Get the motor runnin’

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 7/11/2014)

You know you are closing in on high mileage when your calendar, once stuffed with schedules of trips to strange places, becomes full of schedules of trips to the service department.

Every other week, Sunday morning, I sit down to refill my pill box.

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(Unnatural) nature

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 7/4/2014)

Last week, I took my granddaughter and her best friend to the local swimming pool. The aroma of bacteria-killing chemicals assaulted us as we entered the pool area. Within about a half hour, one of the girls came to me.

“Do my eyes look red,” she asked.

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Shinseki is out. But are the vets in?

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 6/27/2014)

Recently, I needed a prescription. My doctor called it in and later I went to the drug store to pick it up.

I am old enough to be on Medicare, but I didn’t buy the extra part that pays for prescriptions. I also am retired from the U.S. Navy and therefore covered by TriCare For Life, the current version of continued medical benefits for military veterans. It pays, except when it doesn’t.

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There are more worlds than revealed in history textbooks

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 6/13/2014)

A favorite tee-shirt of mine shows four Native Americans prepared for battle. Around the image are the words, “Homeland Security / Fighting terrorism since 1492.” I’m always amazed when people don’t get the message.

“In fourteen-hundred ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” And so began a dedicated effort by predominantly white Europeans to erase cultures which had existed for at least centuries in the “new” world.

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We’re all House Sparrows

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 6/30/2014)

A few months ago, a pair of English House Sparrows began guarding what they intended would eventually be the place they raised their offspring. Like most of us, they chased away interlopers, including the bluebirds we human yard owners hoped would make a home there.

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Thanks, from the heart

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 6/6/2014)

One of my favorite quotes is from Will Rogers: “Some people try to turn back their odometers. Not me, I want people to know why I look this way. I’ve traveled a long way and some of the roads weren’t paved.”

Like an old car, I have parts that don’t work as well as they once did. Two weeks ago I visited the doctor for a quarterly check to see that my parts were working, if not as they should, at least not worse than they did three months earlier.

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That’s a mid-size car??

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/23/2014)

My wife-slash-Resident Travel Agent and I went to Florida recently. We left my Jeep in Long Term Parking and flew to Fort Lauderdale, where I signed for a rental car to use for the week.

Renting a car for a trip actually is a good way to go. You get a fairly new vehicle, and all you need do is drive – and turn it in when you are done for someone else to clean out any dog hairs or French fries you might have dropped between the seats.

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Birches are meant to be climbed, bent

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/16/2014)

“I should prefer to have some boy bend them, / As he went out and in …” Birches, by Robert Frost.

Better a boy than an ice storm should bend the birches. A girl could bend them, as well, if a girl is in the house, and requires exploratory forays into a nearby forest. To climb a really tall tree is to gain a sense of accomplishment not available to parents and other adults who are well advised to stick to the lower, thicker branches.

And to have Mom worried that you might fall is to have an opportunity to show her, “No, I won’t.” There is no finer feeling than to tell her you will not fall, and then prove it.

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Japan, Ukraine foreshadow environmental risks in PA

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 5/9/2014)

Nuclear disaster in Japan and aggression in Ukraine could be good for natural gas producers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region. For Pennsylvania taxpayers, not so much.

Much of western and central Europe buys about a third of its natural gas from Russia. That’s a lot of countries wondering how they will cope if Russian President Vladimir Putin makes good on his threats to close the valve.

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Welcome to Terra II, maybe

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/25/2014)

An exciting piece of news crossed the television screen last week, sandwiched between a missing airplane (“Breaking news: Searchers still have not found Malaysian Flight 370.) and Russian troops daring the Ukraine army to come out and play.

The news was the discovery of a planet that may be capable of supporting life as we know it. It didn’t get a lot of play – couple mentions during the day and it was done – but it’s pretty big news in the history of human-kind. It is the first planet that is both the right size and the right distance from its sun for its climate to possibly have water and other features essential to human existence. Continue reading

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Prevention and preparedness: The pillars of SAAFE-T

Staci's thumbnailGuest column by Staci L. George

Be proactive, not simply reactive.

That is the idea that ignited Todd Rosenthal’s establishment of SAAFE-T – an acronym for Situational Awareness & Assailant Force Evasion Training. It was founded in February 2013 and is based in Annapolis.

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The world beyond my window

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/18/2014)

The world is coming alive with the warmth and light of Spring – this week’s below-freezing day notwithstanding.

A little bit ago, there was a bird singing loudly in joy at the edge of my back yard. I couldn’t find him to discover his name or photograph his appearance, but it was enough to hear his robust love song.

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Grandkids are our reward

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/11/2014)

There’s something about the excited cry of a three-year-old calling “Papa John !” across the yard – or the living room. I am still warmed by the memory Granddaughter Kass running from behind the house as I pulled up, singing my name over and over as she approached my vehicle.

Lately, the warm feeling has been instilled by Grandson Peter demanding similar attention. He wants help with something, or wants to show me something, or sometimes is just happy to see me appear.

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I’d almost surrendered

John's thumbnail(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 4/4/2014)

I finally gave up trying to keep the House Sparrows out of the bluebird house. For about three days.

I feel badly for them, trying to set up a home outside my studio window. They are mid-1800 immigrants to this country from the Mediterranean Sea shores, by way of Europe. I’ve read they were a pest in China; Chairman Mao tried to eradicate them thinking it would make more grain available for his burgeoning human population.

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The nation’s highest court has decided

John's thumbnail

So the nation’s highest court has decided money is speech and corporations are people. Here’s a thought: don’t vote for anyone who tries to “buy the pot.”

During the 2012 presidential election cycle, gazillionaire Sheldon Adelson set records for the amount of money he put into the Republican run for the White House. Republicans lost. It can be done.

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Killing in the name of justice

(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 3/28/2014)

Feb 20 this year, Gov. Tom Corbett signed execution warrant #31 of his tenure. Currently 190 prisoners await their punishment on Pennsylvania’s “Death Row.” One of them is Christopher Lynn Johnson.

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Thoughts on the cost of new homes

John's picture(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 3/21/2014)

An article in the Gettysburg Times reported on “Discovery Gettysburg,” a 2,000-unit housing development proposed for the intersection of US15 and PA394 (Shrivers Corners Road).

It’s a fact that residential growth is the most expensive when compared to agricultural and industrial. For one thing, each new worker living in a residential development occupies a separate home; the same number of employees work together in stores, factories or office buildings.

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Artist seeks to provoke thought

John's picture(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 3/14/2014)

“When power corrupts, art establishes the basic human truths which must serve as the touchstone of our judgment.” President John F. Kennedy in a 1963 AmherstCollege address.

Reina Wooden signs her work as “Reina 76 Artist.” She recently opened a show at WITF Headquarters featuring a set of abstract sculptures I found thought provoking. The eight sculptures depict colonies, each defined by an open ended list of characteristics, and in some instances, names of people.

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How cold was it back in B.C. (Before Cell)

(Published in the Gettysburg Times, 3/7/2014)

A friend told me this week it has been so cold where she lives, kids have been complaining their cell phone keypads have been freezing. They have had to wait until second period before the keys have thawed enough they can be used to text the youngster across the aisle to set a lunch meeting in the school cafeteria.

Being without a working cell phone is rough, but I guess it is all relative. I bet my daughter remembers being unable to satisfactorily explain the necessity of tying up the home phone to talk to friends with whom she had just spent the day at school. Even that was B.C. – Before Cell.

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