Archive for April, 2013

The manner in which war is conducted today is certainly a far cry from America’s first encounters. Standing up, looking straight at your enemy from 20 yards or less was, I guess, fine in Colonial days. My only two hopes as a soldier would have been, first, that the man at whom I was aiming was the one who was aiming at me and second that I was a better, more accurate, and quicker shot than he. Staring at one another across Lexington Green had to be terrifying. I’d like to think that we “Colonials” were a quick study because of our guerilla tactics at Concord, but the Civil War proved we hadn’t really learned one damned thing…well, we do shoot at each other from greater distances for the most part but there were still those lines of soldiers facing one another.

When WWI rolled around armies fought each other from trenches; no more of that macho nonsense where no one stood a chance in hell of enduring withering fire across an open field. Of course weapons and weapon accuracy had also improved. In addition, a more use of tactics, strategy, and common sense also entered the fray. WWII was an entirely different ball game. From cleaning out caves with flamethrowers on several Pacific islands to hedgerow fighting to long distance cannons, to the introduction of the atom bomb, war reached a pinnacle that no one ever wanted to see again.

While Korea had some elements of both the Revolutionary War and nearly every war that followed, all sides recognized the stupidity of using atomic or, by then, nuclear weapons. None of that matters when you understand that more than 54,000 Americans lost their lives and nearly 105,000 were wounded. In retrospect, fear of creeping Communism dominating the Pacific Rim and eventually all of Europe now seems somewhat fallacious, but that was then and this is now.

When we – America, that is – went to war in Vietnam, we learned bitter lessons. I believe, and it most certainly a personal view, that the strategy and tactics used by the Japanese in WWII were a preview of the ways in which future wars would be fought. The Japanese were considered “sneaky” by the manner in which many battles or non-battles were fought. It was jungle fighting and I’m not all that certain we learned our lessons all that well. Vietnam was a nightmare, particularly for the nearly 60,000 who died in the conflict.

Today, there has been further improvement in weaponry. Strategy and tactics have changed in the wars that we fight, now in the Middle East. This is a new military; while its mission – defend the USA from all enemies, foreign and domestic – remains the same, the manner in which we approach that mission is far different from the times when we were a young group of Colonists attempt to create a nation of our own. It’s different from those days when Abraham Lincoln would walk into battle zones and change commanders for whatever reasons he had. Oh, wait a minute, Lincoln was the President; he was the political leader of a ‘party.’ While he was an excellent tactician and strategist, historians recall that he received great criticism for some of his military decisions.

Our military in the 21st Century consists of highly educated, militarily adept leaders. Yes, no question that there is politics within the military, but that’s where it remains. It has nothing to do with how soldiers – using that as a generic term for all members of the military – are trained or equipped. Soldiers and their commanders know what equipment they need when they are in battle. For instance, Humvees that couldn’t stop a BB were not very good; we learned that in the Iraqi war. Equipment that was susceptible to sand jamming or making it unusable was also not too damned good either. These were military problems, to be solved by military leaders without political interference.

Today, we have Congress trying to tell the military what it can have. Let me quote: “Lawmakers from both parties have devoted nearly half a billion dollars in taxpayer money over the past two years to build an improved version of the 70 ton Abrams [tank].”

“It’s the inverse of the federal budget world these days, in which automatic spending cuts are leaving sought-after pet programs struggling or unpaid altogether. Republicans and Democrats for years have fought so bitterly that lawmaking in Washington ground to a near-halt”  Well, you can’t say that’s altogether true. After all, when the Congress men and women needed to get home for a nine-day vacation – and don’t bullshit with me that it wasn’t a vacation – the wrote and passed a bill in one day that would eliminate delays at airports so they could get themselves away from Washington.

Anyway, “…in the case of the Abrams tank, there’s a bipartisan push to spend an extra $436 million on a weapon the experts explicitly say is not needed.

“‘If we had our choice we would use the money in a different way,’ Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s Chief of Staff, told the Associated Press this past week.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but if the Army Chief of Staff admits he doesn’t need a weapon and wants to use the money differently, I’d accept what he said, because I’m not in his position, and he damn well knows better than I what he needs. Gee, if Congress was willing to let the FAA divert $25 million so the air controllers get back to work, why can’t they let the Army divert the money to something they can really use?  The answer is quite simple and it’s spelled P-O-L-I-T-I-C-S. It is politically expedient that the Abrams tank continue to be built because it provides 700 jobs for the people in Lima, Ohio. In addition, two of the biggest critics of the federal deficit, Rep. Jim Jordan and Sen. Rob Portman, probably wouldn’t get elected again since the plant in Lima is also in Jordan’s district in Ohio and Portman is the junior Senator from Ohio.

I will grant that closing a weapons-producing plant in Ohio will cost jobs; I’m also aware that we live in a time when retooling and restructuring of facilities is so much less complicated than it has been in the past. Just because the plant wouldn’t produce tanks any longer doesn’t mean that it cannot produce something equally in demand. No, this is a case where a couple of politicians and their supporters got caught with their hands in the pork barrel and the pork bit back.

This is merely another example of the Congressional lunacy the American citizenry faces today. I’d like to believe that it’s a rare occurrence, but you and I both know better. Until we can make some major changes in our lawmaking branch of government, critical action for the survival of the nation will not happen.

Vote out the 112th Congress of the United States of America!

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We have adopted him as our own little pig…Maxwell, the wonder pig. You may recall Maxwell’s younger days when he was part of a car pool, holding his little pinwheel out the window as he was being driven home from school. He was always shouting, “Wee, wee, wee,” and then politely – we’ve trained him well – saying thanks to Mrs. B… who was driving. What a darling young piglet Maxwell was back then. Those people from Geico thought he belonged to them, but we were just letting him act in their commercials to earn a few extra bucks for the house treasury; pig slop these days has just skyrocketed in price, and Maxwell really seemed to enjoy the attention.

After his graduation from Swine High and before entering Boar U, Max – as we were now calling him – just scared the dickens out of us with his daredevil antics. After all, how many pigs do you know who’d ride a zip line above the trees or wrap his curly little tail around vines and swing from tree to tree?

Maxwell got himself and us into a great deal of trouble recently. He was driving one of his college friends home in his convertible when the car broke down. Ever the efficient one, Maxwell used his I phone to call for roadside assistance. While they were waiting, it appeared that the young lady had more on her mind than a quick trip home. Our naïve little Max didn’t understand and thought that the young lady wanted to play ‘fruity ninjas’ with him on his phone; who knows, maybe she did. When they finally got home, a few dirty-minded individuals tried to accuse them of bestiality. The ‘kids’ were so infuriated, they contacted the advocacy group, One Million Moms. We don’t talk about how that turned out. Evidently, that group also lacks a sense of humor.

After graduating from Boar, Max flew to the University of Arkansas [ Sooooo-weeee) to apply for admission to their graduate school people husbandry. It was during this trip that we found out exactly how cruel some stewardesses can treat someone of Max’s persuasion. While waiting for the plane to take off – he was flying on Hog Hairlines – a stewardess asked him to turn off his ‘kiddy word games.’ Not at all offended, Max shared with her a Geico Insurance app he was using. Although she appeared interested, another – this time the wicked witch – stewardess overheard the conversation and said loudly, “I’ll believe that when pigs fly.” On leaving the plane, Max ‘hoofed’ her foot. She couldn’t work for several months. Don’t get the idea that Max is a vengeful pig. He’s very polite unless people are rude to him. Why recently he was pulled over by a policeman; Max quickly handed over his license, registration, and even his insurance, all contained on his I phone. As the officer was about to leave, Max politely asked why he had been stopped, thinking perhaps that the policeman was somewhat aghast at seeing a pig driving a convertible…with the top down…but no, Max had merely forgotten to replace his tail light.

During a recent hail storm, Max and his friend Ted both had their cars damaged by hail. Our efficient little Maxy – he really hates that name – used his Geico I phone app to arrange an appointment with an adjuster. Ted didn’t have that app and was on the phone for so long that his girlfriend decided to go for a Jet Ski ride with our little pig.

Yes, our little Max is certainly growing up. He loves to ham it up at gatherings with his friend, Smokey Shoulder. Together they are the life of the party and have various ways to tickle the ribs of those around them!

You go, Maxwell!

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I have discovered the ultimate in love/hate relationship.. The answer is “Age.”

Think about it; when you’re very young, you want to be older. When you’re very, very young – and I’m only assuming this part to be true, you look around and see all of these bigger beings walking around; you can’t do that yet…you haven’t learned how to do it, but those who can seem to move so much faster than you can by crawling along, pulling with your arms and pushing with your feet while your belly flows – quickly if you’re on linoleum or tile or wood; slowly if you’re on a rug – across some surface.  Let me give you a clue young babe: When you’re older, you can have the same problem; if you’re on that smooth stuff, you can finding yourself slipping and falling; if you’re on a rug, you can find yourself tripping and falling…see, we’re not so different. While I wouldn’t want to be you – crawling on your belly like a reptile, you really wouldn’t want to be me with my creaky joints, poor eyesight unable to see all of the obstacles that can trip me up. When I trip and fall to the floor, however, it’s like a bag of old twigs that snap and break.

Once you’ve reached that walking point, it’s exploration time and the world – which usually consists of the house or apartment unless you go for a ride in the stroller – is yours to conquer. When you’re old, you remember the conquests that you made – not that kind, fool – and you reminisce about the places you’ve been and the sights you’ve seen. Now you get madder than hell if you have to fly anywhere because you’re unable to walk distances through airports and you have to be wheeled around just the way you are in the stroller. It seems we both hate that time in our lives because of our helplessness.

When you’re young, you want to be older; when you’re older, there are times when you’d like to be younger and there are times when you look back on your younger years and think, “Oh, Lord, am I glad I don’t have to go through that again. In your teens, you get interested in the opposite or maybe the same sex. By the time you’re older, that person with whom you eventually made your way through life with is dead or dying. There was love, but now there’s hate; you hate the world because it’s the world’s fault that he or she is going or gone.

As you go through your formative years – what the hell are formative years anyway – you want to be old enough (a) to get your license; (b) to be able to drink; (c) to get a job and make some money; (d) own a car so you can go places; (e); (f), and; (xyz), you can fill in for yourself…if you can remember back that far. As you get older, you remember the number of times you lost your license; the day you learned that drinking wasn’t all that big a deal; the time you realized that you’d probably never have enough money and that, while important, money isn’t the be all and end all of life – remember, the Joneses are in debt –  the jobs you loved and hated, and; cars come and cars go, but you will never forget that first POSBIR that was all yours (POSBIR…piece of shit, but it runs!).

As we age, there seems to come a point where the love/hate relationship almost comes together to create a neutral center. You neither love nor hate your age. Your feelings about it are very vague. On the one hand, you love many things about where you are; on the other hand, you have four fingers and a thumb…no, no, no, get serious…on the other hand, there are things about this stage of your personal evolution you wish were different, and while you don’t hate them, they could be better. Maybe you’ve just bought the house you love, but to do so, you’ve assumed a debt that you know is going to put some pressure on you that you didn’t have before and you really don’t care for that. Maybe you’ve just received that promotion you’ve been coveting for so long and you really, really love that because it comes with a giant raise…but deep down, you may not trust yourself and you don’t really hate that feeling but it does get the stomach acid roiling about a bit.

You reach a point in your life that you start looking forward to that thing called “retirement” or maybe not; maybe it’s thrust upon you. So you either love retirement or you hate it; there really isn’t a hell of a lot you can do about it. You may retire from one job and go right into another, but then you have to ask yourself, “Am I going to work myself to death?” Retirement can be loved and hated at the same time. Many younger friends have asked, “Did you want to retire?” I always have to carefully consider my response. It changes according to the day. The last ten years of my working life were the best ten years of my working life; it wasn’t work at all; it was fun! It was fun because I had joined that group of people where it was no longer ‘manager as decision-maker.’ I had ten years of working as part of a team…where team accomplishment meant more than individual accomplishment; where team members weren’t that in name only; where people really worked together toward common goals and objectives; where going to work wasn’t a task, but a genuine pleasure. We succeeded or failed as a team, and the odds of failure grew less and less as the team became more and more comfortable with one another. I ha ted to leave than environment. I left because a new leader – overall leader of the institution at which I was working – didn’t appear to believe in the team concept. Remembering that, I have to say that I loved going into retirement. However, getting back to the question that was asked…”Did you want to retire?” the answer is a definite, “Yes.”  I didn’t want to go back to the days of cutthroat competition; I was too old for that crap!

There is a warning that goes with retirement…don’t do it unless you are prepared to be busier than you’ve ever been before.  Did you ever hear of a round tuit…when you retire, the first things you should do is all of those things you said – while you were working – “when I retire I’ll get around to it.” It may be that you’ve wanted make yourself an authority on some subject by reading as much as you can about it…not for any particular reason; just because you want to learn. It may be that you’ve never had time for a garden and you’ve always wanted one; here’s your chance. Maybe you’ve wanted to travel and never had the time; you will now. Let me give you a bit of advice: Before you set off to see the world, see your own country first. I was blessed. When I was 18 I was asked to help drive a lady and her son across country. He was a friend and we had a ball. If you are an American and you’ve ever driven across the nation, you know what I mean. America is a collection of 49 contiguous nations within a single boundary. We speak the same language…almost, but sometimes you just have to listen harder to hear the words. We even have different cultures even though we’re basically the same. It’s quite eye-opening.

Whatever it is you want to do on retirement, have something to do or you’ll be dead in a year or two, and you’ll pretty much really hate that…as far as we know! In retirement, you’ll begin to wish you were younger so that you could do what some of the younger folks do. You’ll hate that, but as I mentioned before, then you’ll start to think about it and say to yourself, “I wouldn’t want to go through that again, thank you very much.”

It doesn’t matter what age you are. Some of it you will love; some of it you will hate. Suck it up and accept what and who you are. Life at any age is a beautiful thing. I may be old and creaky, but I also have memories of times when I wasn’t like this; they are wonderful memories. I’m certain there must have been some times I hated, but those fade much faster than the good memories. Take life for what it is; take your age for what it is. Love it or hate it; heck, you really don’t have much choice when you think about it.

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According to a report prepared by the Office of Management and Budget, “In August 2011, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate voted for the threat of sequestration as a mechanism to force Congress to act on further deficit reduction. The specter of harmful across-the-board cuts to defense and nondefense programs was intended to drive both sides to compromise. Congress can and should take action to avoid it by passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package.”

The President and Congress could not agree on budget cuts. Obama sent two budges to the hill which would reduce our budget deficit by $4 trillion. Congress, as woefully ineffectual as it has been over the past half decade, would not budge and would not submit a budget acceptable to the President. Ergo, sequestration and its cuts has occurred.

Congress, in a race to get home for a one-week recess – see how much power these idiots wield – and noting that the sequestration meant fewer air traffic controllers – not to mention the fact that House Speaker Boehner’s flight was delayed by an hour and a half…oh, heaven forbid – managed to pass in one day, one fucking day, a bill that would allow the FAA to transfer $25 million from its building and improvement fund to hire back the controllers “to eliminate the long lines and cancellations of flights.” You bet your ass they did it in one day; those boys and girls had to get home; they didn’t want to wait in line. More than that, they wanted to blame the long lines and cancellations on the President.  At least he had the good sense to send budgets to the Hill. Is it his fault if Congress chose not to accept them, modify them, sit down with him. Oh, yes, Speaker Boehner sat down but he wasn’t really in a position to negotiate with the President. If Republican Congressman Boehner had come to a compromise with Democratic President Barack Obama, (a) he would have lost his speakership in the House, and (b) probably would have received zero support from the Republican Nation Committee when his next election came around, and (c) would have been replaced by a member of the ultra-conservative Tea Party, thus ensuring that anything the President desired in terms of legislation would never, under any circumstances ever find its way out of the House of Representatives.

“House of Representatives” is a Washington joke. They don’t represent anyone but themselves. As quick as they were to pass a bill that would allow them to get home quicker, they did nothing, absolutely nothing about the 30,000 teacher positions that are due to be cut. They did nothing about the reduction in the meals on wheels programs for seniors that are going to be cut. The FBI, Border Patrol, correctional officers, and other law enforcement officials will still be cut. The Department of Agriculture will not be able to inspect meat processing plants to ensure the guidelines are being followed and food and airborne illnesses are not being transmitted, thus affecting the safety of consumers.

But in one day, one single stinking day, those bastards passed a bill that allows them to get home on time. They don’t represent you and they don’t represent me. THEY REPRESENT THE 435 MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE 100 MEMBERS OF THE SENATE! If there ever was a more clique with any greater power, it would have to be the NRA. After all, they purchased Congress a long time ago.

You may be saying to yourself that there’s nothing you can do. Well I say you’re wrong. I say that if your Congressman/woman or Senator voted for this one-day bill, he and she showed their true colors. They are not red, white, and blue. Their color is green, money green! Oh sure, they may pass some puissant legislation that is so minor as to affect part of their district, but it doesn’t affect America. They are incapable of passing legislation that helps the country…totally incapable. They bitch and wail about how great the deficit is and how they don’t want to pass that on to ‘their’ – oh yeah and ‘your’ – grandchildren. It’s a little too late to be worrying about that shit when we have a whole pile of worries just to keep out country on an even keel. We’ve been a debtor nation for over half a century. Does anyone truly believe we’ll ever get that debt under control? We won’t; we can’t. It’s not going to happen. This should not be the major priority of our lawmakers. They should be concentrating on how we can better educate our kids; how we can provide more protection for our citizens; how we can strengthen our medical research programs to wipe out disease; how we can repair a broken Social Security system as well as Medicare and Medicaid. Your vote will count only if it is cast to eliminate those people in Congress who have shown their true colors. We elected them and by making telephone calls, by harassing them about issues that are meaningful to you, by working for fresh faces with new ideas and yes, by throwing the Tea Party out of Congress, we can possibly get Congressmen and women who are interested in representing us, the American people.

There’s an old cliché that goes, “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me;” There are members of Congress who have been fooling their constituents for decades and guess what, we who put them in office should be ashamed of ourselves.


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“This project has to be done today!”

“Can you come in this weekend?”

“How are we ever going to catch up?”

“We have to work smarter, not harder, so let’s go!”

“I can’t afford to hire new people so we’ll just have to pick up the pace!”

“If you can’t get it done, there are plenty of people looking for work!”

Does any of  that sound familiar? How about this:

“Take time to smell the roses.”

“Don’t kill yourself.”

“You have to make time to exercise.”

“It’s nice just to be able to relax.”

“I can hardly wait to retire so that I can do the things I want to do.”

If you’re still of working age or even if you’re beyond 65 and still working, you’ve undoubtedly heard or said all of the above at one time or another. Which is the more appropriate? Do you drive yourself or others so hard that someone has already had a heart attack…”I don’t get heart attacks; I give them,” I once heard an office manager say. Frankly, that’s just plain wrong. Management by fear is a horrible way to manage. It remains me of slavery or indenture, neither of which ever really worked out to well.

It rankles me when I see people at the gym speeding through their workouts, looking at their watches or the clocks on the wall. Taking care of yourself is so much more important than constantly wondering if you’re going to make it to work on time.

I can say these things now; I really can…in large measure, I can say them today because I never reminded myself of their importance when I was working. Everything was the job, the job, the job, and what did it get me? I now have five stents in my heart and one in my abdomen. I have asthma, emphysema, and COPD…all because I didn’t take the advice that the older, wiser, more experienced people were offering.

There is no question that working and making money is important. You have to feed yourself and, if you’re married, have kids, maybe a mortgage or a car loan. Maybe you’re doing something that you really love and you’re willing to drive yourself, sometimes to the point of doming home one day and learning that Johnny or Mary is going to be graduating from high school this year, and you don’t even remember when they began high school. If something similar has ever happened to you, you don’t have a spouse or a family. They’ve been replaced. The job is your spouse; your colleagues are your family; what you accomplish in your job takes the place of achievements of your own children.

A friend of mine was the managing director of a major US corporation in London when his kids were growing up. To this day, those no-longer-children swear he attended every soccer and basketball game they played.  His solution was to mark his calendar with every one of his children’s games and to try his damndest to get to them. He insists that he didn’t attend all but because he gave it his best effort, he was able to attend just over fifty percent. Granted, he was in a position to do that. He was also in the position of understand when any of his employees wanted to watch their own children. By having that understanding, his employees were more willing to work harder for him. When he became President of the institution where I was working, we pretty much agreed that we had never worked harder, but we had never had more fun doing it.

We worker bees have three major desires: (1) We want to know that what we do is appreciated by those “in command,” so to speak; (2) We want to feel that we are making a contribution to the success of the overall enterprise, and (3) We want to be compensated fairly for our efforts. These are put in that order for a reason. Survey after survey after survey has shown that money is not the top priority in job satisfaction. Is it important? You better your bottom dollar it is! Is it the most important thing for the majority of people? No, it really isn’t.  People have a desire to be appreciated for their contribution, whether it’s ensuring that the right chocolates go in the right box or the windshield goes in properly along the assembly line, workers want to be told that they are appreciated and that their contribution in meaningful. They may never tell you how important it is to hear someone say, “Hey, great job,” but their gut feels good when they hear it.

Juli, my partner, recently sought out a manager at Walmart. The manager seemed shocked when she told him what a great job one of his employees did in making certain she was satisfied. We all tend to complain when something goes wrong, whether by publicly announcing our displeasure, or just being pissed when we leave a store. What about the other side of that coin? What about when an employee goes out of his or her way to make us happy with our shopping experience? If we report them when they screw up, do we report them when they’ve given that little extra on our behalf?

When a member of the faculty tells me that without the faculty the school would close, my retort is that faculty are just as replaceable as anyone else. I usually follow up with some crack about getting by when your office doesn’t get cleaned for a month or so. In other words, we are all dependent on the efforts of others and we should all appreciate what others contribute to making our lives easier.

Who are you going to thank today?

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Thank you Boston Police Department!

Thank you Massachusetts State Police!

Thank you Federal Bureau of Investigation!

Thank you Mr. President!

Thank you Homeland Security!

Thank you Sean Collier and Rich Donohue!

Thank you EMS!

Thank you FEMA!

Thank you MEMA!

Thank you Police Departments from all over Massachusetts!

Thank you New York, Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles, Dallas, St. Louis, and too many other places to remember for all of their help and support!

Thank you citizens of Watertown, Boston, Newton, Belmont, Cambridge!

Thank you members of the media!

Thank you to everyone who played a role in capturing a terrorist, a “loser,” and a murderer!

It’s not possible to count the tens of thousands of people who, in some way, saved lives, thwarted terrorism. From the people at the Marathon last Monday who wrapped tourniquets around injured limbs to the complete strangers who picked up wounded and carried them to ambulances and aid stations; from the remarkable job done by trauma teams at Boston’s wonderful hospitals to the folks who took the time to send in photos and videos to help identify the terrorists; from the fans at the Bruins game to the fans in ballparks, basketball courts, and ice arenas who stood and prayed for the dead and injured…thank you!

I walked up to a Mass State Trooper this morning. He was in the middle of his workout at the gym and I was just leaving. “Thanks, Paul,” I said. He stuck out his hand to meet mine; “Thank you,” he responded. Nothing more had to be said. Law enforcement officers from all over were asleep on their feet by the time Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was captured.

Whether it’s Oklahoma City, New York, Boston, or wherever, when someone attacks one of us, he/she/they attack all of us. We band together. We are no longer Oklahomans, New Yorkers, or Bostonians; we are, as I said in another article the other day, we are Americans.  And it’s downright thrilling to see how we join hands. After all, when you can listen to Yankee fans singing the Boston Red Sox anthem – Sweet Caroline – and the two teams arn’t even playing one another…well, doggone it, that’s about the time you’ll also see Hell freezing over!

I watched the entire thing unfold on television. That could have been my kids or grandkids standing in that crowd, I thought. The girls used to run Boston and their kids could have been at the finish line to cheer them on. That’s a frightening thought. Like you, I have prayed for those victims all week; now I add Sean Collier’s family and that of Richard Donahue to the list.

So, thank you to everyone who saved lives and who was in part responsible for capturing a terrorist. I did nothing, but I’m still kinda proud to be living in Massachusetts.

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I am an American. I come from New York, Boston, Oklahoma City, Littleton, Colorado, Newtown, Connecticut, Red Lake, Minnesota, Blacksburg, Virginia, and a thousand other cities and towns across this country. I’m proud of my heritage whether it is from some land far, far away or whether I am the product of the Plimoth Colony or the Plains Natives. I abhor violence but I will defend against and to the death any person or nation who attempts to deprive me of my freedoms. I hate cowardice in its many forms and I have an intense dislike for those who would perform cowardly deeds in an attempt to intimidate me or my fellow citizens. You may like me or not; that is your choice. Do not think, however, for one single moment that I will not take your pound of flesh for any act of terrorism that you may commit against me.

This latest sneak attack in Boston will not be tolerated. There is no doubt in my mind that the murderer of the innocents will be found and brought to justice. But what is ‘justice’ for a crime such as this? What did that 8-year old kid do that he deserved to be blown apart? What did that 29-year old woman do; who did she hurt; what were her sins that it was necessary to kill her? Did you have some vendetta against Boston University, against people of Chinese birth, or against the grad student whose life was so viciously taken? You’ll spout some bullshit about retaliation for the children killed in the Middle East, but you really won’t know what the hell you’re talking about. You could turn out to be a foreign national who hates America and Americans. I doubt it, but it’s possible. No, I believe you’ll turn out to be some malcontent who is just steeped in hatred for mankind in general. You will be punished and sent to jail for life when a better punishment would be to have you run a gauntlet of family and friends of the dead and wounded, all armed with stones and boards. Perhaps then you would have some idea of how your victims felt. Unfortunately, we are a civilized nation and so, you will be brought to a fair trial; you will doubtless be convicted and given three consecutive life terms. You will be taken to a maximum security prison and kept in isolation for your own safety. You will be fed and clothed and medically monitored for the remainder of your life. That’s a better life than you gave Martin Richard or Krystle Campbell, or Lingzi Lu. It’s a better life than you gave those victims who lost limbs or those who will forever remember the horror of April 15th 2013…you cowardly son-of-a-bitch!

I am an American, like me, love me, or hate me and the ground on which I walk. I have no quarrel with those who would disagree with me in a proper manner and forum. Progress is rarely made without dissent. What happened in all of those locations cited above wasn’t dissent; it was insanity.

I am an American and along with my fellow citizens, we will be stronger for having experienced another attempt to terrify us. Oklahomans are stronger; New Yorkers are stronger; the people who have been momentarily shocked and disturbed by these unprovoked attacks are all stronger for having had to bear the tragedy. Bostonians will return with greater strength. The 118th running of the Boston Marathon in 2014 will demonstrate just how strong Bostonians are. In addition, our international running brethren will be back. You may have caught us with a sucker punch, but you will learn that we, too, pack a pretty powerful wallop.

There is an old saying among Latin Scholars: “Illegitimus non carborundum.” Loosely translated, it means “Don’t let the bastards grind you down.” We are Americans. We get punched in the mouth once in a while, but if you think we’re about to stand idly by while you do it over and over, please rethink your plans because we’re a pretty tough bunch when we get angry.  Right now…I’d say we are wicked pissed off!

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People lied to me today. They were supposed to pick up an old refrigerator as part of an energy-saving program…and they didn’t. I believe I know why they lied; it was raining, and who wants to be out in the rain, lugging a heavy old refrigerator up stairs and out into the rain; then have to be concerned about loading it onto a slippery ramp or whatever. You see, the reasons – or possible reasons – I can understand. It’s the fact that they lied to me and expect me to believe their lies that irritates me. Granted, I may not be the sharpest knife in the drawer or the brightest bulb on Broadway, but it wasn’t yesterday’s turnip truck from which I fell…how’s that for combining a whole bunch of clichés in one sentence, eh?  The first excuse was that the GPS was wrong and they couldn’t find the house.

“Why didn’t they call?” I asked

“They tell me that they tried to call twice and there was no answer,” I was told.

“What number were they calling?”

“Oh, no; wait a minute. They said that they didn’t have a telephone number to call.”

The truth of the matter is that they had two telephone numbers to call; primary and secondary numbers were requested when they called us to set up an appointment. Both phones were charged and turned on in anticipation that a telephone call might be necessary.

The problem with lying is that one has to keep one’s lies straight. To use an expression you will hear uttered often by members of this household, “Don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.” I really don’t care that you lie to me; the truth usually comes out somewhere down the road. If you wish to lie to me, at least be able to give it some form of credibility. Hell, I would have believed, “The truck was full and we didn’t have space.” At least that one is plausible, but no, the drivers lied to the dispatcher and then the dispatcher compounded it with more lies.  I might have even accepted, “The dog ate our tires just before we were going to your house.” Not likely but better than what was actually said.

I decided to do a bit – and it was just that, “a bit” – of research regarding the reasons that people lie.  Author Jenna McCarthy maintains that there are basically six reasons why people lie:

(1) To save face: “They said they called twice;” “Oh, wait a minute; they said they didn’t have a number to call.” The whole point here was more to cover the ass of the drivers. While it’s not important to the dispatcher, it just means that I will never believe another word that I’m told by these people…sad, isn’t it?

(2) Lying to shift blame: “Gee, I don’t have the authority to make that decision; my manager would have to do that.” Then why the hell am I even dealing with you. Refusing to take responsibility, in the long run, means that no one will give you any responsibility, ergo, you’re not only dispensable, but the sooner the better.

(3) Lying to avoid confrontation: In almost every aspect of life there comes a point when something unpleasant must be confronted. Most of the time, the truth is much better.  “Yes, I can see that what you are saying has validity. I just don’t happen to agree with you at this time.” One of the best bosses for whom I worked gave greater credence to an honest answer such as that rather than some bullshit story that would usually come back to bite us both in the butt…right, Sandra?

(4) Lying to get one’s way: “Well, when I spoke with the boss about it, he thought my idea would work well.” “Gee officer I really didn’t know I was going that fast.” I was stopped by a Massachusetts State Trooper a number of years ago. I knew I was speeding; obviously, so did he. When he came back to my car, he asked, “Why did you pass me on the right going 75?’ What could I say? “Because you were in the left lane and you were only going 65.” This didn’t endear me to him, but what could I say; it was the truth. That one cost me big time. Conversely, I was driving home from work one evening and a police officer beckoned me to pull over. When I saw that I was somewhat over the speed limit in a residential neighborhood, I knew that I just hadn’t been thinking. With license and registration in hand, I stepped out of the car, told him that I most certainly was over the speed limit and had been thinking about a problem at work – which was the truth – he smiled and said, “Take it easy…and leave the problems at work.” Period; not ticket. Lying to get your way might work sometimes but the truth is usually a better bet.

(5) Lying to be nice: “Wow, you look amazing. How much weight have you lost?” Then you find out that it’s stage IV cancer; the ash gray skin color that you decided to ignore is part of a death pallor, and your little ‘nice’ lie just put you in a whole world of hurt. The old saying, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything,” isn’t such bad advice. When my wife was dying, the kids used to come over and tell her how great she looked. Their intentions were good, but we all knew they were merely trying to cheer their mother up, just to be nice. Perhaps the best advice is tone it down if you’re lying to be nice.

(6) Lying to make yourself feel better. This might also be called “deception lying.”  “I’ll start exercising as soon as I can find a gym that fits my time schedule.”  “Oh, I never watch television.” I recently had my annual physical. As usual, the doctor told me that I needed to lose weight. ‘You’re absolutely right,” I said; “However, I’m 78 years old and I’ll be damned if I’m going to give up chocolate and ice cream.” What could he say? I’ll give up bread and a few other things, but I’m not going to lie to him or anyone else about what I will or won’t do to lose the 5 pounds —oops, forgot the zero after that five.

There is one thing of which I’m certain, and that is that everyone lies, even those we believe should be above such a thing. Without going into detail there are just too many examples of those we hold in high esteem that have disappointed us one way or another. We all have our reasons. The important thing is not to live your life as a lie. We are what we are with all of our warts, flaws, and foibles. If we compound it by lying all of the time we will lose friends and find ourselves isolated even from loved ones. And life is just too wonderful to let it be ruined by our own lies.

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Look, I don’t wish to appear insensitive or anything like that but will someone please reveal to me the current thinking on STOP signs. I know that yield means to beat the son-of-a-bitch coming in on your left and force him/her to stand on the brakes and send their cell phone flying through the windshield, but STOP signs have me a bit confused. I stopped at one yesterday and was immediately honked at by the person behind me. When I looked in the rear view mirror, he was waving his arms around as if a swarm of African bees had just been let loose in his vehicle. I didn’t move until I saw him reach for his door handle…after all, at 78, one doesn’t wish to pick a fight with a lunatic who may or may not be armed. I have to believe that leaving him like that, half in and half out of the car irritated him unduly so I will take this opportunity [heh, heh] to apologize provusely…oh yeah.

We have a law in Massachusetts that reads, unless otherwise posted, you may make a right on a red light after coming to a complete stop – ah, there’s that word again. There is, however, a problem with this concept. Supposing you don’t wish to make a right turn but rather proceed across the street, up the hill and on to grandmother’s house…oops, sorry, thinking of something else. Assume that the driver behind you does wish to make a right turn but cannot pass on the right because of – heaven forbid; we’re looking out for pedestrians –a sidewalk. Pulling sufficiently forward to allow the ‘turnee’ to make his right has several drawbacks: (1) You could wind up in the middle of the intersection and get clobbered; (2) you might wind up straddling a crosswalk and with your luck, it will be just at that time that a police officer is guiding 26 kindergartners across the intersection…can you say, “Ticket time?”

I might have mentioned this one, two, or a hundred times before, but driving isn’t the fun that it used to be when we were paying under a buck a gallon for gas…yes, that time did actually exist. It was shortly after the dinosaurs left and automatic transmissions came into being. I remember when my Dad bought a new Chevy with “powerglide,” one of the first of cars with the P-R-N-1-2-3 behind the steering wheel. It was really cool, although I believe back then, ‘cool’ mean that something was not warm. Gas was – are you sitting down – eighteen cents a gallon…and every bit of it was leaded!

Over the years, the definition of road signs and traffic lights has changed. Slow no longer means slow. Ostensibly it means that whatever speed you were doing when entering that zone can be upped by a minimum of five mph because that way you can get through the zone quicker and “resume normal speed” is sort of a license to put the pedal to the metal. I was riding down the highway today and came into a “reduce speed to 45” area. The posted speed limit on this highway is 55. I was doing 65 in the right hand lane and was feeling like Tommy Tortoise. No one, not one person, and I put myself in that same boat, no one slowed down one iota. Can you imagine if the roadway had sensors that would automatically raised those steel posts a hundred yards after the first car went by doing 75? Can you say 1,000 car pile-up? It was certainly reduce the speeding drivers’ gene pool.

I bitch and wail about drivers today but it’s not really all their fault.  We live in a world that is based on speed; whether it’s speed in transportation; speed in communication; speed in decision-making; everything is faster, faster, faster! Taking time to smell the roses means putting a different scent in your Glade air dispenser. Relaxation means taking your I-pad or laptop to the beach or the mountains and making damn certain that there’s a cell tower nearby.

Except for driving to doctor’s appointments, going shopping, or heading off to the gym, I’m not all that concerned with the matter of speed in my vehicle. The 65 I was doing on the highway was a matter of self-preservation, but I trying harder these days to obey the posted speed limits [if for no other reason than to piss off the drivers behind me]. If a crowd lines up behind me it’s usually possible to find an area in which to pull over.  I also find that at $3.89 a gallon, my gas gauge doesn’t drop as quickly as it did when I was zip-zip-zipping along.

Happy driving.

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We live in a country where decision-making is becoming more and more difficult on a daily basis. For example, we have no idea of the range of North Korean missiles. We don’t know whether or not they will equip them with nuclear war heads. Congressmen and Senators have no idea how to remove guns from the hands of those who shouldn’t have them without “violating” the terms of the Second Amendment of the Constitution. We continue to build cars for our highways that are capable of speeds up to 130 mph. On the other hand we are encouraging people to buy cars that aren’t gas guzzlers. There appears to be something of a dichotomy in almost everything that we do. We allow millionaires and billionaires to dictate to our political leaders how the country should be run, and if those leaders don’t happen to agree, we buy the legislative branch to stop the leaders from making any progress.

Is this what we have come to as a nation? Are we producing Casper Milquetoast leaders willing to be run over; who then get up and say, “Please sir, may I have another?” How have we reached that point in our history? What is this nadir that it has taken us over two and a quarter plus Centuries in which to descend?

While you may find this difficult to believe, based on my past tirades against them, I do not blame our political system or members of Congress for our problems. No, I lay this blame for producing generations of gutless individuals’ right at the door of our educational system. For some reason, we appear to have educated a generation of appeasers. This hasn’t always been the case. I believe it started around the time of the Vietnam War. People began to tell the government it was wrong to conduct such a war. The people in government said, “Wait a minute; you can’t talk to us like that. We’re the government. We tell you what’s best for the country.” However, after a few years, the government began to believe that maybe, just maybe those people who were screaming how wrong the government was just might have a point. And once we pulled out of Vietnam, the government began to take the pulse of its people before conducting any decisive actions. Our educators began producing young men and women who could give you a hundred arguments for solving a problem one way or another, but they didn’t have the balls to tell you which one you should use. “We must test the public waters to find out which way the public is thinking; then we’ll make a decision that won’t get the public pissed at us for our decision.” What our leaders seem to have forgotten is that someone is always going to get mad at any decision that is made.

I cannot help but wonder how many high schools and colleges are teaching decision-making as a course. Yes, colleges attempt to do some of this through the case study approach, but for the most part, those cases are pap and without serious consequence. My contention is that we are teaching our students in the same manner that we are teaching our military: We are preparing our students to live in the 20th Century while the 21st Century is already upon us. I don’t see visionaries on the horizon who can look ahead and see what the world will become 25, 50, or even 100 years from now, and begin to set down the principals that will guide us to be ready to meet that world.

Many years ago, I was speaking with a Japanese businessman who was part of the entourage that Soichiro Hondo had brought with him on a visit to Babson College. He told me of a business owner in Japan who was preparing a business plan for his company. Now, business plans in the US usually are prepared for five- or ten-year cycles. When asked how far our his plan would extend, the business owner – 77 years old at the time – announced that he was preparing a plan that would serve as a guide for his company 150 years into the future. Could he see that far? Of course he couldn’t. Would his plan be effective even 50 years from now? Neither of us is qualified to answer that question. However, think of the thought and the vision that had to go into the creation of that business plan. He was putting in place decisions that could be debated over a century after his passing.

“Oh, that’s pie-in-the-sky thinking,” you may be saying to yourself (or something far worse). No, it isn’t. Take a look at the 1895 eighth grade final examination for kids in Saline County, Kansas .It seems to me that we’re gone backward rather than forward in our educational system. Oh, and remember that the school year was only seven months back then.  We depend on our educators to teach our children ‘everything’ in our 180 school day, and we as parents have taken no responsibility for teaching them anything. We are so self-absorbed that we can’t even devote a minimum of time to helping our kids learn.

How many high schools or middle schools are still teaching Civics – that’s the part of political science that deals with the rights and duties of citizens? How many Americans can tell you the significance of September 1, 1939 [other than the fact that it was my 5th birthday]? If we don’t know how rights and responsibilities as citizens and we don’t know anything dealing with the history of our country, we will most assuredly fall into the trap as outlined by George Santayana; “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

Let’s look at it this way: If we don’t have leaders who are educated, informed, and trained to look at things as they should be in the future, how can we possibly expect to have leaders who aren’t living in the past. Living in the present is no longer an option, as much as we would like it to be; that was fine for my generation. The world was a larger place then; Granted, there are still parts of the world where just living from day to day is a trial that all too many fail. America, by and large, is not one of those places. We are what I call a forefront nation, along with China, Japan, the United Kingdom, and a few others. Things are expected of us by the rest of the world. It’s a tough place to be; when you’re at the top of the mountain, too many want to knock you off.

If our educational system is not helping to keep us on top of the hill, it’s time to take a hard look at it. Eliminating dodge ball as part of the PE curriculum is not a major step in any direction. Teaching kids to accept responsibility for their actions and making them accountable for their decisions in meaningful ways may be a first step in building a new kind of leader to guide us in the future.

[Just as an aside…do you realize just how much criticism I’m going to get from teachers everywhere? I hope it’s a ton!]

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