Warning: political content follows.

March 28th, 2010 by John Morris

My son, Adam and I are facebooking about the relevance of a third political party. Sure, we both agree they exist, i.e, Green Party, Libertarian Party, etc. It’s their relative importance we explore.

Are they mostly gadflies or perhaps just mayflies*? There seems to be people ever ready to pump up their numbers in order to send Congress a message of displeasure.

Back in 1980, I was far from political. Reagan was trying to take the White House from Jimmy Carter. I didn’t like the politics of either man. Running also was a third party candidate named John Anderson. All he seemed to offer voters was the obvious: he was neither man.

Voting day came, and I went into the booth with no wiggle room left.  I voted for Anderson with the clear understanding I was wasting my vote. He had no chance at all.

Since this day, I’ve not missed an election or wasted my voting privilege a second time.

So here we are today. People calling themselves The Tea Bag Party seem to be the darling of the cable news shows. Either they’re honored or vilified but they makke news/ratings. This is sad.

I’m resolved that America is a two party nation: Conservatives and Liberals. By today’s standard, I don’t see another flavor sneaking in and winning elections.

However, I’ve also noticed elections are won and lost by the margin of votes of the nation’s undecideds. These are marginal members in both major political parties,   independants and third parties. Despite their small numbers, undecideds are courted by candidates, and this give them a whole lot of eleventh hour clout.

On further review, maybe the system works the way it is.

* mayflies live from a few hours to a few days. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayfly

Until you’re better paid.

March 26th, 2010 by John Morris

Is this any way to thank someone or say goodbye?  It was for my friend, Norman Piersol. It was his signature farewell, and he used it with panache.

Norm was as close to a Saint as any man I’ve met. When not selling life insurance, Norm was an ordinary citizen who did extraordinary volunteer work. While he was a Rotarian who was a mainstay on all their activities, it was with with the American Red Cross - www.redcrossblood.org/ - where his work reached sainthood. He was a tireless promoter who phoned a thousand of potential blood donors each month. His blood harvest kept the local blood banks stocked and save countless lives during the time Norm did his ministry. He was so good at getting folks to donate blood he was nicknamed, “Dracula” which he tolerated with little notice.

I don’t know who’s doing Norman’s work these days. I know the blood banks still need his level of dedication.

Norman Piersol sprinted away from anything approaching acclaim for what he did. When he was named “Downingtown’ s Good Neighbor of the Year”, his acceptance speech was all about his wife’s contributions. He steadfastly avoided taking credit for his good works. He once told me it was thanks enough to be able to do them.

I  spoke once with American Red Cross representative who said they couldn’t make an award big enough to thank Norman.  Then she said, “But you know how he is about such things. It’s not what moves him.”

Norman Piersol lived to be an old man. Even as his health failed, his resolve didn’t. When other men would have reflected on a life well lived, he was still chugging on.

He is a role model for all of the boomers thinking about coasting on their past accomplishments.

The Pusher Man

March 11th, 2010 by John Morris

Early in my employment at Maxwell’s Hardware, Tommy Trego told me to expect February to be a slow month with the exceptions of selling eggs. I flashed a confused look his way. He told me his church makes nearly 60,000 chocolate peanut butter eggs, and we sell a good number of them. His narrative included how customers stream in just to get them. I wonder how much was wishful thinking mixed with short term memory.

After the holidays, we set up two baskets of eggs by the cash registers, and I waited. Just like Tommy said, people came in just to buy eggs. Some went into stories about how they can’t pass by without stopping for them. Some guys used their wives as the fall gals for buying them. All too soon I saw through the denial; they were hooked on the eggs.

After a time, I began to feel like a pusher: Passing primo product for hard cash only. As the sale of eggs grounded on, I noticed the eggs actually got smaller. I sensed another parallel of the eggs with street drugs. Getting them hooked on the really good stuff and then cut the product so they’ll buy more.

Who could I ask about this egg downsizing ? One good source was Ann Trego, Tommy’s Mom who oversees the making of the eggs. She said the younger parishioners roll them for too long a time which compacts them in size. The eggs weigh the same but are more compressed.

I learned from my Maxwell’s employment and the Tregos that the egg making is a well designed dance. They are made to exact details and follow traditional procedures. Actually it all sounds quite effective.

It is a pleasure to sit back and observe an activity where all things run smoothly and in the end, a massive amount of work is accomplished well.

Tip of the hat to the Glenmoore Methodist Church. Your eggs rock and so do you.

Post script: Today is March 31, and there’s three day until Easter. We have the chocolate coconut eggs but are out of the chocolate peanut butter eggs and chocolate pretzels. People learn this and then look forlorn.

The final tally for Maxwell’s Hardware was over 7,000 eggs sold. This is a new company record.

“Miles to go before I sleep.” *

March 7th, 2010 by John Morris

The local TV news stations ran a story about a visiting Korean man who walked the snowy Philly streets wearing a hat, shorts and boots only. His explanation was he was inspired by the movie, “Bucket List”. Apparently walking in freezing weather as if it were July had worked its way onto his special list of things to do before he dies. Go figure people.

Most people are too young to be bothered with making such a list. Those of us who are long in the tooth and are hearing angel feathers may not have enough umph to pull it off. This leaves a small window to harvest the notches on our lives’ belts. I’d better get going.

Not in order of importance:

  1. be interviewed by a faux news show host, e.g., Stephen Colbert, Jon Steward. I’d love to expose a slow news day in this manner.
  2. finish my half-finished novel. I don’t care much if it’s published, but if it could be, that would make it
  4. be the healthiest man at my 50th high school class reunion in 2013. (trophy husbands don’t count)
  5. play a game of HORSE basketball with my grandchildren.
  6. take a ride in the Cash Cab. Alternative: be someone’s mobile shout out.
  7. have an award named after me.
  8. greet the troops coming from or going to Iraq & Afghanistan at the Bangor International Airport.
  9. dance with my wife, Lyn on our 50th wedding anniversary.
  10. reconcile with everyone who dislikes me for the wrong reasons.

 The great thing about bucket lists is even when they’re wrong they’re not. Each of us have things they’d like to do before their big dirt nap. I hope we all take some time out to work on them.

* “Stopping by the woods on a snowy day”.  Robert Frost


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.