Thursday, August 31, 2017

So what's next?

I'm amazed that it's taken over 91 years for me to truly appreciate what has made my life so satisfying and personally rewarding. But hopefully it doesn't stop here. And for me I feel it can only continue if I am being useful. With decreased physical stamina and skills, I find happiness in sharing views with others – particularly by reflecting on and sharing my life experience with others. 

In the previous Rant, you might recall, I briefly mentioned the five factors that have enriched my life. I sincerely believe that others might benefit from some of my observations on each of them, but it will take sometime to organize my thoughts. While none of us were able to influence our birth "situation", each of us can be enriched by more fully understanding the role and developments surrounding the other four factors.
  • Family..
  • Schools.
  • Government,.
  • Community.
I find it striking that each of these is undergoing tremendous stress and change in society today. The one I am eager to talk about first will be Community. However it will take me several weeks to organize thoughts in a coherent way. In the meantime, as the spirit moves me, I'll share what I think are interesting tidbits from an earlier world that I once inhabited.

So on to a fascinating aspect of air travel in the 40' s and 50' s!

Airports in this era were nothing like the shopping malls that surround today's "tunnels" leading to the jets. The "then major city of Detroit" was serviced by the former World War II bomber plant of Henry Ford. It was built to build bombers and after the war in was converted to the Kaiser/Frazier plant producing long-sought Henry J's and Frazier automobiles.   With the demise of it as an auto plant it became Willow Run Airport to replace the small downtown Detroit airport.

Upon entering the dark, depressing factory one was met by strange machines. Actually they look like slot machines –  and in retrospect they almost served as the famed "one armed bandits". Travelers were so wary traveler of the risks of flight who believed that air travel that they eagerly paid a few dollars so that their surviving kin would have an economic windfall!

How gullible we were. In reminiscing with my partner, Linda, whose father was a TWA pilot I learned that "those in the know" knew that lives were more at risk in driving to the airport than they were in their few hours in the air.

Here I feel is another lesson for those who would decry and debunk the lessons of history it's not hard to see that knowledgeable people avoided those who prey upon the fear of others. And to see a lifelong lesson that was impressed upon me: the foolishness of counting on a miracle to provide the happiness that allegedly only money can provide.


Unless I have time to consolidate my thoughts about Community, I'll share thoughts about other archaic modes of transportation, particularly the railroad next week.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Five factors involved in creating this fulfilling life of mine!

With 91 years behind me, I doubt that anything can cause me to change this conviction of mine that I have experienced a truly unusual, satisfying and fulfilling life. Never achieving great wealth and having experienced the "Great Depression," I have had both emotional and material satisfaction. I've never truly lusted for more. As I look back at the source of it all, I find five distinct factors.
  1. The fortune of birth. How fortunate that there were no complications when the daughter of German immigrants gave birth to Roland, over 9 pounds, with the assistance of a midwife. I feel I've had advantages by the country of my birth, the absence of any negative DNA factors or physical limitations.  Also provided by chance were my being a part of a privileged racial group and a host of other socio/cultural/economic advantages. Thus good health and other advantages were mine as I exited the womb.
  2. A lifetime of family love and support - yet I cannot recall ANY overt expression of affection until I had the first kiss I can remember at age 20 with the woman who became my wife.
  3. A caring community – for me it has been a changing and liberating/liberated church community.
  4. A very good public school education that was both free and easily accessible beginning in first grade and continued through the completion of a Ph. D. degree.
  5. A government best described by President Barack Obama's statement paraphrased as, "I didn't build this life alone, but I had the help of a supportive government."
I'm looking forward to occasionally looking at each of the five factors in more depth.  And just now, as I publish this, I realize that - more than revealing the facts of my life - I hope I might disclose "secrets" from "the good old days" that can encourage others to consider and ponder the well-spring and meaning of  their life. 

I hope you'll check out my blog occasionally and share thoughts about them with me


Thursday, August 10, 2017

A New Thrill at 91 - Driving! And some thoughts on What constitutes THE GOOD LIFE (As I've seen it!)

At my families request, I gave up driving our 2006 Pontiac!  Oh, I still think I'm the best driver in the family, but it's hard to find anyone who agrees with me. Fearful that an unexpected accident might prove them right, I gave up my keys! I truly enjoy public transportation, can endure metro's flaws,  and may someday go against my prejudice and even take Uber.

When I realized that merely walking causes intense pain in my lower back, I found a marvelous teen thrill - being old/mature enough to get behind a steering wheel!  It happened amazingly in the most unlikely place - the shopping mecca, COSTCO! Without needing a drivers license or insurance, with 30 seconds of instruction, I found myself tooling around the wide aisles from the Hearing Center to the Pharmacy to the abundance of free samples and other retiree Shangri La's.

Once again being open to simple new experiences has enabled me to see how full and "rich" my life has been - for 61 pre-retirement years and almost 31 since.  And it causes me to ponder and puzzle:

How is this possible? What factors account for a good life for so many - like me - in my generation and is it going to be available for my kids and grandkids?

  • Surely good health is important!  But I know of some who feel as I do about their lives who have experienced great suffering.
  • I've had sufficient income. It seems especially important in these retirement years. How fortunate I am that Social Security and a good STATE pension system (from a career in education) make it possible for me to enjoy life during these 31 years of retirement. Yet I am very pessimistic with the direction of American society where a number of critical factors from impatience to have everything "right now" to poor distribution of wealth makes retirement opportunities like mine less likely. Surely I realize many other factors have been involved. However many in my generation have joined me in living the good life not because of our planning, but because the norms of society were structured to provide us with this benefit.
  • I continue to be impressed with the opportunities in other developed nations for middle-class folks to have retirement and vacation opportunities not available to most in our middle-class. Relatives of mine in Germany ranging from policeman to teachers appear to have sufficient middle class salaries that provide adequate health care and other benefits including lengthy vacation time for meaningful travel.
  • But this just scratches the surface of the things I marvel at from my youth that provided our lower middle class (especially income-wise) to have very satisfactory life experiences and doors opened for the further life I have experienced. 
  • "The fullness of my retirement living RIGHT NOW" prevents me from the many thoughts I'd like to share.  Thoughts about "the good old days" that cause some to think that America was once great!  Perhaps I'll enlarge on them in two weeks when I next Rant! 

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Why I keep Ranting and Raving at 91!

Perhaps there are some who wonder (just as I have) what impels me to compose and circulate these Rants and Raves as a nonagenarian. While some occasionally have been read by a fairly large audience, the great majority have not had many readers, and only one or two of them has stimulated thoughtful responses. This is especially true in my last Rant concerning my views on statehood for Washington DC. There was nary any talk-back regarding a topic that I thought would engender ridicule, if nothing else.  I've wondered sometimes if it were only my family who inflate my ego and reads these (ed. I'm sure most of them are even too busy to do so).

 Yet I feel almost compelled, yea driven to do so. In moments of self-analysis I find many explanations for this kind of "activism".
  • Ever since retiring from public school work, I felt I was free, for the first time as I moved to DC, to express myself on controversial, especially political, events.
  • And I have NEVER in my lifetime felt our nation so endanger - particularly by polarization - than I do at present,
  • From the use of Reddit's, "Ask Me Anything" I grew accustomed to having an audience of thousand asking me questions and seeking advice.
  • I've had a lifelong compulsion to be useful, and feel that I should continue to try to make a difference by helping and do my part to try to make the world better.
  • I've long felt that one of the greatest problems in society is a lack of inter-generational interaction and other failures of communication between segments of our society.. I particularly feel that the speed of change has  relegated the experience and insights of  "the older generation" to the sidelines and society has not benefited enough from their view of past mistakes and accomplishments.
  • And on a very intimate and personal level, I've marveled at the clarity of inspiration that has come to me on quite a regular basis about 3:30 AM "too frequently and thought-provokingly" for me to ignore. And though I am not a believer in the "god" I was exposed to  my entire  life in liberal churches, I feel that I join Samuel of biblical history in being given some inspiration, creative insight, whatever, that forces me to think more clearly and contemplate action.  I KNOW it is not "god"!  But there is something from the solitude of sleep or nature that provides inspiration and compunction for thought and action.
Thus I'll continue to "have my say" in my Rants..  Whether they are read or not is immaterial - it provides me satisfaction - yea relief - to express my feelings.  I may do it more (or even less) than every Thursday.  You can check periodically.  Remember you can always put the blogs on a header or app.(or whatever it is called).

And speaking of another venture; after one month – Reddit's policy requires a six month waiting period – I'll open myself to answering questions from those who care to ask a question of a 90+ years oldster.  I've had a great time answering over 2000 questions during several previous sessions.