Sunday, May 31, 2009

a test

This morning, I dropped off my son, Alex, at the airport. He’s going to Hawaii to visit a friend of his.


A year ago, I wouldn’t have thought this kind of trip was possible. A year ago, Alex was lost in the world of drugs and alcohol. A year ago, I was picking him up at an emergency room in Eau Claire a few breaths one way or other from life or death. A year ago, Alex was expelled from his High School. A year ago was total despair.

If you’ve ever known someone who was dependent on drugs or alcohol, you know how relentless this is, how it completely changes the character of the person you know. Before drugs, you could look into Alex’s eyes and see humor and joy. After, all you could do was cry.

Alex’s past year has been filled with courts, probation officers, jail, counseling and fear. Every friend he had in his old life needed to go away. He needed to start his life over at 19.

In the past year, he’s worked to get his high school diploma, finish a semester of community college with the goal of enrolling in a four year college to study music. It’s been filled with paying back those he hurt. In short, it’s been a tough year.

A few months back, he asked if he could visit his friend who now lives in Hawaii. We made a deal. And, he lived up to his end of the deal.

This is his first time where he’s testing himself, a time he’s going to be alone with a friend without anyone watching. He’s aware of the risks and consequences. I’m confident he’ll come out of this OK, but I’m deathly afraid at the same time. I’m praying for him.

Friday, May 29, 2009

unclear on nuclear?

In 1977, while I was a student at the University of Wisconsin,  I wrote a paper advocating building a nuclear power plant near my hometown, Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.  The paper was well written, punctuated properly, well argued and complete with attributions.  It took me over a month to complete.  I got a D.


I argued with my professor on  all of the above points.  She argued that nuclear energy was not a “good” option, a danger to the environment, and the not in my back yard (NIMBY) issue. 

I then asked her if my paper was well written.  She said, yes.  I asked if it was well thought-out.  She said, yes.  I asked why a D.  She said she disagreed with me.  I asked if she would give me another shot to write a paper.  Understanding what we just went through, she said yes.

I proceeded to write a totally opinionated, unsupported diatribe about those who oppose nuclear power, not on facts, but how they feel.  I suggested that these people don’t see the black faces of coal miners who actually work in coal mines, and often die unspeakable deaths, that they are the stupid people who carry their water.  I spoke about how inaction at that time would create major problems later.  I spoke about how nuclear power was something we could produce domestically, ultimately shifting the need for foreign oil.  I got an “A”.  I think she got the point.

But, have we?  Nuclear power produces approximately 20% of our national electric power consumption.  It is clean, still cheap, and uses very few natural resources.  France produces 80% of their power this way.  (I never thought I would use France as a model for anything except food and art)

Nuclear waste can be recycled at a 97% rate.  The actual waste created in all of our nuclear power plants would take up less space than a football field.  And, nuclear waste is not weapons grade.

We have the information to produce nuclear power safely.  We have an obligation to future generations to develop alternative sources of energy that include wind, solar, hydro and yes, nuclear.  The sooner we act, the sooner we can take this burden off our children.   

it's free if you just paying shipping and handling

I’m living in the world of juicers, slicers, dicers, steaming mops, and Sham Wow! Vince Whatever-his-name and Billy Mayes are everywhere, pitching like crazy, and offering all kinds of free stuff; just pay the shipping. Was George Foreman famous before he knocked out all those grills? Just set it and forget it. I am stuck in infomercial hell!! And, what did I do to deserve this? I drank two, count ‘em two, Mountain Dews.


Mountain Dew is a weakness for me. For some reason, the drink that “tickled my innards” when I was a kid is the now thing, the taste that satisfies (maybe that’s another drink).

My clock, the one that shoots the time on the ceiling, says it’s 1:40. I wish it would just shut up and say something like about 10:30, but it never lies. Next time, I won’t drink a “Dew”. Ya sure.

The combination of sugar and caffeine sings to me the siren song of fun and being WIDE AWAKE . And, if I stay awake just a little longer, the Video Professor is going to help me sell things on Ebay, but only after I make some salsa in the Bullet.

I can’t believe the energy these people have, pitching their hearts out with stories of redemption, weight loss and changed lives, new fortunes and better eating. Late night TV makes me hopeful with all of these success stories. And just think, with those little Extenze tablets, I might just become a better man…at least that’s what those attractive ladies in low cut, clingy dresses are telling me, and who wouldn’t want to please them?

Just an update. It's 3:12 now.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

and to the republic, for which it stands…

“I pledge allegiance to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic, for which it stands…”

Those were the words we spoke when I was a child in grade school.  I can’t recall when I stopped saying it, but I think it was somewhere around middle school.  We all know the words.  But, do we all know what they mean?

“…and to the republic, for which it stands”  What does that mean? 

Here’s a little government lesson.  We do not live in a democracy.  That is how we elect people to public office, not how we govern.  We govern through a representative form of government (republic) that allows these people who we elect to represent us, to vote on our behalf in all forms of government.

Why is this important?  These people who represent us are sworn to uphold the values of The Constitution.  The bulk of The Constitution tackles the issues of individual rights, not rights of the majority, or majority rule. 

The Constitution doesn’t say if the majority wants it, that’s the law.  In fact, it protects us from that kind of thinking.  Otherwise, there would be anarchy.

What is going on in California right now, with Proposition 8, does not belong in the election booth, but the courts.  The determination of who can and can’t get married seems silly to me.  Marriage, in the government’s eyes,  is an economic unit, something to tax, similar to a corporation. 

It’s interesting how Iowa, a staunchly conservative state with a less vocal gay population, but probably statistically similar, can get this figured out.  But, you know, Iowan’s are practical.  What happens in your house is none of my business.  It’s kind of refreshing, isn’t it?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

a town says good-bye

A community came out today and wrapped its arms around a family who recently lost a father and a son.101_0272

Al and Bailey Calvillo were returning from a Milwaukee Bucks basketball game when their lives were cut short by a drunk driver. They were pronounced dead at the scene.

The driver of the vehicle is a 22 year-old son of our community. His name is Lucas White. His parents bought a house from me about 20 years ago. Lucas was just a toddler then. Today, he’s charged with vehicular homicide. But, this story is not about him.


I didn’t know the Calvillos and I didn’t know Lucas either. But, I know a lot of people who know both families. And, this is a tragedy for both, and also a tragedy for the community.

Even though I didn’t know them, I felt it was important to be there, because they were part of our community. And, if you live in our community, it is important for you to know you have our support. That’s the strength of community. Because we all have a bond.

The Fort Atkinson and Jefferson’s baseball teams honored the Calvillos. They both shared in the loss, because Al played for Jefferson for several years, and Bailey played youth sports in Fort Atkinson. Jefferson presented Al’s game jersey to his widow, Wendy, while Fort Atkinson presented Bailey’s little league uniform. It was heart wrenching. But, it was hopeful.

So, today we raised a lot of money for the Calvillo family. But, that’s not what’s important. What is important for them to see is how many people came out for them today, that they live in a community that values and holds them close, that they are not alone.

my window to the world


If there is such a thing as appointment TV for me, it’s CBS Sunday Morning, the news magazine that covers topics that are not ordinarily thought of as being newsworthy.

As a sort of Life Magazine for TV, CBS Sunday Morning tackles topics like a 92 year-old newspaperman who delivers some of his newspapers by airplane, throwing them out the window to the front lawn. Wouldn’t it be cool to receive your daily paper that way?

Today, they had a segment on Green Day, the grunge band that I thought was from Seattle, but is really from Oakland. I got to know them a little and found out they were more than I thought. As purveyors of music that used to be the wallpaper of my life, I think I’ll listen more closely now. And, I think I’ll respect it more.

I've learned about Ansel Adams, The Harlem Boys Choir, the best cheeseburger in some little town in Illinois where people pay on the honor system and do the dishes, the largest ball of twine in the world, the private side of famous people, and a little about myself as Charles Osgood, and previously, Charles Kuralt took me on journeys of the heart and soul.

Each Sunday, they force me to take a moment to reflect as they put a camera on a scene in nature with the only voice being that of nature.

Thank you CBS.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

the koala and the crocodile

A koala was sitting in a eucalyptus tree...smoking a joint

when a little lizard walked by, looked up and said, "Hey koala, what are you doing?"

The koala said, "smoking a joint; come up and have some." So the little lizard climbed up and sat next to the koala, where they enjoyed some weed.

After a while, the little lizard said his mouth was dry and that he was going to get a drink from the river. The little lizard was so stoned that he leaned over and fell into the river.

A crocodile saw this, swam to the little lizard, and helped him to the side. Then he asked the little lizard, "What's the matter with you?"

The little lizard explained to the crocodile that he was sitting, smoking a joint with the koala in a tree when he got too stoned and fell into the river when he went to get a drink.

The crocodile said he had to check this out and went into the rain forest and found the koala sitting in a tree where he was finishing his joint.

The crocodile looked up and said, "Hey you!"

So, the koala looked down at him and said, "Shiiiiiiit duuuuuuuude! How much water did you drink?"

Not my joke. But I thought it was funny.

one day….


In the early 1980’s, I had a friend who worked for IBM.  He had something called a PC.  He would type in some strings of letters that made no sense to me, but allowed him to do what seemed to be relatively complex computations quickly.  That machine was $5000.  I wanted one.

The car pictured above is the new PC.  It’s made by Tesla.  I want this too. 

Is it fast?  Youbetcha!  It goes from 0-60 in less than four seconds.  That is Lamborghini fast.  Is it beautiful?  I think an argument could be made for it. 

But, most importantly, this car will travel over 200 miles on a single charge.  That’s right.  It runs on batteries.

For most of us, that would handle most, if not all of our travel needs.  Of course, with only two seats, we means two.

This car expensive, $100,000 expensive.  And, I’m not sure I could get in our out of this vehicle without some sort of hoist.  But, that’s not the point.  And to be honest, I really don’t want this car, I want what it represents. 

This is not the end, but the beginning of design and engineering.  If battery powered cars are anything like technology in other areas, costs will come down, performance will improve, and economies of scale will be a big part of that.

Because it’s expensive, the first needed to be sexy to get the price, the buyer at the higher margin.  But, the real test will be in the ability to produce something mainstream at a price most can afford, a minivan or SUV, or maybe something we haven’t considered.  I think we’ll get there.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

a call no father wants to get

It was about midnight, or maybe one in the morning. I'm an early-to-bed guy, so any time after 10:00 could be anytime. The phone rang. It was my son. He said he was in trouble.

The words were slurred, or maybe it was me. I don't know. I went from complete slumber to wide awake in a second. Was it me, or was it him?

"What happened?"
"I was in an accident."
"Are you OK?"
"I'm fine."
"Were you drinking?"
"Yes. But, I'm not wasted. I rolled the car. It's totaled."

My relief was moving to anger. Being upset wasn't going to help anything. We'd had discussions about drinking and driving...recently. I was being too uptight. I didn't understand. Maybe I needed to drink more. I explained that I could never recall a situation where drinking too much ever improved a situation. I told you so was so close to my lips. But, he's my son.

I was at the office about two hours from home.

"Do you want me to come home?"
"I'm OK."
"We'll talk tomorrow."

I called Carol to find out what she knew. He blew .24. .08 is legally drunk in Wisconsin. My God, now what?

I called him in the answer. A quick call came back, but I was on the phone. Phone tag ensued for a little while, but we connected.

"How are you feeling."
"Not good. I really messed up."
"Yes, you did. We need to come up with a plan. Are you OK with that."
"Dad, I have a problem. I've already looked into AA. I'm going on Friday and Saturday. I'm going to call the school and see what I can do there. I don't want anyone to feel this way."
"Hold that feeling," I said. "Use it to understand why people feel the way they do about drunk drivers. You are that person, the person that killed their father, their son. I'm not trying to be an asshole. But, you've got to understand. This is your chance."
"I know. I know"
"This may sound crazy, but this is probably the best thing that ever happened to you. This is a lesson that will live with you the rest of your life. Nobody was killed, but you know the result could have been, and probably should have been different."
"I know, Dad."
Thank you, God.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

the final hurdle

tom and angelo email

It doesn’t show, but both of these guys were sweating their butts off prior to this picture being taken.  At least, the guy in the orange shirt was.  The guy in the orange shirt is me.  I also had a spot on my back side that was graciously taken out with Photoshop.

We’re getting very close to launching the angelo:HOME product line.  By the way, that’s Angelo on the right.

A product launch is fraught with pitfalls and pratfalls.  I enjoyed one of those falling off the back of a truck.  Hardly elegant, I managed to drop and roll, and end up with just a few scrapes.  If you look at the photo very closely, you’ll notice some band aids on my left arm. 

But, in the end, this is all worth it.  And really, worth it doesn’t have a thing to do with money.  It has to do with the realization of potential, to do something interesting, and potentially important.

Working with Angelo has been a perfect match.  His design and work ethic match my working man’s sensibilities, making beautiful product available to the masses.  Design shouldn’t be exclusive, it should be inclusive. 

I’ll be headed over to the factory in the next few weeks to oversee the final tailoring and packaging of the new product line.  One last hurdle.  While everything looks to be on a roll, we still have to make sure the product we’re putting out lives up to the promise of Angelo.  It’s my job to make sure it does.  Wish me luck.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

a perfect day


If you’ve been reading my blogs, you know I like baseball. Today was no exception.

For about two hours, the sunshine, the crack of the bat, the sound of the ball hitting the catchers glove, and catcalls for the umpire dominated. It’s Summer…almost.

Baseball is one of those games that has a little something for everyone. For those who just want to be outside, it couldn’t be better. For those looking for a party, beers are $1.00 and brats are fresh off the grill. For those who really like the game, there’s talk about who should do what and when.

The pace of the game allows conversation and relaxation. But, there’s enough going on to hold your attention, especially when a ball gets ripped to where you’re sitting.

Baseball, where I live, brings friends and family together. Living in a small town, we get to find out what’s going and with whom.

Yes, we are a little nosey. But, that’s OK, too.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

change the world challenge

Every once-in-a-while you run into something and wonder "Where did that come from?" At a time when most of us are worrying about our own personal situations, there comes something, something completely from left field, something completely unselfish and excellent.

I was reading a newspaper online about $11,000 from a high school class fund being donated to a charity. It's a nice story, one that you might find in a hundred other communities.

But, it doesn't end there. These kids are going one better. No, make that infinitely better. They are challenging themselves, their community, the world to give back, to make a difference, to be the difference. These aren't kids, they're heroes, everyday heroes you read about doing heroic things from humble beginnings.

The thing that separates these kids from me and most people is the recognition of a problem and a plan to do something about it. It isn't grandiose. It's a plan, a realistic plan.

They are going to their community and saying you can do something. An elementary student can give a quarter. A middle schooler $2.50. They're challenging their community leaders, their parents, their friends. These kids are changing a paradigm from their problem to our solution. Their $11,000 is $31,000 today. It will be more, much more.

Go to this website. There is a video. Watch it. It will change you.

I am in awe of these kids. Congratulations Middleton High School Class of 2009. I'm proud to know you.

Friday, May 15, 2009

leaving Las Vegas


Las Vegas and I have an uneasy relationship, not that she even notices. For some reason, I’m not able to get through a casino, or restaurant, or shop, or anything without thinking about how all of this was built.

I don’t trust her. She’s heavy on the make up with lots of flash. Everything’s artificial with her come hither looks and phony smile. In the morning, she smells of last night’s whiskey. She’s ready to take every dollar out of my pocket without the least bit of shame, those same dollars that feed my family and pay the bills. In the morning, she feels like last night’s whore.

The ding, ding, ding and the hoorays and the noise and the skanky shorts and the bright lights and the assault on every sense I have make my skin crawl. Instead of getting excited, I withdraw.

Today, I drove past a $9 billion development. That’s right, billion. It’s big. It’s ugly. It’s overbearing. It blocks the sun today and will create its own with lights blinking everywhere. And, it’s being built with money from people like you and me.

You see, they don’t make anything in Las Vegas. There is no industry making cars or furniture or dresses or air conditioners or anything. They make money, like those robber barons on Wall Street.

In a world where a dollar investment returns $.97 every time; It isn’t a game of chance. It’s a game of loss. How do you build anything with the intent of making losers of your customers? It’s a bad model. I guess that’s what they mean when they say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, like your money.

We’ve glorified her. We’ve winked at her. Like a rattlesnake, we can play with her for a little time. But, eventually she is a snake and she will bite with a venom that is unforgiving.

thought for a lifetime

thought a fool

Thursday, May 14, 2009

my day

It started this morning after a great meeting.  I returned my rental car and I had an exceptionally tight time window to catch an earlier flight.  The guy checking me in was slow getting me a receipt and I could see a shuttle bus getting ready to leave.  I told him I didn’t need the receipt, “Two minutes,” he says, “ Anyway, there was another bus right behind it.”  OK.  So I get the receipt, and the bus right behind it barely stops and takes off again.  So, I missed both of them.

I get on a third shuttle and the driver asks “what airline?”.  United.  He drops me off.  I’m at the wrong terminal.  I’m supposed to be at the commuter terminal, not the regular terminal.  How stupid of me.  “Pick up the red bus,” I’m told, “that’s not really red.”  But, it really is.

So, I hurry.  There’s no line at security.  I might make it.  As I get to the counter the agent leaves.  She returns.  Just closed, sorry.  Can I catch the next flight?  “Yes,” she says.  How tight in LA.  “17 minutes,” she says.  I’ll give it a shot.

I arrive in LA.  I’m at gate 86.  I need gate 70B.  Not bad.  I hurry.  The monitors say the flight is boarding.  I’m sweating a little, not for worry, but because I sweat.

I arrive at the counter.  There are three people waiting on the other side of the closed of ribbon thing.  “Any chance?” I ask.  I get the look from the devil.  Not only am I not getting on this flight…Well, let’s just say she was having a bad day.  So begins my four hour wait.

Finally, time to board.  I’ve got a great seat.  The Clampetts decide it would be great to sit next to me, on both sides.  I’m in the exit row.  They all decide to extend their legs to see how much room there really is.  “Have a mint?” Her arm extends across my face to her friend across the aisle.  “Look at this,” her friend says as she leans across me to give her open cell phone to the lady next to me.  And the phone goes back.  “Look out the window!” as a finger and an arm flash across my face.  And on…… 

Next time, I think I’ll take the bus.

from where I sit…

I fly a lot, really a lot. Last year, I figure I spent about 400 hours on airplanes. For most of you, that is 10 work weeks. Add the time to and from the airport and you have a significant part of my working time.

Most of the time, I grab the aisle seat, closest to the front. I’ve got to get on and I’ve got to get out. Because I spend so much time on planes, I have to get a lot of work done there.


I rarely look out the window. I’m too busy.


Wednesday afternoon, I was just tired. I really didn’t want to get out anything to work on. I woke up around 4:00 a.m. and finished around 12:30 before I went to the airport.

I decided to get out my camera and take a couple of pictures. I don’t know why. Well, I guess I do. I was in San Francisco a little while ago with a little time on my hands. There was an exhibit of photos taken from airplane seats and they looked great. So, I thought I’d take my own.

I would have missed these if I’d done my normal thing. I’m glad I didn’t.

Monday, May 11, 2009

fire and rain

I was recently in Muir Woods just outside of San Francisco. It's an arresting display of nature's majesty. Some of these gargantuan redwood trees were 100 years old when William the Conquerer reigned.

What was really interesting to see was how nature sustains its balance. In areas where very little light appears, ferns are in abundance, thiving under the protective shade of their big brother redwoods. In other areas, daggers of light appear to feed those plants that require sunshine. There you will find leafy green plants, sometimes with flowers.

And, there is evidence of how fire works it magic in the forest, culling out weaker plants so that the strong may thrive. Instead of allowing excess brush and foliage to make it impossible for all to thrive, nature uses fire as a tool to cull the herd, to make sure there is plenty for those who survive.

Our economy is very much like the forest. We've gone through a long period of economic growth with almost all sucking at the teat of the greenback. Too many have offered little in return, creating an imbalance we couldn't sustain.

This recession is the fire this economic forest required. The strong will survive and the pretenders will be vanquished. When the fire is finally extinguished, we will come out a stronger, more resilient economy, with players that are ready for the long haul. While painful, it's necessary.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

and then it dawned on me.....

While it probably doesn't show, I was trained to be a journalist. It just didn't pay enough. I had to pay bills. So, I went another direction.

It's been 30 years since I wrote anything that was meant for other peoples eyes. I was good then. I'm working on it now. I'm hoping what I've lost in technical skill I can make up for in life experience.

I was raised on a turkey farm and I went to college. I never took an art class. I never took a graphic design class. Balance was something you needed to keep from falling over, not to make a room look nice. I am the most uncredentialed person to ever do what I do.

Writing is less about sentence construction than it is about observation and critical thinking. It is about balance. It is about the appropriate word. It is about not being too wordy. It is about feel. It is about point of view.

Some people write with lots of adjectives. I don't. Some people write with lots of fancy words. I don't. Some people want to be impressive. I don't.
My objective in writing is to convey my thoughts clearly, sometimes with humor, sometimes with seriousness. But, never do I want the words to get in the way of the message.

And then it dawned on me. Writing and design are the same thing, just with different tools.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

what pigs really think…..

people flu

Devil Dog

Thirty years ago, I was introduced to a fireplug of a man named Ron McCullough. He was, and is, the funniest man I’ve ever known. We called him Devil Dog.

Ron was a salesman for The Berkline Corporation in Kentucky. I don’t know what you had to do in your prior life to get sentenced to selling furniture in Kentucky, but Ron must have been a very bad boy, and he loved it.

Once, a group of us decided to visit Devil Dog en route to the High Point market. What a host! He offered his home, his food, his libations, everything. The following morning, after putting us up for the night, he asked if we wanted coffee. One of our group asked for tea. He told HIM to get the hell out of his house. He waited on the porch.

Devil Dog was the most skilled joke teller I’ve ever seen. He could make a glass of water look funny. A little bit rooster, pit bull, and Colonel Sanders, Devil Dog used his southern drawl and his raspy, high pitched voice to drive home the punch line, every time.

The Japanese Kamikaze School was my favorite. The set up is higher education for Kamikaze pilots. The instructor goes through an entire lesson plan of different types of floating militia and how the Kamikaze pilot will end up in Kamikaze heaven, something like “plane go boom, ship go boom. You go to Kamikaze heaven. Your country proud of you!”

At the end of about a five minute, non-stop, Japanese instructor with a southern drawl voice, truly affected by the Jack Daniels from the night before, he pauses. “Any questions”, he asks. A hand goes up. The instructor says “yes?”. The student reply, “Are you out of your $^&#*%^ mind?”

It’s still funny.

I’m a bigot

Before I could even try to understand people different than me, I had to come to the realization that I am a bigot. Maybe the word is harsh; it’s the kind of word that makes the hair on your neck stand up and take action.

Growing up in the rural northern U.S., the only images of black people I saw were on TV, either in sports, or burning things in the streets. So, if you weren’t wearing a number in a uniform, you were violent. Words around me for “these people” were words I’m not going to use in a blog, but we all know what they are. I never used them, but I heard them.

I remember seeing Shirley Chisholm and some of Dr. Martin Luther King, but mostly Bob Gibson, Hank Aaron, Jimmy Brown, Willie Wood, Bill Russell, and the list goes on. I wanted to be every one of them. I wanted to be great like them. How could anyone who wanted to be one of these people be a bigot?

Why I am a bigot has to do with my inherent prejudice of people who are different than me. Intellectually, I know this is wrong, but there’s a subconscious part of me that does react differently when I see a group of black teenagers walking down the street as opposed to a group of white teenagers. That is the litmus test for me, and I fail it every time.

I think people like me are the reason it takes so long for change. Everything we say and do says we are progressive. But, this burden of these little hints here and there haunt us. We are the hidden hurdle.

I think the first and biggest step is the realization of these feelings, to understand that what you know and what you feel, even at the deepest levels, can be contradictory. I have been working to purge them for years and years.

Barack Obama Family by

The election of President Obama has helped me with these feelings. The pride of the validation of an entire population of people moved me. Seeing Jessie Jackson, who I see as an opportunist, cry on election night, told me more of the struggle, more than anything else could. Crocodile tears? I think not. This is real.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

my most important job

I was wandering around IKEA on Monday night and decided to get a little something to eat when my phone rang.  It was my daughter.


Something was wrong.  I could hear it in her voice, but she said all was OK in her world.  We talked for a few minutes and I asked if I could call her back.  I was in the restaurant part and really didn’t want to have that conversation with people around me.

I quickly finished my food and called her back.  No answer.  I tried again.  Same result.  OK, Dad’s getting a little more concerned. 

I was checking into my hotel room and apparently I missed a call from her.  No answer from me this time.  Finally, we were able to hook up.

She told me she was back home, at her mother’s house.  I thought she was teasing me and I asked her to put Carol on the phone.  She did.  Then I knew there really was something wrong.

I don’t want to go into specifics, but she’ll be OK.  We had a chance to talk for a little while. 

I’m going to leave the office a little early today (my office is 138 miles from my home and I go in two days a week) so we can get together to watch American Idol together.  It’s something we can share.  I just want to be with her and comfort her.  I think that might make Dad feel better, too.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

cluck, cluck, cluck

When FDR decided it was a really good idea for some sort of retirement safety net, life expectancy was 62.  There wasn’t a whole lot of risk involved when most people were statistically dead. 

Over the past 75 years, we’ve managed to add another 17 years to our life expectancy without raising the retirement age, something that wasn’t considered as we were working our way out of the Great Depression.

We’ve got to do something about this.  Everyone knows it, but nobody wants to say it.  We need to work longer.  Over the years, we’ve come to believe we earn our retirement.  We don’t.  We don’t come close to paying for it, and we don’t pay long enough for the benefits received.


If we add five years to our working lives, we would cut our social security cost by $300 billion and maybe we could save it.  Our politicians know this, but are afraid to alienate their only reliable voting block.   What a bunch of chickens.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Tom’s Got Allergies, Recession Over

Under the heading, be careful when what you wish for is open windows in the spring, that giddy feeling I had yesterday about that almost warm breeze filling the room has been replaced by a desperate search for Kleenex, drugs and a wastebasket.ManSneezing2.jpg Man Sneezing image by cybermoose17

A few years ago, when my eyes started telling me I wasn’t allowed to see most things close up, my body also told me all of the pretty flowers have consequences.  I’m not crying because I’m happy or sad, I’m miserable.  Well, I’m not really miserable; I just look that way.  I take that back.  I am miserable.

Now, I see an opportunity in all of this.  If I can hide the fact that I’m oozing goo all over the place, I think I’ll take in a chick flick, or attend a wedding (even if I’m not invited).  My red, puffy eyes will give away the fact I’m a caring and sensitive lug, a sort of wedding crasher with allergies.  I’m told the ladies like that.  There will be sympathetic hugs everywhere.  He’s so sweet.

There’s another opportunity.  As a person with significant inside information, I could buy stock in companies that sell antihistamines and tissues.  I could become sort of a new wave Warren Buffet.  What brand does he use?  I’ve gotta be affecting somebody’s bottom line somewhere.  I may be able to get us out of our financial rut single handedly.   Tomorrow’s headlines could read “Tom’s Got Allergies, Recession Over”.

Friday, May 1, 2009

sleeping with the windows open

I am freezing my %&$! off!  Time to dash off to the boys room.  How cold can it be? - COLD!  Now I’m awake.385310856_44e099d067[1]

It’s spring and I live in a northern climate.  All you southern softies can’t know the joy an open window means to a northern, cocoon dweller.  So, at the first opportunity, those windows are open. 

The romantic notion would be that the birds singing wake me up instead of the alarm clock.  I’m an early riser.  I wake up the birds.  But, it’s still better to listen to the birds than to listen to the snowplows scraping the pavement as they go by your place.

Welcome Spring.  Welcome the smell of fresh cut grass.  Welcome ice cream stand (I feel like George Bailey in “It’s a Wonderful Life”).  Welcome baseball.  Welcome rain.  Welcome Sun. 

I’d better get my hat.