Posts Tagged ‘life’

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #47- Books

For the younger generations, let me explain that a “book” is a bound set of paper pages with writing or printed text and/or illustrations or photos.  That’s a far cry from the first known attempts by people to transcribe symbols onto stone tablets, which began in about 3500 BC.  A millennium later, the first known papyrus scrolls with written words were created in Egypt, with reeds and bird feathers as the probable scribing tools.  A more formal writing system emerged in Europe starting in about 600 BC and the current standardized writing system slowly developed in the centuries that followed. 

Paper was invented in China at the turn of the 1st century AD and illustrations were added to the text starting about 400 AD.  The very first printed book appeared in China in 868 AD and movable type was invented 200 years later, also in China.  Movable type was first used in Europe to produce the Gutenberg Bible in 1455 and the very first book was published in America in 1639.  The rest, as they say, is history. Ebooks are simply electronic versions of the same instruments but require a device with which to read them.

Books (and ebooks) can be divided into types, or genres, and all of them can be classified as fiction or non-fiction.  Fiction, which consists of stories that are made-up or greatly embellished, includes many you have heard of, such as drama, horror, mystery, romance, science fiction and others.  Non-fiction, or factual books, may be science, philosophy, humor, history, self-help, travel, true crime or other genres.  To further complicate matters, recent trends include combining two or more genres to make new categories.

Whether you love epic adventures or are looking for some help in the kitchen, books can add a whole new dimension of pleasure to your life.  They can provide mental stimulation, which can slow, or possibly even prevent, the progress of Alzheimer’s and dementia.  Losing yourself in a great story can reduce stress in your daily life.  You can expand your knowledge by reading, as well as expand your vocabulary, helping you become better at making conversation and becoming more articulate.  Both of these benefits can increase your self-esteem and improve your impact at work.  Reading can also increase your empathy and improve your conversation, besides giving you some great entertainment.

Most successful authors were avid readers long before they began writing in earnest.  As a teen, I loved science fiction and police dramas, so Isaac Asimov’s Foundation and I, Robot series, Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and Time Enough for Love, Frank Herbert’s Dune series and The Dosadi Experiment, and Joseph Wambaugh’s The Onion Field and The New Centurions, were all among my favorites, and I re-read each of them several times.  As an adult, my attention turned more to sports fiction and non-fiction, as well as science and industry features.  I am extremely pleased to have written my own retired detective series and, who knows?, maybe a sci-fi series will be next.

The advantage of paper books over their electronic cousins should be obvious — no device or electricity is necessary, at least in the daytime, to enjoy them.  You can grab a thick Shakespeare play, a thin Harlequin romance paperback or one of the seemingly endless personal help guides, then head to the beach, the mountains, a back yard lounge chair or in front of a flickering campfire and lose yourself in ways that watching television or movies can’t match.  Reading forces you to imagine the scene, the setting, the characters, the voices, while letting you think about what the plot is doing, guessing what’s next or whodunit.  I never finished a book quickly — I kept re-reading pages or passages to get as full a comprehension as I could manage as I moved through it.  But, then again, that let me enjoy them even longer.


I’ll end this subject with a quote from the famous scientist and naturalist, Jane Goodall, who wrote, “When I was 10 years old, I loved – I loved books, and I used to haunt the secondhand bookshop. And I found a little book I could just afford, and I bought it, and I took it home. And I climbed up my favorite tree, and I read that book from cover to cover. And that was Tarzan of the Apes. I immediately fell in love with Tarzan.

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It’s not always bad news…

Obviously, I wrote this before Nadyne succumbed to cancer and the COVID pandemic reared its ugly head.

Reason #46- Good Health

When you have your health, you have everything.  In my opinion, truer words were never spoken.  Quality of life is almost as important as life itself.  Fortunately for the Baby Boomer and subsequent generations, longer lifespans also include better medicine, better fitness, no smoking and less age-related maladies.  Once cancer is licked, the human lifespan will take another large step. 

When I was 10 and my grandparents were in their 60s, they looked like 85-year-olds today.  I have seen family photos of them, so I can assure you that it wasn’t just my view of them as a youngster.  They looked old.  Now in my 60s myself, I can appreciate how lucky I am.  When they say that 65 is the new 45, there is some truth to the statement. 

When you think of all the health risks someone born at the turn of the 20th century had to endure, you have to wonder how they survived to have a family at all.  Penicillin wasn’t discovered until 1928.  The existence of vitamins was only suggested in 1906.  Insulin wasn’t used to treat diabetes until 1922, just before the first vaccines were developed for diphtheria, whooping cough, tuberculosis, and tetanus.  The first flu vaccine wasn’t given until 1945.  Pacemakers were invented in 1952 and the polio vaccine was developed in 1955.  You can see that medicine has been a great boon to the human race over the decades.  Just think of life without all of these wonder drugs and miracle treatments.

Good health has been hampered by smoking more than any other human activity, and death from tobacco use is the leading preventable cause of death in the U.S., still causing about one in five deaths each year, according to the CDC.  But death isn’t the only detrimental outcome from smoking.  My mom contracted emphysema from smoking all her life and was on oxygen for her last 10 years.  She spent the last half-dozen years in and out of hospitals.

But, let’s focus on the positive.  Each year, about 1.3 million smokers quit, and, since 1965, more than 40 percent of all adults who have ever smoked have quit.  Recent miracle cures and treatments for cancer, heart disease and other ailments abound, and science has provided stem cell treatments, DNA analysis, gene therapy, artificial organs and this past year proved the value of lightning speed vaccine development.  There are even more miracles on the horizon, like 3D printing of organs and other body parts, diagnoses by crowd-sourcing or via mobile intelligence, the use of bio-hackers, which will be ultra-sensors in your body or clothing, antibiotic “smart bombs” for directly destroying bugs in your system, and much more. 

It is a good time to be a human being, and the younger generations are even more fortunate.  Good health provides a happier life, with less stress and fear of contracting a serious disease and allowing you to better enjoy your hobbies and other favorite activities.  A healthy person gets to spend more and better quality time with their life partners and other loved ones, and will experience less pain in their lifetime.  Good health will save a lot of time and money than the alternative, with fewer medical procedures and doctor visits, and with preventive medicine being a lot less costly and stressful.  You’ll live longer, too, and will want to.

COVID-19 highlighted just how much we enjoy life when not faced with sickness or death in the family.  There is no doubt that our quality of life is directly affected by our health and the continuous improvements in medical care.


To highlight just how long health has been known to be important to one’s life, here’s a quote from 18th-century German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer: “The greatest of follies is to sacrifice health for any other kind of happiness.

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It’s not always bad news…

Reason #36-Ingenuity

Ingenuity is defined by Dictionary.com as “the quality of being cleverly inventive or resourceful.”  My own take is that proof of ingenuity can be seen in a solution to a problem or inconvenience that is not obvious to very many people.  Think MacGyver, but scaled back.

As many an RVer will convey, problem solving without ready-to-use, off-the-shelf solutions is an integral part of the lifestyle.  Those that can’t do it need to have lots of time and cash. 

Here is an example:  When we decided to upgrade our portable generator, the new unit wouldn’t fit in the old storage spot.  There was no room in the back of the pickup, since I had two large toolboxes installed in its bed, nor would it fit in any basement compartment in the fifth wheel.  It was going to take a unique solution, one not readily apparent at first look.

I realized that there would be room on the rear bumper if I could find a way to attach a cabinet or shelf back there.  Also, I had had the fifth wheel’s original flimsy rear bumper replaced with a sturdy steel square pipe welded to the frame after experiencing problems with it, so weight on the bumper shouldn’t have been an issue.  We had previously had a dual bicycle rack clamped to the bumper when we had heavy electric bikes, and, when we sold the bikes, I kept the racks.  When clamped tightly on the bumper, several people could stand on it without it sagging, so I guessed a wooden shelf would be stable.

I bought and cut 2-inch by 8-inch lumber and several lag bolts, washers and nuts, and, after applying several coats of waterproofing, attached the boards on the bike racks.  I countersunk the tops of the bolts so they would not impede anything I placed on it.  Once satisfied of weight-bearing success, I removed the back of a painted steel office cabinet and screwed it down on the shelf so as to not block the license plate. 

I had purchased a generator that would fit side-to-side through the locking cabinet doors, and secured it onto the cabinet floor and some boards I placed inside it just for that purpose. The doors close and lock, and though it wouldn’t totally prevent someone from stealing it, it makes it difficult enough.  With the rear of the cabinet completely removed, there is plenty of air circulation for the generator as well.  The starting cord is easily available on the side and behind the cabinet, and the gas tank can be reached with a funnel just behind the top of the cabinet.

For good measure, I secured my 50-amp cord spooler down on the shelf, and now I have my pet fence sections strapped back there as well for easy access (instead of in my basement compartment).

I feel pretty good about my solution, which is just one example of a setup that took ingenuity and a bit of carpentry skill.  Like I said, difficulties and clever answers are just a part of life on the road.

Nadyne was equally ingenious on the inside of the rig.  One problem we were having was with setup and tear-down between stays — in other words, before and after travel days.  As all frequent travelers know, anything on a counter top in the rig tends to shift, vibrate and move while on the highway.  It is very time consuming to secure all of these items for travel, strapping some down, placing some on the sofa or bed, and just all-around stuffing wherever they would fit snugly.  It is even more time-consuming to set everything back up for use.

Museum gel works fine on smaller items like wine bottles and knick-knacks, but not so much on small appliances like our ice maker, coffee maker, air fryer, or other kitchen necessities such as silverware and plate caddies.  She searched high and low for a solution with the common marketplaces apparently no help.

She remembered how sticky some rubber mats were and wondered if they would hold larger items.  She bought a roll of rubber matting and cut some pieces just big enough for the aforementioned appliances and caddies to sit on.  We left them in place on the counters on our next travel day, stopping occasionally to check for movement (or damage), and were pleasantly surprised how well things had stayed put on the mats.  She found some rubberized cooking sheets that were less expensive but had the same gripping power.  We stocked up, then started snipping and using them for other pieces of equipment around the rig, such as our laptops, adding machine, printer, alarm clock and even some electronics for the TV in the bedroom.  Since doing that, we never lost a single item off of any cabinet, desk or counter due to the road vibration and sway, even on the Pennsylvania Turnpike that was rough enough to break our rig’s springs.

I would imagine if you ask any full-time RVer, they can regale you with wonderful stories of their own ingenuity.  Aw, shucks…


I’ll finish this discussion with a thought from American author Shelby Steele, who said, “We are a nation with a powerful investment in the idea of our own fundamental innocence. Our can-do optimism and ingenuity are based on the faith that we are a decent, open and generous people. This is our identity.

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It’s not always bad news…

Note: I wrote this before the Dodgers won the World Series in 2020…

Reason #35- Baseball

“In a year that has been so improbable … the impossible has happened!”

​That was Vin Scully announcing Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, immediately following a famous bottom-of-the-ninth home run by a hobbling Kirk Gibson, batting against closer-extraordinaire Dennis Eckersley.  The walk-off homer, as they now call them, won the game for the Los Angeles Dodgers and gave them the momentum needed to beat the Oakland A’s for their last World Series title.  I was 32 in October that year and remember that home run like it was yesterday.   I was camping with my brother in a remote stretch of the Columbia River in Washington State and felt very fortunate to be able to receive the broadcast where we were.  We were about 20 miles from the nearest town, but they may have heard us whoop and holler that night.

I grew up in the L.A. area and was a huge Dodger fan, but I would not have been as big a fan if I hadn’t spent a lot of time in the playground playing baseball.  There are several reasons why I think baseball is better for kids than other sports, but I had very good hand-eye coordination, could easily run, catch and hit, but, most importantly, it was one of the few sports in which my diminutive height as a kid didn’t affect my skill and success.  I did have asthma, so organized ball was out, but that didn’t keep me from helping my best friend train in high school, and it didn’t keep me from enjoying baseball on the school grounds.  And I was pretty good.

Like golf, bowling, tennis, wrestling, volleyball, football, soccer and swimming, people who have played the sport are much more likely to watch them when they can’t play.  Baseball is also considered “America’s National Pastime,” which is a nod to its even wider appeal, similar to soccer and football, but it was the first truly national sport in the U.S.

Baseball is different from most other sports in that it doesn’t have a time limit.  A game can theoretically go on forever.  When the pitcher has the baseball and there are runners on base or a tied score, intensity rises as he holds the ball.  The longer he holds it, the more intensity that builds.  I remember many times when the pitcher just didn’t want to throw the ball, afraid of the outcome.  Occasionally the umpire would even have to step out to tell the pitcher to continue the game.  Eventually, the pitcher does throw it, with or without the umpire’s warning, once convinced that he must.

Baseball mimics life in a way.  It runs on a serial timeline in which the life of the game literally follows the ball.  It is more fair than real life in that both teams will always have the same number of opportunities for offense.  A home run in the top of the 13th inning, for instance, doesn’t automatically win the game, since the other team gets to have its at-bats in the bottom of the inning.  If they tie the game, on to the 14th inning they go.

There have been so many exciting moments in this sport that’s been played since the middle of the 19th century that you can write an encyclopedia-sized collection of them.  (For younger readers, an encyclopedia used to be a set of dozens of books containing articles, history and a collection of all shared knowledge at the time of its printing.)  Society’s problems have been baseball’s problems, too, and its social remedies have not always kept pace.  Now it’s a worldwide sport, with hundreds of foreign-born professional players in the major and minor leagues.  But none of that would matter as much if I had never played it myself.


My final quote is from Herbert Hoover, the 31st President of the U.S.:  “Next to religion, baseball has had a greater impact on our American way of life than any other American institution.

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It’s not always bad news…

Reason #15- Best Friends

One of the common threads between people of all walks of life is that of having one or more best friends.  It is quite possible to maintain this type of connection throughout one’s life, even as other types of relationships come and go.  Most of the outstanding marriages I have seen are between best friends.

With most people, their first bestie comes along very young, possibly in kindergarten or first grade.  Life is difficult, as are older siblings, if any, and sharing good and bad times with a friend is as natural as breathing.  I’m no psychologist, but I imagine that the tendency to seek out a best friend is hardwired into our collective psyche.  Life happens, and sometimes very young friends are separated by moving, a falling out or simply growing apart.  This happens with grade school friends, too, even with high school friends, but the older they get, the more best friends are apt to stay in contact.  College or adult life, work, recreation and other natural gathering places may supply multiple very good friends and the ones that stick it out through bad times often become your favorites.

The one prerequisite “best friends” seems to have is to support one another despite the circumstances — always having each other’s back.  You don’t owe one another any favors.  In fact, you don’t even keep count.  Fair weather friends just can’t compete for your time and attention.  When a best friend calls, you drop everything.  Maybe this is why best friends make such good married or committed couples.  

My first best friend was Kenny Hakida when I was 5 years old.  He lived next door to my grandparents, which was a long, two-mile walk from my house at the time.  We moved 40 miles away when I was 10 and I never saw Kenny again.  I later learned that his parents had been among those Japanese-Americans interned in World War II after Pearl Harbor, but I never got the chance to talk to them about it.

I had a few other best friends in my adolescence and in high school in Southern California, but many of them went to out-of-state colleges, while I got married and had kids.  Moving a thousand miles away meant the end of most of those relationships.  In Washington State, my younger brother filled that role, through bowling, karaoke, camping, fishing and other activities we both enjoyed.  He’s the taller one in my karaoke photo below. 

After a few years I moved across the country to be close to, and eventually marry, my truly remarkable best friend, Nadyne, and we were together for 22 years before she passed.

I envy the good friends of today, with all of that technology available to help stay in touch.  In my younger days, even long-distance phone calls were very expensive, let alone trying to see one another.  If we had had the Internet, free long distance, Facebook, Zoom, Skype, GroupMe or any other of the seemingly magical communications they have now, maybe my old friends wouldn’t be strangers today.

Thankfully, my wife and I had each other to lean on in close quarters during the pandemic lockdown.  If it weren’t for that relationship, who knows how well we would have survived it.


My ending quote comes from an Israeli psychologist, Daniel Kahneman, who said, “Friends are sometimes a big help when they share your feelings. In the context of decisions, the friends who will serve you best are those who understand your feelings but are not overly impressed by them.

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It’s not always bad news…

Just a reminder that this was published a few years ago, long before a severe storm stranded us in Texas and Nadyne succumbed to cancer… I’ll be hitting the road again this summer. FYI- The couple in the photo isn’t us.

Reason #13- Enjoying Retirement

For most, retirement is a phase of life, a chapter near the end of the book, a distinct change in lifestyle.  Social Security age requirements may influence the target (retire at 62, wait until full benefits kick in or decide on something in between), or perhaps the status of one’s 401K or retirement savings plan, or more importantly, one’s health condition.  Any way you get there, hopefully you can enjoy it. 

My father passed away from a stroke at age 55, and he had huge retirement plans that he never had a chance to fulfill.  My wife’s mother became ill just about when her father retired, and he put aside their retirement travel plans.  When he tragically passed away before her, she was still too weak to travel.  That inspired both of us to retire and hit the road running as soon as possible.  I did postpone my exit as a manager a few months until I could help train my replacement, but was still 62 and Nadyne 63 when we pulled the trigger, selling our house and moving into our fifth wheel.

We had planned our escape for five years and could hardly believe when it finally arrived.  Downsizing was far more difficult than we expected, and leaving friends behind was equally disheartening. 

Social Security only pays so much and we have resisted using savings, so Nadyne is still working about 40 hours per month and I am writing books and articles so that we can be more comfortable in our travel.

Since retiring and moving to the highways and byways of America, we have had good times and bad, the latter mostly having to do with our RV repairs, losing Lucy, our beloved dog of 12 years, and COVID restrictions.  However, the sights we’ve seen, the experiences we’ve shared, the awe of nature, the splendor of the night sky, and the interesting differences in landscape and community among the different sections of the country — all of these have made our lifestyle much more than satisfying.  As an added bonus, we’ve been able to visit, in person, our six kids, five grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and 10 siblings and their families, scattered across the country.  This would not have been possible if we weren’t able to retire and travel freely like we do.

I did not experience a culture shock when I stopped getting up at 4:45 a.m. on weekdays.  Instead, I began to “sleep in” until 7 a.m. and stay up as long as I like.  Sometimes I even stay in bed until 8:30!  Before the pandemic, we were able to experience the local night life and regional restaurant favorites wherever we happened to be and I have now sung karaoke in about 20 states.  I now have photo galleries posted from 35 states and our two cruises (Alaska and the Caribbean), much of which has been taken since we hit the road.  We return to Colorado every summer to catch up with friends and do the doctor and dentist routines, as well as touring one of our favorite states. 

And then there are the myriad of friendships we’ve made, some due to our membership and activities in RVillage (now approaching 400,000 RV members), and some are people we meet along our journeys.  The RV community is an unusual bunch in that members have much more in common than not.  Almost everyone has stories about a black tank experience or a particularly bizarre campground, and they can’t wait to share experiences with people who haven’t heard them yet and want to share their own stories.  We see a few of our RV friends in multiple locations, which is always fun.  One couple has crossed our path in Pennsylvania, Florida, Texas and Ohio, and another in California, Florida and Oregon.

None of this would have been possible without our retiring while we still had our health.  Sadly, like both of our fathers, some never get the chance.  I highly recommend it!


Most quotes I find about retirement are either political or financial in nature.  However, British actor Richard C. Armitage had this to say: “My instruction to my parents is that I would rather they enjoy their retirement than leave me anything when they go. I am much happier watching them enjoying life.”  Mr. Armitage, I salute you.

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Whoever said that living in the past is unhealthy only got it partially correct.  True, it can prevent you from dealing with issues in the present or positive planning for the future.  But, at my seemingly advanced age, I have come to realize that thinking about the past is not exactly the same as clinging to it, and there are benefits in reminiscing.  

Experts say that people relive the past because there are no surprises there.  It’s predictable.  There is a comfort in knowing what transpired and what happened next.  If you have an especially brilliant or exceptional success story, an acclaimed achievement, an unlikely victory or a bout of fame, it’s fun to relive the moments, especially if you are unlikely to ever achieve them again.

I admit that dwelling on those occasions can prevent you from dealing with or enjoying the present.  However, I often find myself reliving some of my past achievements and have totally allowed myself to re-experience my joy from them.  

I once bowled an 808 three-game series in league, an accomplishment that few bowlers attain.  There were nuances during the match that only very good bowlers would understand, like needing a 279 in Game 3 for my 800 series.  That typically requires bowling a strike in 11 of the game’s 12 frames and, on the one frame that wasn’t a strike, an 8-count or lower would have ruined the pursuit.  I had thrown a ton of strikes to give myself this once-in-a-lifetime chance, and I didn’t need to throw a long string of strikes to do it.  I had one opportunity for missing.

Except that I missed the very first frame, leaving a four-pin.  I picked up the spare, but now the situation had changed.  The 279 strategy did not take into account a spare in the first frame — anywhere else in the game would have worked.  Now I had to throw ten strikes in a row and any legal count in the twelfth and final frame.  Finishing with 11 strikes would have given me a 290, but anything besides a strike in frames 2 through 11 would mean I couldn’t realize my elusive goal.  One ball at a time, one strike at a time, and I was able to get all ten of the necessary strikes, with my legs and arms shaking more nervously each frame as I approached the end of the game.  I threw a seven count on my final ball for a 287, my best game ever, and an 808 total for the three games.

It is rare to throw an 800 series, even more so without a 300 game, and I often relive those moments, not because I am avoiding anything in the present but to repeat some wonderful feelings about an extraordinary sports achievement.  I could say the same about other things in my life I take pride in, from hitting a grand slam in a childhood pickup baseball game to running the table against a vastly superior opponent in pool, getting three straight 9-ball breaks in another match, enjoying the standing ovations I have received in karaoke, singing with my brother in a karaoke finals that took place in front a huge crowd in a county fair (with well-known, retired rock stars on the judge’s panel), and more. 

On the main stage in a casino in Reno, Nevada, I once competed in a karaoke contest that, unbeknownst to me, included professional singers. Though an opera singer won the event, go figure, I held my own and came in fifth. While attending a laser light show inside the Planetarium at the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles, I was first introduced to music from U2, in vivid surround sound. In the ’70’s, when my brother, Mike, was about to leave for his Air Force boot camp, I took him and another brother to see James Caan’s Rollerball in the fabulous Cinerama Dome in Hollywood, California. Scenes like each of my kids’ births, which I attended in person, my meeting Nadyne for the first time, my final day at work upon retirement, first-time awesome views of various travel destinations and other notable events in my life also invade my day at random.

But here’s the thing — reliving those moments helps extend my life’s experiences.  I feel like I allow them to live on rather than becoming the forgotten past.  My memories are vivid, like how the bowling ball or cue stick felt, or even smelled, in my hands, my nervousness before and during each, the trajectory of the bowling or billiard balls, the outcomes.   

​I lived about 17 hours in my 16 waking hours today, since several minutes were added a few times from my reminiscing.   Why wouldn’t I want to do that?

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