"A person's life can be compared quite nicely to the four seasons of the year. This blog is from someone in the Winter of Life enjoying the fruits of his "Summer and Fall" and looking forward to assisting the growth and nourishment for the next generation.

My Father and Grandfather passed on their wisdom through their actions and their stories. This is probably be the most impactful way to pass on wisdom. But the written word can have an affect on lives that extends beyond the memories of a couple of generations. This blog is an attempt to reflection on my life experiences and pass these reflections to future generations of my own family as well as any others who might come across these pages.

Tuesday, October 27

What do you really mean?

One of the many things separating humans from other species is the ability to communicate effectively with others. Originally, I imagine communication was very basic. One grunt meant, “I am hungry.” Over time it became important to convey just how hungry we actually were. Surely there was a difference between, “I am starving and on my last ounce of energy. Feed me before I collapse.”, and “ I am starting to feel hungry pains, but can go for a while longer before I will really need something to eat.”. Maybe it was the difference between one grunt and two. Today we use other descriptive words and adjectives. We might say, “I am starving.” or “I am kind of hungry.” .

Before I tell you where I am going with this, allow me another example. Take this test. A little boy has been playing outside. On a scale of 1-5 with 1 being the least, rate how dirty he actually is based on his mother’s different exclamation when he comes in the door.
“You are filthy.”
“You are a mess.”
“You need to clean up a little.”
“Come here and let me wipe your face before we sit down to eat.”
Assuming it is the same little boy, you would guess he either needs a long hot bath or a brief wipe of the dish cloth.

As we go through life, we all develop a style of talking. Some people view life in the extremes; things are huge not big, they are tiny not small, something never happens, something always happens. Seeing the same event or object, some will habitually underplay it, “The mountain wasn’t so big.” and others will overstate it, “The mountain was huge.”. “The pain in my stomach is severe versus I have a pain in my stomach.

Over time, our friends begin to understand how we express ourselves. They understand that when Tom says the fund raiser was a huge success, he means they made some money. When he says the event was an abysmal failure, he really means they lose some money. When Janice says watch your step, there are a few rocks ahead, everyone knows things are going to be perilous. It is all in the words we use.

“So,” you say, “what difference does it make? Why the big deal?

Monday, October 19


There is a lot of talk in my neck of the woods about education. Schools are rated by how much “progress” their students have made since last year. States are ranked by their level of education. Even Countries are ranked. It’s getting so teachers are not tasked with teaching kids the basic building blocks of an education, they are teaching to take the State mandated tests. Heaven forbid, the kids actually learn anything as long as they can pass the tests and improve their school’s rank.

Boy, it felt good to get that off my chest. In this quest for a better education, we tend to lean toward the latest programs and teaching methods. There has not been a political campaign in the past 50 years, where one candidate, or both, has declared themselves to be the “education candidate”. Generally, the candidate’s promises consist of spending more money on ___, with you left to fill in the blanks. Well, in the humble opinion of this old man, more money on new programs is not necessarily the answer. Maybe we need to look back to the old days to find the methods that work best.

The old days for me mean the late 1940’s and the early 1950’s. Before the days of phonics, new math, calculators and spellcheckers, there was rote memorization. After learning to count and to add and subtract, we faced the daunting task of learning the multiplication tables. How many times did I write 2x2=4, 2x3=6, 2x4=8 and on and on? We wrote them on paper, on the blackboard and anywhere else we could find. We took the multiplication tables home and our mom or dad would sit with us and ask, “What is 2 times 2?” and we would dutifully answer ,”4”. Then go on to the next one over and over.

My dad would try to trick me by asking, while we were doing the 4’s, “What is 4 times 5”? After my answer, he would then ask, “What is 5 times 4”? It took me a while to catch what he was doing, but eventually I learned the Times Tables backward and forward. The interesting part is that I learned my multiplication tables without a calculator or without the benefits of new math that attempted to explain why 2 times 3 was equal to 6. I didn’t care why it equaled six, I just knew it did! I also knew 3 time 2 equaled six!

Spelling was another subject taught by pure mind numbing rote. We would take a list of 20 words home on

Thursday, October 1

Bad Times? or Opportunity?

Times are bad now. They say unemployment is too high, corporations are reporting lower or no profits. The Federal Government is pumping billions of dollars into the economy to stimulate growth. The banks are failing, the auto industry needs an infusion of cash. Retail sales are down dramatically. Medicare and Social Security need to be fixed now. We are saddling our children with a massive debt.

Know how I am going to solve this problem? I'm going to stop reading the newspaper or watching the news on television or listening to talk radio or reading the news on the internet. That's right, I am going to stick my head in the sand!

In fact, I am going to do something really crazy, I am going to buy some common stocks! I am going to buy shares in General Motors and Ford. I am going to buy stock in Bank of America and AIG. I might even buy some shares of Exxon for good measure. To have a little fun, I think I will see if anyone will sell me some Disney stock.

There are some advantages to old age. You learn that nothing goes in a straight line forever. The stock market, the economy, businesses will not continue to drop to zero even though it seems that way sometimes. The stock market of the 1930s gave everyone a deep depression, pun intended, but it eventually gave way to a booming economy in which fortunes were made. This economy and stock market will do the same.

With old age you learn that Americans are resilient. We may be self indulgent at times, we may be wasteful at times, but when it matters, we are a strong people and we are a smart people. Advancement generally come when required by necessity. America will work it's way out of the doom and gloom of these times.

Old age gives a different prespective on numbers. Specifically I am referring to the unemploment numbers being reported. In my part of the world, unemployment is at 8.5 % and expected to level off at 10%. Now I admit for the 10% unemployed, this can be a bad thing. But two things must be remembered. One, full employment does not mean 0% unemployment. There must always be some unemployed as new workers come into the market and people shift employment. Many experts feel full employment will always have 3% to 3.5 % unemployment. At 10% unemployment, we have a true unemployment of 6.5% to 7%. Secondly, 10% unemployment means 90% employment! Nine workers out of ten workers have a job.

You see, I believe in America! In fact, I am going to put my money where my mouth is and do something crazy. I am going to buy a new 52" television and a new car (well, maybe a new used car), I am going to increase my giving to my favorite charities, I am going to go out to eat at someplace other that McDonalds and , hold on to your hats, I am going to buy some common stock!!

Thats my View From The Fall