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Thursday, March 16, 2017

Walking Is Good

Those first few steps in a regular pair of shoes were strange.  The knee of the leg that has had a boot that reached to the knee for six weeks felt wobbly.  Shoes that were exactly the same height was an interesting sensation, too.  I am shorter by about an inch or so without the boot and extra lifts for the other shoe.  There is still some stiffness in the toes of the foot that was damaged.  Who knows why.  Probably the doctor could guess.  I do not care as the foot seems to work when walking.  And it is not painful to walk.  I have almost 6000 steps for the day.  I have spread them out over the day instead of walking for an hour.  Ice packs were applied after each 10 to 15 minute walk to keep any swelling to a minimum.  Bottom line is walking is good!

Of course all this walking stuff is going on with a background of politics.  I really missed the ability to let off some steam by walking.  I fear I substituted eating but I have refused to step on the scales to confirm what my jeans suggested.  Budget cuts are coming.  The hiring freeze has already caused some historical sights to close due a shortage of workers.  Looks like volunteers will be in higher demand as the cuts and other changes trickle down from Washington.  We shall see what else trickles down from the swamp.

Our state government is making many of the same cuts.  School vouchers seem to be the new drum beat to solve education woes.  Fifteen years ago it was testing.  Texas' spending on education is in the bottom fourth of the nation's states.  Bills are being introduced to restructure state employee and  teacher retirement benefits in order to cut costs.  My contemporaries who served as teachers are terrified of losing their retirement income.  A close read of the two bills shows a study would be ordered to consider a hybrid retirement setup.  That hybrid would involve 401 K contributions from the employee as an option.  Nothing I read said anything about changing the plan for currently retired individuals.  I am not a lawyer so I cannot be certain I did not miss some loophole that the state could use to eliminate or reduce benefits.  My friend really wants the two bills pertaining to teacher retirement defeated as does the Retired Teachers Assn.

The 401 K savings account is a fairly typical approach to retirement in the business world.  It was scary when first introduced to the company for which we worked.  The company matched the first 4 % dollar for dollar and neither the company nor the employee paid tax at the time of saving.  We use the interest from these tax sheltered accounts for our major extra expenses.  Tax is paid on the money as we withdraw from the account.  With our current income level we get most of those taxes back after filing our tax return.

Our experience with the 401 K savings has been positive.  I surely understand the fears of us old retirees about our retirement income.  Not sure what the President and Congress will do to Social Security and Medicare.  The President says SS and Medicare will not be touched .  He has said and tweeted lots of stuff.  Many Republicans have been opposed to SS since its inception and want it abolished.  I really, really understand the teachers concerns as the same is being discussed at a national level.  Time will tell how it all works out for a while.  Then someone else will come along and just know for certain what will make 'it' all better.

Again I find myself typing while the TV is playing in the background.  The show I am half watching is on PBS, which is losing funding under the budget cuts, too.  The name of the program is 'Empire' produced by the BBC.  The episode is 5 of 5 covering the part of the British Empire in Africa.  Cecil Rhodes used the belief that the Anglo-Saxon race is "the first race in the world".  That sounds like the manifest destiny attitude that justified the decimation of the Native American culture of North America.

Thank goodness I will be able to walk.  Counting every other step, one, two, three ... one hundred, raise a finger.  One, two, three ... 'till I reach one full hand of out stretched fingers and thumb.  That gives one thousand steps.  Take the long way back to the apartment.  Counting and thinking.  Working through the issues.  Cause, that is how I keep going.  Walking is good.


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