Company after company is seeking money from the government taxpayers. It’s really starting to make me mad!  I found a great website that gives a visual representation of our tax dollars the government has chosen to put at risk.  Here’s a nice little list compiled from that website for 2008:

  1. Bear Sterns – $30 billion
  2. Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac – $200 billion
  3. A.I.G. (American International Group) – $150 billion
  4. Auto Industry – $25 billion
  5. Troubled Asset Relief Program – $700 billion
  6. Auto Industry – $50 billion AGAIN?!

That’s a whopping $1,155,000,000,000.  If you’re wondering, that massive number to the left is TRILLION!  What about that auto industry on that list again?  Yes, AGAIN!  In September, our elected officials decided to throw what U.S. News decided to call “A $25 Billion Lifeline [to] GM, Ford, and Chrysler.”  Now, ailing U.S. automakers are still struggling and are asking for an additional $50 billion. $75 billion in taxpayer money in the course of a few months.

What would happen if we didn’t bail them out?  Let’s pretend they fail and close their doors. A lot of people will lose their jobs.  Are we going to stop buying cars?  Not the way I see it.  Cars still get old, break, and need to be replaced.  Just because the options of GM, Ford, and Chrysler are not available does not mean people will stop buying cars.  Where will they get those cars?  The remaining car companies that have done a good job at 1) managing their finances and 2) producing a car of quality.  Obviously, these car companies will have an increased demand and will subsequently increase their production of automobiles.  How will they increase production?  Easy, there will be an overabundance of skilled laborers as the “Big Three” will have closed their doors.  Of course, people may have some change in their lives, but hey . . . life = change.

I don’t know how accurate these figures are, but I was looking on Wikipedia for the factories of Ford and Toyota as a comparison.  Ford has 133 plants total.  42 of those plants are located in the United States. That amounts to 32%.  Toyota, as far as I could find, has 13 plants total.  8 of those plants are located in the United States. That amounts to 62%.  Who is the more “American” car company?  An article from Forbes magazine gives more detial about production on U.S. soil and the difference in profitability of domestic and import auto manufacturers.  This article does an exquisite job of detailing the difference between the ailing U.S. manufacturers and the profitable foreign manufacturers.  Quality and efficiency vs. complacency and stagnation.  I echo the articles closing line, “I think that it is better to work at expanding the growth than always complaining and blaming others for your misfortune”

I know, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve written on my blog.  My wife can make fun of me all she wants as I threatened her at one time to take her blog down before she really got into writing.  I have to say, I’ve been a bit busy.  I have a little free time tonight and I had to say something about the current situation with the proposed $700 billion bailout.

All I can say is that it makes me sick that part of the U.S. government wants to push this measure through.  Where is the lesson in this?  How am I supposed to teach my kids about responsibility and consequences when the government says to a particular industry, “If you make really bad decisions and get in trouble . . . really, really, BIG trouble . . . and you knew you were taking really, really, BIG risks . . . don’t worry about it.  I’ll just make sure you get a tidy little severance pay and then bail you out.”  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to leave my kids out to dry all the time, but what lesson is the government trying to teach it’s citizens?  Sure, passing this bill may make it easier for me to finance the remainder of my medical education, but at what cost?  How much power do I want to hand to a government that can’t even balance its own books?  I was just looking at a national debt clock, and every time I clicked refresh, it jumped about $100,000.  How much more could this country do if we didn’t have to pay interest on nearly $9 trillion?!  It seems like our government is full of people suffering from a spending addiction.  An everyday Joe runs up his credit cards to the max then tries to get more . . . always living in a deficit, they have people calling, threatening if some payment isn’t received.  What happens when our government does this?  We just look the other way.  They are stewards of our money.  Are they doing a good job?  Enough is enough!  It’s time to clean out the career politicians and get some respectable, honest, public servants into office.

Publicly, I would like to thank my Congressman, Jim Matheson for voting against  H R 3997.

Well, after an entire day of traveling . . . we’re back in the good ‘ole U.S.A. I’ve not been shocked at what I’ve experienced, but have certainly noticed a few things. My first comment comparing the U.S. to my experience on Saba was in the Miami airport. We purchased some food at a little stand. I got a club sandwich. It was pretty reasonable in price and was HUGE. I had a hard time getting my mouth around it for a bite. My first comment? “Welcome to the U.S.” I didn’t see a sandwich that large my entire time on Saba.

My second comment came during our drive from the DFW airport. One lane is the width of the road on Saba. Yes, in the U.S. a car has that space all to itself. In Saba, that same space is shared by two cars traveling in opposite directions with a rock wall on either side that will tear up your car. Then, on further comparison of roads here and there, the tiny roads I thought we had in the development from which we moved felt incredibly wide.

Last night, when we laid down to go to sleep, I mentioned to Emily, “I miss the tree frogs . . . and the wind . . . and the sound of the ocean.” Sounds I have grown to love . . . sounds which lulled me to sleep each night. Exhaustion finally took over and I fell into a deep slumber, until Hannah woke me up in the morning.

This morning, I took my dogs out and decided to walk around a bit. One word. NOISE! It is so noisy here in suburbia. Saba has a peace and quiet for which I long.

I knew things were going to be different. I figured once I got back here, I’d just get back in the swing of things, but as I have a direct comparison . . . the differences are, for the time being, quite noticeable.

When I arrived on this island I had a hard time believing I was going to live in the Caribbean for nearly two years. Now my time is up, I’m having a hard time picturing my life in a place other than Saba. This island has truly taught me many life lessons. My experiences have been wide and I’ve met so many wonderful people. This experience has truly enriched my life.

I’ve wanted to write something about how I’m feeling as I close this chapter in my life, but as I sit and think about how to put into words the experience I’ve had, it’s hard to formulate just what to say.  Life in the Caribbean has certainly been interesting, and I can’t believe I’m ready to leave.  I already miss the way of life to which I’ve become so accustomed.  The one thing that is helping me feel excited to leave is that we have been car-less until today.  Our friends have gone to St. Maarten for a week and were very kind to let us borrow their car until we leave (they secretly saved our love of the island).  I think if we had been car-less for our last 10 days on the island . . . we would have left with a sour taste.  The same could probably be said about anywhere we felt confined.  However, I still can’t believe I’m actually saying, I’m bored.  I still love the view.  I still love the pace of life, but it is certainly true that a person should be anxiously engaged in a good cause.  Purpose is a good thing.  It helps get a person out of bed in the morning and gets them through the day.  I guess I have just felt like we’re flying in a holding pattern.

I’m determined to do better with my remaining four days on Saba.  I haven’t regretted any time I’ve spent on this island . . . what a shame it would be to regret the end.

Emily and I were sitting around this morning talking about how we feel like we’ve really had our time on Saba when our neighbor called me outside to our patio. My eyes were immediately drawn to the railing . . . something that in the two plus years we’ve lived here, I had never seen on our patio.

I told my neighbor I was thought it was probably hunting for geckos. There is a light next to where it was perched where the geckos congregate to hunt for bugs. All I gotta say, is that it’s one smart snake. Not two seconds after I said what I was thinking, a gecko ran from the top of the railing down to the light and in the blink of an eye . . . it was securely in the clutches of our new little friend.

The snake originally grabbed the gecko by the side, then it inched it’s mouth around to the head and gulped it down. You can see the gecko is still trying to hang on with one of it’s back legs.

Mmm . . . all done! Certainly not something you see every day. (I seem to be experiencing a lot of that lately.)

What do you do when you’ve lived in the Caribbean for nearly two and a half years and your time has a definite end date? Mine happens to be April 24, 2008. Actually, I don’t know if I can really count the 24th as we will be traveling the balance of that day. So really, my last real day in the Caribbean is April 23, 2008. So, what do you do? I’ll let you know.

Today, I saw something that you don’t see every day. Actually, I have to admit . . . I’ve never seen this before. A few times as I’ve lived here and have been sitting on my patio, I’ve seen something on the horizon that I haven’t immediately recognized. Today was one of those days . . . and since we’ve sold everything in our house in preparation for our move I couldn’t grab our binoculars to get a closer look at the UFO (unidentified floating object). As it got a little closer, I realized what it was. Here’s a picture.

An oil drilling platform was being towed by two tug boats. Just another aspect I’m going to miss about living in the Caribbean . . . random things float past our house on a daily basis. I’ve really enjoyed it here!

We gave up our transportation today. Those who have visited may have fond memories of our 1995 Daihatsu Cuore. Cuore, you ask? Oh yeah, it’s not one of those cars you’d find in the U.S. as an accident with a bicycle would leave the driver of the CAR in really bad shape! Fortunately we rarely go over 20 mph on this island and since there really isn’t any cross-traffic, the risk of getting “T-boned” is quite minimal. The only thing I can think of that would do similar damage would be a boulder rolling down the mountain and smashing the side of the car . . . another incident that would most likely render the driver of the car . . . well . . . dead!

We had anticipated making contact sometime today with the buyer of our car as today was the day we told her we would be able to part with it. However, on the first of April, we realized our Saba phone had been disconnected. We called the phone company with our Vonage phone (as they hadn’t cut off the internet) and they explained that all the students leaving the island for good have their phones cut off so there isn’t an outstanding bill after they leave. I understand the reasoning, but it would have been nice to have a little warning. So, since our phone was disconnected, I had to track down contact our buyer in person. I remember her telling me she worked at a certain restaurant. I dropped by the restaurant, but they had a hand written sign in the window that said, “Closed for lunch.” This is something that is commonly done on Saba. If they don’t feel like opening up . . . they don’t. I then recalled she said she lived in The Bottom in a certain area. I parked the car and started walking around the neighborhood. I saw a woman, and asked her if she knew where my buyer lived. She told me where I could find this person and I found my buyer. She asked me, “How did you know where I lived?”

I kind of chuckled and said, “Did you forget what island we’re on?”

She got the cash, and I handed her the key. Done deal!

Now, I had a bit of a dilemma. I was in The Bottom and had to get to Lower Hells Gate . . . WITH NO CAR! I wasn’t really in the mood for the 1.5 hour hike to get home so . . . I started hitchhiking. Yup, no less than 30 seconds after my thumb first flew I was standing in the back of a pickup truck with a couple Rasta guys. That’s the way people ride in trucks around here . . . standing . . . in the back.

I think I’ll get along alright without the car, but I do feel bad for Emily. I’ve got the bus to take me to school and back when I need to go, but she’s got to rely on hitchhiking (with a toddler and pregnant belly) or her friends to get her out of the house. Independence is certainly a wonderful thing . . . but I’d consider letting it slide a bit to keep my view indefinitely.

There was actually a time a little over a year ago I jokingly threatened Emily to take her blog off the internet because she wasn’t using it very often. I’m totally pathetic. I’ve obviously been less than consistent with mine, but seriously . . . I’m going to do better. Just the other day, Emily flicked my little statement back in my face . . . “Do you want me to take down your blog? You don’t seem to be using it very much.” I guess I deserved that.

We visited St. Maarten this past weekend. The primary reason for our visit was to visit the doctor to get an ultrasound on Emily’s pregnant belly. Emily had been looking forward to this little “get away” for quite sometime. I could tell she was excited by the way she kept describing how cute Hannah would be swimming in the ocean on a beach that didn’t have an 80 foot, rock-dropping, cliff overshadowing your every move like the Saba beach. Granted, the sand was quite a bit softer than the sand found on Saba, but I love our little here-it-is now-it’s-not beach. I think the coastline of Saba is one of the reasons it can truthfully be called the “Unspoiled Queen” of the Caribbean. Who plans a vacation to an island that may or may not have a beach? Not many!

We visited the doctor and he asked what we thought we were having. When Emily was pregnant with Hannah, she started calling her a girl well before we found out. I told her I didn’t want our little kid to get a complex if it turned out to be a boy, so I called it a boy. I was wrong. Once again, Emily demonstrated how connected she is with our child and started calling this kid a boy well before we found out . . . and once again, I wanted to add a little balance to our relationship. I called it a girl. I was wrong. Maybe I’ll listen to her next time . . . then again . . .

As Dr. Tjon moved the ultrasound probe to the other side of Emily’s belly he said, “Let’s see which one of you is right.” It was the most clear ultrasound picture I think I have ever seen. We could have grabbed the guy that was stumbling in front of the hospital to read the ultrasound . . . it was unmistakable!

Just like with Hannah, I’m excited to meet this kid, and just like Emily, I don’t think I know what to do with a little boy. You see, I’ve been swimming in a sea of estrogen my entire life. Let me explain. In my family growing up, there were two boys, three girls, then me at the end. My closest brother was 12 years older than me, so you can see there was a lot of estrogen surrounding me. Then, I got married and there was balance between the hormones. The balance was short lived as we added a dog to our family . . . a female dog. A short while later we added another female dog. I was losing this battle, and quickly. We then moved to Texas to open a wedding gown store. Um, can anyone say estrogen? Loads and loads of estrogen!!! If that wasn’t enough, Emily’s sister moved in with us. Then, her friend also moved in. Let’s pause and recap. On Team Testosterone . . . me. On Team Estrogen . . . Emily, Kyaha the dog, Paris the dog, Charmain the sister-in-law, Stephanie the sister-in-law’s friend, and ALL THOSE BRIDES (oh, and their mothers, grandmothers, bridesmaids, and other girlfriends). Yeah, I was truly losing the battle. Well, Stephanie moved out, then Charmain, then we got out of our wedding gown shop. The tide was starting to shift in my favor. Of course, that couldn’t last too long. After nine years of marriage we finally got a bun in the oven . . . it turned out to be a girl! I was certainly not disappointed in the least. Hannah has been and is the greatest blessing in my life next to my sweet, darling, sassy wife. I’m amazed at how much she has added to my life. However, in terms of my lifelong battle to even out the hormones in my life, it was just another nail in the coffin.

By the way, if you’ve ever wondered what specialty I’m going to pursue in medicine . . . it will NOT (can I make that any bigger?) be OB/GYN!

I finally have some help on the way to balance the hormones in the Lesher house!

As my time on Saba draws to a close, people keep telling me to enjoy the time I have left. I understand what they’re saying. Many, if not most, students who come to this island to study medicine view Saba like a prison . . . something akin to Alcatraz. Now, if I were in San Francisco Bay, on Alcatraz island, locked in a cell . . . I’d be counting my days to get off. I do admit, I am counting the days a bit, but it’s not with excitement to get off this “rock”. I am excited for a few things back in the States, but for the most part I’m going to miss everything about this island . . . well not everything.

Emily wrote a post about things she’s going to miss and things she’s not going to miss. Here’s my list.

Things I won’t miss:

  • The so called “fast” internet they have on Saba
  • Not being able to buy fruit & vegetables every day I go to the store (only once a week – if you make it to the store before everyone else)
  • Sitting in a classroom all day long, with the storm shudders closed, freezing cold air conditioning blasting, sitting in a seat built for a high school student
  • Not being able to see my family with a greater frequency

Things I will miss:

  • The view
  • The warm weather
  • The view
  • Sitting on my patio watching the sky (and it’s reflection in the ocean) change a million different colors as the sun goes down
  • The view
  • Sitting on my patio at night under a cloudless star-filled sky – truly it’s AMAZING
  • The view
  • The quietness of this island
  • The view
  • The calmness of this island
  • The view
  • The fact that it takes 20 minutes to drive from one end of the island to the other
  • The view
  • The fact that there is no traffic whatsoever (unless you count getting stuck in Windwardside for 30 seconds while everybody figures out who gets to go first at the corner by Big Rock)
  • The view
  • Watching the sun rise over the ocean and then being able to go to Wells Bay later that day and see it set on the ocean
  • The view
  • Really, there are just too many things to list – I could go on and on
  • I hate to be cliché, but did I mention, the view is INCREDIBLE?!

So, I love this island and feel, as my time grows to a close, I’ve really taken advantage of pretty much every day I’ve been here. I don’t think one day has passed that I haven’t paused for a moment to appreciate THE VIEW!!! I do have to say, though, that what I treasure most about this island is the perspective it has taught me about life and family. This will have to be another post by itself, but Saba has taught me what is most important in life and how to appreciate it.

The View

That’s St. Barths on the horizon . . . yeah, I’m gonna miss that view!

There’s only been one time in my life I’ve been consistent at keeping a journal. Right now, that doesn’t seem like a big deal, but the other day Emily was explaining to me how she envisions her blog in the future. A record for our kids to read about the early part of their life. It will also provide a window into our lives for them to see us as something other than parents.

This conversation really got me thinking about the direction of my own blog. Although I’m currently just writing to the empty space of the internet, I’d like for it to hold some actual value and purpose . . . something other than taking up space in the nebulous world of cyberspace. That purpose, as I see it (and inspired by Emily) is a record for my children.  My life as I see it.

I remember reading a few journal entries my mom wrote around the time I was born. It was really fun to peek into her mind at a time she didn’t know me. It really meant a lot to me. So, hopefully someday in the distant future, Hannah and her siblings (number to be determined) will be reading these posts and will be able to appreciate who I am as seen from a different perspective – one that’s a little closer to the inside of my head.

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