Repacking Your Bag

Life today is hectic. We would all like to sit down and smell the roses. Deadlines, crises and anxiety fills the air. In spite of all our technological advances we seem to be more frenetic every day. Our kids don’t remember the early days of micro computing. It promised to make us more efficient and ergo have more spare time. Au contraire.
Let’s just take a moment and put the laptops and IPads away. Kathy and I are celebrating our fourtieth wedding anniversary on the beautiful island of Hawaii. It is in a word magnificent for a number of reasons.
I brought only two books. One is by Michael Gelb on Leonardo DaVinci and the other “Repacking Your Bags” by Leider and Shapiro. Both are escapes from the everyday. Both are fabulous.
In “Repacking” the concept is really quite simple. The sum of life’s experiences and relationships make up your bag. Like an attic or basement or desk drawer, from time to time it gets terribly cluttered. Some things mean a lot to you and some have absolutely no bearing on where you are in life.
You unpack your bag. You lay it all out on the bed. You separate into piles that have to do with place, love, work and purpose.



Place is everything physical. Where you live. Your country. Your state .Your county. Your town. What does your house look like? Your favorite chair? Your car.? Your clothes?

Love encompasses every person you have a relationship with. Good or bad. Social or work. It can be your club or your religion. Your husband or wife. Your neighbor. Your close friends.

Your work is obvious. It’s what you do. Do you love it because it makes you money or hopefully because it also makes you happy? Not always an easy distinction.

Lastly is purpose. It is a very lofty but important facet. Why am I here on this earth? If you believe in God what did he have in mind? If you believe in fate where do the stars cross?

In doing this some things will become readily apparent. First is the amount of useless or negative stuff we have in our bag. These accumulate over time by sheer habit or neglect. The second is how incredibly difficult it is to leave some things behind. An old sweater. An nagging avocation. A long lost love.

Our society lends one to being part of the crowd. As much as we love to think of ourselves as free thinkers, the maxims of today’s world make it more and more difficult. Look right. Act appropriately. Don’t deviate from the norm. What will people think?

As you repack your bag, you look at each and everything with great intensity. It this where I really want to be or who I want to be with? Am I traveling down the road to fulfillment or wasting precious time? Who are you kidding? Only yourself.

It is a difficult journey but fraught with excitement. It can’t be done in a day or a week. To be done right it takes time. It should be done by young and old. It tends to provoke mid life crises in all walks of life. And that is good.

I find myself more alive each day. I question and question and question. I seek out people. I want to learn. On this beautiful island there are palm trees and flora but there are also huge fields of volcanic rock. There is an absolute reality of creation. There is an incredible air of simplicity. The people welcoming and genuine.

I know this is more philosophical that political. And no, I am not drinking or smoking anything as I write. I hope this will inspire you to at least take a long look at your bag even if you don’t unpack it. In a very strange way we should probably do this as a country if not the world. Okay big fella, one thing at a time.

I have to go. I have to repack. I have a lot to do. So many decisions to make. And that is cool. I hope you do too.

The formula for the good life in the book is: “Living in the Place you belong, with the People you love, doing the right Work on Purpose.” Not bad.

As Always

Ted the Great

Factoid: When JFK was innaugurated the were approximately 3 billion residents on planet Earth. There are now 6.9 billion. At that time, 70% of the current population of the United States weren’t born yet.

Scalpel Please

 I have watched with great interest the inaugural speeches of several governors over the past few weeks. There is a sense of sobriety across this great country of ours.


There were of course the usual platitudes but there was a sense of urgency from everyone. Cuomo didn’t have an inaugural party and Jerry Brown had hot dogs. There are plenty of those in California. Our governor had a barbecue here in Colorado.

It’s been a binge, an orgy, a frat party or whatever. It’s the morning after. Now do  they have the you know whats to get it done? One of you pointed out in my New Years blog that I didn’t come up with any solutions. My apologies.  Here’s a start.

When I was a kid, we lived in relative proximity to the Long Island Railroad. If you cut through the woods behind Tom Troy’s house, you had a birds eye view of the single track line. And of course the dreaded third rail. It was covered by a protective wooden top piece but everyone knew that touching it was instant death. Zapped. Fried. It was scary in every way.

Well today that is what is going on in legislatures, both local and national. It is come to Jesus time. Incredibly the pols say you can’t touch Social Security, Medicare and the Military. The third rails. But that is where a great deal of the problem is.

Medicare will be unfunded over a period of time. To the tune of several TRILLION dollars. The boomers are coming in force. My view is I am happy to have Medicare. But only because I am now covered. I would pay more to get that. But as I updated my plan, I also discovered that my supplemental premiums went down substantially if I had a big deductible or opted to copay $25.

Last year there were over a billion doctor visits. Why not make everybody on Medicare copay something? Two things happen. One is you raise some money instead of giving it out. Secondly, if you have to pay when you go you might not be as quick to pick up the phone for an appointment. Brilliant TTG! Brilliant!

Last year we had $60 billion in Medicare fraud. One of the reasons is that we didn’t have enough inspectors. Let’s just say we hired 1000 inspectors at $70,000 per. That’s $70 million to save maybe $10-20 billion. Duh?

What if we paid people who reported fraud like whistleblowers? There was a woman from Maine who was as healthy as a horse. She saw on her statement that she supposedly had two prostheses, a liver transplant and was on oxygen. Her Medicare number had been stolen.

The prescription bill of 2004 refused to provide competitive pricing of drugs. The Veterans Administration is not under the same handcuffs and pays about 50% less by negotiating. Is it me or is this stuff really self evident?

There was a news piece on the Chief of Naval Operations. It seems the Navy had to replace some hovercraft used for amphibious landings. There was a tweek here and there but the design had stayed the same for the last 25 years. But the contract called for three years of testing of the “new” craft at the cost of $100 million. Someone finally nixed that provision. How many more are there throughout the government? Yeah, but Ted it is not all that much money in the overall picture. Right.

How about this? We can not account for or find $9 billion in reconstruction money for Iraq. Think that is bad? We can’t find $18 billion of the same monies in Afghanistan. But don’t dare touch our military budget. Leave all the outdated bases open. Not in my back yard.

Lastly that mighty mistress of all… Social Security. The bipartisan Deficit Reduction Committee said we should change the retirement age to 67 by 2050 and 69 by the year 2075. Please reread those numbers slowly and carefully. The screams of horror were heard around the country. Most of the most vehement won’t be alive!

Simply put, we have to face the music. The way we get out of this is to cut smartly. Even the sacred cows. The healthcare system under Obamacare or otherwise is going to bankrupt us as a country. Nobody addressed costs. The Pentagon is fighting two wars and yet is obsessing over new weapons systems. Some needed. Some not. Social Security? Enough said.

Governor Chris Christie gets it. Notwithstanding his untimely vacation in Disneyworld, he is pretty sharp and says we have to have adult conversations. He takes special interests on full bore. Both left and right. People ask him if he realizes he might not get reelected? He said he doesn’t care. I hope he means it. Others take heed.

I am not a rocket scientist by any means but have stumbled on the above without even trying hard. Farm subsidies. Bloated bureaucracies. I am sick. I am mad. I have sharpened my scalpel. Is the above good for starters, mes amis?

As always,

Ted The Great.

Factoid: The autopsies performed on great nations and civilizations have shown death not by conquest but by self inflicted wounds…suicide.

It Takes A Village


I was skiing in Vail last week. The weather was Colorado perfect and the conditions just right for Corduroy Ted. I have that moniker because the old guy avoids bumps and stays on the freshly groomed slopes these days. I had the wonderful company of my nephew, Paul and his wife, Tania.

When we got back to the house, we found out that a good friend and neighbor had been involved in a rather horrific ski accident. Her femur was smashed and jammed into her pelvis. Not even the renowned orthopods in Vail could help her. She was on her way to Denver in the back of an ambulance.

Word spread quickly and the support group fell into place. Kids were picked up at school, dinners  were made and beds were found. Everyone pitched in. I imagine the same type of actions took place in Tucson over the weekend. Many of the endings were not so happy.

Kathy and I had lived in Arizona for a number of years. I can easily picture the shopping center. The people. Basically simple sorts, just trying to find some sunshine and live a nice life. Incredibly, the heroes disarming the madman ranged from a college student to a grandmother.

It was almost surreal the way the group subdued the deranged killer,quickly went to the aid of the wounded and consoled the families of the dead. A judge, a husband, a sweet little girl. All so tragic.

There was a doctor and his wife who were just going to the store. She was a nurse and they immediately went to work. Calmly and quietly. It seemed the media of all kinds wanted to make something more of the story. These people just wanted to start the business of healing.

Tucson is a sleepy town. The University of Arizona is about the only thing going on and that is just fine with the locals. The political bent of most college towns is not really that evident here. Just simple folk. Like Oklahoma City. Like Fort Hood. Like Columbine.

The reactions are so similar. Do away with guns. Let’s try to explain away the insanity on some political faction. Why didn’t anyone do something about this dude? Why don’t we lock people up? Why? Why?

We want our rights but get so upset when someone abuses them. That is part of the whole concept. Inherant in the privilege is responsibility. We want to blame someone. Anyone. I say look in the mirror.

I have friends who are hunters. I get it. But if you have ever picked up an UZI, shot an M16 on full automatic or watched the havoc wrought by twin 50 caliber machine guns,you get the difference. There is no correlation between a target pistol and a Glock semiautomatic with an expanded magazine holding several dozen bullets. None.

This was an act of a very sick person. Lock him up, you say. But where? We have cut spending on mental health. Shut down hospitals. Put people on the streets. We estimate 20-30% of the homeless here in Denver are mentally ill. They were discharged to our walkways and underpasses. They were left to their own designs. Yes, we so often look the other way. A lot of people in Tucson did. And they regret it.

The political rhetoric has toned down for today at least. I spent four hours watching different talk shows on TV. I listened to both the liberal and conservative. I just don’t think anyone gets it. Some were accusatory. Some were defensive. Why do we have this insatiable urge to be right all the time? No one wanted to give an inch.

For the record, I don’t think politics had anything to do with this tragedy. But that does not exonerate any of us. The level of discourse these days is plain old out of hand. Not just politics but everyday life. We tune into radio and TV or print matter that backs up our particular view of the universe. Kind of like preaching to the choir. Don’t even want to consider the other side.

When you live in a small town you know everyone. I think it increases the responsibility of all. Our world today increasingly revolves around cyberspace as our neighborhood. I can twitter, blog, decry and do it all under the veil of a tough to discover address. In an effort to communicate better and faster, I think we get farther and farther away from each other.

It takes a village. That village can be a state or a nation or the world. We are all part of it. Don’t duck. Stand up and bear the responsibility of all that freedom entails. Get out from behind that desk. Get off the couch.Take a walk in your village. Get involved. Help someone heal.

As always

Ted The Great


There are approximately 308 million people in the U.S There are 285 million guns.

Approx.20% of the population suffers from some sort of mental illness at any given point in time. 30% seek help. Over 90% could be cured.

Singing in the Shower

Singing in the Shower.

Theodoro Pavarotti has come to the city. One day last summer, I had come home from the golf course. I was taking a shower and singing a very poor version of some obscure opera. The only resemblance I have to Lucianno  has been my periodic Falstaffian gut.

There is a certain resonance in the shower that really sounds cool. It reverberates off the glass and makes you sound like you know what you are doing. Well, at least to me. This particular afternoon was a gorgeous summer day. Now when you live in the city it is a little different than Cordillera or Arizona. You are really close to your neighbor’s house. And our windows were open.

As usual my next door neighbor, who is a dear friend thought I was nuts. A guy down the street said he didn’t care what people said, he thought I sounded pretty good. It reminded me of an old lady in front of me in church. She said I had a beautiful voice. I said thank you. She said holding her ear, “WHAT?”

I actually took a course in singing at the University of Denver. It was called “Finding Your Inner Voice”. The first day of class had nine all stars and me. They sang with the Colorado Symphony Chorale, various choirs and vocal ensembles. When they got around to me, I had a sinking feeling I was in the wrong place.

Well tough for them. I had paid my money and I was going to do it. I asked to bring a bottle of scotch to class saying I could do a lot better that way. Tempting as it was, the teacher who resembled Carol Burnett in both looks and spirit said we could do that some other time.

I actually pulled it off. Not through talent but my usual ability to BS my way through anything. We had to sing solos in class which was really a kick. Once you got comfortable in your own skin almost anything was possible. Interesting concept.

Emboldened, Kathy and I were at Italian night at the club. They had a fabulous a capella group that could sing anything from rock and roll to jazz. Kathy and I were out dancing and of course I was singing along. Loudly. All of a sudden one of the singers handed me a microphone during their rendition of “The Book of Love”. He said come on up.

I know you will all be shocked that I accepted his offer. My kids ducked. Kathy went to the ladies room and I was finally dragged off the bandstand as I demanded to know where their next gig was. They said they would call me. They haven’t.

This is not the first time I have pulled this stunt. Back east we went to a charitable thing I was running. I decided to get up with the band. The next day a wonderful but really stuffy banker, Eldon Dixon said “Geez Ted, you were really smashed last night”. I said, “Eldon I am really going to scare you. I am on antibiotics and didn’t have a drink all night!”

The fun part about now is I can do things and people don’t know if I am eccentric, crazy or just Ted being Ted. I am just old enough. Maybe all of the above. I don’t kiss up to people nor do I ask them to do so to me.

You would be shocked how many times you can ask something and they will tell you. Catch them off guard. Don’t give them time or think or put up defenses. Don’t worry. Facts and plain old logic will get them every time.

The heart of it is, they can say yes or no. Kathy cringes sometimes when we are dinner guests. I love to throw topics out on the table that are controversial.I call them questions. Kathy calls them hand grenades. I don’t take one side or the other on purpose. I just like to get the ball rolling.

It’s like singing in the shower. You actually sound pretty good…at least to yourself. Have fun. Be crazy. Enjoy life. In a week, chances are no one will remember.

As Always

Pondering the Imponderables

Ted The Great


New Year’s Special

New Year’s Special

Dr. Jekyll…Mr. Hyde


I am really lost so I decided to write to all of you. I know I said once a week but this is keeping me up at night.  I have a personality disorder. I don’t know who I am. I am hexed, vexed, perplexed. Please help me.

There is this deep divide on who I want to be. Yin and Yang. Republican or Democrat. Liberal or Conservative. Let’s take a few of the burning issues on the horizon this year. Let me tell you both sides.

First and foremost is healthcare. The humanitarian side of me says no one in this great country should be without. We have technology and staff in every major city and burg. If someone is dying or in incredible danger we should reach out our hand, no matter what. Insured or not.

But wait. The sheer numbers make it impossible. We will have a $23 trillion unfunded liability in Medicare alone. Medicine and treatment at its current rate will bankrupt our country. People go out and abuse their bodies in so many ways. Death defying tricks. Overeating. Overdrinking. Overdosing. And then they come to the hospital’s door and say “heal me”. And they can’t or won’t pay. They won’t take positive steps to improve their life. This does not seem right.

Immigration. You sneak in and start raising your family here. You faced destitution and maybe starvation in the old country. You walked across miles of desolation to get here. You work hard. You will do anything. You live in hovels. But it is so much better than where you came from.

But there are people who have been waiting years. They have played by the rules. They are productive under visas. They go through the paces we have set up. They are many times well educated and well financed. They pay their way. They are not a burden on society. They are a plus. But they wait.

My religion tells me to do unto others. Be God fearing. Love one another. But my religion also tells me it is the one true religion. It is the way the truth and the life. It is the only way to heaven. Everyone else is wrong.

Your religion says the Messiah hasn’t come. Or yours says that Muhammed is the true prophet. How about Buddhism? Hinduism? Am I really supposed to tell a good Muslim or Buddhist that he isn’t going to make it? Even though he might be a much better person than me.

Foreign Relations. We are the world’s most powerful country. We are the supercop. We want to proselytize democracy throughout the world. We want to make it a better place for both humanitarian as well as strategic reasons. We spend billions in foreign aid and yet many of those countries despise us or laugh behind our backs.

Maybe we should spend those billions on our homeland? Our roads? Our schools? Our hungry and bereft? Developing technologies. How many countries have furthered their own interests while we are trying to bring peace to the world?

Maybe you have all the answers. Maybe you know how to solve our deficit without raising taxes on anyone and just maintaining even 2008 spending levels. Maybe you can vote in lockstep with the ideological bent of your party without giving a thought to the other side’s position. Here’s to you if you can.

I can’t. I will have to seek a middle ground that may necessitate me compromising  but not necessarily sacrificing my long held principles. I won’t do so in a huff. I won’t glare you down. I will just say that maybe we all have a say. Maybe we are all a little right. Maybe I will just listen.

I guess I will have to learn to live with both the good doctor and Mr. Hyde. Maybe they are both a part of me and deep down a part of all of us. I really can’t go hard left or hard right. It’s just not in me. Can you say with absolute certainty it is in you?

As always

Pondering the Imponderables

Ted  The Great