Wish I Was There…

Note: My most wonderful friend Tom Cousins died of a massive heart attack Saturday in Denver. He was briefly on life support and then passed in the afternoon.Kathy and I are in Hawaii and there is no flight that can get me home in time for his funeral. If Ted’s Head is about what happens to be on my mind at a particular moment then this is all that has been on my mind since Saturday. I hope you understand.
Wish I Was There…

As opposed to wish you were here…. in Hawaii. Cousins always had a flair for the dramatic. During our stay he had been emailing me at 5:00AM in the morning Hawaii time from Command Central in Broomfield. He would say in disbelief, “Are you in a different time zone?” Really,Tom?

We loved to chat on the phone. He would call and as I picked it up and barked in a gruff voice,”What do you want?” (he loved it when I was petulant) he would always come back an exaggerated “Teddddddy” We would go on about this topic or that. He would listen to my rantings and ravings about something in the news and then he would take off on his own tear. After a period of insanity we would always laugh.I could hear his giant grin over the phone. I can still see it now. Kathy would always ask, incredulously “Who was that on the phone?” Cousins, of course.

It was the same smile and handshake that was omnipresent as I would walk into that den of iniquity, Churchills at the Brown Palace. He was almost like a political boss assembling his troops in some smoke filled room….literally. As John Horan put it, he was a chemist at getting people in the right spot to get the conversation going. He would have a cup of tea or a diet Coke until he gave the proverbial “Well,I will have just one”.

He would tell me to come down and it would just be me and him or maybe John for a quiet get together. When you got there, the table numbered at least 7 or 8. He would corral one reprobate after another and too often got stiffed with the bill because he was always such a big hearted knucklehead. I still say he had the best Rolodex in Denver.

I would bring my own stick but he always had this cigar or that hidden in the cherry humidor that was brought out for him and Horan. The robusto had some strange name and he had the requisite story to go with it. You could almost see it being rolled in some far away cigar factory. He was the consummate politician and salesman rolled into one. He was simply the best.

When Horan called me on Saturday morning I sat there in disbelief as he described the tragedy in the making. It was as if someone belted me in the stomach. I sent an email to some of you and as I hit the send button I hesitated as I wanted to make sure I had heard things correctly. This couldn’t be….but it was.

I kept eying my phone for John to tell me that it was over. His daughter Leigh had made it in some miraculous way from LA. God bless that airline, however it worked. His son Tommy and his loving wife Diane had their time to say good bye. In a horribly selfish vein I wish I had mine. Kathy and I played golf for nothing more than something to do. The news of Tom’s passing flashed as I got to eighteenth tee. I cracked one of my best drives ever. Then I had a bit of difficulty on my next few shots. It is hard to see the ball through tear filled eyes.

Later on I went down to the beach, lit a cigar and began to sip on a very stiff vodka and tonic. I called Horan and as we talked I began to really cry. The crescendo of emotion overwhelmed me. This was simply heartbreaking. I felt for John and Andrea and Tommy and Leigh. Most of all I felt for Diane. She had called me and I could not believe she had the presence to do so. We chatted briefly because she sounded so tired and wrung out. Yet she described the whole day and I was beyond gratified. Somehow she knew I wanted to be there.

It had been cloudy all day here in more ways than one. The ominous storm clouds went all the way to the horizon. But as I sat there on the shore, thin shafts of light began to pierce the gloom. Then they got larger and before you know it there was a whole lotta sunshine streaming down. The Big Boy was already working his magic.

If I was with friends at the wake on Wednesday night, I would recount some of the tomfoolery (no play on words) of our fishing trips to Black Lake. Tom organized a dozen or so screwballs for this annual trip. He saw to every detail. He was so incredibly thoughtful of everything. After cocktails he would preside over dinner but giving everyone their do. He would feed you a question and he knew you would take the ball and run with it. He was an artist and this was his canvas and he was truly in all his glory.

The most important thing to note once again was his ever present huge smile. He had the heartiest of laughs that I always describe as a “belly laugh”.It came from his generous gut but more importantly it came from his soul. He was a showman, a provocateur and a Damon Runyon like character. He just had that way.

He was so happy son Tommy had moved to Denver. I would catch him micromanaging every so often but he was just so proud of him. He was looking forward to Leigh’s wedding in California and you could see the wheels already turning as he was probably planning out the seating arrangements.

Most importantly was Diane. She was always so caring and loving and most of all accepting of all his screwball moves. A lot of wives tolerate their husbands, mine included. Diane seems to revel in it. Who else would travel to a cocktail party and dinner in Chicago with people you didn’t really know? She even showed up at the “Church” one afternoon with His Nibs nowhere in sight. My and Kathy’s heart goes out to her.

I will close now before I get incredibly sad all over again. I will go to mass at a little church Thursday morning at 7:00 AM which will coincide with the 10:00 funeral in Denver. I will pray for my buddy but just as much for Diane, Tommy,Leigh, John and Andrea Horan and all of us for what we have lost. Rest in peace, brother. We love you.

As always
Ted The Great

Think About It

Posted from the Kohala Coast,Hawaii

I have been confined to quarters. It is my own doing. No, I did not get arrested nor fall ill. On Tuesday I got this brilliant idea I was going to take a run. Now mind you, heretofore I might take a two or two and a half mile jog but this day I was going to do more. I ran 4.6 miles and didn’t feel too bad. Of course when I got back I had to do my weight routine. Then to finish things off nicely I played 18 holes of golf. You get the picture. Most of my major muscle groups are frozen in place.

Looking for the most comfortable chair I could find, I chose the veranda off our room. I settled in with nothing more than my notebook. I looked out over this resort and marveled that a couple of decades ago someone saw these acres of lava and envisioned greenery and villas and homes. This whole concept of creativity got in my brain. It seems to me it is not especially new ideas but a different way of looking at things. Kind of like Leonardo’s Curiositae. I was going to give things a closer look.

DaVinci’s best exercise is to see how many different shades of green you can see in a landscape. There are a bunch. Then I heard the sounds of birds. Not just the loudmouth outside our window but all sorts of shrill tweets and perhaps a melodious coo here and there. What were they saying to each other? Was it romance or a dire warning of predators nearby. My senses piqued and I began to just look and listen. The cacaphony was stunning and the vista came alive in a totally different way.

Scribbling frantically I happened to think of my little environ. I looked at the chair I was sitting in and wondered where it came from. It was a plastic rattan and that alone made it a product that was formed from a petroleum derivative. How many people and materials went in to manufacturing and transporting this one object on this porch. The cushions? How was the material woven and who made the dye to form the pattern. There were designers and factory workers, middlemen, shipping clerks and loaders and drivers. Jeez Louise this is getting nuts.

I continued on as I had a new insight into construction and supply chains. The windows, doors, door hardware, bannisters, counters, appliances, appliance parts, phones, TVs. All were the fruits of a bunch of different people’s labors. Probably thousands of mere mortals had some hand in this condo and I dare say I was one of a infinitesimal group of people whoever gave it a thought. When I looked down my scribblings already consumed four pages and this was after no more than 15-20 minutes.

I would go on to think of the tourist industry. The hotels, buses, planes, flight crews, ground crews, controllers, executives, marketing, reservationists, golf carts, golf clubs. Yadda Yadda Yadda. It is astounding how many people I come into contact with and never give a thought as to their whereabouts or welfare. Never stoped to say hello or thank you. Imagine if we did? We are so short, impatient, demanding, obtuse and uninterested. Perfectly understandable in our frenetic world but still sad.

Now some will say I am creative but I would like to tell you that we all are. I can prove it. Several years ago Kathy and I went to an Italian restaurant in Vail with some old friends. They were teachers in a local school and they would laugh at the start of dinner waiting for one of TTG’s leading questions. The tables were covered with white butcher paper and every seating got an ample supply of crayons. Perfect for kids just like us.

This time I decided to put a word in the middle of the paper. It could have been Vail or mountain or Italian. It didn’t make any difference. Then in rapid fire I asked each one to give me a word that came to mind. I started drawing strings of words at a feverish pace. We might go back to the center and try a whole new track. This went on for about fifteen minutes and of course now fueled by some vino we could probably use some more paper. In the long run we had been creative and just let our imaginations run loose without any fear of judgment or retribution.

As I cogitate about this we might be onto something. Get a large piece of paper and try it yourself. Bring other members of the family or perhaps a work team. Kids are the best because they are totally uninhibited. There are no economic boundaries. Rich man, poor man. Mansion or hovel. We are talking paper and crayons and nothing more except our God given brains. In a school or office we don’t have any expense except for a white board and some markers.

Two things happen here. There is a sense of collaboration that we all did something. Almost as if we were making a tapestry, mural or mosaic. We can look at it and take pride. We break down walls between us and get a new appreciation of the other person. The fantastic part is that is in there and we now have a perfect way to get it out. Granted there will be naysayers and stick in the muds but hey, they will miss out on all the fun.

Now all of this started by my looking around and trying to see better what had been there all along. I am not special. It does not take an MBA or PHD. The marvelous thing called our brain just needs to be brought out of cold storage. It is exhilarating and doesn’t require a computer or game console to reach those heights. The world is a fantastic place all on its own. Just think about it.

As always
Ted The Great


3M Corporation is the epitome of creativity in the business world. One of its strengths is how it treats promising employees: give them opportunities, support them, and watch them learn and thrive. They literally sit around and bounce ideas off one another. Trial and error is encouraged. Probably 90% of their ideas are shelved or trashed but it is the process that makes them great.

We are actually thinking about 50% of the time. Most of us are plagued with thoughts that arise seemingly without cause.It’s not ADD but part of our multi tasking, intrusive world. It’s rare to experience more than a few moments without some thought arising. Many of the thoughts that arise in the mind are supportive of emotions of anxiety, ill will, neurotic craving, and self-doubt. Ugh!

Our mind plays tricks on us. We tend to gravitate towards ideas and concepts that we have been exposed to and accept. There is a natural tendency to go to a comfort zone. It is only through experiencing alternate points of view that our observations and judgments become more valid.

Tranquility Base…..

When you land at the airport in Kona, Hawaii the runway is surrounded by huge lava fields.Your first reaction is you have landed on the moon or Mars. It is somewhat alarming as you have anticipated swaying palm trees and hula girls not a rust colored mountain of rubble. Then as they open the door and roll up the open air stairway you know why you came.
The first of many Alohas greet you on the way to the terminal if you can call it that. It too is open air and just a shade above functional. Who needs anything else as simplicity is the word? There is none of the glitz or opulence that dots Oahu and Honolulu. The rental cars are Mustang convertibles or Ford sedans. Just perfect for some luggage and two sets of golf clubs.

You travel down a two lane highway where people do the speed limit. Not sure why but hey, when in Rome do as the Romans do. Get used to it because the tone throughout is not lackadaisical but measured. The people are gentle and welcoming but please don’t bring your big city attitude. It just doesn’t work.

The Big Island is the largest of eight which are inhabited although the archipelago is fifteen hundred miles in length. This the heart of Oceania and the nearest land mass is over 2,000 miles away. It all started hundreds of thousands of years ago as the ocean floor started belching magma. The process continues today on the other side of the island. You have probably seen lava creeping down the hillside on TV. It is not as scary as you would think.

Of course everything from diet tonic to soup comes by boat. The distribution channels must be awesome, however impracticality does sometimes prevail. There is this crazy little thing called the Jones Act of 1920 which prohibits any foreign flagged cargo ship to travel between two American ports. So ships on the way from the Orient cannot drop off whatever on the way to the US. It has to go to a west coast port and then be transported back to Hawaii. The Donald has to get to work on that one.

This whole new version of Ted’s magical mystery tour has been conjured up to give the divine Mrs K some warmth in the winter. After a brief stop off at home we are going to continue this quest in Florida. Several questions rear their ugly head. Not the least of them is whether or not our brains will go soft or thrive in such a relaxed atmosphere? Considering the proximity of mine to senility the danger could be looked upon as imminent.

Mornings are simple. It starts off with a mega walk along the ocean path. You say hello to people as they pass and believe it or not they say hello back. This trek is not a mission to prove my athletic prowess but a chance to think about all things essential. The only big difference is we have had no time of viewing the boob tube. We check on line headlines but we have ignored the mayhem in DC and elsewhere. We are not checking out of society but seeing what other parts of our craniums need attention.

Along the way there are people sitting on the rocks or benches just looking out at the sea. I think back to our recent trips to the Cape of Good Hope in Africa or the southeastern most point in the UK. Perhaps it was our voyage across the Atlantic. Either way you get this incredible sense of the vastness of the world and sorry to say our real insignificance in the grand order of things. If you consider the Pacific with its island nations and the awesome depths of the Marianas Trench your swelled head gets taken to task.

Devoid of blabber you consider a bunch of things. You think of family and friends and especially those that are in the middle of a particular strife. I am going to write to them for no other reason than to let them know they have someone out there. You begin to ponder what is really important in life. The homes here are gorgeous but they are subdued. Rather than wowing you with glitz they open up to the outdoors and the sea. A very special place.

Not all is sleek either. When you travel across the island to the windward side there is a time warp. In Hilo the buildings are from the 1900’s and are showing their wear. There are homeless and they seem more desperate even though they never face freezing temps. Whether ravaged by drugs of a Hippie era or alcoholism they appear lost in time and space. The climate is good but the way of life gritty.

At a local farmer’s market the fruit is right form the fields. I learned how to tell if a pineapple is ripe. You smell its bottom. What else? We went to the Volcano National Park and then completed our circumnavigation of the island. I hope all tourists do this trip. It puts everything into perspective.

Pardon the travelogue. We are so fortunate to be here and I just wanted to tell you there is civilization out there if you just look. You probably can’t walk along the ocean but you can find a park or a walkway in your town or city. You can clear your head and breathe in a little bit of fresh air. You can just say as Izzy does, What A Wonderful World. “This is Tranquility Base to Denver et al, Over and out”

As always
Ted The Great


Polynesian seafarers travelled north hundreds of years ago in outriggers with family and possessions aboard. How they found these Hawaiian Islands literally blows one’s mind? The Polynesian heritage has blended with Asians who came here in search of work.

Hawaii became a state in 1959. This was the end result of foreign and American businessman who had previously turned out the monarchy around 1900. There are those natives on the islands who would like to see it turned back to an independent nation. Non natives are not held in the highest regard and if you want to be in business you better have local as partner.

Because the islands of Hawaii are distant from other land habitats, life is thought to have arrived there by wind, waves (i.e. by ocean currents) and wings (i.e. birds, insects, and any seeds they may have carried on their feathers, in their beaks or droppings). INCREDIBLE!

Hawaii’s tallest mountain Mauna Kea is 13,796 ft above mean sea level; it is taller than Mount Everest if measured from the base of the mountain, which lies on the floor of the Pacific Ocean and rises about 33,500 feet

In 2009, the United States military spent US$12.2 billion in Hawaii, accounting for 18% of spending in the state for that year. 75,000 United States Department of Defense personnel live in Hawaii.