Just Calm Down

At some point every day, I check the news ticker provided to me at the bottom of Bing’s homepage and it always disappoints.
Not because of the horrible events that happen all around the world every day, that’s to be expected. No, what disappoints me is what society seems to deem as “news worthy.” Today, for example, right after news about Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s lung cancer and the murder of two tourists in Morocco, there is a story about how Miley Cyrus sang “Santa Baby” on “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” Yup, that seems important.
That story is followed up by a story about a Canadian held in China and how he can’t turn off the lights, which is valid in the grand scheme of world diplomacy. Then a story about a highway being named after Obama, followed by a plane crash in Atlanta. All of these stories seem relevant with one glaring exception, maybe two. Perhaps it’s a slow news day but if you read each of the stories, it’s not a slow news day. There’s world diplomacy, as I stated above, being tested in Syria, China and several other places around the globe. There’s a plane crash that killed 4 (on a global scale that barely makes the news, if at all). A Supreme Court Justice who’s dealing with cancer, which is a great human interest story. Not to mention an arrest in Japan of the former chairman of Nissan Motor Company.
It seems the world is melting down, ever so slowly and the info-savvy people of this country are as equally concerned with the United States’ standing on the global stage as they seem to be about Miley Cyrus’ rendition of a bad Christmas song… wait! Am I even allowed to say “Christmas”? Santa Baby is about Santa Claus, who traditionally represents the holiday of Christmas but, heaven forbid, I offend anyone by using that term.
This country is so PC and so worried about offending, not only other countries but also the citizens of this country, that it’s begun to lose much more than its moral compass. I would argue that sometimes things need to be done that will offend. The United States should ruffle some feathers, when needed. If other country’s get upset, that’s OK and actually healthy in the grand scheme of world politics. The same should be said for the government’s relationship with its citizens. The government should act in the best interest of the country. It can’t worry about upsetting people. Every move made in government will offend somebody. Unfortunately the United States seems as if it’s starting to worry about offending everyone. That’s not healthy for the government of a World power.
Above, I talked about the government’s relationship with its citizens, not illegal aliens, not refugees seeking asylum. Sorry. It’s not show-friends, it’s show-business and if you’re willing to take the steps to gain legal entry into the United States, under the current rules, then I say “welcome”. I’m sorry you weren’t born here, I truly am, but the United States can’t just have open borders with no procedures for entry. It can’t. Other country’s don’t. The world’s a dangerous place, just look at the news ticker at the bottom of Bing. Nestled in, between Miley Cyrus and Obama’s cameo in the remix of “Hamilton”, which I’m sure is delightful, you’ll see it. Murder, Mother Nature’s wrath, Catholic sex cover-ups, wars, crimes of passion and all the other sins of the world. It’s a dangerous time, in a dangerous world. The United States needs to protect itself, and if someone takes offense to that, then perhaps they should run for a public office and fight to make a change, the proper way, instead of sharp shooting the way things are being done now.
Some of you might say that I sound like a Trump Supporter. You couldn’t be further from the truth. I think Donald Trump was a horrible choice for Commander in Chief but there wasn’t a better option. Hillary? Ha! I didn’t vote. I tried to figure out who to vote for but in the end, I didn’t feel that either of them made sense. Am I a bad American because I didn’t vote? Maybe. I did serve for 25 years in the Military so I hope that’s sufficient evidence to show how I feel about my country. Trump’s barely qualified to run his company’s let alone the United States. Prior to running for President he ducked his last opportunity to serve, a couple of times. It seems to me, he’s like a person who never quite fit in but who was able to gain a little power and now he thinks he matters. I saw it all the time in the Army. He’s like a little boy trapped in grandpa’s body. He should be banned from all social media until he eats all of his vegetables.
My point is, the country needs to put on its big kid pants (not big boy or big girl. See, I can be PC), buckle down and re-gain its hold as a global super-power and not worry who it pisses off, so long as the country remains fair and consistent, when it comes to protecting itself and its citizens. I, for one, could care less about what Miley Cyrus has to say and more about what the country is doing to make itself a better place.
Make America Great Again???? That would infer that it once was great and now it’s not. That’s wrong. “Greatness” is a tough thing. There is always something that can be better. For example, race relations within our country. It’s never been good, so when The Donald says, “make America great again,” he totally ignores the fact that America, while “good,” has never been truly great and probably never will. That being said, there’s nowhere else I’d rather live and based on the number of people trying to get in, the rest of the world thinks so too.

The Struggle is Real

Haven’t had a day off in quite some time and I’m beginning to feel the anxiety associated with transitioning out of the army.  Non-military folks don’t get it.  All of my civilian friends talk about “job placement” and how easy it’s going to be to find a new job when I retire, but the truth is, it isn’t.  Nothing about retirement from the army is easy.  Sure I’ll receive a check every month for the rest of my life and sure that’ll cover a home and some expenses associated with a home but it won’t keep me where I’m at, financially speaking.  That’s the scary part.  I have no idea how to proceed and because I’m retiring from the Indiana National Guard all of my retirement/transition help is located about an hour and half away at Fort Knox, Kentucky.

Fort Knox is responsible for assisting separating soldiers in every aspect, from medical to transportation and they do a good, efficient job but if you live far away they’re not much help.  In their defense, it’s not their job to find me a new life.  I learned long ago. No one cares about you in this world.  I mean, your family, hopefully cares, but in the grand scheme of life you’re on your own and I think, that’s the scary part.  My entire adult life has been taken care of by Uncle Sam.  All I had to do was, wake up in the morning and my day was laid out for me.  I’d accomplish my daily task and leave.  Everyday has been the same.  The tasks are almost always different and sometimes the “leave” part may be several days or months a part, but the format is the same.  Without this structure, I’m not sure which way I’m supposed to proceed.  I feel a bit like Brooks, the librarian in “Shawshank Redemption”, although my mental state is a lot better than his turned out to be.  That being said, I do feel the anxiety that he seemed to have upon his release from the big house.

A little dramatic?  Yes. But, I made a promise to myself that when I retired, my family wouldn’t have to go through any sort of financial lull while I tried to get my civilian footing.  This is proving harder than I thought.

Working on my resume is ridiculously brutal, in that, everything I write looks bad and/or poorly written even though I’ve done some pretty substantial work in my time with the army.  Every time I think it looks good, I re-read it and it’s pure shit.  I’ve sent it out to friends that have provided great input and I’ve adjusted accordingly but it still doesn’t read the way I want it to and the clock is ticking.

This entire process would be a lot easier if I had any idea of what I wanted to be when I grow up.  My friends that have retired from the army recently all have a plan.  Either they just want something slow and easy that gets them back to their “break even” number financially or they have a passion that they will enjoy upon retirement.  I don’t have any obvious passions and I’d still like to make some money in my life.  Funny thing about that last comment is that, yes, I want to make some money in my life but at the end of the day, I’d like to have the money in order to give it away.

Seeing people genuinely happy is something I love to see.  Unfortunately, because of the way I deal with things, I outwardly project that I am always disgruntled and mean.  That’s a shame because I’m usually in pretty good mood although I struggle with “dumb.”  When I see people doing dumb things just because they aren’t paying attention or are so self-involved that they fail to realize that there are other people affected by their actions, I become frustrated.  I often have to explain to my wife, who I love dearly, that I’m not mad or frustrated with her but I am mad and frustrated with a situation, usually caused by some outlying variable.

That came out wrong.  My wife is brilliant.  She is an aggressive go-getter and the only reason she is struggling now is because she blindly followed me down to Southern Indiana because she’s an amazing person , that only wants the people around her to be happy.  Something I desperately need to be more in tune with.  She’s my rock and I owe it to her to have something lined up in order to support her and to ensure she doesn’t notice a financial dip in our lifestyle.  And so, the struggle is real.


Air Condition

As my eyes opened, still confused as to time and place, I felt a moisture on my face.  I had no idea what time it was but based on my current predicament I instantly knew that it was well after midnight.

My face was soggy and my pillow was equally soggy and that meant one of two things, either I was in the throes of a cold sweat from too much alcohol, which was pretty normal, or there was something devastatingly wrong with our homes HVAC.  The fact that our home was built at the turn of the century, led me to only one conclusion, the air condition was broken.  Now, I’m not talking about central air, that godsend from the glorious decade of the 70’s.  I’m talking about the fact that our home ,that was built at the turn of the century, not this most recent “turn of the century,” I’m talking about the “turn of the century” before this most recent one.  Our home was built in 1905 so the concept of “duct work” was unheard of and indoor heating and cooling was in it’s infancy.  Our house is heated with a boiler.  Yup, steam heats this old Victorian charmer, which means that there are pipes coursing through the walls of our home and so far, so good (wood is now being knocked on).

As for the conditioned air that is intended to cool us off when the swampy temperatures of southern Indiana arrive, we don’t have it.  Yup, no duct work equals no central air and, did I mention how hot it gets in the Ohio River valley in the summer?  It gets hot.  Damn hot.  And, it’s not just the heat that wears you out it’s the oppressive humidity that will quite literally, melt your face off.  So, no duct work and we have been relegated to “window bangers,” a term I had not heard until we moved into this oven.  Window bangers are window air conditioning units, designed to cool zones based on the square footage of a room or zone.  Basically, we put one in each bedroom and the dining room and, for the most part the units we have are all to small to cool the rooms we have them in which sucks.  Bottom line, our house is hot.

This morning at roughly 1 a.m. my wife and I both woke up at approximately the same time, actually I have no idea when she woke up.  You see, she doesn’t sleep but that’s a story for another time.  We were both up and we were both hot.  I checked the “window banger” and shockingly (sarcasm) it had stopped and pressing the power button achieved nothing.  My wife and I scrambled to fix the issue but nothing was working so we ran through two courses of action.  One, move out to our guest house, which is simply a room above our garage but after a significant upgrade, it’s quite a nice place and more importantly it has central air.  We now rent out the space on airbnb.com, look it up (shameless plug).  Or two, tough it out and crank up the fan.  Well, we’re both pretty lazy after midnight so we augered in and prepared for the miserable night we had ahead.

After five hours of tossing, turning, sweating and “airing it out”, I grabbed my phone and texted my bosses to inform them that we had had a catastrophic loss and I would need the entire day off from my duties at work.  I knew that not only would this request be approved (someone at work had just had this same issue last week so they had no choice but to let me stay home) but it would also cause one of my bosses an issue because he would be forced to cover down on my work, a thought that made me smile even in my sweaty, sticky state.  Having sent the text I rolled over and tried to find some more sleep.  My wife gave up and prepared for work.  She was out the door at about 9am and so it was up to me to fix the problem.

It wasn’t a huge issue because we had other “window bangers” out in our shed so simply changing it out would have been the easiest fix but no, not when I’m pissed.  When I’m pissed off at what I think is a simple issue that only happens to me, I become an idiot.  So, that being said, I took the broken air conditioning unit and carried it down the steps, as it leaked water, and out the back door.  As I stepped out the back door, I tripped and dropped the unit, crashing it into the cement walkway, sending pieces flying into the air.  Of course, that’s my version.  If you went to the camera’s you might see that the unit was thrown about ten feet (nothing to be proud of) and then crashed onto the concrete.  Either way, significant damage was done to the unit but to be certain, I decided to plug it in and BOOM, it worked.  Turns out that it had frozen throughout the night and as part of it’s self-recovery, it was thawing before it would restart.  Unfortunately for the unit, it decided to do this while we were sleeping and that’s a bad plan for survival of an appliance in my world.

I dressed myself appropriately and headed to the local hardware store to purchase a replacement and, as per usual, the little hometown store didn’t have anything that would meet my needs so, after making a comment about the shops inadequacies I stormed out and began the trek to the nearest “big” town in order to find what I needed.  Like a drug addict, I knew what I needed and I needed it now so I drove and I drove.  Finding the nearest super-hardware store, I found the unit that just might work however I feel that it will cause other issues, which you’ll hear all about when they happen.  I paid the $300 and drove and drove back to our home in the sweltering valley and attempted to install this new behemoth, which, of course, took me way to long.  It would’ve taken a normal guy about thirty minutes but because I missed an entire part of life that teaches a person how to take care of a home, it took me the better part of two hours.  That did not make me happy.  At about that time, my wife strolled in with a friend from work to have lunch.  Unfortunately, I had reached my peak of frustration with the installation process so I probably owe them both an apology.  My wife will let me know of my punishment when she gets home tonight, I’m sure.

Ugh!  I’ve been trying to find the right time to take a day off but this isn’t exactly how I had planned it but nevertheless, the new air conditioning unit is installed and working so we shall see.

It goes to show that life gets in the way of living sometimes and the more patient a person is and a person’s ability to work through the daily minutia of life, the faster a person can fine the happiness that so often eludes me.  I struggle with patients and because of it I often feel that I’m missing part of life.  I think writing down the things that bother me may help me reflect and that reflection might help me find the moments of happiness that seem to elude me.

Funny thing is, I have every reason to be happy and generally I feel happy, but apparently I don’t reflect that feeling outwardly which is something I need to work on too.  Man!  The list of things I need to work on is growing longer as I age and I always assumed the list would shrink, like a frightened turtle, as I reach decrepitude (I’m aware that’s not a word).





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