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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Big House, Little House

I live in a little house. I am retired and could no doubt get a mortgage for a much larger and more impressive abode. There are times when I even covet a larger house; however, those times are few and far between.

I have lived in various sizes and qualities of houses. Mostly I just hope that the roof doesn't leak and that the taxes and utilities are reasonable. Early life found me in a large brick farmhouse but without even the basic amenities indoors. The house itself was great - big rooms, high ceilings, large kitchen, a large parlor, and even a large walk-in pantry. And the bathrooms? There weren't any! I could do a whole post about that.

From that house I moved into Army barracks and the less said about that the better. Still had the basics, though, although at a number of posts that indoor bathroom was still elusive. After military life college life improved a bit- no more living space but at least a bathroom just down the hall.

A very good marriage (now in year 52) brought my wife and I to a small apartment behind a garden store. There the roof did leak and the space was very tight. Opening the fold-out bed at night meant a crawl over the bed to reach the closet. Later found us in a small apartment over a garage, then in a small rented cottage, and later into what was to become a successions of houses, the first being quite small. Are you beginning to see a pattern here?

Our best house was custom built brick and qualifies as large although not really impressive. I do remember insisting on three bedrooms, the smallest of which was 12 x 12 feet. Quite enough room for any couple with two daughters.

The house we live in now would qualify as small be anyone's standards but it is paid for, has low taxes, and extremely low utilities. The roof does not leak. The view is superb and the neighborhood is quiet and quite tolerable.

During all of this time I have done ample reflection on just what is needed in a house. It should be larger than the one we live in now but only enough larger to make storage of "things" easy. A house should, if it can be afforded, have a bedroom in excess of what is needed for the family in order to accomodate overnight guests. If siblings are of like sex they do not really need separate bedrooms.

Beyond that (if the house is occupied by persons of religious faith) a large house has one and only one purpose - that is to provide comfortable and adequate living space without too much regard for the opinion of our peers.

Whether intentionally or subconsciously a large house has only one purpose - to impress others, whether friends, enemies, employers, professional contacts, or business associates with one's success and/or level of achievement in life.

The neighborhood, too, must meet certain standards if it is to impress. Where I live now we have the occasional work vehicle parked for the night, occasional work done on cars, a loud party now and then. In a better neighborhood this would not be tolerated otherwise property (prestige) values would suffer.

If all this sounds like sour grapes, well it is not. My home is doing exactly what is necessary in a home - providing shelter. My neighbors mostly live and let live and seldom try to impress anyone with whom or what they are.

Fortunately, my wife and I are pretty much on the same page. Unfortunately, that is just not true in many marriages. One or both want "more" and more is what they get because it will simply not do to get by with less.

In conclusion that elusive thing happiness has very little, if any, to do with the size or quality of the house you live in.

To quote "It takes a heap of living to make a house a home". That does not say it takes "a heap of house."

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Do You Know Any Poor Doctors? Lawyers? Plumbers? Indian Chiefs?

Actually there won't be any Indian Chiefs in this blog as I don't know any. I do, however, know many doctors (only a few personally but a lot professionaly) and I also know a few lawyers (plus all those on TV), and of course the plumber.

It is not my plan to berate doctors as there are certainly many who work hard and conscientiously to make people's lives better. I would even say most of them do. I do not even mean to beat up on the lower quality doctors; first because they are hard to identify and it wouldn't do any good anyhow. It is something to keep in mind, though, that in each graduating class of doctors there is one who graduated at the very bottom of his class and, what do you know, tomorrow morning he will have patients in the waiting room eager to see him.

Most of us treat our doctors as superior all-knowing individuals and tend to take their word as medical law. Even when they don't have the answer I supose that it is good for us to regard them in that way as that, in itself, is a form of treatment. As we age it eventually sinks in with most doctors that whatever they do will never be enough to keep that black-robed figure with the scythe away from our door. In that respect every doctor must eventually come to terms with the fact that he is a failure - that is in comparison with the engineer, the scientist, or the technician who sometimes really do solve a problem.

There are, of course, many times when a good doctor does completely solve a problem. I'm sure you can think of many examples, e.g., surgically removing an appenix. As patients (and doctors) age the realization finally sinks in; we are all mortal and will be gone at least by the next century. Where we will go may be the topic for another blog.

But, I am finally working my way around to the point, which is (with the exceptions that you will no doubt come up with) that there are no poor doctors. This leaves out the large number of docs who work almost pro bono in developing nations and even among our own poor. In the United States they are small enough in number of not be part of this blog. I am thinking of the "average" doctor (if such a thing exists) who lives just down the street or in the next subdivision. The giveaway to their life styles includes among other things, the places they go for seminars, the vacation trips they make, the investments they make, the cars they drive, the travel and investment mags lying around the waiting room, etc.

If we get a bit personal with our doctors we hear almost the same thing from each of them - the paperwork is horrendous, Medicare/Medicaid pay no way near the doctor-charged amount, insurance is very high, taxes are too high, etc., etc. Never, and I say never, will you ever hear a doctor complain that he is poor. None of them are. Nor do we begrudge most of it. Doctors, as a group should receive high pay for their efforts. We just want to avoid going into "sorry" mode when legislation is at stake.

Doctors, by almost any measurement, are never poor. At least most of those with whom we come into contact. So just smile and nod when they show signs of poverty. Most doctors are rich and raking it in, all at the expense of government (the people) and the regulated insurers.

Ah, but lawyers! Their big payoffs, their fancy homes, their lifestyles, nearly all come from their legal form of extortion. I like the law. I studied law in college - took courses in business law and aviation law. I would have liked to be a lawyer as I love to deal with the intricacies and details of cases. Lawyers would have you believe that they too, like doctors, exist to serve the common man (which is most of us). They do not. High fees, greed, unnecessary complications, taking advantage of adversity, all combine to make lawyers among the lowest rated of professions. Yes, I know law school is lengthy, the courses are hard, case history is boring and tedious to study, and bar exams provide a high hurdles for any without a lot of smarts.

However, there is still too much of the "who you know" factor involved in becoming a successful lawyer. And by successful I do mean making a lot of money. There is, of course, a big surplus of just-graduated lawyers who are struggling until they find their niche. Which, for the enterprising among them, they always do. As in any other field some lawyers never get there and often turn to easier professions or to less sought after lawyering positions.

Also, lawyers make up the bulk of our legislators and take care to fashion laws that will benefit them. I am the last person to advocate price controls; however, when I see lawyers accepting these big cash awards I can't help but feeling that the system is out of whack. Again, I don't know how to fix it but would if I could.

And again, in spite of all the lobbying, complaining, control of things within their profession, I submit to you as with doctors, there are no poor lawyers (with the exceptions being those who have been a little slow to adapt to the extortionate practices used by most). They'll get there.

Ah, yes plumbers. Pretty far removed from the field of medicine and law. But do you really think there are any poor ones? And, of course, I do not incude any who say they are plumbers but are really just learning the trade. Plumbing, unlike law and medicine, requires lots of really hard physical work along with a big personal knowledge base and a willingness to go home tired and dirty. I watched a plumber work today just installing a simple dishwasher. In the process he skinned his fingers, had to move a heavy dishwasher into a house by himself, had to compensate for problems of fit, had to crawl on the floor, and work in poor lighting.

Was this worth a lot of money? Well, of course it was, and he should be highly compensated. But should he become rich at a job which requires a maximum of knowledge and skill but a minimum of schooling? I once knew a plumber (fancy title - steamfitter) who easily cleared $100,000 per year. He, too, worked hard but had advanced beyond the stage of crawling on the floor and under sinks.

So, what am I trying to say here? Just that supply and demand should come into play more than it does. Government should mess out. Plumbers should be free to charge whatever they want; customers should be free to shop for best prices. Same should apply to doctors and lawyers and would have the effect of getting rid of incompetent people and getting these sky-high legal and medical expenses into the real world. It is so easy for these professionals to demand high prices and happily take less when the net result is that they all, doctors, lawyers, and plumbers really are getting rich.

Blogs Yet Unborn

I can think of new blog subjects much faster than I can type (or even think) so here is a list of forthcomng ones. The titles are not yet in concrete; however this is about what they will be.

Do you know any poor doctors? Lawyers? Plumbers?
I want it all and I want it right now.
Big house, little house.
Status car or transportation.
Gas guzzlers.
Rebuild New Orleans? Rebuild beach houses?
General aviation.
Hauling the meat. Airline status today.
More on getting out of Iraq.
Why do we bother to save?
Are builders of retirement communities making expenses or getting greedy?
Who owns (and profits) from our nursing homes?
All the people I know have too much money.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Learning the Use of "Blog This"

I think I know how that works; however, until I try it and see I cannot be sure. First few times I tried it my comments went to one of the other blogs that I started when I really didn't know what I was doing. Sure, I read all the directions and tried to follow them but my 77-year-old brain is always about a day late and a dollar short.

I have a guru daughter who seems to soak all this stuff up just like a sponge from Tarpon Springs; however, she is seldom here when I start scratching my head about something.

I am now going to click on "publish" and see where this ends up. Although I know how to post a picture in the "compose" window I don't believe you can do that here.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

And Still Another Picture (I need the practice)

Couldn't resist adding this picture which I just received from Robert Burns, photographer par excellence.

If you click on the photo my experience so far tells me you will see it in a big size.

Now I hope to quit playing around and get back to some serious writing. One thing I've noticed about blogs so far is that if you want them seen either give out your blog URL or establish a list of other blogs that you read and who might read yours.

Get Out of Iraq - But How?

It makes me kinda mad to keep hearing that people are "for" or "against" the war. I would hope that, with the exceptions of a few demented souls, we are all "against" the war. No one in his right mind would be "for" a war. In the immortal words of Franklin D. Roosevelt "I hate war, Eleanor hates war, even little Fala hates war".

But in the words of another distinguished scholar (whose name I will not take time to look up right now) Freedom is never free. Sacrifices of all sorts must be made if we are to remain a free nation. The worst of it is the loss of our young men and women and, to a much lesser degree, the loss of some of the freedoms that they are fighting for. Some of our soldiers are not even "in harm's way" (another overworked phrase) because they volunteered to be there. Sure, they enlisted in one of the armed forces but perhaps for a self-serving purpose rather than sheer patriotism. Perhaps it was to leave the ghetto, to get money for college, to find an income with no marketable skills, or simply for the camaradie and adventure. When they did so they had no thought of riding along in a dirty Humvee down a dusty road in a foreign country and in the next instant being painfully blown into oblivion. They should not be condemned for what they did - we each have to do each day what we think will bring us benefit.

It is here that I suppose I should admit that I did somewhat the same thing and for somewhat the same reasons. When the last war was winding down, indeed the day when the "bomb" was dropped, I was a 17-year-old cadet in the Civil Air Patrol and was at an Army Air base for summer camp. The CAP was a volunteer arm of the Army Air Force but with no military committment to serve further.

I was, of course, laced with what I thought was patriotism and had drilled and marched with the best of them. I was a Cadet Sergeant who drilled cadets at our weekly meetings and took part in all sorts of training. But the key here is I was still free to leave at any time. In the summer of 1946 I had a pretty hard job at the local paint and glass company where I unloaded heavy paint boxes, wrestled with those small containers of lead (whose weight was 100 pounds - lead, can you imagine?), manhandled (boyhandled?) bundles of wallpaper, etc. My 17-year-old friend came by one day on his mail delivery route and carrying a heavy bag. "Hey, why don't we join the Air Force?" Since we neither one had any prospects of going to college (it was never considered in my home) and since the GI Bill was still in effect it was an easy decision. All this by way of pointing out that there are many reasons for signing up.

We are especially proud of those whose only reason for enlisting was to serve their country in the best way they knew how, knowing full well that they might go into combat, but not letting that deter them. In this present war it is my guess that that makes up the bulk of our fighting force. Some of the others may have gotten the patriotic bug after enlisting, some did not and regret that they are in the war zone. But they are there and are capable of many acts of bravery even while wishing they were elsewhere.

So, to get to my point. I do fully support our elected officials, our military leaders, and all of the troops wherever they may be. Nevertheless, I, like I would hope most Americans do, want them home as soon as that can be effected with honor and success. How can this be achieved? I wish I knew. I support President Bush in what he is doing and can only hope that he is surrounded by minds working feverishly in order to extract our troops as soon as possible.

Hopefully the establishment of a constitution will begin progress towards peace there. All Iraqi factions must be included in the government and, at least at the top, those factions will begin to see the economic benefits that will eventually come from cooperation. At the lower level it may take a long while before the persons responsible for terroism can accept the fact that things are changing in that country. Perhaps we need a military genius or a diplomatic genius (whether American or Iraqi) to emerge to somehow change the attitudes of the young Iraqis (and others) who are making trouble.

What we cannot do and must not do is to "cut and run" as we did in Vietnam. It may have been justified there since we could leave and feel that the troubles would not follow us to our shores. We cannot do that in Iraq.

Enough for one posting. I'll have more on this subject later. Let's all discuss what we might do, but without surrender.

More on Uploading Photos

O.k., I think I may have the hang of putting photos onto a blog. It is a lot different from posting them to one of my websited. I'm also having trouble getting the title to appear the way I want it too, but I shall master that also.

Now here goes with a photo:

Friday, September 16, 2005

Uploading Photos

Flights of Fancy

Going Quietly Nuts.

I am going nuts trying to put one of my hundreds of picture files on here. I have downloaded Blogger for Windows but can't seem to get the program working. Message keeps telling me computer cannot open that file. Now I am just putting a little text on here to see if I can still even do that.

Flights of Fancy

Flights of Fancy

The World According to Art

The World According to Art

Just testing.

The World According to Art

The World According to Art

Thursday, September 15, 2005

The World According to Art

The World According to Art

Testing for photos.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

balloon Posted by Picasa

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