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Archive for the 'Education' Category

On the Road Again

March 12th, 2010

A milestone over the past week as I finally fixed the old truck.   Something with the clutch or transmission wasn’t working, and it was either getting stuck in gear, or popping out of gear.  I finally figured out (guessed!) that the slave cylinder had a tiny leak. Not enough to drain the master reservoir, but enough to prevent good hydraulic pressure to the transmission. After a little research online, a stop at the parts store and a few hours one night, it came out as good as new.   That was the only thing wrong with the clutch fortunately.

I thought it would be painful to bleed the system, especially with no bleed valve on the cylinder part. Instead I slowly dripped Dot 3 fluid into the tiny fluid port as bubbles popped up until it appeared totally full. That took a while, but had to open the master cylinder reservoir up top, the fluid started flowing out the end of the tube where I could quickly attach it to the slave cylinder, keep pressure on the clutch, and the air gradually was evacuated. Voila! No air bubbles!

My next move wasn’t so smart… like a knucklehead I wanted to test it out too fast, and pushed the clutch pedal in and heard a “Pop!” noise. Climbing back under the truck I realized it worked exactly like it was supposed to… except since I had not installed the slave cylinder to the transmission yet, when I actuated the clutch it popped the piston out of the cylinder and broke the retaining clip that held it in for easy installation. Arrrgh!

With messy visions of starting over, I took a few deep breaths and with lots of grunting and groaning, I was able to squeeze the piston back in enough to get it in place. Aahhh… I felt lucky that this particular truck had the slave cylinder attached outside the transmission bell housing, or I would have had to do a lot more work taking the transmission apart.

Why do this myself? Partly because I like to, but mostly to try and save some bucks. I spent too much at the dealer a few months ago to fix some fuel system issues, and they said I needed a new starter at the time because it wasn’t starting the truck properly. Heck, it costs money to get an opinion after nearly an hour of labor charges… the diagnostic fee.  I’m learning, but replacing the starter would have been hundreds more dollars on top of what I already spent.

Sure it started rough, and sometimes not at all, but for a truck I only use sometimes, I declined their kind offer.   Now however I was in “fix it” mode, so I tried a simple fix by replacing the starter solenoid for twenty bucks.  Guess what? That was all it took, and it starts just fine now… go figure.  One would think the dealer could have figured that out… or maybe they did. Makes you wonder.

I also put in a new power window motor since the driver’s side was mostly dead. I say mostly because it had been intermittent for a couple of years and had not worked at all for over 6 months. I swear I didn’t touch it, but that silly window motor magically started working after I bought the new motor!    Here’s a shot of the driver’s door with the panel removed- the window motor is between the outer and inner door frame!

Replacing the motor seemed like an extravagance as a “nice to have” item, but there’s no other way to open the drivers window without it… and if you’re like me, how can you drive a truck around without hanging your arm out the window for half of the year!?! :)   But that old motor would have stopped working again anyway, so I replaced it.  It was a little painful trying to squeeze my arm inside that door panel to get to the motor.

Ah, but that was another education as I took everything apart, stereo speaker out, etc. and then trying to squish my arm and tools in all kinds of directions to undo the dang thing. It finally dawned on me that the door was put together at the factory with the motor inside, and the bolt locations were marked so it could be replaced easily… duh!

I finally saw the two tiny dimples (I marked with yellow dots in the first picture) in the door frame to mark where the bolts were attached…. and to show me where to drill holes to get the bolts undone. After that, removing the motor was simple.    Here’s a photo of the old motor- they’re sealed units, but after 17 years it had a lot of rust all around.  Maybe I can use it for something?

How many things in life are like that? We struggle and look and wonder, sometimes wasting a lot of time and energy, and even giving up, simply because we just don’t know any different?   I like to do things myself if I have time, and I don’t mind paying a professional if you can afford it, or really need one.

But I’ll say one thing… if I’ve got a question or can’t figure something out, the internet is an amazing place to find answers or ideas.  Yeah, some of it’s good, some of it’s pretty bad.  But it’s a place to start.  Lots of folks share their lessons learned and it can really be helpful.   I can’t help but wonder if the pace of human evolution and change is increasing much faster now in proportion to the degree of shared information and ideas…

It does feel good to have the truck running normally again without spending a fortune.   I think it was $56 for the clutch slave cylinder, $20 for the starter solenoid and $49 for the window motor.  Would have been way past $500 at the dealer including labor.  Something to be said about old cars… the new ones just throw computer codes, and look a lot harder to work on.

So off we went the other day to get a load of straw for the garden.   I’d like to try using it for mulch and keeping the weeds down this year. The boy got to play in someone’s barn for a bit, and then back on our own driveway he tucked himself in up top for a short ride.

Before that night’s rainstorm I had some straw down between the rows to help prevent the soil washing out. We’ll add a bunch more as we go along…  Next week we can get those potatoes and peas in the ground!   Hey, maybe we can use some of that straw to make a scarecrow?!

Elementary School Redux: There’s Always Another Way

September 15th, 2009

School has been a bit challenging this year for our young one. The 2nd to 3rd grade transition begins focusing more strongly on independence and responsibility.  Lots of new expectations, routines and challenges.  And not all of them something each child is ready for.  In some ways it seems like they’re trying to make miniature college students out of elementary kids… our son has even got an official weekly planner that he must fill out everyday on top of his homework.   Good that they’re teaching planning and organization skills I suppose, but sometimes it’s just so much for them at 8-9 years of age.

He is fortunate that his school is full of caring, professional educators- it’s really a good little public school.  However there’s always an oddity or two among classroom management styles. His 3rd grade teacher, for example, does not allow the students to have more than one pencil in their desk.  If they lose that pencil, they must ask for a new one, and then they lose one of their recess playtimes for not keeping track of their pencil. If they just want a new one, they have to hold up the stubby remains of the old pencil before getting it. Ugh.  This new rule after having had access to pencils for the previous three years in K through 2nd grades.

Anyway, unlike the sweet, touchy-feely first and second grade teachers (and don’t forget the treasure box!), his new teacher is all business.  So he has been a bit confused and overwhelmed by these new rules and expectations.

Case in point: The other day a note came home that he just “sat there” for three hours doing nothing in the morning.  I asked him what was the matter, and at first he didn’t know (he lives in the moment…).  But then he remembered:  “I lost my pencil and didn’t want the teacher to get upset by asking for another one, and then I didn’t know what to do…”  He really didn’t mind losing recess (they have three of them during the day), but he didn’t want to upset her, he felt overwhelmed and confused and so he just sat there with his head down.

Naturally my first reaction stemmed from that innate parental desire to just make everything okay for him (I haven’t figured out how to do that yet, and if you’ll be kind enough to share the secret I’ll gladly pay you a bunch of money).

leaving-for-school

     More rationally, I wondered why in the heck his teacher didn’t try to find out what the problem was, or try encouraging him to do something else instead of just letting him sit there for so long?! Argghhh.  And truth be told I was frustrated with him for not making his needs clear and asking for a new pencil and just getting busy.  It’s not like his teacher is a monster- she’s actually a petite woman and seemingly quite nice.  Well that’s another story…  But her business-like demeanor in the classroom will take some getting used to for him.

Besides, it’s so simple to me, right?  Just get a new pencil and get the job done?!  I was like that in 3rd grade, right?  Well, not at first anyway, but I was a fast learner.  Bear with me for an historical digression:

School always seemed fun and exciting to me somehow, and learning was a positive challenge.  But I remember testing boundaries in 3rd grade, to the point of making a really cool paper airplane once during a reading session.   I don’t know what I was thinking, other than being a little bored and trying to get the other kids’ attention.   They watched me with that airplane, wondering what I would do… almost daring me to throw it.   I remember the smiles and glee in my classmates’ eyes when I zinged that sucker toward the front of the classroom while the teacher was sitting with her head down reading.   Incredible!  That airplane flew beautifully, it was an amazing sight really, soaring toward the blackboard, rising higher and higher, and then?  It swooped down almost purposefully into the great big foot-high bun of hair right on top of the teacher’s head!

At first the silence was broken only with the gasps of my classmates while all eyes were riveted to the white airplane sticking out of the teacher’s hair.   And then laughter erupting all around me, at least until the teacher stood up.  I thought maybe it was okay?  Maybe doing something funny was good?   I was looking at the airplane, amazed at the result of my craftsmanship while also staring at the teacher’s face.  My eyes then grew wider with the knowledge that I just did something really, really bad.  Reality set in quickly with the,  “Who threw this airplane!”  voice that I had not heard before in a classroom.   This was one of three Catholic schools I attended in various states, at least through fifth grade, and I wasn’t going to tell a lie and commit a sin.   I raised my hand slowly, somehow knowing that I was all alone in this, and she motioned me to come up to the front.  I was then forcibly escorted by my arm into the hallway where I received a very stern lecture by a red-faced woman with spittle coming out of her mouth.   That was a new moment in my life.

I have no idea what she said, and was left in a chair for an hour to contemplate my actions.  I like to think I helped educate an entire class of kids regarding what one should or should not do in a classroom.  And it was about that time that I came to the conclusion that upsetting the teacher didn’t result in anything good, ever, and that doing tricks for one’s classmates didn’t help matters much either.  Getting in trouble was just not worth it, and I didn’t like the visibility.  It really didn’t have anything to do with my parents either- I’m not even sure they knew about it.  If they did, I was fortunate in that they probably just laughed.

But I think I decided then and there that I would not stick out in the classroom ever again.  And I didn’t. *(Pamela makes a good point that this  would be a sad lesson- learning to be invisible.  I would absolutely agree, but that really wasn’t my point.  What I mean by not sticking out, is that despite a person’s experience, there’s always another way to go about things, or see things, or learn from things… and you didn’t need to try to do things (like throwing paper airplanes) and stand out in a negative sense, except to be yourself.)

Somehow I managed to figure out at a very young age, that if you just do what the teacher wants, getting things accomplished, along with the studying and homework of course, you can get decent grades and get through school just fine.  And then you can manage your own time… your own program and do the stuff you really want to do.   Teachers love kids who just do what they ask them to do…

*******

     So back to the story at hand:   As I sat there with my son last week, I really wished I could inject him with some kind of Vulcan mind-meld device that would give him years of experience and knowledge about the world around us, just for momentary use of course…  Enough to stand up, walk briskly to the teacher, look her straight in the eye and say:

“Ma’am it seems I’ve lost my pencil. Now I understand I’m going to lose my recess, and that’s fine even if it is a really silly rule. But I would in fact like to learn something here! I really love school you know,  and I especially enjoy science and reading.  Math? Not so much, but even that is better than just sitting in my chair for three hours with a sore butt!  So please get one of my personally-labeled pencils out of your cabinet, and would you mind redirecting me a bit? I seem to have forgotten what it is we are working on. Thank you!”

The squeaky wheel gets the grease as they say, even in the classroom. Our young one is a bit shy and not very assertive at times, so he doesn’t ask for help when he needs it. After relating his predicament to his teacher, she remained ever the professional.. “He needs to learn the rules and do it on his own…” Ah the rules, always the rules.  We don’t want learning to get in the way of the rules now do we?

She’s right of course, within reason, and at least in terms of her classroom management style and meeting the expectations established for the kids in that context.  The pencil rule isn’t something I would do, but then again she’s been teaching for 20 years and I haven’t. The kids are going to have to learn to succeed in that environment.   But you know, there’s always another way… another angle, a different approach and a child that isn’t the same as the four thousand seven hundred and fifty-two children they’ve worked with previously. And it’s not just teachers, but as parents and mentors too.  Sometimes I think we miss opportunities to really make a difference and gain a little perspective.

Ah well, the school year has just begun.   And it looks like I’m going to get to know his teacher really well this year.  We all must learn to navigate the written and unwritten rules of life.  And more often how to succeed despite those rules and the challenges we find along the way.  As for my son, I know he’s going to have to learn at his own pace. And I’ll love him just the same. But sometimes it’s really hard to watch.

Cash for Clunkers: Money For A New Gas Guzzler?

August 7th, 2009

Isn’t this a nice looking truck? It’s big, bold and in my view, kind of neat.  It’s a 1993 Ford F-250 with a 7.3 liter Turbo Diesel engine, 5-speed manual transmission and four-wheel drive.  I’ve had it for 16 years now, and it’s only got around 125,000 miles on it with lots of memories along the way.  It’s low miles mostly because it was stored for a few years at different times while I was deployed in the navy.  Lots of mileage and engine wear to go on it still.

The “Big Black Truck” as we call it only gets about 15 miles to the gallon of diesel fuel no matter what you do with it. And yes, it belches out black, diesel smoke when you start it… and smells to high heaven (which to an old aviator smells pretty good).  But it’s a load carrying, tow-hauling machine and I’ve driven it all over the country.  For me it was my ride… the truck I enjoyed driving to work and taking trips with.  The miles it does have on it have taken me to some pretty cool places.  I’ve towed boats for salmon fishing in the Pacific,  had it hill-climbing while camping and hunting in the rugged Cascade and Okanogan ranges in the northwest, and the same throughout the midwest. That truck has tooled through mountains in Oregon and California, high and low deserts in the southwest, and just about everywhere in between there and Missouri.  It’s a comfortable highway cruiser too, albeit a little costly these days for fuel.

93-ford-f-250-73-tdsl

 

As I grew older though, somehow that dang truck became stiffer and stiffer.  Or so it seemed. The ride is pretty rough, and the clutch on the truck is about five times as stiff as one in a passenger car.  And as nice as it is when it’s truckin’ along the interstate,  it’s plain hell to drive in traffic, shifting up and down constantly.  But that granny gear in 1st can climb a hill like you wouldn’t believe! 

It does need a little work… I should fix the loose ignition switch, maybe a new fuel filter assembly, new glow plugs and/or fuel injection pump to make starting easier and a few other odds and ends (and yes, I just finished replacing the window and side mirror on the driver’s side- grrr!).  But its only had a couple of real maintenance issues in it’s entire 16-year lifespan– the clutch gave up the ghost once and a serpentine belt broke once. 

It still starts and runs like a top- a little stiff on the roads, but that’s how they’re built.  Actually rides a lot smoother with about 5,000 pounds in the back.  But I mostly use it around the property and to hold diesel fuel in a tank in the back- otherwise it doesn’t get a whole lot of use.  The Blue Book value of this truck in good condition is between $2000 and $3000 bucks.  Less for trade-in, maybe a little more at retail.    Seems crazy since it runs so well and is such a great tow vehicle, and it’s worth a lot more than that to me. 

When the new “Cash for Clunkers” laws came up this year I thought maybe it was time to do something with it, and that I could get a decent down-payment towards a higher mileage vehicle (decent meaning $4,500 bucks to me).   After all, we’re helping the auto industry, the economy and the environment by getting these big, smoky, pollutin’ trucks off the road, right?  Lots of advertisements these days are touting how “Cash for Clunkers” is good for the country and the environment because people want higher mileage vehicles and this is the way to get them. 

I was one of those people.  Was is the operative word because as I recently found out, under the Cash for Clunkers regulations, my truck does not qualify to be traded in for any kind of vehicle except another truck (or van or SUV that gets really low mileage)!  Why?  Because it is listed as a Category 3 truck, which the lawmakers defined as a vehicle with a GVWR (Gross Vehicle Weight Rating) between 8,500 lbs and 10,000 lbs.  My nice old truck has a GVWR of 8,800 pounds.   Which means that I am only eligible for a $3,500 credit to purchase another truck, van or SUV (Category 2 or 3).

So there you have it.  Under Cash for Clunkers, infused today with another 2 Billion dollars,  if I want to take the government’s, taxpayers money- I have to purchase another vehicle with terrible gas mileage.   Now why do you suppose they wrote the laws like that?   I have no desire to spend $20,000 to $40,000 or more for another truck or SUV that’s going to get around 15 miles to the gallon, just like the one I have.   I was really thinking about a little car that would cost a third of that and get around 40 mpg. That might just have helped our family and the environment a little, right?   

Statement from President Obama after the Senate vote today:  “Now, more American consumers will have the chance to purchase newer, more fuel efficient cars and the American economy will continue to get a much-needed boost. ‘Cash for Clunkers’ has been a proven success: the initial transactions are generating a more than 50% increase in fuel economy; they are generating $700 to $1000 in annual savings for consumers in reduced gas costs alone; and they are getting the oldest, dirtiest and most air polluting trucks and SUVs off the road for good…”  

Perhaps the Cash for Clunkers program does  get a few old gas guzzlers off the road.  But I would offer to you that it’s not that significant.  The CARS program rules only include required mpg increases of from 5 to 10 miles per gallon to make most vehicles eligible for the credits.  I guess that’s something.   But in my case for example, there isn’t any required mpg increase to trade in my truck… just a requirement that I buy another gas-guzzling truck! 

In my view the program is simply a government redistribution of taxpayer’s dollars with an intent to stimulate the economy (automakers, jobs, dealers, etc) for a short while.    

Is this the smartest use of our tax dollars?   According to our legislators, right now it apparently is. Probably because the program is so popular.  I would submit that most of the people trading in cars under this program were going to do so anyway at some point (eventually I’m sure I will too).   In this case, the government is simply giving money to people to do something they would have done anyway, trying to give a boost to the economy.  

Seems to me it would be simpler if we just expanded offering incentives in the way of tax credits for vehicles with higher mileage.  That way the credits would be available to everyone.

In my case I think I’ll just hang on to my ‘ole truck for a while.  Maybe it’ll actually increase in value over time.   Besides, I’m probably helping the environment more simply by not driving it very much.

To read more about Cash for Clunkers, there’s a host of other opinions and news stories on the subject.



Morning Thoughts in the Garden

June 14th, 2009

It really feels like summer with the warmer and humid weather.  Finally a good bit of sun for the garden to really take off.   I’m more excited by the day to see the vegetables growing.  Some may wonder, “Can you really be excited simply by watching a garden grow?”  To which I say, most assuredly, yes. It’s like God is present all around you with the beauty of the moment, day, season… It’s an enjoyment or appreciation perhaps, but to see food grow from seed where none grew before is almost magical.  And it represents other things too… hope, simplicity, tangible results of effort, even saving a few dollars here and there.  And it’s fun to remember how much you can actually do at home.

hollyhocks

 

The hollyhocks are in bloom too- these grew on a couple of stalks last year, but now there are three times that many growing very tall- reaching past six feet.

 

Everything is starting to produce, so now it’s a matter of keeping the weeds down and the bugs away from the goodies.  In another experiment I’m going to try training cucumbers (below middle) on a wire fence.

 

 

I supported the top of the fence because cukes can get somewhat heavy, but we just don’t have a lot of room for them to spread out.  If you’ve grown cucumbers before you know they could take over the whole garden if you let them!

beets-cukes-and-peas

The sugar and snow peas are finally here and even the beets look halfway decent with the tops filling out.   The beets don’t seem to get very large though, and I’m wondering if that’s because our soil is too compacted? I didn’t till this year, but instead topdressed the rows with a couple inches of mulch and organic compost.  Much of that probably washed off in the rain.  Perhaps I’ll do the same next year, but only after tilling the row to loosen it up.

potatoes

That may also be better for our potatoes (above). They’ve come along really well, but the soil is pretty thick.  Some of you professional potato growers have figured out that loose mulch works very well and makes  harvesting that much easier.  Maybe we’ll try that next year too.

snow-pea

 

This morning I went out to pick some of the peas- they grow so fast once they get going!  Fortunately the spring has been cool and wet, but I don’t know how long our pea harvest will be.  This will be the first big week for them.  Last year we grew beans that lasted almost all summer.  But I enjoy peas so much more than beans!  Maybe we’ll plant them again in September for a fall harvest?  Never tried that before.

 

 

 

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On a different note in recent gardening news, a lot of folks are worried about looming passage of the Food Safety Modernization Act (HR 875).    While the idea and intent make sense in terms of safer foods for everyone, some organizations (here with comments) and people (here and here) believe small farm and livestock operations, organic gardening, farmer’s markets, and even backyard gardens could all be affected negatively by government regulations run amok over time.   In some areas of the blogosphere the subject nearly incites panic.

With all due respect to our most principled and esteemed lawyer friends :),  I find one of the comments to the Slow Food USA Blog posting from April 10th particularly appropriate:

“The fact that Rep. DeLauro is “shocked” that people have taken notice of her piece of ambiguous and questionable legislation should be a wake up for our nation that our politicrats are expecting us to continue being sheep. There is nothing wrong with the American public demanding greater transparency and a much more well-defined bill to be set on Obama’s desk once the legislative process is complete.  When politician’s don’t hear from anyone but corporate lobbyists, lawyers, and special interest groups is when the legislative process goes awry.  Kudos to the radicals and the misinformed public for asking questions and demanding clarification…if even they are “inflammatory”, “hysterical”, or “misguided”. ”   Glenn Grossman

After a little reading and practical reasoning however, the fears don’t appear to be justified.   But fears are borne from lack of clarity and/or transparency of intention.   There are simply too many questions left unanswered and that’s where the concern arises.     I have to say I’m squarely in the camp that opposes bigger government intruding into our lives.  Meaning I don’t enjoy seeing more government… more regulations… more laws to juggle and comply with and obey.  I don’t believe the government can protect us from all evils, including ourselves, nor should it attempt to.   But hey, the folks on capitol hill just want to do what’s best for us, right?  I have visions of FDA inspectors running around looking for ways to justify their existence…

*******

Here at home the leaves on the trees are becoming that deep summer green once again.  It’s nice to see shade, and places where dappled sunlight falls through the trees.  Somehow it brings thoughts of quiet afternoons or exploring places not seen.

sunlight-through-trees

While I walked around early this morning I saw that the heron was back again.  It had an even bigger fish in its bill as it flew away.  I just shook my head…  the dogs wandered around with me, looking for the rabbit that haunts the garden.

basset-and-lab

Old man basset hound tells the yellow lab  “Woo…woo…wooooo… this is my spot!”  How about those ears!?

 

Where the Buck Stopped

January 6th, 2009

A few weeks ago I was quite disillusioned with the breadth of political and bureaucraftic corruption taking place in recent years.  I still feel quite strongly about taking a stand for what you believe in of course.  And our obligation as citizens to Vote.

Coincidentally I saw an email about Harry Truman the other day.   In his day, Harry Truman was not a popular President- he was criticised and made an object of ridicule in the news media.  Of course he was also tasked with making the kind of decisions regarding war that we hope no one will ever entertain again.  Yet he made them with courage and conviction.

History has shown with the passage of time that President Truman’s legacy has only grown.   His reputation has also grown, with the appreciation we feel for someone who led such a humble life, especially after leaving office.  I think I would have enjoyed meeting him.  In some ways I feel like I already know him, or at least can identify with him, in part because he hails from Missouri.

It is also because I had the chance to wander around Wake Island on a transitory visit once.  Wake Island is a spartan and tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.  It is also a very historical place that saw pivotal warfare during World War II, and ultimately where President Truman journeyed to that historic meeting with General Douglas McCarthur… only to relieve him of command six months later.

You may also have read the excellent biography of President Truman written by David McCullough.   (Side note: I haven’t read very many Presidential biographies, but some of our more ambitous blogging friends have chosen to undertake that effort in total…  It’s neat to read where Ed at Riverbend Journal shares his thoughts about a George Washington biography for example.)

My distinct impression about Harry Truman is that he was one of the hardest-working and more principled leaders (and politicians) our country has produced.  And that he was quite a simple man in terms of needs and behaviors.

I don’t know who wrote the following description below, but it’s fairly accurate according to Snopes… (Side note 2:  How did Snopes become the WWWebs leading authority for getting to the bottom of urban legends, myths, scams, rumors and half-truths anyway?  It’s a controversial “first place to check” for many half-truths or fact-checking.  Although it can be useful for those questionable emails that too many people send out.)

My point for this lengthy post, is that what you can read below about Truman is an incredibly stark contrast to what we have seen in recent years throughout the political landscape.  As a President, politician, and simple man…  I thought it worth sharing here:

Harry Truman, from Missouri, was a different kind of President.  He probably made as many important decisions regarding our nation’s history as any of the other 42 Presidents.  However, a measure of his greatness may rest on what he did after he left the White House.  Historians have written that the only asset he had when he died was the house he lived in, which was in Independence Missouri .  On top of that, his wife inherited the house from her Mother.

When he retired from office in 1952, his income was a U.S. Army pension reported to have been $13,507.72 a year. Congress, noting that he was paying for his stamps and personally licking them, granted him an ‘allowance’ and, later, a retroactive pension of $25,000 per year.

After President Eisenhower was inaugurated, Harry and Bess drove home to Missouri by themselves.  There were no Secret Service following them.

When offered corporate positions at large salaries, he reportedly declined, stating, ‘You don’t want me.  You want the office of the President, and that doesn’t belong to me.  It belongs to the American people and it’s not for sale.’

Even later, on May 6, 1971, when Congress was preparing to award him the Medal of Honor on his 87th birthday, he refused to accept it, writing, ‘I don’t consider that I have done anything which should be the reason for any award, Congressional or otherwise.’  (President Truman passed away just over a year later).

He never owned his own home and as president he paid for all of his own travel expenses and food.
Modern politicians have found a new level of success in cashing in on the Presidency, resulting in untold wealth.
Today, many in Congress also have found a way to become quite wealthy while enjoying the fruits of their offices. Political offices are now for sale.

Good old Harry Truman was correct when he observed, ‘My choices early in life were either to be a piano player in a whore house or a politician.  And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.’

President Truman died on the morning of December 26th, 1972 in Kansas City, Missouri, just over 36 years ago.  A write-up by Mary McGrory in the Washington Star the next day remembered him in a simple and profound manner.

“He was not a hero or a magician or a chess player, or an obsession.  He was a certifiable member of the human race, direct, fallible, and unexpectedly wise when it counted.   He did not require to be loved.  He did not expect to be followed blindly.  Congressional opposition never struck him as subversive, nor did he regard his critics as traitors.  He never whined.”

“He walked around Washington every morning- it was safe then.  He met reporters frequently as a matter of course, and did not blame them for his failures.  He did not use the office as a club or a shield, or a hiding place.  He worked at it… He said he lived by the Bible and history.  So armed, he proved that the ordinary American is capable of grandeur.  And that a President can be a human being…”

May we always be so fortunate as to find such men- and women- as our nation’s leaders.

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