Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Is This a Great Planet or What?

Two posts ago, I wrote a post on this being a great country. After thinking about it for a week or so, I've also decided that we live on a great planet. Despite all the bad things on this earth with wars, famine and disasters of all kind, we do have a pretty hospitable place to have our home. Our options are pretty much zero at this point and will be for some time. 

I watched William Shatner take his trip up to space and listened to his remarks upon his return. He was truly moved by his trip to space. Some of his remarks are noted below. He was in awe but also in grief for the future of our fragile earth.

"I saw more clearly than I have, with all the studying and reading I've done, the writhing, slow death of Earth and we on it," Shatner said.

"It's a little tiny rock with an onion skin air around it. That's how fragile it all is. It's so fragile. We hang by a thread ... we're just dangling."

Shatner was experiencing the "overview effect" that a lot of astronauts experience. The experience causes a cognitive and emotional shift in a person's awareness when they see earth from space. We often hear news of global warming and the effects on the climate and the livability of this planet. I think most of us have grown used to the news and don't think a whole lot about it on a daily basis. But, it does appear that us earthlings are not taking the problem as serious as we need to. As an individual, I believe our thought is "what can one person do" and our next thought is "the government and scientist will figure out a solution". I'm not sure how this whole thing is going to turn out and, if it turns out bad, we don't have a second planet to quickly move to. 

Enough about the bad news. This is a great planet to live on. We have nice breathable air, abundant water and a pretty great place to live. Our options on other planets don't look so great. Mars has an atmosphere 100 time thinner than ours and only has a trace of oxygen. Venus has a surface temperature of 900 degrees. All the other known planets have similar, unlivable atmospheres. When you look at our earth from above you see a very, very thin layer of atmosphere that allows us to live. The current thought is that space begins at about 62 miles above the earth. Think about that, 62 miles! That is an hour's drive, if you could go straight up. When I think of driving down the interstate to a town 62 miles away, it doesn't seem to far. When you factor in the portion of that 62 miles that we can actually breath air, it shrinks to about 20,000 feet above sea level. That is 3.78 miles! We could walk that distance!

So, this great planet of ours is a great place to live, but is very fragile. We can enjoy it's oceans, mountains, canyons, wildlife, and it's water and oxygen, but we must also be good stewards of this earth. Our descendants are depending on us to take care of this place so they too will have a great place to live.

This planet has a great variety of cultures, architecture, food and other great things to enjoy while we live and in retirement we should explore as much of that as possible. I have seen  some wonderful things on this earth including the Rocky Mountains,  Grand Tetons, Yellowstone Park and many other parks. I have stood at the edge of  Niagara Falls. I have seen some beautiful beaches. I have rafted down some whitewater canyons and have gazed upon the mighty Mississippi River. I've been lucky to see a very small portion of this earth and think this is the planet for me. 

Science fiction shows and movies often show humans landing on other planets similar to ours. I can't imagine that will happen any time soon. I would imagine it will be many generations down the road before something like that is even possible.  If you ever make it out of this world to visit one of the other planets, I'm sure you will be eager to get home to this great planet of ours! 

What amazing things have you seen on this earth of ours? Was there somewhere that really took your breath away? The Grand Canyon was one spot that was mind boggling to me. I was simply amazed at the size of the canyon and the beauty of the place.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

It's Time To Get Our Hands Dirty

It's time to get our hands dirty! When you saw the title, some of you were thinking is this about Ukraine? Is this about current U.S. politics? Is this about climate change? In the movies and tv shows, getting your hands dirty usually means you are about to commit an immoral or criminal act.

All I'm saying is, it's Spring and it's time to get our hands dirty in a good way. Yesterday, I got out and enjoyed a few hours of getting my hands dirty while enjoying my metal detecting hobby. It did me some good to get out for some fresh air and sunshine. Now that the weather's getting better, it is time for my wife and I to get out in the yard a little more and get our hands dirty. We need to pull weeds and prepare our planting areas in our flower gardens. We need to put down some new mulch in the flower beds and around shrubs. We need to prune some shrubs and trees and do a general clean up. We need to uncover the water fountain and put in the pumps that I had pulled out for the winter. 

Getting out in the yard will feel good after all the cold and dreary days of winter. Just the sense of accomplishment, by getting a few of these things done, will feel good. Studies have shown that getting outside is good for us. Healthline.com reports 8 benefits of getting outside. They include: 1. Better breathing 2. Improved sleep 3. Reduced depression symptoms 4. More motivation to exercise 5. Mental restoration 6. Boosted immune function 7. Protection from short-sightedness 8. Improved emotional well-being. And then you have all the benefits of a nicer looking yard with fresh mulch, new flowers and trimmed shrubs!

I always feel better after being outside. I enjoy a nice day outside while getting things done. For retirees, we also can take our time when outside and really enjoy it. During my career, my outside time was limited to evenings and weekends. During those years, I had to squeeze in all the outside chores into the limited time that was available. In retirement, I can be outside at 9am on a Tuesday and enjoy my outside time any day or time that suits my busy retirement schedule.

Spring is also a great time to get your hands dirty on the inside of your house. Most people feel like doing a little Spring cleaning at the beginning of the warmer season. It is time to dust off things around the house, move plants back outdoors, clean some dirty windows, etc. Even though you are indoors, you will still feel better once you sit back and see the improvements.

Are you ready for Spring and the opportunity to get your hands dirty in a good way? Do you have a list of outdoor projects you are ready to jump on? Have you found that getting outside in retirement seems to be more relaxing and laid back than it did during your working years? What things do you accomplish, inside or outside your home, this time of year to get your hands dirty?

Get dirty, get happy!

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

Is This a Great Country or What?

I read quite often about how happy people are those who are grateful. The key is to be thankful for what you have rather than be upset about what you don't have. It is often hard to stay in a thankful attitude and I'm trying to get better at it everyday. I recently saw a suggestion of starting a photo album on your phone for thankfulness and adding one photo a day of something your are thankful for. Then, you are asked to scroll through those photos on a regular basis to remind yourself of the great things in your life. I started this three days ago and I have two days of photos of my grandkids and today I added a photo of my Evel Knievel coffee mug full of coffee. 

This morning I saw an article on my news feed on my phone about things U.S. citizens miss when they stay overseas for any amount of time. These were things we all take for granted here in this great country and have to be reminded of every once in awhile. One thing was the abundance of choices in our grocery stores. The article stated that often in other countries your choices are severely limited to what it available. Grocery stores in our country, most always, have every kind of fruit and vegetable available year round. Other countries may only have available fruits and vegetables in stock when they are in season in the area. One thing people missed was the comfort food that is available in the U.S. such as hamburgers and fries that might not be available in some countries. Fast food was another thing people missed. Fast food available in other countries is not always the same as in the U.S. even if it is the same franchise. One person missed refried beans and couldn't get them at a Taco Bell in a foreign country. 

A few weeks ago I saw a similar news article about what non U.S. citizens were amazed about in our country. They were amazed at the huge amount of choices in our grocery store. One person was shocked that there was a whole aisle of cereal choices. They were amazed at how much wide open spaces there are in the U.S., such as the open country in the western section of our country. They are amazed at the diversity of our landscape. They are amazed that this country has fabulous beaches, mountains, deserts and all types of terrain and climates. They were amazed at the variety of dining options in this country. They were amazed at the huge servings of food in the restaurants and loved our version of some foreign dishes. The American version of Chinese food was one hit with foreign travelers. Apparently, General Tso chicken is not a normal Chinese dish in China. Foreigners are also amazed at how patriotic Americans are and how friendly they can be to visitors. They are amazed at the size of our homes. And, they are amazed at the work ethic of Americans. 

After reading these two articles, I am reminded of what a great country we live in. I take all of the above for granted most days and should be more aware and more thankful for this environment I grew up in and currently live in. When I get the itch to travel, I think I would love to go on another cruise, a trip to Europe, see the pyramids, etc. When I think about this great country, I realize there is so much here that I have yet to explore. I've seen a lot of the U.S., but I still need to check out the sites in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. I need to visit St. Augustine, FL, which I just recently learned may be the oldest city in the country. I need to visit the Florida Keys. I need to visit the northeastern states during the fall for leaf peeping. I need to explore Michigan and it's lakes. There is enough travel to keep me busy for a few years without ever leaving this great country.

Sure, this country has it's faults and opportunities for improvement. But overall, we live in the greatest country on the planet and need to be thankful for it. I'm thankful for those things listed above. I'm also thankful of the freedom we have in this country. I'm thankful we are not under attack by military forces and that we have a strong military to deter such aggression. I'm thankful that any one born here today can become President some day, or a teacher, a doctor or anything else they choose to become. 

Do you take our country or the country you live in for granted sometimes? What are you thankful for in this country? If you have lived overseas, what did you miss about the U.S. while you were gone? 

On the topic of being thankful, what do you do to remind yourself to be thankful? A Journal? A photo album? Morning reflection with your coffee?

Thursday, March 9, 2023


Eudaimonia is a Greek world literally translating to the state or condition of 'good spirit', and which is commonly translated as 'happiness' or 'welfare'. This sounds exactly what each of us seek in retirement. 

In my post on Podcasts I mentioned that I had downloaded a podcast called Philosophy Bites. Today, I listened to my first episode and was introduced to Aristotle's view on eudaimonia. It was very interesting and I learned a new word. It was pronounced like you-dime-onia. I have never heard of the word, so I definitely broadened my knowledge today! And I'm learning from a philosopher who was on this earth from 384-322 BC. 

Aristotle believed that eudaimonia was the rational activity of pursuing what is worthwhile in life. He believed happiness came from how well we live our life and not in the pursuit of material wealth, power and honor. He did add that reaching eudaimonia only occurs after your basic needs or met. He believed that if you didn't have the basic needs of sufficient food, water, shelter, etc., that you would not be able to focus on and seek eudaimonia. 

When researching eudaimonia, I found 5 Tips on How to Achieve Eudaimonia. They are: 1. Know your life goals 2. Focus your skills and activities to achieve those goals 3. Developing your best potential 4. Get engaged in these activities 5. Express yourself. Even though this advice is thousands of years old, it still makes sense. Eudaimonia implies a state of a positive and divine state of being. Aristotle goes on to say that eudaimonia requires the attainment of excellence in reason. He believed that eudaimonia required good character and rational activity. Both of which are very subjective things. 

Ancient philosophers often discussed eudaimonia and how to obtain it. It appears the search and the definition of happiness has been a topic for thousands of years. In my opinion, I believe the philosophers take on is to try to better yourself in mind, body and spirit and have a great attitude towards life. Each of us will have to self assess our own character and activity to see if it reaches the level we are happy with or if we need to improve ourselves a little bit more. Self improvement is a never ending journey, but can make us a better person along the way.

Another philosopher, Epicurus, equated the good life with a  life of pleasure and freedom from pain and distress. This sounds like a great goal in retirement. Enjoying life's pleasures while not having the stress of working life. Most of the philosophers also add in good virtue as a key to the good life and to attaining eudaimonia. Good virtue is a keystone in their overall philosophy in this area. They held that good moral values while seeking life's pleasures was a major key to happiness.

Have you ever heard of eudaimonia? Have you delved into the teachings of the ancient philosophers? It is fascinating to read some of their thoughts on happiness. I'm sure there are many other important teachings that I should look into. Maybe by broadening my knowledge on this one word, I have taken one step closer to ultimate eudaimonia!

“He is happy who lives in accordance with complete virtue and is sufficiently equipped with external goods, not for some chance period but throughout a complete life.” – Aristotle

Sunday, February 26, 2023

A Rainbow Day


The word rainbow comes from the Latin arcus  pluvius meaning rainy arch. In Greek and Roman times , it was believed that rainbows were a path created by the goddess of the rainbow, Iris, linking us to the immortals. The world's longest lasting rainbow was seen over Sheffield, England on March, 14 1994. It lasted from 9am to 3pm. Rainbows can exist in mist, fog, sea spray, waterfalls and anywhere light meets water in the sky.  

My 3 year old granddaughter is infatuated with rainbows and unicorns at the moment. She has rainbow clothes, rainbow shoes, rainbow rain boots, etc. Last Christmas, she asked Santa for a rainbow on her bedroom wall. Santa sent Elfina to paint a beautiful rainbow in the corner of her room and she loved it. I pick up my granddaughter daily from her Pre-K school and we always have great conversation on the way home. Recently, I asked her how her day was at school and she smiled the biggest smile ever and blurted out "I had a rainbow day!". To her a rainbow day was the best. Her little sayings just fill my heart when I'm around her. She sees rainbows in everything. M&Ms are rainbow M&Ms. Multi colored TicTacs are rainbow TicTacs when she describes them. Her glittery, colorful boots are rainbow boots. I just love her sunny rainbow disposition!

In retirement, we are all looking to have many rainbow days. My rainbow day would start with morning relaxation with coffee and a book. Then the day would include a couple of hours digging in the dirt with my metal detector looking for buried coins. A rainbow day would include me finding a silver coin. A silver dime would be nice but a truly great rainbow day would include finding a silver quarter or half dollar. Then, I would return home for a lunch and shower and then spend an hour or so cleaning and logging my treasure while uttering the phrase "I just love metal detecting!". A short afternoon siesta or swim in the pool and then a nice dinner with my wife with an evening of watching some of our shows on TV or a streaming service would complete the day. That is only one description of a rainbow day for me. Other rainbow days, for me, might include a day of thrifting or a day of trying something new or exploring a new place. I have rainbow days almost everyday that I'm on a cruise ship or a vacation trip.

A rainbow day would be different for everyone. I picture a rainbow day of a friend of mine to be watching the sunrise from a duck blind on a cold morning. His rainbow day would include hunting with a family member or good friend to share the experience. Then I imagine he would enjoy cleaning his game and hunting gear for the next trip out. His day would include meeting with old friends for lunch and swapping work stories from the past. A neighbor's rainbow day is spending an entire day in his yard or woodworking shed working on projects. Everyone has their version of a rainbow day.

What do you consider a rainbow day in your life? Aren't they wonderful when you experience the feeling of a day that seems to be perfect in everyway? Has your version of a rainbow day changed over the years? I envision a very active person with a rainbow day of being on the ski slopes all day but later in life the rainbow day changes to shorter ski times and more time in the hot tub or sitting around a fireplace in the mountains. Do you have a happy place where your rainbow days happen more often such as a lake house, beach house or mountain cabin? 

I wish you all more rainbow days!

Tuesday, February 21, 2023


Wikipedia states that podcasting began in the 1980's as audio blogs and then began to catch hold in 2004 as podcasting when portable digital devices became available such as the iPod. According to Wikipedia there are currently over 115,000, English language, podcasts available on the internet.

During the last two years, I began listening to a few podcasts and have found a few that I really enjoy. I have found that listening to a good podcast is similar to being drawn into a good book. A good podcast will have me visualizing the story and feeling as I'm right there in the middle of it. With the large inventory of podcast to choose from, you can find one that peaks your interest. Podcast are great for times when you are looking for a little entertainment. I have sampled some podcasts that are very well done and I have listened to some that were very poorly done. There are so many options to choose from, so you can treat them like a book and start and quit an episode anytime you want. I have started several that I have quit after a few minutes.

Podcasts can be used for simple mindless entertainment, they can be used for self improvement and they can be used for learning something new about a topic you are interested in. You want to learn how to manage your money, there are podcasts for that. You want to listen to standup comedians, there are podcasts for that. There are podcasts for about every topic you can think of. They also have a wide range of the size of the episodes. They can range from one minute up to several hours. Most of the podcasts that I have listened to are an hour or less. 

A podcast that I have really enjoyed is called Infamous America. A few days ago I finished a series about the North Hollywood robbery in LA in 1997. It was very well done and very interesting. Previous to that I had listened to several series about 1930's gangsters such as John Dillinger and Bonnie & Clyde. There are many lists on the internet about the best podcasts to listen to. If you are new to podcasting, I would start with one of those lists or simply search your areas of interest on you Podcast app on your phone.

I recently browsed through podcasts in my app and downloaded several of interest. I will listen to them when I have the time and see if any are worth listening to. I downloaded episodes from On Purpose with Jay Shetty, Philosophy Bites, The Retirement Years, Feel Better Live More, 7 Good Minutes and Beautiful/Anonymous. I'm sure I will begin with the shorter ones such as 7 Good Minutes as the title suggests, the episodes are only 7 minutes long.

When you search the subject of retirement, the majority of the podcasts seem to be focused on the financial aspect of retirement. As a current retiree, I would be more interested in the fun side of retirement and the daily living of retirement. So, for any prospective podcasters out there, I see an opportunity for you! 

Do you listen to podcasts? What are your favorites? Do you listen to a certain genre of podcasts such as true crime, comedy, history, etc.? I'm certainly interested in checking out any suggestions. If you listen to podcasts, do you find them entertaining and helpful? 

If you have never listened to a podcast I suggest you give it a try. You may find one that you really enjoy and add a new element to your retirement.

Thursday, February 16, 2023


I've mentioned in past blogs that my wife and I like to visit thrift shops. I like browsing a store of miscellaneous items and finding a good bargain. I find a shirt or a pair of cargo shorts every now and then. I find a lot of great books at prices from 49 and up. I usually balk at book prices over $2 which is silly when most new books cost $24.99 or so. I've often scored great deals on jigsaw puzzles, toys and other gently used items. 

Most all of us love a good bargain. It doesn't matter if it is a secondhand item at a thrift store or garage sale or a new, but highly discounted, item at the grocery or retail stores. Recently, I scored a bargain of the year at our grocery store. Shortly after Thanksgiving, our local grocery store had shopping carts of Stovetop Stuffing and French's fried onions deeply discounted. I picked up a box of stuffing and was shocked at the price on the box..... 25 cents!! We like the stuffing and it makes for a quick meal with some warmed up deli turkey and a side or two. I joke with my wife about making Thanksgiving dinner when I make the meal on a random day throughout the week. Our twin, one year old, granddaughters like the stuffing also, so it makes a quick addition to their lunch. I loaded up on the bargain price and bought 5 boxes. The onions were the same price.....25 cents! I grabbed two of those. I should have bought a few more of each and they were quickly snapped up by other bargain shoppers and were all gone the next day. Recently, I was in a Dollar General store and noticed their Stovetop stuffing was priced at $3.49. I just smiled and thought to myself, "I paid a quarter a box for mine!". 

Another place to get a great deal is on Facebook marketplace. I have purchased a few things on the site and have sold a few things. I have bought and sold on Craigslist in the past and I'm not sure it is still the marketplace that it used to be as I usually just go to Facebook these days. 

In retirement, a lot of people have to watch their funds closely to make their retirement funds stretch to the next check. I've seen stories where some retirees must choose between prescriptions, food and utilities due to the lack of funds. I feel for those people and know they are probably the world's best bargain shoppers. Unless you are multi millionaires, most of us should watch our funds and take advantage of any discounts or bargains to help stretch the retirement dollar. 

Along with finding a good bargain, I like a good discount. There are numerous places that offer senior discounts. Most start at age 62-65, but I have seen several that start at 55. Most discounts are 10%, but every little bit helps the budget. I shop rates when booking hotels and often find that AAA or AARP rate is the most affordable and can be $20 or less than other rates. Watching small things like hotel rates and dining costs could help stretch your retirement travel funds. 

Using coupons is another great way to save a little money in retirement. We don't get a print newspaper anymore and that used to be the place to get coupons in the Sunday paper. These days, we use very few coupons. Every once in awhile we will redeem a coupon that is attached to a grocery product or we will use a coupon we have found on a website. 

Do you have a good bargain story? What is your latest bargain find? Do you coupon? Do you have any suggestions on finding a bargain or getting more out of your retirement dollars?