Wednesday, February 29, 2012

WRAPPING UP FEBRUARY

It has been an extremely slim month for the blog.  I apologize.  I got to thinking that for the shortest month of the year, I should still get at least three entries, after all it is leap year so I have an extra day to get an entry squeezed in.

The reason for the lack of posts this month is very simple.  Work has been over whelming me to the point that my brain is mostly shifted into thinking about the job more than anything else.  My job is not a very interesting thing to write about so when my brain is filled with what I am working on, my imaginative part of my brain kind of goes to sleep.

The job is one of intense thinking.  I am a mechanical engineer and designer as well as a printed circuit board designer.  You know those green boards with all the connectors on them and all the little wires embedded on those boards?  That is what I design.  It is an interesting job but is very wearing on my brain.  I look at the printed circuit boards a going to work and doing a puzzle every day.  The current "puzzle" I am working on has taken over five weeks of my life at an almost non-stop pace.

I always see the end of February as the end of winter, although we do occasionally get winter weather in March her in Kansas City.  This winter was different however.  We had very little snow allowing me not to have to even touch the old snow shovel at all this year.  The temperatures have been mild.  We have note had sub-zero temperatures all winter.  Very few times have we dropped into single digits when it came to the cold.  Spring is here though there is no doubt.  Spring training has begun.  The Mizzou baseball team has begun it's hopeful run to Omaha.  The Daytona 500 has been run.  Springtime is definitely here.

It was an exciting winter watching the University if Missouri play their last season as members of the Big 12 Conference.  It has been a good year for the Tigers and I have real hopes that possibly this could be the year they finally make it to the Final Four.  What would make it even more special would be if they somehow met Kansas in the Final Four.  What a way to leave the conference.

I have managed to do fairly well mentally and emotionally during this last winter.  While depression still fights with me on an almost daily basis, I have managed to survive and keep going. It isn't as easy as it may sound.  Depression is something that can effect your thinking from moment to moment.

It has been a winter that has opened my eyes to the aging of my parents.  I feel extremely lucky to still have the both of them as we head into spring.  It was a winter when I began to make progress on getting back in touch with my siblings.  I am a loner of sorts and so it is an accomplishment to take these steps.

I have taken note as to how I have aged and changed over the years.  They say that as you age, you get wiser.  I have known many wise people in my life, some older and some not so old.  I keep waiting to hit that age when I get a little wisdom to disperse among those younger than me.  I anticipate that to happen any day now.  It would be nice to feel a little of that wisdom before I die.

It was a winter that a new political campaign for the Presidency began.  I wish I could say it has been an exciting campaign but absolutely none of the candidates have captured my imagination or appear to have a vision for the future.  President Nixon use to say that the key to capture peoples imagination was to be able to convey your vision for the future of this country.  I have seen no such vision from any of the candidates, especially our current President.

It was a winter when my son finally stepped out totally on his own.  This has been a huge growth period for Brett and one that makes me proud of him.  He is growing and taking steps towards becoming the man I know he can be. 

Well this is a short post to end a short month.  I realize it has been about nothing in particular, but I am hoping that I can get back on track with the blog in March.  I enjoy writing the blog and enjoy having a few people read it when I do release a new entry.

So for now I'll just say good bye to February, good bye to winter and welcome spring, baseball and NASCAR back into my life for one more year.  I am thinking it is going to be a good spring and a good summer.


WHC

Monday, February 20, 2012

WINTER HAND ME DOWNS

Being the first born son in a family with two older sisters, I did not have to deal with the institution of hand me down clothes very often.  I would wager to say I didn't have to deal with them at all.  If I had I may have ended up even more mentally damaged than I ended up being now.  I would have worn plaid dresses or culottes along with blouses that buttoned on the wrong side with puffy sleeves.  Instead of my KEDS tennis shoes I would have worn white and black saddle oxfords through my growing up years.  Pink shorts instead of blue jeans from J.C. Penney definitely would have made an impact on how I saw myself.  As bad fitting and stiff as those blue jeans were, they still would have been better than pink shorts.

As I grew older though I did have a small chance for hand me downs.  Occasionally I would get a coat or a jacket or something else that could fit easily from my dad to me.  This would not include jeans or slacks because I was built very differently from my father during those years.  I was taller and much thinner than dad.  I do believe I got a couple of shirts from him but that would be about it.

The first hand me down I got from dad was actually a "I am going to borrow this and forget to give it back" hand me down.  My dad had two or three wool stocking caps.  They were black or dark navy blue.  While they were a little itchy to wear, they were warm over the ears.  The stocking cap I borrowed was not one of his good ones.  It had a hole close to the edge of it and most of the elasticity had long left.  Still it was warm and felt right on my head.  I could roll it up so it was over my ears if I needed to.  That was how dad usually wore his caps.  Or I could tug it down tight on my head and that nice tightly woven wool would be as warm as one could expect a cap to be.  No air would pass through that thing.  I fell in love with it and when I left home after getting married, the hat found its way in with my belongings and went with me.  Perhaps I should have felt bad about it, but the way I saw it, dad had a couple of more of these stocking caps and missing the one with the small hole in it shouldn't bother him too much.  It was after all, something to keep his son's ears from aching in the cold winds that sweep through the plains during the winter.

The other thing I was handed down was not a piece of clothing but my dad's old chair.  It was such a comfortable chair.  I found that my body fit into it perfectly.  If dad was not home,  I was sitting in the chair, unless of course I was in trouble and sitting on the bottom step of the stairway.  When mom and dad decided to get new furniture, they were going to throw the old chair out.  The legs were loose on it and the upholstery was not very good.  You could sit in that chair and it would feel like the legs could fall out from under it at any time.  I took it anyway for the comfort it provided me and perhaps for a little bit of home that I would be reminded of every time I sat in it.

The next major chance for getting hand me downs came from my uncle.  He had lived away from home for most of his adult life, living in Washington D.C., Chicago and then the Seattle area before moving back to Kansas City to spend his remaining days on this earth.  When his partner died, may uncle didn't know what to do with a lot of the stuff left behind.  I got some very nice shoes that happened to fit me and a few other things, but there was one very special item that was offered to me.  It was a coat.  When I first saw the coat my first impression was that it was green.  I hate the color green.  Green is my mother's favorite color and I lived with so much green in my life I could hardly stand to look outside in the summer time.  Green was awful.  Green was the color of puke.  Green was the color of a runny nose.  Green was simply awful.

I then tried on the coat to see how it fit.  The fit was perfect.  Perfect arm length, perfect room for arms to slide in and out of.  It was a very soft coat as well.  It was made out of cotton with a down lining in it.  I could move my arms as though I wasn't even wearing a heavy coat.  It was so comfortable that I was able to overlook the color of the coat and take it anyway.  I knew right then that this would be the most comfortable coat I had ever worn.

When the next winter came and the temperatures began to drop and the cold started hanging around every day, I reached in the closet for that comfortable green coat to wear while I shoveled some snow.  It became immediately clear that this was not only the most comfortable coat I had ever worn, it was also the warmest coat.  It had been bought originally to withstand Chicago winters which are much worse than Kansas City winters.  This coat was the coat I had been waiting my whole life for.  I had tried Corduroy coats which were somewhat warm but very stiff to move around in.  They were not comfortable at all and while the warmth factor was good they didn't compare to the green coat.  I had tried man made materials of coats such as nylon and rayon and the such.  They were not as stiff as the corduroy coats but not as warm either.  The main thing that irritated me about these coats was the sound they made ever time you moved in them.  That screeching swishing sound that you had to stop moving before you could talk while wearing it.

I noticed then that the green coat had literally hundreds of pockets.  Some were big and others were a little smaller and every once in a while you would come upon a pocket very small, perfect for carrying keys or other items that you didn't want to get lost.  I was in love with the green coat and it became, with my dad's wool stocking cap, my winter hand me down wardrobe.

I took that cap from my dad about thirty five years ago.  I am guessing it was about ten years old at the time making it approximately forty five years old.  I still wear it.  It is just as warm and comfortable and itchy as it was when I first got it.  It is my go to hat whenever it gets cold outside.

The chair is about sixty years old.  The legs on it still wiggle and they still feel like they could come off at any time.  MY wife made a cover for it to hide the old upholstery on it and I sit on that chair every day still.  It is so comfortable that if I am not home, my dog Dutch sits in the old chair.  It still fits my body well and I think still brings a little of a childhood home into my life.  It is kind of like comfort food.  It just feels right, it feels good.

As for the green coat, well time has taken a toll on it.  It was twenty years old when I got it and I have had it for almost twenty years.  It is old and it is showing signs of age.  Some of the material in the seams is starting to wear out.  There are places where it got snagged on a fence while I was jumping over to get a rouge baseball.  Actually, to be perfectly honest, it looks pretty ragged.  I have had people tell me that I should get a new coat.  I have been threatened with being given a new coat for Christmas or my birthday.  That would be a grave mistake.  I have seen homeless people with better looking coats than my green one and that is fine.  I'll stick with the green coat thank you very much.    It is about the only thing that is green that I own.  I put that green coat on my back almost anytime it drops below freezing.  Sometimes I wear it when it is really too warm to be wearing it and it warms me up more.  The pockets all still work in it and I am fairly sure I still discover a new pocket every year that I have the coat.  The old wool cap has a permanent home in one of those pockets.

I have no plans to discard the old green coat.  I plan on wearing it into my last winter before I die.  As a matter of fact I have made some decisions on what is to happen to these winter hand me downs.  I want to be buried or cremated in the wool cap and the green coat.  I don't see how any one else could or would appreciate these two pieces of winter clothing the way I have over the years.  When I go, they go with me.

As for the chair, I leave distribution of that to whoever is taking care of my estate whether it be my wife or my son.  They can bury me sitting in it or cremate it along with me, the wool cap and the green coat.  The other possibility is finding someone who would appreciate it for the fine piece of furniture that it is.  I think that it may be difficult to find someone who appreciates the old chair for what it has been through.  That chair helped raise four kids, a daughter in law and a grandson not to mention numerous dogs that found it more than good enough for a bed on which to nap.  Perhaps a small bonfire using the chair the evening of my funeral while friends and family gather to talk about what a grumpy old man I had become and how they simply could NOT believe I was buried in that old green coat and a old wool stocking cap   At least with this writing, they will know where that coat and cap came from and why I was so attached to them even into death.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

SINCERE HOPE LOST

I originally wrote this piece back in November of 2008 and posted it on the blog in October of 2010.  It was a sincere writing and my own sincere hope that the current administration would bring back unity to this country, help the economy get back on track and become the world leader that this country is capable of.  Looking back over the last four years, that sincere hope has been futile.  I repost it here now for those who think I am a strict partisan, for I am not.   This administration has been one of the most inept administrations in my memory, surpassing both the disappointments of the Ford and the Carter Administrations.  Those two failed administrations ended in one term.  The outcome should be no better for this administration.  This president has had his chance and has accomplished next to nothing.  It is up to the Republicans to step up and give us a candidate that is an obvious choice over the current President.

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A SINCERE HOPE FOR THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION
11-08

There are many reasons to be hopeful and have a good outlook for the Obama Administration as the peaceful transition takes place on January 20 of next year.  There are many reasons to be watchful and concerned as well.

As historic as it is that this country elected an “African-American” man as President, my hope is that the press and the citizens in general will forget that the President is an “African-American” and begin thinking of him as an American who obviously cares about his country and wants to do what is best for it from his perspective.  This is a chance in a lifetime to elect an “African-American” and we must jump on this opportunity and take advantage to lessen the divide between the races.  I firmly believe that the more that is said about racial differences, the wider the gap becomes.  At the least, it does not narrow the gap at all.  We must all think of each of us as Americans.  Not white America, not Black America and not Hispanic America.  We are America.  And as Americans we have chosen this man to lead us for at least four years.  He is a man, and constantly adding a label to him does not increase his power or persuasion but lessens it.  He represents all of America and we should recognize that fact as early as possible by allowing him to be an American and leader of the free world.

I hope that the word “Impeachment” does not raise its ugly head once again.  This word has been thrown out too easily over the last sixteen years.  I hope that this President gets good intelligence reports from the proper departments and is able to act on that intelligence without fear of reprisal or impeachment raising its head.  I hope that the Obama administration is one that the country can trust both in making wise decisions and being of good character so we don’t have to always wonder whether or not he is doing the country’s business or his own.  I hope that this administration will finally have a bi-partisan Congress that will truly advise and consent instead of endless grilling of nominees the President has made or decisions he has made.  I hope that during this administration, responsibility is taken for decisions from all three branches of government.

I hope that this administration is able to achieve its goals without lowering the view the world has of this country and that we finish what we start.  I hope this administration sees and is aware that we can not go into the past and change things, but we must take things from where we are now and work from here on to achieve the President’s goals for this country.

Most importantly, I hope this administration selects and listens to wise advisers when making decisions that can affect the path that history will take from these decisions.  We are at a crossroads not only for America, but for the world.