The prison……………..

The floors were hard. Some sort of commercial tile, the surface worn dull by the miles of nervous pacing in that eight by eight space. From a window I watched as people went about their normal lives, unaware they were being envied for the freedom they had. The chair was stiff, arms that supported in times of loneliness, anguish, and pain. I was grateful the ceiling was too high to touch, it gave me room to breathe when the walls closed in.

There were reminders of previous occupants, small bits of paper, a scratch or a chip here and there. It had the smell of unhappiness. Of valuable lives wasted in mindless tasks and dreams.

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I was alone in that cell for years, then a roommate was added, then another. Privacy was replaced by mindless chatter and the friction of differences. I counted the years, then the days, then the hours until I was released out of that hell. That’s the day I walked out of my job of 28 years. I was a cubicle prisoner.

Even after a year away from that job, I am still recovering from the amount of hours, effort, ass kissing, and destruction of my personal life that were given up for money. Sure, I appreciate that it afforded me what I am able to do today, but I am beginning to realize that had I chose to do something else, I would have been just as or maybe more successful. I made a choice to stick it out, working for the “Man” as it were, and justified it by claiming it was for family. It was and it wasn’t. I was paralyzed by the fear of doing something else and failing. Give up the desperately needed benefits for an unknown future.

I’m not usually one of those “If I had to do it all again” people. I live with my choices, and move on. Now looking back, however, I do regret that I sold out to the establishment, the way you are supposed to do things, instead of relying on my talent and skills to forge my own way. Sure, I tried a few things on my own and they didn’t work out. Maybe that’s what locked me into that cubicle hell.

I remember so many late nights driving past restaurants and bars where friends were meeting friends, families out for dinner, lovers locked in an intimate gaze, and I was heading home from work, too tired to socialize, too tired for my family, too tired for life.

I should have known early on that this career wasn’t the right move for me. I grew up with a self-employed Dad, who was very successful for a long time, lost it all, then never gave up hope or spirit until he got it back again. He always told me you will never get rich working for someone else. I now know what he meant. Sure, you might be comfortable knowing the bills will be paid, but you will never have that feeling of accomplishment and pride in making it the way you want it. That is what he meant to be rich.

Working for someone else, doesn’t matter who, is a death sentence for creativity, innovation, and spirit. You may be told to do what you want, when you want, but you are still under the control of another. I have had great bosses and lousy bosses. They are still bosses. And if you think for a minute that you are valued, then you need to step back and think about it. You are valued as long as it serves their needs, and when it doesn’t anymore, you are like a pair of pants that don’t fit anymore. You get donated to someone else or thrown out not to be used again. You don’t get to choose. Believe me, I have been in hundreds of management meetings where good employees have a bad month and are out the door.

My last boss told me to look around at what I considered to be my friends. He said there is no loyalty, they just want your job. Whether he was right or not, it showed me how valued I was. Just another piece of meat to chew. I mentally left after that. I no longer gave value to them. I was done.

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If you haven’t noticed, this world and this economy have changed. No longer are you given a position for life, that ended years ago. Everyone knows that. Now you can expect to change jobs, and careers, multiple times in your working life. And that isn’t all bad. You lose when you get too comfortable anyway. The middle class is shrinking. The rich are getting richer, with no intention of making life any easier for the poor. And the poor are scraping by with the cost of everything keeping them a slave to jobs that don’t fulfill the spirit, or use them to their full potential, just to keep food on the table and a roof overhead.

Is there an answer and a way out? Of course, but it takes courage and effort. The new currency is ideas. People don’t act the way they used to. People don’t spend their money the way they used to. If you want to be successful, you have to add value. If you add value, then money will follow. If you just stick it out waiting for something to happen, it will. And probably not going to be your choice. Driverless cars are taking away drivers. Drones are taking away delivery methods. The internet is taking away stores. Telecommuting is taking away traditional workplace jobs. Manufacturing is moving to cheaper labor. Underemployment is at an all-time high. A College Degree gets you an interview at McDonald’s. Open your eyes to the possibilities. Find a need and fill it. It’s a big new world just looking for opportunists. Old businesses need fresh ideas. New businesses need talent. There is so much money out there looking for answers, all you have to do is solve them. Doesn’t matter when you start or your age. Great ideas are ageless.

Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you are right”.

I gave 30 years working for the Man. I don’t want my kids to follow in my footsteps. I will encourage them to think with their brains to carve out their own world, one that gives them pride and satisfaction, and improves the quality of every aspect of their lives. That is my wish and my legacy to them.

Do I believe in the American way of life? You bet I do, more than ever. But the rewards have to be earned. And now is the time of the individual to earn them, not the corporation, not the status quo. Watch Shark Tank a few times, and you can see the need.

In prison I have heard you get three meals a day, free. In my cubicle, many times I was lucky to eat once, and I had to pay for lousy fast food because I couldn’t find the time to eat. I hear in prison, you get some time to exercise. I couldn’t in my cubicle, I was expected to be at the beck and call of everyone else who had an issue or a problem to solve. I gained weight and my health suffered. I got pills from the doctors for that. My blood pressure has dropped thirty points since I got out. A heart attack was not too far off had I stayed. I have never been to prison, but it doesn’t sound a whole lot worse than working a job you don’t like with no way out.

My time has come and gone, and now I am free. Are you?……………..

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The best time to buy a new or used car……

That is a question I was asked more than any other by people I met  (and still meet) while working in the car business. They were sure I had the inside scoop. From 28 years of experience as a salesperson and as a high-level manager, I knew the best time of year and month. I also knew what factors go into incentives and the Dealership’s position on when to run a sale on certain models, and when to take a deal or not. It’s a combination of a few things.

  1. Incentives: First and foremost, incentives amount to the biggest consumer discount available to get you either the lowest purchase price, the lowest interest rate, or the best lease rate, which will determine your payments. Unless you pay cash, it’s all about the payments anyway. Incentives come from the manufacturer (think Ford, Honda, Toyota, etc.) either as a direct consumer discount like a rebate, low-interest rate, or lease specials. The manufacturers also give incentives to the dealers as the form of dealer cash, to help move stale or too much inventory.
  2. Salesperson: Unless you have your own car guy, or have a friend in the business, your salesperson will be your ticket to either getting a great deal or paying too much. Salespeople are paid to sell cars, either by holding gross profit, or selling volume. That’s how they make a living and keep their jobs.
  3. Dealership: Let’s face it, Dealerships need to make money, just like any other business to keep the doors open. They have lot’s of profit centers, whether it’s the profit on the sale of the vehicle, the finance reserve (what they make off the financing), parts, service, accessories. They need to have the volume to stay in business.
  4. Vehicle Choice: Some cars are better than others. Some are more popular, hold more resale, have more or less supply, have more or less competition, and have too many or not enough Dealers. All of these factors can affect the selling price.
  5. Time of Year: Selling cars is a cyclical business. They have their slow months, and their busy months, doesn’t matter where they are. A lot of traffic is generated by Manufacturer rebates, and lease maturities (when the market gets flooded with off lease used cars).
  6. Time of Month: Depending on inventory levels and volume in any given month, the last week sometimes is a catch up to try to make a profit in a Dealership. This can work for or against you. They might be discounting their product more, but making up for it by increasing the profit in the other areas of the store.

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Whether you are buying a new or used vehicle, there is no one easy answer. Just like you do your research when you buy something off Amazon or eBay, you need to do that and more when it comes to buying a car. Spend some time communicating with several internet salespeople before you set foot in the door, and do your homework. They can tell if you do, and it will save you a tremendous amount of time and money. Don’t bother with buying services, you can get a better deal yourself just by shopping around.

Here is my cocktail party speech (Although I never go to cocktail parties) when asked when to buy a car. 

The biggest Manufacturer incentives come at the end of the year (think December) to get their sales ranking higher than others. (The brag factor). Try to get a hungry salesperson, the one who needs a sale, they will work the Manager for more. The Manager is the one who decides on the price, terms, and trade. Never go in the first week of the month. Everyone is tired from the previous month, and the end of the current month is too far off to worry about the results. You won’t be able to negotiate as much. If you are willing to be flexible on the model, try to pick something that they have plenty of inventory.  It’s a supply and demand issue just like everything else.

Never set foot in a Dealership until you have done your research, and have gotten firm commitments from several Dealers. If you walk in cold, your odds of getting a good deal go way down. Be careful of your car guy if you have one, or someone referred to. When you let your guard down and don’t shop to keep them honest, they will probably take advantage of that. It’s a well know fact that your previous customers are your highest gross customers.

Don’t let yourself get emotionally involved. If you fall in love with a car or think it’s the last one on the Planet, you just set yourself up. Car are like potato chips, they will always make more. If I can leave you with one thing, take your emotions out of it, shop the internet, and never take their first offer. You will never get the best deal until you stand up to leave or walk out. It’s that simple.

 

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Last and the most important thing. Read my book available on Amazon. $0 if you have Kindle Unlimited, $3.97 for a download copy, or $7.95 for a paperback mailed to you in a couple of days. (Who says I can’t sell anything anymore).

If you find this helpful, and know of someone who is looking to buy a vehicle, please share it with them. If you got something out of it yourself, please like. I appreciate you reading my post. Thank you.

Best of luck if you are getting a car, new or used. Hope you save a ton of money…..

Here is the link…………………..……..

Friends boring strangers…………….

How do you look for something on Google? If you are like me, you type something in you are interested in finding, like how to milk a cow, or which fast food restaurant gets the most food poisonings. But who in the world would look for “Friends boring strangers”?

I get a report every day that shows how many people viewed my blog, where they came from, and which pages and blogs they viewed. It doesn’t show who they are, or emails, so they are completely anonymous. It does show what country they are from, and I have had readers from China, England, Israel, India, Ireland, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Russia, and many others, mostly from Facebook I would assume. The other thing I had never noticed before because it had never shown up, was the search terms they used to find me. Here is the explanation. I had to look it up.

Search Engine Terms

These are the terms, words, and phrases people use on search engines (like Google, Yahoo, or Bing) to find posts and pages on your WordPress.com blog. These do not include the terms which your readers use within your blog’s Search Widget or any other search form on your blog.

Some search engines don’t reveal search terms for privacy reasons. Google, for example, has been encrypting the vast majority of search terms since 2013.  That’s why we often can’t specify which search terms were used by visitors who arrived at your site from a search engine. When we don’t know the search terms, we show them as Unknown search terms

My report had always shown Unknown search terms, that is until yesterday. If you look at the bottom, the search terms read “friends boring strangers”.

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I thought at first it was a comment someone had left. That stung a little, especially when you expose your emotions, and my thought was that maybe I am boring everyone except for a few good friends who give me encouragement. With that thought, I pondered the direction of this blog, or whether even continuing it, the rest of the day. Maybe I should just give up, or write stuff like everyone else about how to build a doghouse or get rich selling weight loss products.

Later in the day, I had to find out what this was all about. So I Googled it. “Friends boring strangers”. It came up with a long list of weird sites that don’t go anywhere, but if you click on images (where you get pictures) there is a bunch of porn and naked people. I can now only assume boring has an entirely different meaning than what I assumed it to be. (What came to your mind when I first mentioned it?) I went a few Google pages in until I clicked on what looked like the first real site, page 3, but my computer came up with a big alert about an impending virus about to get me, so I stopped. Apparently, “Friends boring strangers” might be a portal into the Dark Web or something.

It’s funny how fragile our egos can be to the offhand comment, a funny look, something we concoct out of thin air. This blog is good therapy for me (as Leanne pointed out) and just from something that had nothing to do with me, I almost changed it. A random search that ended up on my site.

Here is what it taught me. Don’t take anything at face value, because we superimpose our own beliefs on what we see and hear, whether they are real or not. If we are conditioned for deficiency, then that is what we see. If we are conditioned for failure, that is what we hear. The truth is there, we just need to separate our emotions from it to get the real meaning. I have never been very good at doing that, but if I want to keep writing about my life, I need to learn how to see the real truth. I keep dragging my past along and fret about a yet uncovered future. Today is what’s important. The past is gone, and there is nothing I or anyone else can do to change it. The future will come and be nothing like you imagine. Life is funny like that.

This new life of mine has given me a freedom I never thought possible. It has given me time that I squandered for so many years. It has made me more aware of my gifts, and of my flaws. It has made me appreciate being who I am, and it has made me appreciate others for what and who they are. It has made me appreciate friends. Thank you for reading my blogs. 

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Come to think of it, the way the internet works, I might get a lot more attention if I changed the name of my blog to…..”Friends boring strangers”.

 

 

Deep in thought…………..

In keeping with the spirit of loving me, I headed to the beach for a walk to get some exercise and walking meditation. (Where you think less than you normally do). I walked to the end, turned around, and as I retraced my footsteps in the sand, I don’t know why but I like to do that, I came upon a huge sleeping Sea Turtle that I had walked by a few minutes before. My previous footsteps came within two feet of it, and I never saw it. Talk about deep in thought.

What, you may ask, was I thinking about? One thing I need to work on is meeting and talking with people. My kids always tease me about being lonely and not having any friends. They are right. At least not here. I have never developed the skill (or had it come to me prepackaged as a baby) to walk up and meet strangers. My Son can have a best friend in 5 minutes anywhere. I’m proud of him for that. I always come so close, whether passing someone walking, standing in a checkout line, getting out of a car at the same time, or the brief encounter in the course of the day. Not that I don’t think about it, I do. I never say a word, and afterward, wonder how it might have gone, and did I miss a great opportunity. At least I am aware of it.

Obviously, I have met many people in my life, same as everyone else. I am trying to decide if my non-desire to reach out to meet strangers is because I am at heart an introvert, or is it a learned disorder arising out of my battle scars from relationships. I do know that when I lived and worked mostly alone on the farm, I was anxious to get around people. When I worked in a people-intensive business like the car business, I was happy to get home and away from everyone. Having a family and young kids tends to draw you away from others unless you have close family with kids or friends with the same.  I had neither.

After my last divorce and I was still in the “I have to have a relationship” mode, I joined Match. I went on a total of five dates that summer, four of them one time, and one had two dates. One was coffee, one was lunch, one was dinner and those three ended with nothing to talk about. However, I would like to tell you about my first and last dates.

When I signed up, I wanted to find someone away from the city I lived in, just for some privacy. Starting to date again is awkward, and didn’t’ want to complicate it by running into someone I knew. I  conversed with a few women by text and email, and one by phone. She seemed nice enough, had a cleaning business in a Minneapolis suburb, recently divorced she said, no kids at home. Her picture was nice and looked like she took care of herself. We set up a date.

Took about an hours drive, and the house was very nice and kept, in a good neighborhood. Two newer cars in the driveway. Maybe only a car guy notices that. I went up and was greeted by a woman who wasn’t her, and she called for my date and invited me in. She led me into the living room and introduced me to her husband. I sat down. In a  while my date came out, she looked nice (a few too many tattoos for me, but I wasn’t judging at that point). After some chit-chat, we left to a place of her choosing.

As we were driving on the street, we passed lots of interesting bars and restaurants, and I was getting anxious to see what she had picked out. We turned towards an outdoor restaurant, which looked great, and she told me where we were going was about a block past that place. It was a bowling alley, with a Karaoke Bar. Kind of dumpy on the outside, but I thought maybe it was nice inside. It wasn’t. And we were the only two there except for a very loud and poor singer.

The waitress came to take our order, they only had burgers and fries, and I ordered a beer, she ordered a soda. After the waitress left, she told me she was an alcoholic. But she was clean now after spending several years in jail, and just got out.  Did I say jail, I meant to say prison. And it wasn’t a couple of months in the slammer, it was a few years. She told me what she did but at that point my mind kind of shut down and it was so loud I could only hear every other word anyway. It apparently had something to do with a skunk of an ex-husband, and how he stole her business. That drove her to drink and do some bad things. Now her business was her and a couple of friends meeting at her house, which is a friend she is staying with until she can get a place of her own, and going off to clean houses. She didn’t have a license. I wonder if the friend and her husband were also searching for a date for her. They did look a little desperate and were really friendly to me. The final straw for me on the date was the story about her losing all her teeth in jail. Maybe it’s just me, but I like teeth.

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We ate our burgers in that dive, me wondering how long is long enough to be polite to end it. After some silent moments, I made my move, did a yawn attempt and said we better get going because I had to work the next day. Good thing she didn’t know car lots were closed on Sunday, well, maybe she did. We both knew this wasn’t going to happen. As I headed home alone, I thought, what a great story, but I am sure not going to tell anyone. At least not until today. Now I’m no choir boy and have done some things I’m not proud of. Maybe I shouldn’t judge too harshly, but I do have two young kids I need to consider who will be role models in their lives.

My last date was a couple months after that. Started the same, text and phone, and I went to her city to meet her at a very cool outdoor restaurant in a trendy part of town. She was pleasant, pretty, and well spoken. Nice new car too. This is going well I thought, so after walking her to her car after dinner, we both agreed it was worth a second date. The next date was the following weekend, and we went to a live play at a theater after having dinner, which was fantastic. I hadn’t been to a live play in years and loved it. I had picked her up at her apartment, and we sat out in the car and talked for a while when I dropped her off. We both agreed we should see each other again, and I headed home feeling like maybe there was some light at the end of the tunnel. The only uneasy feeling I got was her mentioning that she thought her ex was stalking her. We all have our baggage I thought.

We talked on the phone a few days after, and I mentioned I was probably going to cancel my Match membership. The next day I was searching on Match how to do that, and the phone rang. It was her. She wanted to know what I was doing on Match when I told her I was going to cancel it. I must be looking at other women and playing the field. No amount of explanation could convince her otherwise, and she hung up on me. Apparently, you can see if someone is online, and that flipped her switch. Needless to say, I have never talked to her again and canceled my Match membership too. I guess the only thing I feel bad about now is that I shelled out about $500 bucks for the two dates. I did enjoy the play, however.

In hindsight, I’m pretty sure they had a story to tell about me too. Sometimes you have to look through the other person’s eyes to get both sides. There was a reason that the connections weren’t made, and I wasn’t what they had in mind to fill the gap in their lives. They probably looked at me as some desperate, lonely older guy, grasping for air. And they would have been right.

That brings me to today. My curiosity got the best of me, and I went on Match to take a look at the available options in Maui. I feel that I have started to get a handle on my own life, and Match is a pretty easy way to start that task of meeting someone. Doesn’t have to be a romantic one either. Let’s just say my timing is pretty good to love myself, and not try to fill any loneliness with more drama. Of course, I didn’t sign up, but it did reignite some interesting memories.

I am aware of the fact I should connect with people here. My kids get it. They encourage me to open up and meet people. So for now, I’m putting “meeting strangers” down as first on my list and I will keep you posted, or blogged.

If I signed up on Match, found my profile and asked myself out, would that count? 

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I’m Falling in Love…………..

This week I took a little break in writing because I was falling in love with someone special. I can’t believe it took me so long to realize how special, how much in need of my love, and how it’s the love I have been searching for my whole life. And it was right in front of me, waiting for me the entire time.

After the initial giddiness and thrill settle down, I’ll get back to writing more. Right now I am deep in the middle of discovery, of promise, of hope. Somehow I have a feeling that this one will work out.

I have always tried my best in relationships. But when they ended, I always placed the blame on myself. That’s a lot of guilt. Then I would take what I think I learned, and apply it to my next one, and on and on. And when I loved, I was all in. My whole life was about pleasing that person, taking care of that person, giving up my needs for that person, at least that’s what I thought. I would imagine they didn’t see it that way. But inside me I did.

They say that some people are givers and some are takers. They are both trying to fulfill a need of their own.  I think it’s way too hard to categorize someone. People are just too complicated for labeling them as this or that. I have always labeled myself as a caregiver, but now I see that it’s more complicated than that, and it really only scratches the surface. I have always felt the need to place others cares, concerns, problems, shortcomings above my own. I think that makes me a good person. Unfortunately, I have only been fooling myself. I can see now that my need to care for someone is really trying to justify and outwardly express an unfulfilled need from my past or an empty hole in myself I’m trying to fill.

It’s inevitable that I ended up in the role I had in my 28-year career in the car business as a Sales Manager. To do that job, you have to care about everyone else’s livelihood more than your own, both your employer and the employees under your direct control. I can assure you it has cost me tens of thousands of dollars in those years doing that. The funny thing is, I was never thanked or appreciated because it was either an expectation, or it was an anonymous gesture that I never told anyone about. When you are locked in that mode for so long, there is no escape, and you become what you do. In all of that, I lost what it is to be me. It gave me a comfortable financial situation, but I suffered internally by my loss of identity and unfulfilled needs of my own. Maybe in some twisted way, I enjoyed making myself my own martyr.

When you love and are committed to another, whether it’s a spouse, a lover, a friend, kids, or a dog, you want to please them. That’s where I now know I have failed. I was doing things that didn’t please me sometimes, and just like my job, those feelings would fester and resentment would build up and eventually sabotage the relationship. Then, in a contradictory way, I blamed the other person for ruining my life. My, what complicated twists we concoct in our minds to protect our ego. Was I aware of this? No. I’m not sure I understand the whole thing now, but it feels that’s the way it was. For some people, they know what to do naturally to get their needs met, but not me.

I am working on forgiving myself for the guilt I have carried all these years. It doesn’t serve me anymore. The past is the past, can’t be changed, and by holding onto it, affects my future.  In order for me to fall in love, I need to move on.

I still take part in my caregiving role with my kids,  but there is no resentment attached to them. I truly love them with all my heart and soul.  The time they are with me I take care of them. The days and nights they don’t, of course, I still worry, but the caregiving is gone for the moment. That’s when I try to search for me. Sometimes it gets lonely.

The thing about loneliness. If you don’t love yourself and don’t like your own company, then you are lonely. If you do love yourself, and you enjoy the person you are, then there is no way you can be lonely. My Mom lived another 16 years after my Dad passed away, and she was never lonely, even though she never had another relationship. She loved her kids, her home, her books, her pets, and most of all, she loved herself and her life. No one could take that away from her.

Some say we are our thoughts. Others say we are the observer of our thoughts. Either way, our thoughts are in this human body with all its wisdom and foolishness. The things that got me here right here and right now are gone. How I go forward is up to my thoughts, either the commentator or the observer.

Why would I not love the miraculous human being that I am? There’s only one of me, and why wouldn’t I put as much effort in loving me as I would someone else? Don’t I deserve all things I would want for another?  I only have one life, and in it, isn’t the most important person in my life me? If I don’t truly love myself, then how can I expect anyone else to?  Is it selfish to love my life, and do whatever is best for me? I don’t think so. Don’t you deserve to love you too?

This week I discovered someone who needed my love more than any other, and I’m starting to like their company.

This week I started falling in love……………..with me.

 

A tourist at home….Part 2.

Today I thought I would do something a little different. Instead of heading down to Baldwin Beach for Drum Night, I went up the volcano instead to see if I could find an interesting spot to watch the sunset from high up. Like I mentioned before, I am at about 1200 feet above sea level. An area called Kula is about 2000 feet and about 20 minutes from my house. As I went up, It started drizzling a little which is usual for that area. I got out a couple of times at turnouts but really couldn’t see all that well. I turned around when I came upon one of those pumpkin patches for kids. Tons of people there. I really didn’t expect a pumpkin patch in Maui, learned something new. As I headed back down the volcano, something really stunk in my car. I was smelling the vents, opening and closing the windows, turning the air on and off. Still smelled, like mold. I figured something was wrong with the car until I realized it was me. My shirt smelled like they get when you leave your clothes wet in the washer for a few days (not that I do that). I must have folded it when still a little damp. Needless to say, I was relieved it wasn’t a car problem, just a me problem. Home I went.

I decided that maybe Drum night would be fine after all, so left for the beach about 2 hours before sunset. When I got to the stoplights to turn right, I decided to turn left instead. It had been so relaxing the night before I decided to go back to White Rock Beach, where I had been last night. Polo Beach (I have talked about that one before too) is one beach, or a few blocks closer, so I decided to stop there to check it out. This is the beach that shares access with one of the big resorts, the Kea Lani. I grabbed my chair and set up a very nice spot to watch the sunset, right in the middle where the hotel beach and the public beach meet.

This is what it felt like compared to my previous night watching the sunset. Not as relaxing to be sure.

 

I had been there (now there are a lot more people at this beach than the few last night) for about 10 minutes when a family being led by a hotel photographer set up shop right next to me. Now I can tell you right off, being a hotel photographer is not the job for me. That guy never stopped talking. It was the Grandparents, Parents, and two young boys. At least he didn’t have to remember their names. It was “Ok parents, your turn” “Looks great” “Smile” “Smile bigger” “One more shot” (Heard that one about 200 times. You get the picture 🙂 Finally after about 15 agonizing minutes listening to all that, they went farther down the beach.

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This is Maui folks, smile.

It was about 30 minutes until the sun would be setting, so I took a walk down the hotel part of the beach. There was the pale white chubby guy (with a red ring around his neck from his t-shirt) laying back on a beach chair, beer in hand,  talking business on a phone. Then there was the couple all dressed up with lei’s around their necks with huge pineapple drinks in hand (about the size of footballs). Then there were the three teenage girls taking selfies nonstop. Must I mention all the other cameras pointed at the water, something to remember their trip. It came back to me all the trips where I was one of them. I smiled a little.

Sunset was gorgeous, although noisier than the night before. I was getting a nice 3-minute video but the girls decided to be part of it and ended up getting them included. I packed up my chair, and as I was walking out, the young Hawaiian guy in a Sarong was lighting the hotel torches and blowing a big horn every time he lit one. There was more light coming from camera flashes than the torches. Further up the path to my car was a lone security guard smoking a cigarette and looking like he hated his job. Leaving the area in my car, there were tons of cars pulling out of the resorts, Friday night, and am sure they were heading out to restaurants and bars.

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Torches at the Kea Lani, Maui.

My kids are experiencing a staycation with their grandparents this weekend. I just got mine tonight. I think I will stay a local, and leave the tourist stuff for the…well, tourists.

I will leave you with a very nice video of a sailboat that happened to be crossing as the sun was going down. (P.S.  The sailboat was crammed with tourists).

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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).

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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.

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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.

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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?

 

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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……………….

 

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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