Month: July 2014

Mrs Garmin Messes Up

pictureof Washington Monument
Washington Monument Easily Identified From Mrs Garmin’s Route

Our Garmin GPS device is one of those that talks to you, letting you know when to turn, or when to go straight. One of those things about the Garmin I bought is that I get new maps whenever they are available, and the price is included in the base price of the GPS device.

One of the features of course is a feminine voice that can give you directions as you drive. I believe the instruction book calls the voice, Jill. I give my GPS’s voice great honor by calling her Mrs Garmin.

Occasionally, Mrs Garmin will pick a horrible route to a destination. On this trip, I entered the address in the Baltimore area for the wedding we were going to attend. With my brother and our wives in the car we were counting on Mrs Garmin to navigate us through the North Carolina and Virginia countrysides, and to find a way to dodge the crushing traffic in the Washington, DC area.

We were moving along pretty well, with Mrs Garmin estimating our arrival in Maryland at about 4:30 PM. Hoping to miss the rush hour traffic in the DC area, we decided to delay our arrival for a couple of hours by doing some shopping.

The Potomac Mills Shopping Outlets in Woodbridge, VA are known far and wide as some of the best. We pulled off I-95, parked at the huge outlet mall, and shopped for a couple of hours. I bought a pair of New Balance shoes, and my wife found more clothes for our grandchildren at Gymboree, a famous store for kiddie clothes.

Getting back on I-95, we soon figured out that Mrs Garmin was taking us through the middle of Washington, DC. The traffic was still in the rush hour phase, and we started and stopped pretty much all the way through DC on I-395. It was brutal. The only redeeming thing was being able to see the Pentagon right next to the freeway. From that vantage point, the Lincoln and Washington Monuments were easily seen, too.

Expecting to eventually find our way back to I-95 we were disappointed. Mrs Garmin routed us to Baltimore on the Washington-Baltimore Parkway. This was the long way.

To make matters more interesting, my brother pulled out his ten year old map of the area, and was constantly arguing with the signs as we passed opportunity after opportunity to change our course. I was caught in the middle of an argument between my brother using his ten year old map, and the recently updated maps of Mrs Garmin. My brother of course was right even with the ancient map, but I would not give him the pleasure by admitting it.

Somebody told me there would be days like this. Thank God it’s over. We are now safely encamped at a motel in Maryland having arrived at 8:30 PM. We are looking forward to the festivities this weekend.


“Some Days Are Diamonds…”

picture of diamond ring
Diamonds Are Good

So says John Denver in his famous song, “Some Days Are Diamonds (Some Days Are Stones)”. His sentiment may have been about lots of things. You can make this song mean anything you want. The message is quite clear. Some days are better than others. Lots better.

Last night while driving in the wilds of North Carolina on the way to my brother’s house, I was listening to an Audible book by Nassim Nicholas Taleb, “Fooled By Randomness”. This may sound like an uppity title, but be assured it is understandable by almost anyone.

Mr Taleb talks about signal and noise. The task is to not be fooled by the random occurrence of information.  It is kind of like the diamonds and stones of John Denver. You see, you want to get the “signal”, or real value out of all the news, information, and chatter going on in the world everyday. Everything else is just noise, or stones if you will.

Just like the song, you are looking for the diamonds, or value in your everyday dealings and information flow. There is no reason to look for the stones. Usually somebody is throwing the stones at you.

Under the current conditions in the nation today, most of the stones are from the Federal Government. One of those stones is the new health care regime. Another is the catastrophe taking place at our southern border. Another stone is our government’s spying programs. It just never stops.

Somehow in our stoney lives, we have to learn to live and prosper in spite of our government. It is getting harder and harder to find the diamonds.

I suppose we have to learn to be thankful for the few diamonds coming our way. Shield yourself from the stones, and don’t pay attention to the noise, or mixed metaphors like this one.

For your entertainment, John Denver.

Sunday Blessings

picture of Saint John's Episcopal Church in Ocean Springs, Mississippi
St Johns Episcopal Church, Ocean Springs, MS – A Blessed Place

Being grateful for our blessings just on Sunday is not the message I want to deliver. Because today is Sunday, and I happen to be watching a popular television preacher preach about our blessings, the subject just seems to be appropriate. Indeed, it is appropriate anytime.

Today, as always, the sun rose and the world turned to gold. Sunrise is the most beautiful sight in any location. With the sun, our feelings rise and we feel good, ready to face whatever comes in the day ahead.

Recently, we were blessed with a visit of two young men, one of whom is our great-nephew. He and his partner have stayed a few days with us for the second year in a row as they attended a business conference in the Atlanta area. Joe, the nephew, is in the fitness business, and is always looking for ways to improve his business in exercise approaches, marketing, and management. It is refreshing to see a young, ambitious man tirelessly pursue his dream.

Being around these two is like a tonic. Sure, we had to prepare for their visit, but even though they spent most of their time at the conference, we really enjoyed them.

As a person ages, life changes. One’s body changes, but our Joe makes a business of helping senior citizens extend their active days. When around people like Joe, you just soak up his enthusiasm. It is catching.

So, today I thank God for the wonderful extended family I have, and for God’s work in our family. Soon, we will go to a wedding of one of Joe’s cousins. We are looking forward to celebrating life with our loved ones.

We have showers of blessings.


Freedom Is Not Cheap

picture of American Flag

For the Fourth of July holiday season, the American Heros Channel is presenting a series on The Revolutionary War. There are several episodes, presenting the American Revolutionary War in an historical accurate fashion. Former CBS newsman, Charles Kuralt, narrates the series, and viewpoints of historians are included throughout the series to give additional background on the events and people of that era.

It is amazing that our country was ever born. It took great men like George Washington to prevail in the face of problems like superior British forces, lack of support from the Continental Congress, and an inexperienced officer corps and citizen army.

picture of North Carolina market at Valley Forge
Memorial Marker for The North Carolina Regiments at Valley Forge

Times were never easy for the Continental Army. There was never enough food. Uniforms were an occasional thing. Shoes were hard to get. At the Valley Forge encampment more than two thousand men died of sickness. Of that two thousand, more died under hospital care than those that stayed at their campsites to tough it out. Medical science was not a science.

During the Revolutionary War, more men died on British prison ships than in combat. Of the five thousand Continental soldiers surrendered to the British at Charleston more than one fourth of them died while on prison ships in Charleston harbor.

There were patriots in my family that were Continental soldiers in the Revolution. Two were at Valley Forge in a North Carolina regiment, and others served in militias. During the War of 1812, family members saw action with Andrew Jackson on his campaigns, including the Battle of New Orleans. In all cases the American Army was never fully equipped, and men from state militias formed the greater part of the forces.

We cannot take their sacrifices for granted. When we forget these lessons of history, we may be compelled to repeat them.

Many families can point to similar patriots in their lineage. Our citizens have always had the courage to face threats to the nation. Several times, our nation has gone to war when the battles were fought on another continent.  Threats can take different shapes from the possible invasion of our country, to threats to the nation’s welfare and economy.

Our soldiers, today, are just as brave as men have ever been. They are much better equipped and led. The US military has a steadfast focus on the quality of force, the strength of these forces. the ability of these forces to face threats across the globe, and the health and welfare of those people who volunteer for duty. There are no finer military in the world.

Today, July 4, 2014, we thank God for the courageous and proud men and women who not only won our freedom in the early days of our nation, but those who face threats to our nation across the globe.

We have a lot for which to be proud.