Sunday ramblings

Today is Sunday August 4. Spent the better part of the past 3 days contemplate my future. In the background is the Fox News broadcast “Life, Liberty & Levin”. I seldom watch the news on TV, but there wasn’t anything else worth watching. The platform is a question and answer session, which is better than many of the talking heads from both sides of the political spectrum. The subject is a discussion about the second Cold War with Niall Ferguson. It entails an economic war as opposed to a military conflict, but that the long view is that China will win because they take a long-term view and that our political system will rive change and we will loose site on the long term. Interesting conversation. I have long found that the interface between economics and history/politics interesting. If I had been smarter, perhaps I could have made a career in the field.

Daughter leaves for the US Pony Club National Championships central region. The competition is in Colorado this year, which is a 6 hour trip near Denver. Son and I will stay home to keep the stress down. I wish her luck in all of the events that she is competing in. Hopefully she will remain n the horse and finish. Both she and Ruby have been practicing hard the past several weeks. She will be competing in show jumping and eventing.

Friday I managed to visit with my financial guy to review my status on the path towards retirement. While I am on tract, I have a few areas to clean up. The discussion covered numerous areas beyond just focusing on 401k balances, debt, and what I plan to do after retirement. Of course, plans are always subject to change. Given the current political climate, I am concerned that much could change and destroy my plans and my future.

Then of course, we had another weekend of a lone gunmen and mass killings. I am pro gun and believe that guns don’t kill people, rather people kill people. That said, I have no problems with background checks, licenses and insurance much like one has for an automobile, keeping automatic guns out of the hands of people, and mental health. You need to keep guns out of the hands of some people. The issue then becomes how. You also need to acknowledge that if people want to harm others, they will. I get a check up annually as far as my mental health as required for my job and my employer. Sadly, I am afraid that the increases in gun killings recently has more to do with the declines in our society and it’s values, the fact that we continue to lesson the value of human life. This is in opposition to those who subscribe to a theory that the increase is associated with the number of guns available.

There is much hate these days, and it surfaces on social media often. Politically, we are divided as a nation and it shows in many areas. I will have more to say about these topics as we continue on the journey of this blog.

Rewriting History

I see lots of stories on FaceBook and elsewhere about renaming schools, getting rid of statues and memorials about Civil War Generals and events. For those who may forget, July 1 is the first day of the bloodiest battle in American history. July 1, 1863 marked the beginning of the Battle of Gettysburg. One Hundred and Fifty Six days ago the Army of Northern Virginia and Army of the Potomac met in the small community in south central Pennsylvania. After three days, there were a total of 51,112 casualties (dead, wounded, and missing from both sides).

Books, movies, a PBS series by Ken Burns, all cover the subject from different points of view. In school back in Central Pennsylvania, a class field trip to Gettysburg was the norm. I think I went there at least twice. The trip would tour the key points of the battlefield: Big and Little Round Top, Devil’s Den, Pickett’s Charge, a number of the monuments and the Gettysburg Cyclorama.

Last summer, I drove through the town of Gettysburg after I took Madison back to Pennsylvania for a two week riding camp. I had my son with me and after a short vacation for him at HersheyPark, I place I worked at during several summers in college, we drove to and through the town of Gettysburg. It has really changed over the 40 years that I was last there. He wasn’t too excited about the park, the cannons, or the history. I tried to trace part of Lee’s travels to Gettysburg, and then his retreat after the battle in our rental car. I really enjoy visiting such places. We were making our way back to the airport in Baltimore to return to New Mexico, so it was my way of trying to have an educational trip as part of the mini vacation. Not interesting to a 10 year old.

Yes, a long way to the airport. However, it was quality time with son. Of course, as he is in 5th grade, the only thing he knows about the Civil War, aside from the fact that it was a war between the North and the South, and that the slaves were freed, Abraham Lincoln and the Gettysburg Address, and the Battle of Glorietta Pass. Yes, there was a Civil War battle fought just east of Santa Fe in March of 1862. Today, parts of the battlefield are part of the Pecos National Historical Park. There are a couple of monuments and signs, but no cannons or cemetery, or things like you find in Gettysburg. You can get a gate code and a map to unlock a gate at the Pecos National Historical Park Visitors Center. This allows you to hike the Glorietta Pass Battlefield trail.

I loved learning history in high school and in college. Sadly, what I see today is lots of people trying to rewrite history, or trying to change things so that we forget it, or to feel like we must understand the feelings of others. We rewrite the textbooks, often without much change in the historical truths. As Orwell pointed out, history can be and often is rewritten to suit the needs of the present. Some say that we rewrite history because the prevailing opinions of the period have changed. I should not be surprised that we also need to rewrite or recreate or reimagine that places where the history was actually made.

Today we rename the elementary school from Robert E Lee Elementary to another Lee who may or may not have contributed anything. We remove statues because a group of people think that they are evil, or that we need to forget the past. To this I say bunk. Robert E Lee was an American general who fought for what he believed in (state’s rights). Arlington National Cemetery now stands on his former homestead. Yes slavery was wrong. We fought a war to end it; and to properly define elements of the rights of the state and the rights of the federal government. We need to understand history so that we do not forget the sins of the past. To forget history is to rewrite history. The fact that we had to fight a war is enough to understand that humanity suffers because of it. That alone should be enough of a reason to not rewrite history. We are seeing failings of remembering the past unfold today in many areas of our political spectrum.

What to write about today

Since I have started this journey a little over a week ago, when I sit down to write, I have typically had the entire piece written in my mind. Today I find myself in the opposite state of mind. Some subject ideas but nothing about the details of the piece. Not sure if it is because I haven’t thought enough about what specific subject to write about, or was it the frustrating day at work, or is it running for three days on seven hours of sleep, or the fact that there is to much going on.

As I said, I have many subjects to ponder. All of them will hopefully get put into words as we continue on this journey. All of them will provide you, the reader about what kind of person I am. Such topics include financial stuff. Lots of blogs about that. Some offer great advice and I have found the articles to be very helpful. I am not a financial expert so I will not write about that much. At least I can write at some point about my axioms for handling money. History and politics are two areas that I have interest in, but they can easily turn people off, especially when they don’t agree with your position on the issues that confront our nation. Suffice it to say, I characterize myself as being “so far to the right that I end up on the left”. Other topics can be hobbies, travel, people, book reviews. Many ideas of things to ponder and keep me occupied and hopefully, all of you as readers, coming back for more. Of course, there will be more offerings in the future about my kids and our pets. Cannot wait to tell you about the goldfish.

Work can be a dull subject. I have a PhD in Chemistry from a Big 10 school, but I really don’t do much chemistry anymore. Most of what I do is in the area of solving technical problems. These technical problems are often caused by others and thus it becomes my job to “make it work”. You do with what you have and don’t request the Lamborghini when a Ford works.

As for the sleep, that becomes an annual conversation in my medical checkup, along with weight, diet, and exercise. Ever since college some 40 years ago, I have been able to function on 2 to 4 hours of sleep every day. Yes it is odd that when I am on vacation, 8 to 10 hours is the norm. Charging the batteries I guess, but I’m thinking that weight, diet and exercise, would be better controlled if sleep was more normal than what I get at present.

And as always, there is lots going on. While I no longer work the 50 to 60 hour work weeks, there are the kids to consider, life and activities outside work, and the general realization that it’s time to do something different as I reach middle age. Yes I plan on living forever, so I better start working on weight, diet and exercise in order to even remotely live to 150.