Advent, Christmas, and Hopefully a Happy New Year

Dec 8, 2016 by

Advent, Christmas, and Hopefully a Happy New Year

Now that the Advent season has begun, I am beginning to be more hopeful with each passing day. This year has been a tough one for me. I was hospitalized three times this year with heart problems. Prior to this year I had only been in the hospital twice in my life.  I spent a good portion of the year grieving over the death of my beloved dog Max. Max had been my constant companion and great source of love and happiness for 12 years. His death left a gaping hole in my heart and life. Max kept me busy.  I took him for a walk every morning and almost daily we took a ride to one of the nearby parks for another walk. His absence left me with a lot of time that I suddenly had no way to fill. I never really descended into depression, but I did find myself crying much too often. I have yet to scatter his ashes, I’m waiting for December 23rd, the day Max died, to do that.

So being festive, joyful, and happy, with Christmas this year being so close to the anniversary of Max’s death, has been something I didn’t think I would be. But strangely I am feeling the Holiday spirit in a way I never thought I would again. I have been Christmas shopping, and enjoying it, and decorating the church for Advent. While I don’t have a tree to put up myself, I have helped my friend Teresa decorate hers. While picking up poinsettia’s for church at the local nursery I really enjoyed the winter wonderland that the nursery had setup. I enjoyed last Christmas season right up until the day Max died so suddenly. I am finding that I am enjoying this one almost as much.

I am looking forward to seeing the train display that a local church is sponsoring, and looking forward to seeing my son Jason and my family for Christmas breakfast December 17th. While I still don’t have plans for Christmas day yet, I expect to have a wonderful Christmas. Max will always be a part of my Christmas, even though he is no longer with me. I choose to remember only the joy and happiness Max blessed me with, and will put away my grief as best I can.

Christmas season is by far the best season of all. The anticipation of celebrating the birth of my Savior, the Christmas  music, Christmas lights and decorations, seeing family, food, and just the very special feeling that comes only with Christmas has lifted my spirits to the highest they have been in this difficult year. I find myself busy with a myriad of things now, when for the first few months of the year I had lost interest in doing just about everything, I had put on weight because I was not taking walks with Max anymore. But now I am taking courses on Gimp2, and Adobe Lightroom through Udemy.com. I am back out taking photographs again, as well as reading books and taking little excursions. I find myself pressed for time to do all the things I want to do where earlier in the year the days stretched emptily.

So I am thinking the New Year will be a good one. I have a new dog, Cali, a treeing walker coonhound, to keep me company as well as occupied. My days will hopefully be filled with new and exciting things to do. I plan on spending much more time reading the Bible, in prayer, and doing church business. I hope to get back to exercising more, and maybe even take a vacation somewhere exotic, or as exotic as a 67 year old man can stand. I am both thankful and hopeful.

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Birthday and the New Year

Jan 24, 2015 by

January 27th will be my 66th birthday. I have been retired since April of 2008. So far retirement has been pretty much what I expected. I spend my time between walking my dog Max, doing social media, reading, including the Bible and my daily devotionals, and going to the gym. I spend a bit every day doing various church work.

A few things I want to do this year include travel, more study time, and shooting my guns. I have not been to the outdoor range in a couple of years. I want to join the Nansemond Suffolk shooting range so I can shoot my M4, AK47, M1 carbine, Mossberg shotgun, and my Mosin Nagant. I really miss shooting them. I have only fired my handguns in the indoor range in Norfolk.

The reason I haven’t gone to an outdoor range is that they are so far away. One is in Wakefield and the other in Pungo, both over an hour drive. The Nansemond Suffolk range will be much closer.

As for travel, I really want to go to Alaska. It is the one state that, although I have been to it briefly while traveling to Vietnam, have always wanted to visit. It is one of the last remaining wilderness areas in America. I have been to the Rockies and was thrilled by them but Alaska will be so much more.

I hope to be able to realize all my aspirations this year but as with everything, things seldom go as you wish or plan. But I am ever hopeful. Wish me luck in the New Year. I wish the same for you.

Alaska

Alaska

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Bangladesh contributes more money to UN World Food Program than all the OPEC countries.

May 9, 2008 by

woman foodIn a damning indictment of the major oil producing nations of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), internal UN World Food Program (WFP) documents show that OPEC gives almost nothing to the WFP, even as OPEC oil revenues swell due to skyrocketing oil prices. The burden of feeding the world’s starving remains with the United States and a small group of predominately Western nations. US donations amount to $1.16 billion annually, more than five times as much as the next biggest donor, the European Commission. As an example of the deplorable state of participation by OPEC nations Saudi Arabia, with oil revenues last year of $164 billion, has contributed nothing at all. OPEC nations have contributed a grand total of $1.5 million. That is the equivalent of one minute and 10 seconds worth of OPEC’s estimated $674 billion in annual oil revenues in 2007. To further emphasize the magnitude of OPEC’s lack off charity, the poverty-stricken African republic of Burkina Faso has donated more that $600,000, and Bangladesh, home of many of the world’s hungriest people, donated nearly $5.8 million. Once again the Western world shows that it has compassion for the suffering of the world’s poor while some of the richest countries of the Middle East show that they are only concerned about acquiring more expensive cars and luxury homes for their own citizens.

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Kentuck Derby tragedy and how to prevent such tragedies.

May 6, 2008 by

Kentucky DerbyEveryone was shocked by the death of Eight Belles at the Kentucky Derby last Saturday. Eight Belles death was the second death in the past few years of a world class race horse. There are a number of disturbing facts about the race horse business that need to be investigated. Selective breeding that leads to specific traits that favor speed over strength, stamina, and durability have made race horses increasingly fragile and prone to injury. The pervasive use of drugs to allow horses to race without feeling pain increases the chances of a horse becoming injured. The use of softer, artificial tracks should be required to reduce the wear and tear on a horse during its career. The age range of the horses should also be looked into to insure the horses are neither too young or too old. Professional horse racing has started to become ominously similar to greyhound dog racing in many regards. Everyone involved in professional horse racing should stop and reflect on the death of Eight Belles and decide if they want to continue racing the same as always or do something that will dramatically reduce the chances of such a tragedy happening again. After all, the horses did not volunteer for racing, unlike human athletes who voluntarily play professional sports and are well aware of the risks. We owe it to these magnificent animals as well as ourselves to ensure that they live long and happy lives.

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How to lower the cost of gasoline. It’s not rocket science.

May 1, 2008 by

Gas PricesA recent CNN poll showed that the #1 economic worry of most people in the United States is the cost of filling their gas tank. And people should be worried about it. There are some industry analysts who are predicting that a gallon of gas could cost from eight to ten dollars a gallon before the end of the year. I don’t think that is wild speculation either, citizens of most European countries are already paying eight dollars a gallon. But when I read that the president of Shell Oil said that the answer to lowering the cost of gasoline was to produce more gasoline in the United States, I couldn’t disagree more. I guess that kind of statement is to be expected from someone in the oil industry. The oil industry can’t wait to drill for oil in Alaska and elsewhere in the United States. They have little regard for the environmental impact of such drilling. Even if production of gasoline in the United States was increased, it still would not lower the price of gas. It would just encourage people to keep on buying SUV’s and other gas guzzlers. The only way to reduce the cost of gasoline is to reduce our consumption of gasoline. People need to realize that they can no longer afford to buy gas guzzling SUV’s and hemi-powered V-8 Dodge Ram trucks that get less than 20 mpg. People need to start car pooling and start using mass transit whenever possible. The auto industry needs to really get serious and start producing more hybrids and alternative fuel source vehicles. The federal government needs to get serious and stop spending billions on more interstate highways and instead spend billions on mass transit so people won’t have to drive everywhere they need to go. In Europe, where gasoline is eight dollars a gallon, they have efficient and effective mass transit already. Most Europeans don’t drive big SUV’s and V-8 trucks. We shouldn’t have to wait until gasoline reaches eight dollars a gallon before we start to emulate the Europeans. When there are more hybrid, electric, and alternative fuel source vehicles on the road than gas guzzling vehicles, the price of gasoline will not be the economic burden it is now. But how to get the oil industry, the auto industry, and the federal government with the program is the challenge. Everyone needs to take an active part in influencing the oil and auto industries and the federal government into making smart choices and enacting legislation that will move us away from our current downward spiraling path toward economic disaster.

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