And it’s hard to find a person who will not stop in their tracks, even if only for a moment, to watch one that is exhibiting a beautiful and unique combination of colors and patterns.
So, I often think about just why Sunsets are so popular with people around the world and I come up with what I consider two great reasons.
First of all, there is the unmatchable and awesome beauty if a Sunset as it goes through the minute by minute changes of it’s dying phases, as it slowly drops below the horizon.
But, personally, I think there is yet another reason for the popularity of watching Sunsets; and that is the fact that by the time of day the sun is setting over the horizon so many people are themselves just beginning to relax after their daily. And the act of watching such a fascinating event gives a strong sense of calm to the one’s watching.
And by the way, if you think about it, all beautiful sunsets are not just the ones giving off so many great mixtures of the color spectrum; but rather, because of different weather conditions, they can often just be a subtle change in shading and light, taking the viewer from the brightness of daily light to the darkness of another night of rest.
The reason I mention all of this is the fact that I am sharing a recent picture I took of a Sunset that is as beautiful as it is simple.
The picture I share with you here, is one I took at a restaurant called Marker-88 in the Florida Keys, not long ago.
It was right after the Sun had set and the ambient light was quickly fading over the Gulf of Mexico providing me with a great shot of simple colors and shadows.
by Don Bobbitt, October, 8, 2017
Copyright, Don Bobbitt, October 8, 2017, All Rights Reserved.
The reader is free to enjoy and share this article and attachments with friends, but if it is to be used in any commercial way, the author must give permission, in writing beforehand.
Every now and then I have to go into one of my Rants about the callous stupidity of our nations politicians.
This is one of those rants about these heartless and cruel politicians and their attempt at splitting people with Pre-Existing Medical Conditions away from the rest of the population, essentially condemning them to eventual poverty and becoming second class citizens, with health problems that will often lead to the depletion of any saving they have or worse, their deaths.
Yeah, here I am, one of those Average Americans that came out of the woodwork to vote for Trump. (Or, was it to vote against Clinton?).
Anyway, I was up late, watching this very important election and finally the results turned and started going in Trump’s direction, and I must say, the consternation and shock on the faces of the whole world of journalists was, honestly, entertaining.
I got to watch the final end of the thousands of repeated and twisted ads fired at Trump and his supporters.
Anyway, i wrote a pretty good article where I attempted to explain to these opinionated news-mongers, just who I am. I am, simply put, a veteran and a common man who worked his whole life without any superlatives that the liberal press would be interested in exploring.
Me? I am just an Average American, who was finally able to symbolically “spit in the face” of those who have ignored the plight of us, the Average American over the past decade.
A remembrance of VietNam veterans. My lost Friends.
I wrote the attached article years ago, out of frustration and anger, more than any thing else.
I had just had an argument with a friend over Vietnam and it had turned into a conflict between someone with personal scars and someone who not only had no clue what the word VietNam, invokes in some of my generation, they just don’t care.
Anyway, writing the words down made me feel better at the time and I keep it stored on my sub-domain on HubPages.
It is not a popular article, and never has been to the general reading public.
But these men, in my article were friends and relatives of mine and they are always just below the surface of my consciousness, these wasted souls.
I am not usually a paranoid person, but I was watching TV and saw the NSA and others in our Intelligence (whoops Security) industry, as they explained that we should just Trust Them!
My opinion is that more of us should be thinking; Really?
Who else, besides myself, is worried when we have an agency with unlimited power and they are building a facility, in the mid-west, that has over a MILLION SQUARE FEET of floor space for data storage.
Let me put that number into perspective for you. Just hold up your Smart Phone and stare at it for a minute.
It is probably less than 6 x 3 x 1/4 inches in size. And if you assume that your Smart Phone has only 32-GigaBytes of memory, that means that it has 32.000 times 1-Million Bytes of data storage.
Now, I worked in the Cell Phone world before I retired and this funky “Meta_Data” they are all talking about, if they truly are only storing; Caller Phone Number, Called Phone Number , and the date and time of the call, as they swear is the case, then they are only storing far, far, less than 1-kilobyte per call.
Now, the physical device or “memory chip” on the phone itself is less than 1/4 x 1/2 x 1/16 inchs in size, for that 32-GigaBytes of total Smart Phone Storage.
So, lets make another assumption, and say that the 32-Gbyte memory chip can hold 3.2 Million of these Meta-Files.
It is at this point, if you are following my numbers, where things should begin to smell ……… no, they should STINK.
The hair stood up on my arms when I heard they needed a building with over 1-MILLION Square feet for storing this mythical Meta-Data. when, as you can see, they can store quite a bit of data, specifically what they say they want to store in an area about the size of a bookcase.
My question is; is the rest of that enormous building for all of the armed guards to stand by, at attention, guns in hand, to protect this small amount of data.
Or, and this is what my suspicious mind tells me; do they have plan on collecting even more data, of other kinds, and storing it centrally, with all of the other data they already have? This Scares Me!
OK, maybe I am just being paranoid.
But, the only people I trust less than a crooked Politician, which they all seem to be, is an omnipotent Security Agency official.
I guess I grew up watching too many old war movies involving soulless Nazis and their unlimited abuses of their power and the resultant damages done to Humanity.
Forty Years ago, even less than that, if you were a frugal and smart person, you had some type of Retirement plan. And, often, these were savings accounts, funds, IRA‘s and eventually 401k’s, among others, all of which offered you the option of Deferred Taxes when you drew your money out after you retired.
Along with all of your other company benefits, if you were lucky enough to have the extra income, you were allowed to put a certain amount of your income into an IRA or 401k which are government approved and tax deferred savings plans.
These retirement plans were, what our government, our employers, our bankers, our investment counselors, even our friends told us, were the THING TO DO!.
And, I did it what everyone called the smart thing to do! What a great sounding thing, it seemed, at that time!
I was also told, by my employer that my company medical insurance would cover me until I reached the ripe age of 65.
You see, I was told that, at that point, my Medicare Insurance that, by the way, I had contributed an enormous of money to each year of my career, would take over and my company insurance would, then, be cancelled.
I asked why, because I had worked all of those years with my company Insurance, and why couldn’t I keep it for my Golden Years?
Well, Silly Man! Because Medicare would be my primary Insurance carrier, and my company Insurance would be redundant to my new Medicare coverage.
Being a trusting soul, I plodded along, working those long hours that my employer required of me, and putting away a little cash whenever I could, for those little luxuries I would want in my retirement years.
Doing this, I was told, I could live the Good Life when I retired, with Social Security and Medicare paying my basic bills and Health costs while my Savings would be there for those extra luxuries when I needed or wanted them
Oh, Yeah! I was on track in my quest for Retirement Nirvana! And, by the way, those deferred taxes were nothing to worry about!
I was told that this was because I would not be working at a “Real Job” anymore and my real income would be very low.
With this lower income, the taxes on what I would withdraw each year, would be so low, as to be negligible. Nothing to worry about! Boy was I set!
But, as I grew older and closer to my retirement age, something started to smell funny, whenever I looked at my iron-clad retirement plan.
The Raping of Social Security and Medicare
The Raping of Social Security and Medicare Benefits for Boomers was a subtle and devious thing, perpetuated by politicians who cared nothing for the future of America, or a whole generation of Americans.
Whiile our generation were working away, with our hopes and dreams for our retirement years, You know the old adage, with;
Our Eye on the Ball,
Our shoulder to the Grindstone, and our
Hands on the Wheel,
While we were keeping the country running, what we didn’t watch was the way our government was slowly but steadily raping our financial future.
Our Congress was slowly placing newer and newer limits on our future SS and Medicare benefits over time. they did it with all of their little amendments, they were happily and insidiously stuck at the end of the other bills and laws they passed.
Each of these changes slowly chipped away at my and my peers’ futures. And we just kept on working with our delusions of retirement security.
Just like the Snake Oil Salesman, who, while grandly telling and showing you one thing, was at the same time, smoothly slipping other things past you; our Congress was doing the same thing to us with those little amendments and additions to Bills that were literally stealing our rightful future benefits from us.
First, and most importantly, they raped the Fund that we all contributed our monies to for our retirement and left us an IOU.
An IOU from us to us.
Even a Snake Oil salesman would be embarrassed by some of the things that our supposed representatives did to us, behind our backs, while we worked on towards our retirement.
Our ancestors fought for their independence against a government that, among other things, taxed them multiple times on certain items.
We Boomers, on the other hand, barely lifted our eyelids when our Congress started collecting Income taxes on Social Security payments.
We, the American public now pay; Income Taxes, Social Security Taxes, and Medicare Taxes, taxes on our savings interest, Stock dividends, whole life insurance interest, and more, not to mention what many of the states also collect, out of our salaries. Who knew it would come to this level of taxation before we even reitred?
Now, unlike the original SS plan, and the promises we were given about our future security, our government just keeps on filling their coffers with increasing taxes of every kind.
I, personally,consider this situation of our to be as bad as double Taxation, and it hurts.
It hurts because my original retirement plan never included the loss of an additional hundreds of dollars of what was my projected retirement income, to be stolen from me.
Paying those Deferred Income Taxes
OK, Yes, I am lucky, or that’s what everyone tells me, to have been able to save enough money to have it in an IRA.
An IRA, by the way, that I had two plans for.
First, I planned to withdraw a certain percentage from my IRA each year for “FUN THINGS“, like; a little vacation, visits to the Kids and Grandchildren (that happen to live several states away), maybe a little cruise for the wife and I, and other such of the dreams of a future retiree.
Second, I was comfortable that I had enough money to pay for those CATASTROPHIC things that happen unexpectedly in life.
Things like; a new Furnace/AC or a new roof on the house, a new car when the old one was worn out, and such other “luxuries”.
These are all things that happen over to time to us or anyone else, and we need to be prepared for them, or we can get into serious financial trouble very quickly. Right?
Here’s the problem; the IRS wants their cut, and they want it without exception, and they want it the year that you take out any of your IRA money.
The Reality of Deferred Taxes hits YOU whe it’s too late.
So, lets say that you live in the South and your AC dies, or you live in the North and your Furnace dies. Or, some other major, unplanned expense rears its ugly head.
Anyway, lets use an AC, and I mean the thing dies, Kaput! So you call the repair guy, he eventually shows up in his shiny white truck, removes the covers from the unit and starts checking things.
Finally, not able to stand the suspense another minute you walk around the house and there he stands, at attention, his ball cap in his hand over his chest as he slowly says a prayer over your old unit.
He turns to you, forces a small tear from his eye, and proceeds to go through a litany of problems that cannot be repaired and suggesting that you need a totally new unit.
OK, I got a little melodramatic there for a moment, but let’s say you need a new AC; so you call around for the best deal.
And, BAM! It hits you.
Your old AC has died after 15 years of faithful service, and even though you suspected that you might need one soon, you had no idea of the present PRICE for a new unot!
Your old AC originally cost a third of what a new one costs today. And this inflated expense was never in your emergency planning. I mean, inflation? In the future? Nobody told me to plan for Inflation!
You know that you don’t really have as much in your savings as you once planned, because that ugly thing called inflation has already pushed your everyday expenses to the point where you can barely get by.
You have already given up many of the “Luxuries” that you once enjoyed, like;
Instead of eating out at a nice restaurant, occasionally, you now go out to a fast-food restaurant, if you go out at all.
Instead of playing a round of Golf on a nice course every week, you now use a coupon at a cheap course maybe once a month. And even this is getting hard to justify.
Instead of going to the Doctor when you have a physical problem and getting it fixed, you now have to delay many of your trips because you have to pay your 20% that medicare doesn’t cover.
And, oh yeah, you had to drop your supplemental insurance last year, when even though the price of everything went up, somehow the CPI stayed stagnant and you didn’t get any increase in your Social Security. So, you couldn’t afford that extra insurance expense anymore.
Instead of eating a balanced diet including lots of Fruits and Vegetables and an occasional steak, you now eat canned foods along with lots more starches and fats in your diet, because they are cheaper. And, now it’s; Bologna, Hot Dogs and Hamburgers, not steaks for your meat, if you eat a meat at all.
And, the belt tightening goes on and on and on!
So, you look at what you have to cover this new cost and the only thing you have left is your IRA. Your IRA and your withdrawal plan, that no longer supports the real expenses of a retiree is not the size it should be and you have been forced to take more each year than it will support.
You obviously just don’t have much in it, but now, you need to get some more money out to replace that bad AC.
So, here is where many Retirees end up with their IRA money. YES, they understood that they had to pay taxes on their IRA money when they took it out.
But, NO, they never dreamed that;
The value of their IRA would shrink so quickly. The investors usually put seniors in low-risk investments that inherently grow slower than inflation.
So many of the allowed deductibles that they were used to seeing thirty or more years ago would be removed, one after the other, from their taxes
The costs of Food, clothing, and medical care would increase so much by the time that they retired.
Congress would so dramatically attack the benefits that so many Seniors counted on for a safe future.
So, here you sit, pulling out much more of your IRA, than you ever dreamed you would need, for yet another major expense, and at the same time you have to pull out enough to pay the taxes that you will owe on what you removed, when next April rolls around.
A week later, you sit in your hot house, with your sick wife, eating a meal of the cheapest foods you can find at the store, and try to give thanks for what you have.
You choke up a little, thankful that you have taken care of a major household problem (this time), that they will be installing, now that you gave them your check.
But, you look at your future as a Retiree, and wonder, how long and how many more emergency situations will arise before you are like those other old couples that you see in the news.
The ones without Heat or AC in their homes.
The ones without adequate food to maintain their health
The ones without that basic 20% that Medicare requires, so they don’t even go to a Doctor.
The ones that are just ….. without ……….?
Because, you did what everyone told you to do. You worked your whole life, saving for your retirement and a little bit of the good life before you died.
Now, you just sit around at night, in front of your old TV and wonder about so many things that scare you.
Will you or your wife accumulate so many medical bills (you know your 20% of a cost that is increasing a a pace far in excess of any CPI (which is flashed in your face as a fair measurement of costs) that the hospital or a collection agency takes your house from you and puts you out on the street.
Will one of you die and the remaining one have to live on even less money when the other ones SS check goes away. Even though you had originally planned for that IRA money to be there for just this, now circumstances have changed to where you are using it up so fast, so early?
You sit and you wonder; What the HELL happened to my life and who did this to me?
Why Friend, Congress did it to us all, as they;
put their blinders on and reduced the deductibles that the average American used for Income taxes,
taxed and keept increasing taxes on our Social Security so that we get less and less to subsist on,
pinched the coverage that Medicare provides down so far that more and more conditions are not covered at all.
reduced the payments to doctors and hospitals to the point that many do not even want to take retirees, and the ones that do, push you through their office so fast that your head is spinning as you are shown the door.
So, yeah, take that extra income tax from me on my meager IRA dollars.
And, please, use it to subsidize “pickle growth” experiments, or use it to protect some damned snail in some creek out west, or just send it in large trailers to Afghanistan and other nations that hate Americans, to be divied out to the corrupt officials there.
Meanwhile, I, and my fellow retirees, along with the millions in our country without jobs, and the children that are not getting adequate food?
Why, we are happy to stand and stare through the containment fences our congress has built around us and watch our government say; damn the home-front, let’s spend these fool’s monies on the frivolous things that we love.
Tax my IRA!
My shrinking IRA that was sitting in a bank and available for loans to so many other Americans, for home improvements, home loans, car loans, etc. (any one of which would make a contribution to OUR ECONOMY).?
Please help me deplete it as fast as possible.
Then my wife and I (and many of my fellow retirees) can go onto the Federal dole as soon as is possible.
Then You can really take care of us; you the few remaining taxpayers, our children and grand-children, while you wait for us, the poor retirement planners, to all die off!
But, sadly it a truth, and it is one that many people have a hard time accepting.
I served my country during the Vietnam War Era, and I promise, I will not go into how the media besmirched all of us veterans to the point that we were pariahs in our own homeland when we came home. That is another shameful piece of our history.
No, I just want to state a few things for you, the reader, to consider and at least tacitly accept as the truth.
If you look candidly at our country’s history, when this great country of ours needs to be defended, there have always been those that; selflessly put away their plowshares, stood up and took arms against our foes. It wasn’t done for glory, but as an expression of love for their country.
Many end up in harms way and are wounded, or even worse, killed while defending our country and its people. But these heros did not serve alone. In reality, for every serviceman or woman that pays such a price, there are five more that are never harmed.
You see, the soldier that stands on a line, under fire, risking his or her life, operates efficiently because of two things; the others at his shoulder, and the many support servicemen that make them successful at their jobs.
The list of these support personnel is varied and long and each and every one of their jobs are critical to the success of ANY military mission.
I happen to be one of those support servicemen. I gave my country several years of my life. I was never wounded, nor did I ever go into a war zone with its inherent perils you risk by just being there, but I did serve.
Now, I happened to have been on an Aircraft Carrier, doing my job, day in and day out, following the orders of my leaders. In reality, I was just a small part of what was needed to make my ship an awesome machine of destruction, feared by our enemies around the world. But, I was an integral part.
Eventually, when my term of service ended, I went back to the “real world” and re-started my life.
Of course, the first thing that I saw was the fact that I had to play catch-up with all of the ones who stayed home, for whatever reason.
In fact, I soon realized that my civilian peers now had things like; seniority in their jobs, had received generous raises and promotions while I was gone, and even been trained in skills I had to access to.
I, on the other hand, had to start at the bottom of the competitive corporate ladder to grow my own long delayed career.
But, that’s OK, I did my best in the corporate world, and eventually I retired. I had a plan to live comfortably and I though I would be OK.
What I didn’t realize, that now, years later, I would be walking around, with shrinking medical coverage for my ailments, mostly because I am also a Baby Boomer, whom Congress has decided doesn’t deserve the protections I actually paid for.
Being a veteran, I have my VA ID card, that all Vets carry, to show that I served my country, honorably, and I have rights to certain support systems, specifically certain medical benefits.
One other perk that we veterans enjoy is the fact that certain companies recognize the sacrifices of veterans and will give veterans a discount on their goods if you show your ID. It isn’t much, usually 10% off, but it is often worth more to myself and other veterans as a form of recognition for our service, than the monetary savings.
Now, to my example of the vanishing Love for veterans.
There are two major home supply chains in the US and they are very competitive. I will call them; L and HD.
A few years ago, L began, without any fanfare, giving veterans a 10% discount on their goods, if you showed them your VA ID at checkout. At some point. HD, in order to be competitive, began doing the same.
But, last week, I was embarrassed. I went to a local HD store, and they refused to give me the usual veterans discount that I mentioned above. I asked why and they said that my card did not have “Service Related” on the front.
So, I paid the regular price and left, but I will probably not be frequenting the big HD any time soon. You see, that phrase “Service Related” indicates that the veteran has a “Service Related Injury” of some kind.
My first reaction was that I must apologize to my country for not being injured while I served.
But, no, this is just another example of our public’s attitude about veterans. When you need us, you love us, and promise to take care of us.
While, in reality, your memories are short and your purse strings are more important to you than your word. And an old veteran, during peace time, injured or not, is just a costly nuisance, to be ignored and often, abused.
So, go ahead, HD, along with all of your other corporate and government peers, keep cutting those budgets, just like you have done with Social Security and Medicare that we actually paid into a self-sustaining fund. (These same funds that were squandered by our leaders).
You know you are going to do it. Your taxes are already too high. Something has to go! Why not us, the Seniors and the Veterans. Go ahead and strip the support systems that you were so proud of when you needed us.
And, when you walk down a street and see one of us, cup in hand, throw a quarter in the cup. It will make you feel a lot better about yourself. I’m Sure.
I am one of those Lucky people, living in the Tampaarea, who has a friend that owns a Boat. And we are often invited to just go out onto the Tampa Bay and enjoy the water and the many small islands (keys) and beaches, with them.
There were five of us on the boat the other day and we were just tooling around in the area that everyone calls the “flats”. It’s called the Flats because the water in the area is very shallow , often just 1-3 feet deep. And, if you do go there be aware that the area requires some careful navigation to avoid grounding your boat or Prop. But the extra caution is worth it.
Besides the great fishing in the Flats, there are beautiful white sandy beaches that you can pull up to and Picnic, or just take a walk on the beach and enjoy the cooling Bay breezes and near perfect weather.
My Buddy eventually did just that and pulled his boat onto a beautiful clean beach on an island. He jumped into the knee-deep and clear waters to do a little cleaning on the rear of his boat, and the ladies pulled out our light picnic lunches, singing along with some old Parrot Head music on the radio.
Me? I took the opportunity to stroll down the beach with my camera. I snapped a few good shots along the way, including this lonely, empty shell of a Horseshoe Crab.
Eventually, I turned, retracing my steps and when I got back to the boat, we sat and talked, mostly about nothing, as we devoured our lunch.
Then, a push-off from the beach, and a smooth ride home. I can’t wait until we get another invitation to explore Tamps Bay.
We all use phrases and words in our daily conversations that have multiple definitions. Often, we use these words without even considering that those listening might mentally miss you point by assuming the other meaning.
And, sometimes, rarely, if you are Lucky, a person can take a picture of a scene that if observed carefully, presents itself to the world as a double entendre.
Look closely at this picture I grabbed one day driving on a back street in a small North Carolina town.