Category Archives: Television

Historical Tradition

parties-congressfight-e1365308577923

I’ve read and heard about the “standard procedures” of the US Congress in its early days, especially during the time leading up to the Civil War. Some members (and COngressional staffers) carried pistols and almost all had walking sticks.  Being carried unconscious form the hallowed chambers was not unheard of, since fistfights were not uncommon, they used their walking sticks as clubs, and the ubiquitous spittoon was often thrown or poured on “my distinguished colleague from [fill in the blank]” as a First Amendment protected expression of free speech.

You do know what a spittoon is?

Think about it. Ewwwwww!

While you might find their deportment while in office vile and disgusting, these are our roots, and it might be well to return to them. Don’t forget, in our early days, the Vice President came to the capital to be sworn in, then headed back home.

I propose bringing back these proud American traditions.

First, since, in the formative years of Congress, there was no television, I propose that all speeches may only occur when the Congress has a quorum. That means that a majority of the members of that house of Congress must be present even if they have to listen to a colleague’s drabble. The CSPAN cameras (God love ’em) are great, but do not constitute a quorum.

Second, elected congressmen and senators should be allowed–nay, encouraged–to bring the weapon of their choice with them, just as they did in the early to mid 1800s. Let’s see how that affects gridlock. (Don’t worry, there are damned few who would have the guts to actually use a weapon, and most couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn. I’m not including those few military veterans, who would not only hit their target, but do so with a precise grouping.)

Third, insist that members of Congress experience what the FOunding Fathers did. The British do so at least to a degree in their courts. In Congress, this would call for stockings, instead of trousers, heavy woolen clothes year-round and, no screens on the windows, much less air conditioning.

I’d bet that this would have some impact on gridlock–not to mention an increase in special elections as a few members of Congress were killed or injured and many of the others fled for their lives.

Just kidding–everything is working just fine as it is.

Verizon

If you’ve ever had a problem with a large corporation, you may appreciate this actual letter

Hans Vestberg, Chief Executive Officer
Verizon
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007

I have been a Verizon FiOS customer for over ten years. Initially, it was a reliable service, and I chose Verizon for television cable, internet, and telephone. Unfortunately, Verizon’s service has not gone downhill, but rather over a cliff.

First, Verizon migrated its e-mail to AOL. If I wish to remotely access my email through AOL [advertisement spam] I have [advertisement spam] to wade through [advertisement spam] a series of [advertisement spam] screens. I normally receive my email through Microsoft Outlook, so, most of the time it was not an issue. However, [advertisement spam] at times [advertisement spam] I have to go [advertisement spam] through the AOL [advertisement spam] website.

Next, Verizon shifted email accounts to the Yahoo domain without informing its customers. I have two Verizon accounts that I access through Outlook; one migrated successfully to Yahoo while the other did not.

It is impossible to access Verizon customer service. There are no telephone numbers on the web page; clicking on “Contact Us” takes the customer to automated chat, customer forums, or a bounce back to the previous page. The Customer Forum is especially Verizonesque—it shifts the responsibility to customers to fix Verizon’s problems; the most recent forum posting about email is dated 22 June 2014.

I contacted [advertisement spam] AOL [advertisement spam] only to be told, albeit politely, that this was a technical problem and technical service required a subscription of $14.99 per month. They gave me one month free, but required a credit card, to automatically renew unless I canceled. I grudgingly provided my card information.

I was transferred to technical support (~20-minute wait time) and after two hours, absolutely nothing was accomplished.

So, I’m left with the same problem I had before. Incidentally, there are a number of sites on the Internet, easily Googled, with other customers facing the exact same Verizon/AOL/Yahoo e-mail problem.

An Appeal for Donations

 

Photo of a Collection Plate

CNN reports, “Jesse Duplantis, leader of Jesse Duplantis Ministries and the owner of three other private jets, is asking his followers to chip in so his ministry can purchase a brand new Dassault Falcon 7X, which runs about $54 million.”

I thought that televangelists were on the television, which would seem to mean that their physical location was immaterial, so long as a television studio was available. I believe that, in a pinch, this would include the camera and microphone built into most computers.

But then what do I know?

As the only world’s only Philosopher-without-Portfolio–to the best of my knowledge–I believe I am just as entitled to a personal aircraft as anyone else. However, my needs are far less prestigious. I’d be more than happy with a used Cessna 182, which is available for less than $500,000.

I expect everybody to give this their best effort.

However, if that proves to be too difficult for you, a boat–say a 30 foot cabin cruiser, might be more achievable. Again, used is fine. I can engage in philosophical thoughts in a used airplane or on a used boat without any difficulty.

There is one problem.

Jesse said that God wants him to have the new jet.

I asked God if He wanted me to have people collect money to provide me with a plane or a boat. He didn’t exactly say, “Yes,” but He apparently enjoyed a good laugh.

Goodbye to the Newspaper

When I was growing up, almost everybody took the local newspaper. Many cities had several competing newspapers, although Toledo’s two papers–one morning and one evening–were owned and operated by the same company.

Journalism is dead, having given way to commentary. Many newspapers are moribund. In my area, so few people subscribe to the actual news that the newspaper distributes a free weekly printing of advertisements. They probably copied the business model of the US Postal Service, which became a model of financial success when junk mail became their most profitable business.

Many papers already rely primarily on the wire services for their content, which means that in the morning paper you’ll see the same articles you read online the day before. With reliance on wire services–of which there are basically two–the entire nation receives the information as perceived by one writer. While I don’t like this, I must admit that it is an approach that has worked well for Vladimir Putin.

News is framed so as to attract everyone’s attention–in other words, it must be sensational or salacious–ideally both. This results in the media altering our perception. Travel by airplane, for example, is very safe, which is why an emergency landing on a highway with no injuries is considered nationally newsworthy and causes some people to perceive airplanes as dangerous. On the other hand, automobile accidents are so common that it must involve a self-driving vehicle, have a dozen or so fatalities, involve over 50 cars.

It’s sad that most people don’t want journalism because it requires readers to think. It’s easier to find some online source that reinforces their existing position and biases than to have to think and possibly change their minds occassionally.

The Brain? Abby Normal

foot

Aaron Hernandez (the late football star) is in the news because he committed suicide while in prison after he was sentenced for murder. His dead body provided shocking information that medical science was not able to discern; his autopsy showed chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Now, let me get this straight—it’s the twenty-first century, and instead of having flying cars (dammit!) we are just beginning to realize that if you hit someone in the head, over and over, it affects them. It impairs their judgement, causes mood swings, and inappropriate behavior.

Well, we’d better stop that—unless getting hit in the head is part of a professional sport that generates millions of dollars in revenue.

Sounds curiously like the justification for the gladiators fighting to the death in the Roman Coliseum. That, of course, pleased the crowds, but was barbaric.

We’d never stoop so low today, but, if it has major network coverage, instant replays with everything coordinated to accommodate commercial breaks, and attractive cheerleaders, it’s okay. Hell, we’ll have a dedicated section of the newspaper every day!

Hmm.

Being surprised that repeated head trauma causes problems is kind of like the medical logic that “if you shove an ice-pick up somebody’s nose far enough so that it reaches the brain and you wiggle it back and forth, they act differently afterward.”

Is it just me, or are we missing the blazingly obvious?

Maybe I should just shut up and bang my head against the wall repeatedly, until it makes sense.

Newspapers

When I was growing up,  it seemed that every city had several newspapers—often a morning paper and an evening paper. In Toledo, they were owned by the same company, so there was not a lot of divergence of opinion—the biggest diversity was in the comics.

In the 70s and 80s, many cities began to lose newspapers, only offering one. (I remember reading Sherlock Holmes—written during my grandparents’ lifetimes—in which there were multiple editions of multiple newspapers. Wow!)

Over time, in many places, local reporting waned and most of what they printed came from the news services to cut costs. (Sorry Peter Parker and Clark Kent, we’re not hiring.)

The number of news services dwindled as Associated Press overtook and bought part of United Press International. Today, much of what you read in the morning newspaper you already read online.

Newspapers got smaller, and the cycle continues.

Is it better or worse than when I was young? Probably neither—just different. However, I appreciate a well-written article. After it was written, the author probably re-read it and made some changes. An editor tweaked it—or sent it back to the author for another rewrite. Written news is polished, at least a little. It took a significant event to “Stop the presses!” and change the headline—an expensive operation.

A news video, on the other hand, has no style and certainly no cachet. It’s kind of thrown together, with too many stories labeled as “Breaking News.” To add insult to injury, the talking head’s intro, repartee, and smile, of course, is as much a part of the story as the content.

More’s the pity.

I think I’ll go listen to Don Henley’s “Get Over It.”

Swearing Off

Over the years, I have sworn off various things. Actually, it was more of a worn off than sworn off. Television programs lost quality, although there was a vast increase in quantity thanks(?) to cable. Too many choices, not have enough time to actually follow a series, so now it’s the occasional Netflix.

I do watch the morning news for the weather forecast and traffic report. Unfortunately it seems to be 80 percent commercials, so I have to pay strict attention while shaving or else I miss it.

I used to love computers, which led to a fascination with the internet. Most of what is available online is best left alone. Let’s just say that it’s a bit worse than a naked stroll through a tick infested patch of poison ivy complete with brown recluse spiders and venomous snakes. I admit that I deny reality and look for decent content. Unfortunately, the best I find are things like YouTube videos showing me how to adjust the carburetor on my weed eater.

So, what does that leave? Reading, writing, experimenting, ham radio, guitar, drums, or puttering around the house.

All things considered, much better choices.

REPEAT, Repeat, repeat, Reboot

As a writer, I try to come up with something different every time I write. Given my education, experience and persona, that still is going to be quite limited. Nevertheless, I feel that I am doing a better job than the pros.

How many King Kong movies have there been? How many Dracula movies? Unless there is a near-rabid fan base (Star Trek, Star Wars, Harry Potter, etc.) remakes, reboots, or recycles just don’t seem to work. Hollywood seems content to dust off an old script, update the slang, change the cast, and expect it to be a hit.

Baywatch, the Movie?

Ghostbusters III?

So, if some of my posts seem less than perfect, at least I’m trying to think up something different.

Everybody panic! It might snow!

Buffalo, NY 2014 (Courtesy PBS)

Southeast Virginia’s TV meteorologists are in a full-blown tizzy because (gasp!) it looks like it’s going to snow. This is not necessarily bad, because TV meteorologists love to be in a tizzy over any weather event—but if you lived as boring a life as they do, wouldn’t you? The only other excoitement they get is standing outside in a storm on a live broadcast telling everyone else not to go outside.

Our neighboring states average the following annual snowfall:

West Virginia 62″

Delaware and Maryland 20.2″

North Carolina (due south of us) 7.6″

Virginia as a state averages 10.3″ per year, but the southeast (Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Hampton, Chesapeake, etc.) averages a paltry 5.8 inches, although eighty years ago, in January 1936, there was a record snowfall of 20 inches. Wow!

So, wish your television weatherman a happy blizzard, but leave quickly or risk having it all explained in great detail to you.

Television, But First, This Word . . .

I confess that I don’t watch a lot of television, mainly because of lack of time. I do watch the local news as I’m getting dressed in the morning, which is mainly limited to weather, traffic, and a smattering of journalism. There are a few prime-time shows I like, but normally we watch those through the DVR.
I understand that commercial advertisements pay the bills for television stations, but sometimes it seems a bit overdone. I have never timed it, but it seems like the local morning news is about 50 percent commercials. There are pitches for replacement windows, new and used cars, lawyers, furniture stores, pawn shops, and even churches. During elections they add a ton of political attack ads. Alas, while I’m trying to wake up in the morning, I’m not particularly persuaded to seek anything from those advertisements.
Our cable company overrides customers’ ability to record the most popular prime-time programs on the in-house DVR, but instead shifts them to their “On Demand” service. The difference is that with their recording one can no longer fast forward through the commercials; if you pause the program for too long, it disengages and you have to restart the program from the very beginning.
The commercials on the time-shifted programs include erectile dysfunction drugs, other programs from the same network, erectile dysfunction drugs, public service announcements, erectile dysfunction drugs, an occasional product, and, of course, erectile dysfunction drugs. I suspect that these are not exactly the same as during the original broadcast, but that’s just a guess.
It’s no wonder I prefer movies and books.

A Dismal Future?

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Marvin the Paranoid Android from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (We already miss you Alan Rickman!)

Hollywood—so politically correct and socially conscious—loves to produce movies about a dystopian future. I admit, I’ve watched–and enjoyed many of them: Blade Runner, Terminator 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and counting, Mad Max 1 through nx, I Robot, Planet of the Apeses, etc. What’s the point?

 

Is Hollywood trying to convince us that in our world with global warming, bigotry, greed, corruption, and disease, things are only going to get worse? And they promote this in the name of entertainment? I suppose it makes sense. After all, this is an industry that insists on making more Adam Sandler movies.

Why not make movies predicting a future in which:

  • No one has to deal with the DMV. In fact, historians cannot even find out what DMV stood for.
  • Whenever mail (physical or electronic) includes an unwanted advertisement, it’s normal procedure to call the postal inspector—with every reason to believe that there will be an immediate arrest of the perpetrator.
  • Issues concerning climate, medicine, nutrition, are debated ONLY by experts in those fields, with minimum criteria for the validity of the data, hypotheses, and conclusions they reach. Soundbites would be based on these factual notions, and periodic updates would be published to reflect the peer review process. Celebrities without a PhD and current peer reviewed publications dealing with the question at hand need not apply.
  • Cute kittens would be adored by their owners but prohibited from cluttering the internet.
  • In the entertainment world, the media focus would be on the characters that actors portrayed, whether Petrucio, Spock, or Professor Severus Snape—not the actors themselves.
  • Blog writers would be universally revered as geniuses, giants, and heroes.

Okay, the last one was a reach, but I had to take my shot.

Time Travel

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones

Flintstones, meet the Flintstones

Suddenly my entire family was transported—thrown, really—into the mid twentieth century.

The internet connectivity to our house was lost. We still had cable television—just like 1975—but no computer connectivity. The telephones went out, too, but that happened in the twentieth century as well.

Of course the DVR, which is part of the cable service was not working, so we couldn’t watch the TV shows from earlier in the week, just like in 1975, before everyone had a VHS video recorder.

It was traumatic. When we called the cable company on a cell phone, they tried resetting everything from their master control center, but failed. They told us that a technician would have to come out and Monday was the earliest possibility. That would mean three days without internet! Three days! No breaking news surrounded by ads and “Sponsored Stories.” Someone could have rocked a dress or a bikini, and we wouldn’t have known. What if that Nigerian prince had tried to contact me by e-mail?

I carefully peeked in my teenagers’ rooms, expecting to find them in a fetal position, clutching their smartphones as their only lifeline to the present, but they proved to be made of stronger stuff. They weathered almost all of Saturday, trapped in the past.

Fortunately, today when we woke up, it had been repaired.

It’s amazing how the internet has become so intertwined in our lives. The silver lining is that it gave me an excuse for not writing a blog yesterday and a topic for today’s blog.

The Name Game

I bought an RCA portable television a few years ago. RCA (the Radio Corporation of America) was once a powerful name in electronics, with RCA Victor tied to the Victrola (early mechanical record players). Their logo featured Nipper the dog listening to the Victrola horn for “The sound of his master’s voice.” RCA went on to form the National Broadcast Corporation (NBC) which was later split into the Red and Blue networks; the blue network ultimately became ABC (The American Broadcast Corporation).

In 1986, RCA was purchased by General Electric (“We squeeze life from good things”) and the RCA brand name is now used by Sony, Technicolor, Audiovox, and TCL Corporation (whoever they are). Have your lawyer call their lawyer, do lunch, and you can probably use it too—for a fee.

In any case, this brand name RCA television, which I had purchased to use primarily in case of power outages, needed a battery replacement. With my electronics background, I figured no problem—just unplug the existing battery pack and order a replacement lithium polymer battery.

Whoa! Not so fast, there.

This particular RCA product was manufactured by Intertek (a company every bit as well-known as TCL), so contacting RCA resulted in, “Sorry, we didn’t make that product.”

Intertek, apparently trying to emulate the “big boys” said, “Sorry, no battery available,” after all it was at least five years old.

There was a time when a name meant something, whether a family name or a company name. The House of Windsor. Angus Beef. Beefeater’s Gin. Rolls Royce. Luke Skywalker. Darth Vader. Imagine Harry Potter without Ollivander’s Wands or Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavor Beans.

Today names are just a commodity to be bought, sold, rented, or loaned as the market dictates.

So, thousands of electronic devices, full of hazardous materials (as well as recyclables, such as gold) end up in landfills because you can’t buy a replacement battery. Why? Because the name brand company neither manufactured nor stands behind the product; they merely accepted a fee to allow their name to be emblazoned on it.

It just might be something to think about when deciding whether to buy the name-brand item or the generic.

Start Tracking the Next Generation*

spock

Leonard Nimoy as Spock (Thanks, and we miss you already)

My in-laws now live near us, so we can include them in celebrations, or just drop by to visit. Of course my wife is with them to help navigate doctors, health insurance, and the other great mysteries of life.

Our son is headed into his final year in high school; our daughter headed to her freshman year.

In the meantime, my older son and his wife, who are up in New England (it’s true- “You can’t get there from here.”) have added a second granddaughter to our favorite grandson and our first granddaughter.

Life keeps us busy. One of us is attending to parent, child, pet, neighbor or whatever, while the other is equally busy (or busier) elsewhere. It’s bad enough that we pass one another like “two ships passing in the night.” When either of us passes ourselves as we scurry from one duty to another, that’ll grab your attention.

Today I realized that I’ve been parenting for forty years. That should count for something (free perpetual VIP access for all the great bands of my youth, [Eagles. Jimmy Buffet, the Who, Jethro Tull, etc.], as well as all first class cruises, AND an ambassadorship to France, Germany, England, Japan, or Poland, at the minimum).

Alas, that’s not how it works. Instead, as time goes on, we focus even more on others rather than on ourselves.

But then Jesus, Himself, said, “The student is not greater than the master,” and He came to serve, not be served.

I’ll keep trying to follow His example, and in another forty years, maybe I’ll have figured out how to do parenting correctly.

Or, maybe not.

*with apologies to Gene Rodenberry

Catching Up?

Six Million Dollar Man COL Steve Austin

Six Million Dollar Man
COL Steve Austin

I’m just finishing up a higher education endeavor that has taken over a year—around life, family, job, reality, and whatever. This means I now am looking forward to some time for pursuits of my own.

Of, course there’s the upcoming cataract evaluation, hearing aid fitting, etc.

I guess that makes me the six million dollar man (at scratch and dent, close-out prices), only instead of looking like Steve Austin, My appearance is closer to Wilford Brimley.

That’s okay, because Brimley has a more interesting voice; besides, Lee Majors (for you youngsters, the actor who played “The Six Million Dollar Man”) is twelve years older than I am. He’s going through the same or worse.

While Lee and Wilford have been haggling with their agents over endorsements for embarrassing products needed by old guys, I’ve taken a few computers apart and fixed them. I’ve helped out a few folks on various projects. I’ve helped my kids get ready for some summer events. I got my new grill set up.

Each of these accomplishments has pleased me more than any of the fictional heroics seen on television.

But I do still like Wilford Brimley’s voice.

Band Geeks

And if you've never seen it before https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SkeBH0jbYo

And if you’ve never seen it before https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SkeBH0jbYo

I marched in the band in high school and college, and enjoyed every second of it. (Well, there probably was a second here and there when I didn’t, but I don’t remember them.)

I can understand the old joke that football stadiums’ primary purpose is for the marching band. (For a great perspective listen to Jack Stamp https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw4vqll9cAM).

I won’t belabor you with my opinionated comments. I’ll let these statements speak for themselves.

  • The morning news said that the national college championship game yesterday was attended by eighty thousand with the average ticket price being nine hundred dollars.
  • Members of the marching bands had transportation and lodging provided. They had great seats and paid nothing.
  • Marching band counts as a class with credit toward graduation.
  • Marching band members do not have to deal with 250 pound guys from the other school repeatedly grabbing and tackling them!

Those Voices Ringing in My Head

W. C. Fields Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed.

W. C. Fields
Yes, indeed. Yes, indeed.

When I was younger, there were many movie and television stars that had great voices. Impressionists like David Frye and Frank Gorshin could make us laugh by using those distinctive voices in unlikely scenarios. I’d like to compare some of those great voices of yesterday to the great, or at least distinctive voices of today.

YESTERDAY

Ed Sullivan: “Tonight, right heere on our shtage, we have a really big shoe!”

Groucho Marx: “This morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never figure out.”

W.C. Fields: “Yesh indeed, yesh indeed. Anyone who hates children and small dogs can’t be all bad!”

Chico Marx: “You can’t fool me, there ain’t no sanity clause!”

Jimmy Stewart: “Well, uh, uh, uh, now that’s an interesting question, you see, uh, …”

Harpo Marx: ” ”

Burgess Meredith: “You know what you ain’t got, Rock? You ain’t got management!”

Marlon Brando: “Why do you come here on the day of my daughter’s wedding?”

Mae West: “Is that a pistol in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

James Earl Jones: “The Force is strong in this one!”

Rodney Dangerfield: “I get no respect—no respect at all.”

TODAY

James Earl Jones: “This is CNN.”

Gilbert Gottfried: “Aflac!” [“You’re fired!]

Fran Drescher: “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

 

The Simpsons don’t count because I’m only including real people’s real voices.

Mama Jo

Jo wasn’t really her name, but only a few of us knew her real first name and kept it as an insider’s joke and a secret among friends. However, Jo soon became “Mama Jo” to thousands of Sailors and their families.

Around 2007, I had returned from overseas and many Sailors were sent to work “boots on the ground.” It became apparent that the rules, regulations, procedures, and administrivia weren’t equipped to handle Sailors operating outside their normal channels. “Sailors belong on ships, and ships belong at sea!” we were told. Unfortunately, the enemy didn’t agree, and the war was in the desert. Dirt sailors took on whatever duties their nation required. Unfortunately, this meant they no longer fit neatly into the Navy system.

Families no longer had a command to which to turn when there were problems with pay, military housing or whatever. Add to that the wartime toll on marriages, and it was a mess. The Navy Times had articles and letters describing how Navy families whose sailors were serving in the sandbox had nowhere to turn and how they felt—and were—abandoned.

I happened to be in command when we had over one thousand Sailors in theater, so I was suddenly “the expert” for “Boots on Ground Sailors.” The wife of the Chief of Naval Operations saw the problems and took the issue of family problems personally (and my sincere thanks to you, Mrs. Mullen, for caring) and so I was told, “You’re our troubleshooting expert – fix it.”

I confess, throughout my career my Sailors were more important to me than the officers. The officers were my friends and colleagues, and I love them as brothers and sisters. It was my Sailors, on the other hand, who got the job done. They depended on me to shield them from the bullshit but missions that were successful were due to the Sailors, not the officers. I was committed to the Sailors and their families, but this war presented a Herculean task. There was almost no one who could help me tackle this.

Then came Jo.

Jo’s husband had been an Air Force Colonel. She was the only one in the command who was (slightly) older than me (I think). She had been a successful business consultant who shut her business down immediately after 9-11 in order to help our men and women in uniform. There is no one individual who has done more for our men and women in uniform than Jo.

Now there are some who believe that Jo hated me. I love this; if she didn’t get the cooperation she needed from a particular command, she would explain to them, “Well, I’m sorry that we haven’t been able to resolve this, because my Captain is going to be calling your commanding officer and it’s going to be ugly. I have to work with this guy every day, and I can tell you that when this is over, you and I are probably both going to both be in big $#!+. What? You have an idea? Why, yes, I think that might work!”

“Sir (always Sir, dammit), if you hear that the USS Whatever thinks you’re the world’s biggest pain in the ass… (add smile here) it’s my fault,” and I knew that some family had been taken care of.

Jo always threatened to buy a parrot and teach it all the things she said to her kids so when she died the parrot would be passed on and continue to repeat (in her voice) her favorite sayings. She never bought a parrot.

I did. I’ve had parrots before, but Jo provided the tipping point.

There are families who have survived storms, wildfires and tornadoes, thanks to Jo. Together we set up systems to meet returning Sailors as Thurgood Marshall in Baltimore, Norfolk International, and Naval Air Station Norfolk. Not everyone appreciated the importance of this, and it was an uphill battle, but Jo was there.

Sailors who worked with her know she was the first one in and the last to leave. When others arrived, there was coffee already started, and her desk always had a jar of candies. I preferred peanut butter cups, which mysteriously appeared in the freezer of the mini-fridge at my end of the building.

Some people are known for great discoveries and inventions. Others leave great wealth. The best way to describe Jo is with a prayer often attributed (albeit incorrectly) to St. Francis of Assisi; the author doesn’t matter – what matters is that Jo made it happen.

Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace;

Where there is hatred, let me sow love;

Where there is injury, pardon;

Where there is discord, harmony;

Where there is error, truth;

Where there is doubt, faith;

Where there is despair, hope;

Where there is darkness, light;

And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, Grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console;

To be understood as to understand;

To be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;

It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;

And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

 

Jo, when we meet again in the next life, we’ll pick up where we left off, except we’ll know our men and women are cared for, and I’ll finally get to meet your husband. In the meantime, know how much everyone appreciates the footprints you left behind.

Fair winds, following seas and peace, Jo.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. President, if for some reason you might be reading this blog and you’re looking for a hero to acknowledge – Jo Carter.

Dear Answer Man

Washington Post

Washington Post

Dear Answer Man, I’m pretty much an all-round loser. I did the bare minimum in school, leading to a dead-end job, which doesn’t matter, because I’m not into hard work, anyway. Is there anything I can do that requires little or no effort to become rich or famous? Couch Potato

Dear Potato: Getting rich is out of your reach; even being a thief often requires some degree of effort. On the other hand, becoming famous is easy these days. First, write a few sentences – one per page is okay – as to who you hate and why. Leave these lying around the place where you live (probably in your mother’s basement.) Next choose the weapon of your choice – rifle, knives, toe nail clippers, pointy stick – whatever, it doesn’t really matter. Pick a target that will get a lot of attention; schools are popular, but attacks at schools are so passé. Pick something else – preferably a place where there are no guards or police officers such as a pedicure salon. If it’s not too much effort, just before you get there, call a local television station to tell them where you’re headed and why. Run into the building and poke everyone you can with your pointed stick and scream. If you don’t have a favorite saying, you can use one or more of these:

“Dennis Rodman is the prophet!”

“Major league sports are all fake!”

“They lied to us about Betty Crocker!”

Soon, you’ll be surrounded by the media, so explain yourself to them.

Oh, don’t be surprised if police respond as well, but ignore them. It’s the media that you need.

Good luck!

Oh, Yeah?!

THE Smothers Brothers

THE Smothers Brothers

That was Tommy Smothers “snappy comeback.”

As I get older and wiser, things that used to drive me nuts now are able to be dealt with by an “Oh, yeah?!”

Things at work. Politicians. My kids.

I never knew that the Smothers Brothers were wise.

How scary is that?

P.S. Falla la lallah lallah lallah la lallah chirp! Chirp!