Thursday, January 18, 2018

The Great Communicator

President Ronald Reagan - at the podium

Dr. John R. Beyer - at that same podium

In a small town in northern Illinois, a boy was born to a very poor family – poor that is financially but not spiritually. They struggled to achieve the American Dream, and it was their determination, along with the boy’s desire to make more of himself than his humble beginnings offered, that lead to success. Ronald Wilson Reagan entered this earthly plane on February 6, 1911 and from there, the rest is history, as the story goes.

Reagan with Bette Davis - 'Dark Victory'
Enrolling Eureka College in Eureka, Illinois Reagan excelled as a student - especially in sports. The future 40th President of the United States graduated in 1932 and entered the world of radio, beginning as a sports announcer. After stints on several regional radio stations he turned his talents to acting in 1937, starring in some major productions. ‘Dark Victory’ with Bette Davis in 1939, ‘Knute Rocknew, All American’ in 1940, ‘Bedtime for Bonzo’ in 1951, and dozens more made him a major household name. Serving as the President of the Screen Actors Guild offered him a chance to hone his skills as a communicator, negotiator, and understanding human nature.

"Do it for the Gipper!'

Sometimes a little levity is needed

With this background and experience, it wasn’t much a jump for the passionate man to enter the world of politics – first as a Democrat but in 1962 before switching parties to the Republicans where he backed, unsuccessfully Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign.

Ronald learned a lot in both worlds
The result of that effort though was national political recognition for Ronald Reagan. Enough that he ran for the governorship of California in 1966, serving to two terms as the state's leader, and leaving the state budget with a surplus. Every political party likes that. In 1980, the Great Communicator defeated President Jimmy Carter in a landslide.

Hollywood Star to President - unprecedented - wait there's Donald Trump
Of course, with the presidency comes dang,er and it struck President Reagan, along with members of his entourage, on March 30th, 1981 in Washington D.C. when a lunatic tried to assassinate the President with a Rohm RG-14 (.22 caliber) pistol. Luckily, though four people (one being Reagan) were seriously wounded, the President survived. It would take more than a whacko with a gun to keep the ‘Gipper’ (nickname from Knute Rockne) down for long. His run for the second term in office was won with the largest Electoral College victory in the country’s history.

A sad day for the United States and the entire world
So, in honor of one of our greatest presidents, in our humble opinion, we planned a visit to the Reagan Presidential Library at the beginning of 2018 in Simi Valley, California. The grounds are situated at an incredibly beautiful location, standing strong and proud on the top of a hill overlooking the valley.

With over 100,000 square feet in dozens of various galleries, visitors can easily spend an entire day wandering over the spacious grounds, and the library which details Reagan’s humble beginnings to his time as President and beyond, to his death in Bel-Air on June 5, 2004.

The Wall
Everything is there for the visitor. His rise to power – the people he met – the conquests he made toward world peace with an actual large section of the Berlin Wall, next to the Ruwe Terrrace, which came crashing down after his famous speech at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin.

“Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” And the wall fell ten months after he left office as the demise of the ‘Evil Empire’ – Soviet Union – officially began on December 26, 1991.

The Great Communicator had done it -- and as a tourist you can walk long hallways depicting the struggles entailed as well as view the actual video footage of this and countless other historical events taking place during President Reagan’s tenure at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Walk onto Air Force One, parked on pedestals while looking out massive glass windows staring out over Simi Valley and marvel at the White House of the sky. Tour ‘Marine One’ or simply walk by the Presidential motorcade utilizing the actual vehicles which drove the 40th President to his functions.

There is so much to see that one blog – this one cannot begin to tell the tale of what the visitor to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library will experience.

An experience for the American citizen as well as to our friends from around the globe – visit this sunny valley in Southern California and see the grandeur of what made America who she is today and will always be.

The life of one great leader the world respected, loved and feared.

Ronald Wilson Reagan.

Even President Reagan had issues with the media

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Anti-Resolutions: New Year's Resolutions You Might Actually Be Able to Keep

Since the dawn of mankind, we have looked to the Heavens. We mark the path of the sun, and note the passage of a day. We notice the phases of the moon, and gain an awareness of a month. Then, those intrepid ancients took note of the alignment of the visible universe, and created a way to measure seasons, and years.

And with all our fascination with time, we promise ourselves that THIS year will be better than the last. WE will be better, do better, try harder. We make New Year's Resolutions. And before the end of January, most of those resolutions are out the proverbial window. And right now, who can even remember the resolutions made last year at this time?

So, to evolve beyond this rather masochistic practice, and end the self-punishment, it is time for anti-resolutions. These are resolutions you not only might actually be able to keep -- but perhaps, are the ones we should have been aiming for all along.

We at J and L present our anti-resolutions, and invite you to comment below with yours.

  1. Have a sense of adventure. You don't need a gym to work out. Get outside. Breathe in that fresh (well, fresher) air. Walk with someone you love -- hold hands if they are bipedal; hold leashes for the four-legged love in your life. Walk the path less-traveled. See things you haven't seen before -- across the world or across the street. But get outside. Say hello to fellow adventurers out for a walk or a hike. And don't forget to watch the sunset. Now that's our idea of exercise!
  2. Get some sleep. Well, after all that outdoorsy exercise, you've earned it. No guilt. Science tells us that a good night's rest can reduce your level of stress, and thus your blood pressure. You burn calories as you snooze, and rest helps curb your appetite. So, sleep does a body good! 
  3. Look up from your devices -- after you finish reading this blog, that is. Unplug. Read a book. Have a conversation. Play a board game. Enjoy spending time with friends and family. None of us are getting any younger, and no number of  'Likes' is worth missing a moment of 'Life.'
  4. Love yourself. Sometimes you have to spend a little money on something unnecessary. Sometimes, you need to have an hour to do nothing all by yourself. If you spend all of your spare energy on trying to make someone else happy, you will be miserable. You can't MAKE someone happy, anyway. Love yourself and you'll find you have more love to share.
  5. Use it or lose it. You know that special something that you've been saving for a special occasion. Well, today is that special occasion. Wear it, use it, play with it, drink it. Material items aren't meant to last forever. Enjoy them now instead of saving it for someday. And less truly is more. Get rid of the stuff that has been cluttering your closet and your life. All of it. If you don't have a use for it, donate it. Or, in the case of old divorce paperwork for instance, have a good ole bonfire.
  6. Write. Pencil or pen and paper are best. It doesn't have to be brilliant or inspirational. Write a story, a poem, a song. Make a list counting your blessings. Write a letter or a thank-you note, and send it. When was the last time you sent or received an honest-to-goodness letter? Not email. Real, physical paper and stamps. Remember when you could go the mailbox and there was something waiting for you besides bills and advertisements? Ah, those were the days. We could start a revolution right here and now. Bring back cards and letters -- and not just at Christmastime.
  7. Be creative. Make something with your hands. Plant. Rearrange. Beautify. Just don't do what everyone else is doing the way everyone else is doing it. Be yourself. Your best self. And definitely be different. 
Now, the anti-resolution purists will tell you that anti-resolutions must be stated in the negative -- to emphasize what you will STOP doing. But we believe that violates #7. A resolution is a firm decision to do, or not do, something. Therefore, anti-resolutions are more, well, guidelines. And none of these cost most than the price of a stamp -- but can be priceless. These anti-resolutions are about seeing the best in yourself and others -- rather than punishing ourselves for our bad habits. And that is our wish for you in 2018. See the best; be the best; hope and work for the best for all of us.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Thomas Fire - Update

Where the Thomas Fire has and is erupting
On December 19th, J and L posted a blog about Christmas and those who may be missing that special time with their families. Those would be the men and women in uniform protecting our homeland and those closer - the first responders. In that blog entry, we wrote that the Thomas Fire which has been stalking and destroying homes and businesses a few miles northwest of Los Angeles, was the third largest fire in modern California's history.

That changed at 6:30 p.m. (PST). The Thomas Fire is now categorized as the largest fire in California's history.

The 'hell' that has been thrown on California
This is not what we had hoped we'd be saying when we updated this story. And, we would like to emphatically reiterate how much we appreciate the commitment and dedication of those working the fire lines, those assisting those firefighters and the folks who go out of their way helping in any way they can. 

What Christmas - We have a job to do!
Fire doesn't know nor understands political or religious affiliations, or anything else for that matter - this is a real hell of wheels, and people are suffering.

So, during this Christmas season we need to understand what these wonderful people - those losing everything and those working through the holidays - are about. They are about us - the average guy or gal. The homeowners leaving for work and finding at the end of the day nothing left but memories of their former abode. The personnel working day and night to save as much as they can with the knowledge they will not be home for Christmas.

My gift this Christmas will be saving others - the true heroes
These are the people we need to hold an extra candle up in the air during this holiday season. So, when out and about shopping, splash a little extra wide smile to a stranger. Let's make everyone feel better - we never know when we may need that encouragement from someone we don't know. 

And of course, drop a dollar or two into that Santa ringing the bell - that is what makes America Great - the generosity of her people to help those in need.

Give - it is what the season is all about
It may make the difference for a great day or a sad day for someone you don't know.

Is that too much to ask during this holiest of seasons?