Friday, October 8, 2010

Fight On!

The strength you gain through hardships endured provides a vision that enables you to accurately analyze and weigh the thoughts, recommendations, and acts of even experienced professionals and would be guides.  From that evolves a rock-solid commitment to manage your destiny.

Never underestimate your power. Wield it with the confidence and self-assurance that goes hand-in-hand with that commitment.

Your active role in the decision-making process, the extensive research that you have conducted, the enormous network you have cultivated, are all part of a divine plan to see you through the most challenging ordeal.

We were never meant to "Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence…," as espoused by Max Ehrmann in Desiderata. Where is the growth in such a perspective? You are battling powerful forces that are kept at bay only by your diligence.

As Algernon Sydney simply put it, "God helps those who help themselves." Let there be no doubt about His appreciation for your efforts. The reward is the incredible bond of love that will be yours forever.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Integrity in government

CNN's Jack Cafferty on openness in government

Being a little low on the political totem pole, Cafferty's message took nearly nine months to reach me.  It's message is just as chilling today. 

Time spent pointing fingers is time wasted.  The effort (focus, if you will) has to be upon finding a way out of this situation.  There should be a way to hold politicians accountable, short-term - less than impeachment.  If you lie, if you fail to fulfill promises you have made, then there should be a penalty.

Under our current system, the only true recourse is impeachment.  Those who serve as jury in an impeachment process are part of the same group as the person being impeached.  Would you select gang members for a jury in the trial of a gang leader?

Perhaps establishment of a national scoreboard would work.  It could be publicly posted and provide a record of shortcomings/failures by category.  An elected official starts off with a value of 100.  There would be no positive points for work well done, since that is expected and also the reason the individual was elected.  Points would be subtracted for:

  • shortcomings:  1
  • misrepresentations:  2
  • failures:  3
  • lies:  5
Scoring could be done by a panel representing a cross-section of our population.

The score would be a tool to compare performance of politicians.  It would also elevate public dialogue, enable more knowledgeable decisions at the polls,  and when necessary, expedite the impeachment process. 

Monday, September 20, 2010

God Has Retired - Replaced at the center of the universe by Kevin

Just ask him.  Kevin is easy to recognize.  He rides a Trek Madone 6.5, a Carrera Blue OCLV2 bike that retails for $4,929.99.  It is the bicycle equivalent of a Ferrari.  Kevin believes that as an exalted (in his own mind) human being, he has the right to blast by slower moving cyclists without warning and as close as possible.  You see, Kevin does so while testing his anaerobic threshold.  Therefore, his behavior is totally within reason.

That rationale is equivalent to the driver of the aforementioned Ferrari driving down the road at Mach 3, and endangering the lives of countless others, because he doesn’t want to miss the Blue Light Special at K-Mart.

Let’s set the stage for this revelation:  Coastal Highway A1A is a delightful stretch of road between Jupiter (FL) Inlet and Juno Beach.  For most of this length, it sits high upon the protective dune that follows the Atlantic Coastline.  Approximately 5 years ago, at considerable expense, A1A was converted from a shouldered, sand-clogged, overused lane into a park like setting replete with curbs, bike lanes, marked crosswalks, shrubs and palm trees.  It is a thing of beauty with great views of the ocean.  Sadly, the road is now overloaded with cyclists in groups of 1 to 30 or more, inline skaters, joggers, strollers with baby carriages, and cars.  Weekends are particularly heinous.

The cyclists ride with a chip on their shoulder.  After all, it’s a bike lane, not a roller-blader/jogger/stroller lane.  Right?   The others are offended by the cyclists’ attitudes.  The air is filled with a tension that is almost visible.  Incidents of road rage (cyclist style) are not uncommon.

Cycling and running decorum teaches us that a cyclist/runner, while approaching a slower moving individual from behind, should call out a warning.  Typically, “On your left!” or “On your right!” suffices.  In Bermuda, bicycle bells are commonly used.  Done properly, the call will not offend or even surprise the slower moving individual.  It allows the individual to prepare for what lies ahead:  the pass.  Florida law states that a vehicle passing a cyclist/runner must maintain a minimum distance of 3 feet at all times.  Florida law also states that cyclists must obey all automobile laws and regulations.  Therefore Kevin, and all you other hotshots out there who get some perverse pleasure by riding as close as possible by the unsuspecting slow-moving individual without issuing any advance warning, SHOW A LITTLE RESPECT!  While you may be the center of the universe in your own mind, that doesn’t give you the right to harass everyone in close proximity to your wonderfulness. 

Kevin?  What about Kevin?  When politely although somewhat lightheartedly called to task for his indiscretion, Kevin's response was indignation and a useless effort to intimidate through boisterous behavior.  Grow up, dude...

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Wake Up!

New York tags on a dark red Saturn; obviously a tourist.  The car we followed up US1 through Jupiter and Tequesta  gave Louise and me cause to consider the incredible gift we enjoy.  While it would be easy to view the 26 mile daily commute to our offices in Stuart as the ultimate drudgery, today the 6:30am trip was filled with introspection. 

People from all over the world pay thousands of dollars for the opportunity to briefly experience the life we have enjoyed for more than 25 years.  While visitors look in awe at Jupiter Inlet from the Carlin White bridge, our minds are filled with thoughts about the next "hump night" picnic at DuBois Park, how great the fishing will be if the ocean lays down like that on the weekend, when we will next visit the memorial to Louise's son at Jupiter Lighthouse Park.

This is our home.  We live here year 'round.  We rarely stray outside of the boundaries of our state and then only for the briefest period of time.  The morning fog laying low in the undulations of Jonathan Dickinson State Park; the occasional deer; an early morning fisherman, fly rod in hand, trudging down the path to the water's edge; the daily check to see if the gates on Burt Reynolds' driveway are open; the instant when the sun pops its sleepy head above the ocean horizon.  These are the daily rituals of our lives.

Last week during lobster mini-season (a local phenomena), a 60 year-old man came up from his second dive.  Back on the boat, exhibiting signs of a coronary, he was immediately treated by a medic as the captain rushed to the marina and called for emergency assistance on the radio.  The man's last words:  "The only thing to make it better would be if I had brought up some lobster."  What a truly remarkable expression of complete joy!

May we never lose sight of the beauty that surrounds us.  May our lives never get cluttered to the point that we fail to recognize the gift that has been bestowed upon us.  May the magnificence of nature constantly fill our lives with joy and wonderment.  May our world be a constant source of energy and enlightenment as we go about our daily lives.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Family - Fly Fishing - Fun

There was a time when every weekend meant hours prowling the Loxahatchee River, the Intracoastal Waterway, Jupiter Inlet, and the edges of the Atlantic Ocean out to the Gulf Stream. Most often, it was our boat, but there were many times when a ride was hitched with friends. There were also numerous trips to Lake Okeechobee as well as infrequent journeys to the Everglades, Stick Marsh, and even the cooling ponds at the FPL power plant in Indiantown. A lot of time and effort was put into fishing, but catching? Not so much.

Times changed. Kids grew up. Kids built lives for themselves. Good times became fond memories. Tough times required serious commitment to families, jobs, and health. The boats were sold or simply stopped running. The rods were put away. Contact dwindled to occasional brief phone conversations or even less frequent email messages.

Then, the phone call came: "Hey Dad, I want to tell you something..." Six months later, the door that was opened has enabled me to pass into a world so precious it defies definition. John, my eldest, had stopped into John B's Fly and Light Tackle in Stuart. He had heard that it was the place to go, that John B had a heart of gold and a burning desire to turn every man, woman, and child into a fly-fisherman. My two granddaughters had tagged along with their dad on this expedition and patiently passed the time sitting on the floor engrossed in fly-fishing magazines. When the hour-long process had culminated in a $3.50 transaction and my son gathered the kids to leave, John B insisted that they wait until he finished rummaging around in the back of the store. He finally returned with a juvenile rod and reel, which he offered to the sisters as a gift.

All my life, I have lived by the belief that there is goodness in every person. A young person sometimes has difficulty grasping that concept especially after struggling mightily to find success and happiness. That day, my son became a believer.

John B had told my son that a friend of his gave free fly-fishing lessons every Saturday morning at Indian Riverside Park in Jensen Beach. "Do you want to go with me this Saturday?" The stars were properly aligned. The wind was in the right quadrant. Everything fit together perfectly, and the park became my Saturday morning destination.

Even with no expectations, the experience was a continuing series of surprises. John and I arrived nearly 1/2 hour early to an open expanse of grass on the edge of the Indian River, which seemed like as good a place as any to wet a line. The day was off to a beautiful start. While some shy from the sun and heat of an August day, I thrive on it. Even at 8:30am, the temperature was poised in the high 70's on its way to a real scorcher. The heat had stolen the wind leaving a dead calm weighted with humidity. My kind of day!

The slate gray Suburban with US Army, Stars and Stripes, and Airborne stickers rolled into the parking lot and backed lazily to the curb. Finally settled into place, the tank's door popped open and belched out our instructor. There was no doubting ownership of the vehicle, as his belt buckle carried the same military theme with the impressive winged parachute front and center. A body that had experienced one too many low altitude jumps in full gear was twisted like a pretzel. It didn't slow his gait. Gigantic hands formed a grip that did not hide their strength. The voice was clear. The gaze was sharp. Our instructor was a force to be reckoned with. Introducing himself as "Sarge," we quickly learned that he was a retired Command Sergeant Major, an original member of the Special Forces, and was in his mid-80's.

His sidekick who arrived shortly thereafter is a retired Air Force colonel who is fighting the vagaries of Agent Orange. I was stunned to discover the depth of Sarge's warmth, his innate ability to simplify a complicated process and his patience as we struggled to duplicate his effortless cast. Instead of fish in the river, we were casting to bare patches in the grass. Typically, 15-20 feet of line ended up in a pile within 10 feet of where we were standing. Sarge can drop a perfect, straight/taught line over a squirrel's back at 90 feet! We had a long, long way to go.

The hour passed too quickly. The following week passed equally fast, but with one exception: multiple phone conversations with John reviewing the events of that fateful Saturday, discussing fruitless practice sessions, and planning the next excursion. The weeks and months have marched inexorably onward with mundane work and life experiences punctuated with entertaining fly-fishing classes. If I can somehow learn to stop bending my arm, the endless pushups might come to a halt. Each week, others have joined us, but none have remained. John and I continually return, more for the contact with a truly wonderful old soldier than for perfection of our cast.

John B died. He died way too soon, way too fast. No one was ready to let him go. The memorial service at that same park was attended by hundreds of family, friends and acquaintances. John and I were there. We shared the grief. We laughed at the stories. We marveled at the tightness of the fishing community in which he thrived. While we frequent other similar stores, we try hard to make our purchases where they will in some small way help John B's family.

John and I talk nearly every day. Once a week we meet at his home and work on a 14-foot johnboat that we plan to use this summer in quest of snook, trout, and redfish. John's brother, Morgan, has a new "best friend forever." Dan is the salesman in the Orvis store in Alexandria, VA, Morgan's home. During his infrequent visits to the area, the three of us manage to squeeze in some time to try a new stream, canal, or pond.

It's not like "old times." Everything has changed. John and Morgan's mother, my first wife, is fighting cancer. Morgan is battling a chronic illness. We all seem to have a fair share of dents and bruises, but we have also found a place in our minds and hearts where we can escape to lie back and immerse ourselves in the comfort of relationships that are totally devoid of rules, exceptions, or disruptions.

Fly-fishing has opened the door to a world populated almost exclusively with John Bs, Sarges, Colonels, and other equally warm, generous, good people. The space that world has provided for my sons and me cannot be defined. We are learning to simply accept it with the deepest gratitude.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Last of the Best!

Steve Lee, (Cell phone:  408-691-1016) a delightful young man, informed me minutes ago that the very last unsold Pontiac G8 GXP is now available at Pearson Buick Pontiac GMC, 1176 W. El Camino Real. Sunnyvale, CA 94087.  This is a car that has made numerous 10 best lists and received more press this past year than any American car.  This one is white and has a manual 6 speed transmission.  It was the dealership owner's personal driver and has about 4600 miles.  It has never been titled and is eligible for all rebates and a full factory warranty.

There were 1,829 manufactured in Australia by Holden and shipped to the USA.  This is the only one remaining.

Why don't I buy it, you say?  I bought mine on 3/31/09.  After 22,000+ miles, I can only say that it is the most awesome vehicle I have ever owned!