2015 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 15,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 6 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

2016 New Year Predictions

Every New Year we are inundated with predictions, forecasts and prognostications for the coming year.  This year, I decided that I could do as well as many of the other pundits out there.  In fact, I think I can do better.  I am logical, rational, educated and not sentimental or emotional. 🙂 Any list that I create will be based on pure logic and scientific deduction. 🙂 You can take my list to the odds makers and I am sure you will make a fortune betting on them.  This is the least I can do to help my followers and readers capitalize on their loyalty to reading my blogs.  Remember, the vast majority of humankind will be ignorant of the predictions that I am about to give you.

Here are my top 10 predictions for the New Year.  I will include a brief justification and logic for each of these predictions below.  If you find some of them appalling, remember this, we can change things if we want them to be different.  No one ever said life would be easy.

  1. Hillary Clinton will be elected President of the United States of America.

This is a no brainer. The majority of the American people are too smart to select any of the dregs running that are now in the Republican queue.  I have said it in my blogs and I will say it again, the majority of US Citizens are decent, compassionate, rational human beings.  They will not elect a bigot, racist or demagogue for President.

  1. Weather patterns will continue to be unpredictable and chaotic.

As long as a large portion of the people in the world continue to believe that no change in lifestyles is needed or that these patterns are “normal”, I see little progress being made in addressing the underlying factors of pollution and waste disposal that are fundamental to our weather changes.  Some call it Global Warming but the problems we are creating go beyond even this potential disaster.  We are draining our ground water.  Polluting our oceans.  Contaminating our soils and forests.  Our mother earth has become one large garbage dump for every conceivable bit of trash we need to dispose of.  I am sorry but I do not see us making enough progress in this area.

  1. Water Shortages will create major agricultural problems throughout the world.

Water shortages will continue to exacerbate agricultural development in many parts of the USA and world.  Water prices will rise as ground water and aquifers are increasingly depleted or contaminated.  Sink holes will become more pronounced in areas where water is depleted.  More and more communities will be forced to provide stringent controls on water usage.   In the short term, water problems will eclipse Global Warming as a key problem in the world.

  1. The ISIS Caliphate will be demolished.

With the increase in forces arrayed against ISIS, the group will be defeated in battle after battle forcing it to give up territory that it has conquered.  Nevertheless, the destruction of ISIS will not destroy the fundamental forces that have underpinned the rise of this radical group.  From Al Qaeda, to Boko Haram, to ISIS, the fundamental forces that have given rise to these groups seem to be either ignored or misunderstood by the Western Powers.  The destruction of the ISIS caliphate will not destroy the dreams and hopes that those who have pledged allegiance to these extremist beliefs hold.  Instead, we will see a disintegration of ISIS into many smaller more covert and decentralized radical groups that will still be capable of and will continue to spread violence and terrorism on a global scale.  Until the fundamental forces are addressed, terrorism will continue to be omnipresent on a global scale.

  1. Schools throughout the world will continue to decline in their ability to properly educate young people for the real world.

Rich kids and children of the elites will find a way to obtain a quality education.  However, the vast majority of children will not be well served in this goal by the current education model that delivers mass education in most countries of the world.  The present model of educating young people was developed over a hundred years ago and is based on an industrial model of educating people that in no longer valid for today’s world.  We need to completely overhaul our educational systems but this will mean large scale displacement of many educators and administrators who benefit from an obsolete model of education.

  1. Standards of living will continue to rise throughout the world but many poor will not be better off.

Almost paradoxically one might think, is my prediction that the increase in average standards of living will continue throughout the world despite some of the dire predictions I have made above.  How is this possible?  The answer lies in the concept of “average” versus the concept of a “normal distribution.”  An average can increase if the upper extremes increases.  We have seen a large growth in the USA for the upper 1 percent income bracket; this creates an “average” increase.  Thus, the rich are going to get richer throughout the world, but many poor will still stay poor. Comparatively it will be true to say that “the rich get richer while the poor get poorer.”  This income inequality will continue to be a source of violence and terrorism throughout the world as police forces and the military become more violent to protect the haves from the have nots.

  1. Fear of terrorism will create more restrictions on immigration throughout the world.  

As more and more isolated events of “lone wolf” terrorism take place, the world will react with increased levels of xenophobia and paranoia.  Immigrants will become the target for displaced feelings of fear and anger.  Politicians will pander to these fears by blaming outsiders for the problem and enacting legislation to create barriers that have the supposed effect of making people feel safer.

  1. Gun violence will continue to increase in the USA.

The NRA and gun manufacturers will continue to flood America with more and more guns and assault style weapons.  More people will purchase concealed carry permits.  The general level of easy availability to a deadly weapon will raise the level of violence thus creating a vicious cycle of guns, violence, fear and guns.  The only solution will be to break this cycle of violence but the money involved in the manufacture and sale of guns in the USA creates an effective barrier to accomplishing this goal.

  1. Technology will not save the world, but it will make the world easier to live in.

Many people have believed that new inventions from fish farming to finger print gun activation to pace makers would defray many of the problems in the world and save us from our own selves.  Ironically, technology has not saved us from ourselves but in many cases it has made life easier to live.  For instance, my income level has not significantly increased because of the Internet.  However, I now work from home much of the time which has made my life much easier and happier.  Another example is agriculture, where irrigation has helped us plant crops in places like Arizona where it would have been impossible years ago.  On the other hand, technology always seem to come with hidden costs and unforeseen complications.  For instance, aquifer depletion is now causing sink holes and ground collapse in many parts of the USA due to over irrigation.

  1. I will continue to write my blog for at least another year.

Two of my best friends, William Cox and Brian Rogers died in 2015.  William was 87 and Brian was 68.  The passing away of my friends and many other acquaintances are constant reminders of my own mortality.  My father died when he was 60 years old and my mother was 67.  I have now outlived them both.  My wife passed 70 in 2014 and is now reaching for 72.  Ages that once seemed “ancient” no longer seem so old.  At the same time, the obituaries constantly remind us that we are “old.”  Everywhere I go, we now qualify for senior discounts or elderly benefits.  I am told that I have the body and stamina of a 45 year old, but that seldom if ever impresses me as I see other men in my condition suddenly succumb to the passage of time and I write out yet another card of condolences or sympathy.

Thus, I make a commitment to write this blog for another year, which I am not sure or confident I can keep.  I hope to write as long as I am able to and I hope that will be for at least another year.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me.

Time for Questions:

What are your New Year Predictions?  Which of mine do you agree or disagree with?  Why?  What predictions did I miss?

Life is just beginning.

Let our New Year’s resolution be this: we will be there for one another as fellow members of humanity, in the finest sense of the word.”  —- Goran Persson

 “May we love each other not only at Christmas but all year.” — ― Lailah Gifty Akita



Dear Friends, Family and Loved Ones,

Benjii our sheepThe year is 2015.  It is the Year of the Sheep.  Sheep are gentle and calm and we love their wool.  We bought a sheep this year and named him Benjie.  He lives in the living room and keeps us company.  He is very low maintenance.  It is hard to believe that the end of 2015 is only a few days away.   My blog this week will be our annual Holiday letter that Karen and I both write and send out through a variety of media including snail mail, emails, hand delivery and my blog.  Each year, we use this letter to sum up our lives and the events or people that have had an impact on us during the year.  Probably not very exciting but this was 2015 for us.

Karen and John

Karen and John

It is 5 days before Christmas as I write this.  We celebrate the holidays each year rather traditionally.  Karen loves to bake Swedish cookies that she learned from her grandmother and also make a ton of lefse, much of what she gives away to a coterie of fans who swoon over it.  Myself, I would rather have fruitcake which I now buy each year from Costco.  I have many fewer fans for my fruitcake.  Less presents under the tree each year and gift cards now seem to be the order of the day.  We spend evenings watching old Christmas specials on Netflix which help get me in the mood for the holidays.  Christmas was never a really big deal for me like it is for Karen.  One message that seems to keep emerging from most of these movies:  Christmas is really not about presents, travels, accomplishments or awards.  Its real meaning is the love of the people we care about.  In this respect, 2015 was a good year.

Xibo and Dan DanKaren and I made a trip in January to see some very good friends in San Francisco and Karen’s son, Kevin.  Karen juggled her time to be able to spend some good time with Kevin and even get a glimpse of his new job at LinkedIn.  When we came back to Wisconsin, Karen was able to get some time in with her daughters Julie and Susan.  Karen and Susan went out together to visit my sister Jeanine in Rhode Island for the 4th of July and had a grand time.  Alas, the grandkids seem to have mostly flown the nest (Is there an empty next for Grandparents?) and it is hard to tag or catch up with them.  Nevertheless, Logan, Garrick (now engaged to Kat), Sam and Zach all seem to be pursuing the typical life of most young people today.  They are either in school or working and trying to really figure out what they will be when they get old like us.  We see them occasionally like ships passing in the night. I suppose our snow birding between Arizona and Wisconsin also complicates the matter.

megan and karenKaren and Megan now have a good thing going and each year around this time they get together for several days of baking.  It becomes a mother and daughter day to schlep flour and sugar all other each other’s kitchen since they alternate houses to flour.  This year we will finally get to meet Megan’s new friend Dave.  After cookie baking this Saturday, we plan to go to one of his gigs and listen to his band.  Dave is a guitarist and singer with a popular cover band named Furious George in Phoenix.

Curves Group

Karen and her friends at Curves 

If relationship wise, we were doing a balance sheet for 2015, on the whole it would be very positive.  However, it was not without its losses.  Both Karen and I lost some good friends this year.  Death seems to be something that becomes almost omnipresent these days both on a personal level (with more and more loved ones aging) and on a social level with the media constantly showering us with episodes of violence and mayhem.  Perhaps, something I should not bring up at Christmas time, but as Jesus was about bringing love into world, maybe it is something to reflect on.  I have to admit, my blogs (see www.agingcapricously.com) have been more and more about the evils and vices that I believe it is our personal responsibility to confront.  As I age, I wonder how I can do more in this respect or if I am even doing enough.  Am I making a difference or just annoying people?  I try to balance a certain amount of negativity in my blogs with a decent dose of let’s say “positivity” if there is such a word.  One of my most popular blogs was on the subject of gratitude.  I am certainly grateful for the good health that has blessed Karen and me this year.

Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble

Karen and the Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble

Karen and I are both working part-time.  I continue to teach both residentially and on-line.  Karen passed her certification test on the new ICD-10 coding procedures in September as well as doing some home health consulting.  I am envious that at 71 years of age, she has more job prospects than I had when I was 22.  She has so much work in her queue that I have to keep reminding her to have fun and enjoy her retirement.  In actuality both of us would go crazy without some regular work to keep us focused.  I guess neither of us has ever learned how to play well.

On the other hand, after years of practice, music camps and many music jams in Minnesota, Arkansas, Kentucky and now Arizona,  Karen has become an excellent dulcimer player and enjoys playing with dulcimer friends in WI and just south of here with the Tucson Dulcimer Ensemble.   In the last two weeks, she has played at a fund raiser for the local library, a Red Hat women’s group and an Episcopal Church bazaar.  We don’t have to worry about taxes though as these are all free gigs.  I keep encouraging her to keep it up though as someday there might be a talent scout out there and she could be the next Lady Gaga.  Carnegie Hall here we come.  I can pick out her outfits.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all.  My God bless you and keep you with good health and much happiness.

John and Karen

%d bloggers like this: