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Month: August, 2012

Men of a certain age. It’s complicated.

We’ve had our young couple years with like couples. We’ve enjoyed and are still enjoying raising two very different pairs of kids. And, now, these middle years bring us wave after wave of friends and acquaintances changing course in thier respective journeys.

Most of the time, it seems to be guys behaving badly. Not always. Just most of the time. Again, it’s complicated. What motivates a guy to go beyond everyday flirting to crossing a line with little to no return. I’m guessing that it’s perceived leverage.

Think about it. How many businessmen leave thier wives for a younger associates?  Doctors with thier staff?  Anyone with anyone seeking “greener grass”?  It’s all about leverage, at the workplace and at home.  Bosses have it with staff. Bread-winners have it with so-called home-makers. Put the two together in environs of privilege…well…uber-leverage happens.

You know who I’m talking about. We all do, if your GenX or older. Perceived leverage in cushy places can be financially mitigated by a really good attorney, but you can’t buy a return to better times and whole relationships.

Men of a certain age have tough changes to face, manage, and accept.  A few of us just make middle-age much harder than it should be by losing focus on a very short list of top priorities…not to mention those little vows to God and others.

Dads (especially of girls), if you do nothing else, leave your empowered kids the valuable lessons of leverage and how to use it wisely or not at all.

Most of all, good times and not so, future adults are watching, listening, and learning from every big decision we make through our middle years.

God’s speed getting through them well, fellow guys, and here’s to growing very old with that one true love you never lost.

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Emancipation….no, really….

Emancipation. That word has almost a singular meaning to most  Americans. You know. That part of our history that we don’t want to think about. That part where President Lincoln emancipated a group of people that shoulda been free to begin with.  This week, that word took on a totally new meaning for me.  A new meaning that almost motivates this guy to drive all the way to a particular state capital and kiss a particular old governor on the lips….but, I digress. 

We really should be free. This country was billed as the “land of the free”.  This week, according to our current vice president, we are headed back to slavery in one form or another if the wrong guy is elected to the White House.  Politics is a really funny thing sometimes. 

To what extent it can be controlled, the election is not about tax returns, who’s better in the White House, who’s more American, etc…this election is truly about who’s facing reality and who’s not. 

Politicians are quick to condemn those who don’t live within their means over the last few years yet will not to face the fact that the government has not lived within its means for 15 years.  Typical politics and hypocrisy go hand in hand right off the fiscal cliff that everyone’s talking about today. 

Mitt Romney doesn’t have to release his tax returns to prove what kind of successful businessman or shrewd ROI guy he is. We all know that. We also know the real hope and change is really hard to come by. So the President has no credibility with his record of little change and very little hope.

In the words of Joe Biden himself, we need to “unchain!!!” America in more ways than one and believe in people to do what they can do to make their lives better… better for their family, better for the community, and better for the country, as a whole.  

As individuals in this country, we need to unchain ourselves from stuff. Stuff.  You never own stuff. Stuff owns you.  That is a fact. 

If we can eventually elect the right people who actually balance rugged individualism with a level of government  only for the most basic safety nets & promises fulfilled… well, we will have a future for this country that’s promising, hopeful, and delivers real change we really need.

That’s the emancipation that every man, woman, child, and business needs in this country very soon.  Alas, I think we’re 4 to 8 years away before any reality check really hits Washington DC. That’s why Panama, Ecuador, Uruguay, and Belize seem so darn attractive to me. 

As for this election in 2012, I’m not holding my breath and you shouldn’t either.  

Find your own emancipation! 

Bedwetters unite! Brilliant.

“The Bedwetter Caucus” via WSJ editorial page today

“That didn’t take long. Much as we predicted last week, the Republican Party’s Bedwetter Caucus has emerged on schedule to explain why Mitt Romney can’t possibly win the election with Paul Ryan on the ticket.

“GOP pros fret over Paul Ryan,” reported Politico, the website with perfect Beltway pitch, on Tuesday: “In more than three dozen interviews with Republican strategists and campaign operatives—old hands and rising next-generation conservatives alike—the most common reactions to Ryan ranged from gnawing apprehension to hair-on-fire anger that Romney has practically ceded the election.”

Mr. Romney’s catastrophic blunder, it seems, is that he chose a running mate who does more than talk about reforming government. He’s really tried to do it, and this is simply not done in Presidential politics.

“I think it’s a very bold choice. And an exciting and interesting pick. It’s going to elevate the campaign into a debate over big ideas. It means Romney-Ryan can run on principles and provide some real direction and vision for the Republican Party. And probably lose. Maybe big,” said one of the “pros,” Mark McKinnon.

Since advising George W. Bush, Mr. McKinnon has moved on to co-found “No Labels,” an outfit that claims to promote the Golden Mean in politics. A better name for the group is No Principles, so it’s understandable he’d be uncomfortable with a conviction politician like Mr. Ryan. But give Mr. McKinnon credit for at least going on the record, unlike the other worry-warts.

Republicans who believe in something can console themselves in knowing that these “pros” are reflecting the Washington conventional wisdom. Nearly everyone in the Beltway thinks it’s impossible to reform entitlements like Medicare, and or even to restrain the size of government, so why would a candidate be foolish enough to try?

This crowd is good at forecasting the political future as a repetition of the past and present, but as Irving Kristol used to say, they aren’t very good at predicting the turns. We’ll see if this year is one of those turns.

Meantime, the “pros” willing to shoot their candidate in the back are one more reason that voters have contempt for the political class, and why most Republicans who don’t live in Washington are delighted with the choice of Mr. Ryan.”

A version of this article appeared August 15, 2012, on page A12 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Journal

The war to end all wars…

We watched “The War” from Ken Burns last night on PBS.  The last in the series only he could deliver.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “the greatest generation”, as Tom Brokaw would put it.  That descriptor has offended me.  Not so much anymore.   Honestly, I do think of that generation as the last great generation of America.  No other generation since has sacrificed, suffered, loved, hated, and driven America to be better than any country in the world!  None!  Google it! 

That generation fought world wars, rationed their food, did jobs they never thought they would do, lived and died for America, did things that we cannot imagine today, et cetera et cetera…

That generation also offered a better life for those living in poor houses, protected senior citizens from dying with no dignity at all,  and engineered minimal social welfare for those who needed it the most.  FDR knew what he was doing. 
It was only future generations that screwed the whole thing up. Just a few generations removed and we have a bloated social security tab, a medicare funding nightmare, and every juicy entitlement and nation-building program known under the sun…plus, half of America pays $0 and/or profits from federal taxes each year.

This is not about one President, any Congress, any election, any new law, or a half a dozen of any of those.  It’s simply about the greatest shift from a great generation long gone to the lesser generations, the generations that cannot handle it, the generations of materialism and “what’s in it for me?”

The new war is on. The war to end all wars.  Think about the last 25 years.  One entire generation ago, back in 1996, our unusual President was working with a difficult Congress to balance the budget and even create a surplus for America.  Ahhh, those were the days. 

Since then, we’ve had 2 presidents create wars, fight secret wars, do whatever they wanted to do….wars,  wars,  wars…foreign and domestic…adding trillions of dollars to our national debt that we will never, ever, recover!   Pick Prez Obama or pick Mitt this November and you’ll still have $25,000,000,000,000 in debt by the time his term is up. And, China thanks you.

It’s a new war on liberty that neither the White House, nor CNN,  nor Fox News,  nor MSNBC wants to talk about.   This extreme partisanship that’s crumbling our national infrastructure, totally annihilating any fair tax base, and bloating our entitlement programs beyond belief…the new war is now!

Who are our new generals to fight this war?  My simple, educated guess would be the GenY and latter generations.  No other generations have been victims of the me-generations, divorce epidemics, and “if it feels good, do it” mentality to realize what’s really important in life.  Maybe these generations are America’s salvation?  We shall see. 

I sincerely hope so. God’s speed, young ones. 

3 faces …+ one.

3 women. 3 faces. 3 stories yet to be told.  3 very different stories, I’m sure.

I started this weekend traveling up to Ohio to move our oldest daughter’s furniture and stuff out of the dorm where she was interning the summer.  She loves kids and she’s going to be a great teacher.  Her face is one of hope, inspiration, love, joy, and just a sweetness that, for her generation, seems the norm.  Whether watching her face dining al fresco on a cool patio that night or seeing her face as I walk away from our time together this past Friday night, hers is a beautiful face I will never forget.

As I drive away, I think about her. I think about her dreams. And, I think about all the things to come for her, for her sister, and for these   little guys we have today.   As I’m kind of daydreaming about all those things, I drive through what would be called the rough part of Cincinnati.  I pull up to a red light and stop. However I’m in the middle of the cross walk, like a big jerk. Enter, to my right, another face. The face of a mom.  She has 5 kids, mostly younger children.  She starts to cross at the intersection, but stops because my oversized SUV is out in the middle of the crosswalk. Her face speaks volumes. Jerk!  Her timing to cross was not good, which was partly my fault.  The light changed, I stayed put, and I watched for cars beside me to make sure they weren’t going to pull out at the same time. She gathered up the children back to the corner. Jerk! That’s exactly what I felt like. 

Now, it’s Sunday morning.  It’s very quiet downtown.  It always is on Sunday mornings. Even the homeless, the derelicts, and the ones who just lay around downtown are somewhere else on Sunday mornings.  Maybe they are at church, unlike myself.  Enter the third face. One light-hearted face. One kind of sauntering to the bench where she’s going to lounge in peace.  Yes, there’s going to be a lounger this morning in downtown.  Unusual. Strange. But, there she is. Laying down on the bench that you’re not supposed to be able to lay down on, because of the bar in the middle. But, she’s obviously slightly more creative than city planners had planned.  She curls herself right around that bar, laying sideways on the rain-soaked bench, and smoking a cigarette like she is Greta Garbo as the Queen of Sheba.  It seems like her happy place.  Just enjoy your happy place, wherever that is.  

3 faces. 3 stories. 3 women. All with stories to tell you, I’m sure.  All teaching me something different this weekend.  Granted, faces number 2 and 3 are not nearly as important to me as face number 1, my beautiful daughter.  However, all 3 reminded me of important things this weekend. Things that I  already know. But, things that are important nonetheless. 

None of us really see the faces around us until we make eye-contact.  The eyes really are the windows to the soul, which can be full of joy, hope, fear, sadness, disgust, contentment, or whatever life throws at us and makes us feel. 

But…..there’s a 4th face that I need to mention.  A face that I have loved for almost 2 decades. 

Today is our anniversary.  We’ve raised four children together, so far. We’ve helped a bunch more children who we will never really know.  We’ve been relatively poor in the bank account. We’ve been relatively wealthy there, as well.  However, we’ve always been rich, in ways that really count.  Hers is a beautiful face. A face every man should know. A face that everyone should should enjoy as a friend. A face that is a friend to everyone she meets.  One beautiful face. 

Happy anniversary, Ginny Lee…that face.

image

xoxoxoxo.

Brad

The PLAN : PART 2

MAUI.  Nuff said.

Ginny and I have spent two fantastic getaways there. First one thanks to Kim and her frequent flyer miles and my b&b savvy search. Free airfare and $59 per night on our honeymoon….hold your applause, please. Blessed were these two. Five years later, still blessed, but able to fly, stay, and play in style. Loved both getaways. But, the first came with all 1st’s, including blowing our 1st night budget at Momma’s Fish House, the stinky cheese incident, amazing drives, beach discoveries, the timeshare tour during the week’s only rain, and the free luau @ the Marriott for our time…where I pretended to be Austrailian for the dining crowd….rum is a funny thing. But, I really digress.

Hawaii is wonderful. And worth the trip. And…it’s expensive too.

As of today, my long gone plan to live there is really long gone.  An old chap who lived there over the last 30 years just sealed this deal. As passed on by http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com email to thier followers, this fellow is now living for a small fraction of what his Hawaiian life cost before the move. 

Belize. Panama. Ecuador. All are very attractive, proven safe in ex-pats havens, and offer a remarkable quality of life for families and couples after the coop is empty.  Why wait until your too old, responsible, safe, or settled to try something out of the American box?  Answer: We won’t.

It’s no fun watching most of your parents waste away. It’s no fun watching healthy friends waste away in consumption of material goods, spoiling thier children in oblivious ways, and planning “thier number” for retiring someday. Ick. And, btw, the social security trust fund is officially projected to be bankrupt 5 years before my IOU comes due. Hmmm. How about living lean, having fun, and staying so active that retiring is never a thought…just living.  Really living.

Fun facilitator (uber-concierge), Realtor networker, SCUBA shop marketer, even a bartender….all chatty challenges that beat any desk job or corporate ladder. And I plan to do them all…maybe some at the same time. Wherever we land will be packaged, marketed, and sold to a worldwide market of GenX and Baby Boomers, then comes GenY too, who are stumped about thier future life…one to enjoy much sooner than America allows over the next few decades.

This America is led by fiscal fools. It’s time to look, research, plan, and go where today’s real “hope and change” really exists.

Think about an ideal place to live, the ideal budget, and what you REALLY need. Get out of the American box mindset and take control of what lies ahead. It’s liberating even before we ever get started.

THE PLAN continues…..

http://money.usnews.com/money/blogs/On-Retirement/2012/07/31/how-to-choose-where-to-retire-overseas ….timely info via #KathleenPeddicord of #InternationalLiving

https://orders.internationalliving.com/ILVROSW/WILVN122

http://liveandinvestoverseas.com/v/orl/

Paradise in Panama…

htt http://www.liveandinvestoverseas.com/panama/los-islotes.html?sc=ool-8-1-12

p://m.youtube.com/#/watch?desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3DoSKRazKCB4k%26list%3DUU9UG7Q4PvOI9WvbW5Mm7jjg%26index%3D1%26feature%3Dplcp&index=1&list=UU9UG7Q4PvOI9WvbW5Mm7jjg&feature=plcp&v=oSKRazKCB4k&gl=US

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