Monday, August 31, 2009
It is as relevant to any successful organization in 2009 as it was then.
There aren't enough Brown's working today.
Brown is gone, and many men in the trade are wondering who is going to get Brown’s job.
There has been considerable speculation about this. Brown’s job was reputed to be a good job. Brown’s former employers, wise gray-eyed men, have had to sit still and repress amazement, as they listened to bright, ambitious young men and dignified old ones seriously apply for Brown’s job.
Brown had a big chair and wide, flat-topped desk covered with a sheet of glass. Under the glass was a map of the United States. Brown had a salary of thirty thousand dollars a year. And twice a year Brown made a “trip to the coast” and called on every one of the firm’s distributors.
He never tried to sell anything. Brown wasn’t exactly in the sales department. He visited with the distributors, called on a few dealers, once in a while made a little talk to a bunch of salesmen. Back at the office he answered most of the important complaints, although Brown’s job wasn’t to handle complaints.
Brown wasn’t in the credit department either, but vital questions of credit usually got to Brown, somehow or other, and Brown would smoke and talk and tell a joke, and untwist his telephone cord and tell the credit manager what to do.
Whenever Mr. Wythe, the impulsive little president, working like a beaver, would pick up a bunch of papers and peer into a particularly troublesome and messy subject, he had a way of saying, “What does Brown say? What does Brown say? What the hell does Brown say? — Well, why don't you do it, then?”
And that was disposed.
Or when there was a difficulty that required quick action and lots of it, together with tact and lots of that, Mr. Wythe would say, “Brown, you handle that.”
And then one day, the directors met unofficially and decided to fire the superintendent of the No. 2 Mill. Brown didn’t hear of this until the day after the letter had gone. “What do you think of it, Brown?” asked Mr. Wythe. Brown said, “That’s all right. The letter won’t be delivered until tomorrow morning, and I’ll get him on the wire and have him start East tonight. Then I’ll have his stenographer send the letter back here and I’ll destroy it before he sees it.”
The others agreed, “That’s the thing to do.”
Brown knew the business he was in. He knew the men he worked with. He had a whole lot of sense, which he apparently used without consciously summoning his judgment to his assistance. He seemed to think good sense.
Brown is gone, and men are now applying for Brown’s job. Others are asking who is going to get Brown’s job—bright, ambitious young men, dignified older men.
Men who are not the son of Brown’s mother, nor the husband of Brown’s wife, nor the product of Brown’s childhood — men who never suffered Brown’s sorrows nor felt his joys, men who never loved the things that Brown loved nor feared the things he feared — are asking for Brown’s job.
Don’t they know that Brown’s chair and his desk, with the map under the glass top, and his pay envelope, are not Brown’s job? Don’t they know that they might as well apply to the Methodist Church for John Wesley’s job?
Brown’s former employers know it. Brown’s job is where Brown is.
Batten, Barton, Durstine & Osborn
383 Madison Avenue, New York
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I thought Los Angeles might be it.
Even though the plane this morning flew over miles of fire and smoke.
The plane then flew over the most God forsaken country you ever saw.
Desert. Dry as chalk.
112 in the shade would have been a nice day.
And then we landed in the middle of it.
Every shade of bad character was there.
To begin with, the guy sitting next to me in 13B.
When you let down the little dinner tray thingy, I know it's hard to get your desktop computer to fit on there.
My pardner couldn't even let down the tray.
He was asking for an extender belt before he sat down.
His first level of flab was over the top of it. His second level was in my lap.
We landed, and the asshole had a wheelchair to take him out. Straight to the casino.
This is the jerk we will be paying Obamacare for.
He wheezed for an hour and a half.
We landed and I saw women in less clothing than my wife on honeymoon night.
Hubba-hos. Cootchie mamas. Trailer sluts.
Then, derelicts. Gamblers. Jerks of all kinds.
I felt so alone.
I didn't have one tattoo.
I didn't have one piercing.
I didn't own an Ed Hardy t-shirt.
I didn't have a woman that looked like a cartoon with me.
And this was just the Las Vegas Airport.
A cab ride later, we were at the Venetian.
I got to stand in line like at the California DMV to check in to my pre-prepaid room.
While in line, this is what I saw.
A woman that looked like a vampire prostitute.
Fifteen women in velour pants that looked like I had put last weeks 30 gallon Hefty bag in there.
Asian people with kids like this was Disneyland.
Women with less clothes on than any beer commercial you've ever seen. Most of them would not have been called back for a second casting.
Men in bad hats. Baseball caps. Guys trying to be cool wearing a hat my grandfather wouln't have worn 40 years ago.
Groups of women checking in for something. Whatever it was to be, it wasn't pretty.
I felt so alone.
As Alvin Lee sang so poignantly:
Freaks and hairies
Dykes and fairies
Tell me where is sanity
Finally, I saw one normal guy.
One more African American dwarf.
We are going to Ghost Bar later.
Like turning 8.
As my daughter did this past week.
We were talking about birthdays, and she reminded me that I had one coming up.
I told her I can't remember how old I am anymore without doing the math. Let's see, 2009 minus 1954 equals . . .
At breakfast, she told the waitress it was her birthday.
Then she told her that she now calls me Father Time. Cause I can't remember how old I am.
Then on to Disneyland. The happiest place on earth.
She has an annual pass. I get in line to buy a one-day ticket.
When we get to the window, she again tells the story about Father Time.
The beautiful silver haired black man behind the window gives me a wink. "Only $70 for senior citizens."
Wait a friggin' minute. He didn't even check my ID. I just got carded the wrong way.
So as the day progressed, Peanut and I talked about aging.
Losing teeth is a key sign.
She told me one of her pointy teeth was getting loose.
"Isn't that a fang, daddy?"
"No, honey. That's only on grown women."
"Daddy, does anyone ever lose those back teeth? You know, the ones you chew with?
What are they called, your morals? Daddy, did you lose your morals?"
"Yes, honey. All of them. Before I was ten."
Friday, August 28, 2009
Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard, Border Patrol.
We as Americans have over one million folks in battle with foreign enemies.
There are 300 million Americans.
How many of us feel a personal connection to the wars that are raging?
Our military is an all voluntary group.
Just as our founding fathers envisioned it.
People fighting the cause because they care.
The problem we have is that most of America couldn't give a rat's ass. Because they have no clue as to what is at stake.
And therefore, their representatives in government are not focused on the world war that is around us.
This is not the military's problem.
It is a leadership problem.
We have a Commander in Chief.
We have a Congress that funds and approves our military's actions.
Our military performs the most basic function of government.
Protecting the American populace from foreign enemies.
We need leaders that can either call us to war or not.
What frightens me is that we have enemies all around.
And I don't see one leader in Washington saying that.
Radical Islamists around the globe.
Crazed drug dealers wanting U.S. connections because our country consumes what they sell.
We either find a plan to eliminate these enemies, or we fight them on U.S soil.
America has a choice.
We have the technology and the military power to eliminate enemies.
Pussyfooting around becuase of political correctness and worrying about collateral damage will be the end of us.
I know many of you won't like this.
But it is the friggging truth.
Violence is sometimes the only option.
We have to kill them before they kill us.
And we have to do it in a big way to send a message as to how costly it is to mess with the U.S.
Politically, that is a hard thing to do unless you have communicated the message.
We can either wait patiently, naively until it all gets here.
Or, we can strike at the heart of evil.
We need some leaders that say don't tread on us.
I don't know much, but I know that if our leaders give the direction, our military can make us safe from every possible direction.
Thursday, August 27, 2009
The older I get and the more intertwined by family becomes with others, I have discovered a real problem.
I don’t have a name for a number of key new relationships.
My daughter is married. She has a father-in-law. I have become a father-in-law to her husband.
So how do I describe my relationship to John who is my daughter’s father-in-law?
After lengthy research, I can’t find any help.
So, I’m going to fix this myself. Don’t need government intervention.
Here are some options I’ve been kicking around.
John and I are co-pops.
John and I are friends by marriage.
John is my grandbabiesmamaspawpaw.
I think after much consideration, I have the answer.
John and I are poops.
So, let us now establish a special day for us.
Poops day cards. Poops day cakes. Poops day parties.
As if that wasn’t enough, here’s yet another dilemma.
My ex-wife’s sister. She is still the aunt of my children. So even though I’m no longer related to her sister, Brenda and I are still related.
Brenda is my outlawedinlaw.
Brenda is my babyauntie.
Wait, I got it.
Brenda is my sexter.
That’s catchy. Will make a wonderful new holiday.
OK, two down.
My youngest daughter is half-sister to my older sons and daughters.
So her relationship to their in-laws . . .
This one’s gonna take some work.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
I wish what you were about to read was made up. I wish I had made it up, but I'm not that creative, or crazy, or insane as the folks that made it happen.
From The San Francisco Chronicle
"The federal government sent about 3,900 economic stimulus payments of $250 each this spring to people who were in no position to use the money to help stimulate the economy: prison inmates.
The checks were part of the massive economic recovery package approved by Congress and President Barack Obama in February. About 52 million Social Security recipients, railroad retirees and those receiving Supplemental Security Income were eligible for the one-time checks.
Prison inmates are generally ineligible for federal benefits. However, 2,200 of the inmates who received checks got to keep them because, under the law, they were eligible, said Mark Lassiter, a spokesman for the Social Security Administration. They were eligible because they weren't incarcerated in any of the three months before the recovery package was enacted."
And these clowns want to run healthcare.
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
Radical Islamic men decide that based on their ideology that it is moral to kill innocent men and women around the world.
They blow up a Marine base in Lebanon. They blow up American Embassies in Africa. They blow up tourists in Egypt. They blow up clubs in Indonesia. They blow up trains in London.
They blow up the USS Cole.
They plot and hijack commercial airplanes in the United States. They slit the throats of American Airlines and United Airlines employees.
With training provided by their covert actions in the United States, they are capable of flying a jet airliner.
They fly the planes into the World Trade Center.
They fly a plane into the Pentagon.
They have another plane headed to Washington, D.C. for untold damage and harm.
Thanks to courageous Americans, that plane ended up in a Pennsylvania farm.
We have sent our children into Afghanistan and Iraq to fight these radicals.
Supposedly, they are the scourge of the Islamic world.
Our men and women went into Iraq to take the country away from Saddam Hussein. And we did it.
Since then, who have we been fighting?
Radical Islamists from around the world.
Radical Islamists have been killing and maiming soldiers from every country that sent support into Iraq. And Afghanistan.
Iran has been the primary supporter. Syria and other countries have also been accomplices.
We have 130,000 military men and women still in Iraq.
We have pulled all of them out of the towns and cities. And Iraq is blowing up.
We now hear that a new Shiite majority that is allied with Iran is planning a political overthrow of al-Maliki, the current boss in Iraq.
It is so gratifying to hear this from a country for which we as Americans have sacrificed over 4000 U.S. lives. And tens of thousands of permanently wounded.
al-Maliki's only hope is to bond with the Sunni minority in Iraq. Say goodnight Dick.
After all we have spent in human cost and U.S. dollars, Iraq is soon to be an adjunct state of Iran.
Unless, someone in the West says no.
The Saudis are crying for help. If the Shiites take over Iraq, their next enemy is Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia is a sparsely populated Sunni region with huge oil reserves.
The folks in Tehran would just love to run the Saud family out of town, kill all the Sunnis, and take over all the oil in the middle east.
And our concern as America today seems to be the treatment of radical Islamists by our intelligence agencies and our military.
Trust me, these bastards have never read nor cared about the Warsaw Pact or any other rules of war.
Radical Islam does not respect any rule of law other than Sharia law.
They behead infidels.
They make laws to enable men to rape their wives.
They make laws to enable men to marry girls 8 years old.
Yet, we are focused on being politically correct.
As a wise man in Vaudeville once said, "This fucking I'm gettin isn't worth this fucking I'm getting."
We are not fighting a country.
We are not fighting a geography.
This is world war of the worst sort.
It is religious and boundless.
Radical Islam only wants one thing.
World worship of their form of god.
World acceptance of their law.
Wake up, America.
Wake up, President Obama.
Wake up, Congress.
The radical Islamists really don't care about universal health care.
We will be fighting them on U.S soil soon if we don't get real.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
What follows is an article from that right-wing hotbed The San Francisco Chronicle.
Is this the kind of universal health care we look forward to if you have your way?
Chronic drunks' treatment costs S.F. big bucks
San Francisco has paid at least $150,000 for Kenny Walters in the past
year. He isn't employed, has an arrest record as long as his hair, and can
often be found passed out in a doorway on Haight Street.
Kenny Walters' job is to get drunk.
He's certainly not alone. "Chronic inebriants" are a grim and disturbing
fact of life in San Francisco. They also cost the city millions.
The frustration is that the public service network - police, fire and
medical professionals - doesn't seem to make a dent when it comes to
people like Walters. There are suggestions, like a pilot program for
high-impact users at the Department of Public Health, or the Community
Justice Center to target frequent users, but nothing seems to get
A five-year study found that 225 high ambulance users cost the city an
average of $13 million annually, said Maria X. Martinez, a deputy director
at the Department of Public Health. 'A lot of money'
That may be low. Martinez's study calculated an ambulance pickup at a cost
of $725 in 2007; for 2009-10 the cost is $1,458.
"No matter how you calculate it," Martinez said, "it is a lot of money."
There should be a way to address this. Martinez's study also found that
fewer than 300 individuals account for 80 percent of the ambulance runs
for alcohol treatment. That kind of focus is exactly why the Community
Justice Center was created. Apparently, in screwy City Hall logic, saving
a few hundred thousand dollars by dumping the Community Justice Center
trumps the loss of millions.
Recently Walters, who came from Arizona a year and a half ago, was curled
up in the fetal position on the sidewalk near Masonic and Haight. Tourists
with a camera walked past him; some peered down to see if he was
"Basically he comes out here and drinks himself to this point every day,"
police Officer John Andrews said. "It's like the movie 'Leaving Las
Vegas,' " in which where Nicolas Cage's character goes to Las Vegas to
drink himself to death.
Walters, who was decked out in a red, long-sleeve Spider-Man shirt, isn't
homeless or broke. The 41-year-old happily shared his story with me. He
sat up, pushed his blond bangs off his face, and blinked his striking blue
eyes until his surroundings came into focus.
"I do get caught for drinking out here every day," he said affably. "I
wish I had another beer right now."
He said he gets $953 a month in Supplemental Security Income for disabled
and aged citizens and pays $650 a month for a hotel room in the Tenderloin
under the city's Care Not Cash program.
With free meals available from local charities, that leaves $300 a month
for booze. Walters says he doesn't do hard drugs, just pot. He just
drinks, usually "40 ouncers," big, cheap bottles of beer.
"He probably gets picked up two or three times a week," said Andrews, who
pointed to two plastic hospital bands Walters had on his wrist from
previous visits. "I've seen him with four or five hospital bands at a
Walters is usually too intoxicated to walk, which makes him ineligible for
a sobering center. But regardless of where he goes, Walter's isn't
bothered about the expense.
"Doesn't cost me a thing," he said cheerfully.
But the city is on the hook. It isn't just the money. Each pickup means an
ambulance and a fire engine are out of service for other calls.
"One guy had 49 pickups in a month," Martinez said.
Walters says he has "probably gotten 100 tickets in a year and a half, but
I just don't go to court. ... My tickets just don't seem to show up."
Actually, they are either dismissed or a warrant is issued. But because he
ignores those, too, nothing happens.
Andrews says he continues to cite Walters, but "he's in such bad health
there isn't much we can do."
It is a sad story on every level. While it is infuriating to hear that
"frequent fliers" game the system to get free care, everyone knows how
this story ends.
"These guys show up in somewhat good health and then deteriorate," said
Andrews. "Eventually we find them under one of the bushes in Golden Gate
Park - dead."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
You have pitched nine scoreless innings in this, the championship game of Texas Continental Amateur Baseball.
You have puked twice. Drank two liters of Gatorade. Had an icepack around your neck since warm-ups. You’re dizzy, nauseated and done.
The coach has just lifted you for a pinch hitter.
The other team has pieced together a shutout themselves. Three guys throwing alot of junk have kept your team scoreless with some amazing defense.
Your team has a runner at first and third with one out thanks to a walk, a sacrifice bunt and a hit batter.
The pinch hitter is a stud. Lots of power. Been scouted for two years. Cocky. Likes the pressure.
He gets to the box and looks at your coach in the third base box. He’s shocked to see the bunt sign.
He knows what the coach wants. Push a bunt between the pitcher and first base. The runner at third scores. You win the game.
He gets back in the box. Pitcher winds, batter squares, and an 87 MPH fastball is on the way.
He pops it up.
An eighteen year old kid that has been playing baseball since he was 5, been to more camps and private coaching clinics than you can count, pops up a bunt. Didn’t get the bat in proper position. Bat head drops. Pops it up.
Both runners break.
The catcher snags it. Catcher fires to third and the runner is tagged for the third out. Inning over.
In the top of the tenth, the other team scores three. Your team fails to score in the last at bat. Your team loses.
That’s what happens when one man doesn’t do his job.
All the efforts of others can be ruined. A perfect strategy is for naught if not executed properly. Hopes, dreams, lives can go out the window.
When one man doesn’t do his job, it can be disastrous.
The father that doesn’t instill values in his children.
The investment banker that loses sight of who owns the money he is managing.
The teacher that assumes a child is dumb by missing her dyslexia.
The preacher that becomes more important than the message.
The CEO who always chooses safety rather than taking any chances.
The journalist who trusts an unreliable source for the sake of a scoop.
The retiree who is sure he can drive home two miles from the bar.
The college graduate who thinks fighting wars is someone else’s job.
The lawyer that’s too busy to be a proper advocate for his client.
The young man that can’t and won’t say no.
The politician that sends his military to war in a conflict he doesn’t have a clue about.
When one man doesn’t do his job, he fails himself, and the implications can ripple for miles and generations.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
(I know. It's now a virtual piece of paper made of pixels, but you know what I mean.)
So many things can happen.
The paper can be scribbled on and turned useless.
The paper can have something so mundane put on it that nobody notices.
The paper can be wadded and thrown away.
The paper can have an idea put on it that changes the world.
Think about the most important books and movies and art and advertising and magazines and laws. Somebody started with a blank sheet of paper.
How lucky are the newspaper editors who get a new start everyday.
How lucky are the new media editors who get a new start every second.
How lucky are the lawmakers who may only have one chance to get it right.
The human life is much the same as the blank sheet of paper.
What do we do with it?
Throw it away? Be unnoticed? Start a revolution? Add beauty and grace to the world?
Until we stop breathing, we get a blank sheet of paper everyday. We get to decide what to do with it.
So, what is it going to be?
To Kill a Mockingbird?
A help wanted ad?
David Letterman's Top Ten List?
The Golden Rule?
The important thing is to use your gift and make it count.
The worst thing you can do is throw it away.
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
And since he had the audacity to offer some new thinking to that of the current discussion in Washington, some of his shoppers are crying for his free-range scalp.
John Mackey is a citizen of the United States, correct? Doesn't that give him the right to freedom of speech?
John Mackey is a business man who has brought organic foods to the masses. Which is supposed to make people healthier. Does he get no credit for that?
John Mackey has built an $8 billion a year company without borrowing any government money. He employs thousands. He has a health care program that his employees love and that should be a model for America. He gets no credit for that?
He offers a well thought out platform with eight suggested "reforms".
And in return, his "oh so smarter than the hillbillies that shop at Ralph's" customers offer him these comments.
Christine Taylor, a 34-year-old New Jersey shopper, vowed never to step foot in another Whole Foods again.
"I will no longer be shopping at Whole Foods," Taylor told ABCNews.com. "I think a CEO should take care that if he speaks about politics, that his beliefs reflect at least the majority of his clients."
Oh, really Christine. Republicans and Libertarians aren't allowed to buy hand pressed triple virgin olive oil that is three times as expensive as the perfectly good "only once" virgin olive oil?
Oh, and Christine. Of the products and services you buy, of how many do you know the political views of their CEO's? Do you know the political views of the Chinese CEO who makes your running shoes? Your purse? Your phone? Your jeans? Your computer? Would you like to know? Why blame a guy who will actually tell you what he thinks?
Michael Lent, another Whole Foods enthusiast in Long Beach, Calif., told ABCNews.com that he, too, will turn to other organic groceries for his weekly shopping list.
"I'm boycotting [Whole Foods] because all Americans need health care," said Lent, 33, who used to visit his local Whole Foods "several times a week."
"While Mackey is worried about health care and stimulus spending, he doesn't seem too worried about expensive wars and tax breaks for the wealthy and big businesses such as his own that contribute to the deficit," said Lent.
Mr. Lent, just exactly how did Mackey's oped piece lead to this retarded screed of yours? Mr. Mackey got wealthy because of whack jobs like you. What does Whole Foods have to do with wars and deficits? Is this kind of confused thinking a result of insufficient Slim Jim consumption?
Mr. Mackey changed his salary to $1 a year in 2007. Mr. Lent, Ms. Taylor, go ahead and boycott. The only folks you will be hurting are the employees at the local store who have been so helpful to you over the years.
As for me, I'm heading to Whole Foods this evening to buy some Black Angus Porterhouse steaks. Good Texas grass fed beef from a good ole Texas grocery store.
Oh, yeah. Whole Foods isn't based in Berkeley you dolts. The geniuses of Whole Foods call Austin, Texas home.
Monday, August 17, 2009
Let's start this whole conversation over.
First, let's focus on a huge health problem that virtually no federal money is spent on.
The common cold.
This is an issue dear to my heart cause I caught it two days ago and have felt like a deveined shrimp ever since.
The stuffed head, the snot, the aches, the chills, the fatigue, all caused by something so small it is hard to comprehend.
Most colds are are a result of a Rhinovirus. That's a picture of one up above.
If a human were the size of a Rhinovirus, the head of a pin would be about the size of France.
And we have no cure for it.
Per Wikipedia, in the United States alone the common cold leads to 75 to 100 million physician visits annually at a conservative cost estimate of $7.7 billion per year. Americans spend $2.9 billion on over-the-counter drugs and another $400 million on prescription medicines for symptomatic relief.
More than one-third of patients who saw a doctor received an antibiotic prescription, which has implications for antibiotic resistance from overuse of such drugs.
An estimated 22 to 189 million school days are missed annually due to a cold. As a result, parents missed 126 million workdays to stay home to care for their children. When added to the 150 million workdays missed by employees suffering from a cold, the total economic impact of cold-related work loss exceeds $20 billion per year.
Not to mention how much soggy Kleenex would be kept out of our landfills.
This could be a two for oner, Big O. Save on health care costs and provide a stimulus to the economy.
The other topic we need to discuss is the cost of lawyering in health care. Malpractice. Ambulance chasing.
We have obstetricians across the country that have stopped delivering babies for the cost of malpractice insurance.
The cost of everything medical is greatly inflated due to the cost of legal insurance.
We need a discussion of tort reform. Meaning, limits on what people can recover in lawsuits. Not suggesting for a minute that the medical community shouldn't be held accountable for their actions. Just suggesting that the willy-nilly judgements of juries giving $100 million awards ought to be considered as we discuss the cost of health care.
I haven't heard it come up once in all the talk, and there has been alot, on the health care topic. Could it be that since we are governed by lawyers who are friends of lawyers who get insanely rich suing the medical industry that they don't want it to come up?
Health care does cost too much in this country. Let's just make sure we are identifying the real culprits.
Friday, August 14, 2009
It's when guys try to top one another verbally.
Yo mama jokes.
It is a great bonding game between two guys, especially father and son.
My 23 year old and I have been at it for years.
He started it, so blame him for what is about to follow and offend you.
You start with, "Your breath smells like", and then finish with something, well, offensive.
We text each other with them constantly.
We once drove from San Francisco to Dallas together. 32 hours of "your breath smells like . . ."
Some of the toppers over the years.
Like Ray Charles' eyes.
Like moth balls.
Like a wino's taint.
Like desperation. (Yes, there is room for concept humor.)
Like the back strap of Rosie O'Donnell's bra.
Like boiled hot dog water.
Like Michael J. Fox playing Jenga.
Like the bottom deck of the Mayflower.
Like Tijuana poontang.
Like denture water.
Like a question mark.
Like a haunted house.
Like Hurricane Katrina.
Like a grandma's panty hose.
Like the shithouse door on a shrimp boat.
Like Chris Farley's underwear.
Like Aretha Franklin's tampon.
You now have two choices.
Be disgusted with men.
Or, jump in and give it your best shot.
Thursday, August 13, 2009
In my personal life, things are ok.
But so many heartaches amongst friends and connections.
Visited with the Saldi family on Saturday.
I now believe there are some things worse than death of a loved one. The living but not whole life of a loved one is tougher. That's what the Saldis are dealing with. They are afraid to hope and afraid not to hope. At least death puts a period at the end of the sentence.
As much as I've experienced in the last couple of years with the loss of Pete and some of his men, I don't have any magic words to offer those that are hurting. I've learned that no one has magic words to offer me. Love, hugs and compassion is all we have to offer.
On Monday of this week, a fellow North Texas Gold Star father died.
His son, a Marine, was killed in Afghanistan in July. He was buried just a few weeks ago.
The father was inspired by the Patriot Guard Riders just as I have been. The father had years of experience with motorcycles. He bought a new bike on Monday.
On Tuesday morning, a drunk driver ran over him at 10:40 in the morning. The woman had two prior DWI's. She is now charged with murder.
I saw a friend today that I've known for 10 years or so. He is in his mid 30's.
He got married about 5 years ago. Loved his wife more than life itself.
She died shortly after Pete was killed.
He and I have cried together before. But today he was having a very hard day.
He said he is having trouble loving again. Even with members of his own family with whom he has been close always. He has a strong Christian core, but now he is on the merry-go-round of faith. He wants to have faith, but the pain makes him question. His hurt is so palpable it made me feel guilty that I am not in as much pain as he is.
And tonight, had dinner with the sweetest, gentlest man on earth.
He shared a story about a dear woman he had worked with some time ago. In late June, as in about 45 days ago, she organized a group lunch of coworkers from that previous company.
She died of pancreatic cancer on July 30. Jim showed me the lunch pictures he made on his iPhone. There is her beautiful big smile. And now she is gone.
There are only two ways I know of to think about life and death.
Option one: there is no God, no Creator, no Divine plan. We are cosmic dust being blown around and rearranged haphazardly and nothing means anything.
Option two: there is a God, a Creator, a Divine plan. We have eternal souls that will live with Him, or not, depending on our choices here on earth.
I may die a fool. But, I'm picking Option two.
If I have no hope, I quit. Why bother?
But since I choose to hope, I am going to keep moving forward. Loving, hugging, encouraging. Believing that there is a better place. A time of reunion for those that believe.
I hope you will join me there.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Two hunters were hunting for raccoons at night.
One thought he had one treed and went up into the tree after him, but it turned out to be a wildcat. He and the wildcat went round and round. Blood and fur flew, and the hunter begged his friend to “shoot this thing, shoot this thing!”
The friend said, “I can’t shoot; I might hit you.”
The treed hunter’s response was, “Well, shoot up in here amongst us; one of us needs some relief.”
Don't we all feel that way?
Unexplainable wars. Unthinkable evil. Unpardonable corruption. Unfair illness. Unchecked recession. Unanswerable questions. Unthinkable stupidity.
Stop the world. I want to get off.
A wise man once said, "The only problem with life is that is so daily."
And for too many folks in this world, life is so minute by minute. Worrying. Waiting. Watching. Wailing.
For people of faith, we have hope to get us thru. For people without faith, I don't now how they cope.
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." Hebrews 11:1
Renew our faith, Lord. Strengthen our faith, Lord. Reward our faith, Lord.
Let this be a time that more come to trust in You. Give them faith when they have lost everything else.
Teach us to be patient. Humble. Grateful.
And please, could you schedule a day off for everybody soon?
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
In six months, you have gone from Mr. Popular to at best having 50% of the populace behind you.
And in the meantime, the outside world has grown incresingly dim about your presidency.
The home folks are flummoxed by health care reform they don't trust and that you nor anyone else can explain to anyone why it is a good idea.
Trillions of dollars are flowing out of the Treasury to places we can't follow, even though you promised transparency.
TARP is a joke. The stimulus is a nightmare.
You have lost the American public in six short months.
So, why would a foreign government or an enemy listen to you when you have lost the leverage of the American people?
Big O, you have lost Big Mo.
I voted for you. I thought you might have a chance to use your popular support.
You wasted it on Democratic pet projects.
You may well go down as the least effective President we have ever seen. Somewhere below Jimmy Carter.
You need to remember the folks that voted you in.
Right now, they do not support you in majority. If the election were re-held tomorrow, and assuming John McCain wouldn't pick what's her name as VP, you wouldn't win.
Regroup. Check the pulse of the American people. All of them, since that's what you represent.
Do something bold and right.
You are not just the head of the Democratic Party.
You are the Leader of the Free World.
Act like it.
Condemn Saudi contributions to radical Islam.
Build the border between us and Mexico.
Bring our military home if we are not going to scorch the earth in the countries we are in. Our military is not a police force. It is a warrior group in search of an enemy. If you cannot name the enemy and enunciate a mission, our military has no business being there.
Make their problems their problems.
Big O, I like you.
I think you got in over your head because you are smart, black, and well spoken.
Regardless, you are in.
Use it, or lose it.
Which has meant hours, years spent listening to radio in the car.
Radio is the most personal of media. For the most part, it is one to one. And the personalities on local radio stations become a comfort and a familiar voice.
There are so many voices that became my friends. I looked forward to hearing from them. And they gave first and kept giving as good friends do.
Jeff Winter and that silky voice on 96 rock. The soundtrack of morning drives to summer warehouse jobs. The guy that introduced me to rock and roll.
Gary McKee from WQXI, Quixie in Dixie. The station that was the basis for WKRP in Cincinatti. Gary, thanks for introducing me to Willis the Guard. To "The Shortest Song in the World." For making me laugh so hard I literally had to pull off the highway more than once.
Norm Hitzges. A face made for radio. A voice made for newspapers. But now, has spent 34 years on the air in Dallas, the longest run for any radio personality in the country. I have learned more sports trivia, more ways to analyze a game, more insight into athletes and coaches by listening to you. And, I have been encouraged by your constant positive attitude and your moral stance on issues in and out of sports.
The Musers. Three knuckleheads that were college friends at the University of North Texas and managed to convince a radio station to put their nonsense on the air as a radio show. Your friendship is contagious, and you allowing your listeners in on the fun is so such a joy to be part of.
Brad Barton. North Texas is home to wild and unpredictable weather that often becomes a serious danger. For 31 years, folks in these parts turned to KRLD when weather got strange and Brad told us what to do and what to expect. When you are huddled under stairs or in a storm cellar, your internet and TV don't do much for you. Your radio does. This week, Brad Barton got laid off. Thank you my friend. You have guided me and my family thru many a storm.
For the younger generation, I regret that you will most likely not have these types of relationships. Satellite radio, iPods connected to your car stereo, Pandora, etc. allows you great music all the time.
But you will miss making some wonderful friends because technology is making people expendable.
Saturday, August 8, 2009
Families pass down car loyalties like holiday tradtions.
Mine was a GM family.
Chevrolets only for my dad's dad. Big Papa to me.
Chevy pickups, Impalas, you name it. He trusted in the bowtie.
Big Papa had a saying about Fords.
"Hope you're thru having kids. Riding in a Ford will shake all the nuts off."
My dad carried on the tradition.
Chevys. Buicks. Oldsmobiles.
Things went way wrong in the 60's.
Pops bought a Rambler. An American Motors Rambler.
Not sure why. We all slip.
All I know is a car with a push button transmission on the dash isn't really a car.
And when he called my mom to come pick him up cause he had left his office one afternoon and one of the front wheels had just come off, we all knew it was a dark day.
I rode with my mom just past Tri-City Plaza and there was my dad's white Rambler teeter-tottering on three wheels in the middle of the street.
We never saw it again.
Pontiacs and Oldsmobiles from then on. Good solid choices.
Which brings me to this weekend.
Renting a car in Los Angeles.
It is called a Chevrolet Cobalt.
If you want basic transportation, this is it.
It was designed by those ding-dongs in Detroit to compete with a Honda Civic.
It was better designed to compete with an oxcart.
First of all, it is a color of green that humans shouldn't see.
The only way I can describe it is imagine what a baby blue whale's first poop might look like. It ain't pretty.
The car is less than a year old. The front end rattles like a cement mixer every time you turn it or hit a bump.
When you turn the blinker on, you soon learn you have to turn it off yourself. (Forgive me Lord for cussing idiots with their blinker on driving down the highway. I now realize they were driving Cobalts.)
You cannot lock all the doors. If you want it locked, you manually lock all four doors.
The Honda Civic was better than this piece of drivel 20 years ago.
GM was once a great company with great, distinct brands of cars with great, distinct designers and engineers.
I'm sure the Cobalt design meeting went something like this.
Chief Beancounter: "You have $7,000 to spend. Take your pick."
Designer and engineer: "Well, there is an engine, transmission, a body, four seats and four wheels and tires. How much do we have left?"
Chief Beancounter: "You are over budget. Start cutting."
And so on.
A Soap Box Derby car has more creature comforts.
In the midst of our family's GM obsession, when car bodies were made by the Fisher Body Company, my folks were into Buicks.
My mom drove a 1956 Roadmaster. Yellow with white cutouts below the rear fins.
It was a real car designed by real designers and engineers and built by craftsmen.
Those "bullet holes", as I called them, were the coolest things ever. They were reverence for the Buick racers and their racing exhausts.
The car weighed more than Rush Limbaugh and Rosie O'Donnell put together. But it would haul ass if you stepped on that gas pedal.
My mom drove it for years. On the rear deck of the trunk was the chrome name, Roadmaster.
In its last year, a few of the letters fell off due to aging in the Atlanta sun.
Road a ter. The m and s went away. The Roadater it became.
But it was still a car. Something a family could believe in.
Please, dear Lord. Please, dear GM. Please, dear U.S. Government.
Bring back the Roadater.
Don't pour money down a rathole.
Make it a great car company again.
This Cobalt just doesn't cut it.
How do I know?
My 82 year old pops is now driving a Nissan.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
It may have been there sooner, but I never sensed it from my parents or friends of my parents.
Distrust and disillusionment started on November 22, 1963.
Living in Dallas, I have visited the Sixth Floor Museum. You leave there with more questions than answers.
Oil embargo in the 70's.
Ford pardoning Nixon.
Carter giving away the Panama Canal. And allowing the Soviet Union to attack Afghanistan.
Reagan and Iran-Contra.
Clinton and "what the definition of is, is."
George W. and WMD. And Cheney. And why didn't we focus on capturing and killing Osama bin Laden rather than Saddam Hussein.
And now, Obama.
On Tuesday, August 4, 2009, the White House sends out an email.
"There is a lot of disinformation about health insurance reform out there, spanning from control of personal finances to end of life care. These rumors often travel just below the surface via chain emails or through casual conversation. Since we can’t keep track of all of them here at the White House, we’re asking for your help. If you get an email or see something on the web about health insurance reform that seems fishy, send it to email@example.com.
The White House, the home of the President of the United States, the leader of the free world, is asking Americans to report "fishy" messages on the internet about a health care bill?
Just what will the White House do with "fishy" emails and internet posts?
Is this 1984? For those who haven't read that book, here is the reference.
"Big Brother is a fictional character in George Orwell's novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, the enigmatic dictator of Oceania, a totalitarian state taken to its utmost logical consequence - where the ruling elite ('the Party') wield total power for its own sake over the inhabitants."
I have observed my grown children and their friends. Many of them members of the military. All of them responsible adults with jobs, many of them with kids.
Most of them voted for President Obama.
They are now amongst the most critical of him.
The economy as measured by real people is not getting better. Job losses are increasing, and it is affecting young people at an alarming rate.
They voted for change. Many of them voting for the first time. They aren't seeing the change they voted for, and they are not getting an honest observation from the White House.
I don't hold the President responsible for our nation's economy. Bill Clinton did not invent the internet stock bubble. But he got credit for it. Bushy didn't invent the meltdown of financial markets. That had been in the works for decades. But he got the blame for it.
America, we need to get a grip.
There is a huge disconnect between those who govern and those who are governed.
Black America does not trust the police or the justice system. For good reason.
President Obama and Professor Gates didn't help with their irresponsible actions and remarks.
Young America is disenchanted with big government.
Old America is afraid of losing their "entitlements". If we can't afford Social Security and Medicare, let's say it. Let's not let it sneak up on us.
The military is wondering what the mission is. And, where is the provision for our wounded soldiers. President Obama even floated the idea of private health insurance having to take care of wounded soldiers.
I have a 23 year old son that wants to serve his country. He is now none too confident about following his older brother. He doesn't trust his government.
Rich folks are being told they are bad people because they earn too much money. I think this includes the rich folks that got President Obama elected.
Much of Black America is upset with the aggressive moves on abortion. Black America is based in the Christian belief system. Rev. Jesse Jackson, Rev. Al Sharpton, Rev. T.D. Jakes, all have their core based on Christian principles that are in opposition to many pet objectives of the current administration and the Democratic controlled Congress.
Middle America is the subject of every political conversation. They are just steadily watching their jobs go away, taxes go up, and their health care be in question.
This reminds me of the 1960's.
In a bad way.
Or, maybe in a good way.
America needs to let Washington D.C. know that we ain't happy with much of anything.
That is our right. That is what makes our country the beacon of the world.
When the White House starts sending emails looking for "fishy" emails, doesn't that sort of sound like China? The Soviet Union? North Korea? Iran?
This is not what our founding fathers fought and died for. They fought and died for freedom and honest, open government.
Elected folks in Washington D.C., you are not in power.
You are there to serve.
President Lincoln said it well at Gettysburg on observing the dead soldiers of the North and the South.
"...that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I had two very strange issues. I'm a walking episode of ABC News "Medical Mysteries".
I played alot of everything back then. Softball, basketball, raquetball, tennis, golf.
I developed a sharp pain in my right heel. Real sharp. As in finally had to go to the doctor about it after a couple of years complaining.
The orthopedic guy felt it and said he was pretty sure it was a bone spur. A calcium deposit on the back of my heel from overstretching tendons. Sounded right to me. And also pretty cool. Like a real athlete with a real athlete's injury.
Then the xrays came in.
"When the hell did you put this in your foot?", asked Dr. Bones.
He showed me the xray. At the back of my right heel was about a 2 inch piece of metal.
"I have no idea. What is that?", I asked in amazement.
"I don't know, but we can dig it out and your heel pain will go away."
"But how and when did it get there?"
"You probably stepped on it as a kid. It went into the bottom of your foot and has been working its way out of you. And it is now telling you it wants out thru your heel."
In a few days, I went in for outpatient surgery and they took it out.
I remember a couple of things.
One, it hurt way more than he said it would when the drugs wore off. I called the doctor for more and he said to suck it up. I should have called Michael Jackson's doctor.
Two, the doctor handed me what he took out of my foot. It was either a hairpin or a large sewing needle. A friend of mine in the trinkets and trash business put it in Lucite and made it into a paperweight. It still is a great conversation starter.
A few weeks of shuffling around in one street shoe and one house shoe and it was good as new. Back to the games.
Played softball at least twice a week.
Had a company co-ed game on a Wednesday night. Nothing memorable happened.
The next morning I woke up with, well, a tummy ache. I went to work but went home about noon. The pain continued so I called the doctor.
"There is a stomach flu going around. Drink lots of fluids, lie down, and you should feel better in the morning", Dr. Predictable said.
Except I couldn't lie down. When I did, the pain got so sharp I couldn't breathe.
This was some bad stomach bug. That's what the doctor said, so that's what it must be.
I finally fell asleep sitting up with my head resting on the dining room table.
My wife found me the next morning and said, "Something's wrong. You're whiter than normal, and that's not good."
So to Dr. Predictable we went. He could tell I was in real pain. He thought it was appendicitis. But my white blood cell count was normal.
After a few hours of scratching his head, he sent me across the street to Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta to emergency.
The head of surgery came and poked my belly for a while. I was feeling good now.
"Mr. Burks, we don't know what's wrong with you. We just know that something is wrong with you. We're gonna open you up and figure it out", he said.
As much pain as I was in, those were welcome words. "Please, just make it stop."
A day or so later, I woke up in a hospital room. Tubes running in and out of me in odd places. Very dazed and confused. Very uncomfortable.
Thru the haze, I could see my family around me.
About then, the surgeon walked in.
"Sorry we had to take out your spleen, Mr. Burks. But you were lucky. Another 6 hours and you would have bled to death."
The shock of his words made me sit up. Which was a real bad idea. I had staples holding my gut together along a foot long incision.
"Oh, I didn't realize no one had talked to you yet."
I immediately began to imagine the rest of my life. No solid food. A bag hanging off my belt loop. No more active life.
"Don't worry. The spleen doesn't really do anything. You will go back to your normal life and never miss it. Oh, while we were in there, we took out your appendix too. Another needless organ. You'll be good as new in a few weeks."
What a relief.
"But Mr. Burks, a spleen just doesn't rupture like that. It takes a collision of some sort to cause that. Like falling off a motorcycle or a hard hit in a football game. What do you think caused it?"
I had no clue. Must have been some freak injury playing softball. Got swipe tagged going into second I suspected and it just caught me in the wrong place.
Being in a much better mood, I asked if I could get the spleen so I could put it in Lucite. Oh, what a beaut that would be on my desk.
So I just brag about my hysterectomy and show off my scar nowadays.
Little toes. Appendix. Spleens. Why do we have these unnecessary things? Are they the best evidence we have or some form of evolution?
Sure enough, in about 6 weeks, I was back to normal. Playing softball and the other things that make life good.
So I haven't worried about it since.
Until Sunday. The New York Times runs a front page article "Finally, The Spleen Gets Some Respect".
"Scientists have discovered that the spleen, long consigned to the B-list of abdominal organs and known as much for its metaphoric as its physiological value, plays a more important role in the body’s defense system than anyone suspected."
Oh, great. Next they will be reporting that the appendix is what keeps your hair from turning grey.
And by the way, years later it was determined that I didn't rupture my spleen with a swipe tag. At the aforementioned softball game, I was demonstrating for the co-eds the proper way to spit. One of them took exception and elbowed me in the gut.
Geez, the humiliation of it all.