Saturday, December 31, 2011

New Year's Eve 2011

As a native New Yorker my first thoughts of New Years Eve are of freezing in Times Square filled with joy as that wondrous ball dropped with everyone counting down. New Years Eve has been celebrated in Times Square since 1904 with the glowing ball making it's first appearance in 1907. Now living in Fresno CA I forsake the freezing and have to settle for Dick Clark's "New Year's Rockin' Eve" on my living room TV. New Year's is a time for looking forward and making plans for the year. I prefer plans since the keeping of resolutions has a poor track record when associated with the New Year.

Self reliant individuals will always find a way to prosper. They make the best of their situation and accommodate change. They live within their means. As one of those self reliant people I'm ready to celebrate the coming of the new year with personal optimism. At the same time I can't help but be sad about the damage foisted on America by the Obama administration. Spiraling debt, political corruption, class warfare, abdication of our leadership on the world stage and many other things deeply hurt someone like me that has proudly served and loves this country. For the first time in my life I fear for my country, unlike Michele Obama I've always been proud to be an American. One more year of Obama is scary enough but the thought of five more years is inconceivable. I pray that America wakes up and votes Obama out before our once strong nation and the American spirit are destroyed beyond repair. I can't bear the thought of the end of the American dream.

I may be mad as hell about what Obama has done to America but I won't let him steal my personal optimism and determination. It's New Years Eve and I'm at my keyboard writing this post. Willie Nelson is singing "City of New Orleans" in the background and I'm enjoying a cup of coffee. A bottle of brandy is close at hand to toast in 2012. My best to all for the New Year.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Keeping Santa's Rules

Time goes on and empty nesters we all become. In our modern world you and your children may end up living in different parts of the country -- California and New Hampshire in my case. These days we just don't get to celebrate Christmas with our children or any child for that matter. It's a much different holiday without kids. For one, there's no one to wake you on Christmas morning long before you've had enough sleep. Look out chickens -- here come the kids. Our house is beautifully decorated but years of Christmas morning traditions have gone by the wayside. Last year when I received a Christmas present from my daughter Pat I wasted no time opening it and discovering a wonderful indoor weather station. I sent Pat an email thanking her even though Christmas was still days away. Her response was a little surprised that I hadn't waited to open it -- she was perhaps a little disappointed that I broke Santa's rules.

I look at that weather station on my desk every day. Even a year latter I remember how last year's Christmas unfolded and was motivated to rethink my approach to the season. I couldn't help but begin with Pat's first Christmas in Klienbundenback, Germany. Pat was just months old and won't remember but I always will. I thought about any child's joy in anticipating the discovery of what "Santa" had left for them. Then I realized it was their wonder and joy that made Christmas special for me as well. When you think about the Christmas season experience there's a lot to be learned about giving, receiving and caring about others. This year I'll be following Santa's rules. I can enjoy anticipating what's under the tree for me and my daughter Pat can enjoy thinking about how pleased I'll be to discover what she bought for me. I know she spent time carefully choosing just the right gift. The least I can do is wait for Christmas morning. We may not be together but keeping the tradition will make us closer and indeed make Christmas a more special day between us. Keeping Santa's rules is definitely the way to go. Especially for those of us for whom Christmas has become childless and a bit old hat. Traditions aren't for children alone. They are for everyone.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Christmas Got Pepper Sprayed

What has become of Christmas. Have the sweet and joyous Americana images by Norman Rockwell exited stage left permanently? I can remember when "Happy Holidays" was short hand for "Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year" and not an atheist victory call. Thankfully, the term "Merry Christmas" is more in vogue these days because of people like Bill O'Reilly leading the charge and a lot of fed up Americans who finally realized they also had rights and could refuse to accept the renaming of their sacred day. I'd like to think that people like me refusing to shop in any store that capitulated to the atheist demand also sent the message. We're beginning to understand that political correctness is the weapon of choice for the minority to override the consensus of the majority. Hopefully it's to late for our redemption.

Political Correctness has fostered a lack of respect and consideration of others. Political correctness demands we give up our personal and individual rights to bow before sectarianism. By it's very nature, political correctness is the total lack of respect for the beliefs and feelings of others. The few dictating to the many does not a better world make. When I wish a stranger Merry Christmas I'm sharing my joy not imposing my will on them. My Jewish friends wish me, a Christian, Happy Hanukkah -- I say thank you. If you deny my right to say Merry Christmas you are imposing your will on me. A Rasmussen poll found that 81% celebrate Christmas as a religious holiday -- I'd call that the many which are told not to say Merry Christmas.

The me first mantra of political correctness has manifested itself by turning the very act of shopping for gifts into a self centered war against other shoppers. How many times have we heard of physical altercations in shopping malls -- far to many. This lack of consideration for others has reached a crescendo this Black Friday when a woman actually pepper sprayed 20 other shoppers to get to an on sale Xbox 360. Does Black Friday now signify the color of shopper's hearts and not the day stores' balance sheets go from red to black? I just can't get that insane pepper spray image out of my head. Christmas 2011 will be now known as the year pushing and shoving at department stores graduated to pepper spray. Let this Christmas be the year we take a long look at the insanity and selfishness that has taken over this time of year. Let's put the good will back in Christmas. "Peace on Earth, good will to all men."

Merry Christmas to all, regardless of religious persuasion or lack there of.

There I said it... Is that the PC Police I hear at my door?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Life Goes On

It seems as if when someone you know dies, a little of you dies with them. The closer you were to them the bigger that piece. Think of them fondly but always make the best of this day and each that follows. The scars of life's sad events stay with us but they need not dictate our future or our attitude. We can choose to dwell in the past or to live in the now with hope for the future. Go forward with a smile and the knowledge that your smile without additional word or deed has the power to spread joy to all that see it.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Finding Joy for Thanksgiving

For some of us this hasn't been a banner year. Perhaps you're out of work, your home mortgage is under water or even worse from a personal financial perspective. The economy is teetering on the edge of further disaster. Hell I'm concerned that by some feat of dirty Chicago politics Obama will be re-elected in 2012 and America will become beyond repair. Regardless of what happens I'll be picking myself up, dusting off and figuring how to make the best of what life and my own decisions have dealt me. Just before the big falls it's hard to identify something to be thankful for. This is after all Thanksgiving time and there's supposed to be something to be thankful for.

I've had some hard and painful downs in my life which I won't get into at this time. What I will share is that I've found a way to survive and prosper. In the midst of every disaster there is an upside hiding. That one positive thing that can make you smile. There's almost always something however small we can be thankful for. Grab onto it and put a big smile on your face. Barring that decide how to make the best of your situation even if it's the exit door. A plan always gives me a positive outcome to shoot for and I'll be thankful when I get there -- something to smile about.

Many will find solace out of belief in God and the faith that "all will be well." I wouldn't argue with those that find happiness in their faith. I'm a Christian but don't believe in waiting for His hand to come and fix things. He gave us all what we need to be the best we can be for ourselves and others. Not wasting His gifts is the least we can do -- my rule number one in life. That is why I'm rarely without a smile on my face. 

A smile without word or deed brings joy to all.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Steve Jobs

Steve Jobs achieved a level of success in life that many envy but few attain. He has surely left his mark indelibly on the world we live in. It's sad to have him leave us at such a young age. I think his real genius was his ability to package and launch technology in a way that made us all want to use it. The iPad for example wasn't the first tablet but it sure was the first one to be a run away success. May he rest in peace and be remembered for all time -- he sure earned that.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Independence Day -- Past and Future

It's been 235 years since our independence became a reality and the 4th of July is once again upon us. My fondest memories of this day were those I spent at Mirassou Winery's 4th of July outdoor concert and wine tastings. After consuming my wife's picnic finest and copious amounts of red wine we'd settle down to listen to the symphony orchestra. When the darkness fell upon us it was time for the 1812 Overture which was carefully orchestrated with the fireworks display. Listening to that moving composition while watching the fireworks seemed to concentrate the meaning of this special day. My heart pounded with pride in being an American as my eyes welled up with tears for those that died to preserve our liberty. Being a war time veteran heightens those feelings but I'd like to think that love of country is ubiquitous for all Americans.

Sadly I feel like our special America is slipping away from us. Love of liberty, truth and country is being replaced by expectation of entitlements. Rather than a beacon of hope for the world we've been reduced to apologizing for the good we've done and the sacrifices we've made. No one, least of all our president, seems to respect our borders and sovereignty. Truth takes a backseat to special interests. Can you imagine living in a country where an educational institution will no longer teach there was a Holocaust because it offends Muslims? It's happened in America. The soul of America is being systematically destroyed, unemployment is still 9.1%, we are no closer to a deal to cut spending and pollster Rasmussen announced that only 21% of Americans strongly approve of the president's performance, against 39% who strongly disapprove. What happened to our grand melting pot where everyone was free to benefit from the fruits of their labor. I for one, want my America back with it's unique dependence on personal responsibility, self reliance and unity as a nation.