lot of things that I used to do.  I was an avid hunter - I stopped. I was an avid fisherman - I quit. I shot high power rifle competition and handgun competition - I lost interest.  I stopped reloading.

My reloading equipment sat in the corner of my garage gathering dust.  But two months ago I started cleaning out that part of the garage.  I started dumping out a lot of old stuff.  I dusted off my reloading equipment and it still looked like it could work.  I started reloading to see if it still worked.  Within minutes, I felt like I had to relearn how to do it.  I started to spend hours at my reloading press.  I cleaned it up. I adjusted it.  I resized some brass and adjusted the press a bit more.  Lately it seems like I've been spending whatever free time I have at the reloading bench.  I started shooting my rifles again too.

So what am I saying??  That this manual process involving some thought, adjustment, and working with my hands just feels so good.  It's almost like working with wood but it's feeding my newly energized competition shooting.