Wednesday, November 26, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

On this Thanksgiving Eve I wish to post on the subject of gratitude. More specifically, the expression of gratitude. This is a matter which needs addressing because there are more people than ever who now comprise our society who are entirely too entitlement oriented.

There are numerous examples that we could point to. We are just now coming off of two nights of rioting, looting and arson in Missouri. The lynchpin of all that activity was the shooting of Michael Brown. It escapes me how throwing a brick through a storefront and rushing in and carrying out all the merchandise you can carry and then setting that store on fire in any fashion eulogizes the falling of an apparently not all that innocent teenager. I wonder what life would be like in Ferguson, Missouri if law enforcement pulled all their personnel out of that city for the remainder of days? Instead of gratitude for all the under paid and under equipped law enforcement officers in this country we see unbridled contempt expressed by a loud and brash minority. The majority of people in this country respect and cooperate and are grateful for that deputy, police officer, constaple or whatever you want to call him or her. Our gratitude should be in remembrance of the fact that we are able to sleep safely and warmly in our beds with little concern for what happens during the night because of those who patrol and watch in our behalf.

I think of the countless levels of resources, donations and volunteers directed towards New Orleans in the aftermath of Katrina. The church I attend was a temporary housing site for refugees from that storm here in Tallahassee. I stationed myself at the church as a resource several times over a month. I spoke with many people who expressed appreciation for a roof over their heads and hot meals and protection from the night. Then there were others who griped and complained because their cots were not large enough. They did not like the food served. There were even incidences of slapping other refugees for invasion of space or other provocations. I remember seeing on TV a man coming out of a WalMart in New Orleans with a flat screen TV that he had retrieved during the siege of looting. He was wading through hip high flood water with that TV sitting on one shoulder. Never mind that he did not have a dry place to house that TV nor electricity to operate it. Instead of his mind being on gratitude for survival his was on getting something for nothing. How very sad that is.

The company for which I worked thirty years would give all employees a day off for community service each year. It was your choice as to where you volunteered your time. I elected to volunteer around the holidays with Christmas Connection. The goal of this charity was to fulfill a never ending supply of needs lists turned in by social workers.  Resources were tapped to fulfill many of those lists. They needed help delivering those packages to the families. I remember getting hugged by mothers who were so concerned about how their children were ever going to get a gift for Christmas. I also remember being afraid for my life going to spots in the community that were notorious for crime. I remember many recipients who glared at me, rifled through the boxes and did their best to intimidate me. Forget a thank you. I was just happy to get back in my car and lock the door.

I worked for a stretch at a homeless shelter here in Tallahassee. Every day volunteers would serve food which had been donated for that purpose. Businesses, restaurants, fraternities and sororities would give excesses of food to the effort. 150 or so homeless would be fed every day. The food was hot and nutritious. All comers were served. Over the time I worked we served thousands of hungry homeless people. I remember being overwhelmed at times. I can count on my two hands the number of thank yous that came from those we fed.

I remember back to a time when I was very busy with my work running the government affairs operations for a large corporation in three states. I was really hard pressed for time. My wife has an enormously compassionate heart. She had a friend who was married to a certified school teacher who had lost his job. I had retained a lobbyist/consultant who had ties to higher ups in our school system. I arranged to take this unemployed teacher to lunch at a fine restaurant with these educators. After the lunch I handed off his resume’ and asked for help in getting him a job. He was hired to teach in a middle school within the next week. He worked for 6 months and walked off the job. That was almost 20 years ago. I am still waiting on a phone call, note, etc from him expressing his gratitude. Somehow, I don’t think it is going to arrive.

I mentored numerous people over my thirty year career. I coached and helped many get various jobs in the world of pharmaceuticals and allied health positions. I was always happy to handle a resume’. Many of those people thanked me for my help. Twice as many did not. I remember when I lost my job. I was 55 years of age and was out because of a sell off of our division. I remember sending resume’s out to numerous people, many of whom I had helped along the way. I remember the sting of not even getting a phone call from the overwhelming majority of them.

I reflect back on all of these memories and come to the conclusion that people are selfish at heart. It is a very rare thing to have someone tell you thank you. I find myself, in the final analysis, being grateful that luck, an education and hard work has placed me in a position to help other people. I am fortunate to have been healthy all of my life and blessed with an ability that made me employable. Life has blessed me with children and grand children and a wonderfully loving wife. They have all given me much more than I have ever given them. I live in the land of liberty and draw the breath of freedom.

I am grateful this Thanksgiving for all that I have been given. 

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A Lesson From Bellamy

Bellamy Dreher Vass
AKA The baby Duck

I want to share a lesson I learned from my little grand daughter Bellamy. I have learned and relearned this lesson over the course of my 68 years on earth. The lesson simply has to do with the foundations that we draw upon.

One of the favorite activities that Bellamy and I enjoy together is building with blocks. She hauls out this immense box of building blocks and usually against the back drop of Sid the Science Kid, Curious George or Word World we spend time constructing huge towers and buildings. Her favorite move is to slide out the blocks on the lower portion of our edifices which naturally brings the structure crashing downwards. She laughs a hardy laugh deep down from her little belly and always makes the pronouncement. " It falled over !!!!!"

I was reading an op ed in our local newspaper, The Tallahassee Mullet wrapper, this weekend. The editor was opining concerning how ludicrous it was for individuals across America to oppose any trend in society that moves us in the direction of tolerance for any ideology that extends freedom to choose to various elements. His position was that rooted in the Hobby Lobby supreme court decision. His take was that it was really a shame that a privately held corporation had the right to reject participation in the new Affordable Care Act based on their religious beliefs that dispensing birth control pills to their employees violated their first amendment rights to religious freedom. He gave several fringe arguments that you would expect to come out of California.

Echoing in my recent memory was another clash of this sort whereby a man who was in the photography business in a western state, where reason has long been abandoned, refused to provide his services at a same sex marriage. He was sued and taken to court and found guilty of discrimination. He was fined heavily and threatened with jail time because of his first amendment stance that his religious beliefs were violated in making him provide those services. Argument noted and ' No soup for you !!'.

Debate in the public square has been dealt a mortal wound by this trend. Religious Freedom has been swept aside as we seek to become more tolerant and anything goes in our public conscience. But not so fast, my friend. What makes your position more valuable than the other fellow's opinion? In case you need some help in analyzing this alarming trend please think back over the 20 or so years where political correctness has evolved on every front in America. It is unduly concerning that most of the fronts are foundational premises having their roots in the very early beginning of our republic as we know it today.

I attended a Christmas program last year at my grand children's elementary school. Not one of the little skits or songs sung had any reference to the birth of Jesus Christ. Now I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer but is that not what CHRIST-mas is all about? The birth of the saviour of mankind? I heard all sorts of little songs about dradles, snow men and Santa but not any mention of Christ. I queried my daughters and sons-in-laws about this phenomenon and I was advised that they had been mandated by the district office and the local school board that such expressions were strictly prohibited.

It is beyond alarming to people of my maturity that religious freedom has been relegated to the back rooms in America in favor of letting all sorts of philosophies of men prevail. Liberal judges, left wing attorneys and grass roots advocacy groups have taken the foundation out of our country. Soon we will look around and ask the question what happened to the America in which we grew up where families prayed together at a church of their choosing. Where what a mom and dad elected to teach their children and pray to our God when we felt we needed to has disappeared. Then we can make the statement to that query the simple little Bellamy response " It falled over." The foundations have been removed.

Have a look at this and see if you agree. You may have to copy and paste this into your browser.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Inalienable Rights of a Child

What seems to be lost in the current clamor to make Florida, and other states, just like California in the realm of same sex marriage are the inalienable rights of a child. Just like our steady movement to allow people the right to get stoned on marijuana we, lose the perspective of what sort of damage does this do to those unable to vote or protect themselves via other means?

It is alarming that our society, in its self righteous march, to being tolerant, free thinking and politically correct at all costs turn our backs on our children in the process.

In 2008 the state of Florida passed Amendment 2 at the same time that Californians passed Proposition 8. In Florida 61.92% of voters cast their ballot to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. I don’t seem to recall that there was much, if any, backlash in the media or otherwise in Florida. All the while, all hell broke lose in California concerning the will of the people.

A child is the innocent victim in all of society’s adult decisions to adapt a particular social lifestyle. The neonate, while still in the womb, is at serious risk of being terminated as its mother debates whether or not that child should be allowed to take the first breath of life. When does the neonate get a chance to express its opinion or cast a vote? Its only choice lies in the social alternatives afforded the mother. The neonate only gets to die as a result of the mother’s decision. The abortion debate being tantamount to an act of murder has been pushed aside as the social debate rages about life versus choice. The neonate loses because it does not have the capacity to organize into the realm of advocacy and grass roots campaigns which garner candidates, laws and regulations.

The same holds true for children adopted by same gender parents. The child, whether adopted or conceived, harbors no choice as it is born into circumstances beyond their control. Their future is contrived by those who, by whatever means, are legally recognized as this child’s parents. The child’s experience as it grows in society is subject to role modeling, bullying by others and a host of other social experiences that mold its life experience. We make great strides to pass legislation to prevent cyber bullying and other forms of bullying but don’t even give a thought to the confusion created in the mind of a child born into a world which eliminates either a mother or a father.

In my opinion, a child needs both a mother and a father. No one entity can provide nurturing to that child like a mother is capable of doing. Because they were connected, literally for the gestational period, that mother is inherently capable of giving sustenance, nurturing and perspective to that child. A father is the jayvee team in that realm. However, he provides a completely different form of nurturing in his role as provider and defender and the example he sets as he nurtures the mother and does a lot of the heavy lifting that comes with parenthood.

The will of the people continues to be rendered inert by the liberal opinions of a handful of judges. Their only perspective in their roles of advocacy is to be popular with the people who think they have the answers. The rights of children are cast aside in favor of adults who think they have the better approach to the traditional union of a man and woman. One becomes Mother and the other becomes Father. Those are roles granted to us by the almighty God of heaven and earth. In our steady rebellion away from Him the most collateral damage is endured by His little ones who ought to otherwise be nurtured and protected in the best manner possible.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Dog Days

Maggie the Wonder Bassett Hound

I have heard about Dog Days my entire life. I recently tried to explain the sketchy information I held about Dog Days to my son and realized that I actually knew very little about it. A quick visit to Wickipedia and I was a walking encyclopedia about the subject.

It seems that Dog Days are an ancient Roman reference. It incorporates 40 days commencing July 16th and concluding around August 25th. It is usually the hottest part of the year and I cannot argue with that fact based on the 100 degree days we have had here in Tallahassee. The stretch is tied to the rise of
the star Sirius, also known as the dog star. The ancient Romans believed that dragons were more active during this time, the sea turned to wine and that dogs acted much more erratic. It always seemed to me that Maggie was more lazy during this time of the year. Not that she was ever a bundle of energy.

I remember as a child hearing my grand mother and her cronies talk about Dog Days. She had an entire list of things you did and didn't do during Dog days. They were tied to the Farmer's Almanac which is another mystical  thing I never fully understood. Planting season, rainfall, arthritis spells, mood swings and all sorts of things are linked somehow to Dog days.

My father in law who was one of my best ever friends told me that you will never hear a mocking bird sing during Dog days. I was sitting in the back yard yesterday after having cleaned the pool and I heard the song of a mocking bird. I thought about him and I realized that according to the almanac that Dog days were now officially over. I have noted that the mocking birds that used to wake me up at 3:00 in the morning have been absent, heretofore.

I noticed this morning as I looked through Facebook to see who was getting married, dumping ice water on their heads, sending their little darlings back to school and getting committed to insane asylums that today was Love Your Dog Day. There were all sorts of pictures posted up of people's lovable little mutts and descriptions of the zany things they do and say.

I will say this about Dog days: They are extremely boring ! At least in my corner of the world. I can see that Dog days is a spectacular time to go on vacation and mix it up a little bit. I went to the beach a couple of times and that was about it. It is way too hot to play golf. I have October slated as my re-start date on golfing.

Anything that involves not being under a ceiling fan sounds like a terrible expenditure of time to me. Ah, but there is hope immediately ahead. Football season starts in all the land 8/30. Suddenly there is purpose in lying in my recliner under the ceiling fan with Dish network tuned to the myriad of games going on across the nation.

I have to go watch the Paul Finebaum show on my new SEC network. Man, am I glad that Dog days are now officially ended.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Baseball, Sit Back and Enjoy

Posting today about baseball. The picture above is of my 1960 Babe Ruth baseball team. We won the championship of the Greebrier County Babe Ruth League. I am the wormy little kid on the bottom right. That was 54 years ago. I went on to make the All Star team that year which was an honor. I don't think we got out of districts. I went on to play in high school and played intramural in college and was out. Since that time I coached in Babe Ruth and Little league. I was the League president of a 13-14 year old league in Tallahassee and took a team to the state tournament.Nowadays my biggest investiture is having MLB network on my sports cable package.

I remember the summer that I played in this league. I can remember a catch I made late in a game on a ball that was hit over my head in center field. I had to run like the wind to catch it. I remember catching it over my shoulder as I dove to make a desparation attempt. That catch preserved a win for our team and contributed to our winning the league championship. I also seem to recall that it made me a member of the All Star team as the coach hand picked me to be one of his "at large" picks. I have vivid memories of the smells around that field, the way my baseball glove fit and how hard it was to hit a good pitcher.

Baseball has always been intriguing to me. It is a painfully slow game to watch. It is slow to play it. You can go an entire game and never get on base and never have a chance to make a play in the field. Yet it appeals to millions of people. It has been called our national past time. Many people forego watching it by saying it is just way too slow for my taste.

My favorite movie is "Field of Dreams" produced and released in 1989, starring Kevin Costner. There is something ethereal about that movie. If you have not seen it, it is about a gaggle of ghost baseball players who live in a corn field in Iowa. The theme is concerning dreams that have not ever come true, where and what exactly is heaven and time travel. The movie speaks to the zen of baseball. The great James Earl Jones gives a sililoqouy in the midst of the movie that captures the spirit of baseball about as well as it can be captured. If you have not watched that movie you should You Tube the piece by Jones.

I am at peace when I watch a baseball game on television. I tend to be a Braves fan foremost and a Rays fan secondarily. However, it does not really matter what teams are playing, I am going to watch, eat a bowl of ice cream or a bag of popcorn. I am fortunate to live in Tallahassee which has Florida State University baseball which is as good as any in the country. When I am sitting in a stadium, my menu changes to hot dogs, nachoes or roasted peanuts.

My family is always assaulting me with questions about what to get me for my birthday, May 27th and then for Fathers Day, 2-3 weeks later. I recently advised them that I want fitted baseball hats, size 7 & 1/2, for each major league team. That will be a collection of 30 hats which I will like having. That should get them off of me for the next 15 years.

Walt Alston who managed the Dodgers many years ago was asked to explain the appeal of baseball to Americans. He is quoted as saying, " Baseball is like church. Many attend but few truly understand." I think that is a dead on accurate description. Speaking as one who attends church and has read and studied to try and foster an understanding of religion,  baseball is similar. There is strategy in what is going on between the batter and the pitcher, between the base runner and the hitter, the pitcher and the catcher, the base coaches and the runners, the in-fielders and the out-fielders. You can't explain it, you have to just feel and experience it.

Friday, May 16, 2014

The Merry Acres, a bird and the cleaners

It is such a beautiful day here in Florida's capital city that it causes me to reminisce. I go back in time about 25 years to a beautiful spring day. I was in the pharm business and was on a business outing to the Albany, GA area. As was my custom I spent the night at a Quality Court independent motel called the Merry Acres. I always stayed here because they remembered my name and more importantly they had a great restaurant.

I had scheduled a hospital display at Phoebe Putney hospital. That meant that I had to get up early and be at the hospital at 7:00 AM. I had just finished a lovely breakfast and on my out the door to my car. I had done this many numerous times before. However, today I was sporting a brand new three piece suit. It was cream colored. I had purchased it on sale from Gayfers department store. I had a nice blue shirt to go with it and matching tie and I had to say, I liked what I saw in the mirror.

I felt great. I was 43-44 years old and was in pretty good shape, happily employed, happily married and loved what I was doing for a living at that particular moment in time. I could not wait to get in front of my customers on that day. How could they resist my sales pitch, when I was looking so good?

Out the door, passing under a beautiful dogwood tree in full bloom. I could almost hear the Disney movie theme music playing " Oh what a beautiful morning. Oh what a beautiful day. Everything's coming up roses. Everything's going my way !" All of a sudden I felt a splat on my right shoulder. Looking with horror I saw that a bird had evacuated its alimentary canal all over my suit. My day went straight from bright and lovely to dour and gloomy immediately. You could tell from the residue that this bird had been glutting itself on some lovely blue berries of some variety. I could even see the seeds from its most recent meal.

I was livid. I spewed forth a lengthy string of sailor talk and my day had immediately gone from sunshine to spit.I acted like a 5 year old throwing this little singular tantrum. I was going to be late. My new suit was ruined. I might as well go home and forget the day. You could see the steam pouring from my well coiffed hair. Then I spotted my salvation. A dry cleaner. He had just opened his door. I made a veer straight to that door from the site of this travesty.

I walked in the door to inquire if there was assistance for me. My thought was that I could just leave the coat and go on to work in a shirt and tie and come back for it later in the morning. Before I could even open my mouth the dry cleaning professional took one look at me and doubled over with laughter. It did not cure my ill slated frame of mind. Just before I could unload my pent up anger on this person, whom I had not ever met, he looked me in the eye and began to apologize to me. He said that was just a ridiculous sight to see this so early in the morning.

He then said, " Hand me your coat, sir and let me see what I can do." I did so. He disappeared around the corner and was back inside 5 minutes. The mire from my suit was totally gone. It smelled a little funky but it looked brand new again. " How much do I owe you ?" said I as I put on my coat and looked at my watch. He said that he felt so bad  about laughing at me that he could not charge me a penny. I could not believe how quickly this chain of events had reversed itself.

Since the bird dumped on me to the time my coat was clean again was under 15 minutes. A bad situation in my personal world was made right by the simple act of a very nice person. I, to this day, do not remember his name. Yet here I sit 25 years later, recalling that event which taught me a valuable lesson once again.
There is simply no reason to react dramatically at what seems to be a disastrous event. Short of a diagnosis of terminal illness or the news of a death of a friend or loved one, most everything is manageable and reversible. Patience and being able to laugh at yourself is at the core of being able to survive.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Numbers are getting Dumber

Did you ever stop and think of what a numbers driven society we are? I remember back to my college life. Yes, that was back in the hey days of the 60's. There was a group named Three Dog Night who sang a song entitled, One is the Loneliest Number. You know the song. It had a haunting melody with a compelling beat. I always thought it meant something to the effect of being alone, without being in a relationship. Then some of my drug culture friends told me that it meant only smoking one marijauna cigarette. The joint was often referred to as a number. Everyone knows that it takes more than one to get you where you want to be.

Nowadays people are fixated by the FICO ratings. You see countless ads on TV advocating using their free service to get a free FICO or credit rating. If you are north of 800 then you are amongst the chosen ones. You are given a well oiled pathway to burying yourself in more debt than you can possibly ever imagine. You can then be just like elected members of Congress happily engaged in that pursuit. If you are below 600 then you  are a marginalized person unworthy of buying the least thing on a credit account. Some lies are enmeshed in this message. The first lie is that ad on TV doesn't tell you that you have to give their organization your credit card before you can get their free report. If you have just enough purchasing power on your card they do indeed render you a free report. However, they will hit you with a bill for each month you stay around on their service if you forget to cancel the service. The great lie is that your general esteem is soiled beyond redemption if you have a lower FICO rating. I know that this is just not true. I work with people all the time who have lower FICO's who are good people, better than most. They have lost a job, had health problems, divorced and had a myriad of other circumstances that are often beyond their control. You do not need a blistering high FICO rating unless you want to buy something on credit. There are lots of people who pay cash for just about everything. That approach to living renders the FICO to a benign and meaningless reflection of such a person.

How about IQ? Anyone who ever took psychology 101 knows that the intelligent quotient is assigned by a standardized test created by psychologists. Did anyone ever meet a normal psychologist? That aside, an IQ of 100 rates you as an average thinker. As you go up the scale then you are considered to be more talented in that regard. I believe if you are over 140 then you can apply to be in Menssa. That is a club where people sit around in little groups and pontificate about how extremely intelligent they are. As they do that people like George Bush or Barrack Obama are out becoming the President of the United States. This number helps you to get into the gifted programs in the varied school systems around our land. I remember visiting one of my daughters at their lunch table at elementary school in about the fifth grade. That was before they found out that I had a low IQ and they generally loved having Dad come to lunch at school with them.

There was a little girl at the table who introduced herself to me in the following fashion: " Hi, I am Mary and I am gifted." That meant that she had been identified by a standardized test, assigned a higher number on her IQ portion and was in the gifted program. My daughter, although precious to me, was in regular classes unworthy to be classified as gifted. My daughters are now in their mid thirties. They have little non-gifted children of their own. I watched Mary over the years. She became an alcoholic, drug addicted, unwed mother and actually has done time in the county lock up. My regular school girls have college degrees from major universities and can converse with just about anyone. They are both smart enough to be stay at home Moms with husbands who go out and fight the dragons of life and support them. I am proud of them. I have no clue what their IQ number is and could care less. I know mine and it would impress most people. However, I have never found a way to put it in the bank.

Phone numbers have gotten completely out of control. Everyone 6 years and up has at least 7 phone numbers in their homes to have to remember. Add in Alpha-numeric passwords, credit card numbers, Social security numbers and on and on and on and on it is just overwhelming.

How about age? Now there is a serious number. It can be too low or too high in the judgements of the people around you. Do you really believe that Methusaleh lived to be over 600 years of age? Is it just possible that there could have been a different manner of defining years or that there is a loss of credible translation along the way? You hear all the time that age is just a number. Frankly, I do not want to live to be 600. I am having a hard enough time with being 67.

Now here is a number for you.............666. It is biblical. As a matter of fact it is referenced in the very last book in the New Testament. Revelations 13. The writer describes a time in which there is a pronounced battle between good and evil. Satan is described as a beast. The chapter describes the fact that the beast can be wounded but never killed. Much interprettion has been given to that number 666 and what bearing it has on the evolution of time in this fallen world in which we live.

Now here is the overall most obsessed over number of them all...........................your weight ! How many billions of dollars are spent in this country relative to that number? That being said, I have to go eat lunch.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Five Lessons Learned in 2013

Here we are in a new year. I will turn 68 years of age in 2014. You would think that lessons in life would be harder to come by. Not so, they occur every day. It is hard to limit this list of lessons to just 5. I did 10 last year and I admit that reading that post put me to sleep.

LESSON ONE: Stay on Top of your Business

I have been practicing real estate now for 11 years going into my 12th. I have just completed the worst year in my personal history. I had a 30 year career with DuPont and was very successful. The first ten years of practicing real estate were more than I could have hoped for. I sold more than $15 million in that time frame. I earned some significant extra pay in those years. Now I come to the conclusion of a dismal year. I have thought about it and I conclude that you must stay on top of your business. Some of the downturn is just pure serendipity. However, some of it is my fault. The truth is that I played too hard in 2012 and others who were more hungry and more proactive took my share of the business. The solution? Get back on top by planning, communicating and implementing. I will turn it around. The old saw " If it is to be, it is up to me !" lives right here.

LESSON TWO: Your doc does not always know. You know your body better than he or she.

I worked within the medical industry for thirty years. I interacted with many physicians. I learned one important lesson about all of them. They are human. In saying that, I am expressing the fact that they are fallible, lazy, disinterested and progammable. I use this one example. I swallowed Pravachol for probably ten years. I am smart enough to know that I need to be on a lipid lowering modality for the rest of my life. I developed a pain in my collar bone area. I thought it to be unusual and I attributed it to straining the muscles there picking up my cherubic, but fat little grand children. On a visit to my physician of 15 years, I expressed to him that I was having neck pain. I also told him that I thought it was musculo-skeletal and most likely caused by the Pravachol. Afterall that is listed in the prescribing information as a common side effect. All he heard was neck pain and picking up fat little grand children. He wanted to give me a nuclear stress test immediately. I told him no way that was happening. All I needed was to change statins or get off of them totally. He would not hear of it. Solution? I took myself off of Pravachol and switched to another statin. Result? The pain went away competely. I reported this to him on a subsequent visit. Result? He still wanted to get me into his cardiologist buddy's nuclear stress clinic and most likely into their cath lab. Result? I got me a new doc and I have been happy as a clam ever since. I also might add, very well cared for as a result of the change.

LESSON THREE:  Jail ain't cool.

I refer to an earlier post to this BLOG about the jury duty I served back in January 2013. I helped send a graduate teaching assistant with a Master's Degree on his way to a PhD to jail for more than 5 years. His crime was soliciting a minor child for sex using the internet via computer. The evidence against him was just overwhelming. I saw him, his girl friend and his mother hang their heads and cry uncontrollably when the sentence was pronounced. The thought that experience left in my mind was that no crime is worth the risk of ending up in jail. Jail ain't cool.


My wife and I have perfomed a labor of love for the last three years of our life. That is giving child care to our little grand daughter while our son and daughter-in-law worked. She showed up on her 7th week of life at 6:30 AM and went home at 4:30 PM until she was almost three. We listened to her enunciate her first words. We watched her take her first steps. We watched her grow more beautiful every day. She loved us and we loved her back in geometric proportions. One day our son announced that he was taking a job in a city 400 miles to the south of us. The process to accomplish that move took two months. We put her into a car and delivered her to her new home. We then drove home without her. That was almost 6 weeks ago. Our hearts are still tender from the separation. Sure we have 6 other grand children but this one was special because of the nurturing we provided her. She has a wonderful mother and father. Our hearts are starting to heal a bit because we are busy with life. We have Face timed with her numerous times. Her parents update us almost every day with pictures and videos. She is now in day care. From all indications a good one. We are starting to believe that we will survive the change. The lesson is re-learned. Change is constant and sometimes very, very difficult.

LESSON FIVE:  Death is a certainty.

A morbid lesson re-learned. I suppose that it is a matter of chronologic progression that you have more and more friends and acquaintaces and family leave you behind and go with God. This past year I helped bury a dear friend of 40 years of age who had very special needs. His parents grieve still and we all miss him. I despise the pain and hurt that his parents feel especially. I helped memorialize a dear friend of 30 years who was 82 who had been the victim of Alzheimers. Her death was a blessing most especially to her. Yet those that are left behind grieve her and miss her. We lost a dear friend and neighbor. He was my friend of many years but he adored our little grand daughter, Bellamy, I am pretty sure more than me. I saw and spoke with him on a Friday. He brought some satsumas to his little friend, Bellamy. He, knowing that Bellamy was moving, queried me as to what was he going to do when Bellamy left. And then, as fate would have it, he died the following Monday of a cardiovascular event. He was 79 and lived a most wonderful life. However, as is always the case we who stay behind in this fallen world struggle on without him and miss him. I also have dear friends whose son, 37, put a pistol in his mouth and ended his own life. He left his wife and a 3 month old baby. The sadness of that event is indescribable. I also sat across a table and negotiated a business deal with a very nice man who I had not ever known. I could tell he was ill. I would not ever begin to think that he would die in sight of two months. Annette Funicello left us this past year. I BLOGGED about that earlier. The realization is that life is very fragile. We live moment to moment. We should do our very best to control our interaction with others because of that fact. Let kindness and patience prevail in all that we do.