Sending away an old friend

April 30th, 2008 by John Morris

In early July, I will say goodbye to a old, beloved friend. The times we spent together were always fun even though we’ve spent less time with each other lately.

My old, beloved friend is my 1988 Honda Prelude SI. For over four years, my gifted mechanic and I kept this glorified skateboard going. But now, the repair costs don’t justify the little driving I do with the Honda every year. It will soon sink to such a state of disrepair it will be unsafe to drive.

I will miss its curve hugging four wheel steering. This car could parallel park in situations where only sideways could do it better. It rode like an ironing board, had no pickup after 60 MPH and challenged the old boy driving to get in and out. What it did for me was t0 awakened the thrill of driving I knew as a teenager.

The P’Lude will be missed but not just by me.

This was the vehicle my wife, Lyn bought for my daughter, Beth. This car stayed with Beth from college and through her first job. Beth’s move to her Chicago based job forced the discussion to leave it behind. I waited my turn to use it and took the first chance I got.

My favorite Honda story is about when we bought it. The selection process was not going well. We had checked out several likely prospects. The ones the parents liked; the daughter didn’t and vice versa. We looked for weeks, and Beth was getting frustrated with the buying process.

At the end of yet another long and frustrating day, we found ourselves at the local Honda dealer. Our price range severely limited the selection at this lot, but they did have some. This Prelude rose to the top of the list, and we wanted to see what deal awaited us in the foreboding sales office.

I steeled myself for the usual car purchasing round of insincerity. That’s where the customer gives the salesperson his idea of what it’ll take to ice the deal, and the salesperson ignores it. They then respond with their version why this car is perfect at the price on the window.

Something went wrong at this point. My Beth told me – in front of the salesperson – how much she wanted this car. I knew instinctively that I had no bartering position left. The salesperson made a mercy effort to see what he could do. He returned with the “good news” that the same car had just been listed on their website with a $100.00 coupon which he would apply to the price. The only other concession I got was the unfinished repairs would be completed.

Note to all Dads out there: It’s okay to car shop with your daughters. However, separate when the negotiations begin. If she goes in the sales room with you, the sharks will smell the blood of your helplessness.

Serendipitity is where you are.

April 25th, 2008 by John Morris

Today was ripe for a letdown. No important things to do at work; just plow through some scud work left behind by a hectic first four days.

On the way home, I’m stopped at a traffic light where the red light can last the playing of a Bob Dylan song. It was here, and at this moment, when I was struck by the vision ahead. A building’s terra-cotta bricks were the background with a  flowering reddish-purple tree framed in front. Sunshine hit the tree at an angle that gave it an other-worldly cast.

The scene was one of unexpected beauty especially since no artist could combined these two misfitted colors in a better way.

When the light became green, I realized how pleasurable my short wait was. Whatever my mind was dwelling on before the stop had vanished.

I drove away renewed by the magic created when life sends me a wake-up.

Politics in the street

April 19th, 2008 by John Morris

Standing at the corners of Prince Street, Lancaster, PA were politically jazzed volunteers waving signs hoping we’d, “Honk for Hilliary”. They tried hard, but no cars honked. I didn’t know what to make of it. From the news reports, Ms. Clinton shares a good portion of Democratic supporters. I wondered why no one was honking.

I reasoned it was early in the day for expressions of political support. Maybe no one wanted to go first. Maybe none of us wanted to “Honk for Hilliary” just now.

I thought about circling the block and honking. In this way, the hardest working politicos in Lancaster, PA would think they had support from passing motorists.

Nah! That would be cruel.

Update follows:

Two days later, this scenario repeated itself at a nearby shopping area. I was riding with friends and they remarked that there was sparse honking. However, each honk did sent the young sign-bearers into jubilation.

It is good to see young people getting involved with the election process.

Good for them.

More from the world’s oldest new Democrat

April 14th, 2008 by John Morris

In a past blog, I wrote about changing my voting registration from R to D at the advanced age of 62. Allow me to tell you about my first registration.

I decided to register to vote when I got over the idea it would bring jury duty. I was well past 21 and decided growing up is an ongoing process.

But which party to pick. Independent registration seemed like a cop-out. The remaining choices had systematically embarrassed themselves during local elections. Not a tempting array of choices.

My business partner was a card carrying, old school Republican. He long to run for some local office like borough councilman. He and his party cronies made fun of the other guys who, in all fairness, seemed to deserve their disdain. He was direct with me; become a D, and I’m lame. His subtle way of persuading me to join his party

As I sat at my desk with the registration form and stared at the menu of choices, I was struck by the thought that inked the deal. If I registered R, I could always hold my vote over my partner’s head when he ran for office.

That’s the reason I was a R for all this time.

Now that’s lame.

A view of a first time Democrat.

April 12th, 2008 by John Morris

It is strange for me that I am registered as a Democrat for the first time. I made this change not so much to a paradigm shift as to wanting to seize a moment in history.

I reasoned that I may miss my chance to vote against Hillary Clinton if I wait until the November elections. I want to do it during the PA primaries. For reasons I can not defend, this politician bothers me. However, this is not enough to flip me.

My core reason is I believe she and her hubby view the Presidency as owed to her. This level of hubris I can’t justify.

This time around is probably her best shot. If she misses out now and the next President serves for two full terms, she will be in her late 60s the next time. She will face the same questions then about her age that now dog John McCain.

A radio news pundit said 40,000 PA voters changed their registration to Democrat. It will be interesting to see how many of these voters did it for the same reasons I did.

The news shows on April 22 will tell the tale.

TV’s latest effect

April 12th, 2008 by John Morris

In the early 1950s, my home had no TV which was not unusual then.

When we moved to our new home, Mom & Dad were able to bring a TV in. It instantly became the social center of our home. We kids would watch the bulky black & white screen for hours. At first, it didn’t matter what we watched. The magic of watching TV was enough. The box brought us all together even if we just sat there and focused on the screen’s image.

Now I live in a home with four TVs: three with basic cable and one with Comcast. Of course, we have the full complement of other boxes, i. e., computers, DVD players. So many choices. Perhaps too many.

My wife likes to watch marathon versions of what I call reclamation shows: people and/or living spaces get updated. Maybe it’s a new wardrobe or redesigned bedroom or reorganized garage. She really enjoys these shows even though they are, to me, formatted and repetitive. I can either watch them with her or seek distraction elsewhere. Like watching one of the TV upstairs.

Maybe our relationship with the TV has gone 180 degrees. The entertainment box that once united us is now separating us.

So many choices. Perhaps too many.

Why so long doing a post?

April 6th, 2008 by John Morris

Much time passed between my last two posts due to a flu which, like all illnesses, sapped my creative energy. When I’m ill, I can write words and form thoughts, but they are not as cohesive as I like. Many times, my articles don’t make much sense.

Writing is its own reward. Its birth comes from a lifetime of experiences meeting the blank computer screen. The results are varying forms of creation and don’t have to be inspiring prose as long as the creator feels fulfilled.

Maybe I should lighten up on myself and post more often.

“May you live in interesting times.”

April 6th, 2008 by John Morris

We have cell phones, direct connect phones, email, instant messaging and other fill-in-the-blank technical devices. We can reach anyone, anytime, anywhere. It is a tribute to human creativity that we have also developed ways to ignore these summons.

Recently, I decided to reduce the volume of emails I get. Many unread – no, uninteresting – emails clogging my in-box were broadcast emails from friends. They were sending anything they get to everyone they know. The filtering process falls to the recipient. In self-defense, I delete all emails with “Fwd” in the heading. I know my communicative friend didn’t write these emails for me nor did their real creators. Time and again, I was not able to find enough merit in them to balance the time invested.

I’ve ask my friends to drop me from their broadcast lists. I did encourage them to write to me. I don’t mind if their messages are also sent to their other friends.  I think of this as rewarding the creation of a focused message meant for me to read. Those Christmas messages catching us up on their lives are examples.

I walk my talk by not sending friends emails I’ve received from others. I hope my emails are read so I don’t want them to get lost in a batch of other ones I’ve forwarded.

If you follow my lead, get ready! Asking to be removed from a broadcast email list is treated by some as an insult. I’ve not yet figured out why this is so. Perhaps you can weigh in on this subject. Do you broadcast emails every day? Do you get these emails every day? What do you do with them?

During the early years of computing, a programmer quit his job and left the following message taped to his desk, “I want to go somewhere where the shortest measurement of time is a season”. Buried in this message is the fact we can’t make, store or really save time. I’d rather use my computing time more productively.


The old boy writing this blog wears many hats: Vietnam Veteran, husband & father, salesman and techno-dude. After my service with the Army Security Agency, I operated a sign company for nineteen years, The sign industry changed after CAD/CAM machines made the task easy enough for the non-talented. I sold my company and never looked back.

Life has granted me a life partner better than I deserve. My wife, Lyn is a transplanted Kansas gal. Her bliss is teaching kindergarten and first grade.

I am the most proud of my children. My son, Adam lives an international life teaching English and living in Sozhou, China. He is married to one of life's truly lovely women, Yuri Kim. My daughter, Beth grew up in a small town and found her way in life means working and living in major cities like Chicago and New York. She and her life partner, Julie Sterling married in LaJolla, California in 2010.

I like getting the newest gadgets, but also I like to use things until they are useless, i.e., my last personal car was an 88 Honda Prelude Si.

I wrote a Vietnam Veteran newsletter for nine years. During this journey, I learned I like to write. It is a harmless exercise that rewards honest effort while tolerating failure gracefully. I been away from it for too long. My son gave me the blog, and it was a lifeline back to writing.

My best advice is to show the world what you can do but to accept only your opinion of who and what you are.

Update: In August 2008, my job became one of the half-million jobs that went away that month. I took the following year getting the home ready for my official retirement.

In October 2009, I took a part-time job as a saleman at the vaulted Maxwell's Hardware.

On November 29, 2011, I reached my 66th birthday, and I officially started Social Security. I intend to stay with Maxwell's as long as I can contribute.