“Jackson Sterling is crawling”

March 21st, 2013 by John Morris

This is not “stop the presses” news considering my grandson is nine months old. – where does it go?  It is newsworthy to the people who love him.

My daughter, Beth sent videos of the little guy’s new stage, and as I view them, they bring broad smiles to me and my heart.

It started me thinking about his next landmarks and how they’ll impact his parents.

This list is intended to be incomplete.


1st landmark: learning to crawl.

Up to this point, babies, like Jackson, have been where you left them. But it presents a fresh fear for new parents: keeping your baby from crawling into danger. This new challenge grows greater as the crawling talents blossom. As landmarks goes, it’s an easy learning test for parents.


2nd landmark: learning to walk

However crawling changed parents’ lives, walking will now pump up the intensity even more. Life is no longer about keeping them corralled; it’s controlling their wanderings. The fear of falling is ever-present and parents start thinking of safety measures like wrapping their tykes in bubble wrap. The upside of this development is your bundles of joy no longer needs to be carried everywhere.


3rd landmark: learning to talk

This landmark is one where parents experience a real loss of control. Oh sure, we’re the ones who teach them words and how to use them but our progeny can take this new skill and make us laugh or cringe. Parents learn their child is simply filled with questions needing answers. There will be times when the parents long for the old days when the baby could only cry or laugh.


4th landmark: learning to learn.

It’s been a long time since the talking landmark, and it’s time for the first true separation test for most children and parents. By this, I mean school. The parents, who watched over every developmental stage of their child, now share the learning stages with professionals*. As children learn to read, their minds form thoughts. They ask more questions and challenge their parents to hit the mark each time. This also marks the first time someone else is grading your bundle of joy.


5th landmark: learning to drive

Here’s when parents take a major leap of faith. They now hope their hard work and astute parenting have yielded a responsible young adult. This landmark give their one-time baby new abilities to travel alone and discover things on their own. Parents’ worries are well founded at this point. It’s a usually a shaky hand that hands the car keys to a sixteen year old. The hand belongs to someone who not just worries about their child but every other motorist out there.


* if you’re home schooling, this landmark may be pushed into the college years.





What do you pick up?

March 10th, 2013 by John Morris


Three days a week I walk to work. This way I’ll get some exercise which a man my age needs. There’s a hidden plus to walking when you do a lot of it.

As I walk, I find useful stuff on the road. These roadside treasures causes me wonder about the circumstances that separated them from their old owners. Sure there’s a lot of debris there like one half of a pair of gloves or broken bungee cords.Items like this I just leave there sentenced to being swept up by one of those bristle bearing, borough trucks.

Last week I wondered about the things I’ll alway pick up. One for me are pens. Why? I don’t really know; maybe it’s an holdover from school days when I always needed one but may not have had one. I pick them up and store them away for another day.

It made me wonder what other odd things others pick up on their journeys though life.

I think we’ll all agree everyone will pick up money or jewelry. Most men will pick up tools. I having trouble imagine what the average woman will stoop to pick up if found on the road.

This is where you, the reader comes in. What will you almost always pick up if you find it? I sure this information will not change the world’s axis.

Other exercises would be what unusual things have you found while walking? Or do you have an interesting story about finding something?

Again, not earth shattering stuff here.

Have you eaten?

March 5th, 2013 by John Morris

“Have you eaten?” is how the Chinese people  say hello much like our “How are you?”. Such is the importance of food in their culture. They blend eating with socializing.

In many countries, meals are the social events of the day. Europeans assemble together  at midday to eat their main meal and then take hours to enjoy them. At night, they meet with friends and go pubbing. In short, their lives are unending “greet & eat” events.

No so much in America. In your short term memory, how have you dined recently? In front of the TV?  Alone? Detached if not alone?

How about large family gatherings? Certainly there are meals involved, but when do we do them? Weddings and funerals mostly.

When my Italian family had too many funerals where we regret not getting together, we took action. We now meet every two months to break bread at a restaurant. All are welcomed. We call this outing “Cugini Night Out”. There is no agenda. We keep it simple so no one is weighed down with the work. And it has worked to date. Is it perfect? No! Is it worth it? Yes!

Using the same principle, my Veteran chapter called Los Gourmanderos stages near-guerrilla dining parties. We select a promising location and put out the word. Again anyone can attend and contribute. These are also really good times.

Usually what is needed to make these events realities is just one person. That “volunteer” sends out the emails; collects the names and books the event. Not much work, but someone must do it.

There are mostly positive results to be had from a small amount of effort.

It’s an effort worth doing.




Facebook & Twitter are today’s time wasting drugs.

March 2nd, 2013 by John Morris

I am an old guy who likes to keep pace with others using a computer. My first computer (KayPro 16e) was purchased in 1985. At the time, it was cutting edge, and I was in the vanguard. I computerized my sign business’ office but at a cost. I had to learn how to use this new and slightly scary machine. The argument goes like this: is the time saved more or less than the time spent?

By learning how to use a computer, I segued into a sweet gig writing a monthly column for a national magazine. Seems there was this throbbing need to computerize sign companies’ office functions, and the average sign painter was still struggling with the push button phone. Following this, I believed I could be a consultant and make serious money. That didn’t happen.

Since those days, I’ve traveled to the beat of the internet. My son, Adam made this blog a birthday gift, and I found my way back to writing.

But then, I joined Twitter and FaceBook, and they lulled me into a non-productive, time wasting zombie march.

By checking my most recent blogs, I see I’ve gone from one per month to about 3/year. Why? Because I’m frittering away my writing skills on 140 keystrokes (Twitter), and my thoughts on a media (FaceBook) that exploits my postings to make it as easy for advertisers to find me as my friends.

Here’s where I compare the social mediums with drugs, and I’ll use no less a luminary than Borsht Belt comic, Buddy Hackett.

He told TV’s Mike Douglas he smoked pot every day for ten years. At the end of this time, he realized he had not improved his comedy act by as much as one new joke. After he put away the cannabis, he recovered his ambition and drive. His talent and career exploded.

It is for the same reason I’m cutting way back on FaceBook/Twitter in order to do more productive writing. These blogs will be more regular, and I plan to edit the book I finished over two years ago.

Sorry it took me so long.






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.