Are We Old Yet?

Seeing 65 years of age in the rearview mirror, I’m noticing changes in my physical and mental capacities. That is a painful thing to say, much less to post to the world, but it is true. It has been my experience that to cope with any problem, one must first identify the problem. Then, one must accept and own the problem. Once the problem is identified, it is possible to look for and implement a solution.

In my experience, the mental issues are most commonly mentioned: a decline in the ability to focus and short-term memory. The focus issue affects me most when I read a text or email. I tend to read them like newspaper articles. Remember them? I read the subject and first line. If there is nothing of interest, I stop reading. Well, I have been burned a couple times because some friends and colleagues put the important points, like upcoming meetings, in the second paragraph or later. Fortunately, the mental issues have NOT affected my ability to write.

Physically, I have been a mess all my life. I wasn’t athletic in school. I dislocated my shoulder in a crazy skiing accident in my 20s. (It happened on the bunny hill, but the slope was very icy.) I didn’t realize until I was 40 that the bunny hill accident also messed up my neck significantly.

Then, when I was about 50, I took a fall off my daughter’s very tall Rhinelander horse. It wasn’t as dramatic as the picture, but I landed hard on my left hip and back, knocking the air out of me. The resulting bruises greatly impressed the doctor and nurse. That ultimately led to a hip replacement at 65.

Thank God for the skilled surgeons who replaced my hip and repaired my neck. The neck surgeon said my spinal compression was the worst he had seen in his 30 years of surgery. Again, I thank God that He kept me from being paralyzed. Oh, and I failed to mention the bleeding ulcer that came from stress at work.

I could have avoided these problems had I been stronger physically, emotionally, and spiritually throughout my life. Better control on the ski hill (and some much-needed lessons), and stronger leg muscles to keep me on the horse would have prevented much subsequent pain. More trust in God that He was in control of my work situation.

But that’s how we learn, isn’t it? We learn from our mistakes and evaluate our accidents. I suppose I could write a dozen articles on my mental, emotional, and spiritual growth. Today, I wish to share the things I have tried for my physical growth.

As you might imagine from my history, I haven’t been very successful in improving my strength. I did have a period where I exercised at a local gym about three times a week while unemployed. It helped me considerably and I saw improvement in my physical and emotional health. When I started working again I stopped going to the gym.

The saddest thing is that I had a treadmill at home and didn’t use it.

Adults practicing tai chi in park.

I am trying once again. This time I’m taking a class in beginner’s Tai Chi. I tried Tai Chi through a video course, but there were aspects of the movements that didn’t click with me. My instructor is very sensitive to our physical limitations in class. He is slow and deliberate and it’s going much better this time.

My goal is to diligently practice at home and to advance past the beginner class. The wonderful advantage of Tai Chi is that it is a whole-body workout that is slow and gentle on the body. As the movements are slow and carefully guided, it is a mental exercise as well. Yet, because of the slow movement, it is a challenge to the muscles, especially the thigh muscles. I see it as a cross between isometrics and aerobics.

Best of all, Tai Chi can be practiced anywhere, indoors and out. While ballroom dancing on the grass or a carpet just doesn’t work, you can do Tai Chi.

I will keep you informed on my progress. Please share your experiences. I need encouragement to continue practicing and improving over time. I hope to have another 20 years to perfect my Tai Chi.

I’m Sorry

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

While the words I Love You may be the most important words in a relationship, the words I’m Sorry may be the most used. I just used the words this evening when I said to my dog, “I’m Sorry, but I have to clip your toe nails.” While I was not sorrowful that I had to clip my dog’s toe nails, many sorrows re coupled with “I’m sorry.”

Photo by Vie Studio on Pexels.com

Here are some other quotes from kidadl.com:

  • “I’m sorry I was awful.” – Iris Murdoch
  • “I am sorry for what has happened…” – Susan Smith
  • “I am sorry to upset my colleagues…” – Kenneth Clarke
  • “I am sorry that I have had to leave so many problems unsolved.” – Bertrand Russell
  • “I’m sorry that I made you cry.” – John Lennon, ‘Jealous Guy’
  • “Chocolate says ‘I’m sorry’ so much better than words.” – Rachel Vincent

Of course there are the sarcastic statements also:

  • I’m sorry you’re such a jerk.
  • I’m sorry you couldn’t find a blouse to match that skirt.
  • I’m sorry you had such difficulty with your hair this morning.
  • I’m sorry that tie jumped out of the closet and choked you this morning.
  • I’m sorry I got caught.

In many respects it is easy to say, “I’m sorry.” It can be a way to pass the buck or point a finger. But it seldom gets to the root of the problem. What happened that you are sorry? Was it an accident? Did you act on poor advice? Was the pain inflicted… intentionally?

It seems I have said, “I’m sorry” so many times in my professional career. And most of the time it was the result of forgetfulness, laziness, or fear. When I admitted to an operational error, I would likely say, “You are correct, I did…”. The “I’m sorry” was more of an excuse while “I did…” was the deep recognition and admission of my error.

The British Library is licensed under CC-CC0 1.0

So, today I will avoid saying, “I’m sorry I have been absent from writing on this blog.” Instead I will say, “You are correct, I have neglected bringing you new and interesting thoughts.” I won’t talk about life and how it gets in the way of what we want to do. I won’t say, “I’ve been too busy to write.” I won’t even say, “My children and the grand-kids are coming to visit in 3 weeks and the house is a mess.” Each of our days is constructed by the choices we make. I chose to not write. I chose to do other things.

Looking ahead, I realize there may be some lag in the regularity posts. This isn’t a job, it’s a passion. But, looking back on my life, I can’t say I have been truly passionate about much. Reality check: I want this to be a passion because I think I have important, useful, and fun things to share with you.

Recognizing I am now in ramble mode, I will bid you adieu. I have another post nearly ready for you and will strive to have it to you by the weekend. I appreciate each of you and hope you will continue to enjoy this blog and share it with your friends.

Labor Day

Greetings readers. I am so happy to see new readers finding the blog. Thank you for taking a look, and thank you to those who have passed it along to friends.

Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

This is a short post to wish everyone a pleasant and safe Labor Day weekend. My mind always goes to the Star Trek economy where work and money are no longer essential, but each individual contributes to society as they reveal their gifts. We are, of course, not there, and frankly, may never get there.

Regardless of what you must do to earn money, I applaud you for the effort. Societies are built upon the labor, dedication, forethought, risk taking and perseverance of their citizens. So, thank someone you meet this weekend. They have contributed in some way just as you have. They should be honored.

And a special thanks to all who serve society as care givers, first responders, defenders of our freedom, and officers of the peace. Also, gratitude to our public servants, teachers, and religious leaders. These are difficult jobs from which we benefit greatly.

Each of you contributes in some way. There are no small contributions when we work to benefit one another.

Finally, I almost ready to post World Religions – Christianity. As with the previous posts, I am doing my best to provide accurate information in a caring and sensitive manner. I hope you all benefit in some way by these posts. Please let me know how these post influence your lives in the comments below.

Thanks!

How Was Your Summer?

Or, hopefully, how is your summer (still) going? I trust it has been enjoyable, at least from time to time. Here in South Carolina, it has been HOT! But along with the heat were afternoons of rain and thunderstorms. That meant you either did outdoor activities first thing in the morning, or not at all.

You have likely experienced a hot summer as well if you live in the western part of the USA. Likewise, Europe has experienced excessive temperatures. But I am not going to be talking about Global Warming. I don’t disagree with the data that says we are in a warming period. I won’t even say that it won’t get worse. I want to go back to the late 1970’s and relive the fear of a new Global Ice Age.

I would not be surprised if younger readers are blinking their eyes and scratching their heads. Here’s the story. The recorded temperatures from 1940 to 1970 showed an average decline in temperatures as seen to the right. Never mind that the temperatures were rising from 1890 to 1940. So, by the mid-70’s, the expectation of an imminent global ice age was being publicized

This was not because the preponderance of scientific studies and papers agreed with the global freeze postulation. Rather, it was a good way to sell magazines.

Look at these cover pages:

Time Magazine Covers

I counted five covers from Time alone on Google images. Even as late as 2004, Discover ran an article entitled “A New Ice Age, Could Global Warming Trigger a Big Freeze?

By Skeptical Science; Based on data published in Peterson, Thomas C., William M. Connolley, and John Fleck. “The myth of the 1970s global cooling scientific consensus.” Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society 89.9 (2008): 1325-1337. – http://www.skepticalscience.com/graphics.php, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=22915488

So, what happened? The global freeze proponents believed that the use of products that put microscopic particles into the air would reduce the sun’s energy reaching earth. Think of it as a very fine haze.

The global warming people looked at carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions and expected a green house effect to warm the planet. And the current climate data indicates we are well on our way to higher and higher temperatures.

So, how can any scientist in 2004 say we are heading for a mini ice age? From the May 22, 2004 edition of Discover Magazine, this article by Brad Lemley says,

“Such frigid settings were commonplace during a period dating roughly from 1300 to 1850 because much of North America and Europe was in the throes of a little ice age. And now there is mounting evidence that the chill could return. A growing number of scientists—including many here at Curry’s base of operations, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution on Cape Cod in Massachusetts—believes conditions are ripe for another prolonged cool-down, or small ice age.


“While no one is predicting a brutal ice sheet like the one that covered the Northern Hemisphere with glaciers about 12,000 years ago, the next cooling trend
could drop average temperatures 5 degrees Fahrenheit over much of the United States and 10 degrees in the Northeast, northern Europe, and northern Asia.
“It could happen in 10 years,” says Terrence Joyce, who chairs the Woods Hole Physical Oceanography Department. “Once it does, it can take hundreds of
years to reverse.” Recall the coldest winters in the Northeast, like those of 1936 and 1978, and then imagine recurring winters that are even colder, and you’ll have an idea of what this would be like” [link]

Compare a drop of 5 – 10 degrees Fahrenheit to the 1.8 degree Fahrenheit (1 degree Celsius) rise shown in the graph to the left. I remember the winters in Wisconsin and Illinois in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s including one snow storm that literally covered over the top of cars on the streets. It took three days to open the major roads. I also remember waiting for the school bus when the wind chill was minus 40. Yes, layering helped a lot. But trust me, I moved to South Carolina so I wouldn’t have to encounter those conditions again.

The researchers who wrote the 2004 article were basing their prediction on the Arctic ice melt that would inhibit the flow of warm gulf waters and therefore allow North America and Europe to cool down. What they predict will happen in the Atlantic ocean would also occur in the Pacific.

So why am I even mentioning this stuff? Truly I am NOT trying to spark fear in your hearts. Could what they predict happen? Yes, it could, but they could also be completely wrong like the 1970’s scare was. That scare was not based on global warming leading to cooling. But it got a lot of press and sold a lot of magazines.

This is why I mention this stuff. Simply to show you that what you see and hear on a daily basis is primarily to get you worried and hooked. If you stay tuned, the advertising dollars go up. Why is there so much bad news seen today? Simply because the news moguls have learned that fear, worry and disgust keep viewers, readers and listeners engaged. Think about it. When a disaster happens, how many hours of the same video clips do you watch?

Bottom line: there is plenty to worry about in your day to day lives. Don’t worry about things that are completely beyond your control. Having said that, I conserve electricity and drive a fuel efficient vehicle to do my part. But I don’t stay up at night wondering if I will survive the heat of tomorrow. I will learn to adapt.

“So don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

Matthew 6:34

Do you remember the global freeze scare? Do you have a weather story you would like to share? I would love to read your comments.

To Do – Update

I removed “Sort Papers” from my To Do list. While the table with the Pyrex Bread Baking Tubes still has stuff on it, the papers have all been sorted into file folders.

In addition, I paged through and threw out a stack of magazines about two feet high. I feel terrific and want to thank all of you for my success. There is something to be said about sharing our struggles with others. It’s called accountability. While accountability should provide encouragement and feedback, the mere act of taking a risk and sharing a struggle can help.

So, once again, thank you all!

BTW, World Religions – Islam will be posted this weekend.

Comfort Zone

What’s your comfort zone? I thought about this when I was doing some work inside the house and I realized I was sweating. I went to the thermostat and knocked it down a degree. This engages the heat pump and the circulating air is cooler than normal.

I have learned that in our situation, running the air handler fan 24/7 is a great benefit. The amount of electricity used is negligible compared to running the heat pump you have airflow which helps evaporate any sweat on the body, and the temperature in the house is much more constant.

Here in mid-South Carolina, we keep the temperature set at 74 in the summer and 68 in the winter. When we lived in Wisconsin, the winter temperature setting was more like 65 degrees in winter to reduce energy costs.

I have been amazed by temperature for many years. First, we live about 294 degrees Fahrenheit above the coldest possible temperature, Absolute Zero. This is the temperature where the movement of atoms stops. I have heard that it is a crazy world down there, but I digress.

Working our way up from 70F, we humans begin to get uncomfortable at 100F give or take. Lower if the air is humid, preventing our sweat from evaporating, and higher if the air is dry. The early astronaut candidates were tested in heat chambers to see what a human can withstand. The story is that a tray of cookies was placed in the chamber at the beginning of the experiment and the baked cookies were removed when done. We are tough creatures… for a while. I wouldn’t want to be in a cold chamber while making ice cream though.

On the cold side, I start to shiver at about 50F when wearing shorts and a T-shirt. So my comfort zone is from 50-100 degrees Fahrenheit. The comfort zone of the sun is about 2-4 Million degrees, so no vacations there.

But what about your other comfort zones? How big is your personal bubble? You know what I mean, some people, especially those from foreign cultures, have a much smaller personal bubble and get a bit too close when talking to you. Of course, an angry person may get in your face knowing that the closeness will make you uncomfortable.

How about your spiritual comfort zone? I am aware that many people reject the concept of a spirit world. A quick search shows less than half of Americans believe in ghosts and spirits. But for those of you that do, do you feel imposed upon by the spirit world? Are these bad spirits, a.k.a. demons? Are they good spirits, a.k.a. angels? Do you have a spiritual comfort zone?

A comfort zone that I have struggled with over the years is the exercise comfort zone. As a youngster, I hated structured exercise. On the other hand, I rode my bike everywhere and wandered through fields (back when an abundance of open fields existed in suburbia) for hours. I’m better now and realize how important regular exercise is.

OK, it’s time to be brave and write a comment down below. What are the comfort zones that you are touchy about? Maybe you live in Hawaii and you have a molten lava comfort zone. (Yes, I just made that up.) Maybe comfort zones are tied to phobias.

Next time… details on my growing of yeast. I’m still working on Islam.

Weekend to Remember

Hello friends. If you are married or hope to be, you probably recognize that the marriage license doesn’t come with a user’s manual. There are countless books available on the art of marriage. A quick search of Amazon claims over 70,000 results. So how does one stand a chance to choose a book that will meet your needs and help you develop a strong, lasting marriage?

Truth is, you will probably read through dozens of books and then become discouraged.

My wife, Kris, and I attended a marriage retreat this weekend that I can wholeheartedly recommend. It has been created by Family Life. Their Weekend to Remember has been presented for decades. The event begins on a Friday night, continues Saturday until 4:00, and finishes Sunday at noon. Saturday night is purposely left free to provide a “date night” for each couple. In our opinion, the second time through was much more meaningful than the first.

Don’t get me wrong, we learned a lot and grew stronger in our marriage after that first weekend. But the second time through the material was so much more meaningful. Full confession, I was feeling pretty low on the “happily married” scale when I attended the first weekend. That “depression” allowed me to only take in the most fundamental information I needed for change to begin.

The speakers mention very early Friday night that each of us may be thinking, “I sure hope my spouse is listening today.” Truth is I needed to say to myself, “I sure hope I am listing today.” Both parties need to be involved in a change for the better. If not, there will likely be a change for the worse.

The program is Bible-centered. As they say, the Bible is our “user manual for life” in general. And much is said about healthy and unhealthy marriage relationships. Whether you have a God-centered life or not, the principles hold and are time-tested.

I will end with a quote from a wife, married 10 years, who attends the Weekend to Remember each year with her husband.

It’s a time to refresh, a time to regroup, and a time to remember why we got married. It’s easy for us to forget what our marriage looks like through the year, but we come here each year because we owe [it] to God, ourselves, and our children’s lives.

https://www.familylife.com/weekend-to-remember/alumni/

Enjoying Spring?

Greetings all. I hope you are having a good Spring so far. I realize that some of you are in more Northern climes where spring is often a surprise. My childhood home was in a northwest suburb of Milwaukee, WI. I clearly remember running outside in shorts and a T-shirt because we had a 50-degree day. Notice I said “a” 50-degree day. And, of course, summer is a week in August.

I am now in South Carolina. Instead of waiting for June to plant, I am blessed to plant in April. Today, I bought a flat of baby vegetable plants. Just the basics: tomatoes (a couple varieties), peppers (green and sweet banana), Zucchini, and Yellow Crookneck squash.

None of the patio pots that were used last year had been cleaned out, so now the motivation was sitting at my feet. Let’s get some new homes ready for you babies. Out comes the gardening tool kit. My tool of choice is shown to the left. After an extensive search, including a reverse image search, I could not find the name of it. The best name I can give it is a short handle potato rake. But it has always been the tool of choice for cleaning out old roots.

As I pulled the last large pot towards me, I noticed it didn’t look like the others. The soil was mounded up on one lip of the pot. The only growth of weeds in the pot was near the opposite lip. Hmm, fire ants. The nemesis of the south. Since 1930 when the red fire ant was imported in the cargo of ships from South America, they have been the bane of every gardener and picnicker down here. I truly hope none of you have found yourself like the picture here.

So what to do? I carefully used my short handle potato rake to get the living plants out of the pot. I then realized how stupid I was and put work gloves on. Carefully, I began to work the soil around and under the ant hill. The looser the soil became, the more agitated the ants became. It did not take long before it was clear I should leave well enough alone and move on. A battle strategy can be considered later.

There were still several planters to attend to, but they had good, live plants in them. Last spring, I was fortunate to obtain a number of Blueberry plants along with a few thorn-less Blackberries and Muscadine grapes. The Blueberry plants were put in rows behind my big garden. (It is in horrible disrepair.) Perhaps 20% of the Blueberry plants survived the winter and will be transplanted soon, I hope.

The Blackberries and grapes had grown out of control last year and left meter-long runners that resulted in an intertangled mess. I have little pruning experience but my pear tree can attest that pruning encourages new and denser growth. I carefully decided to leave at least two new buds on each stem and then… snip, snip. Time will tell if I was right.

I hope in some small way your spring, whether it has started for you yet or not, will be productive and safe. But most of all, I hope it is fun. Enjoy the changing seasons and consider whether all the beauty around you, coming and going year after year, came to be what it is by accident.

Oh, and what is that short handle potato rake really called?