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December 25, 2006 - It's A Wonderful World

I'm writing this column on Christmas Day in Arizona, enjoying the bright blue skies of the desert and reflectiing on what a wonderful world in which we live. I know, we have far too much disease, pestilence and war, but this week I remember the good things.

After millions of miles and countless hours in an airplane, I'm still a nose-to-the-window fllyer. Earlier in December, my wife and I flew non-stop from Chicago to Honolulu in just 8 hours. As I looked down from 39,000 feet at this marvelous country, I couldn't help but think how long it took folks to travel to the West Coast 150 yers ago, three months, at least, by covered wagon, and I am doing it in less than 4 hours in the comfort of an easy chair. And yet, we complain if the flight is a few minutes late!

Looking down at the farms of the Midwest and the irrigation circles of the Great Plains, I'm reminded of the hard work of the farmers and ranchers below me, but also how much easier their work is today than it was in the life of their grandparents and great-grandparents. The mechanization and technology of today enables them to quadruple production, taking corn from 50 bushels per acre to 200 and do it from the seat of a tractor rather than walking behind a team of horses.

On the return trip from Honolulu (which took just 7 hours) we were flying at night and friom the air, the bright lights of the cities were brilliant in the darkness, but the rural landscape was dotted with the light of the merury vapor lamps in farm yards. Here, I can speak with personal experience, because I was 14 years old in 1948 when the REAL hooked up our farm and brought the miracle of electricity. Overnight Alladin lamps and kerosene lanterns were gone because at the flick of a switch we had light; my mother threw out the flat irons, replaced by an electric iron; other additions included a refrigerator and a milking machine. It was truly a life-changing experience in my youth and today we take it all for granted.

Finally, let me comment on modern medicine and what it has done to our life expectancy. A friend was recently diagnosed with a malignant tumor attached to his kidney. There was a time when that would be a death sentence, but not today. During surgery, the surgeon removed the kidney from the body, cut away the tumor and returned the repaired kidney to where it belonged; truly a modern medical miracle and my friend is on the path to a full recovery.

So enjoy the memories of the"good old days", but then celebrate the wonderful world we live in today and remember it all started with the miracle of Bethlehem may centuries ago. Merry Christmas and a Happy & Healthy New Year!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.