Make it legal

We now have 28 states and the District of Columbia with laws permitting some form of legal marijuana use. As a result, more than half of our country’s population now lives somewhere that allows legal use of pot. In my opinion, it is just a matter of time before we will have to address whether it should be legal nationwide.

The problem with state’s legalising pot is it is still illegal at the federal level. Due to the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, marijuana is classified as a schedule one drug, which puts it in the same category as heroin.

Considering the problem we’re having with heroin use and the number of deaths it has caused, I think this needs to be changed. As far as I know, we’ve never had a national problem with pot overdoses.

Since the 1970 Controlled Substance Act, doctors have found there are medical reasons for people to use marijuana. It has been found to help people suffering from PTSD, anxiety, depression and pain. I have friends who have used it to deal with arthritis pain and problems sleeping. They have found relief and are very thankful they can get what they need.

It is time we end the prohibition and make marijuana legal. Then place high taxes on it and use the revenue to take care of our nation’s debt.



New perspective thanks to mishap

A broken leg has given me a new perspective on what people who live with physical disabilities go through. Over the past month I’ve learned how difficult it can be to accomplish even simple tasks, such as going to the bathroom, or getting a cold drink from the refrigerator.  Just overcoming a few steps on a stairway can become a major accomplishment. I’m not asking for sympathy. I know in a few weeks I’ll be able to walk on two legs.

As I’m writing this I can’t help but think about a man I know who needs a walker to get around, yet he makes it to our local YMCA five times a week to exercise. You can hear him coming down the hall to the room with the stationary bikes, elliptical and weight machines. He climbs on one the bikes and proceeds to slowly pedal for 20 minutes. He then trudges to the elevator to go to the swimming pool to get in a few laps.

Like many others, I have found 100s of reasons I can’t make it to the gym. Too busy. Too tired. Don’t feel like it. I’m sure the man I’ve described has to find ways to motivate himself just to get through the day.

As the saying goes, you can never completely understand what someone goes through in life until you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. I have no idea if I’ve actually gone a mile with my walker, but it has given me a fresh outlook and respect for those who go through their entire lives with disabilities.

Depression is more than just feeling sad

I know what it is like to suffer from depression. It goes beyond the normal human emotion of sadness. It takes you down so deep that you don’t care if you live or die. At times, as it did with actor and comedian Robin Williams, you feel the only way to escape is to take your own life.

Yes, I have been suicidal. I’ve given up hope of ever feeling happy or feel anything at all. I concealed my problem through the use of drugs and alcohol. Call it self-medicating. Other coping methods I’ve tried include working long hours and staying constantly active in order to keep from dealing with my problem.

To say someone who is depressed is just sad is an insult. Unless you have experienced it, there is no way for anyone to know what it’s like. It is not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. It is a disease, one that kills thousands of people annually.

Through the love of my family and therapy, I’m now able to live a normal life. Yes, I still have a nagging fear that it may someday come back. It is a fear I will have to face for the rest of my life.

Robin Williams’ death is making a big splash in newspapers and on cable TV news channels. For short time, experts will be brought out to talk about depression and the myths that surround the disease.

My hope is that Robin Williams’ death will create a greater awareness of the disease. My wish is that it will make people who know someone suffering from depression better understand the disease. Help is available, but people who suffer from depression don’t look for it. For them, there is no help. That is why it is important for friends and family members of depression suffers to understand the signs and what needs to be done.

One source of information is

If you are someone who is suffering from depression and reading, please reach out to someone. Help is out there. As long as there is life, there is hope.


About to attend 40th class reunion

Will attend my 40th high school class reunion this weekend. Unlike the times when I attended earlier celebrations, I find myself not caring if I impress any of my former classmates. The passage of time has made me more comfortable with who I am and what I’ve accomplished. I am finally at peace with the fact that I have failed more often than I have succeeded. I take comfort in that I at least tried.

 I suspect I’m not alone in this attitude. I admit that as a young man just getting started, I often compared my status with others. I felt smug when I learned I was doing better than some and inadequate when I found I had fallen short when measured to another’s accomplishments. I know that sounds shallow, but those were the feelings of an insecure younger man.

 Now that I’m retired, I find myself spending more time focusing on my blessings. Driving an expensive new car or owning a large house in an expensive neighborhood no longer matters. The house I live in with my wife, two dogs and two cats holds wonderful memories.

 There is a doorframe in the kitchen with marks and dates next to them that tell us how tall our son was at different times in his life. We even have two marks for a close friend of his.

 Family photos and certificates of our son’s achievements cover the refrigerator door and sides. My home office has a corner cabinet covered with photos and knickknacks collected over the years.

 All the things I’ve mentioned might be junk to someone else, but to me they are treasurers. They bring back memories that make me smile. Sometimes my wife will walk in while I’m reminiscing. We share a moment that only two lovers who have spent a lifetime together can.

 As I told a friend of mine during breakfast, I really don’t care how my former classmates see me. I’ve kept in touch with good friends who accepted me for who I was and who I am. I consider them a blessing, too.

 Wisdom comes with age. Just wish I could somehow go back in time to tell my younger self not to worry about what others think. Everything is going to turnout okay.


An old dog learning new tricks.

Most people who learn how to play an instrument do so when they are young. Instead of doing it at the beginning of my life, I’ve decided to take lessons at the age of 58. What I’ve found most interesting is the reaction I get from friends when I tell them I’m trying to learn how to play the piano.

Some just look at me funny. Others are very supportive. Very few are neutral about my latest attempt at learning something new. I simply tell the doubters that I find it refreshing to tilt at a windmill every now and then.

My grandfather is one of my inspirations. He started taking electric organ lessons in his late 50s, early 60s. His goal was to be able to play Alley Cat, one of his favorite songs. I remember watching him playing it with a big smile on his face. Just thinking back to those private times of sitting next to him while he played puts a similar grin on my face.

One of my sisters didn’t learn to play a guitar until she was in  her 40s. She now plays every week with other musics just for fun. They get together and enjoy the time they have together.

My goals are simple. I don’t plan to perform in recitals or in public.  I just want to be able to play a few Christmas songs by next December. Nothing fancy. Ode to Joy, Jingle Bells and the like will do. Being able to play Happy Birthday for my wife come September would be nice.

So to those who think you can’t teach an old dog a new trick, I say: “Ha!” This old  man plans to make a point to learn something new every day.

Pelicans in a small town

Pelicans have attracted a lot of attention in my small Northern Illinois town. They started showing up about two years ago. As a result, people here have taken a break from talking about sports, politics and the weather to admire these majestic birds.


They gather just below the local dam that supports the local hydraulic power plant. Sometimes there appears to be a large flotilla of them just bouncing in the waves as they wait for a fish to go by. Saw one turn his head sideways, the quickly plunged half its body under water. Just as fast it was back up right with a fish tail sticking out of the bulging pouch.


Later I learned that pelicans will work together when it is time to feed. They will get in a long line on the water and flap their wings to force the fish into shallower water where they can more easily catch them.


Watching them land is an amazing experience. They glide in with webbed feet out to greet the water as they slide onto the surface. I remember watching several of them come in for a landing with two small children. The boy and girl oohed and aahed the way people do while watching fireworks.


Since just watching them was not enough to satisfy my curiosity, I did a quick search. Turns out we’ve attracted the American White Pelican. They can weigh around 30 pounds and their wingspans can reach nine feet. They fly in groups called squadrons, which sounds much more impressive than flocks.


They migrate along the Mississippi River and the town I live in is located on the far Eastern edge of their flight path. They head North in Spring and South in the Fall. Eventually they’ll leave our small town and the local coffee house and restaurants will be filled with talk about the weather, sports and politics. While listening, I will silently hope to see the pelicans return next Fall.