What if a fortune?

Years ago, a group of administrators and senior faculty at the University of North Texas were involved in a team-building exercise. We were there to discuss various topics and issues affecting the campus. Of course, part of such a get-together always included exercises designed to let other people see who you were when you weren’t wearing your big-wig hat.

One of the breaking-the-ice questions was, “What would you do with the money if you won the lotto?” In case you are wondering why the lotto would be a topic of conversation on the campus of a state institution, you need to know two things.

Not long before this meeting, two Denton residents won millions of dollars. One fellow won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, and the other won the Texas Lotto. One used his money and notoriety to become mayor, and the other bought himself a classic Corvette and a condo in Hawaii.

The third thing you should know about this question was my answer. Okay, you don’t need to know the specific answer. Let’s just say it was supposed to generate a chuckle. The next person to answer gave some deep and touching monologue about the “good” he would do with his winnings.

Whether my colleague was attempting to make me look small or was speaking from the heart, it made me think. It also made me pay attention to what happened to people who unexpectedly came into large sums of money. Winning the lotto is not a blessing unless you only win a few thousand, and it helps pay the bills. Suddenly being known as a millionaire, billionaire, or something has ruined more than a few people’s lives.

That is why I have given this matter some thought. If I were that wealthy or became that wealthy, I have a pretty good idea of what I would do with it. I would draft my oldest daughter, a very successful executive involved in charity work, to set up an organization to use the money for good.

Of course, the question then becomes what would be a good use of the money. My good and your good might not be the same, but there might be an overlap. Whatever the differences, however, you better have a plan should you come into or earn large amounts of money.

I do have one final thought about my involvement. I’d keep just enough money to live out my days shuttling between a South Pacific island where I have friends and somewhere in the mountains.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

Posted in Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Higher Education, Humor, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Chores and Other Irritants

Do you ever wonder if someone asking a question thought about it much before asking? Unless a question is straightforward, there is an obvious answer, and a reason I should be able to answer it, my mind goes into analyzer mode. Take the question triggering this post, “What chore do you find the most challenging to do?”

Even though I understood the question’s motive, I could not help myself. My smart-aleck analyzer mode considered several possible responses:

“Chores? What are those?”

“What makes you think I do chores?”

And if I did not know the source of the question, I would be thinking, “What are you going to try to sell me this time?”

Okay! I’ve had enough fun for the moment. I will try to get serious. Chores can range from the daily routine stuff one feels must be done around the homestead to a boring job, or task one does out of necessity. Any of those may fall into another category of chore, a disagreeable task.

In my case, the only “chores” I consider challenging are the disagreeable, boring, or waste of time kind. And, if I can learn something from one of those chores, it may not be as challenging or disagreeable. In fact, if a chore is challenging in the sense I understand the term, it automatically falls into the “I can learn something here” category.

If I had to come up with a clear, direct response to the question posed above, I would say, “Anything that required me to bend, kneel, get up and down a lot, or reach down into a wet, dirty valve box.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

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Posted in aging, Daily Life, family, Family Vaules, Humor, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Speaking of Success

I know. You and I were not speaking of success. And we’re still not speaking of success, but I’m going to rattle on about it for a few hundred words. I hope you’ll stick around and let me know what you think. 

As a young person, somewhere between childhood and adulthood chronologically, I clearly remember the definition of being successful financially. Keep in mind this was in the days of a minimum wage of $1.15 per hour, and the minimum wage law didn’t cover most jobs. My first job paid $0.75 an hour, and all the popcorn I could eat

In those days, some held you were “rich” or successful financially if your net worth was greater than $25,000.00. Now, I never heard anyone use the term net worth, but I clearly remember hearing you were wealthy if you had $25,000.00 more than you needed to pay the bills and keep a roof over your head. 

I never heard anyone say you could retire on $25K. The observation seemed to mean that you were financially successful and in good shape if you had that much money after everything was paid for.    

I know that sounds crazy in the modern world. However, remember that when I graduated from high school, the average price for a gallon of gasoline was $0.30, and you could often find it for less than $0.20 a gallon.

Looking back today, gasoline was not the only thing that seemed cheap. A nice little family home might cost less than $20,000, depending on where you lived, and a brand-new luxury car would cost around $5,000.00.

The question then and now is whether having money means being rich or successful. For most of the 20th century, there was only one way to measure success, wealth. That changed with social media, the internet, around-the-clock news, and talk shows. The negative side of wealth and so-called success was exposed for the world to see.

So, what is the definition of success? Or, more importantly, what is your, and my, definition of success? I cannot speak for you or anyone else, but I can share my definition of success.

First, my calling since I was knee-high to a caterpillar was to learn and help. I wanted to learn everything I could about almost everything, and I wanted to help others learn and help. I did not realize this until I was well into my adult life. Earning three degrees, having two careers, and a few unexpected moments helped me fill in the blanks.

As I wrote in Of Comfort Zones and Old Friends, as well as Cops, Kids, and Bicycles? It was how I affected others and how I handled things that made me a success. Oh, I made a few bucks, but I never became wealthy by anyone’s definition.

On the other hand, I have been blessed to hear from others over the years about how they saw me. In some cases, it was how I helped them or how they modeled themselves after me. Now that was a scary one, someone modeling themselves after me. I thought one of me in the world was more than enough at times.

Before I break my arm, patting myself on the back, let me close it this way. I consider it a success if something I did helps someone better themselves. I believe it is a sign of that success when people from my past seek to thank me for what I did or how I handled something. Sometimes, I wonder if they confuse me with someone else, but I’ll take the compliment.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

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The Saga of Rosy and June: Looming on the Horizon?

This is the final installment of a three-part piece looking back at a sad tale of friendship, loss, and concern. The story started with the unlikely bonding of two women from different worlds who shared a common challenge, breast cancer. Cancer took one, while the other lived to see her grandchildren grow up and begin their adult lives.

If you have not read the previous posts, you may want to do so before continuing. Click on the links at the bottom of this post to see them. Whatever you decide about reading the previous posts, let me explain why this saga was chronicled here.

For some time, I have watched the continued attack on what many consider the most successful democracy in the history of the world. Yes, it has flaws, as nothing is perfect, at least nothing on this earth. Yet, it has survived longer and been more successful than any previous attempt at some form of democracy.

Still, some feel other systems would be more equitable and fairer. Despite the horror these options have created throughout modern history, people still think they could work if done properly. Of course, in most cases, these advocates never lived under the systems they worship for any length of time.

One of the most viral attacks today is directed at the healthcare industry in the United States. Even people within health care, people I know and respect, have allowed personal situations to cloud their thinking. They sometimes tout universal health care and single-payer options as ways to “improve” conditions in the U.S.

Again, as far as I can tell, most of these individuals have never personally experienced such a system or spent time in a country where such a system exists. Yet, they are hell-bent on establishing such a system based on hearsay, propaganda, and social media. That is why I shared this story. A story I know to be true because I was part of it.

Rosy and June lived their lives under two different systems of health care. Technically, I suppose that is three other systems if you consider that June resided in Mexico and used whatever health care was available there unless it was something serious. Her breast cancer diagnosis was serious, and she went home to England for treatment through the Universal Health Service.

However you or I approach the healthcare aspects of this saga, one thing is clear. June’s system did not save her. Rosy’s did. June’s treatment in England was limited to surgery and radiation, which was not enough.

Rosy’s insurance was, and is, through an employee benefit plan. It was the kind of policy the folks I mentioned above often feel is ruining healthcare in the United States. Critics feel such programs limit the treatment available to anyone other than the richest and most important people. I can assure you Rosy does not fall into those categories.

I’ll close this piece here. For some readers, this will be enough. Perhaps it is enough because they see some validity in my comments, or they may be done because they feel I am spreading right-wing, capitalist propaganda. They will argue this is anecdotal information, not valid scientific or medical data.

They will claim we don’t have all the details about the cases. Perhaps there were underlying conditions that made June’s cancer more difficult to treat or kept her body from recovering as easily as Rosy’s. They may be right, but most medical data is anecdotal. It is often gussied up and prettied up to make it look scientific when some so-called expert wants to frighten people into submission.

Yes, as I wrote during the early days of the pandemic, the term medical science is an oxymoron. If you’re interested in my reasoning, check out Oxymoronically Speaking.

Unexpected Friendship

The Story Continues

© oneoldcop.com-2023

Posted in Cancer Survivors, Medicine, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The Written Word, Fading Away?

What do you think if someone says that reading this or that book changed their lives?

Sometimes, it may depend on the book or what they say about it. In other cases, you may wonder what they were smoking or drinking when they read the book. Or, if you’re like some folks, I know you’ll respond, “You still read books?”

Sadly, the written word may fade away at some point. Of course, some may argue that won’t happen. They’ll say people still read; they just read on their phones, their pads, or PCs. We are moving away from the written word, whether it is on paper or digital. Instead, people listen to books, stories, news, and podcasts.

Again, the written word may fade away if this trend continues. Books and other forms of the written word may continue to exist in libraries, archives, or the homes of those who cherish them. Still, the question of anyone reading them is valid.

It’s funny how my mind works. When asked if a book changed my life, my thoughts immediately went to the comments above. It made that connection because there is no way to be certain if a particular book changed my life.

I can say books changed my life. I would not have made it in a society where knowledge, wisdom, and tall tales were passed down and taught by the spoken word alone. When someone speaks and is good at it, they set the tone and emphasis. They convey the feelings the listener should take from the message.

When you read a book, your understanding of the writing sets the tone and feel you sense in the book. Yes, an author can manipulate us within limits, but still, it is how we understand the words and phrasing that matters.

That is why I say books, not a book, changed my life. When I read a book, I understood what I was reading or took the time to research what I did not understand. Then, the significance of what I read was based on what I discovered. I could not be swayed by the author’s fervor or the depth or shallowness the author might convey in person.

The same is true of other written works, from science fiction to the Bible. It is surprising what one can learn from fiction, even science fiction. Authors can pique your interest to look into their fantasies, which can lead to new knowledge and understanding on your part.

As for the Bible, you might believe it is a complete work of fiction, a fantasy created by some crazy or sly old coots centuries ago. Even if that is true, it doesn’t mean there is nothing one can learn from the Bible or by studying it. And that is true of almost any book that others find valuable or intriguing.

Yes, books, any books, have value and can be sources of learning. It will be a great loss if we pack them away or let them rot and are completely dependent on digital and audio technology.

-30-

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

Posted in Humor, Journalism, social media, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Gifts: Memorable, Precious, and Maybe Not?

Once upon a time, the question, “What was the most memorable gift you ever received?” would barely raise an eyebrow. Those days are long past, whether it is someone close to you asking or a Social Media post offering to analyze your personality.

Yes, we now live in an age where trolls can use personal thoughts and feelings for various reasons. Still, as an innocuous prompt for a writing challenge, it makes perfect sense, or does it?

It does make perfect sense if one can answer the question openly and honestly for dozens, if not hundreds, of others to read. For example, in December, I wrote about one of my fondest memories concerning gifts. The Unforgotten Gift was just one of the posts inspired by the 2022 holiday season.

The gift mentioned in the story was memorable for several reasons. However, was it the most memorable gift? That is a question I cannot honestly answer.

Why can’t I answer the question you ask? One reason is I received a memorable gift two years later. It was memorable, but for completely different reasons. The gift two years later was memorable because it was given in a way that was a slap in the face. At least it was a slap in the face of a twelve-year-old who was expected to act like an adult but be as innocent as a child.

Then, there is another parameter to consider. What if the gift is not what most people think of as memorable? Or dare one talk about a gift some think is mythical or based on a false belief? A simple question can be quite complex if you look at it closely.

So, will I answer the question posed above, or will I beg off due to overthinking? I will play and attempt to keep my response more concise than the initial thoughts.

According to some, I have the gift of discernment. Some attribute it to the God of the Bible. Others attribute it to other spiritual influences. Whatever the reality, I seem to have the ability to read people. Is it infallible? Of course not. Is it a gift from God or some other spiritual source? I have no idea. 

Whatever it is, it helped me for as long as I can remember. It also allowed me to help others. Of course, I still have one question I cannot answer. Is my alleged ability a gift or a burden?

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

Posted in Christianity, Daily Life, family, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Of Lightning, Rain, and Life

My Bloganuary prompt yesterday, January 7, 2023, was to write a short story or poem about rain. I tried a poem, but it didn’t seem to work, so I wrote Rogue Storm. Today after writing and publishing Ancestry: Myth, Rumor, Darkness, singing in the choir at church, and driving to my daughters to have a late Christmas lunch for a grandson and his fiancée, I returned home to collapse on the couch and watch the Dallas Cowboys play football as if they’d never taken the field before.

After a long day, a Dallas game that should make them ashamed to be seen in public, I had to try to do something different. So, I tackled yesterday’s prompt again. The result is below.

The storm approached on legs of light,

They flashed, they pulled, what a sight!

The rain came as a gentle mist,

It touched my face, the lightest kiss.

Then the wind raised the bar,

It opened the clouds, revealing a star.

The legs turned nasty and began to flash,

The light still came, now with a crash.

The wind, it swirled, the mist it thickened,

The droplets grew, and their speed quickened.

The storm grew stronger, dimming the light,

The drops grew cold, beginning to bite.

I stood there watching and praying a bit,

Hoping the rain was the worst it would get.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

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Ancestry: Myth, Rumor, Darkness

You do not know what you’ve missed if you’ve never jumped into the ancestry discovery pool. Take my genealogy experience as a cautionary tale unless, of course, you enjoy confusion and voids.

To keep this as clear and concise as possible, I’ll sum it up this way. My paternal grandfather is unknown. My grandmother became pregnant at a time when a woman was ostracized for being pregnant and unmarried, and guy apparently wasn’t interested in a family. He disappeared.

The man I knew as my grandfather married my grandmother to give her unborn child a surname. He was a gentleman and a heck of a grandpa. They were together for almost fifty years before his time came.

The circumstances of my father’s conception and one or two other little ancestral issues stopped any discussion of research into Dad’s family tree. The story is slightly different on my mother’s side of the family.

Her family tree was a thing of legend in some ways. The family history claimed my grandmother was a direct descendant of a Native American couple born in Texas and raised in Louisiana. He was Choctaw, and she was Cherokee. The family was proud of their roots and had many stories about their Native American cousins, some of whom became successful businessmen.

Unfortunately, there were some dark stories about my maternal grandfather and his side of the family. So, his family history was mostly ignored. Everyone just held on to the proud Native American side of the family history and did not say much about the side that included the sad and premature ending of my grandfather’s life.

With a background such as this, I was almost forced to explore the issue myself. If my natural curiosity was not enough to make me examine my family tree, the late 1960s gave me another reason.

My defense industry employer asked me to verify my Native American ancestry so they could list me as a minority. Later, one of my children asked the same thing because a friend with distant Native American ancestors reaped significant benefits from the heritage.

Unfortunately, even with the help of several genealogy services and DNA testing, my verifiable ancestry ends with my maternal grandmother and my paternal great-grandparents. On the other hand, my DNA regularly hints at people who might be fourth, fifth, or more distant cousins. Of course, my DNA also indicates I have Asian, European, Neanderthal, and Denisova ancestry.

That last two sets of anecstors are interesting. I’ve been called a Neanderthal a couple of times, but I never knew about Denisovans until my DNA results came back.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

Posted in family, Humor, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Rogue Storm

Nope! If you’re a Marvel fan, this story is not about a couple of Marvel characters. It is the true story of some folks in Texas who had an amusing experience with what you might call a rogue thunderstorm. At least, it was amusing after it was over.

It was a hot and humid summer day in North Texas. As with many such days, the sky was filled with towering thunderheads. They were spread across the sky, and rain could be seen falling from some, while others just seemed to float in the sunlight. 

After retrieving the mail, two women and their kids returned to the ranch house. Then one of the kids noticed a cloud was moving. Not only was it moving it was headed their way, and it was pouring rain.

Photo courtesy of Thomas Hoang and Pixabay

The group took off up the gravel drive heading for the house with the cloud coming up fast behind them. They made it to the carport just as the storm cloud roared over them. The cloud was dumping torrents of rain, the wind was kicking up, and the booming thunder rattled them and the carport.

As the storm cloud passed, the sunlight returned, and the winds calmed. The adults marveled that a cloud so small could produce such a rainstorm. It was only about the size of a football field, not near the size of some of the other storm clouds they could see. 

Of course, both could not wait to tell their husbands what happened, though they wondered if they’d be believed. I understood their concern. If I hadn’t been one of the kids and witnessed the whole thing, I’m not certain I would have believed them.

Oh! And, for the record, this is not the only thunderstorm story from those days. Maybe one of these days, I’ll share how we managed to make it to the highway when another storm flooded the gravel road that was the only access to our part of the ranch.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

Posted in Daily Life, family, Humor, Old Fort Worth, Uncategorized, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Writing, Gift, or Burden?

Has anyone ever asked you why you write, other than your writing coach, perhaps? When someone asks such a question, it’s often hard to tell if they mean, “Why do you write” or “What makes you think you can write?”

When that question arises in a conversation, I am often tempted to say, “I love rejection.” In some ways, that may be true. While cleaning out some old file boxes a few months ago, I found a folder full of rejection notes, slips, and letters from my efforts to write fiction and something other than professional or academic pieces several decades ago. In some cases, they made me chuckle.

Perhaps a touch of masochism is a necessary ingredient for making writing your vocation or long-term avocation. On the other hand, some of us want to express ourselves in a way that will last longer than sounds emanating from our mouths.

In my case, I need to share thoughts, ideas, and stories that may make another think, wonder or laugh. I am also known as a red-flag waver in some circles, and I need to raise that flag occasionally to say, “Hold on a minute! Have you considered the consequences?”

It would be nice to make a few bucks from my writing. It might even be fun to make it back onto a speaking circuit. Traveling at someone else’s expense to share your thoughts and ideas is fun and provides lots of fodder for new blogs, essays, or journal articles.

However, the best reasons to keep writing are keeping my mind sharp, my vocabulary growing, and the occasional heartfelt response from a reader who learned from or was touched by something I wrote.

© oneoldcop.com 2023

@jacksonseric

#bloganuary

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

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