A collection of distilled sarcastic wisdom, numerous photographs, discussions of books and stuff to learn and more stuff to think about from a retired economics professor turned blogger and photographer.
One of my big disappointments as a kid was that I could never get a kite to fly. I tried and tried, and made kite after kite and ran through the fields with it trailing me two feet off the ground. My dad could make them fly, and I could never figure out what I was doing wrong.
The Fourth of July has always and forever been a special day on our annual calendar of days. I remember the 4th when I was young and I was given the task of carrying our precious watermelon out to the car. I stumbled and dropped it and it smashed into a million pieces. I was crestfallen. We never saw a watermelon more than once or twice a year and now it was gone for our 4th of July outing in a time when hard and constant work made any outing a rare and precious event.
Today is a perfect day to express our thanks, either silent or vocal or written, for the democracy we are privileged to live in. Democracy is government of the people. And people can be a contentious lot, unpredictable, some informed and knowledgeable and others uninformed and biased, some competent leaders and others error-prone and stumbling. But our democracy, with all of its flaws and wonders and blessings is our democracy. We are the democracy in all of our differences, all of our disagreements and agreements, all of our rules and laws and regulations, and all of our imperfections and mistakes and successes. We are the democracy. And if we want to improve our democracy, it is up to us to do it.
Today is a good day to put our prejudices and negative feelings aside for a few hours and give thanks to those who make our life in this democracy possible. We thank the service men and women who since the dawn of our country have risked life and limb and lifelong disabilities to protect the country they so bravely protected. We thank the participants in our legislative process at the federal, state, county, and local levels. However much we disagree with what they have done or haven't done, we elected them and it is up to us to make whatever changes we feel need to be made. We thank the police, the firefighters, the emergency medical technicians and ambulance drivers, the hospital workers, the street paving crews, the electrical repairmen after the storms, the park rangers, the air traffic controllers, the janitors who make the world clean and habitable, the taxi drivers. We thank those who teach our children and who keep us learning through college and beyond. We thank those who keep the wheels of federal, local and state government running and who try to fix the potholes in the streets as soon as they can.
We are indebted to all those who keep our complex network of transportation facilities running smoothly, those who manage the airports and terminals, those who fly and service the planes, those who pilot the boats and the barges and the tugboats, those who keep the double and triple-trailer semi-trucks moving with cargo needed in our daily lives, those who load and unload, those who run the trains and subways and other commuter facilities, those who repair and fix and inspect to keep us safe, those who pilot the ocean going freighters and tankers, those who pick our strawberries and apples and everything that grows, those who plant and sow and harvest with no guarantee that Mother Nature will protect their crops and their harvests, those who dig our sewer lines and repair our water mains. We thank those who build our houses and tall office buildings and sod our lawns. We appreciate those who spend their nights stocking the shelves of the monster big-box stores, grocery stores, and department stores so that we can walk in each morning and, miracle of miracles, we would never begin to know how much work was needed to have the store look as if somehow everything we can see got where it is automatically.
We thank the doctors who try to help keep us well and the nurses and physicians assistants and lab technicians and the pharmacists who man the pill bottles and dispense our magic cures. We thank the dentists who fix our teeth and repair our crowns when they fall off and perform wondrous root canals. We like the lawyer who does our wills and legal work and the financial adviser who manages our funds since they are both sons of ours. Thanks to the bankers, the tellers, the internet marketers, the myriad of people who man phone banks for a thousand different reasons. And we must acknowledge the fast food emporiums, the auto service people, the dry cleaners, the newspaper and television personnel, and each and every other worker and specialist who plays a role in keeping our complex economy and in our daily lives.
Above all we thank those who raised us and we acknowledge our indebtedness to our families and friends and neighbors. We are grateful for our heritage and for all of the hard work and sacrifice by so many people who contributed to our upbringing and who continue to contribute in so many ways to our daily existence.
So when we see the flag on this Fourth of July, we see along with the beautiful flag the hidden countless people who play a role in our daily lives and we express our thanks to all of them. And finally, we express our gratitude for living in this great and wonderful and complex and some times irritating and confusing country. But nowhere on earth could we have the blessings that we enjoy as citizens in this great land. Happy Fourth of July.
This list will tell us how old you are and how much you remember. See how many of them you can recall.
"A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust and a hearty 'Hi Ho Silver' the Lone Ranger Rides Again.
Jack Armstrong the All American Boy, battling with the evil Dr. Grood, brought to you by Wheaties (1933-1951) Listened to faithfully after school.
Dr. IQ the Mental Banker, Monday nights, tongue twisters and questions, "and a box of Mars Bars to the Lady in the Lower Balcony."
Sunday nights, the best: Jack Benny with Rochester, Jack's wife Mary and tenor Dennis Day, always 39, always stingy, brought to you for awhile by Jello, then by Lucky Strike.
Phil Harris and Alice Faye radio show
Phil Spitalny and his All-Girl Orchestra featuring Evelyn and her magic violin.
Henry, Henry Aldrich!! Coming, mother.
Dr. Brent, call surg-e-ry. Dr. Brent, call surg-e-ry.
One Man's Family
H. V. Kaltenborn
Edward R. Murrow
Tuesday night: Fibber McGee and Molly and the closet
What's My Line?
tinsel on Christmas trees
Maggie and Jiggs
Twenty-five cent milk shakes
LC Smith upright typewriters
beautiful girls with short and curly hair with saddle oxfords, bobby sox, wool skirts, and Jantzen sweater sets
boys who looked the same 75 years ago as they do today in jeans and t-shirts.
rear ends paddled in school
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow Knows!
girls who took home ec and learned how to turn on the stove and bake brownies (bringing a plateful loaded with ex-lax to the vocational agriculture classroom one morning)
boys who took the manly classes of auto mechanics and vocational agriculture. Now girls are dominating the Future Farmers of America. Oh my. Wouldn't that have been something?
Well, we could go on forever. But maybe this list has stirred a few cobwebs in your own moldy brain and caused you to think back with fondness and nostalgia, unless you are under the age of 20. In which case the only thing you will ever have to remember is electronic media. More's the pity.
Have you every noticed how many of the negative events and characteristics of our lives are words that begin with the letter "D"? Just consider: Depression. Despair. Discouragement. Disaster. Disillusionmant. Difficulty. Darkness. Doubt. Disgust. Damage. Death. Disappointment. Danger.
Now consider that for every negative characteristic or word a positive word or thought can counterbalance it: For depression, we have sunshine. For despair, we have joy. For discouragement, we have hope. For disaster, we have recovery. For disillusionment, we have faith. For difficulty, we have ease. For doubt, we have certainty. For disgust, we can ignore it. For damage, we can repair. For death, there is life. For disappointment, there is fulfillment. And for danger, there is safety.
Overcoming and conquering the D's in our lives may not be easy and may take some time. I have been a chronic worrier all my life and I can tell you that being a worrier has never solved anything, has never helped me, but has always been a drag on the otherwise more cheerful and constructive life I should have and could have lived. Our problems run from the mundane and trivial to the serious and consequential. Many problems require professional help to resolve and help us vanish them to their rightful obscurity. But for daily help and encouragement here are a few of the watchwords and phrases that have helped me ease the stress of the D's and keep going:
One of my cardiologist's offices posted a prominent sign: Never, never, never give up.
Count your blessings. Write them down.
Prayer. If you are not a frequent prayer, it may be time to put your doubts and concerns aside and become one.
According to the old tune, "accentuate the positive." Banish negative thoughts and attitudes.
Read the scriptures. Ponder what you read.
If you need to, chart a new course and make necessary changes in your life.
Set long term goals so you don't get sidetracked by all the garbage and detritus that detracts you in your daily life in the short run. Keep your eye on the prize.
Forgive someone who has been cankering your soul.
Send out thank you cards and notes to everyone you can think of.
Remember, "it could be worse" and move on no matter what.
Smile. You'll be amazed at the power of a smile.
Be kind to everyone you see and make allowances for the difficulties others are facing.
Help someone that you know needs your help and that you may have just ignored. Or find someone to help as you go aboutyour daily work and activities.
Give your wife, husband, dad, mom, grandpa, grandma, aunt, uncle, kids, friends, whoever needs one, a hug.
Remember the healing power of love.
Economists tell you to ignore fixed costs, the stuff that happened before that you can't do anything about. Maybe you need to fix some things, but otherwise, for heaven's sake, forget past mistakes that are keeping you burdened down.
Start a journal. Write down your thoughts, goals, aspirations, ideas, things you need and want to do.
And now, you're on your own to add to this list. Best of luck and may you use a few simple but powerful steps to overcome the problems you are having with the big D's in your life. The sun will come up, if not tomorrow, soon. You can make it.
I have dubbed my little sister Ann the Costco Fairy since she has come once a month laden with goodies from Costco where she takes a tape measure to measure the width of the toilet paper so we don't get shorted, so to speak. Last week she came laden with this big pot of beautiful fall bronze colored mums. You can read more about Annie and the Costco Fairy if you go to the family blog Penrose Mornings which is linked on the upper right side of this blog. Plus you might find some interesting tidbits about my family.
If you woke up on the grouchy side of life, take a look at this sunflower and then smile, and keep smiling throughout the day. You will do yourself and all those who see your smiles a world of good. But thank the sunflower for putting you in a better mood. That is what sunflowers do.
In St. George, I can see a six foot cement block wall in my back yard. In the Salt Lake Valley, I can see the Wasatch range and watch the clouds and the rain and the rainbows and the sunrises. Being able to see such beauty and being able to watch the changing clouds has helped me in my recovery from vertigo since I have been able to do very little up until now but sit in my recliner and watch the mountains and the clouds.
For years, my wife and I attended every performance of the renowned summer Shakespeare Festival in Cedar City UT. Sadly, attending the Festival is one of many things we can no longer do. But we have many fond memories of the wonderful plays, the exceptional talent and costuming, and the beautiful summer nights in Cedar City. If you have not been to the Festival, and live anywhere in driving distance, get yourself there and be charmed and entranced by the wonderful, wonderful experience you will have there. The photo of the Shakespeare bust was taken several years ago at the theater in Cedar City.
Kate happens to be one of my granddaughters whose correct title for a few more months is Hermana Kate, since she is serving an LDS mission in a Spanish-speaking mission in Texas. She quoted my famous saying "I know stuff" in her last letter home, attributed to Dwayne (my nickname the kids gave me when they were working at our bookstore in Fort Collins CO and didn't want to call me Dad or my real name, which would have been disrespectful) aka Dwight aka gpa (for grandpa, how I sign my letters) sangre. Not knowing what sangre meant, I asked the Spanish speaking daughter of our cleaning lady yesterday, and she informed me, "sangre means Blood." Aha. I got it. I was referred to as "gpa Blood." Thanks, Kate. You never know what gems of wisdom spewed forth in moments of inspiration will go forth to inspire generations. The statement "I know stuff" will settle any argument, advance any discussion, puzzle any know-nothing, and impress all listeners. Try it some time. Out of the blue, just say, "I know stuff." You don't have to reveal to anyone what you actually know or don't know because the statement itself is overpowering and intimidating.