Monday, April 10, 2017

Readers Wanted

I don't want to sound like a sniveling idiot by thinking what I've written over the last few decades is no longer relevant in today's environment. All words, whenever written, have weight to them equal to the mass of the thought used while writing. The problem arises when the reading public, very limited as it has been, gives little if any response to the effort, therefore, how do I calculate the weight of my words? Well, now that I'm living on the Sun Coast of Florida rather than in southeastern Pennsylvania, I will have to change my reading public. Maybe these sun worshippers will gravitate to my poetic words just because many are retired and closer to my age and their commitments for earnings to pay for life's responsibilities have been much lessened. 


Ronald C Downie

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

March Madness

March 2017 has come and gone and, what of importance, happened to me in those 31 days. "Good fences make good neighbors" from a Frost poem cropped up in my mind when I thought of writing this piece about my own "March Madness". 

Yes, there is a fence, part of the way, dividing daughter Lia and Marty's property from their neighbor to the east of them. Mark and his wife, Sharon, who are really good neighbors, helpful and friendly, social and caring. It is something Mark did for Connie and me that triggered my own personal "March Madness".

Writing hasn't left me, yet, though many known and unknown to me, I bet, wish it had. I am neither academic nor scholarly with my ventures at connecting words into phrases to make a point. Once I was a voracious reader. Pre-iPad I read every day both business wise and for enjoyment.  Today, I am as many, many also are, enslaved to the screen pad of their worldly instrument. We all spend an inordinate amount of time perusing Facebook, reading eMails, and in general surfing of the web. My enjoyment now is turning the TV to Music Choice - Light Classical - and lightly listen to music of the masters. 

Mark, the neighbor, dropped over and asked Connie and I how we were doing and in the conversation Connie said about books she was reading. In a split second Mark went back through the gate to his house and returned in a flash with three books : "On The Edge Of Survival" author, Spike Walker ;  "The Shack" author, Wm. Paul Young ; and "The Road" author, Cormac McCarthy. 

Connie started reading The Shack and I picked up Spike Walker's book because of Mark's recommendation : Mark's older brother, Matt, now a Rear Admiral in Washington, DC., was a principal character in the unfolding of Walker's gripping saga of survival. Matt Bell commanded the coast guard cutter assigned to try to off load the crew from a huge Chinese freighter floundering without power. Weather no one had ever seen so bad, waves at record heights, winds at hurricane force, and the dark of night so frightening ; all elements had to be ignored, had to be overcome. Spike Walker thrives on describing harrowing tails like few other writers can do. Jump ball for my March Madness started between three book covers.

Picking up "The Shack" after consuming a book of survival where every page grips a reader and won't let them go, may to some, be sort of a let down. It wasn't ! A modern day family living a normal life is crushed by an event seemingly unfathomable but what comes next defies all modern day thinking. If you have all your faiths wrapped up and folded away, "The Shack" is a must read for you.

Last read but not the least of books was "The Road". From a thrill a minute book, to spiritual testing beyond the norm in "The Shack", to "The Road", a book hard to describe. Now to be found in film theaters, "The Road", will take some acting to pull off the abject horror found in its pages. If this story is the eventual episode of mankind, heaven help us. Disappointment, disillusionment, and despair fill these pages in a way a reader never wants to put the book down. Odd this response, but true in my experience. 

The best March Madness I've had in many years of my 82 that I've been privy to. All made possible by the swift action of a neighbor who, "like a good neighbor", thinks of others as he would himself. Could this be the affect of living in Sorrento East ?

Ronald C. Downie

Saturday, April 1, 2017

An Oligarch Here, an Oligarch There ..,

An Oligarch here, an Oligarch there, seems an Oligarch is everywhere. 

Watching C-Span 3 today : the Senate's hearing on Russia's influence on our just past presidential election : the word "Oligarch" was often used to describe filthy rich men, especially Russians, who seemed to be pulling strings in a way that swayed the election toward Donald Trump. 

Oligarchs are not the ones hitting the keys of computers but are the financial facilitators to hire individuals whose job is to tickle the keys. And tickle they did and, worst of all, they were very successful. Poison the news their mission, poison was their words, their words then became fake news.

Neither can I pronounce these Russians by name nor, heaven help me, spell their names correctly. I imagine I can do both with American Oligarchs since many are referred to every day because quite a few are cabinet members in our new government, the billionaires who were the captains of industry. 

Oligarchs seem to have few allegiances; they seem to worship the accumulation of huge sums of money most of all. They are those welcomed visitors to our president's palatial digs. Rarely in my life have so many billionaires congregated together in their effort to show us commoners why we're not one of them. 

Oligarchs in the past occupied the castles, owned the serfs, paid homage to the King, raped the earth, and when both land and people were spent, they turned to conquer a weaker neighbor. They may be more sophisticated these days but their allegiance to accumulating huge sums of money has never wavered. 

Today they're installed in Washington DC's  halls of power. Where are we ? "We the People" are void of power since we are without huge fortunes that seems to follow certain family lines. Being poor is similar to having some type of a plague, the type which debilitates us beyond our imagination. 

In medieval times, long past, oligarchs were finally unseated from power, king's feudal systems wained, the impoverished serfs rose up to form democratic governments based on "the rule of laws". But, just like a bad penny, the debunked old surfaces again to test "we the people"and see if we do have some resolve left in our bonnets. We must overcome the oligarchs whichever century they pop up in again.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Your Health Care

Wake up, people ! Single payer, Universal Health Care for every American, is the most effective way to pressure "Big Pharma" to price all prescription drugs at the lowest unit cost possible. Further, "Big Pharma" would also have to compete with drugs possibly coming from foreign countries. 

As I find in my own circumstances, drugs make up at least half of my costs for insurance coverage. Savings there are huge in overall premium costs figured to enhance your coverage for your health care insurance. Medicare for all is the proper path for Universal HealthCare coverage to take.

Those with vested interests in no change will want to pressure congress not to change how we in the USA provide for and pay for health care. Keep your eyes open to see how the professionals grease the palms of our representatives so they vote for the status quo. Professional lobbyists will swarm over the halls of our lawmakers like flies on a manure pile because there is just so much money awash in our present system. The problem exists, though, that this money goes into someone's pocket rather than insuring the public against disease and other medical problems.

Universal Health Care, "Medicare For All", is coming down the tracks. Hop on and finally give Americans what the rest of the industrialized has. 

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Universal Health Care 

It's about time ! The time has come for Bernie's proposal to cover every American with Universal Health Care, from birth to death coverage of everyone, because it is your right by being an American.

When legislators begin to warm to this ultimate solution for health care they will hunt for offsets, income sources to replace new costs. I suggest, using child tax deduction value as a source of offset dollars. Since at birth a child will be guaranteed health care for the rest of his or her life, it seems parents could be persuaded to forgo some of the dollar value for income tax deductions on their annual fillings. 

Approximately four million babies are born in the USA yearly. This year each child brings with it's birth $4,050 of income tax deductions for the filer. Multiply four million babies by the value of four thousand of gross income in tax dollars and the IRS will have a sizable amount of money to work with. 

For the next 25 years these relatively healthy, young bodies will populate the healthcare insurance population and become the backbone of a universal system. Many may still be on their parents insurance policies until, at an age, when they become an adult.

Universality relies on 100% precipitation of all people to make it work. It also relies on having a monopoly so costs and income can be structured to cut out the middle men who, in the present system, suck out far too much capital which should be dedicated to actually caring for Americans. 

It is amazing that in the USA : the preeminent country of this World, the richest country, and the strongest one too, that our government has never implemented Universal Health Care for her citizens. Every other industrialized nation in this World has done for their citizens what America has refused to do for their's ; foreign countries have Universal Health Care for all their citizens by making good health care their right by birth. 

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Health Care at What Cost

There is nothing like a good discussion to focus your mind to digest relevant financial facts normally over looked by you. Like, just how much do I pay for health coverage today ?

I've been on social security ever since I retired 8-10 years ago and, since I'm now 82, it means I payed into SS. for about 55 years starting around 15 years old when l began getting a check for my work. In 2016, 1 received a gross amount of $15,790.80 from SS of which $1,258.80 was deducted to pay for Medicare part B. I imagine 2017 will not be too much different. 

Now add to this, $ 4800.00 which I pay for Supplemental Insurance and add on the amounts I pay to pharmacies each time I get my prescriptions filled. The yearly total is somewhere in excess of, "oh my goodness" ,$ 7,200.00, or about half of the total of my monthly SS insurance checks. 

Review starts one to wonder, when is the time to choose between pills or food ? I bet, many my age have had to make that decision. In the richest nation in the World, yes, in this nation of inordinate abundance for some, pills or food should be the last thing on people's minds. Sadly this is not the case, far too many people have this choice to make. 

Don't get up a " Pity Party" for me, I'm ok and so is Connie. We have a loving family and some supplemental reserves. The key will be when, if at all, either Connie or me will ever have to go into a home. The story I've heard is that most elderly care homes are huge vacuums sucking in every dollar available. 

"Just keep on ago'n till you can't go no more" must be words to some song, somewhere. 

Ronald C. Downie







  

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Trump Care

"Proof of the pudding is in the eating" quickly jumped out of the TV an hour ago. When is the date that Congress will cancel it's present gilded healthcare insurance and shift over to the new - "Trump Care" -rolled out today for the rest of us citizens ?

If the Republican plan is to be the ultimate healthcare solution for all Americans, wouldn't this gesture be the "cats meow" showing the World just how our Congress works ? If they won't ! That too would show what hypocrites we Americans vote into office to lead our country.

From one who cares,
Ronald C. Downie

Golden Years

I'm toast ! At 82, I am expendable, too damn old to do any good for society, so what Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell pulling the strings for Donald Trump want done is to punish me for living too long, I'm here, I'm vulnerable. It seems these three will price me out of basic health care needs so Big Pharma along with the rich and powerful can sing they squeezed the last dollar from me. 

All my life, I worked and paid my taxes thinking I've done my share, done my duty, and when I get older social security and any savings I've accumulated will provide for my wife and I until death takes us. But now, in light of "Trump Care", I worry. Soon the old will be offered an out. 

Do you remember - grandmother being pushed in her wheelchair off the cliff ? Bet you do ! Well, accept this in its current context of "right to die laws". Costs that are pushed onto the states will rapidly rise and state legislators in an attempt to control costs will realize the elderly are soaking up health care dollars too rapidly. Yes, they'll say - first - we will allow the in firmed to dignify their lives by assisting their quick death with appropriate pills. Next - states will be allowed to liberalize these laws in both age and method until crematories can't keep up with the ashes. 

The Grim Reaper lies among us just biding his time. The golden years lay strewn about each day tarnishing more and more as we elderly no longer can see any luster. 

Old and Weary,
Ronald C. Downie

Monday, February 20, 2017

House Hunters and Friends,

Are you looking for a house in the north end of Pottstown ? Or, do you know someone who is looking ? If so, wife Connie and I have a perfect home for you to look at, "778 North Evans St."

Recently we moved to Florida to live with our youngest daughter, Lia, a nurse, and live out out life here under her care : I'm 82, Connie's 77.
We lived at 778 for 42 years and raised our three children there.

The primary reason we chose North Evans Street to live was the convenience this house has to raising young children. Franklin Elementary School is but a four block walk, the Middle School and the High School a one block walk, the First Presbyterian Church is next door. Busses run just one block away on Charlotte and also on Wilson Street. A Turkey Hill, convenience store, one block away and two restaurants are but a three block walk.

The house has three bedrooms on the second floor along with a full bathroom. All three bedrooms are sufficiently closeted. On the first floor is a "Mother-In law-Quarter" bedroom/sitting room,  and a full bathroom, a utility room, a kitchen, a large dining room, and a full house width living room with a fireplace and a large cedar closet. Both living and dining rooms are floored in old time hardwood. Both front door and back door access. The front door opens to a large livable front porch and an attractive walkway entrance complete with mature shrubbery and trees.

The neighborhood is pleasurably livable, clean, and quiet. 778 N. Evans is the last house accessed by a dead end alley with two off street parking spots adjacent to a large, stand alone garage. Although not utilized by us, it is my understanding a public gas line runs in the street.

This house is well worth a look ! The house will be sold "as is" to you or to someone else with a vision. Since it was built as a two unit I'd be willing to talk to investors who are looking for a more long term return.

I am : Ronald C. Downie to be reached at - 941-966-5929

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Rebirth

The poem - yes, the lowly, forgotten poem - once a mainstay of commutation, way back in antiquity, because it was a form that allowed messengers to memorize thoughts and words by verse and meter, and memorize through rhyme and rhythm so early man could discount both time and distance when messages were sent between far flung villages. "Heaven t' Betsy" present day captains of communication have found poetry as an excellent means to convey a message.

Check out some of the latest TV advertisements and see if the poetry pleases you : one's by Walt Whitman, "The Song of the Open Road" ; another by Dylan Thomas, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night". Recently I found another one but, being that I'm unfamiliar with both the poet and the poem, I can't say anything about it.

Maybe the romanticism with Poetry will escape from the public's psyche and flow through their intellect instead. Combining words into thoughts which moves people to act is the intent of the advertiser and, finally, they've hit upon a new catalyst, the poem. I only hope they continue their dependence on this form of dialog.

Ronald C. Downie

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Me, With Thoughts on Medicare

Rarely in my 82 years have I been deeply worried about my waining years on this earth. Relegated to sitting in front of a TV set is the staple activity during my waking hours of the day. Watch TV these days and it's nearly impossible not get wrapped up in our past election and now the hearings on our new president's appointments engages me. This morning I watched the second senate panel question Rep. Price, the president's desire for Health and Human Services Secretary. From his replies, Price gave me a chill up the middle of my spine since I'm so dependent on the assistance of Medicare to pay medical costs both doctor and hospital and, especially, prescriptions.

Take Medicare away and President Trump may as well add me to the roll of the "too old", of "good riddance", of "only a sickly hanger on".

If fear was the template mounted daily on to our public discourse during the election cycle it has manifested itself in my mind now that the election is over. I fear for the disabled, for the disenfranchised, and for those of different lifestyles. Also, I fear for women kind who will be challenged mightily to remain subservient to males.

The poor, I fear, having never felt part of our great system will remain downtrodden and still won't realize much help from their new masters. In feudal times the serfs rarely knew which court controlled their kingdom and, I imagine, most could care less. Nothing added to nothing is still nothing.

Ronald C. Downie
Women of the World

The Mega Optics of The Women's March on Washington, DC. and throughout the United States and the rest of the World announced : from this date forward - Women of the World - will not permit themselves to be treated as second class citizens.

I laud their joined voices. Voices that initially spoke to their grand scheme which was targeted to the largest population centers throughout the World but, as I see it, this was only a good start.

"All politics is local" screams out loud and clear. Women, don't be lulled to sleep by intrenched male dominion who can easily mobilize a   powerful blitzkrieg undercutting all your previous initiatives.

"Local" means just that. Marches and gatherings must be organized and effected by women in each political entity that is filled by election. The task is enormous but doable because it is broken down into manageable parts : everywhere, from bottom up. "All politics is local !"

Powerful, loud, and massive was the grand rollout of women finding both their footing and voices. If not now, when ? Please don't allow a good thing go to waste. Organize locally, demand attention, and help other locals by supporting their efforts. Why do people march ? They march, to get somewhere, where they're not.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, January 23, 2017

Alternative fact : defining the indefinable
What you believe is a lie and is only a misconception in reality.
No longer do your senses contribute rhyme or reason to their activations, so ignore their stimulations and listen only to the
powerful to decipher life's episodes.

Sunday, January 8, 2017

Don't Know Where, Don't Know When

Watched again the movie, Doctor Strangelove, last evening which has kept me under a lifetime angst about a nuclear Armageddon during my stay here on this Earth. Sure, I watched the movie to the end, so I could listen to Vera Lynn sing "We'll Meet Again" as the mushroom cloud billows up getting bigger and bigger in an image I never ever want to actually see.

Farcical as the picture is, thru subtle humor, all kind of bizarre notions crossed my mind. The stumbling, bumbling of our military, the ingrained adherence to antiquated policies of that generation displays
a decayed society culminating in the unthinkable.

Will I ever watch this movie again ? Probably, and I'll watch it to the very end just to hear Vera Lynn sing again. It was her voice which urged the dough boys to keep pressing on even as the future seemed bleak. Vera had the presence to engage her audience in many of her songs which further emboldened the solders to keep their energies up and spirits high. In these times we need more uplifting images to offset the dank and bleak things facing humanity.

Ronald C. Downie

Monday, January 2, 2017

A Birthday Wish for Lily Noelle

A read of literature will show you
Punctuation's a necessary evil :

When to pause, when to stop, regulating
The impulses of mental images.

Maybe mental images need be left
To artists painting by brush from pallet.

To those, who effect scenes by light's shadows,
Cause a pause in the viewer, a deep breath.

Art on canvass is not photographic;
Rather, it's to stimulate the senses :

To raise in the viewer emotional
Fervor, exulting, exhilarating.

Who to choose to replicate a snowflake,
Or the flicker of an open fire's flame ?

It is you, Lily Noelle, we've chosen ;
You, who wear the cloak of family artist.

You, who'll dress your barren walls with portraits,
 With pastoral scenes : verdant, expressive.

Happy Birthday ! Lily Noelle Kurtz
Love, Nanny&PopPop