It took a lot of time and effort, but when I got to the top I realized that there is a noise that you just can’t drown out when you are so close to the ground. I also learned about what you need to get to the top. No one is going to carry you to the top. You have to be determined. You have to understand support and resistance. Your support is the ground, twisted and angled as it is against the resistance of gravity.
I received trekking poles for Christmas this year. I like cycling but it does leave your upper body out of the picture. Also, I am a little intimidated about cycling on these trails that are actually labeled cycling trails. Rather than purchasing a mountain bike (and having to explain to my wife that I purchased another bike), I chose to get the poles. I consulted YouTube to get the proper techniques for using the poles, and I was off on my first trek.
One thing that I learned is that the route is not marked well. I wanted a much shorter distance with a little higher altitude. At the bottom, you start with a crowded field. As you ascend, the crowd thins out until you are all alone and you have to make your own decisions. When the choice is yours, it’s scary. There were times that I wanted to turn around…but when I got my bearings I decided to get there to the top.
When you’re at the top you want to share it with someone. It is as this moment that the metaphors come flying out of the blue. It’s lonely at the top. While I feel I can learn a lot from the experience, one thing I really know is that it really hurts. Using the poles makes it a full body workout. My arms and my shoulders hurt as much as my legs. Furthermore, my core is nice and tight and I didn’t get the chance to overeat.
It is very possible that I have found my new passion…you know, to go with cycling, day trading, and the other activities that consume my retirement. You need a challenge to get the reward. I am up to the challenge.
Like all houses, they need people to become a home. Now there are people in the house and it is a home once more.
On May 4, 1990, I went to a Title Company office in Woodbury, NJ and signed a zillion papers and became the owner of this little house. Not much has changed from the outside. It started out as a small house and on September 20, 2019, I went to a Title Company office in Bridgeton, NJ and someone else signed a zillion papers and became the owner of this little house. In the 29 years that it was mine, this house was home. My home.
Today that home is represented by a bunch of numbers in a bank account. Over the past few years, the wear and tear on the home has been dealt with so that it may become attractive to another person who could see it as their home. For much of the time over the past few years, no one really enjoyed the new amenities that were added to this home. Like all houses, they need people to become a home. Now there are people in the house and it is a home once more. I drove past the house on the way to dinner after the settlement. There were many cars in the driveway. The lights were on and there was much movement. It was once again a home.
In this house, I raised my kids. I worked at my chosen career and made plans for the future. We endured challenges and came out stronger on the other side. It was simple. We had a roof over our heads. We were warm in the winter and cool in the summer. We left our house to enjoy our days and in the end always came home. Bittersweet is a word that comes to mind. The plans that were hatched in that safe and comfortable home have now come to fruition. Now a new family can enjoy their time in their home. I wish them the very best. Make great memories!!
The first memory I have of dad was coming through the door from work. We were living in Philadelphia on Walnut Lane in the West Oak Lane section of Philadelphia. The carpet was an area rug, green in color. We had been out shopping that day. We had seen other men. Mr. Fishman who fitted us for shoes. Mr. Fergalle who cut my hair. Random people who walked past us during the day. They were always weird looking or funny looking to me. Yes this was my first memory of my dad…but not the first time I’d seen him. He came through the door with his briefcase and a smile and there was absolutely no one that was as good looking and wonderful as my dad.
My dad is one half of the most important people in my life. Mom and Dad. Mom is part of my dad’s story. Together they raised me and my brothers and sister. Their job as parents was to sacrifice themselves so that their children could benefit. I watched this every day…first through my selfish eyes where I couldn’t really see anything but my own needs or desires…and then later in life…when they made time for me for things like my little league baseball games, even though I wasn’t very good and then eventually through all of those school plays and concerts. They helped me through my adolescent years and they helped me become the person I am today.
There’s no course you can teach on parenting. There’s no book. There’s no map. Just nothing but commitment and love. There was a lot of love. There’s was a lot of pride. There was a lot of devotion. Love is when you always have a parent there to watch you, to cheer for you, to correct you and to love you in spite of your faults. Mom and dad did that for me and my siblings for years. Later when I had children, my dad would just absolutely dote on his grandchildren. He would buy old drum sticks and flip over old paint buckets to give my son his love for drumming. He was the first step in what is now his career and livelihood. He would provide a place for my daughter to stay when she had to work in the far off remote locations of Princeton and beyond.
Later, after my dad retired, he had to transition in life. Mom worked for a few more years, but, eventually she retired and they became, husband and wife again. They were there…for each other. Getting older is both beautiful and challenging. They went through this stage together. They cared for each other…each one having a bout with age a little earlier in life…spending time getting to hate hospitals. I also know this too. Now, it seems like the pains of everyday living are making it difficult to see who the caregiver is and who needs the care.
My mom and dad have watched couples disappear from their lives one by one and yet they are still together as a couple. This is all that they know. This should be the model for living. If there ever is a book on how to do “family”, it should be modeled after them. Now we are getting closer to the end of them. Soon it will only be one. There will be a hole…a big hole. I don’t know if I am ready for it as a son…let alone a spouse. I know that it will be hard. I know that everyone goes through this. It is seemingly unbearable…and I know it will take family to get through it…the whole family.
My sister has done so much to be there for my mother and father. She is a blessing beyond words. Th future is going to be rough…but as I reflect on my time with mom and dad…I catch myself smiling. I was the lucky one. I got the best two parents in the world. They got to be grandparents to my kids. They helped form another generation and that kind of spirit doesn’t die. It just gets bigger and more present…and those little annoyances, they just fade away.
Today, I will hug my mom and dad and I will cherish the closeness. Everyday, I will carry mom and dad with me. I can’t shake it. They are a part of me…all the good…and some of the bad. It is a perfect recipe. I have to remember that they don’t have to be here physically to be the parents that they have been all my life…and God will welcome two of the greatest souls to ever be placed in imperfect bodies to His Kingdom.
My posting has been limited over the past several months by my work on my NJ house. This was my home for the past 29 years. Now, it is just a house that I need to sell. It is now represented by price, offer and perceived value. Now that there is no Internet, it is far from a home…for me at least.
In late March, I spent time working on the inside of the house. The crazy thing is that if I were still living there, it would not have been a priority. I thought that new carpet, paint, water conditioner and a complete cleanup was going to make my house desirable. I knew that the outside couldn’t be dealt with until I had more money and time.
In June, I went back for another 3 weeks and worked on the outside of the house and installed air conditioners so that the “showings” would go off in comfort. I also cleaned up and washed the outside and scoured the roof and deck that had been subject to the weather. During the time that I was there, realtors had been through the house with potential buyers. Their comments seem to indicate that the house “needs a lot of work”. Whew!!! I have been working tirelessly for months on this house…and it needs a lot of work?
I guess that I shouldn’t take their comments personally. I have heard comments about many things that don’t make sense in my life. I need to divorce myself from the comments on my house as a commentary on my home and my life. It’s high time that I begin work on my new home in California. Meanwhile, in spite of the comments, there is a house in NJ that is just waiting to become a home for a new family. I hope they find each other soon.
making an undergraduate degree or even an associates degree free would just be like extending high school for another 2 to 4 years rather than getting the young people to begin their useful productive lives sooner.
The entrance of Bernie Sanders into the presidential race has thrust the idea of free college back into the spotlight. The popular thinking on the pro side of free college is that it would level the playing field and allow all students to get the advantage of a college education. The opposition says that it is another hand out for those who don’t deserve it and it hurts the free market. They also say that there is no realistic plan to fund this education and that is true.
Where this issue is concerned, I am not an idealist nor am I a pessimist, but actually more of a pragmatist. The actual belief that college is the key to your ultimate success is far from the truth. Since a college degree is necessary to “compete” for the limited jobs that are available and the need for a skilled workforce in any field cannot be guaranteed, it is not a good bet anymore. Furthermore, the colleges themselves say that the solution is even more education. In reality, making an undergraduate degree or even an associates degree free would just be like extending high school for another 2 to 4 years rather than getting the young people to begin their useful productive lives sooner.
Maybe the key is to look at our high schools that are boring the hell out of the average and the above average student and ultimately killing any motivation from the student who is academically challenged. In Finland, a country often praised for its education practices, students decide on their career before they enter their junior year. Exercising the decision making muscle earlier in life would be a far better idea than putting it off until graduation or even beyond.
I always end my classes with students, particularly those that I don’t know with the quote, “make good choices.” I don’t even know if the students really know how to make a good choice concerning their education and their future.
As I sit here and begin to look back at the past 364 days, I am struck by the fact that time really moves a lot faster as you get on in years. This is also the first full year of my retirement and, while I had been retired since July of 2017, there was definitely a transitional time. I guess that the word “transitional” could describe my entire year.
In January, my father-in-law, Leonard Gibbons passed away. He had struggled with Parkinson’s disease over the past few years and it was really hard to see him lose his ability to take care of himself, let alone others as he was apt to do. I can remember him as a man who was always in control and he was a leader for his own family as well as a dear loved one to his extended family. I live in the house that he occupied for years and I still think of him when looking for tools…asking myself, “where would Len have put that?”
Also, in January, I returned to New Jersey to participate in what may well have been my last concert as a member of the Philly Pops Festival Chorus. During that time, my beloved Eagles were making a playoff run without their franchise quarterback and shocked me and the world by defeating the New England Patriots and their renowned for winning (and cheating) quarterback, Tom Brady. Yes, the Eagles were Super Bowl Champions. The game was scheduled for February 4 which coincided with my final concert with the Philly Pops. The following Tuesday, the day of the parade, I left New Jersey and returned to California.
In February, March and April I saw Tennis at the Indian Wells Tennis Center, crowds gathered for Coachella and Stage Coach, events for the young and not me, and I saw specialists for my knee problems. On February 6, I had both a blood clot and a Baker’s cyst confirmed in my right leg. My knee pain prompted me to see a specialist and I am on anti-coagulants and saving up for stem cell therapy which even my east coast doctors say is my best bet right now. It’s just insurance companies that don’t.
On February 7, I got to see my son play in Dirty Dancing in San Diego, the first of three performances that I would see with him. He would later audition for the first national tour of Dear Evan Hansen and was hired in May for a two year tour. I have seen Dear Evan Hansen now 4 times…and counting. I am very proud.
In the summer, my daughter was promoted at the Guide Dogs of the Desert to the training department. She is now working to be a trainer with them. In March, she brought out her friend who obtained a chocolate lab as her new guide dog and then went back to New Jersey.
In May, I was hired by the Desert Sands Unified School district as a substitute. I worked one day at the local middle school and one day at Shadow Hills high school before I accepted a long term music teaching position to finish out the year. I once again had to conduct a concert on my birthday. I enjoyed it because it made me feel a little bit more normal. I also needed the money as the bills were outpacing my retirement income.
In June, I returned to New Jersey to work on the house. We still need to sell it but there are issues, both legal and practical that are standing in the way. I joined my son there for the summer while he worked on his show for the upcoming year. I cleaned a lot of stuff out of the house and after my son’s Broadway debut in Dear Evan Hansen, I loaded his Saturn Vue with all of the things that I thought I needed and headed out to California. Along the way, I stopped at the Field of Dreams movie site in Iowa. I also stopped in Denver where Ryan would be performing soon. I set out for California from Grand Junction Colorado and tried to make it all the way to La Quinta, California but my transmission had other plans. The car died in Yucca Valley. It was about an hour from home and Kelsi knew the way, so they drove to pick me up and the car was towed off into the sunset never to drive again.
In September, I started to work again. I needed the money and so did my wife as she doesn’t get paid over the summer. These next two months were very “transitional” in nature. I paid off my house in New Jersey in October. I had taken over paying the real estate taxes in November. When December arrived, I finally could breathe again…financially.
Today, it is December 31. I took a bike ride because I want to take a daily bike ride. I had to schedule it and follow through because it was cold. I stopped at the outdoor gym and did some strength training. On my ride, I rode up the trail at Wolf Bear Creek and witnessed a snow storm happening on the mountain in front of me. I began to get very philosophical about the new year. I am healthier. My leg is feeling better. I am getting organized for my “resolution”.
Since retiring, I’ve let myself get out of shape. I am physically and mentally soft. I have decided to take stock. I am tracking my day with my daily goals and they are on a time. There is a pie chart that will track all of my time including one of my worst vices, the television. I know what I want to do. The goals are there. I seek to eliminate this television from my daily life. I’ve already started. Check back next year to see how I’ve done.
Happy New Year all and I wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019.
I drove my car across the country. The car was a 2005 Satrun Vue 6 cylinder. I was pretty confident in its ability to make the trip. I drove the same car in the 4 cylinder version just two years ago and it had more miles on it than this one did…but…as luck would have it…it just didn’t make it.
Farewell Satrun Vue. You have served myself and my family well. Fond memories…even as your were towed off into the sunset.
On May 23, 2016, at approximately 1:00pm eastern time, my wife responded to a phone message indicating an issue with the IRS. The person who handled her call insisted that she was subject to arrest if she didn’t clear up a tax evasion issues from her 2014 tax return. He gave his name, badge number, dates that the IRS sent correspondence and threatened her with a public arrest and public humiliation if she didn’t follow directions to immediately clear up this balance. Yet this whole conversation was a fraud.
He directed her to borrow a person’s car, and purchase prepaid Visa cards and sent them directly to your company’s locations to buy them and transfer them. All the while he told her that if she ended the call she would be arrested. She went to a CVS and bought as many as were allowed. (There is apparently an awareness of potential criminal activity, but there must be acceptable losses allowed.)
When I finally tracked my wife down she had already acquired the cards and complied with every one of the person’s requests to stay out of jail. I immediately knew that this was a scam and we went back to the post office to retrieve the cards that the fake IRS employee told her to mail to a bogus address. We called the police and they arrived at the post office. They talked to the scammer online. There is a record with the local Police Department. We did retrieve the cards.
When we tried to follow the steps for cancelling these cards, we found that there was no way to get through to the prepaid companies. All the phone numbers on the back of the cards were for automated computer responses and one of them even asked for our social security number…after just being scammed. When we questioned a representative from OneVanilla a prepaid company, he said that the payee who received the funds was a known fraudulent business. Further investigation found that this scam has been running for over 5 years. The IRS even has the very name of the individual that was being used.
The use of the prepaid Visa card is part of the plan. The perpetrator knew this and directed every step of the transaction. He knew the location of the stores and knew where the cards were sold. He knew how to instill fear and he attempted to wipe every trace of the transaction away by insisting that we mail the cards…to a phony IRS address. This is known to pre-paid companies and no warning are made on the website, the cards, or at the point of sale. There is no way of accessing a human being and even as the crime was being committed we couldn’t stop it because we can’t get in touch with a human. All totaled, 10 Visa cards totaling just under $5,000.00 were purchased and used to pay our phony delinquent tax bill to the scammer. Of those 10, 6 were Green Dot cards and 4 were Vanilla.
Based on the information obtained so far, it is clear that Green Dot and One Vanilla were aware of this situation. Additionally, Green Dot’s consumer access to their customer service is deplorable in light of this threat. Since there were no warnings about this scam that regularly utilizes Green Dot cards among others to launder their money, there is clearly a perceived liability on the part of the issuing bank. I say perceived because it is my viewpoint and my perception matters here.
Since this happened almost 2 years ago and we had reported it to Green Dot and Vanilla and neither company has seen fit to respond to our case, we are pursuing a lawsuit. These cards are sold in drug stores and dollar stores and they are displayed like candy and activated by clerks who know little more than the fact that they must be purchased in cash. Since that time there has been a major break in one of the organizations responsible in India and there has been no restitution paid to the victims. Still there is no warning to the consumer that they are being scammed if being called by the IRS and directed to these financial instruments because, apparently, it would cost the companies money.
According to Green Dot’s corporate site, they are doing quite well in returning corporate profits for those investors who don’t care for the dark side of their business or even dealing with consumers who are victimized by crooks who know their practices and know that they will continue to look the other way when presented with these crimes; yet they are as guilty as the person supplying a getaway car in a bank robbery. Financial fraud perpetrated on citizens through use of phone, mail and financial instruments is far more devious and dangerous and under reported.
It is for this reason that I have engaged an attorney to sue the companies that have participated in a fraud and done nothing to prevent it from happening again. The criminals are still out there as my family members continue to get these calls. I am suing because they are at the very least negligent if not complicit in the crimes being committed against Americans. Clearly they have been silent on this issue because the percentage of frauds using their products represent a significant enough portion of their profits to make it part of their business plan. Sad.
I missed an entire month of updates to my blog. Well, in a nutshell, I was really busy. I have been working feverishly on my house and I still have a lot of work to go. I am taking a break and visiting in California for awhile.