Saturday, May 30, 2015

Have Love, Will Travel

One lazy afternoon after lunch and acres before supper, we were out on the lanai, enjoying the uncommonness of actually being within smiling distance of each other.  We were enjoying the breeze and listening to birds and chickens and the odd random car struggling up the road, when a mosquito of an idea began buzzing around.

Now this idea, flitted about for a few days before it landed and bit and hung on.  With that bite I pulled out some paper, pushed the breakfast dishes to the side of the table, yanked my calculator from my pocket and feverishly began to write, and figure.  I wrote and added, punched the minus key a zillion times, and after running the numbers several times, and coming up with the same number (a math miracle) it was time to let TH in on my tremendously scary, and yet terrifying exciting idea.

This is how the conversation went.  (more or less)

"Ok, so my lease on the Arizona apartment runs out the end of next May, yours the end of November.  Your last day ever of work is January 1st, right?"

He agreed with me, with a worried look beginning to form.

"We'll need a short term place to rent for that summer in Alaska, but then what?  You don't want to live in Arizona, and I refuse move back to Alaska full time.  We both are fairly young for retirement, 57 and 55, and in great health.  This is our time!  What would you say about stuffing our belongings into a storage unit and heading out and travel for a while?"

"Do you want to buy a motor home or just drive around in my truck?"

"Neither!  Let's save seeing the States for later, I'm thinking much further away.  What would you say if we packed a few bags, grabbed our passports and took off to see the world?  No matter what, we have to have a place to live, right?"

Slowly, and hesitantly he nodded his head, yes.

"What's to stop us from living where ever we want?  You want to go back to Japan and see Kyoto and spend time in New Zealand, why dont we live there?  Or any other place that takes our fancy?"

"Are you saying we wouldn't have a house to come home to?"

"No house. Just two storage units and my car George and your truck."

"But?  No apartment?  Nothing?"


"But......we'll need someplace to live!"

"We will live where ever we wish.  Look renting an apartment is cheaper than hoteling it.  We can't eat out a great deal due to my food allergies, so that saves us a ton of money right there!  I pulled out my phone and called up Airbnb and found perfectly wonderful apartments in Kyoto for 2K a month."

And just like that the idea caught fire in TH and we began to discuss it, and started researching things like transportation costs, average food prices.  Our liking of Asian cuisine will really be a boon in Asia as rice and fish and veggies are much cheaper than milk, cheese and bread.  In South Korea we could actually save money by living there, which would be helpful if there is something pricy we want to do.  Charter fishing, helicopter rides, etc. Or we could be Scrooges and just save the bloody stuff.  Staying in one country for 3 months, the average length of time most countries allow foreigners to remain in their country for leisure travel, would allow us to experience each country and really get to know and learn the country.

We have batted the idea back and forth, talking about what we wanted and how difficult we think certain things might be.  Talked it over with the boys, who are very excited, and think its a great idea.  We have offered a blanket invitation that any of them may come and stay with us where ever we happen to be.  The only proviso is that they must let us know before we book the apartment so as to have enough sleeping space.

And just like that, we are planning for a grand adventure!  First stop Japan.  When I come back to Arizona in September, I hope to have a lady I met during Table Talk help me with my Japanese.  Orginally our plan was to keep the hops as short as possible and go from Japan to South Korea, to an few days lay over in Singapore then off to Australia and New Zealand.  But I'd like to be able to say more than hello in Korean.  And it is a bit wearing to not understand most of what is said.  We are thinking that Australia and New Zealand will fall between Japan and South Korea.

After we visit the Pacific area whats next?  No clue, and thats half the fun isnt it?

I've really been digging the bands from Australia lately!

Monday, May 25, 2015

Memorial Day

When we think of Memorial day these images are usually iconic.

Brothers in arms who remember those who have fallen in battle.

Or for most of us, its a lovely three day weekend spent with family and friends.

When we think of soldiers returning from battle we are shown happy reunions

Or sadly soldiers who have paid a terribly high price for old men to prove they are the biggest dog

What we dont see are those that never truly come home.  Who are trapped in the hell of combat, and are left broken and battered of soul and mind.

When I was going to volunteer for the shelter in Tempe, a large number at the drop in center were homeless young vets suffering from PTSD.  The government washes these soldiers out, and they're on their own.  When Congress makes cuts, its never for hardware, fancy jet fighters, but for medical care for our veterans.

TH was friends with a fella who fought pirates in Somalia, he was in the lead in Iraq hunting down insurgences who had been slaughtering Kurds.  And each and every time he came home, it took longer and longer for him to adjust to a normal life.  We lost touch with him and his family when they were posted stateside, and we worry about him, but have no way to find him.  He is very security conscious and refuses to use social media.

Third son has a very close friend who was in Afghanistan and was the leader of his battalion at the tender age of 24.  After two tours he became quite ill, and after extensive medical tests discovered he had cancer.  He stayed home getting treatment, while his battalion left for yet another tour.  And while they were gone, several of his buddies died in combat.  The friend was near suicide, sure that if had been there, they wouldn't have died.  He finally recovered from his cancer, and mostly from his survivors guilt. 

If we are going to continue sending the best and brightest of our men and women to war, then we need to care for them their entire lives.  We need to care for them as if they were our own brothers and sisters, with loving compassion and kindness.  For those who will never be able to reenter society they need to be housed, fed and cared for in warm and comfortable settings.  The military is decommissioning bases, those can be used to provide homes, recreation, and medical services, an entire community for our men and women to heal and live safely and cared for.

And yes, the Aussies fought with us in Vietnam, and faced the same disdain and hate that our soldiers faced when they returned home.

If one considers the observation that the worth and dignity of a civilization is judged by the way it the treats its weakest members, we cannot help but look back in shame at our past.
By Rudolf Rickes

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Good God I love President Obama!

"We take this opportunity to reaffirm that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights are human rights, to celebrate the dignity of every person, and to underscore that all people deserve to live free from fear, violence, and discrimination, regardless of who they are or whom they love.  We work toward this goal every day. Here at home, we are working to end bias-motivated violence, combat discrimination in the workplace, and address the specific needs of transgender persons. Overseas, I am proud of the steps that the United States has taken to prioritize the protection and promotion of LGBT rights in our diplomacy and global outreach."

Barack Obama

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Tissues are required for this awesome video!

My new hero is in this video, Ban Ki-Moon. Get your hankies ready for a happy cry.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

May Days

The end of the school year for most of us conjurers up memories of endless days of sunshine and freedom.  Out on our metal steeds (bikes) pedaling as fast as our feet and legs could churn those foot pegs.

Out in the dark in our backyards playing zombie tag with flashlights.

Sitting under the dappled shade of a tree reading either a much beloved book or the latest volume of our favorite comic book series.

But for to many children the end of school marks the beginning of hunger.
For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation’s public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers. (1)

Let that number of children living in poverty, 51% soak in a moment.   Over half of our children are living in poverty.  In Mississippi the percent rises to a mind boggling 70%!

And Congress sits on their fat asses and tries to undo public safety nets and access to free medical care, and a stern refusal to raise minimum wage.

The lack of education in the southern states matches perfectly with the higher  poverty rate in those states.

And schools are having to feed more and more children for free.
 This sentence shocked me to pieces.
In a classroom at Smothers Elementary School in Washington, D.C., third graders grab egg sandwiches, cups of juice and milk and take them back to their desks to eat. In this high-poverty school skipping breakfast wasn’t about stigma. All kids qualify for free meals. (2)

I'll just say what most of us are thinking, our country is broken and we need to find a way to get it back on its feet and running again, but how?  I have no idea at all.

May 9th is Letter Carriers "Stamp Out Hunger" Food Drive.

 On the morning of Saturday, May 9, just set out your non-perishable food items well before your letter carrier’s normal pick-up time. Note that he or she will be delivering and collecting mail as usual, on top of collecting food donations, so that pickup time could be slightly later than usual.
Pantry shelves filled up through winter-holiday generosity often are bare by late spring. And, with most school meal programs not available during summer months, millions of children must find alternate sources of nutrition.
People are encouraged to leave a sturdy bag containing non-perishable foods such as canned soup; canned vegetables; canned meats and fish; pasta; peanut butter; rice or cereal next to their mailbox before the regular mail delivery on Saturday. (3)
No child should ever have to go to bed hungry.  Or have to worry about if there will be food available tomorrow.

(1) Washington Post
(2) Marketplace
(3) USPS