Tuesday, December 5, 2017

My first car

Sometimes circumstances lead you to someone who will have a lasting impact on your life though you only know them for a brief time. This is one of those stories. It came about because of my first car.
Many my age tell stories about great first cars; a Camaro, Mustang or Firebird, a VW bug or some kind of muscle car of the day like a GTO. My first car was a VW Squareback, a little station wagon that never shows up at classic car shows today. I was stationed in Spain (1980) at the time and bought it from a young couple on base who may have known the engine was on its last leg because shortly after I bought it, the engine blew. It had a fuel injection engine and was going to cost a small fortune to repair. My heart sank.
Then I heard about a VW guru on base who was a civilian contractor for Rockwell named Nim Wire. Yes, that was really his name. He was rather intimidating looking with long grey hair and an equally long and bushy grey beard, piercing eyes and a droll style of talking.
"Can you fix it?"
"No, but you can." He answered.
"Me? I never worked on an engine."
"I'll tell you what to buy. I'll tell you what to do."
"Can't you fix it?"
"No, but you can." He insisted.
And so, Nim Wire guided me through the process of tearing apart the engine and converting it  from fuel injection to a carburetor engine using a kit he magically knew about. While waiting for the kit to arrive, he gave me a book to read that I believe was the first Idiots guide to anything that was ever published; "The Idiots Guide to Volkswagons". On one of the opening pages was a drawing of a tool with a caption, "This is a wrench."
The base had a really cool garage where we could rent a stall and sign out whatever tools we needed. Nim would stop by every so often to tell me what to do next, then leave me to the assigned tasks. He loosened a few tough bolts for me, but he remained determined that it was my job. I tore that whole engine apart, using the kit, and put it all back together as carefully as I was instructed.
No one was more surprised than I was when I turned the key and it actually started.
The engine in the back cargo area was originally covered with a removable lid but the carburetor extended up too high to replace the lid. I didn't care that it look weird and sounded loud inside. it actually ran! For decades I continued to work on my own cars, largely due to learning from Nim Wire. I never saw him again but I have never forgotten him.
What happened to the car? Well, not so very long after that I bought a moped for transportation. And, of course, I have a moped story or two --- another day.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Christmas Magic begins with you.

Are you creating the life you want? Are you creating your holiday dreams? Are you creating the community of your visions?
This time of year there are many grumbles. "Christmas is too commercialized." "Walmart is too crowded and lines are long." "People are grumpy."
Meanwhile, others are creating Christmas magic. Their holiday traditions revolve around adventures and experiences. They are creating life, dreams and visions. They are creating happy times by choice.
For them, no commercialization can overshadow the heart of Christmas. "Happy Holidays" simply means "lets be happy" this time of year. Checking off a shopping list at Walmart is not their primary goal. And a grumpy person can't steal their joy.
We live in a magical area and Christmas here is as close to a Norman Rockwell painting as you can find anywhere. Just before Thanksgiving, as I was driving through Franklin, the big tree was being lifted into place in front of our wonderful court house. As I look left and right traveling on Liberty street, store owners were busily decorating their windows. Franklin's annual light up night with the parade and fireworks was days away. As we neared that day, I began to see people preparing floats for the parade. The weather was mild and spirits were high.
The day arrived and my heart sank. It was rainy. In years past, hours before the parade people began lining the streets and floats were in place early as participants made last minute adjustments. This year with only several hours to go, there seemed to be empty spots where floats were in line years past. The streets were fairly empty.
Suddenly, even with a light drizzle, an hour before the parade, our store filled with people listening to our friend Deanna sing Christmas songs, the floats rolled into place, and the streets filled with people and umbrellas. The parade ran over an hour long and the fireworks with music were spectacular as usual. If the numbers were down, no one seemed to notice. And the rain could not dampen the spirit of gathering for this treasured family tradition launching the holiday season.
Soon after, the giant tree went up at Oil City's new park. And this weekend the ever popular Christmas Past celebrations will mark another favorite local tradition with craft shows all around town, music, a bon fire by the canon and you won't want to miss the Christmas Tree display at the Museum of Art, Science and Industry!
Meanwhile, in Titusville's Burgess Park, the fire department continues the local tradition of decorating the entire park. Gather up loved ones and take a drive. You won't regret it.
If we want all these things to continue and we want our community's to grow and thrive, all we need to do is show up! Stop in the local shops and find a treasure. Join in with a caroling group or create one of your own.
Pick up the Derrick's Good Times and find an event that lifts your spirit.
Check out the Chamber Calendars':
http://www.venangochamber.org/calendar/
https://www.franklinareachamber.org/events/calendar/
Create the life you want! Create holiday dreams! Create your community!
Christmas magic begins in your heart.


Saturday, November 18, 2017

I believe....

When I am fully embracing divine understanding, I know I have been given everything I need, every opportunity, to create my own life. It does not mean that my creation will be perfect. My imperfection will be part of my own creation because I will not always seek divine inspiration. And those I include in my creation may not be divinely inspired.
When I am fully embracing divine understanding, I know there will be divine intervention. Imperfections collide to create discomfort, chaos, and crisis. We are divinely nudged to adjust our creation.
When I am fully embracing divine understanding, I stop to listen. All around me there are divine voices. If I fail to listen, I will be divinely nudged - perhaps divinely pushed - to adjust my creation.
Lately, I have questioned the divine's role in mass violence, massive destructive forces and wars. The "manmade" ones are most certainly the result of a collective failure to seek and follow divine understanding. We fail to understand the balance that would provide peaceful coexistance.
The forces of nature and their divine purpose still baffle me. The Garden of Eden story includes no hints of a furious or destructive nature. Was earth actually once a place of perfect balance? Will discomfort, chaos and crisis push toward that balance again?
When I fully embrace divine understanding, I believe we have been provided everything we need to create....to create....to create. When we all fully embrace divine understanding, I believe......


Thursday, November 9, 2017

One Day - One Decision....

A day - one decision - can change things for better or worse. It depends on whether you are building a bridge or burning one. Building is better.
When life kicks me in the gut, I have one of two reactions. One is to curl up in a ball and hide. The other to is to do the Peanuts character Lucy reaction; "I'm mad as hell and somebody's gonna pay for this."
And then there's a third choice. Step away, step out of my comfort zone and do something for total strangers. Last week on a whim, I picked the third choice. On Thursday I learned that the Young Americans, coming to town on Sunday, were still in need of hosts for housing. So, without much thought, I emailed saying I could host a handful of young people.
Then I panicked! One room I needed had just been painted and was empty. The other room I needed was full of the stuff from that room and piles of "other" stuff thrown in. I needed to put the rooms together, make sure I knew where things were in the house, get food, plan breakfasts and two dinners AND would be required to be up about 6 am to cook and get them to the theatre in time. I am not fond of 6am unless I'm asleep. YIKES!!
It was exactly the mission I needed at a time I very much needed it. The three young men who came to stay were perfect gentlemen full of positive energy. They are nearing the end of a months long tour with a grueling schedule. They roll into town and start immediately with youth workshops teaching music and dance for area kids. They unload their truck and set the stage and do a second day of workshops. The next day they rehearse then do a high energy, wonderfully choreographed show that includes the kids in the second half. After merely hours of workshop time, they manage to prepare these local kids to help create a fantastic show.
Following the show, they pack up the truck, end the day late, and have just 8 hours to sleep before getting on the road to the next town where they will do it all over again. They do all this because once the Young Americans came to their town and they were in one of these workshops. They do it to inspire others to pursue music and performance.
While they expressed that they are looking forward to the upcoming break at the end of this tour, they quickly acknowledge that the experience has changed them. They find it hard to sit still. As they shared their visions for the future, I understood that the Young American experience has provide them with the confidence and discipline to accomplish whatever they pursue. They've traveled internationally and to many places in the US. They stayed in many homes and interacted with people from various walks of life. They know they have the power to touch hearts and minds.
I am thankful for decision number three. They touched my heart and set my mind in search of more positive outcomes. Thank you Young Americans.
Willie, Tyler, Christian

Monday, October 30, 2017

"And so it goes"

Most of my life, I've been a fan of exceptional journalism and story telling. My favorite journalists of a different style were Paul Harvey, Charles Kuralt and Linda Ellerbee. They had a unique viewpoint and way of telling a story.
Linda Ellerbee said in an interview that there is no such thing as an objective story because we all bring our viewpoint, but a true journalist will work to provide a fair story. In my early days as a broadcaster my supervisor said much the same thing. We decide what information to share, how to word it, and what to leave out. Always, we fail to see all the information surrounding a story. As he put it, all news is editorialized. Some are more balanced and fair in the telling. "And so it goes."
What was fun about Paul Harvey was how he would use words to paint a portrait setting us up for a reveal that turned it all upside down. His delivery style was totally unique and his ability to weave a story was wonderful. "And now you know the rest of story."
Charles Kuralt traveled the country in search of fun, funny, positive stories about little known people that did something special. His stories were lighthearted and touching. They left you feeling as though there was much good in the world to be sought after and accomplished with simplicity. He reminded us that life was a journey and we should open our hearts and eyes to seek the positive "on the road" of life.
"And so it goes", "on the road" and "then there is the rest of the story".

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Alternative health care and wellness....

Many believe in alternative health care and wellness programs. They are weary of the debate over health care and some argue that they want nothing to do with the system and certainly don't want to be forced to buy insurance for this system. They have a great point. Why pay for insurance you don't intend to use? It's an especially great argument when considering how the health care system is set up for profit. It can be argued that there is great incentive within the system to keep you un-well and using more and more of the "product" of health care.
There are times, however, when alternative health care is not able to respond. If you break bones, are in a major accident of some kind, have a heart attack or stroke, or some other emergency, responders will do what they feel is best to keep you alive. Our traditional health care system responds to these things. We are all at risk of something like this happening.
Still, my friends and family that prefer alternative approaches and wellness programs are correct that profit motives are getting in the way. If we can eliminate the profit motive in our health care systems, everyone benefits. There will no longer be great profit incentive for keeping people sick. Oh sure, there will still be practitioners that can only survive by treating people with whatever care they can "sell" but there will be less incentive for a system to be built around that motive.
If we want to make America great in leading the world relating to health care, we will seek to provide the best health care system in the world at the lowest cost. That will include "alternative" health care and wellness programs that actually work. We will put our best science to work to prove it. We will put our best practitioners to work proving it. We will raise our entire population up as proof of it.
That would truly be an alternative and exemplify wellness. How smart are we?

Health Care Learning curve

Healthcare issues are going to soon be lighting up the airwaves and social media as a new year begins with many Americans in search of new providers. Already I'm seeing social media posts from friends lamenting that their insurance is being phased out and they are discovering options that are much more expensive while covering less. For many, this is going to become a growing crisis. As those numbers grow, it's going to become a national crisis straining the system beyond sustainability.
As fewer people can afford healthcare insurance, and don't qualify for any assistance, hospitals will become more stressed dealing with critical health issues that could have been prevented. More smaller hospitals that cannot absorb those costs will be forced to close. Meanwhile, the cost to those who are insured will rise faster.
Doctors will face similar issues as many of their patients loose insurance. Some patients will wind up in their office with acute medical conditions that could have be prevented or treated early and at much lower cost. If these patients cannot pay, many doctors will be forced to turn them away as they cannot afford to absorb the costs.
Those without insurance will be forced to make difficult decisions about medications. Many will stop taking medications (good or bad) that they would have been taking. Those needing life sustaining medications such as insulin or heart medicines will first try stretching their meds, then land in the hospital (that they cannot pay for) or sadly simply die because they cannot buy what they need. Pharmaceutical companies will continue to raise their prices to ensure that they have rising profits for their shareholders.
Insurance companies will continue to raise costs to cover all of these and to ensure their stockholders make greater profits. There is no part of they system where costs are going to be lower.
Meanwhile, our society has so tied capitalism and profit to being American that they cannot see how it is literally killing us in the healthcare system and creating financial strain on a large portion of our population.
If we want to solve the healthcare problem in this country, we have to eliminate costs in the system. There is no other solution. That means that the bulk of the healthcare dollars needs to go directly to healthcare providers who are the major decision makers in the new system. Profiteering has to be removed from the system.
Oddly, that is a system that looks like every other major industrialized country in the world. "When will we ever learn?"