The Relevance of Howard Beale

I saw a TV commercial this morning that reminded me of that scene in the movie Network where a TV news anchor told his listeners to go to their windows and yell at the night saying that they were mad and were not going to take it any more. That movie was made 35 years ago but Beale's rant yet resonates with some today. Consider these excerpts from his rant:
I don't have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. ... Everybody's out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel's worth, banks are going bust ... We know things are bad - worse than bad. They're crazy. It's like everything everywhere is going crazy ... I want you to get mad! I don't want you to protest. I don't want you to riot - I don't want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn't know what to tell you to write. I don't know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crime in the street. All I know is that first you've got to get mad.
I have to admit that under my neatly composed exterior I am mad about where America is today. I am mad about how the outsourcing and insourcing of jobs have caused my friends to be unemployed. I am mad that the state of my grandchildren's world is being decided by a bunch of adult children in DC that seems to be so out of touch with reality. I am mad that the divide between rich and poor in our country has widened rather than narrowed. I am mad that bankers on wall street get bailed out while folks on main street are ignored. Lastly, I am mad that people who I have voted for since 1980 have done nothing to help the unborn.

Before you tell me to take a chill pill and not worry so much, I want to assure you that these things do not captivate my attention all of the time - I do have a life and my days are filled with other things. Yet I think that my thoughts, and those of Howard Beale,  might resonate with some people in our country. Are you mad about anything? Care to share?

Company Policy - Really?

Had a nurse tell me today that they had to move my wife to dim lit room because of hospital policy regarding her roommate - she was contagious.. or something. Pressed one of my buttons. It is hard to understand why so much dialog about difficult topics has to fall back on "policy" statements that are not conciliatory or helpful for people who are already stressed out. Ever had one of those kind of talks?

Are all humans immortal?

This Shoebox Blog cartoon reminded me about how most people believe that all humans are immortal (i.e. live past death) when they are born. Some wonder if people become immortal when they are spiritually born after they are physically born. What are your thoughts? Are humans born immortal or do some become immortal after they are born? Or perhaps you feel that no one lives past death.

Inevitable Aging

Saw these photos this week in an article about a man who has been fleeing from the authorities for 36 years. The man is 66 in the image on the right - what a difference the years have made on this man.. don't think that I would have recognized him as an older version of the guy on the left. Makes me think about how some of us age a bit better than others. That said, I give you:

Aging is an inevitable process. I surely wouldn't want to grow younger.
The older you become, the more you know; your bank account of knowledge is much richer.
[William M. Holden]

Aging seems to be the only available way to live a long life.
[Kitty O'Neill Collins]

I am not afraid of aging, but more afraid of people's reactions to my aging.
[Barbara Hershey]

I think you have to relax about aging. What else can you do?
[Felicity Kendal]

Very few people age gracefully enough to be photographed through their aging.
[Jamie Lee Curtis]

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
[Doug Larson]

No one can avoid aging, but aging productively is something else.
[Katharine Graham]

Technologically Hampered Vacations

This photo (below) is a bit absurd but it does point to the reality that many experience as they are forced to take their work with them on vacations. This week we have seen this idea take form as we see the president take breaks from his vacation to carry out the duties of his office. Consider this excerpt from an article titled "We need a break from work":
Polls indicate that less than half of Americans will take a vacation this year, down from approximately 70 percent who vacationed a decade ago. No doubt the recession is a primary cause in this trend. Yet a different trend line may suggest more lasting and unhealthy consequences: for those who do take a vacation, almost half will stay connected to work by checking email and taking phone calls.
I think that technology has really caught up with us. Things once considered technological perks have now become professional expectations when you consider how smart phones now make folks available 24/7 via talk, email and text. Makes me ponder how relaxed people will be when they return back to work from technologically hampered vacations.

Can you relate? Does technology help or harm your rest when you take time off?

Are you a Dog or Cat person?

I have had both and I am definitely a dog person. They seem more responsive to me.

Glen Campbell's Alzheimer Diagnosis

I was saddened to hear the news that Glen Campbell has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. My first memory of Glen and his music was listening to "By the Time I get to Phoenix" on my bunk at the Fort Bliss barracks in El Paso. "The Wichita Lineman" and "Gentle on my Mind" were other favorites from back in those days.

I am hopeful that a cure will eventually be found but until then my heart goes out to people like Glen and their families.

What is your favorite Campbell song?

Time Warriors

"The two most powerful warriors are patience and time." -Leo Tolstoy

Sometimes I read something, like this quote, that really encourages me. It is so hard to wait when life is difficult. I think that Tolstoy captures a deep truth in this quote. There is a war waging, especially when life is hard, and sometimes patience is the only weapon that avails itself to us.

The title of this book speaks to me of a second weapon in life's war. A friend defined hope this way on Facebook: "the feeling that something desired is possible". I like the simplicity of that thought. Without this kind of hope patience would take on a morbid mentality. During my difficult summer in Chicago I found strength in these two weapons. I patiently wait with hope in my heart.

Stuck in the Shallow End

Yesterday two folks commented here and one friend commented on Facebook about the ways that they got unstuck. The lifestyle changes they made varied from taking up golf, healthy diet changes and water aerobics. That last change reminded me of this newspaper article from the spring of 2006 - click on the image to read the story.. a bit fuzzy but sort of readable. You can read my 2006 perspective about the experience here. Not sure who the old guy in the picture is ... whoever it is ... it is a very unflattering picture.

Have you ever conquered a life long fear and found yourself unstuck and free of it?

Stuck in the Familiar

I think that we can all relate to the idea of being stuck or in a rut. This excerpt from Kim Allen's recent message titled "The Blind Side" reminded me of that this morning:
There's comfort in the familiar. ... We all know other people who are stuck doing the same things the same way expecting a different outcome. Yet we fail to see our own narrow views or the "I know what I know" attitudes we hang on to, never considering the possibility that we may be blind to a better way.
I think that it is easy to stay stuck in the status quo because it takes a bit of courage to escape from the comfortable into the unknown. This summer has been full of escape for Ann and I. Little did we know that Ann would spend a desperate week in Chicago on a ventilator when we chose to escape from the grips of a deadly autoimmune disease.

Getting unstuck can sometimes involve a bit of risk. Yet the promise of leaving the familiar is that things will eventually be better - not that it always is.. especially in the short term. But to continue to do the same things (i.e. stay stuck) and expect different results is a definition of insanity. Here's to getting unstuck - even if it is just for a while. ツ

What things have you done (successful and not) to get unstuck? Any advice?

Phone Blogging

Got a new LG Android phone last month. Downloaded the Blogger app for it yesterday. Don't really like using the soft keyboard but I am getting used to it.

Hurt my back a few days ago so I am attempting to live without my 13 inch laptop - it is not super heavy but, with the adapter, I can feel its weight when I am carrying it to the hospital and back to the hotel.

I added this pic I took from Ann's hospital room. It is a view of Lake Michigan and some of the Northwestern campus. Wonder how it will look on the blog.

Anyone of you ever blog from your phone? Any tips for using a soft keyboard? I can use all the help I can get. :)

Charged Roadways

The idea of electric cars have been in the news occasionally for decades. The challenge has always been the charging of such vehicles. Found this tidbit in a ZDNet article today.
SmartPlanet contributing editor Mark Halper reports from the England that a British car-racing team will soon start easing a technology for dynamic or “on-the-go” charging. The idea is that the roadway would include power strips that would charge a vehicle as it moves along. Yes, kind of like those toy car and train sets that you used to have when you were a kid.

Halper reports that Drayson Racing Technologies is working on the concept with HaloIPT, a company in London that develops wireless charging technology for electric vehicles.
Not sure how realistic such a wireless charging technology idea is but I like the concept a lot more than that of having a charging station at home - especially for people like me who live in condos/apartments and do not have available power sources in their parking laces.

Interested in going electric? What would it take for you to buy a pure electric vehicle?

Bizarre World of Collegiate Dollars

For years I have appalled by the way that university sports programs seem to trump academics - the real reason that these institutions exist. So I was not surprised by the news of how Rutgers University in New Jersey is cutting costs. Here are a few clips from the story:
The NCAA said in a financial analysis published in July that student fees and support from university budgets in fiscal 2010 provided the biggest share of sports revenue since 2004, based on the median of the 120 largest programs in the organization, which the NCAA calls its Football Bowl Subdivision. Schools’ subsidies and student fees accounted for 21 percent of the $6.3 billion in athletic revenue, the NCAA said.  
At Rutgers, of the $26.9 million given to subsidize athletics in fiscal 2010, $18.4 million came from university coffers, top among state schools in the Atlantic Coast, Big East, Big Ten, Big 12, Pac-12 and Southeastern Conferences.
The sad fact is that college sports programs like football and basketball are huge industries supported by alumni, fans and mega TV contracts. BCS football bowl contests and March basketball madness have contributed to the bizarre atmosphere in collegiate life. And I imagine nothing will change with school starting in the coming weeks.

Who is Rick Perry?

The Texas governor jumped into the GOP presidential race this weekend and many are asking the question "Who is Rick Perry?" I do not plan to answer that question but will point you to two exhaustive blog posts from the Pesky Truth blog. The first post is titled Want to know more about Rick Perry? and speaks to Perry's positive attributes. The second post, titled Seventeen (17) things that critics are saying about Rick Perry, addresses the negative baggage that comes with the Perry candidacy. Here is an interesting clip from the first post that speaks to concerns that some have about Perry:
"There’s said to be little love lost between Former President Bush (43) and Perry. Both men honored the tenets of Texas Republicanism: low taxes, small government and limited regulation. But Bush prided himself on his ability to work with Democrats, while Perry took a much more partisan approach.

Bush, or “George,” as Perry called him, “was no fiscal conservative – never was. I mean, ’95, ’97, ’99,” Perry went on, elaborately ticking Bush’s Governor years off on his fingers, “George Bush was spending money!” That statement alone could have cooled the climate between the two men."
I did find Pesky Truth to be a bit of an advocate for Rick Perry but I thought that his lengthy posts presented a good picture of the Texas governor and answered some of my questions.

Vizio Tablet is a Game Changer

With a selling price of $299 I think that this Vizio 8" Tablet is a game changer. It is not much more than some of the color e-readers on the market and hundreds of dollars less than the other tablets on sale these days.

I am not much of a prognosticator but I think that this entry into the iPad driven market has the potential to change tech buying trends this Christmas. Do you think that this lower price might entice you to buy one?

Willow Creek, LGBT issues and

Adam Hamilton, the senior pastor of the church I attend, was recently published in the Huffington Post. His article, titled When LGBT Supporters Get It Wrong, points out that sometimes it is not evangelical organizations and churches that erect walls that hinder understanding and communication. Here is a clip from his piece:
This year a group called started a petition drive to protest Starbucks' CEO Howard Schultz' plans to speak on leadership at the event. Willow Creek was described as having a "long history of anti-gay persecution" on the website. 766 people signed the petition and Mr. Schultz chose not to speak. This would seem, at first glance, to be a victory for and for the LGBT cause.

Here, however, this particular group of LGBT supporters got it wrong. The question and others might want to ask is, how do we positively influence people who see the world differently than we do? Petitioning Howard Schultz to not speak, characterizing Willow Creek as persecuting LGBT's (Willow is arguably the most influential church in the U.S. and one that is far more moderate than many evangelical churches) and then succeeding at seeing Schultz back out of speaking at the conference will serve to further alienate moderate evangelicals and actually hurt the LGBT cause.
I applaud Adam for pointing this out and suggest that you read his article in full here.

Charity, Donations and Tax Receipts

Saw this on Facebook today and had to comment on it. Now I know that the US Tax Code allows a deduction for contributions made to charitable groups but I sometimes wonder if this is a good thing for those groups, the donors and the government. It seems, as the cartoon indicates, that folks can be distracted from what is important to what is beneficial for them. Perhaps the Tax Code fosters a dynamic that helps groups that are not all that charitable? What do you think?

Dedicated to Wall Street ...

... and all of my anarchist capitalist friends with kudos to ASBO Jesus.

Kids banned by Restaurants

I was happily sitting at a Chicago McDonalds a few mornings ago drinking a cup of coffee, munching on a sausage biscuit and reading your blogs when a family with a small child sat down in a nearby booth. About every 5 minutes my morning silence broke as the young child screamed. Sigh. I say all that to introduce a Time magazine online article titled Should More Restaurants Ban Kids?. Here are a few thoughts from the piece:
You probably haven't been worrying much lately about the seating policies of McDain's restaurant in Monroeville, Pa. You probably don't even know that McDain's exists. Or Monroeville, for that matter. But when the casual-dining eatery announced earlier this month that kids under 6 wouldn't be served, every media outlet in the U.S. spread the news, including this one. It's not that anybody cares about McDain's or its stuffed flounder ($18.95) or beer-battered chicken ($12.95). It's that the question of whether small children should be allowed in restaurants cuts through one of the biggest unspoken divides in American life: the one between parents and nonparents.
In fact, almost all of the chefs and servers I talked to — even the ones who have small kids themselves — told me they hate having kids in restaurants. The reasons are obvious. "We all used to dread seeing parents bring kids in," one longtime server at a celebrated San Franciscorestaurant told me. "You knew they were going to make a huge mess, that the table and floor was going to be a disaster area, that the ticket [check] would be lower, meaning less of a tip, and that the parents were going to be constantly on us for food right away."
Restaurant owners feel the same way. Christian Pappanicholas, of New York City's Resto, is a parent of young kids, and says, "I think parents need to use some strong discretion about when and where they take their kids. Especially if the kids are prone to misbehave — and if you say your kids are angels, that they never get up and run around, never throw French fries, never talk loud, never spill Cheerios, you're lying."
When my kids were small I generally took them to restaurants that catered to families. Cannot remember a time when we took them to restaurants that cater mainly to adults. So I think that I support the idea that parents should show discretion about where they bring there small children. Of course that would not have helped me out the other morning.

What do you think about some restaurants banning small children from their places?

A Good Day to Forgive

Did you know that today is International Forgiveness Day? The image below speaks to me of how difficult it can be to forgive when someone has hurt you deeply. To inspire you to forgive those deep wounds and to live a life of forgiveness I offer you a few quotes.

He who is devoid of the power to forgive, is devoid of the power to love. -Martin Luther King, Jr.

There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love. -Bryant H. McGill

To forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you. -Lewis B. Smedes

Forgiveness means letting go of the past.” -Gerald Jampolsky

The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong. -Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future. -Paul Boese

When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free. -Catherine Ponder

Sincere forgiveness isn't colored with expectations that the other person apologize or change. Don't worry whether or not they finally understand you. Love them and release them. Life feeds back truth to people in its own way and time. -Sara Paddison

Father, forgive them; for they don't know what they do. -Jesus Christ

Rolling the Blogroll

Since starting to blog in 2005 I have made a lot of friends in the Blogosphere. Many of those friends no longer blog and many no longer read my bloggings. So I thought that I might solicit some input from you all.

If you read here please let me know if you would like to be added-to/kept-on my blogroll. Also let me know if you have me on your blogroll. Thanks for your help!

Towers of Babel

This is the architect's rendering of the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, near the Red Sea, which is expected to reach a height of over 1,000 meters (3,280 feet). When it is completed it will be the tallest structure on planet earth.

I wondered when I saw the image today if all of the skyscrapers around the world are modern man's attempts at rebuilding the Tower of Babel?

What do you think? Why do we continue to build these skyscrapers when smaller ones might do?

Man's New Best Friend

I am in the fifth year of my smart phone experiment. I started with a Motorola Q (MS Windows Mobile OS) which gave way to a Palm Pre (WebOS) and now to a LG Optimus (Android).
I do not think that I am addicted to my smart phone but a few of these signs in this article, titled Addicted to Our Smartphones, shed some light on the way that these phones have changed our lives. Consider these signs from the article and my thoughts on them:
  • Utilizing the phone to avoid human interaction.
     || Not sure that I consciously do this but I think some do.
  • Becoming so engrossed in the phone that everything else is completely tuned-out. || Busted. I do find myself tuned out at times when I am reading email on my phone.
  • Spending more money on data plans than they can afford (the average wireless access bill for smartphone users is now $107 per month) || I do not doubt that statistic. Sprint bumped my smart phone data plan charges two years ago and then wanted to bump it another $10/month this year.
Do you have a Smart Phone? Can you relate to these signs of addiction?

Adults on Recess

Anyone else think it odd that the US Congress is recessed until after Labor Day? Used to be that recess was just for kids. Seems like they would be a bit more committed in times like these.

Do you think that our system is broke, our representatives are lazy or something else. I am interested in your perspectives on their behavior.

Applauding Gabby and Ann

I join with all of congress in applauding the return of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.

I know what it is like to be close to a strong and courageous woman who refuses to give up.

Time after time I have watched my wife Ann fight back from disability. I have watched her learn to walk again at least four times. Since 2002 I have seen her battle physical limitations with so much strength and tenacity. Today Ann begins to come back again from a huge setback. I am optimistic that she will give every ounce of her being to her recovery.

She can do no less. It is who she is! I applaud her and Gabby Giffords today!