What Do I Stand For?

“Too many people expect wonders from democracy, when the most wonderful thing of all is just having it.”
— Walter Winchell

“In free countries, every man is entitled to express his opinions and every other man is entitled not to listen.”
— G. Norman Collie

“In a democracy, the individual enjoys not only the ultimate power but carries the ultimate responsibility.”
— Norman Cousins

Since this whole ordeal began with the murder of George Floyd, I have been asked, mainly by those on the left, “What do you stand for?” Here is a list:

First, let me say that I stand with those who oppose the unjust murder of George Floyd. The police who are involved will hopefully receive the proper and appropriate sentence for their crimes.

I stand for and believe in the fact that the USA is not only the strongest nation on the earth, and even with its flaws, it is without a doubt the best country in the world.

I stand for our First Amendment, which by the way is our most important amendment. The fact that I should be able to express my views without using violence is my right, and I should not and will not apologize for it.

I also believe that I should not and will not apologize, ever, for being white.

In my belief of the First Amendment, I also believe that you have the right to express your views without anyone interrupting you or threatening to shut you down.

I stand for the fact that our flag is the symbol that represents us and unites us as a country. If you decide to destroy or burn this great symbol, you have lost any hope of convincing me that your position is correct. You are just another person who is void of any ideas that may advance your cause.

I stand with those who choose to express themselves in a non violent manner. Those who make the conscious choice to destroy what is theirs and others are, in fact, criminals. Not social justice warriors.

I stand for the fact when I do express my views, I fully expect that anyone who disagrees with me will do so in a mature and intellectually appropriate manner.

I stand for and believe that everyone in this country has the ability to do what they want and to make as much money as they possibly can. Spending your life worrying about what others make is a waste of time.

I stand for being able to live my life as I see fit. This includes how I raise my children.

I stand for the fact that teachers are in schools to teach children the basics. I do not want or need you to impart your political beliefs to my children. They will learn what is important at home, not at school. They can then make personal choices as they digest information.

I stand for our 2nd Amendment. I don’t believe that I have to explain this. Break into my house and you most certainly learn what it means.

I also believe that no one on either side has the moral high ground in any situation. If you believe that you do, you are delusional. Just because you say it and think it, doesn’t make it true. The same goes for me.

I stand for the police who have sworn an oath to protect its citizens. AS with every other single profession on the face of the earth, they also have people who are not fit to hold the title. Since I was a teacher for many years I can use that as an example. For those of you who were colleagues of mine, did we have a perfect group of teachers?

I stand for our military who are out there every day protecting the rights that you have. (Especially the Marines!!!)

Overall, I stand for the constitution that gives us everything.

If for some reason you take exception to what I have written, please leave a comment below.

 

I Miss Hiking

“A walk in nature walks the soul back home.”-Mary Davis

“Walking is a man’s best medicine.”-Hippocrates

I miss hiking. Something that I have been doing pretty consistently my entire adult life has taken a back seat to Covid-19 and recovering from my heart attack. What do I miss most? Here is my top ten list:

  1. Being outside.
  2. Being outside with my fellow hikers.
  3. The feel of the earth under my feet as I am walking through the woods.
  4. The breeze rustling the trees and cooling me off.
  5. Taking pictures of the myriad of things that I see on my hikes.
  6. Being able to think without being bothered by anyone.
  7. The isolation. Being able not to think about anything,
  8. Exploring new hikes.
  9. Hiking familiar trails and seeing new things.
  10. Posting my hikes on my blog.
  11. (Bonus) Disconnecting from everything electronic (except my camera).

So, for now, I ride my studio cycle to help with the recovery as well as get in shape for the eventual time that I can get back out into the woods.

HAPPY HIKING!!!

Rule #1-Stay In Your Comfort Zone

“WTF? I blew myself up!”-Me

One of the most valuable lessons that I have learned as I have navigated through this life is that you don’t mess with what you don’t know. Why? Because you stand a good chance of looking like an idiot, or you just might get hurt really bad.

When it comes to home repairs, I have made it my business to stay away from two things-electricity and any form of gas. Both have the potential to well, kill you quickly and efficiently.

Several weeks ago I noticed that I keep hearing a strange “booming” noise coming from our basement. Our water heater, which was now over twenty years old, appeared to be the culprit of this strange noise. This was confirmed one morning when we didn’t have any hot water. So down I went with my daughter, who was holding the flashlight, into the darkness to light the pilot light.

Of course, this went against every survival instinct I have but after watching several youtube videos, I felt confident that I could do this and survive. So as my daughter held the light so I could see, I laid down on the floor next to the heater and with my extra long lighter, and also with my face about three inches away from the opening, I started to try and light the pilot light. After several failed attempts, I decided to let it sit for a few minutes since I was only getting a very weak flame and I could smell gas. 

To make a long story a great deal shorter, I apparently didn’t wait long enough. As I made another attempt to light it, I heard the familiar boom and felt the heat of a giant fireball as it scorched my beard and my face.

As I stood up, the look of shock, surprise, and horror on my daughter’s face was obvious. It told me one thing-I had screwed up. I could smell and taste the burnt hair of my beard, eyelashes, and eyebrows and after examining it in the bathroom mirror, I confirmed the obvious. My beard was screwed. Luckily my daughter was able to do some repairs because I absolutely refused to fully shave it off. It was bad enough that I had to trim it.

Needless to say, that lovely smell persisted for weeks, especially when I washed it. I can now laugh at what happened, especially since my daughter did almost immediately after it happened. It has also reinforced my belief that you shouldn’t mess with what you don’t know. I am now a believer, without a doubt.

The pictures above are just after I failed in my attempt to light my hot water heater.

IMG_6008

I think my daughter did a fabulous job of repairing the damage.

Any comments? Suggestions?

The Strangest Dream…

“Dreams, if they’re any good, are always a little bit crazy. ”
― Ray Charles

“Promise me you’ll never stop dreaming.”
― Melina Marchetta

One thing that being cooped up in the house is that it has given me ample time to live in my head. To not only think about the last five months but what I can expect in the future. Since I have not written pretty much anything since being hospitalized in late December/early January, I’m going to spend some time just writing about the crazy shit that has been residing in my head. Feel free to comment!

When I could sleep, the dreams came like clockwork. However, sleep did not come easy during the nine days that I was in the hospital. Blood being drawn every two hours, the coughing and crying of the patient next to me who appeared to be waiting for death and the visits from a multitude of doctors made a heavy and necessary restful sleep almost impossible. But I always knew that at some point during the day or night I had slept because I could remember the dreams.

They were always the same. I would start a hike at South Mountain Pass that would take me to Anthony’s Nose. Although the hike is about four miles round trip and easier than most, I could feel a sense of dread as I made my way up the trail. Each step, laboriously taken to avoid wet rocks and branches, became more and more difficult as I made my way up the trail. The sun disappeared behind the clouds and the vegetation on the ground and the trees themselves had changed. At the parking area, I was surrounded by lush green leaves and beautiful flowers. Now, all of the vegetation was dead and the sense of dread was much worse. Each time that I had the dream, I would walk a little further and after being enveloped in darkness, I would wake up.

After leaving the hospital, the dream never returned.

I have thought about it over the course of the last few months and I can’t figure out any answers as to the meaning of the dream. Any thoughts?

Why Is Now Any Different?

“Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.”
― Leo Tolstoy

People say that we endure two certainties in our lifetime. First, we have to pay taxes and second, we all die. Those are facts. I believe at this point that a third must be added. With Covid-19 wreaking havoc throughout the world, the news reports every day that this week will be the worst in regards to deaths due to the virus.

At the same time, some people are writing and sharing that this should be a time of renewal, that we should take this lesson and become better humans. That we should treat each more kindly, as we have been doing since the start of the virus. They are sharing and hoping that during this time we have been able to become more introspective and that this will lead us all to a higher level of thinking and behavior.

But this won’t happen. Unfortunately, the half life of our memories isn’t that long and once things get back to the new “normal”, we will forget all about helping our co-workers and neighbors. We will go about our lives until the next disaster happens and we are called upon by our government or a higher power to help those we love, we know and we don’t know. And then the cycle will repeat itself.

The reason I say this and believe it to be true is throughout history humans have never ever learned from their mistakes.  Whether it comes from a terrorist attack, a virus or a natural disaster, the end game is people want to get back to their lives with as little trouble as possible. Once the shock of the incident wears off and the dead have been buried, we all will crawl back into our holes and tend to our own. And that is the third certainty. We don’t and won’t ever learn from our mistakes.

Do you think I’m wrong? Do you think I’m being too pessimistic? Do you believe that this is the event that is going to actually carry over and force a shift in the way we think and act?

I say no. Convince me otherwise.

What Are You Doing??

“When you can’t control what’s happening, challenge yourself to control the way you respond to what’s happening. That’s where your power is!”-Anonymous

So what is everyone doing during this time of uncertainty? With the global pandemic overtaking our every waking thought, we need to think positively. Even with that, when it is the appropriate time to do so, we have to dig deeper into the root cause of the virus as well as its effect on the global community.  UPLIFT, an online site that deals with wellness and mindfulness, sent this in an e-mail:

“This is the beginning of great shifts, for humanity and for our planet. Forces beyond our control are asking us to stop, be still, and look deep within. The unknowns we are facing, individually and collectively, are presenting us with an opportunity. An opportunity to choose how we respond. May we all choose to stay present with our hearts and remember that, together, we will rise.”

I believe at this time the human race is at a crossroads. In terms of the Corona Virus, we here in the US are still wallowing in its infancy. The peak for us still won’t be seen for several weeks and may continue to months.

So how do we respond to this threat? Will this end up being a culling of the herd? We see people hoarding toilet paper. People stealing toilet paper from gas stations and convenience stores. What can a person do with 100 roles of toilet paper? So now we are standing on the ledge, waiting for the next bit of bad news.

I would hope that during this incredibly stressful time that everyone remains positive. Find things that you like to do, even if it is at home. Read a book or listen to some music. Use the time to re-energize yourself. This too shall pass. But, please, don’t be the person that sits in front of the boob tube taking everything that the bobble heads on the news stations throw at us as gospel and you end up worrying about what? If you are doing what the officials say, then you are one step ahead of the game.

So what am I trying to say? I am trying to say that this is another time in history where it is of the utmost importance to come together. If you are hoarding toilet paper or anything else for that matter, give some of it to a needy neighbor. I guarantee that you will feel much better knowing that you actually helped someone.

Listen to that shift. It’s happening. Pay attention and do the soul searching that seems to be what we need right about now.

So what are you doing with the extra time that you may have?

I’m Baaaaack…And Grateful To Be Alive!

“I’m as serious as a heart attack.”-Samuel L. Jackson

“Stress is a major component of cardiac events. It may not cause disease but can trigger a heart attack.”-Anonymous

Hey Folks,

I know that it has been a long time since I posted anything on this site. I am now officially retired from teaching as of 2:46 pm on 3/16/20.

So what am I doing with myself? Let me give you a little background.

First, I’ve had Congestive Heart Failure for just about six years. On December 26, 2019, I had a heart attack and spent nine days in the hospital. The doctors first thoughts were open heart surgery, but after several tests, it was determined that due to the weakening of my heart, I would not survive the surgery. So plan B went into effect. They ended up placing two stents in the arteries that run to the heart.

So, since January 3rd I have been just trying to get my heart stronger. I go to the gym six days a week and try to keep my stress level at a minimum. I have to admit that this has caused a dramatic shift in my lifestyle, especially what I eat. I have always exercised, but I’ve never really paid that much attention to the foods that I ate, Now, I eat tons of chicken, oatmeal, and everything is low fat, low sodium, and no sugar. I haven’t felt this good in a long time,  My cardiologist says with the exercise and vastly improved diet, I should be feeling better.

Now that I am retired, I have all of the time in the world to get to the point where I can back into the woods, hopefully, sooner rather than later. I’m not going to lie-I miss being out there. It has been months since I have felt the soft dirt under my feet, the warm sun on my face and the solitude of just being outdoors. At this point, however, I have to take it slow and listen to what my doctors say.

So what are they saying? I have to go back on 4/6 for an echocardiogram. At that point, I’m assuming they will make a decision as to whether or not I will need a defibrillator placed into my chest. Here’s hoping that they don’t!!!!

So my goals for the immediate future work hand in hand. I need to keep walking on the treadmill to get my heart stronger so I can get back out into the woods. At the same time, the goal is to also have my heart working at a rate where the defibrillator won’t be necessary.

 

Walking, Walking And More Walking

“Breathe in, Breathe Out, Move On.” -Jimmy Buffett

“Don’t me why I walk. Ask yourself why you don’t.-Anonymous

This weeks goal was to get at least a couple of longer days in even if it was just 15 minutes more to make at least an hour. The closest I got was 55 minutes and I was happy with that. Every day I felt good and on a couple of days, I was able to do some hill work by experimenting with the incline. I’ll keep playing around with that to get some harder workouts in. I was able to walk for a period of time at around 3.3 miles per hour and for the time that I did, it was faster than I ever move when I am hiking!!!

For what it’s worth, I like walking on the treadmill as much as I liked riding the stationary bike. The good thing with the treadmill is no knee pain. I am walking in my backpacking boots and that may be helping. Each of the treadmills also has a tv attached to it which makes the time fly by.

Needless to say, I will keep walking so when fall finally arrives and the colors on the leaves are at their peak, I can head back out into the woods.

It’s all good.

Total Minutes-

9/9/19-50-365 (The Thumper was right next to me, the horror)

9/10/19-45-410  (No Thumper)

9/11/19-Rest Day

9/12/19-45-455 (Thumper two treadmills down)

9/13/19-55-510 (No Thumper but a dude older than me who smelled like he just crawled out of a dumpster got on the one next to me.)

9/14/19-50-560 (No Thumper) 

9/15/19-50-610 (No Thumper)

245 minutes for the week.

The Thumper

“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” – Friedrich Nietzsche

“Walking brings me back to myself.” – Laurette Mortimer

As I mentioned in my last post, even though I would much rather be outside,  time does not permit it. To be totally honest with you, I have found walking on the treadmill to be a pleasant change from hiking in the woods.

For one thing, I am able to control the speed that I walk and also walking on an incline has been interesting. The best thing, however, has been the people watching. For instance, no matter what time of the morning or afternoon that I have been there, I have seen a man running on a treadmill two spaces away from me. Usually, this wouldn’t be an issue, but this man runs with a sense of purpose that is truly frightening.

What I mean by this is his feet hit the treadmill so hard that it makes a thumping sound. A loud and rather annoying thumping sound. On Thursday I walked in the front door and I could hear the telltale boom, boom, boom of this mystery man running. I can’t believe that he hasn’t wrecked his knees running like this. If I didn’t know better, I would think he is stalking me.

Since I am going to the gym to train exclusively for hiking, I wear my backpacking boots on the treadmill and I don’t make half the noise that this guy does.

Anyway, I like walking on the treadmill. I don’t get eaten alive by mosquitoes, I don’t have to worry about the weather, dogs or other human beings (for the most part), and I can adjust my workout depending on how I feel. Plus, every treadmill has a small tv on it. You can’t beat that with a stick.

So here are the days that I have walked and the time that I did. Of course, at various times I adjusted the speed and the incline only to test things out for the time being. When I get more adjusted to walking this way I’ll use some of the workouts that they have on the treadmill.  So far, so good.

Total Minutes:

9/3/19-45.0-180.0

9/5/19-45.0-225.0

9/7/19-45.0-270.0

9/8/19-45.0-315.0

Change Is In The Air…

nysc_logo

If you know me, I’m not a big fan of change and I like things the way I like them. So this summer when I injured my knee riding my stationary bike, I knew that I would have to make some changes. Now, mind you, I could still walk and hiking was not an issue, just riding that stupid bike. So I decided to join a gym so I could have access to a treadmill and a stairclimber during the colder months instead of relying on just the stationary bike.

Especially with school starting again, it’s going to be difficult to get out hiking after school so I figured since a NYSC is 2 miles away, this would be the easiest way to get a good walking workout in and then hopefully still be able to get out on days off and on the weekends.

Signing up was easy online and when I went for the first time this morning, the people at the front desk were really friendly. Since I had never used a treadmill before, I did ask one of the trainers to show me how to use one of them. I know, how hard could it be? I just wanted to make sure that I didn’t end up on one of those video shows where the person on the treadmill wipes out and goes flying. So I swallowed my pride and asked the trainer to explain it to me like I was a 5 year old.

Thankfully she took pity on me and did just that. And thankfully again, I actually figured it out on the first try. It wasn’t that difficult.

One thing that I did find strange was that at first, I found it more difficult to walk on the treadmill than on the trail. Maybe it is just something that I have to get used to. We’ll see. But since it was the first time on a treadmill, I decided that I would take it relatively easy just to get used to it. I started just to warm up at 1.5 mph and gradually increased the MPH until I was walking at 3 MPH. My entire work out time? 45 minutes.

I also used the incline on the treadmill and walked for a while on 1.0. It appears as though they have different workouts on these things so I will experiment with that as the days go by.

So, for a first impression, I give them a 5 out of 5.

As I do with my hiking, I’ll keep track of my workouts on the blog. Instead of miles, however, I’ll keep track of my minutes walked every day.

8/30/19-45.0-45.0

8/31/19-45.0-90.0

9/1/19-45.0-135.0

***I decided to include the minutes of the workouts from 8/30-9/1 in this first post. Since I can’t really post many pictures of views in a gym, I was thinking of posting a once a week entry to explain what I did for that previous week.