My retirement plans

July 22nd, 2008 by John Morris

1. Grow a stubble only beard

2. Stop working long enough for the desire to work returns again

3. Make headway on the “honey-do” list

4. Learn what it really is that retired people do

5. Actually doing tai chi instead of thinking about it

6. Add more comments and never finish this list

The circle of life is not for the weak

July 21st, 2008 by John Morris

As my young co-worker and I were leaving the restaurant this day, he said he’d wait while I used the men’s room. I reminded him that this is the same direction I once gave my kids whenever we left anywhere. Now I am at the age where I’m the one who must detank so the journey will not be interrupted.

My co-worker laughed, and said he’d be there some day.

Ah, the circle of life is waiting for all of us.

“Do not go gently into that good night…Rage, rage against the dying of the light”

July 19th, 2008 by John Morris

This is a quote from a Dylan Thomas’ poem. He lectured us to use a warrior’s resistance when facing our own aging and eventual death. Thomas knew something about dying since he was trying to find his by drinking.

Being old and in nursing care is a subject I know far too well. My Mom has been there for over five years due to Alzheimer’s. The financial burden exhausted her assets in about three years. The emotional strain was harsh on the entire family, but she faced her sentence alone and with a decreasing ability to understand.

Today, Mom lives in a world apart from our reality. From our perspective, she just appears sleepy. To keep her alert, we call out her name and speak in sentences better suited to babies. If she reacts, it makes us feel happy because we believe the haze has been lifted.

From her dark perception, we probably look unfocused and sound like we’re speaking with mouths full of marbles. Few things makes any sense to her because she no longer can reason. Her usual response is usually a mismatch for the situation.

Alzheimer’s Disease ravages the victim, the family and the society handling each level of decline. I pray that more people are spared from this curse for their sake and their family’s.

Body shots???

July 15th, 2008 by John Morris

My job has a great preq; I get to hang out with younger people. Take today’s lunch. A co-worker and I met two of our customers at the Tilted Kilt, Mt. Joy, PA. My lunch buddies are in their 30s and the waitress in her mid 20s. We were going through the usual early ordering process when one of my customers joked about getting a “body shot”.

After the waitress left, I asked what this body shot thing is. They laughed the laugh of people who knew they had a live one. They said to ask the waitress for details. They were being playful with me.

When she returned with our drinks, I asked. This young gal was a gifted flirt. She deftly explained the tequila body shot to me, all the while, staying on the side of decorum. As she explained, salt is sprinkled on the female’s upper chest area; the lemon is handheld and – get this – the shot glass of tequila is wedged in her cleavage. I imagine the method of drinking the alcohol is left to the creativeness of the players. I assure you a straw is not standard issue here.

During the lesson, I’m sure my edges were red with embarrassment. I sure my lunch mates enjoyed watching me squirm a little. 

They asked me if I wanted to give it a try. I said, “Only until I die!” *

Learning something new is a worthy goal for any day. Today, I not only learned what a body shot is but also that I haven’t been in the party scene for a long time.

* No, I didn’t.

Is there a wrong way to blog?

July 14th, 2008 by John Morris

I watch and wonder when someone I don’t know reads one of these blogs. That’s a real wow for me. With all that’s going on and given how busy we all are, someone finds my humble writings and reads them. How can I thank them enough?

The question I struggle with is, “Is there a wrong way to blog?” I think I’ll find my answer by reading others’ blogs and by measuring the span. Afterwards, I feel free to write about any old thing I either find interesting or worthy of reporting.

Adjusting to age

July 12th, 2008 by John Morris

It’s difficult to make adjustment to aging especially for the male of the species. Inside this shell of my former self resides the myth I still can do what I did decades ago.

My current “honey do” notch is revamping our bathroom. This means ceiling to floor and back up again. I easily plowed through the destruction phase. Hanging the new drywall took its toll, but I soldiered on.

The spackling stage introduced me to the man I am today.  I started out thinking I had both the talent and disposition, but later learned I didn’t have the stuff to get it done. Fortunately I remembered a long ago contact to call to finish the part of the drywall project I could not. This was a paradigm shift in my McMacho world. Asking another man to finish a project is counter-intuitive to my male ego. The tipping point was when I realized I was doing the work because I wanted it done correctly, and my efforts were falling short.

 This weekend I discovered that my optimum time frame for work is about one hour. After that, my energy starts to drop, and my attention to detail along with it.

 What have I learned? I can’t work like I once did and maybe I never could. It’s best to learn and understand my limitations and work within them.

This way the bathroom, and all subsequent projects, will be done properly. I just need to accept my role as general contractor. pace myself and delegate, when necessary.

Is there anything wine can’t do?

July 10th, 2008 by John Morris

My wife told me about a Good Morning America story about how artificial sweeteners cause trouble for diabetics. Ouch, no more Crystal Light or Coke Zero for this ol’ boy.

However, the same report gave some hope: two glasses of wine a day is beneficial. Since I like a good dry red, I jumped on this news with both feet.

My drink list is quite limited: water, tea and now wine. Other liquids, like beer, are okay in small and controlled portions. Coffee is out because it gives me fits.

I’ll try this new daily regiment of daily wine and see if my blood sugar number stays in line.

I hope it does. At least, I’ll enjoy the trip.

I prefer John

July 7th, 2008 by John Morris

My first real job was in nearby West Chester, PA. My father made this opportunity happen since he was somewhat of an icon in this college community. If the subject was photography, the man to see was Johnny Morris.

To work in the same borough, I would need to find another name to identify myself. After a brief chat with my Dad, I selected “John”. The other choices all referred to me in the diminutive. At the mature age of 17, I wanted to leave behind cutesy names. So John it was – with my father’s blessings, of course.

The Army made it easy since we called each other by our last names. To most, I was “Morris”.

During my stay at Fort Riley, Kansas, I had closer  friends than I found elsewhere. These friends I called “The Georgia Giant”, “Big Al” and “Leif”. My handle to them was “JJ” which was short for John Joseph.

When someone calls me Mister Morris, I ask them to call me John. To me, Mister Morris is my son, Adam. Not clear on that, check it out-

The first time I remember using this name for my son was at a Homecoming Parade at West Chester University. Adam was a student there and helped my Veterans chapter make a connection with the Students Studies Activity department. We were granted the high honor of leading the parade.

My chapter’s color guard had assembled at the staging area when Adam and I met up with them. To introduce my son to my friends, I said, “My name is John.” Laying a hand on my son’s shoulder, I said “This is Mister Morris”. My friend took my lead and treated Adam to the respect an adult is entitled.

This moment meant a lot to me. Johnny Morris would have approved, too.

Saturday in the park,

July 6th, 2008 by John Morris

And every day’s the 4th of July.

My McWorld is Downingtown, PA. It’s where I was raised and where my wife and I raised our children. When asked if I’ve lived here all my life, I answer, “Not yet!”

It’s the way I feel about my borough.

What makes it special above others? It’s surely my perception.

This is a community where, every Independence Day, its major park is the center of an old fashioned festival called Good Neighbor Day. Thousands flock there for once-a-year notches we townies make sure get on our belts.

This is a community where, every Memorial Day, the local Veteran posts stage a patriotic parade. This parade ends at the same park and a rememberance ceremony is held at the foot of a 30 foot by 60 foot “Flags across America” flag.

This is a community where four citizens, who dream boldly about building a Veterans memorial, can find the fertile ground for its realization.

If you think your community is as special or even more so, I’m glad for you. In our transient world, it’s good to have a place to call home.

It’s great when you think it’s a world class place to live, work, raise children and retire.

A rough row to hoe

July 3rd, 2008 by John Morris

As a Vietnam Veteran, I play attention to how my demographic is treated. Let’s start with the Presidential campaigns.

The first baby boomer to get dissed ascending the political ladder was Dan Quayle. This poor guy was forced to defend his time served in the Reserves. His rival’s pit bulls tried to make this seem like he found a soft place to land using Daddy’s money and influence. This level of rough treatment wasn’t deserved nor appropriate. Why do I defend him? I would have taken his path if offered.

Next boomer to get hammered was Al Gore, the forgotten Vietnam Veteran. Gore’s job with the Army was to do field work for a magazine for five months. He got his ticket punched doing a cushy job designed to keep him out of harm’s way. I was offended by the back biting because Gore’s service was similar to my mine.

I watched with mixed emotions as John Kerry was “swiftboated”. I didn’t want Kerry to be the President, but I started wondering why Vietnam Veterans need to defend their services. I’ll leave his example alone since there is no end to the controversy surrounding it.

Now we get to today. It would seem a Vietnam Veteran with John McCain’s credentials would not have his service questioned, but it is. The new way to rake a little muck your opponent’s way is to let some underling do your dirty work and then decry the action. check it out:

The damage is done; the operative becomes cannon fodder, and the candidate can get off looking like an evolved being. This is a small reason why I hate politics.

I – and many other Veterans – will be watching the fur flying during the election. I hope both candidates will show us strengths allowing voters to make both informed and confident decisions. I’d rather not weave through the distractions of innuendo and vote for the lesser of two evils.


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.