A tourist at home……………

There are really two realities in Maui. Vacationing here and living here. Today my kids vacationed here, and I played the part of a local.

Their grandparents are here for a visit, and staying in one of the big resorts. I like to call them the Westworld’s of Maui, and by chance, the resort they stayed in is the Westin. (How appropriate). They got to enjoy all the huge resort amenities like pools, waterslides, hot tubs, beach burgers. And he got to go scuba diving for the first time. By the way, I am reliving his day through pictures, I wasn’t there. He is hooked. We can now add scuba diving to his list of the things he wants to do. Dirt biking, paintball, surfing, football, boogie boarding, skateboarding, and more. He wants to go snowboarding too, but that will have to wait until Christmas when he makes a visit back to Minnesota.

IMG_0686

I, on the other hand, went to my local beach for a walk, then headed down to White Rock Beach for sunset. Because it’s not in front of a resort and off the beaten path, there were very few people there. A couple sipping wine on their beach chairs, and a couple who had just gotten married and having their wedding pictures taken. You couldn’t have asked for a more peaceful end to the day. Unfortunately, it’s 40 minutes back to my home from there.

IMG_0641

On the way back, I pulled off in a tourist shopping center to look at the pictures I got from my kids day. As I was looking at them, I also observed all the people coming and going to shops, restaurants, and bars. 99% of them were here on vacation I am sure. It made me remember my many visits to this island. We rented a car, stayed at a resort, ate at the beach places, sunned in the resort chairs and umbrellas on their private beach, shopped in all the right tourist shops. Eyes wide open. Maui was amazing.

How different it is to live here? My car is a 2011 with 107,000 miles on it, but it was by far the nicest vehicle at the beach when I went for a walk this morning. On the way home, I stopped at my local grocery store, Foodland, and picked up some Poke (Hawaiian style) and bagged salad for lunch. Tonight for sunset I drove to a beach with zero tourists and stopped at Target on the way home for some personal hygiene products (toilet paper).

Thinking about it, in a way it made me feel odd how unaware I was of the real Maui that people living here experience. When you get past the manicured golf courses, mega-resorts, watered lawns, and smiles of faces waiting on your every need, you see the homeless, the lines of cars heading to work, then home at night, eight cars parked in front of houses to share rent, burned out cars by the side of the road too costly to tow. Kids with clothes too big or too small, yards littered with stuff not knowing what to do with it, homes in disrepair. I kind of thought I knew the real Maui because we would take a few backroads, and maybe eat at an iffy diner or two. It takes living here to really know it. Obviously, your experience living here will depend on how much money you have. I don’t have all that much so I get how the locals live.

IMG_0570

That couple on the beach tonight looked like they might have lived here, and were completing their union by visiting their favorite beach. Three kids were running around and I assumed they were theirs. They picked the right beach. No tourists. As I watched them waiting for the right moment, when the colors of the sunset were just right, I was reminded of my own marriage on the beach in Maui. That was in 2002. We made a pact then to come back and live here someday, which we fulfilled, but just not together. That doesn’t matter, but what matters is that we have given our kids a chance of a lifetime. I know they don’t think they about it, but how cool is growing up on one of the most beautiful places on Earth? Not only do they get to see the tourist, once in a lifetime experience, side of things, but also immerse in the culture to really understand a Hawaiian way of life. All that and never freeze your buns off.

As the sun went down tonight, I watched as small crabs came out of their holes, not two feet from me, sat and did whatever crabs are waiting for, and bolted back in when I moved or threw sand, I thought of how we are all like that. Only concerned about what is in front of us, and when the going is tough, run back in our protective holes. How scared we are when faced with danger (which is decisions), or the unknown (which is anything you haven’t experienced).

IMG_0638

I know you are dying to find out if it is better to be a tourist or local in Maui. Here’s what I can offer. Living here is no different than anywhere else. You still have to figure out how to put food on the table, pay the bills, and enjoy life when you can. The only difference is that when I see that it’s going to get down to 36 degrees back home tonight, then that decides it for me, but everyone is different.

The Arctic circle might be your thing or the Amazon rainforest. Doesn’t matter. Pick your spot and go for it.  Maui is a special place on Earth, and surely one for your bucket list.

One day you may be able to be….A tourist at home.

If you have a little bit of cold weather getting you down, here’s my video on the beach tonight. 80 degrees, not much wind. Yeah, I know, it sure gets boring.

 

 

 

 

 

Extend your life with Deprenyl…..

We all feel pretty much the same way about getting old. We all want to live as long we can, but we don’t want to do it if our quality of life suffers. With Deprenyl, you might have your cake and eat it too. Deprenyl is an anti-depressant that was developed about 30 years ago and is widely used to treat Parkinson’s Disease. But it has shown to extend lifespan in animals, so that’s where it gets interesting.

It does this by supporting Dopamine levels in the brain. In case you don’t know, Dopamine supports a positive mood and regulates cognitive functions for attention, planning, and inhibition. A couple of off-label uses are for ADHD and addictions. Dopamine levels decline as we age, and when it gets to about 30% of our peak youthful levels, we can develop Parkinson’s. When and if the levels get to 10%, death occurs. So it’s a pretty important thing to have.

I have talked about Metformin, another anti-aging drug, that uses a different pathway for extending your lifespan by using insulin regulation to mimic calorie restriction, a proven way to live longer.  So it would seem to make sense that the two combined would really be good.

Deprenyl (Selegiline, Anipryl, Eldepryl) is neuroprotective, which means it protects the brain and nerve cells from toxins and heals already damaged ones. It also increases cognition and memory for those inflicted with Alzheimer’s.

All of this is at a very low dose, from 2 1/2 to 5 mg a day. It does convert to a stimulant, methamphetamine, in the body, therefore is prescribed by prescription only. Side effects are very low.

old-woman-574278_1920
Do you want to live forever?

Let’s face it. Getting older is not always easy. The fact that we have to deal with declining levels of anything is tough. Unfortunately, drugs like this and Metformin are not easy to get. Here is a very good recent article by Life Extension Foundation about Deprenyl and some legal supplements that have similar results.

http://www.lifeextension.com/Magazine/2016/2/The-Most-Sought-After-Anti-Aging-Drug/Page-01

One interesting side effect is that people who begin taking this drug for its life extension benefits end up with noticeable increases in their mood and energy. This can lead to greater productivity, more ideas, and enhanced enthusiasm. Deprenyl helps to increase and stabilize dopamine activity in the brain, and it has a highly anti-depressant and anti-anxiety effect that can lead to increased motivation, drive and excitement for life. We can all use a lot more of that.

directory-466935_1920

L-Dopa and Green Oat Extract are a couple of supplements that mimic the Dopamine effects of Deprenyl. Amazon offers products for Life Extension and also many alternatives. Here are links to Amazon and some of the other products. If you purchase a product through one of these links, I will get a small commission, and if you decide to go that route, I thank you in advance.

I, for one, want to live a long and healthy life, and that’s why I keep digging into anything that might help me get to that point when huge strides are made in extending the lifespan of humans. I want to be there when that happens, don’t you?

[amazon_link asins=’B00KXD4NI4,B001P57SEU,B0195XNYE6,B016XJ28GA,B003D4D3H2,B01I5MQ4K4,B017PXJN52,B00G2C2OCC’ template=’ProductGrid’ store=’burltheblogger’ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’82991246-af9f-11e7-980f-039152349f21′]

 

 

Why is the sky blue…………….

This morning I woke a little disappointed. Two nights ago, I headed to the beach for sunset but turned towards the East beaches instead of the West like I had planned when I left home. You can’t really see the sunset on the East side, the West Maui Mountains are in the way, but it’s a lot closer to home with a lot less traffic. Was very nice, and on the way home I noticed a very red sky. I stopped and snapped a picture a few blocks from my house.

IMG_0581
A block away from my home.

Later, when ready for bed, I checked my Facebook, and one of my friends who lives here was on one of the West beaches and was treated to a fantastic sunset. To tell you the truth, I felt a bit bad for missing out.

With that in mind, last night I went West to see if the sunset would repeat itself. There happened to be three grass fires a few miles from those beaches, and the smoke was huge. When I was about 2 miles from the beach, they had closed the road due to smoke. I turned towards the ocean where I was and ended up on a beach that I had never been to before. It was a nice sunset, but not the spectacular light show from the night before.

IMG_0590
The sunset I missed.

To shake off my disappointment, I went to my walking beach earlier than normal and as I stepped out onto the beach, was treated with three of my favorite things. The Sun rising in the East, the Moon setting in the West, and the sand and surf in between. The sky was a bright blue. It made me think of all of the colors that were represented in this marvel we call our home. Earth.

My favorite class in High School was Physics. Mr. Sorenson had a way of teaching that made you want to learn. Remember, there was no Google to instantly look things up. We learned out of sometimes outdated textbooks or relied on the knowledge of others. One of the things I really liked learning about was why the sky was blue. Pretty easy to find out now, but in those days wasn’t that easy. I enjoyed telling others the reason and seemed like I was the only one around with that mystical insight. (I guess no one else liked that class as much as I did).  If you really want to know, this link gives a pretty good explanation without being too technical (which means boring).

http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/sky_blue.html

As I walked west towards the pale setting Moon, I thought about how close it looks, but so very far away. How far away is it? That depends. The Moon is closer to the Earth on some parts of its orbit. and it is also slowly (and I mean very slowly) getting farther away from us over time. But right now, it’s about 250,000 miles. The Earth is about 25000 miles around, so that’s about going 10 times around the Earth. That we can comprehend.

Let’s say we were going to drive there, someone put up a bridge.  (And lot’s of rest stops). Let’s drive careful, 60 miles an hour on average. It would take 4,167 hours to get there, 174 days, or about the length of a Winter in Minnesota (Ok, winter seems longer). I think we can all picture that. A passenger plane goes about 600 miles per hour, so if you got on a plane, it would take only 417 hours or a little over 17 days. Seems pretty easy to comprehend. How about the closest planet to us?

Venus is the closest to us, and you can see it with the naked eye (looks pretty small). It is 25.476,219, which is about 100 times the Moon’s distance from us. So those 174 days in the car would now be 17,400, or 1769 days (almost 5 years by plane). Good thing spacecraft is faster, about 150 days.

jupiter-1700974_1920

We can pretty much comprehend these distances, but it gets a little more incomprehensible as you talk about distances to the stars (which are Suns like ours).  Our Sun is 93 million miles away, but the next closest one is Alpha Centauri, which is not one star, but three stars bound together by gravity. That star is 4.37 light years away. Wait a minute, what happened to miles? What is a light year?

Now listen close (I mean read). A light-year is the distance that light travels in a vacuum in one year. Space is a vacuum, but the atmosphere is not, so it would be a little slower. So just how far is that in understandable terms?

Light travels at about 186,282.397 miles per second. Wow, that’s fast. Per second. One light year equals 5,878,625,373,200 miles. Multiply that times 4.37, and you get an idea how far away our nearest star is to us. Now look up at night at all the stars, and what you see is our galaxy, the Milky Way. Astronomers say there are 100 billion to 200 billion galaxies (yes, galaxies, not stars) in the universe.  They figure there are about 100 billion stars in just our galaxy alone. Our galaxy, the Milky Way, is around 100,000 light years in diameter. 

How would you like the job of counting stars? That would be like having the job to count every grain of sand on every beach on Earth. 

meteor-1869692_1920

Ok, we can forget about driving there or taking a Delta flight. Spacecraft using existing (2012) technology takes about 8 months one way to Mars. The same technology takes a few decades to reach the edge of the solar system or about 80,000 years to Alpha Centauri. 80,000 years in a spaceship to get to our closest star.  If each generation is about 30 years apart, it would take 2,667 generations on a spaceship to get to the closest star to us. Talk about related to each other.

Let’s go back to our little corner (not really a corner) of things. I’m guessing that some very brilliant people have measured and are fairly confident of the accuracy of these things. It’s getting beyond me. I have a hard time understanding that speed of light thing, and then saying our galaxy, of which there are about 100 billion suns (not million), is 100,000 light-years across, or 5,878,625,373,200,000,000 miles. I don’t even know how to say that number. Crazy.

Life was a lot simpler back in the day. You seemed really smart if you knew…..

Why is the sky blue……………….

[amazon_link asins=’B013D2ULO6,B001TI9Y2M,B00XQLV11M,B0000UMLYI,0615826717,B00369Q4ZC,B01DBK1GIK,B00XQMG4LI’ template=’ProductGrid’ store=’burltheblogger’ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’0c21ab6d-ae27-11e7-a609-21cdd344b2d1′]

 

Are we there yet?

Yesterday evening I was giving my daughter a ride to the Maui County Fair. She has been on Maui exactly one year this weekend, and has made a few school friends and was meeting them there. I asked her how she liked living here and I made a comment about how lucky we were to live in such a beautiful place. She looked up from her phone and said “fine”.

I knew what that meant. It meant she really didn’t think about where she lives, it’s more about who she knows. Journey and destination mean the same to her. The journey she doesn’t care about all that much. And most of the time, a destination is undeterminable.

To get to the fair we have to travel from our home, which is at 1156 feet above sea level, to the main town, which is only a few feet above sea level. Just to give you an idea, if you have ever been to the skyscrapers in Chicago, the John Hancock Center is 1128 feet, and the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) is 1451. I’ve been up in the Hancock Building and scared me to death. I’m not a big height person. The road goes down fairly quickly so you can just imagine the view. It’s gorgeous and takes my breath away most days I go that way.

chicago-skyline-139388_1920
View from the Willis Tower.

 

Kids don’t care for scenery. The ride in the car is boring for them, and if you have ever traveled by car with kids any distance, you will know what I mean. They don’t look out the windows unless they are looking for food or gift shops. I think I was pretty much the same. I always had my eye out for a Stuckey’s. I liked to buy magic tricks and fake poop. We pulled up to the fair entrance, she said bye, and jumped out to meet her friends. How did she grow up so fast I thought.

I went back home to an empty house. Something bothered me all night, and I have been thinking about it all day today. When am I going to be there? That’s really hard to answer because I don’t know where “there” is. I have lived my whole life moving toward something I really can’t define.

How about fulfilling my dream to move to Maui. Yes, I’m here, but every day it feels like I am waiting for more. And retiring is not all that satisfying when you don’t have a direction. I feel like Flotsam. (My kids get a kick out of that word). I have always thought about my kids growing up and moving into a life of their own. Now it scares me to even think about them not being here. Even writing this blog I don’t feel like I am ever done, which is true I guess.

It goes back way farther than right now. Try my whole life. Every job, relationship, house, car, trip, and money were just there until the next thing. I never felt I arrived. I know I’m not the only one. I think most people are living their lives desperate for something better, bigger, more fulfilling, maybe just different than what they have.  And I bet, like me, they really can’t define what that would be. The clues are “maybe someday, I wish I had, I wish I could, if I had it to do over, and I’m not happy”.

Maybe if my son was here today, and I could ask him. He is a love life kind of person, wears his heart on his sleeve, and is very aware of the little nuances of life. Maybe it’s best I don’t. I don’t want to put some crazy idea in his head that he will worry about his whole life like his Dad did. I don’t think kids think about the journey or the destination. They just think about today. They may say they want this or that or are going to be such and such, but that is in constant flux, and they know it.

luggage-1149289_1920
It’s the journey.

Everyone has heard the phrase It’s not the destination, it’s the journeyEasier said than done. To do that, you have to have a lot of things in place to support that lifestyle. I see plenty of Journey people at the beach waiting for the Salvation Army food truck to show up on Thursday mornings. Then there is the Sacrifice today for tomorrow train of thought. I have probably leaned that direction if I had to pick one. I’m starting to think one must have a purpose. But would that be a journey or a destination, hard to say? All I know is that I don’t now and never have felt whole, like I have accomplished what I set out to do, and I have arrived. That’s a very empty feeling.

Time marches on, and the road ahead is not as long as I would like it to be. I only need one hand to count how many decades I have left. That itself makes me question…is this it? Have I reached the destination? I have always been aware that I should live life in the moment, practice mindfulness, slow down. I wish I had. Looking back, I raced through life to get somewhere. I trampled on the roses instead of smelling them.

My sister and I laugh about a time we went to the mall to do some shopping. Going between the stores, we were going as fast as we possibly could. Almost running. After about an hour of this, she stopped and said to me “Why are we running? We are shopping”.We could see the absurdity of it all, but that was us.

runners-888021_1920
Got to get to Macy’s.

Moving to this tropical island I thought would stop my worry. Getting off the work treadmill, same thing. I just shifted my focus to worry about something else. If you are looking for advise, not sure I would be the one to ask. I can tell you that life is more complicated than enjoying the journey, smelling the roses, and being mindful. Even being aware of and believing in those philosophies hasn’t really helped me slow down all that much.

If I could narrow it down to what it is I feel, I would say anxious. Like that feeling you get when you are waiting for important mail, or the cable guy to show up at your door or waiting for the results of an important test or medical exam. Never quite content. Thinking tomorrow that somethings going to change.  Waking up in the middle of the night with thoughts racing through my head.  Maybe I am struggling with having control of my life mine again, like when I was young without responsibilities. You give up so much trying to put a roof over your head and food on the table. Trading time for money. Whether you work for others or have a business of your own, it takes dedication to succeed. I guess you could say I am a work in progress. In a way, I feel like I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.

Ok, I’ll stop my whining. Pretty sure you must think I slipped a cog or two. After all, I am living a long time dream and don’t have to work for the man. But if there is one thing I have definitely learned in life- You can’t help how you feel.

For that brief moment of watching my 14-year-old daughter walking towards the fair, I don’t want my journey with them to ever be over. I have missed plenty in my life by working too many hours, not really being in control of my time, and am blessed for this time I get to spend with them now. Of course, I don’t let them know how I feel. For them, it’s just nice to have Dad home.

The next time my kids want to know “Are we there yet?”, I will think to myself, hopefully never.

railway-2462751_1920

 

We even got them dancin’ girls……………

Last night it was Friday night, and that’s drum night at Baldwin Beach. (Unofficial).

With the thought of a previous blog comment in mind, I headed down to Baldwin Beach to meet with the forest people. There had been a rain front that moved in after about a hundred days without rain, and not sure what to expect. It was actually very nice. I was challenged to reach out and meet someone. With that in mind, I loaded my beach chair with a couple of Voodoo Ranger beers just in time for the sunset that wouldn’t be.

I have four videos for you to enjoy.  The first one was the layout of the beach from my beach chair. The temp was about 80 degrees, wind off the ocean, rain in the distance. It’s about a minute long. Even though I heard them very well, you can just hear the drums over the ocean on the video.

The second video is the person I met, Al, catching a turtle.(Yes, I went out of my comfort zone and talked to someone). Don’t worry, the turtle was fine and I watched as it swam back out to sea. Al had moved back to Maui about six years ago after being born here and moving away. Actually got me interested in giving fishing a try, and you don’t need a license. Today I came to my senses and will continue to get my fish at the store.

Here is the one you’ve been waiting for. Drums of the forest people. My daughter watched it while I was posting it, and couldn’t stop laughing hysterically. Now she thinks this is what all adults do for fun when they go to a party. If you were imagining a bunch of tattooed Hawaiians from the pitch black video I took last week, then you will be disappointed. It’s more like a bunch you will find at a craft fair. Now it did feel a bit weird filming. There were some naked people back farther in the woods, and the smell of pot was pretty heavy. I was wondering if they thought I was filming for the cops, and they were all going to get busted. It’s about 5 minutes long, but well worth a listen. Needless to say, I left promptly when I was done filming….

Now, how about them dancin’ girls……….

Finally, to relax you after all that, sounds of the ocean mixed with faint drums in the background. You can see the kids moving to the beat and having a great time. (By the way, not my kids…..)

Peace of mind is priceless……………………….

The world has gotten used to cameras everywhere. You can see the traffic jams on the news, a baby hippo born at the zoo, an eagles nest, they monitor and change the lights at stoplights, the instant weather anywhere on the planet, every store you go into, and much much more. We aren’t even aware of them most of the time. But they are there, watching and recording.

Even though they may be used for evil intent, like the Las Vegas shooter having them in the hall of the hotel, I am glad they are being used. I think they deter crime before it happens, and sure help if a crime is committed. You may think that Big Brother is watching, and he is, to protect you.

When I moved to Maui in January this year, I left behind my house and all my stuff. It was a source of worry for me. Not only worried about theft, but also the chance my furnace would quit working, and all the pipes in my house freeze and eventually bust. Well, guess what, my furnace quit working, but because I had a camera set up in my kitchen pointed towards the thermostat and a large thermometer, I was able to quickly get the situation under control with no damage. And I did it all on an app on my phone. Live. Instant. Very cool. And just checking to see if everything was normal back home let me relax and not have to think about it.

d link camera

 

In fact, I had three cameras set up. The one in the kitchen, one in the garage which let me see if I forgot to close the garage door, and one in an upstairs window pointing towards my driveway, which I enjoyed watching the weather, and also knew if my driveway was being plowed on time, or if my grass needed mowing. I could watch any of the three on my phone, laptop, kindle, or desktop from Maui, in real time. One of the cameras had a record feature with motion detection, so I could actually playback and watch what happened when the furnace guy came out.

Years ago, when I was selling my house in Duluth before moving to Rochester, I got the idea to record my Realtor and any prospective clients. I didn’t have a security camera then, so I hid my mini-camcorder on a shelf, turned it on when I left the house before the showing and watched it when I got back. In this case, The Realtor did a great job and knowing that the client really liked my house enough to make an offer, I was confident to negotiate for more when we wrote up the paperwork by watching the tape.

I did the same thing when selling my house in Rochester, only this time I had the security cameras. I could see the prospective purchasers as they pulled up in the yard, and snapped screenshots of them as they walked up to the door. I also hid the one in the kitchen above the cabinets and was able to listen to any clues if people were interested. The best thing was that they mentioned things that should have been fixed or changed, and I did those things before the next showing. I also knew when the real buyers showed up, not a bunch of shingle kickers snooping around.

IMG_4956
Shingle kickers at my house.

 

Let’s get down the nitty-gritty. How much is this going to cost? My kids call me cheap sometimes, I think I am careful. My son’s current wish list involves a dirt bike. You get the picture. I wasn’t about to sign up for a recurring monthly fee like the alarm companies want you to do. I also looked into Simply Safe but didn’t want to shell out $400. I think what I found and am using is great. You can get one camera, or many, and no recurring fees. The app is free, and these cameras will work for years.

The company is D-Link. I bought one camera through them, but I found buying through Amazon is always best. Same price or better, and their return policy is unmatched. So how much? You can get a great camera for $74. They make a cheaper version for $25, but in reading the reviews, doesn’t always work well on the app so I would avoid that one. It has night vision, motion detection, sound, and recording (although you will have to buy a sim card separate). They are easy to set up, only takes a couple of minutes, and works off your Wi-Fi so you can put them anywhere (you have to plug them into a wall outlet). Then download the app on your phone, and you get live sight and sound whenever you want. You can even see what your cat and dog are up to when you are gone.

Here is a link to that camera, where you can read reviews and compare other systems that may be better for your use. And of course, they make many more.  If you don’t have a camera in your house, I really recommend you get one, not just for security.

But for the …...Peace of mind.

d link

As time goes by………………

You must remember this
A kiss is still a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh
The fundamental things apply
As time goes by
And when two lovers woo
They still say, “I love you”
On that you can rely
No matter what the future brings
As time goes by
Moonlight and love songs
Never out of date
Hearts full of passion
Jealousy and hate
Woman needs man
And man must have his mate
That no one can deny
it’s still the same old story
A fight for love and glory
A case of do or die
The world will always welcome lovers
As time goes by.

These are the lyrics of the theme song of one of my favorite movies of all time, Casablanca. It was made in 1942 with Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in the lead roles. The movie won 3 Academy Awards. It was a common love story. Boy meets girl, they fall in love, they separate, and by chance meet again with the girl loving another, and the noble guy gives her up and they give each other the look, and part ways for good, everything is ok. He says when she shows up at his bar “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine”.

maxresdefault

The other night I was searching for something interesting on TV, and the movie La La Land was just starting. I must have been the only person in the world not to have seen it, and wasn’t particularly interested because of the title and that it was a musical. Although I say I don’t care for musicals, I have never seen one that I didn’t really like. My eyes never left the screen, except to go get tissues for when I cried. What a great movie. It won 7 Academy awards and well deserved. Strangely enough, it had a very common theme. Boy meets girls, they fall in love, they separate, and by chance meet again with the girl loving another, and they give each other the look, and part ways for good, everything is ok. (In his bar). What sets this movie apart from Casablanca is the way they project their might have been future, which was extremely well done. In Casablanca, you had to fill it in yourself.

Before I had kids, I always liked to sit in the window seat in airplanes so I could look out at the stars, clouds, and especially the cities at night. They hog that seat now. There have been countless times in my life I have been alone, or in a relationship I knew wasn’t right. At those times, I would look down at all the lights of the houses and cars below, and imagine there must be someone down there in that city for me. A chance meeting, a new life, a fresh start. Within minutes, the lights would be gone, I would still be alone, and on it went. The loneliness would set in, and I would keep searching for a light, of any kind, a farmhouse, a lone car, anything to give me hope. Then the next city would come and go. It was hard to travel alone then.

This week I got a surprise message from a friend I haven’t seen for over 40 years. We had gone on one of those once in a lifetime trips to Key West in the 70’s together. He brought up memories I had either forgotten or had purposely buried to protect my emotions. On that trip, I had met a girl and lived with her for several years. It was a chance encounter involving a boat and a bar but changed the direction of my life. At the time I went on that trip, I was dating a girl back home, her name was Julie, and because of the circumstances that developed, I have never seen nor spoken to her again, even though it was a kiss and see you in two weeks goodbye. I wonder how she is doing.

I have thought a lot about the could have beens/should have beens in my life. A wrong word, a funny look, a mood, a mistake have caused many of my relationships to fail. And I feel really bad about that. Each one of them carried a future. I can project in my mind (just like in La La Land) how that future might have played out. It’s tough to think about. And that is just about the chance relationships I have had, which pales in comparison to the chance relationships I could or might have had. My heart breaks over each and every love I have ever had. And there have been many.

I had been dating, and very much in love with, a girl from California named Marie (My second girlfriend). We had our problems, like everyone, and I started also seeing a girl named Pam. This was going on for several months. I worked at my parent’s farm and lived in a small trailer right next door. One day, during the summer, I took my motorcycle into town, about 4 miles, to get something to eat during a lunch break at the farm. My two girlfriends decided to pay me a visit that same day. There was a fork in the road going to either the farm or my house, and as I came back from town, both girls were walking either on the farm or house road waving and smiling at me. They couldn’t see each other because of some trees and bushes. I pulled up and stopped at the fork, with each girl about 50 feet from me, coming from different directions, and did the only wise choice a guy would do in this instance. Turned around and left.

How the story turned out. They kept walking and met, compared notes, and both dumped me (with good reason). They became very good friends and especially hated that I gave them both the same presents for their birthdays. I had a future with both girls. I often wonder about that. I have never spoken to either since. Hope they are doing ok.

How many strangers have you looked in the eye, a casual glance, a word or two, a thought about them? Each one of them carries the potential for a future. That answer, of course, is limitless. Let me tell you another story. I have never told it to anyone else before, and quite frankly forgot about it until just right now.

I was living in Madison, Wisconsin while working on a piece of land that my parents and I were going to move our animals to from Minnesota. I was getting it ready for the move. I had a girlfriend in Minnesota and would drive back weekends to see her and her daughter. One night after work I was driving from the gym I worked out at, and at an intersection, I got behind a VW Beetle that was stalled. I sat as the driver tried to start the car through several light changes, then jumped out to ask if I could help. It turned out to be a girl about my age named Trish, and she readily accepted my offer. I jumped in, got the car started, I think it was flooded, and got the Beetle and my truck past the intersection. Talking a bit, she offered to buy me a beer. For some reason, I said yes, maybe because I was lonely, and followed her a short distance to a bar by her house. Very out of character for me. We had one beer, and she asked for my number, I gave it to her, and off we went. In the following weeks, we saw each other many times for dinner and drinks. She was kind of dating a guy, and I had a girlfriend 400 miles away. We both knew it wasn’t going to go anywhere but just liked each other’s company.

It so happened during this time that my girlfriend and I made a trip out East to visit Washington D.C.  We brought my cousin and his wife along. I called Trish to tell her about the trip, and she informed me that she and her boyfriend were also going there about the same time we were. Wouldn’t it be funny if we ran into each other? (How absurd, it’s a big city). We both agreed that if we did (what’s the chance of that) that we would not say anything. Well, guess what, one day my cousins, girlfriend and I were walking down the sidewalk by the White House, and from the other direction comes Trish and her boyfriend. We see each other from about 20 feet away, both had sunglasses on, and as we passed within two feet of each other, slipped our sunglasses down our noses, looked into each other’s eyes, and smiled. A movie couldn’t have done it any better. In a country of millions, what are the chances?

I don’t know what happened to Trish. She moved away to California a few months after that, and we didn’t stay in touch. I often wonder how my life would have turned out had she been the one.

I know how my life has turned out up until now. And I am very happy with it. I don’t know how the rest will turn out. You see, every second counts in this life when it comes to opportunity, and your choice. Thinking about those poor people in Las Vegas, their choice led them there. Whether they turned right or left, or ran, or hid, or helped was their choice. Every second mattered. Every second of one decision changed a life. A result followed. Thank you to the many heroes who risked their own lives to help those in need. But let’s get back to love.

I envy those who have found someone to share their entire life with. How did they know? I suspect that they have had to give up a lot of could have beens too. It’s those could have beens that do the haunting.

Are you ever really over someone you shared a part of your life with? I don’t think so. You may hate them for something they did, become different people, don’t like the way they snore, or eat, or kiss. But if you have shared a time and place and a passion, then they are with you forever. You may have no wish to get back together with them, but that’s different than being over them. After all is said and done, there was a future with that person. And you might imagine it like in the movies, but you will never know the ending. That is part of being alive.

nature-1790144_1920

I have met my Soulmate. The one. I can’t reveal her name. We are not together, nor I suspect, will ever be. I am ok with that, and she is too. This current life of mine doesn’t have a place for her in it. Nor I in hers. Someday in a life in the future, we will be.

I am now more aware of the chances and choices. When I pass a stranger, what happens next might determine my future. Whether I say hi, or continue on my path, the future is determined. Being an introvert, I always err on the side of silence.

They say that when you die, your entire life flashes before your eyes. I wonder if all of the other possible combinations of life pass before you too.

When I got married for the first time, we had our honeymoon in the Bahamas. One night while having dinner, the theme song from “Casablanca” was played by the band. I don’t think my wife got the emotional connection that song had for me, but I saw it as a sign that everything was as it should be. Every time I hear it, I think of that dinner, and the promise that being a newlywed brings. This year I saw her for the first time in many, and I thought about the could have beens. I think she did too. She has a wonderful life, with a beautiful daughter and precious granddaughter. I know she wouldn’t want to change a thing. It would be great if we didn’t have to, yet have that alternate life of promise.

I often look at my Daughter, who is 14, and my Son, 10, and think of all the life that is ahead of them. The biggest question they will ever have is who is right for them. That is one that I can’t answer. Each of us has to live that joy and pain alone. That is a journey that can’t be planned. It is predetermined by chance. That I know.

The best example I can set for them is that I am happy.

The only thing I know as I have lived my life. You and you alone are faced with choices and decisions that change the course of your life. One choice excludes all others. A different choice excludes that one. You can’t have it all. Be happy with the choice you make, and if you want to look back, then do it with joy in your heart. Be happy you had a choice, to begin with.

I now look back and smile (or cry) ……..As time goes by.gothic-1629448_1920

 

 

 

 

 

 

A solution to end the killings….

We woke this morning to another sickening news story about a lunatic gunman who killed 58 plus (and counting) people in Las Vegas before killing himself. I still cry out loud when I think of those poor innocent kids at Sandy Hook.

Let’s be real. Do you think our puny attempts at gun control to weed out these killers, or social media and internet police, or threaten them with jail, or counterterrorism work? Then you are only fooling yourself. This guy was a complete ghost, coming out of nowhere, to wreak this kind of destruction. Guns are here to stay. A gun lasts a lifetime, a bullet one use.

I’m not trying to challenge the second amendment and the right to bear arms. I have guns myself. That’s my right. In fact, just in voicing my opinion about this, I am exercising my right to free speech.

If guns cannot be controlled, then let’s control what comes out of them, bullets.  Why don’t we only make plastic or rubber bullets from now on? Quit making metal bullets that kill and maim. If someone goes crazy, they will cause some bruises and maybe poke someone’s eye out. Selling only plastic bullets would end the violence.

This doesn’t have to be a “We are coming to your house to get your ammunition” kind of thing. Just have the manufacturers quit making bullets that kill. If they squawk about losing money, then pay them not to make them. We have paid farmers not to grow things for years. What we would save in law enforcement and health costs would be far greater than what we would pay not to make metal bullets. They would eventually make up for it selling the plastic ones.

Imagine going to the store and your only choice will be to choose which plastic bullet to buy. What color. What’s inside of the head when it hits something. Paint? Apple seeds? Colored smoke? The possibilities are endless.

I’m no engineer, I wouldn’t have any idea how to make a plastic bullet. But I bet there are people who do and have. I would actually like shooting bullets that couldn’t kill someone. To get them publically accepted is the challenge.

I woke the other night at 11:00 PM to the sound of gunfire in my neighborhood. And my neighborhood is very safe, with strict gun laws about ownership and use. I envisioned someone drunk shooting away for fun. I hid behind my mattress until it was over. My kids weren’t here that night, I never told them or they would be afraid to stay with me from now on. I don’t want to live this way.

I hunted years ago, I don’t anymore. But if someone wants to hunt, then when they get their hunting license, ask them what kind of gun they are going to use, then issue them a certificate for 6 or so bullets to be redeemed at the gun shop for that weapon, or better yet, a more tightly controlled retail location like those used as medical marijuana facilities. It would arouse much more suspicion if someone was trying to buy up the 6 bullet batches from all the hunters they could find.

And if someone is worried about home protection, I would think most self-defense shootings happen within several feet. Get a Taser. It would give you time to get out of harm’s way, and not take the chance of accidentally shooting an innocent bystander (like your kids).

Shooting plastic bullets at the range would be fine. I think people just like to shoot something. Paint Ball, Video games, and Lazer Tag attest to that.

I know this idea seems too simplistic to ever possibly work. But I know that if I was ever on the other end of a phone call from school that said some gunman blasted his way in shooting, I would feel much better if they said some kids sustained bruises than going down to the morgue to identify mine.

MAKING PLASTIC BULLETS to me seems like a solution. I know not everyone will agree, and to tell you the truth, just writing this I am probably putting myself out there for some nut who will want to shoot me for saying it.

If you agree with some or all of what I am saying, please share on your social channels. Who knows, from a small seed a Giant Redwood grows. I don’t want to have to think about a world where I fear for the safety of my family every time they leave the house.

kids-71716_1280

 

 

 

Duluth MN Guest Blog Review

I have always had a sort of love/hate relationship with Duluth. I lived there for 20 years, and my hometown was only 20 miles away, so in a way consider that area my home turf. Today I would like to share an email I received from Leanne, who lives in Duluth, and has a lot of nice things to say about the city. Good job, Leanne, on pointing out the great things Duluth has to offer.

Enger Tower

“You have been out of our loop for too long, Burl.  According to a website called Suburbanstats.org  Duluth’s population for 2016-2017 looks more like this:

Demographic Population Totals

Total Population In Duluth

Total Population: 86,265
Male Population: 42,243
Female Population: 44,022

Demographic Median Age By Sex

Median Age In Duluth

Both sexes 33
Male 31
Female 36
Therefore, not too old or lacking knowledge to shop online! LOL I really think our part of the country has more loyal customers that enjoy socializing at the mall so our mall is doing well. Maybe we are more old-fashioned, or like I used to say “10 years behind the rest of the US”.  I for one, don’t especially care to go to the checkout lines without a cashier.  Innovation and the internet are taking over too many jobs. I want to see REAL people at work.  Sure it may be less convenient than PayPal but face to face is best. I do buy my car parts online, and my Netflix and Hulu. Everything else I go to the store and make my purchases in person.
I was going to write a bit on your blog a couple weeks ago, but I had too much pressing on my mind to do it at the time.  My life is almost back to normal so I would like to blow my horn about living in Duluth.  You may share with your readers if you wish, or not.
When I moved to Duluth in 1993 I didn’t feel safe to walk in the skywalk system alone during the daytime. The main street downtown was scary too.  Never dared go there alone at night. That’s probably when I began to notice the underprivileged, having lived a sheltered existence of my own little world for most of my lifetime, up till then. We have nonprofit organizations to assist these citizens that live on the streets if they choose to take advantage of them. Some don’t use the system but it’s there for them.  All cities have homeless folks, even smaller cities. Duluth has the least affordable housing market in the state. Bet that plays a huge role in this. That’s another blog, another day.
I left Duluth in 2004. When I returned in 2011 it was like a totally different city. I am not afraid to use the skywalks or go downtown at night. It’s cleaner, better lighting and not as intimidating as it once was to me. I don’t work downtown so I don’t use the skywalks often as my daughter who works downtown and every once in awhile, someone will ask for money to buy food. She hands them her homemade lunch and then goes out to eat that day.  Good move.
Superior Street has cleaned up immensely. There are great coffee shops, unique gifty stores, nice bars (not like the old days when all the old dumpy bars were downtown), pizza places with live music and lots of coffee shops have live music during daytime or evening hours. On the west end of downtown, there’s a yoga store selling candles, incense, and my kinda stuff.  The east end of Superior Street has a glass blowing store where artists are displaying their works and the torch is always lit. They demonstrate how to blow the glass while you watch. I think it would be fun to take one of the classes they offer. We have several interesting galleries to browse on a cold winter day. They have hot drinks and cookies to take the chill off.
Bayfront Park is always hopping no matter what time of year. Each weekend in summer we have festivals with familiar bands playing down there. Have you heard Trampled By Turtles music?  They started as a garage band in Duluth and now they are world known. They like coming home to play for us! If you haven’t heard their music you must download it today. A few years ago Bentleyville came from Esko to Duluth’s waterfront. It’s a display of lights that lasts for hours each night from Thanksgiving thru a couple days past Christmas. There’s usually a giant fireworks display on the last night. It’s all free too including the cookies and smores and hot cocoa. You can google that too. All ages enjoy!
Boaters, paddle boarders, and kayakers fill the harbor on weekends in summer. Folks stroll or ride bikes around on the Canal sidewalks. Photographers love it here!  You can sit anywhere along the shore and watch sailboats and ore boats mingling out in the water.
Enger Tower is spectacular! The panoramic views are second to none and the air is so fresh. They keep up the gardens as if it’s a national park.  There’s been a coffee truck serving cappuccinos, lattes, and hot chocolate along with fresh baked goods and sandwiches parked up there this year.  The Prince of Sweden showed up for the Easter Egg hunt a few years ago.  I can’t believe they don’t charge admission. It’d be worth visiting even if they did. Everyone of all ages enjoy Enger Park.
You can always see this tower from the lake and it always looks the same, but what a spectacular area they have made all around here.  Picnic tables, the big bell, the gazebo-type overlook, plenty of benches, open bathrooms, landscaping, flowering trees… this is beautiful. It was lit in purple the week that Prince past away.
And it’s free… what could be better!
There are so many hiking trails, butterfly gardens, parks, streams and wonderful wonderful scenery surrounding our beautiful city. I’ve thought of moving from here, but within a few days I start to feel sad thinking of it…so I stay. I realize Winter is a longer season than I prefer it to be. But there’s lots to do in winter, if you are into snowmobiling, snowshoeing, skiing, ice fishing or playing hockey. I prefer to visit sunny warm climates during our winter.  I could never imagine spending Christmas away from here tho. Probably due to the fact that this is where my family congregates for Christmas. When they all grow up, I may entice some to spend one in Estes Park Colorado with me!
The Rose Garden is almost done for the season now.  I spend many sunny mornings there.  Love the roses that smell peppery. There are always out of towners looking for a nice friendly woman to take their pictures.  I am happy to oblige. It gives me pleasure to suggest restaurants or other sites to visit while they are in our area. Everyone is laid back and easy going. It’s a good place.  Across the street is a new blacksmith shop. I watched the blacksmith make a tripod to hang a kettle on over an open fire.  You don’t see that every day. The glassblowers own this biz too and often hang out there.  I’ll keep this place in mind on a cold winter day, Aha!
Last summer I found a new place to add to my tour. Further up on the Northshore there’s a Black Beach. The sand is blackened from the taconite pellets. It’s up near Silver Bay. The rocks are pink and white and the sand is black. Cool.
I missed my calling, I should have been a tour guide!  Maybe that’s my last career. I can lead the pack on Segways. One day I’ll give Segways a try.”
If you would like to write a Guest Blog and post it on my site, I would love to have you. (Gives me a break from thinking so much). Just send me an email and we can talk (sort of).  Burljjohnson@gmail.com.