A short history lesson on supporting the troops.

June 26th, 2008 by John Morris

Our nation’s history is littered with examples of returning Vets not getting adequate care or even promised bonuses. The list includes Veterans from all wars from the Revolution to Iraq.  One shining bad example is the WWI generation. They were promised a bonus payable in 1945. No one counted on the Great Depression to create the havoc it did. Many lost everything and were looking for an advance from the government who first said yes but finally said no. What transpired was a dark moment for our nation.

Veterans from all over the land congregated in the Anacostia Flats near Washington, DC during the Spring and Summer of 1932.  Their rickety shack communities were called “Hooverville” named to embarrass the current President. They called themselves, “The Bonus Army, Bonus March or Bonus Expeditionary Force. Thousands came with everything they owned simply because they had no where else to go. They sought an advance on their bonuses from Congress.

When the government decided it wanted no more of these trouble-makers, the active duty troops were brought in to dispatch them. The order of the day was to contain them where they were. Douglas McArthur decided the assembled Veterans were being led by Communists and pressed the issue. The Calvary lined up and pressed forward. To establish how serious they were, the Army used gas bombs. The quatters were driven from the island as their shacks burned. 

During these times, our nation’s leaders wanted this problem to go away. Either that or they asked the usual question, “What have you done for me lately?”

To live a simple life

June 25th, 2008 by John Morris

Living my life simply lessen the chances of forgetting where my possessions are. I joke I like being married because I can count on my wife to find my keys.

Keeping life simple means passing on wine snobbery by drinking full bodied reds. Beer is just as simple. I’ll drink whatever you have except for light beers. If I’m going to sin, I want the full experience. My hot drink is any variety of tea.

I dine at upper scale Asian eateries, but I’m always looking for that ratty dive where I’m the only westerner.

My sales job requires a larger wardrobe that I’ll shed when I retire. Then I’ll find my look and throw away three articles for every newly added one.

My haircut is #6 clippers both on top and sides. It’s shampoo, towel dry, quick brushing, and I’m off. I thank God I still have most of my hair.

I’m stockpiling shoes because my company give me a new pair every year. I’ll have 20 years worth of them when I retire. This hoarding of footwear appeals to my parsimonious side, and I can pass it off as retirement planning.

I am a long way from living a truly simple life.

It is a goal worth pursuing.

A quarter of a quarter

June 25th, 2008 by John Morris

English, like all languages, is far from perfect and can be confusing. The same word can have different meanings.  Take the word “minute”. It can mean either sixty seconds or a teenie-weenie whatever. My daughter pointed out that the correct meaning is dictated by the remaining sentence. Sharp girl that daughter of mine.

The following is food for thought.

What is a quarter of a quarter?

Monetary answer = $0.0625

Math answer = 1/16

Sports answers: Football = 3.75 minutes or Basketball = 3 minutes

Got more? Jump in and make similar observations about our language even if you rarely think about it complexities.

This blog is dedicated to George Carlin, comedian who looked differently at our mother tongue to find ways to make us laugh.

Good ol’ friends

June 21st, 2008 by John Morris

They are the best friends. I like the ones who are low maintenance. They are there whenever you need them , and the time apart from them vanishes when together. We don’t miss a beat.

Last night, I met with two old buddies. One is a fellow Vet from my chapter, and the other promotes Veteran programs for the local college. He does all he does with a fervor of a man on a mission despite having not served. His contribution is highly valued by our local Veteran community.

It was a simple outing. We had dinner at a distant Vietnamese restaurant. The food – while truly great – was not the focus. It was the conversation. We spoke of small matters and got caught up on each others situations. We laughed, related and passed around compliments like the crispy duck entree.

Guys in their 60s still can dream and still can contribute. We also benefit from the self-effacing manner that comes with enhanced maturity.

No matter what your age is; call some friends and get together. Play chess, split a bottle of wine or just play cards. If there’s a friend you’ve been thinking about a lot lately, call them soon. You’ll enjoy the journey.

Life is brief and time is a thief. *

* “Young Turks” by Rod Stewart

It’s what we Dads do.

June 13th, 2008 by John Morris

On the billboard are two men. The one aged in his late 20s is in a wheelchair and being pushed by an older man dressed as a runner. The headline reads, “His father’s been behind him for 37 marathons.”

This is what we Dads do. Our favorite element is when we share in our children’s elements. 

It’s the Daddy who lives to chase away the monsters in closets. It’s Dads who remember their misspent youths and stay calm when teenage transgressions visit. It’s usually the Dads who drive to the rescue when jumper cables or toilet plungers are needed.

Signing on as a Dad is a lifetime commitment, and life will grant numerous ways to make the adventure worthwhile. I’m glad life gave me the chance to be a Dad to my children.

No way to greet the day

June 7th, 2008 by John Morris

Many dog owners walk their pets down my one way street. They usually behave themselves and control their dogs. It really takes just one to spoil it for the many.

This morning, I discovered a sizable”doggie deposit” on my sidewalk. Some poor unfortunate – I hope it was the owner -  stepped in it both flattening and spreading the damage further.

I knew I’d pick it up, but I wanted a way to alert dog owners to be more respectful of my property. I especially wanted to embarrass the one.

Tonight, I placed the feces in a large, plastic bag and wrote on it, “BAD DOG! WORSE OWNER!  I suspended it from the front fence for all to see.

Maybe karma will strike the offender as he/she passes by and they’ll take it with them.

 Update: the bag stayed up for two days, and I threw it away.


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.