Archive for December, 2016

Ah, yes, winter

In the spring, when the rain falls gently upon the seedlings in the garden, a purpose is to be served. When summer arrives, the rains aids the plants in their growth and prevents the drying up and shriveling of all of your hard work in trying to reap what you have sown. Even the rains of fall aren’t too bothersome, particularly in making up for the drought which a hot summer may have brought. However, when the rains of winter come, they are nothing but…a colossal pain in the butt.

Winter rains are generally followed by a winter freeze, turning driveways, walkways, streets, and sidewalks into treacherous, dangerous, and, all too often lethal travel areas for pedestrians and drivers alike. Whether a winter storm begins or ends with a winter rain, the results can be catastrophic. When starting as rain, the following snow becomes heart-attack heavy, and ergonomic shovels to the contrary, if the unwary shoveler is not cautious, the weight of the snow can pull back muscles, herniate discs or worse. Should the rain follow a liberal sprinkling of the white stuff, say about a foot or so, it glazes the white covering, much as Ye Old Donut Shoppe, glazes the fluffy artery clogger, and, at times, with the same painful result…note I did not say lethal result, largely because I have survived four heart attacks and still enjoy a good glazed donut from time to time.

Yes, rain is the bane of winter existence. While white and fluttery snow is a thing of beauty and a joy forever, the moment the temperature rises, and white becomes ‘dropinated,’ (don’t worry, I just made that word up…clever though, eh) the trouble begins. If the winter sun appears immediately following the storm, the glare from the ice atop the snow can be exceedingly dangerous, causing snow blindness, as well as keister contusions.

Please don’t misunderstand. Winter is my fifth favorite all-time season of the year…yes, I am aware that there are only four recognized seasons. That is exactly why winter is my fifth all-time favorite. It’s so easy to walk out the door, step into the driveway and go flat on one’s butt…with luck. Without luck, one will fall in such a way that one or more of any number of bones in one’s body will imitate Kellogg’s Rice Krispies and go “snap, crackle, and pop,” although the ‘pop’ is usually reserved for joint dislocations and muscle tears. Let us assume, however, for the moment, that you have made it to your vehicle without undue injury. You have even managed to remove the snow and scrape the ice from your windshield, side and back windows while staying fully erect. Why, you’re so polite, you even brushed the snow from the roof of the car, unlike some of the idiots who drive in front of you and let the wind clear their roofs by blowing it on to your windshield. The worst case scenario is getting behind an 18-wheeler when the snow has frozen and it leaves his roof in huge slabs of a snow/ice combination, a potentially deadly combination.

Traffic may be moving so slowly that you will be tempted to take those “back roads” that you and every other commuter in the world knows about. A word of advice: DON’T! Main roads are the first to be plowed, sanded, salted, and worn down to asphalt by the drivers who precede you. Should you wind up on your favorite back road alone, chances are fair to middlin’ that you may also wind up becoming friends with a local tree or telephone pole, perhaps even a neighborly fence, front yard, or house. This is not a good thing, ergo, stick to the main roads. If you haven’t left sufficient time to get to work or wherever it is you are going, well, as they say, tough! Better to get there late and in one piece than not get there at all…and possibly in many pieces.

Ah, yes, winter…winter rain, winter snow, winter ice, winter be damned! I can hardly wait for Spring!

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Forget about the Joneses

“What’s in your wallet?”

“Our credit card pays you twice…once when you buy and once when you pay.”

“Buy our insurance so your loved ones won’t have to assume your credit card debt when you die.”

Hey, hey, hey, wait just a cotoon-pickin’ minute here. Are we encouraging people to credit card their way into horrible debt? According to Nerd Wallet, “Debt is American as apple pie, with overall U.S. household debt growing 11% in the past decade. Today, the average household with credit card debt has balances totaling $16,061, and the average household with any kind of debt owes $132,529, including mortgages.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I guess I inherited my mother’s sense of debt. She-didn’t-like-it, and, truth to tell, Dad wasn’t crazy about the idea himself. Have I never financed a major purchase such as a car or a house? Of course I have. Why, do you think I look like Croesus? I didn’t like doing any of it, but one does need a certain form of transportation when buses or trains aren’t particularly near one, and a roof over one’s head is always a pretty good thing to have, especially when one (or two) is raising three kids. Fortunately, my late wife was of the same mind set. Actually, she was a bit tighter with money than I was. At least I never shave Lincoln’s beard from five dollar bills and sold the whiskers at flea markets, but then, that’s a story for another time. As a consequence, I don’t quite understand why Americans allow themselves to assume as much credit card debt as they appear to do. Mortgages, sure, I can see that. I don’t know too many people who can fork over a quarter mil or more to buy a house, and in today’s market, a half mil will barely put a roof over your head in many states. Student loan debt, on average, is nearly $50,000. I often question the wisdom of that because I’m not all that certain that every high school graduate should go to college…as opposed to making real money by learning a trade.

My biggest complaint about credit card debt is the interest that has to be paid. I remember the ‘book’ we kept when we took out a mortgage. We were paying more in interest than we were in principal, and it really pissed me off. “It’s the cost of doing business,” people would tell me, but that didn’t make me feel any better about it. Today, my house is paid off, as is my car. The children all graduate from college, and working in higher education, along with their athletic scholarships, meant that we didn’t pay tuition. While we joked about it at the time, think about tuition costs, even as far back as 1992, and you’ll realize just how much of a salary spike that actually was.

It seems to me that attitudes are different today. People appear unconcerned about going into debt, even though the annual percentage rates on some cards can be as high as 22-23 percent. That can add up to a great deal of money. Student credit cards appear to have the highest interest rates, another reason why high school students should receive some instruction in money and banking. This generation, however, if some of my grandchildren are any example, appear to feel that mommy and daddy will take care of everything because that’s what parents do…sorry, gang, but life doesn’t work that way, and the sooner you learn that, the better off you and your parents will be.

The biggest problem that I see with credit cards doesn’t come from just using them. It lies in the penalty rates that companies charge if you are late with payments. This is also known as the ‘default’ rate, and it is, all too often a great deal higher than the rate originally offered on your credit card. Should you just happen to be 30 days late with your payments, companies can raise your annual percentage rate to as high as 29.4 percent. Value Penguin notes that, “Depending on your credit card company, a number of other factors may cause you to incur the penalty rates as well, including but not limited to: exceeding your credit limit, or defaulting on another account with the same issuer.

Returning once more to Nerd Wallet as a source, “Household income has grown by 28% in the past 13 years, but the cost of living has gone up 30% in that time period. Some of the largest expenses for consumers — like medical care, food and housing — have significantly outpaced income growth. Many people assume that credit card debt is the result of reckless spending and think that to get out of debt, people need to stop buying designer clothes and eating at five-star restaurants. But many people use credit cards to cover necessities when their income just doesn’t cut it.” Speaking anecdotally, I can say that the cost of prescription medications has increased disproportionately to any increase in retirement income that I might have seen. In fact, my retirement plan reduced my income in 2016 by $200 per month. Combine that with an increase in grocery prices, energy costs, increasing property taxes, and home insurance rates, and you can understand why yours truly has become a ‘Scroogely curmudgeon.’ Thankfully, the house is paid for and the wheels, while old, are still getting us from place to place.

Certainly, I’m no authorized financial planner or an expert in money matters. Using your credit card to keep your head above water is no sin as long as you understand that this gap between income and expenses is not going to go away. Keeping up with the Joneses is no longer the thing to do because as a friend of mine always says, “Remember, the Joneses are in debt!” Amen to that.

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It’s all up to you

“For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” It’s from 1 Timothy ^:10, and it’s what people have been saying since the Holy Bible first came out. Who knows, maybe even before? Maybe it’s not original with the Bible, but with some ancient farmer who was just struggling to get by, and told his kids, “It’s why you should stick with farming…until governments are formed and we can get aid from all kinds of programs!” That last part is somewhat doubtful but, ya know, those ancient farmers might have gotten it right.

It’s not that loving money is a bad thing. More so, it’s the manner in which man desires to accrue that money. If you were to ask Warren Buffet how he accumulated such wealth, he would tell you to find a mentor who can prevent you from making the same mistakes he or she did when they were climbing the ladder of success and more important, listen to that mentor. If you had been fortunate enough to inquire the same of the late Ray Kroc, he would have said, “Find something for which you have a genuine passion. Work at it as hard as you can, and don’t worry about the money. If you are true to your passion, the money will come.” Then, of course, there was the infamous bank robber, Willy Sutton, who when asked why he robbed banks, replied, “Because that’s where the money is.” Humor aside, if that’s what you call it, we all enjoy money, but most of us don’t enjoy the riches that we’d like.

All of this raises the question of, which is more important, job satisfaction or a big salary? Are those with the big bucks always satisfied with what they are doing? The answer is, “It depends…” Oh boy, that’s not the answer you were looking for, however, it’s true. It depends on your values, your morals, your ethics system, all of which I suppose could be dumped into ‘values.’ What are you willing to do to become a rich person, and following on, who is a rich person? How much is enough, or is there ever enough?

When I went to college, and even forty years later, when I was preparing to retire, a big field in the study of business was accounting. That was where the money was to be made. As you might well imagine, the field became glutted and needy, glutted and needy over the course of those years. For those who worked hard and continued to learn, advancement came and so did the dollars. For those who stuck with the basic skills learned in school, had a spouse and kids to raise, thereby putting in only the required hours, things became a little ‘iffy,’ and dissatisfaction with the field and their job has not been uncommon. On more than a few occasions, I have met alumni of the two educational institutions where I worked, who had majored in accounting, but who left the field after three to five years to pursue other opportunities. Of course, accounting isn’t alone as a field of change, and it’s wrong of me to use only that as an example. How about this one: A hand surgeon I know, who is still relatively young, is getting tired of what he is doing. His plan is to leave the profession within a very few years, and to teach high school chemistry. “Oh, sure,” you say, “he’s already made a fortune.” That’s not entirely true. Yes, he has amassed some wealth, but he also has children to raise and probably put through college. What he has indicated to me is that the job is no longer satisfying, even for the amount of money involved. In my own case – wow, now we’re getting personal – I have never viewed money or a big salary as a sign of true success. To me, doing a job that was appreciated by others and that I felt was important to the success of the institution meant more than a six or seven figure salary…and trust me, I never saw either! In retrospect, there were times when I believed I could do better elsewhere, at least in terms of money, but it was the intangibles that caused me to stay. There’s a great deal to be said for kind words of thanks and “attaboys” every now and then.

All of the preceding is, I guess, just another way of asking, “What do you want out of life?” Can you have both money and total happiness? Personally, I rather doubt it…unless you have the wisdom of Job, and the touch of Midas. However, remember that Job’s life was made miserable in his early years and it was only in the latter years that he was rewarded. In the case of Midas, he turned his own child into gold, so what good was his touch? Once again, we come back to that sage old advice, “It’s your choice.” Only you can make a decision about what is important to you. My advice? Good luck!

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“What if?”

I have discovered the problem with computer solitaire. You never know what might have been. What if I had moved the red king to the open space rather than the black one? Was the card that I really needed under the red king? I’ll never know.

Life is like that. It’s full of “what ifs.” What if I’d married Mary Jo rather than Sally? What if I hadn’t driven my car that night and skidded on the road, and what if it hadn’t left me paralyzed for life and having to live in this wheelchair?

On more of a world stage, what if people had seen Adolph Hitler for what he was, a power hungry madman? What if Robert Oppenheimer and his people had said, “No,” we don’t believe the world is ready for this type of weapon? How many more millions of Americans and Japanese would have died, and how many generations would have been lost?

This is life in the fast lane. Our “what ifs” are all too often what we see in hindsight because we don’t use our foresight to examine what lies ahead of us when we make the choice to do one thing over another.

Recently, I read of a motor vehicle accident in Middleborough that killed two kids. One of them had just received his license nine days ago. He was speeding on a rain slicked road, missed a curve and smashed into a tree, killing himself and his passenger. It shouldn’t have happened, but it did. Let’s think about it for just a minute…a license for only nine days and yet he had a friend of the same age in the car and there was no adult supervision. Well, they were on their way to school. But…what if the mother, father, or grandparent had said, “Why don’t I drive you guys to school today? The roads are kind of slick and you know, you haven’t had your license all that long.” There would have been a hell of an argument. The dead student would have been really you-know-what. The difference is that he might be alive.

Notice please, that I use the word, “might.” We have no clue as to what could, would, or should have happened. All we know is that two people are dead, and a lot of people are very sad because of it.

This is not to say that the “what ifs’ in our lives always lead to tragedy. A girl I thought I was madly in love with is the girl I didn’t marry. What if I had? Her life has been one divorce after another. Would I have been number one? A young man in the service kept pointing his rifle at me and trying to pull the trigger, all the while saying, “It’s jammed; it’s jammed.” That gun was pointed at my chest; what if it had unjammed before I grabbed it out of his hands? Let’s see…No children; no grandchildren; a thirty-year old widow; parents who would have been just a wee bit irritated with the United States Army. There would have been a number of negative consequences.

Let’s look at the “what ifs” from the other side, however. What if Jonas Salk had said, “These experiments are just not working. I guess poliomyelitis can’t be cured.” Or what if Edison had given up on some of his experiments? Or Benjamin Franklin; or the Wright Brothers; or Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates.? I think you get the picture. There are so many cases of “what ifs” that we can say have had positive results. Do they outweigh the negatives when we think about the two young men in Middleborough? No, of course not; at least not to the people who knew and loved these young men. In the larger scheme of life, we have no idea what contributions they might have made.

This, my friends is the miracle of “what ifs.” And, when you really stop to think about it, what if is a miracle. Yes, what if can and often does have negative connotations. What if the settlers hadn’t brought tobacco from England to Virginia, along with their diseases that wiped out so many Native Americans, but on the other hand, what if the plague hadn’t wiped out so many in Europe, would there been more wars of expansion so that people would have places to live?

They are only two little words…”what if.” Should we stop to ponder every single time we used those words, we would go mad. It’s why there is another word in our vocabulary. That word is consequences. Each what if results in a consequence, sometimes good; sometimes bad; sometimes nothing at all…that we know of.

Perhaps this is the frustration of playing solitaire on a computer. I’ll never know what was under that red king. Had I been playing with real cards at the kitchen table, which probably wouldn’t have happened because I’d have been doing something else, but let’s say that I was….playing cards at the kitchen table, that is…I could have sneaked a peek under that red king and probably cursed myself for not having played it. There it is; another one of my freedoms has been taken away by the computer; I can no longer peek to see, “what if.”

In the case of solitaire, this article is somewhat humorous. In the case of the young men in Middleborough, it is tragic. In point of fact, you can find comedy and tragedy throughout. From Jonas Salk’s cure for polio to Robert Oppenheimer’s atomic bomb, there is good and there is horror. Throughout, there is also, “what if.”

Let me close with one more “what if.” At least for the next several weeks, what if we all try to be just a bit nicer to everyone else, and what if we consider being kinder to those we don’t really know. These are tough times and it’s difficult for us not to be completely wrapped up in our own problems, but what if we consider that there are others with problems too, and by being a bit kinder, what if we were able to ease their burden, if only for a moment.

This is a rewrite of an article that I prepared some years ago. I just happened to run across it while cleaning out some files. I like it, and at this time of year, I believe it to be particularly appropriate. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it and will take the message to heart. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and a joyous Kwanza to all.

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The New Social Security

Okay, the new broom is going to sweep all of the old government programs clean…and that includes Social Security. Instead of the cost of living increase of three-tenths of one percent that those of you currently on the program will receive, the new administration will allow you to increase your Social Security benefit by continuing to work until you are age 70. Under exceptional circumstances, you may even be allowed to work until you are 75, but no later.

When you retire, you will receive a graduated monthly payment to be determined by the age at which you retire. For example, if you should decide to leave the work force at the age of 75, you will receive monthly benefits equivalent to 100 percent of your monthly salary when you were working, unless, of course, your yearly income was above $150,000, in which case the monthly benefits will equal what you would receive if you were making a paltry $1,000,000 per annum. We know this will cause some pain and suffering, but there is an upside. Exactly five years from the date of your retirement, a gentleman in a black suit, starched white shirt, black tie, black shoes, and black socks will show up at your front door. He will politely ask you, “Head or chest?” Your response will determine if you will have an open or closed casket.

Our Social Security representative will accompany you to your favorite chair, couch, or lounger. If you have selected head, he will immediately shoot two bullets into your face, thus terminating your Social Security benefits. Should you have selected chest, he will fire directly into your heart. We recommend this latter choice in order that our funeral service not have to attempt any facial reconstruction. In fact, should you opt for chest, one hundred percent of your funeral costs will be absorbed by the Social Security Administration (SSA). In the case of head shots, only fifty percent of the funeral costs are covered. As you can see, your SSA is truly looking out for your best interests.

In the event that there is a surviving spouse, he or she will continue to receive your monthly benefits. However, it will be at the reduced rate of fifty percent per month for the first six months and be reduced by ten percent monthly until the lowest rate of ten percent per month is reached. If this is insufficient to starve them to death or at the very least create a situation of homelessness, our said representative will visit said spouse exactly one year from the date of death of the original beneficiary and offer the same alternative methods of extinction.

To learn about Medicare eligibility or to apply, visit http://www.socialsecurity.com or call Social Security at 1-800-BUY-SHOTS (TTY) 1-800-GET DEAD. If you do not sign up for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) when you are first eligible or if you cancel Part B and then get it later, you won’t have to worry about a thing because one of our black-suit representatives will be delighted to explain exactly why you do not have to worry about a thing. It is imperative that you hurry to learn about Medicare eligibility since the program is scheduled for the scrap heap within the first 100 days.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, more Americans used to qualify for coverage that fit their needs and budgets. This will no longer be the case since the Affordable Care Act will be replaced sometime within the first week, and we at the SSA don’t have the fuzziest idea in hell of what might possibly replace it, but fear not, if you no longer qualify for coverage that fits your needs or your budget, we will learn about it soon enough and ensure that one of our representatives gets in touch.

Whatever might happen, please understand that your federal government will always be there to assist you.

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The job process

So, have you been there yet?

Those of you who are seeking a job probably know exactly what I’m asking. You see a position advertised. It is written to perfectly fit your background, experience, and resume. You e-mail a very classy letter to the human resources department – never directly to the person who is going to hire you – accompanied by your very professional resume, and you wait…and, you wait, and…you…wait. With any luck, you might…very iffy, but might…get a response indicating that ‘they’ have received your resume. Nah, I’ll go further than that…you probably won’t get any response that they’ve received your documentation. You have been put “in the cloud.” It’s a wonderful expression. Means absolutely nothing, but it sounds good.

Next, you look for friends, relatives, past bosses (who like you, of course), and acquaintances…you know, like the barista at Starbucks who gets you your mocha latte every morning…anyone who may have a nodding acquaintance with the company to which you sent your resume and classy letter – by e-mail, of course, and maybe, just maybe, with a little luck, you find somebody who knows somebody who knows somebody who will call the somebody they know at the organization and give you a reference of some kind. Whew! And now you wait some more. You might hear directly from the company, although it’s doubtful, so you wait a week and call the HR department. They confirm or deny that they have received your resume, so, either “resend,” – they don’t even say “Please,” or they say that they have your resume on file, or…they say…”That position has been filled.” When it reaches that point, your first instinct is to crawl into the phone, through the ether, and through the phone at the other end, just to strangle the bitch – could be a bastard also – who told you the job wouldn’t be yours, even though you were the most qualified person in the world for the position.

Does any of this sound familiar…in any way, shape, or form? If you haven’t been there you haven’t lived a full and complete life. It isn’t really necessary for the average employer to post any job opening, either internally or externally (so why all the want ads in the paper). To quote the HR Daily Advisor, “…most employers are free to opt to post job openings when doing so is the best course of action for the situation and to refrain from doing so when they’re so inclined. If an organization is receiving any kind of federal monies, it is obligated, “…under the Vietnam Era Veterans’ Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA), as amended by the Jobs for Veterans Act (JVA), are required by regulation to post open positions.”

I well remember a situation in Pennsylvania. A friend of mine, working at a community college, was asked to take a candidate for lunch and an interview. When he asked, “Why?” he was told that even though they already knew who the new hire would be, they had to comply with federal regulations. “The man I took to lunch would have been ideal for the job,” he said, “but HR and the department head had already made up their minds. This guy would have been perfect. I wanted to scream that the job was gone, but, of course, I couldn’t do that. It was sinful that we should get this man’s hopes up like that.”

When I was searching for a new job, I learned very quickly to ask about internal candidates. On several occasions I was told that there were no internal candidates, only to find that was exactly who was hired to fill the position. In one case, I was told by the president of the university that he no longer wanted a woman in the slot for which I was applying. Perhaps he should have told his administrative assistant. They wound up hiring one of her lady friends!

All most job seekers want is a chance. If someone in the organization has a family member or a close friend, great, but don’t string along candidates for a position that is already closed. If it’s in the company contract that outside candidates will always be considered, be honest with those candidates who apply. They don’t have to be told that the COO’s nephew’s best friend from college’s roommate/son/grandnephew is going to fill the job but there are other ways to let the ‘we-can’t-hire-you-because’ candidate down easily.

As I write this, I have a friend who has been looking for a bit over two years. I know him to be a hard worker, a talented person with a great resume in the field of collegiate and professional athletics. His patience is remarkable, although I did mention that it took me three years to find my last job. Someone is going to realize just how great an addition he would be to their department. Until then, he’s working in several areas. After all, the rent still has to be paid, and eating is always a good thing!

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The blessings we have

What do you do with a writerer when he stops being a writerer? Oh, what do you do with a writerer when he’s through? Those of you up on your songs of the season will immediately recognize the tune as well as the classic movie from which it is taken. For those of you still in the dark…well, that’s the way it goes!

It is true, however, because this particular “writerer” has really been drawing a blank. No, it’s not writer’s block or something like that. Heck, one could always find something about which to write, eg, President-elect Trump [Time magazine’s Person of the Year] or angry protests about this, that, or the other thing. It would be a simple matter to pompously discuss the shootings of people of color by those wearing the blue, but these things have been so ‘done’ that they’re rather played out, old hat, or whatever other cliché you’d like to tag them with. (I know…sentences shouldn’t end with prepositions…get over it!) It’s also the time of year when we should be counting our blessings, and believe me, we don’t really know what all of those blessings are.

I will tell you this…we went shopping this morning. Some Christmas gifts were sent on their way to California, the first of many such post office trips I’m certain we’ll make over the next week or so. Much of what was sent is hand made. And I will add that it is so skillfully and beautifully hand made that it will be doubly appreciated by the recipients. It’s really difficult for me to tell you just how skilled a craftsperson my partner is. She knits, crochet’s, makes jewelry, cross stitches, and bakes like a dream. She even talked me into making another gingerbread house this year, although I’m a bit concerned because she’s also go to make one, and I just know it will be so much better than my own. Damn right I’m already jealous.

Anyway, following the USPO, our next stop was Walmart. My needles were ready to be picked up. You know, the ones that I attach to my ‘pen’ for a little shot of insulin each evening…talk about a stomach that looks like a pin cushion…oy vey! Yeah, diabetes is also on the menu these days. As usual, we had to discuss what she saw while in the store and I had to remark on what I saw going into the store. Amazingly, we didn’t see the same “Walmart shoppers” (Look it up on You Tube sometime).

Wegman’s was the final stop on our morning agenda. While Juli was in the store, I watched a van pull in directly in front of us. It was here that I realized just how much I’m blessed. A woman who looked to be in her mid-thirties climbed out of the driver’s side. From the sliding door on the passenger’s side, a ramp came down and a motorized wheelchair, driven by a man about the woman’s age, came soaring down. I may walk with a cane, but I walk. I go to the gym. I can pull a chair up to the kitchen or dining room table. I can climb into bed by myself and if I have to pee in the middle of the night, I can get up and do that. I can even walk up and down the stairs to watch Juli make jewelry if I so desire. I watched this couple go into the grocery store and thought to myself of all the things that I’m still able to do that this younger man can no longer do. It’s another of those many, many blessings that I have, but that too many people, older yes, but younger also, do not have.

It just seems to me that we’ve become a nation of complainers, that we prefer to focus on what we don’t have rather than what we do have. Maybe your job is a pain in the ass, but you have a job. Think of those who don’t. Maybe you’d like to buy more Christmas gifts this year, but can’t afford to do so. What about the people who can’t even put a meal on the table this Holiday Season. You may have a nasty cold that will go away in a week or so. Many people will spend this Christmas in hospitals or maybe even funeral homes. There are just so darn many things for which we have to be thankful, and we take so many of them for granted.

Here’s something I came across just recently. I reprint it here not knowing the author or where it was originally created, but it sure makes sense to me.

You can read…so you are luckier than over one billion people who cannot read at all.

If you woke up this morning with more health than illness …then you are luckier than the million who will not survive this week…and even luckier because you probably have heath care insurance that guarantees you will have healthcare in case of illness.

If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture, or the pangs of starvation…then you are ahead of 500 million people in the world.

If you can attend any meeting you want—political, religious, social…then you are luckier than 3 billion people in the world.

If you have food in the refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep…then you are richer than 75 per cent of this world.

If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace…then you are among the top eight per cent of the world’s wealthy.

If you can read a list like this, then you don’t belong to the 1 billion people who CANNOT read.

At this time of year, maybe we should all be thinking more about the blessings we have rather than the things we don’t have.

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