Great Expectations….

I now live in a lofty perch or at least as high as the fifth floor gets you. It is a gorgeous Denver morning and the mountains beckon just beyond our downtown skyline. I am thinking of Thanksgiving in a rather simplistic way. My mind wanders back to as many bird days as I can for my 68 years. I am fascinated by the roller coaster of emotions I have felt.

I spent one of those in a far off place called Nam. We were almost home. A few more days and a wakeup. Family and a very cute fiancee awaited. It didn’t seem right to be going to the feast in cammies and boon dockers. They actually had tablecloths of a sort in the mess hall. We were served turkey and lobster. Why not? As you finished that last piece of pumpkin pie you said a prayer that a sapper wouldn’t use this opportunity for one last shot. All over this world our guys and gals are on watch thinking the same thing. Say thank you for their service.

People get down at the holidays. As you all might know I was diagnosed with clinical depression some twenty odd years ago. In your mind you want things to be perfect. You have this expectation however misshapen not just for a meal but the events in and around it. I am not sure just what happens but somehow the script goes awry.

Uncle Lenny has too much to drink and makes a snide comment. There is always some member who knows it all. And ah yes the rebel. Comes late. Isn’t dressed properly and might God forbid be showing a tattoo or body piercing. Then all hell breaks loose. Norman Rockwell didn’t paint this. The wife can’t believe this is all happening. She just wanted everything to be perfect. Oh well, there is always next year.

Please don’t lose faith. I haven’t. There is that one year when it just comes together. Once while living in Chatham we had about twenty members of the family and the table extensions went into the living room. Our kids and nieces and nephews were in their teens. As we sat talking over coffee, Kathy’s dad, Big Dave, got things rolling. He did not have a lot of formal education but was brilliant. Read the New York Times cover to cover every day.

He did the unthinkable. He dropped a live grenade in the middle of the table when he asked the assemblage,”What about gays in the military?” There were lefties and righties present so this was about to get good. Then a strange calmness came over the table. Sure the discussion was lively but lo and behold it was civil. Each had their points to make but each also listened. This was totally unexpected and beyond beautiful. We all made a vow to do this the very same time next year. It might just work.

I am completely turned of by the Black Friday bullshit that has now morphed into Thursday. I find it incredible that our insatiable lust for things has totally transformed what should be a day of rest and spiritual things into mayhem where people literally trample others to death in their quest for the deal of the century. We will cover it on TV and shake our heads. But I fear somewhere down the line this will be more and more commonplace. What a jerk you are TTG. Don’t you realize this is what the public wants? Or at least we are made to feel this way. Besides how else would we be able to increase sales from last year? Don’t you realize by some quirk of fate and the Julian calendar there are three less shopping days this year? What was I thinking?

Some of you will have a marvelous day and that is good. Some of you will mourn a loved one and that is understandable and so sad. Some of you will have had life changing events for better or worse. You might be celebrating a new life or a different career. Some of you will have the emptiness of no job or a lost love. I wish I could raise a glass to the triumphant and kiss and make go away the hurts of the afflicted. Life is not fair and I can’t even ponder the imponderables some of you might have.

But then again amidst this panoply good and bad vibes there is one emotion that I can only wish would outshine all the others. That is hope. One of those crazy words in our vocabulary that just sounds good to say. This isn’t pollyanna but rather one of the greatest gifts we have as humans been given. Against all odds we can dream. We can take the worst situation and find some glimmer that says somehow some way things just might get better. This is a Great Expectation. At least for me and I HOPE for you.

As always
Ted The Great


The Plymouth Pilgrims were the first to celebrate the Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving celebration lasted three days. Walmart and Best Buy didn’t exist then. Lobster, rabbit, chicken, fish, squashes, beans, chestnuts, hickory nuts, onions, leeks, dried fruits, maple syrup and honey, radishes, cabbage, carrots, eggs, and goat cheese are thought to have made up the first Thanksgiving feast.

Sarah Josepha Hale, an American magazine editor, persuaded Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday. She is also the author of the popular nursery rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb”

In 1939, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Thanksgiving would take place on November 23rd, not November 30th, as a way to spur economic growth and extend the Christmas shopping season. Now that’s what I am talkin’ about.

In the US, about 280 million turkeys are sold for the Thanksgiving celebrationsEach year, the average American eats somewhere between 16 – 18 pounds of turkey.The average weight of a turkey purchased at Thanksgiving is 15 pounds.The heaviest turkey ever raised was 86 pounds, about the size of a large dog.

Turkeys have heart attacks. The United States Air Force was doing test runs and breaking the sound barrier. Nearby turkeys dropped dead with heart attack. And that’s the truth. Have great day.

Dogma and Creativity….

Merriam Webster tells us Dogma is: a belief or set of beliefs that is accepted by the members of a group without being questioned or doubted. The definition alone turns me off. It’s not so much for the actual principles but for someone to tell me that I can’t question goes against my very grain. My Archbishop once asked me if I had a problem with authority. Maybe yes? Maybe no? I am not an anarchist. I will play by most rules but my Jesuit upbringing demands that I question just about everything.

This whole dogma thing is related primarily to religion but there are other aspects we will discuss later. Most of you know I believe in God and no matter what your preference I hope you will at least give me the fact there was a guy named Jesus who walked the dirt roads back a couple of thousand years ago. He had a basic message to love one another. He spoke of heaven and possibly hell. He said He was the Way, the Truth and the Life. You do not have to agree. Just follow the bouncing ball.

While here and after He left, there were people writing things down and Peter was elected Chairman of the Board. They had a creed which was rather simplistic and well presented. This was dogma. The centuries passed and the plot thickened. You see there was money and power in this religious and more specifically Christian gig. The boys in red discovered they could keep everyone in line by really emphasizing the fire and brimstone. Nobody could read or write and that was fine with them. Just tell them what you want. And so it continued through the Dark Ages. Dogmatic? You bet.

Not everyone was subservient and God forbid some even started thinking on their own. This was the Renaissance. Guys like Copernicus and Gallileo were labeled whacks or more specifically heretics. Columbus said the world was round not flat. Artists started finding new colors on their palettes and the genie was out of the bottle. Theories were challenged and this wonderful thing called creativity was brought out of its long hibernation.

The hierarchy started to be put under close scrutiny and thank goodness they were. The dogma of the church was being dictated by the few in an incredibly restrictive way. This isn’t a shot at the church per se but the people who ruled it. This affected centuries of civilization and millions of people. It is fascinating to me that people like St Thomas More, St Augustine and Thomas Aquinas to name a few did not stand up out sooner.

Fast forward to the twenty first century. We are now discovering at a voracious clip. Not only are we being creative but the tools to do so are becoming more affordable and accessible. Globalization has made the continents and their inhabitants a click away. We are questioning but even more importantly dreaming dreams we never thought possible.

This is difficult to absorb for a lot of people, especially us old farts. We revel in how things used to be and a lot of us pine for the good old days. We find ourselves going back and either creating or reinstating dogmas of all sorts. Enter politics. Whether you are left or right you feel attacked and vulnerable. Remember it is a set of beliefs that have to be adhered to. One size fits all and nobody steps out of line.

Herein lies the basis of our discontent. On one hand you are saying toe the line and on the other your psyche says how exciting and dynamic the world is. The oracles claim infallibility. They know what conservative or liberal is and there is no room for discussion. You are with us or agin us. Moderates? There is no such thing. And I will tell you it not only restricts any creativity it squashes it flat before it can even bud. That’s unhealthy and naive. I find it beyond belief when one side or the other votes in lockstep in Congress. Are you telling me no man or woman legislator feels a pang of disingenuousness when they vote this way or that?

No, this isn’t one more potshot at DC. I think it is woven into our fabric elsewhere and it will stunt us in the long run. The code or shall I say the dogma of the locker room says you can’t speak up no matter which side you are taking. Cops have a Blue Wall. What about the corporate dogma that says this is the way we are doing it and if you don’t like it there’s the door? Haven’t the Armed Forces gone down this road for decades? Maybe you or I as parents and grandparents fall into the tender trap?

I am not opting for chaos but man is it great just to be able to sit here and let things fly. Jesuit 101 says you question something until you fully understand it and that my friends is the only way you can internalize it. TTG 101 says take off the shackles of tradition. Explore, debate and dream and just realize there are a lot of ways to skin the cat.

You do not have the final answer. You are not God’s gift to whatever world you operate in. Sure you are smart but so are a lot of other people. Mark Twain said we are all perfect just at different things. Rather than going out to the lunatic fringe of your philosophies let’s see where there are common threads. Create(and I stress that word) a new sense of things.

Look at the new corporations of today. They are collaborative and wide open. They let things come pouring out. Sure they might crash and burn but then again like Twitter they might just make it and then some. Dogma should set out basic precepts but don’t ever say they can’t be questioned. There’s always room for discussion. If it feels good to be unyielding and doctrinaire go for it. Me? I would much rather dream in technicolor than set my beliefs in black and white.

As always
Ted The Great

Our educational system is based on testing to see if the student can recite back exactly what the teacher has said. Da Vinci tried to live his life saying there are multiple answers to questions.
Neophobia: extreme or irrational fear or dislike of anything new, novel, or unfamiliar.This is exhibited in children with food pickiness and in the elderly with anything that is out of the ordinary which is the only way they can feel comfortable.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up”. Pablo Picasso
“All great deeds and all great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning.” — Albert Camus

We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” Kurt Vonnegut

“It is, in fact, nothing short of a miracle that the modern methods of instruction have not yet entirely strangled the holy curiosity of inquiry; for this delicate little plant, aside from stimulation, stands mainly in need of freedom. Without this it goes to wrack and ruin without fail.” Albert Einstein

“When in doubt, make a fool of yourself. There is a microscopically thin line between being brilliantly creative and acting like the most gigantic idiot on earth. So what the hell, leap.” Cynthia Heimel

It All Ads Up….

I am not up to superstar status with the TV remote but I am not bad either. I can tell when my flipping has reached astronomical proportions when Kathy’s sighs are not those of romance but of impending destruction of my brain. Listen we have 137 channels of TV to be watched. I just can’t let them sit idly by. I don’t have Dish TV so I have to screen out the ads by a flick of the fast forward button. 


There are times when you can’t avoid the barrage of subliminal messages. I don’t like watching football on tape and ditto for the news. While working out it is tough to zip from one channel to the other so I am stuck being sold to. And of course I now have to wait for the ads on my computer while bringing up Yahoo Mail or checking my account balances. Kathy does question the popups for “Meeting Singles in Your Area” or “Beautiful Women Over 50 are Dying To Meet You.” Dying might be the operative word. Anyway, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.


But how did they find me? Aha, a little thing called demographics. By responding to ads of any sort you are now caught in a web that is far more sophisticated than the NSA. It’s that little slice of society you belong to that is defined by your age, sexual preference, income, locale, party leanings etc. Several years ago at Vail I was delighted I didn’t have to carry cash or a credit card because it was imbedded in my ski pass. Then this mental giant discovered that they could trail me all over the mountain and Vail Village. You can’t erase it. You are a marked man or woman. 


Now this isn’t just hoidy toidy ski resorts. It’s your gas station, food store, church. You name it. If you look online or pay by card you are in the loop. But why go to all that trouble? Well it seems we spend over $500 billion on advertising every year. Right now about $100 billion of that is spent on line and growing. The more direct it can be the more successful it is or at least the theory goes. Ask an ad man how much you should spend on advertising and you get the Buffalo Shuffle. 


Enough about theory, what strikes me about advertising is manyfold. Getting back to that demographic thing it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out football selling. Booze,Brats and Broads. Oh yeah and big ass pick up trucks. Testosterone is in the air and on the TV. But then as I watch Fox News the products of the day are scooters for the disabled, gold bullion, and of course my favorite, portable catheters. The latter is a sleek new design and they will send you a free sample. Ugh! Rounding out the lineup are reverse mortgages and disability lawyers. Hmm I wonder what that means about Fox watchers? CNN is bad but not quite as.


Speaking of lawyers you gotta love the unabashed commercialism of auto accidents and supermarket falls. During the local evening news there is not one but several slime balls coming on the screen with heartfelt sympathy for your pain. “Frank Azar will get you the money you deserve”. “Frank got me $2.5 million.” This of course by an industry that places their standards so high they put Esquire after their name. 


There is one product that seemingly transcends every program genre. Erectile Disfunction tablets or more specifically Cialis and that little blue bomber, Viagra. This obviously crosses the line between privacy and incredulity but it actually is pretty funny. As any hot blooded American male will agree what else would you think of when you are cleaning the garage, painting a room or that old stand by doing the dishes? We then pan from that to dual claw foot tubs looking off into the sunset. I tried to get my old neighbor to go joint account with me on two of those babies(the tubs) but he turned me down. He’s a lawyer and was concerned about the liability aspect. Which brings up another touchy subject. “If you have an erection that lasts over four hours seek medical help.” Forget calling the doc. If it was me I’d be calling a press conference.But I digress. 


The basis of all advertising is to try to sell you something you don’t really need. They prey upon the basest of instincts, your ego or taken to the adverse, your lack of self esteem. You cannot get the girl without drinking this beer or driving this car. Want to look like a movie star? Dye your hair, lose weight and get a Victoria Secret push up bra. It’s easy. On the other hand if you want to remain a slug or a hag feel free to do so. I think there was one company that was using real live ordinary people for their ads for soap or shampoo. I wonder how that went? 


The bottom line is simple. We get bombarded day and night with messages to buy STUFF. That’s okay. It is the American way no matter how seedy that seems. It is for the most part never never land. You are not going to shoot 75 with your new irons. You can’t lose weight overnight. The rush from new car smell or a new dining room set is fleeting. You don’t need things to define you. Things don’t have soul. You do. I wish we would advertise that but then again there is no real money in it.


As Always

Ted The Great



Definitions.. YUPPIE of course a young urban professional. DINK…dual income no kids. SINK…single income no kids. SUNK….single income, lots of kids. Boomerang kids…leave home and come back. 


New products and promotions are best introduced on TV. Reselling of old products to loyal customers is best accomplished on social media. Nobody talks of radio anymore. 


2/3 of consumers say the best medium is TV. Only 1/2 of marketers agree. What do we know? 

Advertisers spend $168 per phone in advertising. They spend $230 per TV. The most effective advertising of all is personal recommendation from a friend. This can account for over 75% of all sales. 



Cure For Cancer….

I am giving blood platelets this afternoon. It’s nothing special but it’s nice to be loved. Actually I’m a universal donor and the nurses truly seem happy to see me. The process is simple. They take blood out of you, strip out the good stuff and then return whatever is left to your veins and it courses throughout your decrepit body. I wonder if they know all the bad things I have done to that corpus over the years?

I first started doing it as a matter of routine until I found out it was an urgent need for cancer victims. I know a lot of people with and some who have died from the big “C” so it gave me added incentive. As you lie there for an hour and half to two hours you can’t help but think. And then, Shazam! I’ve got it! I am going to send these little suckers to Uncle Sam.

All along I have thought the government has been slowly sucking me dry. I got it wrong. There are cancers everywhere in DC that need to be healed. The Executive Branch. The Legislative Branch. Of course the Judicial Branch. Committees. Under, under, under Secretaries. The Military. Now I know why we have the NIH. Just you wait friends. The cure, not the end is near.

Let’s start with 1600 Pennsylvania. Now this is probably overstating the obvious but I think the prognosis is advanced brain cancer with a touch of Alzheimers on the side. Nobody in their right mind could screw things up this badly. About five years ago these guys and girls came in with a new approach. They were going to be transparent. They were going to be for us. They were in great physical shape. Say Amen and join the choir. Change you can believe in. Right.

The honeymoon didn’t last long. There was aberrant behavior almost from the get go. One of the first hires was Rahm Emanuel. Yeek! It seemed to be affecting every one of them. Was it a virus? AIDS? Drug addiction? Nope. A fatal tumor in the cerebellum blocking any rational thought. Stage four. No chemo. No radiation. Radical surgery was the only answer. We used to call them lobotomies but we are much more touchy feely now. It is also the perfect out. Benghazi? Can’t remember. Did I tell you that you could keep your insurance? Couldn’t have said that. NSA? Who are they. One down and several to go.

Legislate this. As we race down Constitution Ave. in our NIH meat wagon we have another epidemic. Congress is wandering around like Jews in the desert. They have no idea where they are going and Moses is on sabbatical. Factions of all sorts are cropping up and everyone thinks they are the Messiah. They are all grabbing their posteriors and babbling. Is this the gift of tongues or the sign of something worse?

Maybe it’s the food? It might be in the water? Sorry gang but they all have colorectal cancer. What to do with such a disaster? Spend money. What else?. We can find a cure they say. Who needs a plan? Just start the project and we will come up with details as we go along. Terminal? Maybe, but we can drag this thing out for years without facing the Reaper. Uh Oh. The docs have the same damn Bama solution. The KNIFE.

For once Chuck Schumer didn’t want to grab the microphone and go first. He said he was tied up. Sorry Charlie, you are it. Drop your drawers. Where is Anthony Wiener when we need him? They wheeled him in to the Congressional operating room. There was gold and marble everywhere. Plenty of food and lobbyists showering money. When they cut him open they only found two moving parts…his mouth and his rectum. And miraculously they were both mutually interchangeable. Praise Jesus, we have another cure. It turns out they are all built that way. We have an ample supply of both inside the Beltway. The country is safe.

Last stop is the Supreme Court. It is the final resort for a lot of people. You get the feeling the jig is already up. They are all dressed in black. Ginsberg looks comatose. Thomas hasn’t said a word in years. What medic in his right mind wants to examine Scalia or Sotomayor? Let’s just leave them all alone. The Founding Fathers wrote it all down. All they have to do is opine for hours on end and everyone else will die from waiting. Roe v Wade said abortion was okay. Need I say more.

Now I know you are all on the edge of your seats. Some of you might even be praying but you don’t have to tell us what outcome you are pulling for. The docs say they need a lot of rest. Duh? Congress is only planning on working 140 days this year. Barry’s gang it would seem has been on vacation since they passed Affordable Healthcare. Maybe they can take three years for medical leave. Death may be imminent for any one of the justices.

Let’s let sleeping dogs lie. Let’s just go about our business on a state and local level. We survived, hurricanes, floods and forest fires. I hate to say it but ignoring them is the best possible strategy. I would love to throw the bums out but too many of you are too interested in what forty years in Congress can bring your state or district. I get it but let’s just hope we have cut to the margins and this ugly mass won’t metastasize.

As always
Ted The Great

Under the ACA the Obama administration told Congress that it would allow the federal government to continue paying a large share of the cost of health insurance for members of Congress and their aides, averting a problem for many who work on Capitol Hill. However, under the arrangement, lawmakers and many of their aides will have to get coverage through new health insurance marketplaces, or exchanges, being set up in every state. The government stipend calls for $5-11,000 subsidy.

In addition to the Bethesda Naval Hospital, in town hospitals Like GW and Georgetown University have been equipped with the latest and greatest in diagnostic and treatment facilities. Purely coincidence.

After serving as an advisor to Bill Clinton, in 1998 Rahm Emanuel resigned from his position in the Clinton administration and joined the investment banking firm Wasserstein Perella, where he worked until 2002.Although he did not have an MBA degree or prior banking experience, he became a managing director at the firm’s Chicago office in 1999, and according to Congressional disclosures, made $16.2 million in his two-and-a-half-years as a banker.
Emanuel was named to the Board of Directors of Freddie Mac by President Clinton in 2000. He earned at least $320,000 during his time there, including later stock sales.During Emmanuel’s time on the board, Freddie Mac was plagued with scandals involving campaign contributions and accounting irregularities. The Obama Administration rejected a request under the Freedom of Information Act to review Freddie Mac board minutes and correspondence during Emanuel’s time as a director.

Now this is a great example of a cancer not in remission but raging. Don’t worry folks there are stories on both sides of the fence. Remember Scooter Libby? Tom DeLay? Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.