Summer 2014 September 2 Tuesday (Another Sunrise)

11 degrees this morning. !! walk.

Writing this on my trusty iPad while my laptop is in the hospital (and also on my desktop where possible), so you may see some weird formats.

“Off to work we go”, as I go in for a new job this morning. Most of today will be preliminary items. I am looking forward to it!

I don’t know how my routine will change, but I’m sure it will change. It changed from Lakeland to here and now is ready to change again. It would have changed anyway, since the swimming pool closed Labor Day and the daylight is getting shorter.

Now I have to incorporate a drive and of course the actual work, but also, there are a lot of other activities I won’t need to do, plus having a regular schedule is frequently an asset. Perhaps most of all I like to think I am doing something that is productive and meaningful.

I like to say another sunrise is coming to my life. I have been through the darkness, and, as they say, it is always darkness before the dawn.

I forgot to mention that we saw what will probably be the last Memphis Redbirds game we will see, at least in Autozone Park. It is one of the activities we truly enjoyed in Memphis, in addition to our house and friends.

I trace it back to “Hurricane Elvis” when it knocked out our electricity for seven days. We went to a Memphis Redbirds ball game and enjoyed it. It was actually about 4 years ago we started going on a regular basis and the last two (three counting this one) that we got good seats and really got into the game.

By chance, this was also the years when the AAA Memphis Redbirds players rapidly became stars with the St. Louis Cardinals and we watched players whom we saw come up still learning and watched them develop into stars. It made us committed fans of the Memphis Redbirds, Autozone Park and the St. Louis Cardinals.

We already enjoyed professional baseball anyway, but our favorite was the Chicago Cubs. They still are our favorite, but the St. Louis cardinals are also a favorite!. We hadn’t been paying a lot of attention to the Memphis Redbirds although we did go to a game occasionally.

One thing I like about writing my thoughts is that it helps me consolidate and tune my thinking on matters, even trivial matters, although I do strongly feel if i don’t take care of trivial matters, they can become emergencies! In fact, history indicates this!

Tomorrow at this time I will be a different person, shaped by my new world. While this is always the case, this will be similar to a paradigm change.

See you then.

That’s it for now, Tuesday, September 2, 2014


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Summer 2014 September 1 Monday (Home)

82 degrees this morning, Wind blowing high

This (my laptop) is going into the computer hospital today so it may be hard to keep up twith this Blog. It will be out several days. My desktop is good, but not as convenient

Just got back from completing my teeth implant in Memphis. Also a chance to see friends etc. It was good.

As I discussed recently, “experiences” are more important to life satisfaction and happiness than “things” are, at least somewhat. Certainly knowing that the future experiences (in Memphis) may be limited made me appreciate the experiences much more and value each moment.

Good to be home also. While I could exercise the morning when I am out of town, I rarely do on a consistent basis (other than swimming), so it is nice to get back into walking routine. This morning, due to the wind, I probably won’t ride the bike.

“Home” is a vague concept sometimes. While I was in Memphis the past several days, I certainly felt I was “home” in the sense of the experiences etc., with the exception we didn’t have out house. However, “home” is also here, since it has all of the familiar surroundings and the familiar routines. If “home is where the heart is”…..

Thinking more about the articles on “simplifying” life, by having less stuff. I like the general concept. Like any good idea, it can be taken to extremes. I think the “toothbrush test” to items (if you don’t use them once or twice per day, and it doesn’t add value to your life, don’t buy it or (if it is something you already have) throw it away! I think the “per day” test is too extreme for many items, perhaps “once or twice per year.”

Labor Day. In spite of the fact that “every day is a Saturday or Holiday except Sunday since November, we still keep to our schedule of (usually) eating out on Saturday, Sunday and holidays. I’m glad we do, it still makes those days special.

I will always remember Labor Day as the first (and so far last) major fall on my bike. It actually wasn’t that much of a fall, but it did skin my knees and arms. That was about five years ago and, of course, happened when I was going slow.

I tried “grits” this morning and actually enjoyed them. Always like to try something new occasionally! I was actually surprised I liked them, I actually have tried them before and didn’t care that much for them. Maybe the way they were made.

Major changes in my life as I start work tomorrow. Another reason the Blog/Journal will probably change. I think the changes will be temporary until I adjust to a new writing schedule.

That’s it for now, Monday, Labor Day, September 1, 2014

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Summer 2014 August 31 Sunday (Doing With Less?, Being the Older Generation)

Saturday, August 30,2014: Actually writing this on Saturday morning at “my second place”, a Starbucks, while waiting to meet a friend. A Starbucks is normally an experience in itself as I drink coffee and observe the unending tapestry of customers coming in for coffee, tea or whatever and the amazement at the huge line of cars at the drive thru.

Somehow, I never have liked the drive-thru experience. I don’t like eating in cars and I haven’t found a coffee cup (other than McDonalds) that I can drink while I drive, so that limits my drive through experience. If I go to McDonalds, I normally also go to the restroom, so there you go!

Some years ago (actually 13 years, now that I think of it), Aliene and I took a course at the local community college and we would frequently go through the Starbucks drive thru and by the time we got to class, the coffee would be good to drink and would normally last the entire evening. The class was Accounting and I believe that is the last class (that is, a graded class) that I ever took.

Before that, I took a class in Technical Writing, which was an interesting course.

Just looked through this and corrected it. It had some really weird errors, which had to be caused by spell-check!

Sunday, August 31:

73 degrees this morning, several earthquakes yesterday, one a 3.2.

Perhaps a case of my subconscious mind (and conscious mind) becoming more aware of it, but I just opened up the New York Times web site and immediately noted the following stories:

-A story about how baby boomers (I am in that category) are suddenly noting they are the oldest in the room etc. and surrounded by younger people. Somehow, this wasn’t a surprise. Basically the story said “just deal with it”, which I agree with.

However, the article started with an observation by someone that it was “time to leave the company because he suddenly noticed he was the oldest in the room”. Rather a bizarre comment, and one that contributes to the age discrimination which is already so prevalent.

I do agree with the article I shouldn’t care about trying to act like I”m 20 (or 30 or 40) years younger then I am, because I probably do have a lot of different interests. I think that is what makes all the different ages so valuable, we all have different experiences and interests to contribute. I have absolutely no interest in some of the music or “wearing” something punched into my skin or tattoos and will not act like I do!

-The second article concerned the “rental economy” and how people are “renting” a lot of items people used to own.

Personally I would never use “airbud” and either rent out my house or rent a room from a stranger (I actually like hotels/motels), but I can see the advantage of renting items I may use only one time and never use again.

I currently am actually renting a second car when I need it and not buying a second car. That may change in the future, but right now it works fine and I am finding I don’t really need a second car that much. I can certainly see the advantage of the “ride sharing” or Urber type services.

Looking at what I have, I can see numerous items I could “rent” and not have to worry about storing them etc.

-The third article was on a “living simple” movement. While I wouldn’t want to go the the extreme on this (i.e., try to cut down to 100 items or live in a 400 square foot apartment or house), I can see a lot of advantages in adopting some aspects of “living simpler” and I can see the advantages of a 400 square foot house, depending on your situation.

I will also “write simply and short”. I have reached my limit for the day. I won’t burden anyone with the articles I have cited, but I have them in PDF format and will e-mail on request, Perhaps I will set up an area where I can post articles I find interesting (assuming it is legal). I could post them to Twitter or Facebook and I may well do that.

That’s it for now, Sunday, August 31, 2014.

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Summer 2014 August 30 Saturday (“What We Own”)

Summer 2014 August 30 Saturday

72 degrees this morning, Rain forecast. At least three earthquakes reported within the area we live yesterday, one a 3.2. The earthquakes seem to gradually be getting more powerful, maybe not,

I read several articles this morning that struck me as timely, one I am reprinting at the bottom of this. (I hope this is legal).

I think the reason it hit a chord with me is the recent move, our having to dispose of possessions and make choices about what to keep etc.

I have actually thought a lot on this the past several years. The importance of experiences and friends and family and the relatively importance of “things” or possessions. At some point “things” come to own and manage a person, rather than a person “owning” the possession.

I”m not including it, but the another article in the same section of the newspaper included a story about retirees who literally sell everything (including their house) and basically live as nomads. This includes retirees who buy an RV, but also includes a large proportion who live in short term rentals etc. Kind of like Jack Reacher, for those of you who read the novels by Lee Childs. (The new Jack Reacher comes out Tuesday!)

I wouldn’t want to do that. Much as I like to travel and have new experiences, I like having a “home base” where I can return and call “home”, even if it was just a room in a house that was someplace that was my permanent living area.

About 25 years ago, I had a major shift in my thinking, and it included more living in the “present” in the sense that I decided I was going to experience life as it happens, even to the point that, while I don’t look forward to some experiences, I will accept the experience and reflect on what it means, even if it is a trip to the dentist, removal of skin cancer by the dermatologist.

A few years ago, I was reading “The Kite Runner” and the book actually helped me through the surgery, which was overall minor. I think what was difficult about it was a series of painful (minor, but still painful) series of surgeries. One of the characters in the book helped me put this into perspective as I reflected on his experiences.

As I transition back to “working full-time”, I need to reflect on the quotation that hit me like a brick shortly after my employment status changed in Lakeland. I’ll repeat it here:

(Quote from ‘And the Mountains Echoed':

“Now I was free to do as I wished, but I found the freedom illusory, for what I wished for had been taken from me. They say, Find a purpose in life and live it. But, sometimes, it is only after you have lived that you recognize you life had a purpose, and likely one you never had in mind”.

I still get a chill down my back when I read this quote and think about what it meant, and what it means. The meaning has actually changed through the past nine months.

For years, all I wished for was more time. When I had it, I realized more time wasn’t necessarily what I needed.

In my case the quote is somewhat true that “Now I was free to do as I wished”. I chose to spend almost all my time looking for another job, improving my qualifications and making improvements in my skills for what i thought would quickly be a new job.

On the other hand, I was fortunate that I could have decided to “retire” (which has a lot different meaning than in the past-at least to me, in the sense that would have been productive in some way and definitely pursued an “encore career”.

As Aliene noted recently (actually last night), during the last nine months, I have read less than I did when I was working, probably 80 hours per week, although I didn’t keep track

Sometimes, this journal has a life of it’s own. My original thought today strayed and I have reached what I feel should be the maximum for one day. I”ll reflect more on this in the future.

I hope you read the article noted below and think about it. It will be well worth your time.

That’s it for now, Saturday, August 30, 2014

For Some, ’Tis a Gift to Be Simple
Last month, I spent a day in a library for the first time in over 20 years. I was there to work, but I appeared to be the only one doing so. Everyone else lolled about as the rain fell outside, helping themselves to the endless shelves of newspapers and magazines or browsing the newest fiction.

My work brings me joy. But as I looked around at the older patrons especially, I was overcome by a single emotion: jealousy. It had been too long since I’d sampled the simple but profound pleasure of losing myself in the stacks. I wanted to feel it again.

That craving stayed with me, and it helped me recognize how important some research from the June issue of The Journal of Consumer Research could be for helping many Americans find peace of mind as they contemplate their retirement savings. The lead article reported that older people often draw as much happiness from ordinary experiences — like a day in the library — as they do from extraordinary ones.

For people who have not saved enough or have broken into their savings because of lost jobs and health crises, the findings offer a glimmer of hope. If you can cover basic expenses, pursuing inexpensive, everyday things that bring comfort and satisfaction can lead to happiness equal to jetting about on international trips in your 70s and 80s.

The study’s authors, Amit Bhattacharjee and Cassie Mogilner, met when Mr. Bhattacharjee was earning his doctorate at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, where Ms. Mogilner is an assistant professor of marketing. When they decided to work together, they did not set out to make grand pronouncements about aging.

Instead, they were trying to help answer one of the next big questions in the emerging field of happiness studies. Already, scholars in the field have established that experiences tend to make people happier than possessions. What we do, it seems, has more potential for lasting satisfaction and memory-making than what we have. But Mr. Bhattacharjee, who is now a visiting assistant professor of marketing at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, and Ms. Mogilner wanted to know what sort of experiences made people the most happy and why.

To find out, they conducted eight studies in which they asked participants about their recollections of, planning for or daydreaming about various happiness- making experiences. They also checked to see what sort of things their subjects were posting about on Facebook. The researchers’ definitions of ordinary and extraordinary experiences, when they prompted people to discuss one or the other, were simple and focused on frequency; ordinary experiences happen often and occur in the course of everyday life while extraordinary ones are much more rare.

Extraordinary experiences bring great joy throughout life. No surprise there. But what the pair found again and again was that the older people got, the more happiness ordinary experiences delivered. In fact, the happiness-making potential of everyday pursuits eventually grows equal to that of ones that are rarer.
For Mr. Bhattacharjee, 32, the findings helped clarify a few things about his own parents. He had been attracted to research on moral beliefs and well-being in part because of his upbringing in a Bengali-speaking household of Indian immigrants. “My whole life, I felt like I was trying to sort out these competing cultural standards,” he said. “What is good? What is desirable? There are very different sorts of standards that people apply.”

When his younger brother started college, the two siblings plied their empty- nester parents with restaurant gift cards and theater tickets so they could revel in their freedom from full-time parenting duties. “They just had zero interest,” he recalled. “They really relish the ordinary. At some point, I stopped fighting it. And once I started working on this stuff, it helped crystallize for me that their conception of what is valuable is different.”

Different from what a young person might have expected, at least. His parents were never much for the grand journey or the statement vehicle. “I tell people I’ve been buying a new Mercedes and driving it off a cliff each year for 10 or 15 years,” said Mr. Bhattacharjee’s father, Arun, of his and his wife’s efforts to pay for their sons’ higher education.

Now that Arun Bhattacharjee, 73, is more than half a decade into retirement, he devotes his days to reading the newspaper and books and regular strolls near the family home in Audubon, Pa. “I walk in the neighborhood around the block a few times,” he said. “Everybody knows me. Rain or shine.”

His wife, Ratna, 63, still works as an engineer. She and Arun go to India about once a year to see her mother. The family of four did head to Las Vegas for a vacation recently. “I have not lost interest in those kinds of things,” Arun Bhattacharjee said. “But I don’t need that sort of thing all of the time to give me pleasure. I can get it from simple things.”

Why might that be? Mr. Bhattacharjee and Ms. Mogilner explored some of the factors besides frequency that separate ordinary and extraordinary experiences and seized on one in particular: the tendency for extraordinary experiences to be self-defining in some way.

One way to think about this is to consider the various adventures younger people pursue to find themselves. “That sort of exploration to see what fits and feels like you may be the process by which you can start to figure out what sort of ordinary life to build,” Mr. Bhattacharjee said.

Once you know yourself, the deliberate pursuit of more ordinary things can then deliver that same level of happiness. It doesn’t hurt, either, that you may appreciate the ordinary much more once you’re more aware of the decreasing number of years you have left to enjoy it.

Older people are not set in their ways, nor should they want to be, and it would be a mistake to think we know ourselves well enough to be certain of what will give us the most satisfaction when we’re older. Retirement is just the sort of transition point that causes many people to seek new adventures and try on new ways of being in the world. No one should deny themselves that if they can afford it.

But plenty of people won’t have the money to go to faraway places or pay to jump out of airplanes. Low-cost extraordinary experiences may well be nearby, but there ought to be much comfort in the evidence that everyday things that cost little or nothing can deliver the same amount of joy. A garden. The elaborate meal that emerges from it and the spare time to invent the recipes. A return to a neglected musical instrument. All-you-can-consume subscriptions to Netflix and Spotify, with

watchlists and playlists that stretch on for years.

As for me, I’m merely middle-aged. But I’m almost positive that the first thing on my retirement wish list will be a brand-new library card.

Make the most of your money. Every Monday get articles about retirement, saving for college, investing, new online financial services and much more. Sign up for the Your Money newsletter here.
Twitter: @ronlieber

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Summer 2014 August 29 Friday (iPhone’s, iPod’s, Sprouts and Drones)

72 degrees this morning. Rain forecast. Several earthquakes in the area (I believe 3). They are a little further from us than some. A 3.0 just happened.

I am the proud owner of two new teeth as I completed my teeth implant yesterday. Everything seemed to go find, and I can’t really even feel them as a foreign object in my mouth. Still will take some time to chew on that side after chewing on the oner side for at least a year!

Apple is bringing out a new iPhone and possibly an iWatch (or something like that). It will be interesting to see.

I still have, and am using, my 8 year old (I think) iPod shuffles with the original batteries. I can’t believe the batteries are lasting so long, but I like the design a lot better then the later shuffles. I am also using all of my old (no longer used as phones) iPods. They make great iPods! I think the oldest (for me an iPhone 3) is about 6 years old and still going strong. \

While I really don’t like not having a battery which is “consumer replaceable”, I really can’t complain. Of course when the battery goes out of the iPod Shuffles, it will cost more to put it a new battery than to buy a brand new iPod Shuffle! I’m not sure what I will do with the old iPhones when the battery goes out. So far, it is simply not a problem.

The iPad one (or “original iPad”) poses special problems for me. I actually like some aspects of it and hate to io give it up,but it is so slow as compared to the newest iPad, which is wonderful. I use the original iPad some as an iPod, but it is a little clunky for using it a lot. If I start driving a lot, as part of my work, it may come in more handy I also has some special apps which work well. I like the color on the original iPad. Not necessarily better than the new iPad, I just like it.

It will probably be a while before I upgrade to the iPhone 6, but….

I am peaked to see that Lakeland is getting a “Sprouts” in the old Kroger grocery store. The staff and several of the previous Commissioners worked hard for it. I’m sure they won’t get any credit for it, but they are really the ones who deserve the credit.

In my opinion, Sprouts is kind of like a baby Whole Foods, with the narrow aisles and high prices, but it also has some good points and good items and I’m sure will be a success in that area. We have two near us now, but we rarely go there except for some specialty items, but it is normally very busy, so it should be a great asset to the area.

I am disappointed that the persons who really did the work aren’t getting any credit for it, but that is kind of the way life goes.

The previous Growth Management Director did a lot of work on all of the commercial projects going on now, and of course, is not getting any credit for it, nor will the previous City Engineer get any credit for all the work he did on the interchange and streets etc. Kind of pathetic, but a lot of people know the truth and neither of them (or the previous Commissioners or staff) were in it for personal credit, and they have the satisfaction they know they contributed.

Drones. I just saw where Google is not testing delivery by drones as are other companies. I can see the advantage, but I also see problems for use of air space, invasion of privacy, and liability problems, accidents etc although but I expect that can be worked out. I’m now sure how they will work out the likely possibility that criminals will hijack them or shoot them down or just hack through to instruct them to fly somewhere else.

That may be the reason I haven’t seen the “driverless car” I have been waiting for since I saw the ad at least 50 years ago of the family i the car playing cards while the car drove itself. I really never thought i would still be driving the car, and basically he same car (with a lot of improvements, but still basically he same type of car) 50 years later.

That’s it for now, Friday, August 29, 2014.

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Summer 2014 August 28 Thursday (Teeth Implant Day)

77 degrees this morning

Last phases of my “teeth implant” today. Two new teeth will be born today. The process actually started September 5, 2013, so the actual process has been almost a year. I expect that is about what it normally takes to allow time for healing etc. Mine may have taken a little longer since I had to have a bond graft.

Yesterday, I learned something new, that since I had a bridge on my teeth so long, the bone density decreased. I actually had the bride for almost 40 years (it was replaced once). I made the mistake of going to the “free” dental work after getting out of the Air Force (you had one year to get free dental work) and the dentist doing the work, in my option, took the easy way out and pulled the tooth instead of trying to save the tooth. My opinion.

Anyway, the procedure is almost done. I was thinking that the tooth implant process paralleled a major disruption in my life, starting with the Lakeland elections and hopefully ending next Tuesday.

I think I am still thinking (for lack of a better word right nowI) about the events of the past year. Of course, as soon as I heard the results fo the city election, I knew I was facing major changes. I think it is an even any City Manager knows can happen, and likely even will happen to some degree. You always hope it is handled in a more ethical and professional manner than Lakeland handled it, but I think that reflects on the poor quality and lack of professionalism of the people involved.

I always thought if that happened it would be like a dream, but it really wasn’t. I was very aware of my status the next day, etc.

We will really miss the Memphis Redbirds. Not only did they put on a good show in a great ballpark, buit we enjoyed watching the players develop from AAA to Major League players with the St. Louis Cardinals. (Almost all of the current St. Louis Cardinals played for the Memphis Redbirds.) Obviously it isn’t really the same, but it is something like seeing someone start work, struggle some, and then suddenly blossom into success.

We have seen so many players go from the Memphis Redbirds to the St. Louis Cardinals, we are now strong Redbirds fans, although we still like the Chicago Cubs. (When St. Louis plays Chicago, we have a difficult time deciding whom to cheer for. We end up hoping both of them play their best and don’t make any major mistakes.

We can’t really bring ourselves to watch the AAA team where we live. We probably will eventually, but it won’t be the same, not that anything is ever really the same anyway.

Hopefully, my laptop computer will keep working until I can turn it in for repairs next Monday. It has developed a strange habit of the screen blinking off. I don’t lose the program so it could be worse. It was just annoying (I could shake it and it would come back on), but how it has become a major problem (it goes of and has became very hard to get back on).

Of course, it is one of those things that won’t happen when I take it into the Apple Store and doesn’t leave any tracks of what happened. The last time, it was off when I took it in and they were able to see something. Anything they are going to replace the major compute ring board or something. Which means I will probably lose everything on the computer and have to restore it, which I hate to do. I can’t understand why I can buy a new computer and they can transfer everything over without any problems, but if I get my computer repaired, it can come back completely blank.

Anyway, I’ll be glad when the implant work is done today.

That’s it for now, Thursday, August 28, 2014

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Summer 2014 August 27 Wednesday (Doors of Opportunity)

79 degrees this morning.

The evening darkness is already coming much sooner, even though it is only August. Every year I am surprised at how quickly the Summer sunset fades and darkness comes earlier and earlier.

Fall is now less than a month away. Fall is ok, but then comes Winter. I will miss the very mild, low attitude winter Memphis typically has. Last Winter was horrible, the worst winter we had in Memphis.

Perhaps what i miss most are the long Summer sunsets, the ones that last forever. That is the one thing I missed in Memphis, was the long sunsets. (In Memphis, the sun just suddenly went down, the hills and trees blocked the sunset.)

As normally happens, when opportunity knocks there are several doors to open, which one do you open? While I can see the “opportunity” behind the doors, I have no idea which door is best for me. Time will tell, except it is one of those decisions where there are no (or very rare) “seconds” where a decision can be reversed for another decision. I will see. By this time three months from now I may know, or I may never know. Such is life.

They say the correct decision is to “follow your passion”. Perhaps so, but I also believe someone should keep their word once it is given, subject to conditions that may not be known when the decision was made.

So….I am trying a compromise, trying to have the best of both worlds (not quite having your cake and eating it too, but rather realizing that life is a tapestry and sometimes (or probably never) there is no right decision

If this doesn’t make any sense, I can’t really make any details public right now. If you are really interested, I can discuss it, just not in public.

I was discussing “following your passion” the other day, and I note the difference in, say the personnel a the Apple Store as opposed to other facilities. I was there the other day and the persons with the “passion” are clearly noticeable.

One thing I really liked about the Apple Store (I saw it ore that the Memphis Apple Store, but it is evident at the one here also) is the high percentage of personnel who had a real passion for Apple products, computers, helping people or all three. I would ask a question or show them something i learned to do, and they would get all excited about it, it was a pleasure to watch.

Actually I noticed it at the local Apple store the other day, which made me think of it. There is an electricity in the air you don’t see in other places, or at least very rarely.

Not walking this morning, do to some conflicting activities. Usually the one thing I won’t give up is my morning walk. I’m not sure if it is because I get my blood/muscles (or body) moving and feel more alert, or if it is the opportunity to listen and think and listen to my audiobooks. It may be a combination of the physical and mental stimulation that make me feel better and ready for the day, maybe a combination

On my projects, I am still working on my China photos, trying to get them organized. As with other projects, I hate to dispose of photos, but I will need to so I can get them organized. With some exceptions, a photograph doesn’t do justice to what the picture is about,l but if you don’t take the photograph, the scene you saw could be gone forever.

Actually I have deleted about 10% of the photos I took, but there is still a lot of photo’s left. I look at them and see a small piece of my life, somewhat like when I look at letters I have written etc.

That’s it for today, Wednesday, August 27, 2014.

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