Penguins and Seahawks

A couple of weeks ago there wasn’t much on the tube so we cranked up our new Apple TV and saw a rerun of “March of the Penguins”. Narrated by Morgan Freeman it was beyond fascinating. The Emperor penguins travel back to the same spot in Antarctica every year to breed. They mate and in an elaborate dance the mother passes off the fertilized egg to the male much like Peyton is going to tuck the pigskin into Keshown Moreno this weekend. The male then keeps the egg warm for a period of three months all the while standing without any food and in temperatures reaching -60F. Talk about Mr. Mom. The female returns some 80 miles to the sea to search for food to replenish the stock. Incredible.

The remarkable teamwork was  stark contrast to Richard Seymour’s version of events last weekend. Now this is not a pile on of the aforementioned Seahawk. We all have our styles. A few of his 50-60 teammates and coaches probably chuckled. A few were probably more than hacked off inside. It was like he won the game singlehandedly. Not. More importantly it struck a chord of my thinking lately…the difference between collaboration and competition. Which is the better way?

Let’s assume for the moment our future on many fronts is going to be determined by innovation and discovery. What  is the best way to get there? We will have to find new sources of energy, water and food. We will have to figure out how to make our current resources go further. We will continue to strive in finding ways to cure disease and maybe clean up our environment. Our educational system has to come up with a better way to deliver the product. Both qualitatively and quantitatively.

I am struck by cancer research. Each university or hospital group as well as the biotech industry is looking for the cure. Instead of attacking the same problem on divergent  fronts what if we poured all our monies into funding research on specific cancers by majoring so to speak in this or that? MD Anderson would concentrate on lung cancer. You want to study it you go there. Sloane Kettering can work on the brain. Brigham Women’s, breast cancer. Are we making more progress or less having a number of groups work on the same problem? Some might say lone rangers offer different approaches and the competition is what makes them tick. Others consider this a tragic waste of resources. Not so simple is it?

It is noted that a city like Denver has about 650,000 residents but has a large number of hospitals are doing heart surgery, cancer treatments and stroke rehab in competition with one anther. On the heart front it is ironic that as more hospitals push their group there are actually less surgeries by a given doctor. If he or she is doing less procedures are they as proficient?

Now we go to the purely human side. If I compete solo and win is it the same euphoria as having put together a team and having all share equally in the glory? An interesting wrinkle on this is the Ryder Cup. The USA is a group of superstars both in perception and actuality. They arrive separately and practice alone. The Europeans are more like a fraternity house. They travel by motor coach rather than limos. They clown around and seem to enjoy each other’s company greatly. The results are obvious.

My family felt that way to me but probably moreso by my birthing order of number four out of five. I had a well known father and successful and popular brothers and sister. Sibling rivalries aside I wonder if we really understood each other’s strengths or were we trying to beat each other out. I do look back and wonder if we had put something together that tapped into all those talents where we would be now? It’s crazy but not as whether or not we would be richer monetarily but personally?

Are we an efficient society or should we even debate the concept? If my history serves me right  we first started as pilgrims of a sort. We came in one or two ships at a time not by arrivals or departures per hour. We settled in colonies for security as well as survival. We didn’t have every body doing their own thing but splitting up according to need and abilities. I guess you could argue if this was the best business model or not but hey we are here today.

Egos play an important part. We want to excel and be rewarded but if we have a good team doesn’t that count for something? It’s been said that competition breeds speed but at the same time stress. Collaboration begets accuracy and self esteem. Every one wants to do their thing until they are in trouble and then they reach for help wherever they can find it. As a matter of fact they demand it. Interesting to say the least.

A few weeks ago Fr. Pat threw out the idea of a self made man or woman. You know I got to where I am all by myself. But then think about the means to that goal and how many people went into preparing that meal you dine on or building your house and the materials in it? Who wove the fabric for your suit or designed and built the 80 inch TV you are watching? You can hit a baseball or golf ball but who made the clubs and the ball and the tee and the bag and your shoes? How many little people are in that organization that got you to the top? Penguin or Seahawk? Now come on, you know who I am picking.

As always

Ted The Great


In recent disasters non governmental aid organizations (NGO’s) competed with one anther for notoriety and impact made. You see if they were out in front then they would get more donations to further their cause.

100,000 people die in the US as a result of errors in medical treatment. There is no malfeasance here but rather a decision made with or probably without collaboration. I know what I am doing and don’t you dare question my diagnosis.

Our method of government is based on competition. Each side puts forward their platform of ideas and solicits the public to back them. If they win the spoils are theirs and if they lose they spend the next two to four years trying to thwart the enemy. Collaboration does imply working for the common good.

There have been a number of critiques on “March of The Penguins” ranging from the moralistic to monogamy, prostitution, child abuse and the entire social order. What a dope I am. I just watched it for the fun of it.

Some of the most innovative companies we have in the US, Apple, Google, Facebook, IBM,3M  fall under the heading of collaborative.

150 Posts and Counting…..

I am sure you might wonder from time to time,”What the hell is that screwball up to now?” A fair question to be sure. Some of you poor souls have read all if not most of my epistles. I am not sure if you should be commended or committed. But to put on paper what is actually going on in Ted’s Head is not as easy as it sounds.

I really like to change my beliefs or premises. Maybe challenge is a better word so I don’t sound like a total flake. I am always amazed when someone runs for office that their writing or speeches from twenty or thirty years ago come under great scrutiny. We jump on them for any inconsistencies. Can you really say you feel exactly the same way about things as you did ten, twenty or thirty years ago? I hope not.

Now is the above waffling or doing some critical thinking? I’ll let you decide that, but to be alive I feel that I must be open to suggestion of new facts or interpretations. There is a theory of neuroplasticity that I believe makes sense. Basically your mind can learn new ways of thinking and acquire entirely different pathways. This is regenerative and useful in not only the physical sense for a stroke victim per se but also in the purely cognitive sense. Axons and dendrites are forming and reforming no matter how old. That’s a good thing.

This really scares some people. To have a time honored way of doing things threatened and possibly being considered faulty is beyond the realm. We get so cozy and comfortable in our personal easy chairs that a cocoon rather than open space becomes the norm. I have to push myself at times. I have to shake myself from repetitive doldrums. But the overriding aspect of all of this is that I and we can change. Your DNA doesn’t make you a pain in the ass or a good person. You do.

What? Come on. You don’t have any idea all the troubles I have seen. Indeed I am aware. I have picked myself up from some pretty ugly situations. But the resilience of the soul is probably the thing that intrigues me the most and at the same time gives me faith. I can rue the past or dream about the future but I tend to think in the present. Right now I am having too much fun writing and trying to verbalize thoughts we all have. I am trying to challenge you and me both. I don’t want to think about three paragraphs ago much less three years in time. Tomorrow? Who the hell knows. I might get hit by a truck. Rock on TTG. Rock on.

We sold our lovely old home at 701 Williams this fall.  I swore I would be taken out feet first of that one but I lied or didn’t give enough thought to my red line. We have totally changed our lifestyle.  We live in a condo. We lock the door and leave. Not our old friends just the domicile. Many of them think we are nuts. Well maybe just me and Kathy by association. My buddies Dick and Bill don’t understand our wanderlust. It’s just us.

It’s unknown but it is exciting. There is a mystery and vibrancy to life that keeps my poor brain going. I hope it never ends. One friend says he gets tired just hearing about all of my efforts. But it is not an effort but pure joy. Last fall I spent a few days with a dear friend and his fabulous new wife. We reminisced but also thought of all things cosmic. We peppered each other with questions and probes that some might take offense at. Everything was fair game and we all rose to the occasion. It simply felt great to be alive.

I learned so much. About them. About a sleepy town called Providence. Maybe it was Divine but it got my mind revved up about Denver. It’s risky to think this way. You mean I might not live in the greatest place in the world? Or at least know that there might be others? I listened to different slants on life and thought how cool. It wasn’t a threat to my credos but maybe taking a piece here or there could add new relevance. If this is crazy I am loving it.

I am reading a book called Superbrain. Not about a computer but us. Without getting evangelistic it is interesting to realize all the processes going on in this Corpus Delectable. Heart, lungs, nerves, intestines (Yuck!) all firing at different times but somehow making this crazy thing work. But as automatic as it sounds there are a gazillion points of input where we control. You want to feed your body or your mind garbage go ahead. Reality is not predestined but simply what we make of it. You can take the best or worst situations and view them positively or negatively.

This is #150. Who knows how many more before my feeble brain gives out? I shouldn’t be counting. I hope I have made some of you think. I hope I have brought a smile. I hope I have put a little fire in your belly. Lastly, I hope you realize how much your comments, support and even the criticisms have helped me get better at what I do. You keep me very much alive. I hope I have done the same. And that is what Ted’s Head is all about.

As always

Ted The Great.


This Thursday 1/23/14 marks our 43 wedding anniversary. Kathy is being nominated for a Purple Heart and Congressional Medal of Honor. Please support her.

The brain can actually heal itself. In treating people with severe brain damage or even partial lobotomies it has been demonstrated that different parts of the brain have taken on new functions to compensate for the missing part. I still have hope.

The human brain has 100 billion neurons. They multiply in a fetus at a rate of 250,000 per minute during the early stages of pregnancy. We have over 10,000 taste buds. There are over 40 million olfactory receptor cells.

We tend to reinforce our beliefs and respond positively to information doing so. We think about how information fits into our puzzle rather thinking about a new and different picture. This actually has a name….narrow minded thinking.

Flip Flops

Lincoln said he would never split the union over slavery.

Michael Bloomberg was a Democrat, then Republican, then???

Bill Clinton said he never had sex with that woman.

Bill Belichik  thought Wes Welker was s beautiful person..

Richard Sherman was sane.

“The mind that opens itself to a new idea never returns to its original size”… Albert Einstein

Here’s Hoping…..

When you work in hospice hope is not an everyday word. There is a resignation but also a beauty to the process that life plays itself out. I am an incredibly optimistic person so I find it somewhat unusual that I like what I do. Actually it helps me pepper my positive vibes with a dose of pragmatism. It keeps me in line.

I have been thinking a lot about this hope thing. There was a guy from Hope, Arkansas but if you know me that is not where I am going. Also I and a lot of other people got caught up in the Hope and Change thing but that was a nasty letdown. But for so many of us hope is the thing that keeps you going. Young,old. Rich,poor. It goes beyond winning the Powerball. It is an absolute belief things can get better.

In football if you are from Cleveland, Houston or even New York it has to get better. Too many baseball seasons seem shot by the Fourth of July both in Denver and Chicago. But what I am talking about goes well beyond national pastimes. It is sometimes the stark realization if you are not born on the right side of the tracks or in the right town that you are never going to get out. Ouch.

I heard on the radio the other day a woman in Chicago speaking about her losses. She had four sons, the oldest of which made it to 32 years old. Each and every one of them had been gunned down on the mean streets. It’s ironic on New Year’s Day as a city Denver mourned a beautiful 18 year old who had been gunned down in school. She had such a wonderful future as an equestrian who competed at our yearly Stock Show. What sort of a future did those boys have? Ooops, I forgot. Their deaths were a logical outcome not a tragedy.

Now pragmatism tells me this is the way life is. If you can’t escape the urban bowels so be it. There are winners and losers in every game. Survival of the fittest. While a convenient theory the soulful me asks is this civil ? Does compassion fly in the face of  survivalism? Sorry, but I can’t just say tough shit. It is not a bleeding heart liberalism that grabs me but a realization that I am a part of humanity. If not I or maybe all of us have a much larger problem.

There are stories every day of people looking for work. Now I know there are malingerers and nee’r do wells. They play the system and work the angles. And trust me they really piss me off. But there is also some poor devil who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. He was a steady Eddie who no longer was relevant. Something went wrong for the company or he was replaced by some sort of machine. We can look the other way and say there but for the grace of God go I. Lately the realist and the soft hearted slob in me don’t collide but meet at a crossroads.

Hope is the thing that helps us move forward. It keeps us churning and burning and coming up to bat although we have been doing nothing but striking out. It says make one more call or knock on one more door. I was building houses in the early 80’s in the middle of 15% mortgage rates. Housing starts were down to multi year lows at 900,000. I thought I don’t need 900,000 but just 4 or 5. Somebody had to be buying. And it worked. Yet I have a scary feeling today is different.

I am a capitalist as most of you are. It’s a free country and the world is your oyster. I also have a feeling the economic theory that has served us so well is in danger of running amok. I had a vision of this well oiled machine that keeps churning out products at a fair profit. Take care of people and they will take care of you. But we have a fly in the ointment and it is called greed. In an effort to wring every last dollar out of the process we have optimized and marginalized. Management has cut to the bone and put the cash in the bank. Looks good on the balance sheet but a little on the  short side I fear when it comes to innovation and invention.

As consumers we have done the same. In searching out the cheapest price we have put so many mom and pops out of business. What goes around comes around. The big boxes and bricks and mortar are now being beaten by the likes of Amazon. I love progress but it really does have its problems. Maybe the madness blows up in a fierce conflagration and we just start over again? I dunno.

My solution is this. First is the job market. People have to retrain and relocate. Go where the jobs are. If it means leaving family and friends, you gotta go. Try something different. Be a tradesman. Call a plumber or an electrician or mechanic. See how long it takes to get an appointment or bid? There’s demand.  Sorry but the law degree or MBA does not guarantee success any longer.

This is far reaching. The jobs so many of us used to have are gone. Yes, you heard me. They are no longer. It is a reality that neither we as a people or a government have come to grips with. Worst of all is the fact for a large portion of our populace their standard of living has to change. That is such a bitter pill to absorb but it is more like a truth serum than castor oil. And yes in that moment of sobriety comes another expression of hope.

Secondly, corporations have to put money to work. If they hoard it or just buy back stock it may look good in the quarter but long term it is disastrous. The Supreme Court says corporations are people when it comes to campaign finance. Let’s let them act that way instead of some impersonal resource consuming monolith. As for executive salaries it comes under my definition of obscene wealth. Make money the old fashioned way…earn it, not coin it. Don’t roll your eyes. You know exactly what I am talking about.

Hope is an emotion. It is something in your soul. It is in all of us no mater how desperate our situation. It must be nurtured and respected. But we have to make sure it is there and not just a pipe dream. Hope begets change and innovation and in that prosperity. But we ALL have to be part of it. Not redistributing but sharing. Big difference. Otherwise hope is just an empty promise that can’t be kept. The antonym of hope is despair. I just can’t go there.

As always

Ted The Great


Here in Denver $15-20 per hour jobs are waiting to be filled. We are adding to our light rail system but a combination of a dearth of immigrant labor and people competent in concrete finishing have put us behind.

The unemployment rate in Yuma, AZ is 31%. 700 miles north in Logan,UT it is 4.6%. Bismark,ND, 2.8%. Ditto Sioux Falls, SD. The US Postal Service in Denver is advertising for jobs @$21 per hour. Want ads show jobs for truck drivers, receptionists, bank tellers, technical writers and ramp supervisors fro Southwest Airlines. There are not enough lawyers in Nevada, Wyoming and Alaska. Too many elsewhere but you knew that.

A 2011 study by the CBO found that the top earning 1 percent of households increased their income by about 275% after federal taxes and income transfers over a period between 1979 and 2007, compared to a gain of just under 40% for the 60 percent in the middle of America’s income distribution. Since then most of the growth is going to an extraordinarily small share of the population: 95% of the gains from the recovery have gone to the richest 1% of people. This may be good for them but really bad fro the rest. That’s not Intro toPopulism but Advanced Economics….and I don’t even have an MBA.


“Balls”, said the queen. “If I had them I’d be king.” What an interesting word. Without getting into anatomy 101 let’s contemplate spheroids.

The obvious are sports objects. But when we think of a football it is oblong and not circular. Cogitating even  further you forget whether you could be talking about soccer or the USA brand. They all seem to have seams and some even have laces. They spiral. They rotate.

Now baseballs are great but we always want to improve them fresh out of the box. There is some kind of river mud that umpires apply to every shiny new one to make them appear dirty. I’ll accept that but who decides when the ball is too dirty to be used in the game? The same guy who soiled them in the first place. Sounds like job security.

Awhile back Mr Doubleday said they had to be so wide and the seams just so but who had any sort of measuring device to make sure they were all perfect in the early 1900’s? Some clever guys discovered if you loaded them up with saliva they did some strange things and prolonged the pitcher’s career. They banned that idea soon thereafter. Purity of the game.

Then they tried Vaseline which was also the hair tonic that cool guys doused themselves with back in the day. How were they  to know that rubbing their hair and  balls ( remember we are talking baseballs) at the same time would do anything? Ditto gaping holes created by belt buckles and sand paper. You thought they were all dumb jocks.

In the wonderful world of golf before Bubba Watson, the objet d’art was a thing called a featherie. It was a bunch of feathers sewn into a wad of leather. Next there was the gutta percha which was just a ball of rubber they painted. Then some savant decided there could be a good use for rubber bands and he wound the longest rubber band into the middle of the little white capsule. Of course we as kids could not wait to perform surgery on the good old Spalding Dot and unwind that baby from end to end.

Now tennis balls were a whole other matter. They were white as the driven snow and the country club tennis ensemble. No colors allowed which of course had a lot of connotations in the days of white shoe WASP establishments. Then Jimmy Connors et al decided to shake up the high brow set and we went to orange and the effervescent yellow of today.

One time in a fit of cosmic thinking I tried to imagine how many balls were in the air throughout the world? Just think of all these things defying gravity? Of course they all fell back to earth at some point. This was both in a literal and figurative way. But I digress.

Now we also have balls as in parties. Many are debutante soirees where a young lady is introduced to society. The lovely lass is escorted by her dad usually and a host of whackadoo collegians. The latter’s sole purpose was to drink heavily and be available to dance with some stuffy old lady or the deb herself if they were still able to stand.

I actually attended one of these fetes at the Garden City Hotel. White tie and tail. A couple of my father’s buddies, Art Florence and Bill Dailey, decided I should juice up my act. Bill had a top hat and cape that he added to the pot. Artie wanted me to wear a ribbon sash with a few old war medals but I begged off on that affectation. I do have my standards. Any way I was a big hit with the guy at the Greenvale Diner at 6:00 AM while I was trying to sit steady on the stool all the while popping the top hat in his face.

Now you could say from time to time I am on the ball. Where the hell did this come from? Some people think it refers to being on the ball of your feet. That is the large protuberance from your foot just aft of your big toe and forward of your instep. It’s supposed to give you get up and go power. Not the right answer.

It actually comes from keeping your eye on the ball. In most sports it is a must. You can’t not look at a baseball coming at you at 100 miles per hour. In golf your best excuse for screwing up a shot is “I looked up” thereby avoiding the reality you have a lousy swing. I was playing tennis one time with former Aussie pro Colin Dibley. We had a great game and then your favorite smart ass here started chiding him about his serve. You see he held the world record for fastest serve of 134 mph and he had not displayed it in our match. He told me to stand back in the return court and if I could get a racket on any of the three he whistled at me, he would buy dinner. After the second one I was just standing with my Wilson T whatever protecting my you know whats.

Well I guess if you have gotten this far you realize that I am now balls up. That is really any disastrous situation. The balls referred to are NOT testicles. The term dates from the days of wooden sailing ships when the existence of a shipboard disaster, such as plague, lack of food or water, mutiny, etc. was communicated to the outside world by hoisting largish, brightly painted wooden balls up into the rigging. Balls of different colors represented different disasters and therefore served as either requests for assistance or warnings to stay clear. How do I get out of here?

Now before you start bawling I will go. But just think all of you slugs with minds in the gutter way back in the beginning when I just said the word “balls”. We all let our mind wander this way or that. And honestly it is a good thing. No politics or angst this week. Just fun.  I hope Ted’s Head  got you into just a little bit of crazy thinking. We need it every now and then.

As always

Ted The Great


Ted’s Head was viewed over 5500 times last year. There are some 300 lost souls that read it from time to time. They actually come from 40 countries and I am sure many are involved in Al Quaeda, Hammas, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Tea Party. This is #148 and counting. The post, “Would You Date An Undertaker?” received the most comments.

I would ask you to take your email list and just once send them either a copy of Ted’s Head or just the address:

I would love to add to our bunch of loonies, not for self-aggrandisement but just to try to get more people thinking. On second thought maybe you should wait a week.