Saturday, January 26, 2008

Entry for January 26, 2008

Some quiet afternoon or evening, sit on a comfortable chair and stare into the flames dancing inside the fireplace. If you choose to, pour yourself a drink. Then, please ponder the following.

What is it that gives you that sense of self? What is it that makes you unique to yourself? What is it that makes you, YOU? Is there a part of you that is separate from all of your senses? Why does each person from a pair of identical twins have a unique personality? Each has a unique sense of self. Each sees the world from the window of his or her own eyes.

Billions of people in the world exist outside of you. You exist inside of you. When you drive a car, you look outside at the other cars on the highway. When you are walking down the sidewalk, you look outside of your body at the other people walking by. You can see your hand, but you need a mirror to see your face.

How is it that you are inside of that body of yours? What freaky trick of nature or God plopped you in there instead of somewhere else? Go blind; you are still in that body of yours. Go deaf, same thing, you are still in there. Suffer damage to certain portions of the brain and you will not remember yesterday, but you still exist in that hunk of meat called the human body. When your brain dies and your body still functions are you here or are you gone? Today most seem to agree that YOU are gone when your brain is gone. Do you exist in that living brain? Are you a “virtual self” in that strange looking loaf between your ears? Again, how did identical twins each wind up with a unique “self?”

How did you wind up in there? Is there a reason why you are there and not inside some other body? Why here? Why now? Is there a spiritual side of you that is not reliant on the body? If so, which of your actions is spiritual? Are GOOD and EVIL spiritual functions or strictly brain chemistry gone good or bad? Is sex biological and love spiritual? Does your soul want to get laid?

Eventually that hunk of meat and bone you ride around in will die. Will you die with it? Cultures throughout the history of humans have tried to answer that. Take your pick of the many answers. Some say there is a part of you that goes on forever. Some say you are like a light bulb, once you blow the filament you are finished.

I am not very concerned about going somewhere after I drop dead. More so, as many others do, I question what the hell I am doing here in the first place. Nothing in my life has ever caused me to wish I could do it all over again. If I had to, a rerun would be just fine with me. If there were such a thing as reincarnation into some new person or animal, I would just as soon skip that feature unless I can come back as a crab louse.

Hunter S. Thompson may have had it right. "Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming 'Wow! What a Ride!'

One last question, if you could see your soul, would you like what you saw?


Wishing you a long and fulfilling life, and whatever eternity you may dream of,

James A. Zachary Jr.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Entry for January 23, 2008


The stock market is on a wild ride, and the direction so far is mostly down down down. There may be a crowd of early retirees heading toward a quick jump off a tall bridge. I won’t be joining them. It would be bad karma for me to pretend that I was prescient when I went mostly to cash and bonds just before I retired. It was simple dumb luck; I was busy with too many issues to watch the market so I had to be conservative. During some of the earlier market gains, I was somewhat envious of those fully invested in equities, but everyone knows that markets will take a dive eventually. WOW, what a dive! What little I had in stocks went down the toilet, the junk bonds were hurt a little, but cash always remains cash. A quick glance at the tally sheet shows that overall I am only down 2% since November. That is not bad performance for a dumb guy with nothing but dumb luck. There is something to be said for the most basic of investment advice, "buy low and sell high."

Where do I go from here? For now, I am sitting tight. If this market continues churning downward, I may dollar cost average some cash into equities. If the market looks like it is near a hard bottom, I may get aggressive and put half of the portfolio’s value into equities. Whatever moves I make, I will always count on dumb luck to be my guiding light.

Thanks for the visit. My wish is that your investments will add to your blessings.


James A. Zachary Jr.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Entry for January 22, 2008



My seventy year old Uncle Junior (yep, Junior, AKA J.R., full name Otha Logan Zachary) has a brain tumor. He had a car accident a week or so ago and suffered some moderate injuries. The scan of his head revealed the brain tumor. Surgery is scheduled for Thursday. I’ll be hanging some prayers in the air for Uncle Junior.

When I was a kid, I loved when we visited Junior and his wife Sandy. They parted years ago, and Junior’s children have not had easy lives due to a number of issues. Two of his sons have died. I was blessed with many uncles, and J.R. was always one of my favorites. Good memories.

NOTE: I originally had this posted as "Otha Allen Zachary Jr.", since I believed Uncle "Junior" was named after his father, "Otha Allen Zachary". It turns out Uncle Jr's name is "Otha Logan Zachary"; his first name is after his father and his middle name is after his paternal grandfather, "John Logan Zachary". There may or may not be a "Junior" on his birth certificate. Many knew him as "Junior Zachary".

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Entry for January 20, 2008

Watermains break for a variety of reasons, and sometimes watermains break for no apparent reason at all. When the taps go dry and the toilets do not flush, customers rarely care why a watermain broke, they just want it fixed, and they want it fixed fast.

Public utility workers often brave danger and extreme discomfort in order to keep potable water flowing to every household. They take their jobs seriously, not only to provide for our comfort and convenience, but also because Fire Departments are not very effective fighting fires when there is no water. Utility repair crews respond at all hours of any day, including weekends and holidays. If a watermain broke on Christmas Eve, crewmembers would leave their families to go dig deep underground in order to make the needed repairs. It is muddy, backbreaking, physical work. Even well trained crews with good equipment risk injury and death from a number of hazards including burial during a cave-in of the trench.

While the highly paid department heads and division managers of the utility companies sleep, these crews are on standby. During after-hour emergencies these crews take care of business, and the bosses rarely know about it until they read the summary reports over their morning coffee.

The next time the air temperature is far below zero and you see a crew staging equipment to repair a watermain, give them a good thought and a friendly wave.



Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Entry for 1/15/2008

In this wonderful high-tech world, am I alone in thinking that it should be possible for the U.S. Post Office to get the right letter into the right mailbox? If the carrier needs some vision care, please see to it! With identity theft so prevalent, am I alone in thinking that the U.S. Post Office would take better care of our mail?

Almost exactly one year ago, I finally contacted the main U.S. Post Office about the problems. Still the problems come and go. I have documented many of the cases of wrong delivery, and this morning again contacted my local Post Office and the main U.S. Post Office.

I know that MOST of all mail gets to the correct slot. The family that had to pay a “late-charge” because they never got their credit card statement does not care about that. The poor person that had his or her identity stolen does not care about that. In all honesty, I don’t really care if other people don’t get their mail. I just want to be sure that they are not getting mine.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Entry for 1/14/2008

Someday in the future people will get into their cars, tell the cars where they wish to go, and the cars will do all of the driving. Vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers, and snow blowers will be robotic. Fighter jets and bombers will be pilotless. Whatever you are dreaming now is a done-deal for tomorrow.

In the wide wild world of blogs, one of my favorites is Engadget. In fact, it is one of the most popular blogs in existence. This well-done spectacle covers all of the neat high tech gadgets that anger, analyze, amaze, and amuse us. It is like Popular Mechanics on steroids. It has everything from the latest multifunction phones to the latest in warfare robotics. Will there soon be armies of terminator cyborgs fighting our wars? How big will Big Brother get? Tune in to see where we are, and where we are going.

http://www.engadget.com/

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Entry for 1/12/2008. So far, so good.

Hi! Thanks for checking in.

Well, so far I like Google Blogger. I like it a lot. I prefer not to make Yahoo bashing a vocation, but they really need to do some serious work on their products, and on their customer service. Google has talent and enthusiasm. Google has pride. At least for now, Google is doing most things right. Google wants to be (or remain) the best.

I will continue porting all of my blog entries from Yahoo over to Google Blogger. Once that is completed, I will maintain both sites in parallel. After giving Yahoo a fair chance for redemption, I will decide what to do.

I am not new to the online world. In the early to mid 1980’s when modems were dialup 300 baud, I was cruising what could be found. 1200 baud, 2400 baud, 9600 baud, as the technology changed I went along for the ride. Compuserve, AOL, and a host of others trapped me in their webs and left me hanging. A friend I met online back in the 1980’s is the most tech savvy person I know. He suggested I give Google a go. For me, Google now is the best game in town.

Hope you stop in again soon.

James A. Zachary Jr.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The First Post

This is quite simply a test. Yahoo is churning things up, and I am looking for a new blog platform. Blogger comes highly recommended, and most of my favorite "reads" are on Blogger. We shall see ...

I am debating whether or not to cut and paste all of my entries from my Yahoo blog site over to here. Probably will try a couple to see how it goes.