For those of you waiting breathlessly to discover the age of my old dog Peaches, I have found the answer. I went through the files in my upstairs study and located her paperwork. Today, she is ta-da…17.
I don’t go into my study very often so I found the blinds open from when Ines cleaned it. I close the blinds to protect the books, art work on the walls, photos on the bookcases and desks, letters from long ago, and photos and slides in the closet. All fade with time.
Fortunately, these days, the paper used in books does not deteriorate the way paper from only a few decades ago does. It always amazed me when I worked in the library at MWC, and entered the rare books room, that books printed in the 1500s could be in better shape than books printed in the 1950s.
I was thinking about this again recently because I watched the special on PBS about Oscar Hammerstein. One of the musicals Hammerstein worked on was South Pacific based on the book by James Michener, the author who had served time in the Navy during WWII where he got ideas for the book of the same name.
I have first edition copies of several of Michener’s books, although I lost the covers years ago so they are worth very little. I read all of those Michener published before 1960. I used my school allowance to buy the books. My allowance was for lunch and bus fare, but I went hungry and walked the three miles home to save the money to buy books.
I also bought several of John Kennedy’s books including one he autographed for me, The Strategy of Peace when I worked in his campaign. Kennedy was an old Cold Warrior whose hero was Winston Churchill. Some of the young men in my history class are taking a course on the Cuban Missile Crises, and have been quite shocked to discover what an anti-communist Kennedy was. To say his politics diverged from those of his brothers is an understatement.
Folks often note the incivility in Washington these days, but it comes from both sides, I fear. Only a few decades ago, the Democrats were more conservative and the Republicans were more liberal. All that has changed and dramatically, during my life time.
We see this political split played out dramatically in the Nation’s Capital and neighboring Virginia and Maryland. According to the Washington Examiner, Virginia hasn’t raised its state taxes in 4 years, and Maryland has raised them 5 times in the past few years. The Examiner says 9 percent of Maryland households have a net taxable income of less than $3,000 per year. The percent for Virginia is 3.
Maryland has higher sales and income taxes but Virginia has more taxes (auto, property, cigarettes) and fees.
According to the state of Maryland, it offers more generous Medicaid benefits (10th in the nation, compared with Virginia at 24th place) and a fairly high-ranking in the quality of its schools (best in the nation). Of course schools are mostly financed by local property taxes, and a several of the counties in Virginia place very high in the national rankings. Maryland is more urban than Virginia which is also a factor in school budgets, especially when one considers the school bus fleets.
Whether the governor was Democrat or Republican, Virginia has cut government expenses for several years to balance the state budget. Thousands of retirees have moved to Virginia owing to its reasonable tax rates. Virginia also has a huge population of more conservative immigrants, mostly from Asia, many from the Middle East and South Korea.
More Liberal immigrants from Latin America move to Maryland, although a number of Hispanics also live in Virginia. Maryland also loses a number of its retirees to Virginia. You can read more about state rankings at this link: