Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Why not be crazy?

I was reading a survey posted up on WCTV.com concerning the terribly exciting and ever present tea party movement. In my humble opinion the study was overtly biased, psychobabble. The end points were designed in advance to support their opinion that the tea partiers are right wing, whacko extremists.

I base that opinion on the inculcation of one word into the survey questions. " Are you of the opinion that the tea-partiers are crazy ?" Now I am not a scientist. I did, however, work for a science company for thirty years. I used to read and present materials from studies to very educated people. Your credibility was at risk if that study seemed biased in any fashion.

There is an entire branch of medicine that is dedicated to the determination of a person's mental health. I believe to become a psychiatrist you must have 4 years of college, followed by 4 years of medical school. I believe there is a 5 year residency following all that.

There is a 400 plus page textbook manual entitled the DSM-IV manual. It is a comprehensive listing of thousands of diagnosis codes related to mental illness. There is not one single code applied to the term crazy. Way too general. People can be bipolar, schizophrenic ( with or without delusion ), paranoid, obsessive, etc. etc. I am totally unqualified to diagnose or categorize.

However we as a society toss around the term crazy constantly. " Crazy, baby !" " Man you were crazy drunk last night." Hello, you crazy son-of-a-buck." " My friend is crazy about you. Do you want to go out with her? " " That guy driving that red Corvette is a crazy driver."

I think the more rational conclusion to draw is that we are all crazy in one vein or another. Is being a little crazy a bad thing? Have you ever been around someone so stiff and boring that you would like to inject them with a little crazy?

I don't know what conclusions you can draw from anything on this post. Trying to do so could drive you totally..............................CRAZY !!!!!!!

I will tell you something that truly is crazy. This real estate market we are in. It is the low point of the recovery ( what recovery?). I get lots of people asking me to explain it to them. I simply mutter something about "man it is crazy, I will get back to you."

I will try to help you figure it out in a sort of group therapy session. Visit me on my website at

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Look at life through the windshield not the rear view mirror

I am a rabid football fan. I am schiziod in my allegiances. I have followed the University of Alabama since 1963 when I moved to Montgomery. I started out life in West Virginia, so I naturally like to see the Mountaineers win. I also like University of Florida where I sent a daughter and I like to see the home town 'Noles win because I sent a son and a another daughter through there.

My wife, Nancy, grew up in the shadow of Florida State University and graduated from Brigham Young University so she naturally is a rabid Georgia Bulldog fan. She likes to see the 'Noles win and of course her alma mater as well, but has done a lot of oozing over the bulldogs season.

My team, Alabama, (number one in the nation up 'til yesterday) got shellacked by the gamecocks of South Carolina. I was DEPRESSED afterwards. Maggie the wonder bassett felt it would be a good idea for her to take me for a walk after the loss to settle my nerves. She loves me and felt that a little squirrel and or rabbit chasing would improve my spirits. Nancy said to me as I we left the house, " Are you going to be OK." I told her, " I almost buried you back in April. I did bury one of my very best friends last week. This is a stupid football game. Of course I will be allright."

I once heard one of the leaders in my church say, " It is vitally important that we proceed through life looking at the world through the windshield rather than the rear view mirror." What a positive statement that is. There is a ton of stuff to get us down. Football games don't make a good sized pimple of importance on the buttocks of life in general.

I lost my job back in 2002. That will soon be 9 years ago. I could have drawn myself into a hole and put on 200 pounds and watched ESPN all day long and night. Living my life via the rear view mirror was not an option for me. I had a very successful 30 year career with a Fortune 500 company. They treated me fairly and I still get a pension from them. I decided to try real estate and have been a top producer in that realm from the first year. Now we are in the throws of a downturn in that business. Lots of soul searching as to what has gone on in the past to destroy that business along with the economy in general.

Tomorrow is a new day. Bama is going to win the rest of its games and play the Gamecocks in December in Atlanta for the SEC championship. After we beat them we are going to play Ohio State or Boise State for the national championship.

If and when this real estate economy turns around, I am going to go back to selling 3-4 million dollars of homes per year. I liked the way little orphan Annie put in "Annie" the motion picture.
" Tomorrow is just a day away." I also liked what coach Bobby Bowden said to Bert Reynolds in an episode of Evening Shade several years ago. The scenario was that Reynolds character wanted his son to play for Florida State. Coach Bowden went to talk with the boy as a courtesy to the Reynold's character. Reynolds was all depressed that the kid was not Seminole material. Bowden's parting comment was, " Football is only a GAME. !!"

Roll Tide and please pass the Kleenex.

Visit me on the web if you get bored at http://www.elvass.com

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Death, the enemy, or our friend?

I was walking by my neighbor's house here about a year ago and I saw the 85 year old wife sitting on the front porch alone. I had not seen her for a while so I walked towards her and greeted her. She seemed preoccupied. For the last several months I was aware of the fact that she had been suffering some rather severe dimentia. She did not acknowledge my cheery hello but instead said to me " Lee, I think I am going to have to place Dr. Townsend in a nursing home. " She went on to describe how he had been sleeping excessively and was not eating. I asked her if I could see him.

She took me to him. Sure enough, he was in his bed and cast a suspicious and wary eye on me. Now, here was a man whom I have lived by for the last 20 years. He was an active golfer for much of that time. He was retired from the Navy and had at one time been the commander of a significant base hospital. He was a physician and a very smart and friendly fellow. I liked him a great deal and always looked forward to running into him.

Now, here he was, obviously on the downslope of a pretty serious decline in health. I believe there may have been a bit of estrangement between he and his offspring based on the fact that none of them to my knowledge came to visit very often. Well I spoke with a neighbor across the street who was a nurse and their next door neighbors so we could begin a period of keeping them under close surveillance so that they would be in safe harbor.

We all responded and were doing pretty well getting him to see his doctor who prescribed meds to him and sent him on his way. Then came the day where he fell and could not get up. A call was made to 911 and the ambulance came. He resisted being transferred to the hospital because he knew the score. He was quoted as saying, " I just want to be left alone to die here in my own bed." Well he was transferred anyway and they diagnosed him as being dehydrated and having had a mild heart attack. They put him into ICU and kept him there for a couple of weeks.

In the meantime we made contact with a son and ended up having both of the sons come, one an attorney and the other a physician. The decision was made that he would be moved to be near one of them along with Mrs. Townsend. Dr. Townsend made the 18 hour trip in the front seat of his own car. Within 3 weeks we, the neighbors, got wind that he had passed away. He ws 90 years old. Echoing in my mind was his proclamation that he " just wanted to die in his own bed."

Here was a man who had practiced medicine over the course of a lifetime. He knew he was dying. He embraced it and accepted it. The rest of us could not just stand by and not seek some sort of intervention. He led a full, successful and pretty happy life. What would have been wrong with letting him die in his own bed?

I just delivered a eulogy for a friend of mine, Colin. You can read the eulogy if you like on the home page of my website, under "About". Colin had been diagnosed with cancer almost 10 years ago. I made his acquaintance and became his friend approximately 6 years ago. He was always sick and having to take radiation thereapy and ultimately chemotherapy the entire time I knew him. He loved life and did well for the extent of his illness for many years.

His son came and lived with him about 3 years ago and his daughter came within the last year. He was not alone. He would get to feeling better and then lose ground to the illness. He fought a long and brave battle. During his final days he suffered incredibly. Death came at almost midnight 9 days ago. His children and his beloved sister were beside him holding his hand as he passed away. Suddenly in as long as it takes to take a breath and let it out he was gone. The suffering stopped and he was at peace. He was 60 years of age.

My own Father in law contracted an illness akin to Lou Gehrig's disease. It was called a rediculo transverse myolopathy. In any event he was rendered parlyzed from his neck down, placed on a ventilator and had to be moved 250 miles away from his home to be supported in a ventilator hospital. He died after 6 years in that hospital on that ventilator. That was 13 years ago.

My mother in law lived to the age of 86 and got sick and died within 24 hours. She was surrounded by her entire immediate family as she took that last breath and surrendered to the reaper. Cancer took my father at 70 years of age. He was diagnosed in November and dead by mid December.

Is the reaper the enemy or is he our friend? In all of these scenarios I think he was a friend. I once read a quote by a philosopher who said," We fear death as if it were the greatest enemy. We do not know if it is the greatest good. How could anything as natural as death, designed by the Great Architect be bad? We live in the land of the dying. The next land ( for the believer ) is the land of the living. We die that we die no more." ( Neil Fugal, paraphrased ).

I suppose that someday we will all know, won't we? None of us are getting out of this world alive.

Lee Vass