Stepping out in style.

September 17th, 2010 by John Morris

One of my hardware customers told me  he lost the lower half of his left leg in the 60s. He also told me he was waiting for one of those new titanium jobbies with the bells and whistles to make his prosthesis perform more life-like.

Today at work, he stopped by and showed us the engineering marvel that is his new leg. He showed us how he has lateral movement in his leg where there was none before. He said the new one weighs 18 pounds less and walking for him is much easier now.

He chose a 60s peace symbol pattern emblazoned on a dark gray calf structure.

I told him he looked ten years younger.

Another NFL season starts

September 12th, 2010 by John Morris

Within my microcosm of America – Downingtown, PA, there are many NFL logos displayed. Sure they are mostly Philadelphia Eagle logos, but there are others.

A lot of people here follow the Steelers because well, they have won a fistful of Super Bowls, and they are a Pennsylvania based team. The Cowboys always have their die-hard fans which for me is annoying. Why? I think many of these errant folks bought into the “America’s Team” PR the ‘Boys do so well. I also think there exist contrarians who root for a team just to annoy people who root for home teams. They are low grade trouble makers who usually surface when their team wins but cloak themselves like a Klingon bird of prey after a loss. They seem to be heavily staffed by Cowboy fans.

There is a pecking order of NFL teams in America. As hard as it is for me to admit, the Dallas Cowboys are the most followed team. Behind them are perennial favorites like the Washington Redskins, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts. Check the league’s listing each week and you’ll see a profound inbalance. The same teams always play and many others get national play only when they’re on an evening game. There’s a good reason the National Football League doesn’t promote itself as a democracy. “Fair and Balanced” isn’t their motto either.

Seeing a NFL logo for teams not followed outside of their own turfs, e.g., Kansas City Chiefs, Oakland Raiders makes me wonder about its owner. Are they transplanted fans or are they truly marching to the beat of the different drummer? Either way; good for them.

Final point: I admire hard core fans of all stripes as long as they hang in there during their team’s waning years too. The less acceptable fan is the famed “front runner” who drifts from team to team depending on who’s winning. 

But in the end, it’s only sports.

My ladies of music

September 6th, 2010 by John Morris

My favorite singers list tilts toward women. Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell and Patsy Cline are in and so are Joan Baez, Gracie Slick and Judy Collins. Each has stood the test of time and have fans measured in legions. Joni Mitchell would also be near the top of my favorite song writers, too.

There are only two rockers on my list: Joplin and Slick. Mitchell, Collins and Baez are rooted in the folk genre.  The sole representative from Country music is Patsy Cline.

By why so many women on this list? I guess I prefer their softer, sweeter* voices. Or maybe I just want to believe I’m that guy they’re singing about. Or maybe it’s because it was their music my future wife and I listened to when we were first together. Anyway it works out, it works out for me.

My son, Adam says I should expand my music boundaries, and I don’t argue his point. For me, the magic of music is being able to transport my mind back to the times when I first heard  these songs. I revel in this backward look at my life, and music is the magic carpet ride.
* okay, Janis could wail when she sang the blues.

Patsy Cline: Country music pioneer

September 5th, 2010 by John Morris

I had one of those calming moments when kicking back is better than keeping on schedule. After I parked the car, I opted not to run inside the state store to buy wine. Instead, I listened to a NPR story about  my Queen of Country Music, Patsy Cline. As a teenager, I’d hid my admiration for her work from my friends to avoid ridicule. Inside my little band of Rock & Rollers, liking Country Music was bad enough but a woman too.

What is it about Patsy Cline that push my buttons? A line from the movie about her life called “Sweet Dreams” says it for me. “When she sings, the hair on the back of my neck stands up”. Her voice was sweet and piercing. The songs her handlers selected for her are timeless. Her vocal stylings didn’t match the then accepted Country type, but she made it work and was better for it. Cline could make the listener feel the pain of the lyrics. Her songs made it clear, even to men, how much pain losing love can cause women.

During Patsy Cline’s brief career she was able to cross over from Country to Pop and back again. She was the pioneer for many future female Country singers. Her Rock counterpart was Janis Joplin because they kicked down doors while the others waited timidly outside.

Patsy Cline’s days of music ended when she became another victim of the “road”. Flying home from a gig, her small plane slammed into a hill killing her and all other passengers. Along with Buddy Holly before her, this was another day the music died.

We are lucky to have a treasury of her work to sustain us especially when our love has done us wrong.


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.