Archive for July, 2022

What could go wrong?

Author: admin

Something happened to me last week that shouldn’t have. I got a driver’s license. No testing. No behind-the-wheel exam. Nothing.

Just gave ‘em my old Arizona ticket, paid $90.00 for an eight-year Oregon replacement and “Down the road, Jack.”

Hundreds of Oregonians have the same experience each week. But, for me, it shouldn’t have happened.

This month, I’m 86-years-old. When my new license expires – if I’m still around – I’ll be 94. In the intervening years, no checking to see if my eyes are holding up. No checking my vision or response times. No contact with the Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles. Nothing.

Oh, by the way, issued with my new license was a disabled motorist card to hang from my rearview mirror. It, too, runs until I’m 94.

Now, if I’m a “disabled” motorist in my mid-eighties who – under the law – qualifies to be treated as such, what business does the State of Oregon have turning me loose on the highways? Statistics show my age bunch is responsible for more road accidents than any driver group except teenagers.

I’m at a time in my life when I should think seriously of handing my car keys to my somewhat younger wife. If things go along O.K., she’ll be “in the same boat” in a few years. Then what? How will we get around? How will we get the weekly groceries? How will we get to doctors’ appointments and other necessary errands?

We’re fortunate that our little community has had a pretty good public transportation system. Many of our neighbors have relied heavily on it to take care of their “getting around” needs.

But – that excellent system is being threatened by an absence of qualified drivers and has begun cutting back routes and appointment availabilities. Seniors are starting to feel the pinch.

This is one of those rare public issue cases where money is not the problem. The aging population is. And, that aging process is going to be felt a lot more in other instances like housing and employment in the coming years.

Sadly, the our current local issue of faltering senior transportation is one not a lot of people pay much attention to because it doesn’t directly involve them unless they have a parent or other close relative affected.

But, if you’re 91, and need to make regular visits to a doctor or to pick up a badly needed prescription, it can get deadly serious.

Now, for our little transportation problem, there would seem to be a ready solution. Like me. I’m in excellent health for my age. So are a lot of other guys around here. The small, 12-passenger busses aren’t hard to drive. Many of us drove far larger motor homes or dragged a 40-foot fifth wheel after we retired. Most of us have good, accident-free driving records. And we have plenty of time on our hands. We could fill the gap and could use the extra income of some 20-dollars-an-hour.

But, who’s going to give the bus keys to some guy who’s in his 80’s? Excellent health can change in a moment. Deteriorating health is a certainty. What happens if one of us is behind the wheel when the “big one” strikes? What about the elderly passengers?

No, sadly, guys my age aren’t the answer. Much as we’d like to take on the task, we’re not going to be seriously considered.

And, probably, rightfully so.

But, hell, if you live in a state that gives you a blank check behind the wheel in the form of an eight-year driver’s license renewal while in your eighties, why not?

What could go wrong?


Author: admin

Whatever you’re doing, STOP!

O.K., now, SIT DOWN. Sit in a comfortable position in your most comfortable chair. Take a deep breath. Let it out slowly. Take a moment – then read on.

“Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float
over to China’s bad air. So, when China gets our good
air, their bad air got to move. So, it moves over to our
good air space. Then – now we got to clean it backup.”

No, those words are not from a child trying to explain climate change to a patient teacher. No, those words are not from a 4-year-old talking to a patient parent. No. Those ARE the words of a U.S. Senate candidate at a recent Georgia Republican event.

Herschel Walker.

The former Heisman winner is the GOP candidate running against incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock. Georgia Republicans have placed their bets on Walker. He’s their “horse” in the Senate race.

In the first few months, pollsters had Walker over Warnock by a point or two. Almost dead-even. Then, as Walker – who refused to debate Warnock – made some campaign appearances, the numbers began to shift. For Walker, the shift was down. Most recent Quinnipiac University sampling has it 54%-44% Warnock.

In addition to the above cited example of Walker’s “grasp” of major issues, he’s lied about quite a few things. Like a non-existent career in law enforcement, being CEO of a large company and his at-first denial of having three kids by three women he wasn’t married to. Being a Georgia resident which he isn’t and wasn’t. And much more.

Walker is already being called the male version of Marjorie Taylor-Greene who, by the way, is really from Georgia. And, who appears to be headed to re-election. Whether Walker will join her along the banks of the Potomac is still up for grabs.

Republican nutballs are running things in Georgia. Their current choices of “candidates” for high office confirm that.

But, don’t laugh. The same is true for several states. Including our very own Idaho. The only real difference in Idaho is, once in office, always in office. If you’re a Republican. Right, Jim? Right, Mike and Mike? Makes less work for the state’s GOP committee chiefs who come and go.

Ohio, Florida, Texas, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin also are fielding candidates who’d be hard-pressed to explain the duties of the offices they’re seeking. In Arkansas, odds are truth-challenged Sarah Huckabee-Sanders appears to be on track to be the state’s next Governor. Now, there’s a scary thought. But, sadly, all too true.

Don’t look for things to change as long as the state committees are filled with Trump-loving folks. The Republican Party’s acceptance of him is poisoning the system from the inside out.

Look no further than the banishment to the Republican wastelands of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger. They’re being disowned for simply showing the political character traits of honesty, truth and just plain guts that used to be hallmarks of the GOP. Think John McCain. Margaret Chase Smith. Bob Dole. Mark Hatfield.

The halcyon days of the Republican Party are way, way in the past. As long as the GOP is Trump-infested, those days won’t return. Until they do, you’ll see more Walkers, Taylor-Greens and Huckabee-Sanders. All of whom are filling seats and voting on issues without the knowledge or understanding of same. Their ignorance is a cancer on the “body politic” at a time when this country needs its “best and brightest.”

But, you won’t see the changes necessary if you attack the problem at the top. No, the answer is closer to the bottom. The various central committees. In many states, those are the folks “choosing” who runs and who doesn’t. Until those committees are filled with solid, right-thinking Republicans, all we can expect is more of the same. And, that’s not good enough!

I’d like to give you more “Walkerisms” but the hour is late. And, after a few hours of such research, I need a drink.


Author: admin

When I was a young man, doing the things young men do, I’d often wonder what lay ahead in life. What would old age feel like? What memories would I have? What travels would I undertake? Where would I go? What lay ahead?

Now, with more than 85 years behind me, I can answer those questions and the dozens of others that came to mind along the way.

As a youngster on the ranch, I learned – regardless of years – work came early and would define much of life. Not overwork. Ranch kid labors such as feeding the animals or driving a tractor or picking up fallen fruit in the orchards at the same age. Learning the value – and sometimes pain – of work.

We lived through World War II, then Korea, then Viet Nam, then Desert Storm, then Iraq and Afghanistan. Seemed war – somewhere in the world involving our country’s young folks – was a constant presence. We learned to live with it. More than that, we served some years in uniform ourselves. It’s what you did.

We learned about recessions the hard way. We lived them. Things got tight, then scarce. We learned sacrifice – not getting things we thought we had to have – not getting them because times were tight.

These were all part of the American way of life.

We also enjoyed the rights and privileges of such a life – the freedoms that seemed to always be there. Growing up, there were good times to offset the occasional bad ones. We had families, traveled, enjoyed some success at various occupations and always had enough to pay the bills. It all seemed natural. As if we deserved everything that came our way. The “American way.”

But, some of the things that “came our way” in recent years we weren’t prepared for. National anger. Divisions costing us friends and sometimes causing even the loss of the company of family members. Armed people in the streets challenging authority and posing threats to our security. Political strife. And a Congress mired in division and under attack.

Most of all, we weren’t prepared for a President of these United States to be at the root of efforts to overturn our government and our way of life. We didn’t see the depth of deception. We weren’t really aware how close we came to losing control of our Republic. And still are.

We’d likely still never have learned of the real dangers were it not for various investigative efforts by responsible holders of offices at different levels of government – State and Federal.

During the four year presidency of Donald Trump, enough Americans learned of his unsuitability to hold office that he was defeated when he tried to be re-elected. Since that time, some 18 months ago, we’ve been made painfully aware of his political depravity and criminal lengths to which he’d go to retain the power of that presidency.

We now know Trump deliberately turned an armed mob on our nation’s Capitol and even reportedly made an attempt to join them. We now know he was aware of the weapons in the crowd and even tried to make it possible to keep them hidden. We now know, when there were chants of “hang Mike Pence,” he agreed with the crowd if his Vice President did not void a national election.

This isn’t the way it’s supposed to be. The events of January, 2021 are not the events we’ve always associated with the legitimate change of administrations of duly elected officials. The mostly corroborated, stunning testimony of a young White House aide regarding the words and actions of Trump during that time have shocked and saddened us. Those are not the “words and actions” we expect of the head of our national government.

Now, we face the early stages of a national recession. International companies are gouging us with high prices while consciously producing record profits. We have ever-increasing gas prices. Airline travel has become a mess of cancelled flights. We are experiencing national divisions in society, politics and business. We have a Congress reduced to inaction. And a U.S. Supreme Court legislating from the highest bench in the land.

Unlike the expected normalcy of American life, we are being buffeted by events – confounded by new disclosures of Trumps treachery – feeling untoward economic pressures – trying to understand daily economic and political changes rocking society.

As someone who’s four score plus, I’ve must admit, the times we’re living in are not the times I expected in my later years. At this juncture in life, you’re supposed to be relaxing, doing a bit of traveling, enjoying family. Not experiencing gas prices hobbling those travel plans. Not having to cut back because of corporate greed. Not watching daily unfolding of new facts about a former president trying to undermine our government.

I remember my Dad talking of how experiences of early youth growing up on a farm helped prepare him for the long life he lived. My own early years, so much like his, did not produce the same preparedness.

How could they?

Searching for stability

Author: admin

America is no longer a divided country. It’s become a fractured country. With an uncertain future.

We used to have a division or two. Or more. Socially. Black and white. Rich and poor. Young and old. Politically, left and right. Far left and far right.

Easily defined divisions. Easily understood. Divisions this nation has yet to solve. Maybe they’re unsolvable. But, we’ve known them. Lived with them.

Now, under the tutelage of one Donald J.Trump, the Internet with its (un)social media, a decision by a few million folks that their ignorance is just as good as your fact-based intelligence and the sweeping killer/destroyer that is COVID-19, a giant hammer has split those earlier divisions like so many crushed ice cubes.

I hear people say “I’ll be glad when things get back to normal again.” Well, my friends, that ain’t happening. The life you and I lived a year or two ago is gone. G-O-N-E. And not coming back.

I have yet to hear a thoughtful voice offering a knowledgeable prediction of what our “normal” will be, say eight or nine months from now. Forget five years or so. Given the entire world’s upheaval – socially- morally – politically-medically – making such predictions is a “fool’s errand.” It can’t be done.

We’ve all lived with change – lived with it – adjusted to it – accepted it. But, the massive upheaval of so many basic foundations in our social/business/political worlds we’re experiencing all at once is a new phenomenon. We – and our nation – can be defined, at the moment, as uncertain, unsettled, somewhat confused, fearful and even scared.

Someone asked me recently, “How do we stop the madness we’ve lived with on our cities streets? What can we do?”

Like you, about the only answer (non-answer) was “Vote in November.” That’s it? “Vote?”

But, let’s look at “peaceful” changes.

Tried doing business with stores lately? Notice any changes? Had a doctor’s appointment recently? Anything different? Banks. Banks are the worst.

Stores say they’re having coin shortages. I’ve got a sizable bowl filled with change from my pockets at night. Asked the drive-up teller today if I could bring them in so they could use their coin count machine. As I’ve done many times before.

“No,” she told me. Said I’d “need an appointment.” And I’d have to sort, count and roll them myself. I won’t be helping with the coin shortage anytime soon.

Hospitals are changing. Dealing with conditions they’ve never known before. Every department from surgery to admissions to food service to security is being affected. When whatever our new “normal” comes around, they’ll be much different, too.

Law enforcement. Now, talk about upheaval and change. Damn! Possibly no other line of endeavor is being hit with so much c-h-a-n-g-e. From top cop to lowest ranking officer on the street. Policies, tactics, operations, citizen relations. All in flux. What’s policing going to look like a few years from now?

Education. Teachers. Curriculum. Classroom safety. Upheavals that will affect the system for many years. Teachers back in the classroom with the specter of COVID-19. If professional athletes won‘t play because of fears of infection, what does a teacher face in the confines of a classroom with 20-30 kids carrying God knows what? What do our kids and grandkids face? What are their chances for infection and death? Talk about change!

Religion. We couldn’t gather to worship for many months – to sing the familiar hymns. We couldn’t share communion together. Absolution came electronically. And singularly.

Everything – everything – at the moment is in flux. The pressures being exerted on our lives are immense. At my late stage, planning isn’t nearly as hard as it is for folks 20 to 45. When all of this shakes out, what will their lives look like? What affects will all of these changes have on their lives? Their kids. Employment. Friends. Health care. Making plans for the future.

If you’re a young person starting out in life – if you’re at mid-life planning for retirement – if you’re retired and concerned about extending your savings or have problems with health – no matter who you are or where you are in life, the most important support you need is stability. A feeling of permanence. Of structure.

“Permanence.” “ Structure.” There’s not a lot of either at the moment. And, there likely won’t be better conditions in the near future. This COVID thing is an ever-present threat in our lives. We’re told it’s mutated and will continue to do so in the future. Then, there’s Monkeypox coming to our neighborhoods soon.

If all this sounds confusing and unsettled, that’s because it is. Things we considered normal just two years ago now seem unreal. As a nation, we’re a bit staggered, a little off-kilter and sort of frozen in the moment.

As for the pandemic now controlling our lives, it’ll recede. May take a year, maybe two or three. But, we’ll get on top of it. Whatever the disaster, we’ve always found a way.

Hang in there. Try to keep your balance.