Growing Older Is Better Than You Think

I recommend the following article to everyone:

“Your Professional Decline Is Coming (Much) Sooner Than You Think,” by Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, June 19, 2019.

https://link.medium.com/Vd3BjZHhzY

Nothing I can say at this moment would do it justice. Please go and read it.

— John

Signs Of Alligators In Florida

Gator

In Florida, you might see a sign mentioning alligators in the neighborhood. Believe it. Any neighborhood with a pond or a swamp. In Florida, you’re usually within walking distance of a pond or swamp. Walking distance, even if you have short, stumpy legs like an alligator. I hear they can run fast, but I’ve never seen it. They usually don’t stroll too far from water’s edge. And the few I’ve seen appear quite timid and ready to slither back into the slime from which they came.

Good iPhone photo of the sign, not so good of the alligator, who I believe is a juvenile. Not very big. He/she/it lives in the swamp about 25 yards down the hill behind my apartment. A stout little wood fence separates my patio from the hill. Now why would anyone want to block that lovely view with a three-foot fence? Or a sign?

Gator2

iPhone photo quality does not improve when you zoom in. But with alligators, zooming is better than trying a closeup, IMO. I’ve got to get my real camera working. He/she/it seems to live in mouth-wide-open mode. For what it’s worth.

— John

New And More Dangerous Stage In U.S. Constitutional Crisis

The 35-day (partial) government shutdown, longest in American history, ended Friday, Jan. 25, 2019, with a temporary and grudging truce between President Donald Trump and the U.S. Congress. The truce expires on Feb. 15. Some Federal agencies began reopening on Saturday, and about 800,000 government workers will receive paychecks. Date of paychecks to be announced.

The shutdown, the fight over a border wall at the Mexican border, and most importantly, the Constitutional crisis involving the power of the U.S. Congress to appropriate government funds and the power of the president to do . . . whatever . . .  is off the front pages of American newspapers.

We might be forgiven for thinking the storm is over.

But the Constitutional crisis has entered new and more dangerous territory. Trump has threatened to declare a state of emergency and/or shut down the government again if Congress fails to meet his demands by Feb. 15.

President Trump made a concession, gave in to Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s demand to reopen the government before negotiations could begin. Trump’s seeming capitulation means nerve-rending pressures on both sides.

Trump is being portrayed as the loser. He is vilified by his Republican base. His most hard-core supporters adopted his promise of a wall as a divine right, a modern Manifest Destiny.  I can only imagine that he believes he must deliver on his promise to build a border wall, or all is lost for him.

Pelosi and Democrats are portrayed as the winners. Many on the far left are celebrating. The reality is that Pelosi is now under excruciating pressure to negotiate in good faith. Does she have any good faith?

Pelosi will feel pressure even from her own Democrats in the House of Representatives. But Pelosi says she will never agree to build any border structure, anywhere. Many Democrats agree. And of course many Democrats are willing to make at least some concessions, to build a little bit of wall, or a fence. Here, or there.

Let’s talk about it?

How negotiations will play out is totally unpredictable.

In order to resolve the deadlock and end the Constitutional crisis, there must be good-faith negotiations. Compromises must be made. Both sides must give up something in order to achieve compromise, unless one side is willing to accept defeat and declare unconditional surrender. Compromise is essential. See the problem?

What happens if compromise is not reached by Feb. 15?

It’s totally unpredictable. It appears that Trump would have little choice but to declare his emergency, spend money on a wall without Congressional appropriations. Or shut down the government again, and who knows when it would reopen?

Or maybe the deadline could be extended?

Unpredictable negotiations, unpredictable presidential actions. Weeks of uncertainty.

And it probably wasn’t on the front page of your Sunday newspaper. Nothing about the shutdown on Page 1 of the Tampa Bay Times, which claims to be the largest newspaper in the third-largest state. Nothing on page 2A or 3A. Nothing about the shutdown, the temporary truce, the Constitutional crisis. Not until Page 10A, at which point the Tampa Bay Times reports:

“Some national parks open to visitors post-shutdown”

Well, national parks ARE important. The story also reports that airports are returning to normal operation. But the Smithsonian Institution won’t reopen until Tuesday.

So now we know what’s important to Americans, or at least to newspaper editors. National parks, airports, and the Smithsonian.

The callow irresponsibility of the media is as much to blame for this crisis as the actions of politicians. And the American public, with its short attention span, is not interested. The American public has gone shopping, or something.

In the end, we Americans will get what we deserve, whatever that may be.

— John Hayden

Children In Danger

In the 1950s, when I was a child in elementary school, we were taught to hide under our desks and shield our eyes in the event of an atomic bomb attack. The nuns in my school didn’t seem alarmed. Simply another thing we practiced at school, like fire drills, multiplication tables, and penmanship. It was called “duck and cover.”

Adults talked about the A-bomb.

We lived in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., the nation’s capital, a likely target of our enemy, the Russians, who lived far away.

My mother mused that we might evacuate to get away from a bomb. My father worked in downtown Washington, and we were in the suburbs, so if we decided to evacuate during the day, we should plan to meet up at some church about an hour’s drive west, near Frederick, MD. My father was more interested in reading the afternoon paper. A day off from school! That was my thought.

This atomic bomb thing, should it ever happen, would be a big explosion in the distance, and a main danger was that the bright light would hurt our eyes. Duck and cover was the thing to do.

No one, adults or children, had ever seen an atomic bomb explosion. We hadn’t heard of such a thing actually happening, certainly not at any school nearby. Or anyplace else in our state. Or anyplace, really. Adults recalled that airplanes had dropped two atomic bombs, but that was far away, long before we children were born.

The 1950s are more than a half-century in the past. The distant and naive past. Today’s schoolchildren and parents live with the fears of 2018. The more things change, the more they remain the same?

No.

In elementary school, today’s dangers are different. 

Children now drill on how to survive an “active shooter.” A shooter inside their school. It’s not a distant, abstract danger. It has really happened in schools. Already happened! 

It’s happened over and over. It’s happened in schools in your own state. Everyone knows about it. No one denies it. The danger is in your neighborhood, possibly next door. Maybe in your very own house!

In my childhood, we saw guns in cowboy movies. For today’s children, guns are everywhere. Sometimes it seems as if nearly everyone is armed, at least here in Florida.

As the new school year begins, the state is belatedly (reluctantly?) spending some money in reaction to public opinion. It is, after all, an election year. Nothing to control guns, mind you. But they’re putting up fences around some schools. Rushing to hire and train more school security personnel. Dress them in more military-like uniforms. Putting on a show to placate fearful parents. In some cases, making schools look like prisons with correctional officers.

Meanwhile, inside the schools principals and teachers conduct active-shooter drills. Children are taught something new: “Run, Hide, Fight.” Sounds like basic training in the army. But it’s not the army. It’s elementary school and high school. It’s worth repeating: “Run, Hide, Fight.”

Wait.

Children are now expected to fight a man shooting a gun in the classroom, the hallway, the cafeteria?

Oh, well. Only as a last resort. First, you should run or hide. Hope and pray (is prayer OK?) that the police arrive. Hope and pray that police arrive, like, RIGHT NOW.

And yes, you might have to fight a gunman with your bare hands, as a last resort. That’s what the schools are teaching. Is it possible that I’ve misunderstood? If that is incorrect, please, somebody correct me.

No, the danger children face at school is not the same.

Yes, the danger at school, and other places too, is WORSE. The danger is not abstract. It’s real. It’s immediate. It’s everywhere.

Are children traumatized by this fear? Or do they ignore it? What about parents? What about teachers? How do teachers cope with fear? Some suggest teachers should carry guns.

Full Stop. Those thoughts — danger in school, children and parents in fear, teachers, guns. More than enough for one day. A good place to stop writing. The only place to go from here is: Can a society live like this, and survive?

— John

Note: This post was prompted by a news story, “Parents block shooter video: Pinellas elementary school kids won’t have to see it as part of active shooting drills,” in The Tampa Bay Times, Aug. 21, 2018, page 1B.

God Save The Queen

America has nothing to match the British monarchy and royal family.

I’ve mostly ignored the royals, and I doubt I’m getting sentimental in my old age; I’m getting cynical. Never watched a royal wedding before, but Saturday I watched the entire ceremony in the cathedral, and a bit of the endless processionals before and after.

It was a well-choreographed show, with generally excellent execution, a splendid display of nationalist symbolism that has been perfected through centuries of practice. Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and Meghan Markle, now Duchess of Sussex, had the starring roles, and St. George’s Chapel was the setting. Continue reading

Wisdom All Gone

Finally had the last wisdom tooth extracted. The one on the upper left. Yesterday. It’s been on the to-do list for years. Near the top of the list for months. The tooth was in deteriorating condition. So said the dentist. Figured I might as well deal with it now, while I’m still of sound mind and body — more or less — than later. You never can tell about “later.”

I could have my lights turned out for the procedure. So said the oral surgeon. But only if I came in the a.m. and had a driver take me home. Or I could choose local anesthetic in the p.m. My neighbor across the hall and I have a mutual accord regarding driving assistance for such occasions. I’ve taken him to and fro the hospital in Tampa a couple times. But I opted for afternoon. I never willingly schedule anything before noon.

Oral numbness was accomplished. The extraction itself was over in five minutes. No prescription pain-killers prescribed; Motrin or Tylenol recommended. I went with Tylenol. Bleeding continued for a few hours, until all the wisdom drained out. Tylenol did the trick. After-surgery pain was not as bad as advertised. Need only a little Tylenol now, on the day after.

I am under doctor’s orders to avoid exertion and fatigue. No heavy lifting or blogging today.

— John

The Most Privileged Americans

Income insecurity is not an important problem for retired Americans.  Not at present.  In fact, it’s just the opposite. Retired Americans probably enjoy more income security than the vast majority of people around the world and throughout history.

I’m a retired American on the brink of 70. I’m not wealthy or even affluent, but neither am I poor or insecure. I’m very grateful for the life and security I enjoy at this point.

The most privileged people in the world today are the following:

  1. The top one percent or five percent of Americans. I don’t know exactly where to draw the line. Maybe it’s the top 20 percent or 40 percent.
  2. Most elderly and retired Americans. (However, it must also be acknowledged that too many Americans, including elderly Americans, remain trapped in poverty.)

Just my opinion.

Some people reportedly believe that older Americans are a wealthy class, living the high life at the expense of impoverished children and struggling younger adults. That’s because we enjoy remarkable income security, thanks to Social Security and Medicare. Many of us also have some pension benefits and even some savings. Younger and middle-aged Americans are rightly skeptical that they will enjoy similar benefits. The stage is set for intergenerational contention. The future is impossible to predict. The income security of younger generations is a matter of politics and economics, and I don’t want to go there. At least not today.

What I want is to present an honest picture about the realities of retired life. It’s not all about money. It’s true that many will need to cut back spending and lifestyle to be in balance with our retirement income. But my previous post about income and spending may have left an incorrect impression linking income and spending issues entirely with retirement. In fact, people can suffer a sudden loss of income at any time in life, and for myriad reasons. Loss of job, divorce, recession, business failure, and illness, to name a few.

Most of the natural world and human life run in cycles. It’s Biblical. Seven wet years and seven dry years. And so forth. The business cycle of expansion and recession is notorious and causes much misery. Financial consequences can be cumulative. An adjustment of income and spending at retirement is simply a part of the much larger cycle of human life. It may be that we are at the peak of the Social Security and Medicare cycle. I hope not.

I will turn soon to lighter subject matter.

— John

 

The Rule of 3’s

Air, water, shelter, food. This excellent post, re-blogged from an usually insightful blogger, covers a subject that is both basic and usually overlooked in modern complacent society. Regarding shelter, I’ve recently been thinking a lot about the feasibility of shelter on wheels. — John

Prepping for Women

​”There is a saying called the rule of 3’s and it goes like this. A person can live 3 minutes without air, 3 hours without shelter, 3 days without water and 3 weeks without food”. I copied and pasted that a couple weeks ago from someplace and, now, don’t remember where… But, it doesn’t really matter in the long run since it isn’t an exclusive idea to any one site. That said, I’m not sure who ever said it first. A search on the internet returned a mind boggling number of hits and none of them answered my question, “who wrote the rule of 3s?”.

The first rule is so obvious as to not require any preparation. Unless you disagree and you feel the need to stockpile Air?? 😉 Jokes aside, you do need to ensure you’ll have clean Air to breath and to start have a dozen of…

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WE NEED CHANGE.

I think the number of children living in poverty in the U.S. is about the same as in Britain. In the richest countries of the world, including the U.S. and Britain, it is immoral to have so many children living below the poverty line. In fact, I believe the child poverty stats indicate that rich countries like us are morally bankrupt! As the artist who created a nifty and instructive poster said, Zero children should be living in poverty. “We need change.”

Indeed. We as a society (and as an electorate) have both the means and the power to reduce child poverty nearly to zero. But do 51 percent of us want to really do that? Do 51 percent of us even care?

I’m afraid to say the answer.

(You can see the poster by clicking on the Abba1blog post below.)

— John Hayden

abba1blog

This started of as a little sketch of a table and chairs in a coffee shop, which evolved in to a mini poverty poster!

I have been reading so much lately about the hidden and unspoken inequality and hardship that goes on in Britain that no one speaks about, and most probably don’t even know about, for example these insane poverty statistics.I think when your’e eating a cinnamon swirl with a soy latte you realise how lucky you actually are? and that a cinnamon swirl probably isn’t a life necessity (no its definitely not). So all of us in that coffee shop that day who were spending too much money on cake, are lucky people to even be able to have that as a opportunity to us, and i completely recognize that.

The fact that 1 in 4 kids live in poverty I think is really really sad, as like…

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Truth

The Fitbit has helped motivate me to walk. I don’t often reach the goal of 10,000 steps a day, but I’ve been making at least 5,000 or 6,000 this hot summer by walking very late at night, when it’s not so hot. Lucky for me, I live in a place where you can walk safely outside late at night, even after midnight. — John

Live & Learn

steps-exercise-chart


Source: Indexed by Jessica Hagy – Aim for 10,000 Small steps a day.

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