January 2016

Over the years, any mention of politics in this blog has usually been satirical in nature. Fact is, I used to be much more political and often worked in the campaigns of those I felt were worthy. As I’ve grown older, I still vote, discuss politics with friends when the topic comes up, but have resigned myself to the notion my efforts are relatively meaningless. Dispite this mindset, I need to get something off my chest.


As a young adult, I served four years in the United States Air Force. I was trained as a communication analyst and my job required a Top Secret Clearance. Being raised in California, my background check took months in which every person that lived within blocks of me, even as a child, were interviewed. While waiting on my clearance during those months, I was assigned medial jobs on my base in Texas. Once I received the clearance, I was assigned to bases both in Texas and then overseas.


The clearance I received, as did all others I worked with, had an additional classification that came with other responsibilites and restrictions. While my fellow servicemen (there were no women at that time) were just ordinary people doing their jobs, everyone – let me repeat – everyone was briefed and knew they were not to share or communicate in any way the nature of our mission or the materials with which we worked. In fact, even our trash was kept in bags that were burned. We all took turns on that detail.


Did everything we worked with have a classification? No. It was work in progress. Did we take it outside the compound or discuss it away from work? No. Each of us knew the nature of our jobs and the materials we worked with were to be treated as sensitive and likely secret to top secret. We were just airmen but we understood the consequences of violating our resonsibilities could send us on a oneway trip to Leavenworth. We were not Secretary of State.


As I said, I’m not particularly political these days. But if anyone out there is thinking of voting for Hillary Clinton for President, please think again. I should add, at this point, I don’t know who I’m going to support. I’m not particularly inspired by any of the current candidates. But I know one thing for sure. Ms. Clinton is not being truthful. She knew the materials she handled should not have been communicated on her personal devices, stored on her personal devices, and maintained by a private non-security cleared company. While I hope her negligence does not have any security consequences for our country, a vote for her would certainly be negligence on the part of any voter.

Happy New Year!

Be Positive and Reduce Stress

In our book, The Best of Our Lives: Sharing the Secrets of a Healthy and Happy Retired Life, my wife Trisha and I put forth a number of retired-life suggestions ranging from health and fitness to financial planning and management. Because we really do try to live the principles in our book, we review and discuss them frequently.

Looking back, one of the most important principles we proposed is that of maintaining a postive attitude and reducing stress. While there are many joys that can be associated with retired life and aging in general, the challenges certainly do increase. As my friend Herb says, “Getting old isn’t for sissies.” Loss of friends and loved ones, aging bodies and related health issues are just a few of our challenges. Througout the aging process, maintaining a positve attitude and reducing stress becomes increasingly important.

With this in mind, I thought I would start out the New Year by sharing the following principles:

· Spend time with postive people – This may seem a bit obvious and/or simplistic, but I’m always amazed to hear people talk about those in their lives that cause them stress. At this point in our lives, do we really have time to spend with people who have negative attitudes or create stress for us? Perhaps it’s time to be a bit more selective.

· Spend time with those who deserve it – Is this selfish? Yes, but life is short and artificial obligations to spend time with those who make our lives stressful is neither wise nor healthy. I remember a woman who read this principle in our book and told me she had a stressful upcoming event and she “just had to attend.” My simple response was, “No, you don’t.”

· Surround your life with humor – This one has always been easy for me because I was fortunate to grow up in a home filled with humor and very little conflict. As I grow older, I do observe the world has more than its share of grumpy old men and women and the research tells us they trully are unhappy, create stress for themselves and others, and are most often unhealthy.

· Keep life lighthearted – We all face difficult situations, but if we can find the humor or lighter side, perhaps it will reduce our stress. As an example, I recently had to receive numerous and increasingly painful injections in my back. When the doctor began he said, “You’re going to feel some pressure.” I said, “You know when a doctor says that, he really means buckle up!” The doctor and both nurses began to laugh and we all got through the half hour procedure quite well. To be honest, I got that line from comedian Brian Regan, one of my favorites.

· Take the long view – We all know people who become stressed and dramatic with every little thing life throws at them. Life is difficult enough and if we take a longer view of our difficult situations, it’s possible we can reduce our stress.

· Become solution oriented – When faced with a stressful situation, try to look for solutions rather than letting emotions take over. I’m blessed with a wife who is a master of this and actually made a successful career as a problem solver. She is not a “drama queen” in any sense and I’m very grateful.

· Explore your faith – While neither my wife nor I would ever try to convert someone to our faith, we certainly would suggest people explore their spiritual beliefs. We find great comfort in ours.

From my wife Trisha and me,
have a wonderful New Year.

Trisha and John Parker Copenhagen

Trisha and John Parker

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