Category Archives: America

American topics – any new forums you might like to see. Comments about American in any form you choose. This is a great country with lots to talk about.

Citizens Helping Citizens

As we move into winter my thoughts turn to the weather… most winters bring floods to Snoqualmie Valley with some years taking out both roads that cross the valley.  A few years ago, our small town was an island with flood water covering all roads.  During the floods, a few of us volunteer for community service as HAM radio operators, medical assistance, setting up shelters… a lot of needs for daily life continue with no regard for floods or any other disaster that might happen.

I decided to create a video about the folks that volunteer to help their fellow citizens.  Organizations like Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Medical Reserve Corps (MRC) and of course the Amateur Radio Service (HAM’s) all provide services for us.  My video project will focus on these groups to show the background, what they do – why they feel almost compelled to help and what equipment they carry around.

The video project will be using Kickstarter.com – this is a crowd-sourced funding site where people can read about various projects and help finance the project if they like it.  Many project (most) offer “rewards” of some type for those wishing to help.  We do the same offering copies of the DVD and since I’ll be investigating “emergency” bags, we’ll offer these for a reward at a certain level.

I will be posting video clips and images from the video project as it matures so check back from time to time…

 

Why?

Quote, “The National Park Service placed cones along the highway viewing areas outside Mount Rushmore this week, barring visitors from pulling over and taking pictures of the famed monument.”

Can this report be real? In America? Our national leaders are so mean-spirited and self-indulgent they close a free roadside, non-staffed, no-cost look at one of our national monuments, just to make a point? Are you kidding me?

Then the government (us) has to pay for police or rangers to guard so people do not remove the cones. And now this becomes not only a frustrating experience for visitors, but we have to pay as well?

A friend recently suggested to me, “Be thankful you don’t get all the government you pay for!” – I think he’s right.

The Gravel Road

“I feel so close to this road. My feet can feel the soft earth as I step down”, and I have to wonder, “Why does this feel so good, so right to me?” I can’t stop the thought as I stroll down a very short part of the road that has not yet been paved. This has to be one of the original backstreets of my little town where life has not changed in a 100 years.

The Gravel Road

Then I realize, this is like home to me. This is part of my youth – this is actually part of who I am. Suddenly, I’m the little skinny kid, walking around a country road or taking the shortcut across the field by walking in the ruts made by a farmers tractor.

The thoughts start flooding my brain – the gravel driveway where I grew up – the path to the barn where I would take my turn to milk the cow in the morning and evening. The path in our back field that Gene and I made to ride our bikes. This 50 feet of compacted gravel and damp earth are about as close to being a kid as I can get right now and it just feels wonderful to be walking here.

And then it all comes together. The years when growing up in America meant the Platters, early Elvis, drive-in theaters, no drugs in school (well, maybe some beer), Teen Angel, milkshakes at the soda fountain with my mom while waiting for my sister to get out of the downtown theater… and maybe a grilled cheese sandwich with Velvetta cheese… I can almost taste it!

And now? What happened to that America? The one everyone loved. The America where streets were fairly safe and country homes did not even have a key to the front door. The place where men opened doors for ladies, and people could walk into a friends home, shouting “Hi – anyone home?” And homes had parents in them. Both parents. And we all sat together for dinner and then played outside or the family would gather for Crazy-8 or Rummy.

What happened to that one?

I understand with each passing generation, life changes. But this moment in time just seems different and to some extent – it feels wrong. We have become so polarized, spiteful – many are jealous of those with more than they have and it seems to breed contempt for each other. And some types of music is so offensive and demeaning to women, yet played on the radio like no one noticed. Can this be good for us as a society?

People look down or away when you pass in the streets and everyone is plugged into something. For what? To escape? To not engage with other people? Has the iPhone and Facebook taken away our humanity? What ever happened to calling someone – or perhaps even – gasp – visiting in person? Where did this all go and why? And where’s it going next? What are my kids going to see – how will they feel in 40 years?

Maybe the gavel and mud road is my therapy for now… something to hang onto as a token of good from days long past. I miss those days. I miss what seems like the simple goodness that was America and Americans. And I hope someday soon – they come back before it’s too late.

Afghanistan

In the news, a story about a single US soldier that killed some families.  No matter where this took place, this is terrible and my heart goes out to those families.  And to the friends of that soldier as they all must be feeling hurt beyond belief.

But please world, keep this in perspective – we have 100,000 troops in that country, all doing their best to help the people of Afghanistan.  We send money, build roads, schools – help in every humane way possible and still that country is complaining about a single event from a single person gone bad.  That happens in every group, in every country, in every family on the planet.

My point is to be reasonable and calm.  This was terrible and you cannot sugarcoat events that involve death or hurt to loved ones.  But the US Military did not order a soldier to kill families – quite the contrary.  And the citizens of Afghanistan should respect to hard work done by the other 100,000 of our citizens that place their lives in danger for the good of your families and country.

As an American, I am proud of our country and our military and have a firm belief that the justice system works fine and will prevail.  What worries me is the insanity that comes with crowds and those seeking harm to our soldiers and America as they will be pushing the locals into a frenzy.  All we can hope for is reason and spiritual guidence from all faiths to calm, and see this even for what it is.  A single act of violence some a single person gone wrong.

 

Boomers

So, here I am, looking at retirement and knowing full well it’s impossible at the moment.  The past years have been spent with startups, not enough pay, lots of stock and none of it worth much yet.

I think I’m in that unique group of millions of boomers, aging, wishing to head out camping DURING the week while others are toiling away, and here I am getting stuff ready for work tomorrow.  Just like I’ve done for the past 50 years.  I have to admit, I asked for it – bad planning, way too optomistic, and way too much trust in my friends that founded companies, only to discover maybe the product was not as ready for market as I thought.  Or they were not as good a business person as I thought – but the bottom line, it was my decision so I have only myself to blame… but that will not stop me from complaining!!!

 

Liberty

In reading a small book containing comments and a couple of important documents published by the Cato Institute, I read a paragraph that I think about almost every day.  I use public transportation into Seattle and the route passes the Federal Building – on the wall, they posted some of this famous work, “We hold these truths to be self-evident…” – and I’m sure you now recognize where this post is headed.  How great and inspired our founders must have been; “…that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that amoung these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness – That to secure these Rights, Governments are institued amoung Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed.”

I’m not sure why, at this time in my life this has become so important, but it has.  I love this Republic, the people and these documents that created a place for me to live in freedom.  And for that, I am forever grateful.

I also wish our political leaders would take this to heart, in the spirit in which it was written.  Not as a document they could abuse or change, but with the understanding our rights come from God, not from Government and these documents mean what they say.  And if they don’t like our Constitution, they are welcome to leave their positions and this great Nation.

 

Respect

May I pose a question?  Given I don’t have the benefit of hearing your answer, I will assume permission granted and for that, I thank you… here’s the question:

“Have we lost respect?”

Take a moment – stop reading, sit back with your eyes off the screen, and think about you, your family members, what you read on Facebook that others have posted (including images), our politicians, the candidates for President (including the one in office), or any clerk with which you may have recently engaged while shopping. [STOP HERE FOR A MOMENT TO THINK ABOUT THIS - THEN RESUME READING]

“So!” – First I have to make sure I say, I know many that also hold these values dear.  So reading on, my feelings and observations are general – broad views of what I feel is a direction for many that does not seem good for anyone.

And of course, we might have to consider this discussion with age groups in mind.  I bring up age because the question under consideration involves our society at large and the interactions between people, pre and post the year 2000 – And I speak to the broad use of the word, “us” – not just each of us – it’s all of us.  So, realizing I might be skewing this to my fellow boomers,  I ask those getting long in the tooth, “Is society today as respectful today as in your youth?” – for me, the answer is a definate, “…not even close!”

So I ask, “What happened to our respect for each other?”

I see my own friends and family members posting images on public sites that contain the infamous, “F-Bomb!”  On just about any day of the week that word can be heard in any number of ways and in any number of places.  But much more than a simple word, it’s the feeling we have and hold for each other.  That deep sense of pride in self – words like honor, integrity and of course, respect.  Are these emotions and feelings you see and feel in the street or see on the news?

To me, the point about respecting each other has risen to the top of mind and I think it was one of the early debates for the Republican candidates that made me realize how things have changed in society.  Even giving politics a pass because, “politicians-have-always-smeared-each-other”, the thought goes much deeper into life and society.  Then I wonder where we are headed… what next?  If families fall apart, people lose respect for each other (talking about general society now…), our Congress can’t seem to find any common ground or mutual respect – how deep?  How pervasive does this go?  And then what?  To me, the moral fabric of society is the family unit and the respect for self, family and others.  As that unravels, goes society, and our nation.  And to me, that gets pretty scary.

 

 

 

Now and Then…

Change… just how much change and what kind of change is happening? I’m not sure I want a lot of change. I remember an America where our doors were never locked. Neighbors came in at will and gave a shout “Hi – got any coffee?” – they would just open the door and come into our home. The milkman would knock, enter the house, open our refrigerator and add whatever we needed. We got up, did our chores then off to school or play, depending on the day and season. People spoke English except for a few from Mexico that come in to help with the fruit harvest in the valley.

People were friendly, honest for the most part and very helpful. If someone in the area needed help – it happened. Neighbors helped each other.

We were free to travel the road of life and take whatever turn we wanted to take. We choose what doctor we wanted, shopped anywhere we wanted, paid a fair tax, supported the family, the community, charities we choose, the region and our nation. We voted at the local school house – mom always worked at the voting place… We always put our hands over our heart during parades when the flag came by and it felt like most Americans did the same.

I loved that America – and still today have most of that lifestyle available but it’s starting to feel like something is wrong. Very wrong. Maybe it’s the signs in the campground last weekend – written in English, Spanish and Russian. Or maybe it’s the muslim call to prayer that I heard in a campground over the weekend. Perhaps it’s GM and the government intrusion or the new medical plan… the lies from our congressional leaders. Why do they lie to us? What’s the point? How on earth are we letting the government get out of control? Who voted for these people and what are they really doing? I have so many anxieties and it sometimes feels horrible just to listen to the news – and I fear for our America. Our beautiful and wonderful country is changing and I don’t think I will like it.