“How do you acquire this knowledge?”

November 29th, 2010 by John Morris

The title is a quote by Redneck humorist, Jeff Foxworthy when told about how Jello would return to its liquid state if warmed in the microwave.

I’ve been playing Scrabble with my family using Words with Friends* now that we are addicted to this web game. My daughter, Beth played the word UNITES for a nice total. I reached back to my many days in the concrete business and recalled the word GUNITES – a type of concrete. When I placed the G on top of her word, she asked me to use it in a sentence which I did. This took some of the wind out of my exceptionally competitive daughter’s sails. Not much but some.

This made me think that at all life’s junctures there are learning opportunities. Now aged 65, I think I’ve picked up a few tidbits along the journey.

Before I went on a walk today, my neighbor, Marion complained to me about her inability to get and stay warm. I told her I learned in the Army to cover my head, hands and feet to fend off that “cold to the bone” feeling.

Later I remember when it was in my Army days I learned this tidbit. It was during my jungle training as I was preparing to go to Vietnam where the weather gets hot only twice a year: once for five months and again for seven months.

The Army took considerable time, expense and energy to teach me something I would find useful 44 years later.

I guess this is how we learn as we go.

* http://newtoyinc.com/wp/

Note: I had a Weyerbacher Hope Fusion IPA during the writing of this blog. Thanks, Beth & Julie.

One year…

November 28th, 2010 by John Morris

…until I need to change the name of this blog site.

I’ll be 66 then and eligible for Social Security’s full benefits. My plan is  to continue to work at the mens’ toy store called Maxwell’s Hardware for as long as I can providing they’ll let me, and I can still cut it.

I’ll mark the conclusion of this past year with a newly renovated kitchen. I am rapidly – okay that’s not quite right – reaching the point where there are no rooms left to redo. Then the house will be in order and will provide comfort past the point I’m unable to do these projects. That was the goal when I started the work. It’s a grand plan coming together.

To recap: I started this blog after my son, Adam created it for me. He knew I wanted to write more, and it worked. I try to blog when something inside me bubbles and needs to be recorded. Today is a good example. I wanted to mark the occasion of the one year to go point with an update for whomever reads these offerings.

Before I started blogging, I counted the months and years until retirement and amused my co-workers with daily updates. Half way through the blog’s lifespan, my career job disappeared, and I faced an undefined form of retirement. My reentry back into the workforce was stymied by the Great Recession of the late 2000s. Unemployment compensation made it easy to take government money for doing nothing but working on my home. It lasted 99 weeks. I’m grateful to the government for what Italians call a “La Boosta”.

Part time work came from my favorite hardware store. It seems I was there so much, they decided the only way for me to spend more time was to actually work there. Two benefits I didn’t know about were how much fun it is to work there and how amazingly nice the people who own it are.

I’m in a good place with one year to go on the countdown and to quote one of my favorite songs, “I can see clearly now.”*

* http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HagzTRmUBIE&feature=related

Do the work

November 18th, 2010 by John Morris

Recently, Home Depot and Lowe’s have changed their everyday 10% Veteran discount criteria. Where once it was offered to all Veterans, it is now limited to active duty, retired and disabled ones only. The Veteran must continue to provide proof of Veteran status and a photo ID at the point of purchase.

Veterans who no long qualify for the discount will receive it on patriotic holidays: Independence Day, Veterans Day, etc.

This discount from these two home improvement giants was a good thing while it lasted. Rather than rail about the unfairness of these new changes, I’ll simply salute them for doing it for as long as they did and continuing it in some way.

When I made purchases recently at Home Depot and Lowe’s, I provided my VFW card with a drivers license as proof and received the discount. The cashiers were good sources of information about what has happened. Home Depot sent a memo outlining the millions of dollars in discount and suspected frauds. This is short sighted. All traffic is good traffic.

The Lowe’s cashier asked me where I got my card, and I explained it was proof of VFW membership. I told her I also had a VA card and one from the Vietnam Veterans of America for backup. She said other self-proclaimed Veterans have complained to her about not knowing how get such documents.

This started me thinking.

I imagined the Veterans without such documentations are the same ones who steadfastly refuse to join Veteran associations. The scene in my head was some buffoon making life tough for the poor cashiers because he deems it unnecessary to be a part of the Veteran community. I know these Veterans exists because I meet about one for every hundred other ones. They act entitled to what they want but are unwilling to bother to do the needed work. “Just give me my damned discount.” is their message. I also have heard their pleas of disrespect for their Veteran status. The message I get from them is “Me, Me, Me.”

To keep it simple: Home Depot and Lowe’s have changed the rules, and if we Veterans want to score the 10% discount, let’s do the work by joining VVA, VFW or American Legion.

Then take your shiny new card to Home Depot and Lowe’s on the few patriotic holidays when the 10% discount is open to all Veterans and get your 10% off. My guess is you even find some unexpected benefits from your membership.

After decades of complaining from the outside, it’s always a good time to jump in and help out. If you’re still going to whine about things, maybe you better hold off a bit longer.


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.