I have 63 and want 63 more.

November 29th, 2008 by John Morris

Today is the 63rd anniversary of my birth. No need to stop the presses about this news. All celebrations will be with family and close friends. My mission is to be gracious and erudite.

I’ll trot out my good stuff.

Here are my new definitions of good times:

  • When the thought behind gifts gives me my new wow moments.
  • When my wife’s or daughter’s gift is something they think is completely lame, but they get it for me anyway because they know I want it.
  • When good friends invite me to lunch at Chili’s and don’t sic the waitstaff on me with choruses of some weak corporate birthday greeting.
  • When I realize another year has cycled to completion, and a new one starts fresh.
  • When I sit back and smile with the satisfaction about my life so far.
  • When I get excited wondering what the second half of my life will bring.

I ♥ Thanksgiving

November 28th, 2008 by John Morris

There’s a lot to love about Thanksgiving. Families sit down together for a grand meal. There is no list of gifts to buy. It starts the year end celebration – you can call it what you want. Retail businesses expect to get well soon. A good portion of the work force gets a two day holiday with a week end backup. It’s a quintessential American holiday.

As in most things American, we love to tinker with it. Some families plan their yearly Black Friday shopping. They queue up on lawn chairs at the nearby shopping haven after the last football game. This is a creative merging of commerce and family bonding.

It’s also one day of the year when a lot of good Americans volunteer to help feed other Americans. Again, we show we’re always there when needed. 

Through it all, I believe we’ve kept Thanksgiving’s true meaning.

I see a lot to be thankful about, and I’ve listed them above.

“Passion is energy. Feel the power that comes from focusing on what excites you.” Oprah Winfrey

November 25th, 2008 by John Morris

Without warning or intention, I had two recent conversations where two people said they had no passion in their life.

The subject was about finding something meaningful during retirement. When vibrant people hang up their spurs, they feel a loss of purpose. My friends wanted to get back into life, but said they had no passion to follow.

At first, I felt saddened by this lack of passion in others lives. As I thought on it, I realized I too no longer had a passion driving me. When my committee completed the installation of our Veterans’ memorials, it marked the end of eight years of continual efforts. As we took our bows from a grateful community, I realized that an end had been reached. After the shouting, a void was felt.

Here’s my parting comment on this “no passion” thing. I can go on without a passion driving me. I’ve had them before, and they are hard taskmasters. I am grateful to have had them, and they’ve helped me achieve meaningful goals. I’ll reserve pity for someone who has never had one.

One day, a new passion will overtake me, and I’ll be off to the races again.

Circle of life stuff again

November 24th, 2008 by John Morris

I caught another one of those glad-to-have-lived-this-long-moments today.

It was an ad for a Nintendo programmed with cooking instructions. TV Mom was teaching her TV ten year old daughter how to cook Chinese food by listening to this electronic aid. Wow, what an innovation!

Since cave women showed their off-springs how to make a meal from the fruit of the hunt, women have learned cooking from Mom. The special way the family’s favorite meals were made was passed down. Later the daughter would teach her daughter. And so it would go.

Being a gadgeteer, I like this tool. My son, Adam and I say, “If you can do it, and it’s cool, you must do it because it’s cool.” This fits.

No need to rush out and buy this surrogate parenting aid, but if it brings you and your children together for a bonding moment, that’s wonderful. Today, it does matter if it’s the son or the daughter.

My times

November 21st, 2008 by John Morris

If asked if I could change when to be born, I would pick 33 days after my birth date of November 29. 1945. This would officially make me a baby boomer. I spent 40 years as one before some journalist decided to make the delineation starting with January 1, 1946. I like to have it back.

Truth is I am a war baby which is also fine. Being born when I was allowed me to live a lifetime in vastly different worlds. I wouldn’t want to live during any other time span.  And I’m excited to see what’s next.

I started out in the simplistic 50s. Phones had rotary dials back in those days, and they just made calls. Now look at what we call phones can do.

In my lifetime, I have seen nations fall and others rise. I’ve learned there is no such thing as “no way” – all things are possible - and the only thing constant is change.

Here’s a good way to mark the changes in your life. If you wear glasses, keep every pair you’ve ever own. At some point, put them in a glass faced display cabinet for them. Mark them with the years worn. I think you’ll enjoy the styling differences and how each pair, in some small way, defined you. Substitute wallets if you don’t wear glasses.

Life is to be lived. Embrace the changes and the challenges. Life will seem a bit more full.

Then when you’re in your sixties, you can get on to the latest communication innovation and type similar words.

Circle of life stuff.

Veterans day brings memories

November 9th, 2008 by John Morris

I attended a “Salute to Veterans” love-in in Rose Tree Park, Media. PA on November 9. Lots of the right stuff were there: classic cars, food, music and information.

My floppy, olive drab hat is off to the local restaurants providing free meals to Veterans on Veterans Day. It’s not a small gesture. It means a great deal to those who serve even if they don’t take advantage of the offer.

My tablemates and I found some humor in this offer. We said they had special menus for us to choose from including one of the old GI staples: C-rations styled ham & lima beans. This meal-in-a-can was usually the last to go from the case. It was so nasty the Vietnamese kids wouldn’t take it.

It was bad enough when served hot but was a gelatinous mess if you had to eat it cold. I never finished an entire can no matter how hungry I was.

Heating C-rations for me was not a problem. I had a big time radio rig and could tie a ventilated can to the antenna and key the transmitter key to micro-wave the food. About ten seconds was all I usually needed.

The vents were critical. One time, another operator tied a can of beans with no vents to his antenna. The can exploded sending the entire area into alert fearing an attack.

This was not the end of my co-worker’s dumbassery. The next day, he was lazy and just sort of swept the offending bean mess from the flat roof of his rig. The merciless Vietnamese sun took its toll and turned the remaining slime into a baked-on finish.

When he returned to the base camp, he spent a lot of his time off cleaning this awful mess.

I remember this incident often as I eat beans.

I am pleased I no longer need to find substance with a can of C-rations ham and lima beans.

To the victor, some good times.

November 8th, 2008 by John Morris

2008’s election is over with the Democrats winning the White House and making their positions stronger in the House and Senate. That old pendulum has swung back in their favor. Starting in 2009, they get control of government hot rod with the Republicans playing the role of brakes.

Between the election and inauguration is some sweet downtime. The major parties seem to use it differently.

The Democrats prefer joyous celebration. Their spirits are high and expectations run equally high.

1960: John Kennedy rode to victory on a wave of optimism. The nation looked forward to a bright young man was going to DC to reenergize the nation,

1976: Jimmy Carter’s surprising election was followed by a nation working hard to discover its Southern roots. Carter and his band of outsiders were going to shake things up in a way not seen in years.

1992: Bill Clinton’s election set off a whirlwind of expectations and spawned a new political power word: FOB (Friend of Bill). Our best and brightest were going to Washington to set things right.

By contrast, the Republicans use this time like warriors preparing for battle. All the right plans are made. All the right people get appointments. They believe they’ve been anointed to clean up the messes left by the outgoing Democrats. They hunger for the return to power but don’t take time out to really enjoy it.

The Democrats have it right. Winners should drink in the deep weight of the compliment paid to them by the American voters. There’s plenty of important work to be done, and it’ll take great energy to get them done.

Remembering these halcyon days from November to January may help them later.


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.