Friday, January 20, 2017

A PERSPECTIVE ON AGING



1/11/17 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Birthdays, Life and Laughter

I remember when I was young and always looking forward to my January birthday. Celebrating a birthday meant bringing cupcakes and Kool-Aid to my first grade class. It meant a birthday party at home with presents, games and (of course) my favorite birthday cake. It meant turning 16 years old and being allowed to date boys. It meant getting married at 19 and at 21, being legally allowed to vote and drink a cocktail in a fancy restaurant.

Until recently, the only birthday that I really didn’t like was the year I turned 30 years old. For some reason, leaving my 20’s was scary. It meant that I was no longer young (little did I know how young that was). Of course, I survived turning 30 and I didn’t fear aging in my 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. Turning 70 didn’t even bother me.

Each of life’s milestones was good. There was always a reason to be going forward—raising children from infancy to adulthood, welcoming their spouses and each new grandchild, establishing a business, volunteering, serving in the church, traveling the world, moving to a dream house and job in Oregon. I felt blessed. 

It was a fall on the ice in January of 2012 and a fractured back that brought me up short and said, “You’re getting old.” Not “older” but “old. Surgery helped repair the crushed bones but the residual effect of that hard fall was chronic pain. I had lots of time on my hands that winter to think about the ramifications of aging and it was sobering.

I quickly came to the conclusion that it’s not looking older that bothers me. All this gray hair and wrinkles has its advantages. I never have to worry about opening a heavy door to enter a business or restaurant. People will stop; open the door and say, “After you.” I find that young children in strollers will smile and wave at me as I walk by. At the same time, they look at their parent, smile and say, “Grandma.” 

No, the thing that bothers me the most about aging is the physical limitations. Myself, friends and family are having hips and knees replaced, heart surgeries, cancer treatments, losing spouses or downsizing houses because they can’t take care of them. Some are no longer driving because of eyesight and reflex problems. Some of us just need help getting out of bed in the morning! Oy!

 My Achilles Heel is poor balance. If I fall down, I break something. No matter how much physical therapy I endure, falls and breakage keep happening. It started with a compound fracture of my left arm as a teenager. Longtime readers will remember my falling off an 8 ft. tall ladder and nearly cracking my skull open. Twice I slipped and broke bones in my right foot. The 70’s have included a fall that completely tore my ACL with complications from a fall on the ice that fractured my back.

Last year was a hard year for many of us. It is difficult to laugh and enjoy life during pain and suffering. Suddenly I felt old. My husband had serious health issues, I lost several dear friends and the world’s suffering was hard to comprehend. The appointments on our calendar were mostly to doctors or hospitals. Something had to change. Fun needed to make a comeback.

Then I read this piece of wisdom:
“You don't stop laughing because you grow old, you grow old because you stop laughing."—Michael Pritchard

Ah, ha! I don’t know who Michael Pritchard is but he’s a wise man. I looked up laughter as medicine and was reminded that while laughter can’t save us from getting old, it can make aging palatable. Although not all researchers agree, most believe that humor helps people of all ages cope with stress and keeps our immune system healthy.

This quote from a cancer researcher really hit home:
“Humor works like a shock absorber in a car,” he says. “You appreciate a good shock absorber when you go over bumps and cancer is a big bump in life.”

So my goal for this birthday year is to install new shock absorbers. It is said that children laugh 300 times a day. We adults laugh only a few times a day— maybe 4. I think it’s time to up the ante at our house and start looking for the funny side of everyday life. We need to exchange more jokes and less bad news. Following are a few comic one-liners from readers that started me giggling.

 You know you’re older when:
*You’re startled the first time you’re asked if you’re a “senior.”
*Your children begin to look middle aged.
*Your back goes out more often than you do.
*You sit in a rocking chair and you can’t get it going.
* Your mind makes contracts your body can’t meet.
*You finally reach the top of the ladder and it’s the wrong wall.
*The little grey haired lady you help across the street is your wife.
*You have a party and the neighbors don’t even know it.
*My favorite: People call at 9 a.m. and ask, “Did I wake you?”

So, dear readers, here’s the deal. We can’t stop the aging process but we can put it into perspective. Then we can offset and absorb some of life’s shocks and discomfort by laughing at a good joke long and often. It works for me. Try it and let me know how it works for you. And by all means, share the fun with friends, family and me.

P.S. Happy Birthday to my fellow Capricorns!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 
The Cottage Grove Sentinel

PLANTING SEEDS OF KINDNESS


12/14/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

A plaque over my desk reads: “Kindness Matters.” It is a great encouragement to me on those days when I helplessly watch the world spinning out of control, knowing I can do nothing to stop it. I can’t stop young women from being kidnapped, beaten, branded or killed. I can’t stop road rage, random gang shootings, child abuse or the bombing in Aleppo. As the world turns, I’m pretty helpless.

I can, however, be kind to the people around me. Tim McGraw’s recent country hit song, “Humble and Kind,” inspired today’s column to share some random acts of kindness and inspire all of us at all seasons of the year. First we’ll start with an abbreviated version of the song’s reminder to always stay humble and kind:

“Humble and Kind”
Tim McGraw

"You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the keys under the mat
When childhood stars shine, always stay humble and kind
Go to church cause your momma says too
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won't be wasted time

Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say please, say thank you
Don’t steal, don’t cheat and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb but

Tim McGraw and his wife Faith Hill practice what they preach. Some call them country music royalty. Others say they are two of the kindest people in show business. According to an article in the Huffington Post, they recently surprised a few Wal-Mart shoppers in Baker County, Florida with their generosity when they paid of $5,000 worth of layaway purchases.

TV station Action News Jax, reported that McGraw’s mother, Betty Trimble, told a shopper that she was playing Secret Santa and delivering the gifts. Jessica Lumpkin was one of the shoppers. She told the news outlet that she received a signed card and cash. “I didn’t have anything on layaway, I was just picking up a package and Tim’s mother gave me this. I’ve never had this happen to me. I’m glad I call Baker Co. my home.”

There are many simple ways in this song to be humble and kind but the list is endless. One of my readers recently sent me some inspiring photos that brought me to tears over the kindness of others to strangers. Kindness comes in many forms. I can’t print the photos but you’ll get the idea when you read the captions:

1.    A tourist in the tropics takes off his sandals and gives them to a homeless girl. That’s empathy.
2.    A motorcyclist stops, gets off his bike and helps an elderly lady across the street. That’s thoughtfulness.
3.    A retired barber in Calif. offers haircuts to the homeless for the price of a hug. That is caring and sharing.
4.    A police officer handcuffs himself to a woman ready to jump off a ledge. She doesn’t jump because he would die too! That is compassion beyond the call of duty.
5.    A box of tennis balls sits on a sandy beach. The sign says, “In loving memory of Phoebe (a dog). Help yourself to a ball for your pooch to enjoy…” That’s making memories.
6.    A grocery store clerk kneels down and ties the shoes of an elderly gentleman. That’s helpfulness.
7.    Spectators hoist a young man at a concert, above the crowd in his wheelchair so he can see the show too. That’s amazing!
8.    An elderly man had a heart attack while shoveling snow from his driveway. The paramedics took him to the hospital and then returned to finish shoveling the snow. That’s compassion.
9.    A stranger noticed a stray kitty sleeping in the rain. He covered her with his umbrella to keep her dry. That’s precious.
10.   Another stranger noticed that a homeless man was reading the same book over and over. He gave him his Kindle. That’s feeding the soul.

Finally, at a time when sometimes even religions don't trust one another, you will love this story of one religion helping another. It's a story of kindness, generosity and acceptance. It’s also a new tradition at Unity House, a Christian organization in Troy, NY, that offers services, including meals, to victims of domestic violence.

According to the Albany Times Union newspaper, it started when a volunteer from the Muslim Soup Kitchen Project approached Unity House and offered to serve Christmas dinner. The tradition continues. The 15-18 Muslim volunteers prepare enough meals for 100-200 people. That’s 400 meatballs, 26 pounds of spaghetti, 40 pounds of salad and 200 buns.

Why do they do this? “This is a seed that we’re planting for our young people,” said Azmat Ahmad who presides over the kitchen. “We’re supposed to practice charity every day. Having a day of service on Christmas is a way of introducing our young people to sharing. We like to do it,” she added as she watched her sons and other young volunteers prepare the meal. Last year, in the same spirit of giving, they also served spaghetti to children and their families at Ronald McDonald House in Albany, NY. That is generosity of spirit.

Kindness is a gift we can all give. Pass it on and we will all be blessed.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. 
The Cottage Grove Sentinel


Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Election Reflections 1960 vs 2016


11/16/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

Election reflections

On October 28, 2016 I signed, sealed and delivered my 14th presidential election ballot for the next president of the United States.  It was a relief to have made my decision(s) and know it would be counted along with millions of others. Unfortunately, I had to wait a few days before I knew the results.

From the beginning, I honestly had no idea how this election was going to shake out. On a national level the race between Donald J. Trump and Hillary R. Clinton was too close for the pollsters to call. Watching it was a seesaw of emotions as facts, lies and hostility were interspersed. Hillary was up one day and Donald the next.

I certainly had no sense of which way the nation would vote. On the one hand I thought that Hillary was the most experienced candidate but the country was not ready to elect a female president. On the other hand, I thought that Trump had some good ideas but his personality was too obnoxious to get him elected.

I was both right and wrong. Hillary won the popular vote but lost the election. Surprise! Donald won the Electoral College vote and thus the election. He is the president elect. The people have spoken. It is now our duty to respect the majority vote and move on. Wisdom dictates that we expect the best from the nominee and be prepared for a few bumps along the road as he settles in.

But after listening to Trump on the campaign trail, and considering his often wild rhetoric, I wonder: Will he unite or divide the population? Will he act as president of a democracy or CEO of a business? Will he fly off the handle, insult and call people names as he did in debates? I hope not. I hope that he will be gracious, use good judgment in all things and make us proud.

There is an old proverb that says, “Without counsel plans fail but with many advisers they succeed.” I hope that he will surround himself with seasoned, reasonable and experienced advisors. That he will not be an egomaniac but will respect and seek counsel from former presidents…and always put the country first.

I can’t help but compare this election with the first presidential election that I voted in. The year was 1960 and I was 21 years old. That year, on November 8, Democrat John F. Kennedy narrowly defeated Republican Richard M. Nixon, VP to President Dwight Eisenhower. Kennedy became the country’s first Roman Catholic president and the youngest elected president.

Many of the issues the candidates discussed were similar to 2016. Kennedy said that the U.S. was falling behind the Soviet Union in world supremacy and that the United States must “do better.” He talked about the need to increase economic growth and deal with unemployment in depressed areas. Nixon’s basic premise was to simply carry on and improve the popular programs of the Eisenhower administration.

Thanks to television the campaign reached the largest audiences ever. It was intense but not nasty. I vividly remember the subject of Kennedy’s religion dominating the campaign. Protestant Americans worried that if Kennedy, a Catholic, was in the White House he would be under the direction of the Vatican and the Pope. The separation of church and state was repeatedly stressed in every interview.

Kennedy was able to finally put the subject to rest when he spoke before a group of Protestant ministers in Houston on Sept. 12. He said, “I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish—where no public official requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National council of Churches…where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”

In the end, Kennedy won both the Electoral College and the popular vote but by a very narrow margin. Kennedy won the election 49.7 to Nixon’s 49.5! Rumors of voting irregularities in Illinois and Texas were said to be the reason Kennedy won. Nixon was urged to contest the votes but chose not to. He said:

I could think of no worse example for nations abroad, who for the first time were trying to put free electoral procedures into effect, than that of the United States wrangling over the results of our presidential election, and even suggesting that the presidency itself could be stolen by thievery at the ballot box.”

The campaign was a class act by both candidates. Sadly, President Kennedy was assassinated and never got to carry out his dreams for the country “to be better.” Instead, Vice President Lyndon Johnson seamlessly moved into the presidency after his death. After a long period of mourning, Johnson’s “Great Society” reform began.

Thanks to our founding fathers our government has checks and balances. They made sure that one person didn’t have too much control as they wisely divided separation of governmental powers into three parts— Legislative (makes laws), Executive (carries out laws) and Judicial (evaluates laws). It was and is a great plan!

Presidents and their agendas come and go but our foundation remains the same—the Constitution of the United States of America is firm. Looking back over a lifetime of presidential campaigns, the winners and losers, I can confidently say that our system works—even when our favorite candidate doesn’t win.

So…Congratulations to President-elect Donald Trump. Thank you Hillary Clinton for being gracious and encouraging in your loss. Best wishes to outgoing President Barack Obama and his family. And God bless America!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.


















































 

Oregon Fall Foliage


10/19/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

'Tis the season of pumpkin and apple
The leaves are changing and so is the weather
It's time to put away the shorts and put on the sweater
Halloween is near and Thanksgiving is coming
My favorite time of year this is becoming.
Author unknown

As I finished writing this column a blustery rainstorm blew into Cottage Grove and largely destroyed today’s subject—the beauty of autumn and some local places to visit before winter rains set in. By the time you read this our fall foliage may have washed away. Sorry about that. Mother Nature is in charge! Perhaps you can save this information in a file under “Fall 2017.”

This column came about out of desperation. For too many years to count, my husband and I have taken our major vacation of the year in September or October. The weather is always nice—not too hot and not too cold—making it a good time to go sightseeing in mostly fall foliage areas around the country.

 In recent years, some of our favorite trips have been to the East Coast. We have fond memories of eating lobster at Peggy’s Cove on a brisk autumn day and some fabulous shopping in North Conway after driving through the glorious White Mountain foliage of New Hampshire.

This year’s trip plans included Niagara Falls and Toronto, Canada. Unfortunately, it was not to be. Instead, our travel times were visits to doctors, ERs and hospitals. Chuck has developed some serious cardiac issues that have curtailed his energy and ability to travel long distances from home. It’s a bummer.

But you can’t keep determined travelers down. I decided that this would be a perfect time to make some Oregon fall foliage trips. One does not have to travel out of state to see color popping up all over the Willamette Valley. Right here in Cottage Grove all one has to do is head out of town and up to either Dorena or Cottage Grove Lakes for amazing scenery.

Everywhere you go in the Willamette Valley is a scenic wonderland.
Roads to most wineries and vineyards are colorful and a leisurely drive from town. And your trips don’t have to be costly. You can pack a picnic lunch and enjoy the scenery at any of the Willamette Valley’s covered bridges. The CG Chamber of Commerce has excellent pamphlets that will tell you how to get to Currin Bridge, Dorena Bridge, the Stewart Bridge and more. All in one day.

There are other covered bridges outside our area. If you get really adventurous you can drive east on Highway 126 and check out the Goodpasture Covered Bridge in Vida Oregon. And don’t forget Eugene. Last week, driving through Eugene’s downtown, I couldn’t help but notice that their trees are also popping color.

If you’re into biking, there’s still time before the winter rain sets in to pedal out our wonderful 35.5 mile Cottage Grove Covered Bridge Tour route. This scenic bikeway will give you up close views of colorful foliage that you can’t get on a tour bus, The bikeway is a paved path that is off the street (no car traffic) and suitable for all ages.

We like heading up north. We want to check out a new place (to us), the Sweetbrier Train and RV Park’s Pumpkin Patch Train Ride. It is located in Scio, OR, 25 miles east of Salem and Albany or 90 min. from downtown Portland. We have not been there but if it’s as interesting as Cottage Grove’s former Blue Goose train ride it will be memorable. The park closes this weekend for the winter so if you don’t make it, mark your calendar for next year!

Their website says that the park is privately owned and set in 19 acres of woods with old growth fir that is interspersed with foliage and creeks. This year, along with the train ride, there is a tractor hayride, panning for gold and more. The cost for the 2016 Pumpkin Patch Train trip is $6 per person with a can of food; $10 without canned food and free for children under 2 years of age.

Speaking of Salem, I’m putting the Ankeny National Wildlife Refuge on our list to visit. It is located just off Interstate 5 and provides overwintering habitat for the dusky Canada goose and other migratory waterfowl.  It is handicap accessible and its boardwalks and kiosks are open year-round. All other trails are closed from Oct. 1 through March 31. There are interpretive signs and a photography blind available for reservation. Sounds good to me. Check Map Quest for directions to 2301 Wintel Rd., about 67 miles from C. G.

Another place that we always enjoy is the famous Dean Creek Elk Viewing area. It is the habitat for hundreds of Oregon’s Roosevelt Elk population with viewing stations and of course, photo opportunities. Just a few miles east of Reedsport, on Highway 38, it’s an enjoyable stop on your way to the coast.

Now, dear readers, all is not lost if you no longer drive. You can still enjoy many of these places. Check out Experience Oregon or other small bus tours. Winter’s a-coming. Enjoy Fall!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail — bchatty@bettykaiser.com






Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Patriotism is still alive!


9/21/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser
Lt. Col. Kirsten Palmer

Kirsten M. Palmer has been a busy woman since she graduated from Cottage Grove High School in 1991. Thanks to her career choice in the USAF she has become a highly educated officer, leader and world traveler. Her senior year at CGHS she served as student body president. That summer she served as a U.S. Senate Page for Sen. Bob Packwood in Washington D.C.

Kirsten’s first stop out of high school was to join the U.S. Air Force. She fearlessly stepped into four years of training and education at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. At that time only a small percent of the 4,000 cadets were women. Four years later, in 1995, she graduated as Second Lieutenant with a Bachelor of Science in Management. In 1999, she received an M.B.A. in business administration from Phoenix University.

My first interview with her was the summer of 2005 after she attained the rank of Major. Her proud parents Ron and Linda Palmer’s serene back yard was the setting for a glimpse into the life of this focused young woman. Her career had already sprouted wings and taken flight all over the world—including Germany where, as a Major, she served as an aircraft maintenance officer in a Medivac unit.

I remember thinking then that she was a poster child for military recruitment. The Air Force had already enabled her to travel to 16 different countries and she loved her job as executive officer to the Wing Commander, 437th Airlift Wing where she worked 12-hour days.

 “It’s hard work,” she said later, “but I enjoy the camaraderie of the people I work with. They all have a deep-seated love for our country and believe they are keeping this nation secure and protecting our freedoms with what they do every day.”

Kirsten is married to Lt. Col. Roger Lang. They live in Washington D.C. with their five year old daughter Addyson.  Her husband is a USAF pilot for Air Force Two. Along with Air Force One, it is stationed at Andrews AFB. Its mission is to transport people in the upper positions of leadership. i.e. the Vice President, Presidents of the Senate, Speaker of the House, etc.

Now a Lt. Col., Kirsten’s most recent assignment was to serve at the Pentagon as Chief of the Logistics Initiative Branch in the Aircraft Maintenance Division in Washington D.C. This position is too complicated for me to explain! Suffice it to say that she does it well. Her many awards and decorations include Air Force Meritorious Service Medals with two, four and five leaf clusters; Commendation and Outstanding Achievement Medals. The National Defense Service Medal; A Global War on Terrorism Service Medal and more.

This summer Kirsten began a new facet of her military life. She celebrated 21 years of Air Force service and went back to school. She was appointed by the Department of the Air Force to attend The Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy at Fort Lesley J McNair. When she completes this one-year intensive study she will receive a Master’s of Science degree in National Resource Strategy.

The Eisenhower Institute’s curriculum is designed to promote strategic thinkers and national security policy makers to lead strategic institutions. Kirsten also hopes to gain a better understanding of the factors leaders must take into account when they make decisions affecting our national security and how to determine what is best for our country so resources are not squandered. A tall task!

Looking back, I asked her if a military career had exceeded her expectations. The answer was a resounding, “Yes.” “When I left Cottage Grove in 1991 and headed to the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs," she said, "I never imagined my life and career would turn out this well. My plan was to stay in the Air Force as long as I was having fun. Twenty-five years later I’m still having fun! The opportunities provided by joining the military are endless and the education benefits are incredible in exchange for serving my country.”

Kirsten, the 2016 patriot, is just as enthusiastic as the day in 2005 when she said to me, “Sometimes I think, ‘Wow! How did I get so lucky to be born an American?’”

This summer, 11 years later, I asked her what she would like people to know about her job. Her response was this: “Rather than what I do, I would like people to realize the incredible honor it is to serve our country. The opportunity of being part of something bigger than yourself, knowing you’re part of an organization that strives to make the world a better place, while preserving the everyday freedoms that some take for granted.

“The professionalism of the men and women I have come across over the last 25 years makes me proud to be an American. When I retire from the Air Force (whenever that may be), I know the defense of our nation is in good hands with the young men and women who are now moving up the ranks.”

Kirsten also enjoys the camaraderie of the people she works with and their deep-seated love for our country. “They believe they are keeping this nation secure and protecting our freedoms with what they do every day.”

 Readers, in closing, I would like to add this: In an era when multi-millionaire football players are questioning their patriotism and refusing to salute our flag…It is a pleasure to bring you an update on someone who has chosen patriotism as a way of life. God has blessed America with her and all those who serve this country!

Thanks to all who serve and congratulations Kirsten!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Remember Gracie Allen's Surprise Party?

8/10/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

I'm with Gracie!

The campaigning to become president in 2016 has been in full swing too long. It’s a slight exaggeration to say that dozens of candidates began testing the waters years ago. Finally, all but two have washed out. Across the board, it was a peculiar election slate of wanna-be candidates to say the least.

The sparring of so many candidates left me more confused and crabby than informed. Finally, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prevailed on the Democrat side. Billionaire Donald J. Trump, who was originally just a speck on the candidate horizon, ultimately gained the Republican nomination.

 Personally, I long for the good old days of candidate selection. In election years, I remember my grandfather sitting and listening to the results of the DNC and RNC National Conventions on the radio. He would listen intently as the conventions announced their select candidates to the nation. In those days they elected individuals with solid credentials like Harry Truman and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower. As a youngster, the process seemed relatively simple.

Presidential campaigning is serious big business, Very serious. Our country’s future hangs on every word of potential nominees as they try to come up with solutions to the mega problems facing us. It’s not possible for anyone to have all the answers. Yet we seldom hear candidates say they don’t know the solution to a situation. Lots of arrogant pontificating goes on. Not much humor is displayed.

Back in the day, humorous pseudo candidates would often surface and lighten up the whole process. In the early days of radio, Eddie Cantor and Will Rogers made slapstick runs at the White House. Now TV’s Saturday Night Live brings a little levity to the proceedings.

One of the funniest comedians to address political comedy was ditzy Gracie Allen. She and hubby George Burns were comedic stars of radio, stage, screen and television. Burns was the straight man who wrote the material but the audience loved silly Gracie and her earnest delivery of skewed answers to Burn’s serious questions.

In March 1940 on the Burns and Allen radio show, Gracie announced that she was forming a new political party and declared her candidacy for president. War was simmering across Europe; times were grim and getting worse. This was the era of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Thomas E. Dewey. Laughter was in short supply.

Gracie’s new political party was called “The Surprise Party.” After all, she said, her mother was a Democrat, her father a Republican and she was born — A Surprise!

Gracie made unannounced appearances on many radio shows to offer her views on the issues of the day. One day she could be found at Fibber McGee and Molly and the next on The Jack Benny show. When Ken Murray, host of The Texaco Star Theatre, asked her which party she was affiliated with, she answered in typical Gracie form: “I may take a drink now and then, but I never get affiliated.”

Eventually she and George crossed the country on a whistle-stop campaign tour. They promoted her book “How to Become President” and performed their radio show live from Hollywood to Omaha. There, at the Surprise Party Convention she was nominated for president of the United State.

When asked what made her qualified to run for president she said, “…let me tell you that women are getting very tired of running a poor second to the Forgotten Man and with all the practice we’ve had around the house the time is ripe for a woman to sweep the country. I’ll make a prediction…that a woman can and will be elected if she is qualified and gets enough votes.” Gracie continued adlibbing as she shook hands and kissed babies. She garnered a few hundred votes and tens of thousands of smiles — which is all she really wanted.

Fast forward a few years and another Hollywood face entered the political arena. Pat Paulsen was a long-faced comedian and satirist who was well known for his hilarious monologs on The Smothers Brothers Comedy.

Paulsen was approached by the Smothers Brothers to run for President in 1968. He is reported to have said, “Why not? I can’t dance; the job has a good pension plan and I’ll get a lot of money when I retire.”  His slogan was “Just a common, ordinary simple savior of America’s destiny.” Sounds a little familiar!

Viewers would tune in to listen to his campaign promises that were outright lies and tongue-in-cheek attacks on the major candidates. His so-called campaign was comedy based and a big hit. The long-faced comedian’s response to any and all criticism was “Picky, picky, picky.”

Tongue in cheek, Paulsen addressed issues that we still face today:
Problem solving: “I will not claim to solve all the world’s problems. If I did, I’d have to run as a Republican or a Democrat.
Gun laws: “A gun is a necessity. Who knows…you might be walking down a street and spot a moose!”
National Debt: “Will I obliterate national debt? Sure, why not?”
Immigration:  “All the problems we face today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian.”

To everyone’s surprise, his pseudo campaign took on a life of its own. In the 1996 New Hampshire Democratic Primary, Paulsen polled 921 votes to President Clinton’s 76,754. He came in second place! Ultimately he ran five campaigns with gentle humor aimed at political arrogance until he died at the age of 69 in 1997.

Paulsen had some final words of election wisdom as he paraphrased another wise man:  “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time but you can only make a monkey out of the voters every four years!”

Don’t be a monkey! Get informed and vote intelligently! As for me, I’m with Gracie (and Pat). Truth goes down best with a little laughter.

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart 
can be seen in the Cottage Grove Sentinel

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Sometimes we smile through our tears

7/20/16 Chatterbox
Betty Kaiser

A brief respite from madness and mayhem: the generation gap and other thoughts.

It is with a broken heart that I sit down at my desk to write this column. The recent shocking shootings of citizens and vindictive murders of police officers in the USA has left me speechless. And the terrorist attack in Nice, France that killed and wounded hundreds… took me to my knees. These crimes are so heinous that it will take the Wisdom of Solomon to stop the madness. I am not Solomon.

Therefore, I am not going to pontificate about how to bring peace to the warring factions of our society. I am going to make an effort to lighten up your day as I empty my email inbox from thoughts that readers have sent me. They often bring a smile to my face and it’s good to take a moment and realize that life goes on when the world around us seems to be blowing up.

Let’s begin with a piece that someone sent me from a University in Wisconsin. Every year the school’s administration tries to give faculty a sense of the mindset of incoming students. Reading this you will understand the generation gap. There’s a reason we don’t understand today’s kids and they don’t understand us either:

“The students who are starting college this fall were born in 1998.
They are too young to remember the space shuttle blowing up.
Their lifetime has always included AIDS.
Bottle caps have always been screw off and plastic.

The CD was introduced 7 years before they were born.
They have always had an answering machine.
They have always had cable TV.
They cannot fathom not having a remote control.
Popcorn has always been cooked in the microwave.

They can’t imagine what hard contact lenses are.
They don’t have a clue how to use a typewriter.
And movies? Well….
They never think about “Jaws” when they go swimming.
They don’t know who Mork was or where he came from.
They do not care who shot J.R. and have no idea who he is!
They never heard: “I’d walk a mile for a Camel” “Where’s the beef?” or “de plane, Boss…de plane.”

That’s today’s students. Now check out this 50-year span of word play contrasts for those who were students in the 1960s:

Maturity Changes Things

1966 Long Hair
2016 Longing for Hair!

1966 KEG
2016 EKG!

1966 Acid Rock
2016 Acid Reflux!

1966 Moving to Calif. because it’s COOL!
2016 Moving to Arizona because it’s WARM!

1966 Trying to look like Marlon Brando or Liz Taylor
2016 Trying NOT to look like Brando or Taylor!

1966 Seeds and stems
2016 Roughage

1966 Hoping for a BMW
2016 Hoping for a BMW!

1966 Going to a new-hip joint
2016 Receiving a new hip joint!

1966 Rolling Stones
2016 Kidney stones!

1966 Disco
2016 Costco!

1966 Parents begging you to get your hair cut
2016 Children begging to get their heads shaved

1966 Passing the drivers’ test
2016 Passing the vision test

1966 “Whatever”
2016 “Depends”

And finally, here are some quotes from well-known individuals who are a little closer in age to my generation. Some are amusing. Some are pithy but all are food for thought:

“America is the only country where a significant proportion of the population believes that professional wrestling is real but the moon landing was faked.” David Letterman

“I’ve been married to a communist and a Fascist and neither would take out the garbage.” Zsa Zsa Gabor

“Wood burns faster when you have to cut and chop it yourself.” Harrison Ford

“Lawyers believe a man is innocent until proven broke.” Robin Hall

“Having more money doesn’t make you happier. I have 50 million dollars but I’m just as happy as when I had 48 million.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger.

“As I hurtled through space, one thought kept crossing my mind: every part of this rocket was supplied by the lowest bidder.”
John Glenn

“We are here on earth to do good unto others. What the others are here for, I have no idea.” WH Auden (social poet)

I’m going to close by agreeing with the last quote. Good will must begin with us. Whoever we are, whatever our religion, we should be willing to apply the Golden Rule to all: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It may not save the world but it’s good Karma.

Keep smiling and may God help us all!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart. Contact her at 942-1317 or via e-mail — bchatty@bettykaiser.com