Monthly Archives: January 2018

Worth losing Medicare and Social Security to Make America Great?

the american way
I confess I don’t understand the logic, but around here eavesdropping on conversations between folks of SS pension age, they think losing their SS pension is going to be just ducky.

Not to say they’re mentioning Social Security, or Medicare, or Medicaid. But they’re obviously receiving it, and they’re tickled pea green with the politicians who have every intention of taking away that part of their livelihood.

They love this man in the White House now and considered the State of the Union message ‘inspirational’. Not one dissenting comment I’ve overheard yet.

Well, heck. As a man who relies on Social Security for my only source of income, and on Medicare for a substantial piece of my medications, I’d just like to say, I don’t think America is likely to become great by causing greater hardship for anyone at all in the population. And I’m a bit appalled to see so many people expressing their glee that a bunch of wealthy politicians of both parties are going forward with deliberate plans to do precisely that.

Fact is, if there was ever anything to admire about this country it was the claim that as a people we wanted to make life better for everyone among us.

And in my opinion only human scum would take any joy out of trying to make it worse for any of us.

Old Jules

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Big old mean North Korea

north korean tanks

Sometimes we just need to back away and think for ourselves a moment, filter out the hue and cry. South Korea has the 11th strongest economy in the world. It has an arms industry of its own, exporting weaponry to lots of other countries. And the Republic of Korea [ROK], South Korea, has the 11th strongest military in the world. Far, far ahead of North Korea.

So what the hell is the US doing with its 25,000 troops in South Korea? ROK is perfectly able to defend itself, economically, militarily, diplomatically, every way. If they don’t feel strong enough to do it, they could form a mutual defense treaty with Japan, with whom they share the North Korean threat.

Ohh. Yeah. North Korea has nukes. Whoopteedoo.

Does anyone really suppose South Korea, Japan, hasn’t the capability of blowing those North Korean missiles and aircraft being launched a few hundred miles from them, doesn’t have, I was going to say the capability of knocking them out of the sky before they emerge outside North Korean boundaries?

Once we drop away from the WWIII rhetoric, the cries of nuclear winter and running around in increasingly smaller circles shouting increasingly shrill pronouncements, isn’t the greatest likelihood that, should North Korea attack anyone, it would be South Korea, or possibly Japan?

Because North Korea isn’t so crazy as to have attacked anyone at all in force since 1954. That’s right. There’s not a combat veteran, not one, in the North Korean military.

And where the hell do they get all that war material? Every round for those tanks is expensive, every rocket, every missile, every helicopter, every airplane, every bomb. North Korea is a poor country. Who the hell does anyone suppose is going to lend them money for leading edge weaponry, or send them 21st Century tanks, helicopters, airplanes?

I recall back before Nixon went to China there used to be frequent papers and articles with titles such as, Is China a Sleeping Giant, or a Paper Tiger?’. They were mainly concerned in those days about the Chinese military.

There’s probably a reason that today nobody asks the same question about North Korea. They’re too handy for waving around as s boogerman hiding in the dark closet or under the bed when Iran or some other scary place wears itself out as a war mongering distraction.

But sometimes we just need to stop and think.

Old Jules

How’s that work ethic coming along?

work ethic caption

Growing up in a family where everyone worked, was expected to work, some things are branded on the psyche and tend to remain there. When I was a pre-schooler and my mother was working in the cotton-patch pulling boles during harvest, my sisters and I had our own pillow-case sized sacks. And though we didn’t pull a lot of cotton, the experience established a niche in our thinking processes that never went away, for me.

[The Runaways – 1947, posted here July 9, 2013, tells a bit about that time]

It’s only as I had five-or-so decades of life behind me that I ever seriously examined the values concerning work I’d lived with and adhered to all my life.

I’d pursued a career almost twenty years, blindly believed my dedication to the job, and the job, itself, were a major piece of what made me valuable as a person. And a spinoff of that belief was that a person who didn’t hold that view and allow a job to measure his worth probably wasn’t worth much.

But toward the end of that career the realization began to creep in that I was devoted, pouring my heart into a job that probably didn’t need doing. That I was wasting my life and that I was actually having a negative influence on the lives of many other people by my single-minded pursuit of that career.

Tough wake-up call it was for me. Jangled my entire life.

So I left that career for another, and wasn’t long in realizing that I was not that job. The job was just a way of making a living. That I was actually in another job that probably didn’t need doing. And I looked around me and saw it was true for almost everything going on around me.

Yes, there are essential jobs out there. Jobs that really need doing. Running the municipal sewer plant, for instance. Driving the garbage truck. Making sure the crops farmers plant are nurtured and harvested. Delivering food essentials to the population. Placing food on the counters for sale to the public.

Now isn’t that interesting? The most fundamentally essential jobs in our ‘civilization’ are the least coveted? That the rewards for doing them are less than those for people selling something, or representing someone in a lawsuit, or working in a unionized factory as a piece of an assembly line? Or repairing automobiles?

I’m inclined to believe the entire issue of the work ethic in this country, and the people who embrace the notion it’s a measure of human worth, needs a lot more careful examination.

I hope I’ll be doing some more blog posts about it for a closer look. Which I expect will raise the hackles of some readers.

Old Jules

Amazing quilting

Hi readers.

During the coldest months of last winter a friend from one of my previous lifetimes heard about my situation here and sent me a fantastic, warm, welcome gift. Judy Van Hooser was so long ago I’d have thought she had forgotten I exist.

judy quilt1
Beautiful work and it all appears to be hand-stitched.

judy quilt3
Every year Judy makes one of these and gives it to a veteran somewhere.

judy quilt2
Last year she contacted my ex-wife, Caroline, and said she’d like to give this one to me.

judy quilt flipside

I was both dumbfounded and ecstatic. It’s almost too fine to use as a quilt. But these winter nights don’t leave a lot of room for the luxury of using a warm quilt for a showpiece. This one does what quilts and blankets were always supposed to do.

Thank you Judy. You’ve earned a place in my gratitude affirmations. And every time I use that quilt I remember.

Old Jules

Driving back senility with chess

 

Jerry’s been living on this campus on and off since the Vietnam War. We decided to start playing chess regularly in hopes to slow the approach of senility.

Hi readers

I’m guessing every older person begins to see the memory functions deteriorate with advancing years.    And probably most of us have wondered whether there’s anything we can do to keep it from becoming a conspicuous piece of our lives.   Conspicuous enough, I should say, so’s the medicos or people around us begin putting a name to it.

My buddy Jerry and I ….. along with a few other and more intermittent old guys living around here, are making a valiant effort at fighting  senility by regularly challenging our minds with chess games.

We meet whenever it’s agreeable in one of the waiting rooms at the main hospital.   It has the advantage [for me] of being a place where smoking is forbidden.   And if Jerry or one of the others wants to go outdoors to smoke it’s not that far.

But maybe it’s my imagination.   I think regular games of chess really are improving my ability to remember, reducing the frequency of those events where I walk into the other room for something and can’t recall what it was I was there for.

And Jerry believes it is helping him, too.    Wasn’t all that long ago he was mentioning almost every time I saw him he thought he was getting senile.   It’s been a considerable while since he said that.

On the other hand, I also load myself up with Ginko Biloba at every opportunity, too.

I’m not above trying anything that isn’t obviously a health threat of its own.

Old Jules

Mister Midnight’s flaw

mr midnight bracelet 2 all

Hi readers. Thanks for coming by.

A cat only has so much dignity he can hold on to. We all know that. So imagine how tough life must be for a black cat forced to go through life with a silver bracelet of hair on one of his back legs.
mr midnight bracelet
Naturally I find myself trying to grab that leg for a closer look at it. And naturally he’s become particularly sensitive about it.

Oh yeah, I tell him it’s great, it’s what I like about him. What makes him special. But every time I grab for it to have a better look, the tries to jerk it away, sometimes even bites at me an hisses.

Because deep down, no matter what I say, Mister Midnight knows the truth.

Old Jules

Great big old ducks

Original Hospital and Lake1
Hi readers. Thanks for coming by for a read.

Back in the late 1800s when they dug that lake to excavate clay to make bricks for that original VA hospital they had to do something about the hole it left behind. So they filled it with water. Made a nice little recreation facility for the biggest piece of a century.

But what nobody could anticipate was that a time would come when nobody would give a damn about maintaining the lake. That it would become a sedimentation pond for the droppings of hundreds of waterfowl migrating in every winter, and some who just stay year around.

And over time the lake would mostly fill with those droppings until it was so shallow a person would have to work to drown in it.

That lake mostly can’t handle the biological oxygen demand because of all the manure. And nobody is about to spend the money to blow that water into the air to keep it alive. There’s a little bubbler at one end that sometimes works, but otherwise the pond turns over, stinks, kills a lot of fish, and is a sad reminder of how much maintenance man-made creations demand over the course of time.

great big old ducks

Nobody in my life has ever appreciated my sense of humor, and the same applies here. But at least I figure it helps make these drunks, derelicts, and opinionated old men feel better about themselves by being able to think me stupid. So anytime I get the chance to work it into a conversation I say something about those ‘great big old ducks’ running around crapping on everything.

And crap they do….. the grounds are speckled with them…. looks like someone ran one of those plugging things across the lawns. Yeah, and the streets, [and they do let fly as they pass over cars…. nothing like a splash of great big old duck droppings on your windshield].

But I digress.

A man staggering by knee-walking drunk will pause, gaze at me a moment, and shake his head almost every time if I remark to him, “Reckon where all those great big old ducks come from, anyway?”

Makes him feel better about himself. I’m convince of it. Yeah, I know they’re geese. But what the hell?

We all have our own small parts to play helping veterans, I figure.

Old Jules