Friday, January 6, 2017

Am I Who?

This is not glurge, a syrupy bit of fiction designed to make the reader feel good. It happened, tonight, to me.

Tonight when leaving a restaurant with my wife, I noticed a homeless man sitting just inside the door with all his belongings in a black garbage bag. The temperature outside was 9° and it's supposed to go below zero tonight. The manager approached him and asked if he wanted anything. He said, "I just want a cup of coffee and to get warm." She said "Yes, it is a cold night."

On an impulse I then did something I have never done before. I pulled a $10 bill from my wallet and gave it to the manager and said, "See to it that he gets a full meal."

As I turned to leave, the man asked me, "Are you Jesus Christ?"

All I could say was "I try to follow him."

If anyone ever reads this, I'd like to know how you would answer that question.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Hardest or Easiest Job in the World?

Now that the election's over, I'd like to call your attention to the job of the president, or POTUS as some insist on calling the occupant of the office. Given the ages of the various presidents when they entered office, it's no real surprise that they continued to age... but some aged more than others, presumably from the stress of the job:

So, just how stressful is the job? Take a good look at each one and consider how they went about doing their jobs.

To my eyes, the one who was affected most in the shortest time was Abraham Lincoln. He truly served in an extremely stressful time. I can't imagine anyone else doing as well as he did with such a difficult task as leading the nation through a Civil War.

The one who I think was affected least was Dwight Eisenhower. After successfully managing the European theater of World War II, fighting with Congress didn't affect him so much. The bullets they shot at him were all verbal! He quietly did what he thought was best and ignored his critics. And he had impressive results. His behavior in office was that of a man comfortable in his skin, his grandfatherly smile reassured most Americans that he was doing the right thing because he cared for them. It was reflected in his extremely high approval rating during office.

So, how hard is it to be a peace-time president? Eisenhower made it look easy. Is it? No matter your politics, there will be those seeking your destruction. There will be people striving to use your power and prestige to enrich or empower themselves and their friends. You'll feel like you have a bulls eye painted on your back as the press snipes at you for every little thing you might do wrong... and even when you've done things right, they'll twist your words and invent errors you've never made.

What will Trump face compared to what he's seen so far in his life? Will he masterfully appoint and hire the right people to get things done? Or will he try to micromanage his way through as so many others have done? Will he pick fights with Congress or will he challenge them to write legislation the way the Constitution requires of them?

I believe a great leader inspires others to do great things. I hope Donald Trump will do just that.

Sunday, May 17, 2015


The great news is now that I've worked with my replacement in my church position (see prior post) I understand now why she seemed so foreboding to me and others who had gossiped about her. (Yes, it was gossip, and I'm sorry I listened). And, I find that I've much more in common with her than I would ever had guessed.

This lady has survived a traumatic traffic accident that broke her neck in two places. The doctors fused the vertebrae and she has healed—physically. Being a Texan, she has continued on with her life on sheer guts and willpower. She has put her energies into teaching people to excel at singing. She's even making a living at it!

What she hasn't done as nearly well is deal with her PTSD. It's affected her personality—she comes across as very brusque and insensitive—and is very hard to befriend. Here's a challenge I can look forward to! After all, I've tangled with that particular burden myself...

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Waiting for a shoe to drop...

I’ve no idea how many people have ever read this blog. Perhaps I’m just writing for my own entertainment. One thing I do know is that I’ve mostly written about what I think about things and very little about what I feel about them.

Part of being a member of my church is the idea that we are “called to serve” in various positions by an inspired leader. The length of that service can vary by quite a few years. Eventually, we are “released” and someone else is called to serve. That release can come about by moving away, dying, or just because it’s someone else’s turn to serve in that position. Most of us muddle through new callings, gain in our skills, learn how to do things right, then we’re called to yet other positions.

Right now I’m in the most difficult part of that process. After being for a few years in a position I loved, someone else has grudgingly accepted a call to that position. She seems to not care too much for it and is talking about scaling it all back to suit her existing calendar. I’m finding it hard to keep my mouth shut and am wondering how long it will take for her to destroy what I (and my predecessors) built up.

I hope I get called to something else soon! Not having a position is bad enough without this drama.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Autism from vaccines?

I was born in a time before most vaccines. I endured regular and German measles (rubella), mumps, and chickenpox. I knew kids who endured whooping cough and polio (I never had polio, but my mom did). 

These were not diseases that magically appeared--they "traveled' around, carried by people. A community that had been free of one of these diseases would eventually have a wave of incidents as the virus was carried into the community by an unwitting victim... and eventually most of those whose immune systems couldn't fight it off got it... and then the disease would fade away because the remaining people were able to resist it. A few years later, the process would repeat when again someone brought the virus back into the town.

My kids have not had any of those diseases. They and the vast majority of other kids around them were vaccinated against them. Unfortunately vaccines aren't 100% effective, so those who weren't vaccinated sometimes became carriers amongst themselves and to those whose vaccinations failed to protect them. Still, smallpox is gone (for now, but that's another story) and most other of those diseases became rare for a while.

Unfortunately, a British doctor faked some research and convinced a lot of people that vaccines were dangerous and causing autism. His twaddle is still out there on the Internet, but at least he was caught and punished for his lies (stripped of his license). And the rates of infection for those once rare diseases have climbed. Children are much more at risk for those diseases... Diseases which were fought for a reason: those diseases killed many kids and crippled many of the survivors.

Now, I don't think unvaccinated kids should be marked in any way... but I'd be happier about all this if there were a reliable way to keep my grandkids away from their generation's disease carriers. Yes, my daughter is getting her kids vaccinated, but since the shots aren't 100% effective, there will still be the risk of disease from those who aren't vaccinated. And that means a lot of kids, even some of the vaccinated ones, are going to get polio, measles, mumps, etc. and are going to suffer needlessly.

Bad science is used by charlatans to bamboozle people into joining their ranks, contribute to their cause, buy videos or books, or just read their twaddle online so they can be paid by those whose ads appear on their webpages. 

Please don't be fooled. Kids' lives are at risk.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

A Line Too Far...

During this past year I've noticed an increasing number of drivers stopping short of the crosswalk lines by an ever increasing amount. Not too long ago most drivers stopped 3 to 5 feet short of that line. Today at least a third of them are stopping 15 to 20 feet away from those markings.

Why are they doing this? I've no idea. Why do I care? They're stopping short of the underground sensors that trigger the traffic lights.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Why Human Organizations Fail

All large human organizations are doomed to failure. Think about it—I just said that every large human organization is doomed to fail. How can this be true?

An individual person can accomplish a lot, but only so much. A few people working together can do a lot more—they do this by forming partnerships or small companies. These small organizations do quite well and, in fact, are responsible for hiring many, many people. When they need additional talents that they do not individually have, they typically hire out those functions. For example, they may turn to a professional accounting firm to handle their payroll.

But what happens when a company grows so large, involves so many people, that they can no longer effectively communicate with one another person-to-person? At this point most companies subdivide themselves into departments that handle specialized functions. These may include sales, human relations, manufacturing, and/or transportation. Functions which a smaller company would hire out are now typically done by one of these departments.

Now the communication problems become immense... And people who once would pick up the phone and talk to each other find that they must communicate by other means. This means sending memos, sending e-mails or voicemails, or worst of all—calling a meeting. At some companies before anything important can be done in form must be filled out and the proper number of copies submitted to the various departments involved.

The same tendencies happen even faster in governmental organizations. Primarily, this occurs because of human nature regarding self importance. The relative importance or worth of a manager in government is reflected in the number of people who report to that person. It's not unusual to see a multitude of employees in a government office doing very little, if not nothing. If you don't believe me, visit your local drivers license bureau.

Changing Light Bulbs in the Army

In short, human nature works against the success of large organizations. Years ago, as part of a college business psychology course, we were divided into teams which competed for resources. What we were not told until the game ended is that we represented in our teams different divisions of the same company. Our squabbling over resources led to the demise of the overall company! The same human dynamics exist in companies and other organizations throughout the world.

Of course companies turn to the same solution to their problems each and every time—they build up and establish bureaucracies within their companies. And of course the government excels at this! Once dynamic companies and other organizations lose their focus as the people in each division or department start relying on forms being filled out, committees being formed to solve problems, and policies or procedures being established for every conceivable situation.

In short, success creates the very problems that lead to the demise of once successful companies. To defend themselves from smaller companies, large companies turn to the government to establish laws and agencies to hinder the growth of those smaller companies. They are more than willing to contribute to politicians who help them in their efforts. That is why large corporations fund foundations and issue grants to nongovernmental organizations that lobby for laws that hurt those corporations' industry. If you're big enough you will not be bothered by new laws that hinder your smaller competitors.

Fortunately, eventually smaller companies do manage to overcome the barriers raised by the unholy collusion of large corporations and unethical politicians. It requires hard work, inventiveness, and dedication to serving the customer. Yet when those smaller companies do succeed, almost all of them grow into larger corporations and repeat the sins of the past.

Perhaps someday someone will find something better than the bureaucratic model. I certainly hope so.