Posts Tagged ‘family’

It’s not always bad news…

As with a few of my chapters, this one was difficult to read and post. Losing Nadyne did not change my opinion, however. It strengthened it.

Reason #34- Picnic Lunches

Some of my earliest memories are picnic lunches at the neighborhood park with my mom and dad, along with my younger brothers and sisters.  Dad always brought a kite and we would spend hours keeping it flying.  Mom’s lunches were always great.

One of the great things about picnics is that there is no particular location necessary for them.  You can enjoy a meal at the park, on a hike, during a drive or even on a rooftop.  We almost always brought lunch from home when we went fishing and I’m certain hunters do the same, as do many cyclists, hikers, boaters and other outdoors enthusiasts.  Popular locations besides the park include the mountains, the beach, in canyons, a forest, a lake, a fun place in your city, in a nearby city or town, your backyard, at summer concerts, at festivals or fairs, at sporting events and even the library.  One of my favorite concert venues is in Washington State, the Gorge Amphitheater in George, in which half of the seating is on tiered grassy areas perfect for picnic lunches.

Being outdoors is itself a beneficial thing to do for your health, with sunshine, outside air, and beautiful vistas all contributing to your well-being.  A jaunt into the wilderness can inspire, and a packed lunch will help you get even further away from civilization.  Many health benefits do not require strenuous exercise, so a drive to a roadside picnic table on an overlook or in a national forest will still do some good.

The right setting and ambiance can facilitate romance, with many a first date made accordingly.   Lots of games and sports are available to kids and adults alike during a day at the park, and an entire industry was built from what started out as weekend barbecues.  Lifelong memories can be made and lifetime events such as birthdays, engagements and anniversaries can happen at picnics.

The tools of picnicking are those that nearly everyone uses, like picnic baskets, tablecloths, plasticware, drink jugs, paper or plastic cups and napkins or paper towels.  That makes this activity one of the few widely shared activities around the world.  A picnic lunch in the English countryside looks very similar to one in Central Park or near a French vineyard or on a Greek island.  A Rocky Mountain lunch is comparable to one in the Italian Alps or Bavarian Black Forest or in the Andes, and a packed lunch in a Kansas wheat field is much the same as the meadows in England, though I might suggest you avoid picnicking on the Serengeti or in the Brazilian rainforest. 

Last, a picnic will cost much less than a restaurant, and is far more secluded, so they continue to be as popular as ever.


I’ll end this discussion with an appropriate quote from English actress Kate Winslet, who said: “The things that make me happiest in the whole world are going on the occasional picnic, either with my children or with my partner; big family gatherings; and being able to go to the grocery store – if I can get those things in, I’m doing good.

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It’s not always bad news…

Note- just a reminder that this was written and published before my wife, Nadyne, passed away. I will be continuing to hit the road and visit family around the country, as I described.

Reason #30- Holidays

When I was a kid, especially growing up the eldest of seven siblings, holidays were the stepping stones of happiness through each year.  As soon as one was celebrated, we immediately looked forward to the next one.  My grandparents held huge family 4th of July, Thanksgiving and Christmas parties and dinners every year, and I attended all of them until I was 17.

When I had my own kids, two of whom were born on Halloween (three years apart), I continued the tradition of celebrating as often as holidays came upon us.  It was especially nice when they were a national holiday, meaning I could get an extra day off to stay with my family.  Yes, Halloweens were extra-special in our house, with us usually having a double-birthday party with lots of their friends.

My kids grew up and I remarried, and with great distance between me and my kids and relatives, holidays became more of a meaningless chore than a reason to celebrate.  It stopped making sense for Nadyne and me to give each other presents for birthdays or Christmas, since we usually bought whatever we wanted without waiting for a holiday or other excuse to do it.  Besides, she was spending our money on me and I was spending our money on her.  Holidays, other than getting time off work, stopped having the importance they had when there were children around.

Now that we are retired and not working, holidays are back to being happy stepping stones through the years, though without the excitement they once evoked.  Being on the road, we love to visit all of our family members, wherever they are, but don’t necessarily wait for holidays to do so.  It’s more about the geographical timing of our schedule.  Independence Day fireworks at a son’s house or birthday dinner with a daughter are always something to look forward to. As a young adult, I enjoyed watching classic movies.  Holiday Inn (1942, with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Marjorie Reynolds with music by Irving Berlin) became one of my favorites.  This is about a quaint Connecticut inn that some popular show business stars buy and hold holiday performances in.  This is the first venue in which Bing Crosby sang White Christmas, and it was so popular that it spawned his movie of the same name.  I never miss Holiday Inn when this movie is on at Christmas time.

One thing about not getting caught up in the commercialism of each holiday is that we can enjoy the holiday itself.  Also, we are happy to take advantage of seasonal sales for our own purposes.  Why buy electronics in August when the Christmas season is around the corner?

One great thing about being in campgrounds during holidays is that campers are in a festive mood and are wanting to share good times with strangers.  Many strangers become friends and we love to catch up with them as our itineraries cross.  Thanksgiving in an RV resort can be wonderful!

Just as a sunrise can fill someone with hope and determination for the coming day, so can New Year’s Day be a day of resolution to be better, with wishes for dreams and ambitions, and hope for humanity.  After all, it’s called “New Year’s Day,” not “Old Year’s Passing Day.”


I’ll finish this topic with a quote from Canadian actress Rachel McAdams, who said, “I had a lovely childhood. For family holidays, we went as far as the car could take us – we would drive to Florida, even though it would take three days. I didn’t know we didn’t have a lot of money because there was always food on the table. I didn’t have a lot of stuff, but I did figure skating for a long time, and I always had my skates.

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It’s not always bad news…

Reason #21- The Internet

Hardly any waking moment goes by when I’m not using the Internet in some way.  That got me to thinking about it, my 30+ years in IT notwithstanding.  Life as we know it would not be possible without the Internet.  First, a short history might be in order.

[Some of the following was paraphrased from Wikipedia.]  Early packet switching networks [a “packet” of data is what computers use to communicate with each other and around a network] such as the NPL network, ARPANET, Merit Network and CYCLADES in the early 1970s researched and provided data networking. The ARPANET project and international working groups led to the development of protocols for inter-networking, in which multiple separate networks could be joined into a network of networks, which produced various standards. Research was published in 1973 that evolved into the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), the two protocols of the Internet protocol suite. [You’ve probably seen “TCP/IP.”]

In the early 1980s the National Science Foundation funded national supercomputing centers at several universities in the United States and provided interconnectivity in 1986 with the NSFNET project, which created network access to these supercomputer sites for research and academic organizations in the United States. International connections to NSFNET, the emergence of architecture such as the Domain Name System, and the adoption of TCP/IP internationally, marked the beginnings of the Internet.

Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the very late 1980s. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990 and the NSFNET was decommissioned in 1995, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic. Commercial entities began marketing Internet access, content design, telephone and communications platforms, search engines and sales platforms.  Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, and all the other hugely successful web companies all owe that success to the National Science Foundation and ARPANET.

Today, the uses of the Internet are as numerous as the number of people on the planet.  The top dozen most common uses, according to several reporting sites, are:  email, research, downloading files, discussion groups, interactive games, education and self-improvement, movie/music/video streaming, friendship and dating, electronic newspapers and magazines, politicking, job hunting and shopping. 

Specific uses can be inferred from this list, such as virtual health appointments, maps and navigation, virtual meetings and teleconferencing, social media and long-distance family interactions.

Like most people, there are times when I think the Internet is a pain, allowing anyone with a brain and access to spout any ideology they see fit, and the brain part may seem lacking.  However, just maintaining long-distance family relationships can make all the difference in someone’s life.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the latest social injustice are two examples of events that bring us together utilizing the one communications service that seems to have been developed for just such occasions.

Would I be a published author without the Internet?  Chances are slim.  How easily could I share my 30,000 photos [now over 50,000] with the public?  I’ve often referred to the Internet as my virtual memory, with nearly everything I would ever want to know at my fingertips.  My blog would likely never have happened either, nor supplementing our income while living in an RV on the road.  Like I said, life like we know it would simply not be possible.


My closing quote for this subject is from Tom Wolfe, an American journalist, who said, “Once you have speech, you don’t have to wait for natural selection! If you want more strength, you build a stealth bomber; if you don’t like bacteria, you invent penicillin; if you want to communicate faster, you invent the Internet. Once speech evolved, all of human life changed.

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It’s not always bad news…

Reason #19- Photographs

The word “photography” comes from the Greek phrase “Drawing the Light.”  We all know that photography in the 19th century was cumbersome and time-consuming, and required technicians trained in the art form.  But the photograms and photographs taken in those decades have provided an incredible and invaluable window into life back then.  Color photos began to be produced by the mid-1880s and the first widely used color process hit the market in 1907.

When cameras were developed that used roll film, photography became more widespread and amateurs were able to experience the joy of the hobby.  Some were good enough or wealthy enough to go pro, which required more elaborate and expensive equipment.  That’s still somewhat true today, with the biggest difference between talented amateurs and professional photojournalists being the cost of their camera ensemble.  Of course, today nobody uses film.  For the younger readers, film was a medium, usually on a roll, that was placed inside of the camera, which was subjected to the light through the camera lens to produce either a film negative or slide positive image.  Film then had to be developed by being taken to a film lab or, for a fortunate few, handled in their own lab, to produce paper photographs.  Now, digital photography is the sole media everywhere — cameras, phones, watches, tablets, even dashboards in cars and trucks.

Photographs, whether paper or digital, are both useful and delightful for documenting family history and events, but also for capturing memorable times and places and documenting a person’s life from birth to death.  It is also quite valuable in capturing moments in nature, often providing views few individuals would ever otherwise see.  Landscapes, cityscapes, oceanscapes, and skyscapes make up an incredible library of earth-based galleries, and for the past 50 years, outer space has provided a plethora of planet shots and other scenes from the universe.

I once wrote a blog piece called, “In many ways, photos can offer more than video,” about why I prefer still photos over video.  In that article, I explain my opinion that video is spoon-fed to viewers, always making them focus on the movement and thinking about what the videographer intends.  Photographs give a viewer time to think, time to explore the picture, time to remember similar sights, time to see what they can see and, more importantly, time to feel. 

Even though I’ve been recording video lately, I continue to feel it’s true.  A photographer also has more leeway to exclude and frame a shot.  If you have ever seen a photo of a place you are familiar with, you might have had the feeling that the photo seemed more startling, colorful, insightful, clean or unusual than you remember.  You experienced the photographer’s eye.

My favorite photos?  I love historic photography and magnificent landscapes, and I love to shoot abandoned buildings, birds, wildflowers, sunrises, sunsets and vivid shots of nature.  I like family photos for their nostalgia, but still prefer nature.


There is no one better to quote about photography than the ultimate landscape photographer and environmentalist, Ansel Adams:  “To photograph truthfully and effectively is to see beneath the surfaces and record the qualities of nature and humanity which live or are latent in all things.


Jack’s note: Regarding my comment that nobody is using film any longer, I saw a news report this week that said that there has been a new resurgence in cameras using black-and-white and color film by both pro and amateur photographers. Evidently, they prefer the softer hues and quality of film medium compared to digital photos.

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