Still Crazy…

After nonstop viewing of the IMAX screen representing the mosaic of our so called life I have to take a break. My son Scott, his wife Dionne and their two boys are visiting form London. Talk about out of the frying pan into the fire. I am referred to as the Padge which is short for Padre. Consider it a fact that these two and our five other grandkids are incredibly special to Kathy and me.

Eleven year old Harper once exclaimed to me that I was the craziest grandpa anyone could have. I asked her if this was good? She replied,”Are you kidding? I love it.” Out of the mouths of babes. Unfortunately for most of you this is not a persona I adopt it as a normal state of affairs. If I am not creating some sort of mayhem I feel I am not doing my job.

Now many of you may take exception and look askance at a 71 year old acting, dare I say, childishly. Think what you will, I will hold out that until you are outrageous you haven’t lived. There is a bit of impishness involved but when I am me I could never feel more alive. And therein is causing me to ponder. Is it really that difficult? Or even better is it something we all aspire to in our Walter Middy minds?

With the kids here we decided to use a gift we had purchased at a charitable event…a ride to get ice cream on a 60 year old Denver Fire Engine. A retired fireman named Dan showed up in front of my daughter’s house in a gleamingly restored Ward La France pumper, outfitted with benches in the back. We climbed aboard and rang the bell, turned on the lights and of course gave a quick blast of the seen. So much for quiet residential streets.

Danny took the long way around to the Little Man Ice Cream place on the West side of Denver. Seizing the moment I could not resist as we roared through the canyons of downtown. I stood up with my Titlest floppy hat protecting my bald pate and started waving and shouting hello to all the tourists and worker bees in the Mile High City. My 12 year old grandson wanted to hide but there was nowhere to be found. He later admitted that the first few blocks were gruesome but he knew Padge was not to be denied. In the end he thought it was pretty cool. Another disciple!

Some responded including a couple of pretty girls. They were probably far sighted. But on a glorious summer afternoon maybe we brought a bit of laughter to just a few Denverites. I greet people warmly on the street, at the gym, at the club and even in church.That is what I am all about.

To put it bluntly I do not take myself or for that matter anyone else very very seriously. If you do you become very conscious of faults and foibles. You worry about how you look and how people will react to you. Did I phrase my thoughts just perfectly or was there room to be criticized? It just doesn’t matter. No matter what you say or do you cannot take it back. In the long run who is going to remember in two weeks, a month or a year?

I love practical jokes. One of the best ever was back in my Wall Street days. A buddy of mine had a neighbor who of course knew all there was to know about anything. He had purchased a VW Beetle when they first came out. They didn’t have a gas gauge but a lever near the accelerator to turn when your tank ran low. Simple and efficient.

The neighbor bragged and bragged about mileage to the point of absurdity. My compadre decided to start adding gas to his neighbor’s tank on a regular basis. Voila, this egomaniac thought he was getting over 150 miles to the gallon. He boasted to the neighborhood and was driving the dealer’s maintenance department crazy with his rants. This went on for awhile and then my friend started removing gas via syphon. You can just imagine our mark was now getting 10 miles to the gallon. Need I say more. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Point being, life can be a lot of fun if you give it a chance. I am irreverent. I love to catch people, especially self indulgent ones off guard. We are all of the same cloth. If you think you are especially gifted or smart consider the fact that we are in the Lucky Sperm Club. We could be living in a hut in Somalia or have a penthouse unit in Aleppo, Syria. Chinks in the armor are healthy. You don’t want to be carrying all that weight around. We all put our pants on one leg at a time…even Hilary. Somebody has got to burn that pea green pants suit.

Someone described me yesterday as a disrupter and I was flattered. Status quo is boring. Seems we spend our lives climbing ladders. Executives, sports figures, performers and clergy. If they all look the same and progression is preordained what good is that? We are all at a cocktail party. Do we want to engage each and everyone to find out how the other one ticks or do we just throw air kisses and look over their shoulder to see who we want to talk to instead of this mere peon? Think about that some time.

Well Ta Ta for now and let’s get together soon. I will have your people call my people. Let’s set our sights on six or twelve months from now. Kind of busy until then. Still crazy after all these years. And loving it !

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
Too random for that.

Process Report…A New Age

While on sabbatical from Hospice I have been researching a thing called old age. I am in it so I may as well understand it before I’m off in a corner in my wheelchair drooling all over myself. What are you looking at buddy? And that is my starting point. I mention 70 or 80 or 90 and each one of us conjures up some image from out of our personal Emoticons. Preconceived notions, hangups, stereotypes and prejudices. Aren’t we all the same? I hope not.

We are looking at this entirety of 75 million grey hairs and saying one size fits all. I think there are at least 3 or 4 vectors as I will call them. They are a combination of age, wellness,gender and economic status. To start there is perceived age and actual age. I am 71 but at least mentally I feel like I am in my early forties. Physically I will give you 50 and not a day more. I am not a monk but Kathy and I eat pretty well and our health is on the up side. Not bragging but rather saying how fortunate we are.

I was at a cocktail party and asked those around me how old they felt? Some came in the same as yours truly but a large number gave me their actual age or worse. Some people are fit as a fiddle and others are chronically ill. I guess we should figure out some sort of a scoring system so we can establish a proper methodology of care and feeding. But then again someone will say I am being judgmental. Well I am. Not to take away your benefits but to better address one’s needs.

In senior housing things are split into independent living, assisted care and critical care. I refer to that as GoGo,SloGo and NoGo. How insensitive of me. AARP wants you heading for the grave as you hit 50. What started out as an advocacy group has morphed into combination voting bloc and marketing behemoth. Little do you know but they are getting a pop on most things they endorse from insurance to consumer products. Prudent politicians have suggested the retirement age be extended to 70 by the year 2040 and no one currently covered would be affected. Not a chance per AARP, one of the largest voting blocs by their own estimation. But enough of politics.

Psychologically speaking, old age can be devastating. Going back to that perceived age we make a steep reversal from being independent to dependent on others for almost everything. For some this is not a weaning process but radical surgery. Don’t go out at night. Be careful lest you fall. Get thoroughly checked out by the latest medical this or that for the tiniest of malady. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Act your age. We become risk averse. That brings us to safe and predictable but our derring do has served many of us well for decades and now you want to take it away.

That caution affects one’s activity. You stay in more, limiting your landscapes and your relationships. Your new sedentary lifestyle creates tons of spare time. You watch TV or you watch for someone outside your home who is speeding down the street or kids who are cutting through your yard. For some reason you seek control by yelling out the window or calling the cops. People start to give you a wide berth as your cranky attitude becomes a way of life. Sad but true in oh so many cases. Your kids and your doctors make the decisions.

Older people move slower and take longer to do certain things whether it is getting dressed or hitting a golf ball. That breeds impatience from the kids and downright hostility from the outer world. So you go to a retirement community which on paper looks great. In actuality you now have a bunch of grouches living together and feeding off each other’s misery. Sounds depressing? It is.

We are all going to die whether you are eight or eighty. A great doc by the name of Bill Thomas has categorized us. There are Denialists. They are have facelifts and makeovers of every sort. They run marathons and climb mountains not for the fun of it but to prove the Grim Reaper will have to use his scythe elsewhere. The Fountain of Youth is out there. They just have to find it. Then there are the Realists who accept their lot however dire. As one of these cats said to me re Florida,”We just look at it as God’s waiting room.” Geez Louise.That is creepy.

Then there are the Enthusiasts. Sure we are going to die but if we look at the next twenty to thirty years as an opportunity to learn, grow and God forbid we might add something to the world. That in itself is a very exciting thing. There are no rules or timelines.Instead of being range bound we are as free as birds. You eat a blueberry because it tastes good not because it is good for you. You want a cigar or a martini? Go for it. Uh oh, I just shaved a year off my life. Big deal! Every day 15,000 people reach 65. 80% of them have some sort of chronic condition ranging from arthritis to type 2 diabetes. 50% have two. We cannot cure you of everything as modern medicine would have you believe. In other words deal with it but also make the most of it.

My work is leading me to a conclusion that we have to help people prepare for more than a nursing home or hospice. We have to show people how to retire from the get go. Help them write their business plan for the rest of their life. That is not just a hopeful concept but a complex and wonderful time to figure out what could be. It’s a lot more than playing golf or taking a cruise. It is learning how to live life all over again.

There may be a limited audience who want to hear what I have to say. If I hit even a small percentage of those 75 million how much better would they and our world be today? Are they an asset or a liability? Which way do you think I am voting?

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Your personality does not change in old age. If you are a grouch you have always been prone to negative thinking. If you are a nervous Nellie or control freak that won’t change. You just have more time to practice it. If you are cool and serene there is nothing but more of the same.

The average lifespan in the US is 79 years of age. That is 53rd in the world.Male 76.59 Female 81.53. The average healthy life span is 72. The implications of this for quality of life and the cost of medical care going forward is mind boggling.

By the time your heart stops it will have beaten over three billion times. “Takes a licking and keeps on ticking.”

Grey Thoughts

In a hostage situation you are likely to be released first.
Getting lucky means you find your car in the parking lot.
You wake up, looking like your driver’s license picture.
Your pacemaker raises the garage door when you see a pretty girl go by
Your try to straighten out the wrinkles in your socks and discover you aren’t wearing any.
You come to the conclusion that your worst enemy is gravity.
Remember …It all Depends

I would appreciate any thoughts you might have regardless of your age. This is not just a mental exercise. I think it is beyond interesting and maybe,just maybe, beneficial to all.

Opening Up….

I have had a ball this last week. I have had personal encounters of every kind including cleaning up the Creek, working out, discussing finances and just some good conversation. I had an email from a dear friend that was beyond touching and to be honest,humbling. You don’t realize how you affect people and they in turn leave their imprint on your life. Marvelous stuff.

They all involved communicating and that is chance taking at its best. You are involved in a chat and something in your mind says let it go further. Then there is that slap on the back of your head that asks if you have lost your sanity? What is that person going to think of you? Is that last statement you made really out there? Guys don’t do this stuff. Yes, there is good stuff inside of you but there is no way you want to let it out…or do you?

When you are young you can say anything. Out of the mouths of babes so to speak. There is a 50/50 chance you are going to be cute or get an unapproving glare but hey, you are a kid. As we progress towards puberty you have the feeling that everything you say or do is under a microscope. There is a jury of your peers that is willing to jump on you for the slightest transgression or shred of other than cool behavior. Being a dork is not a passing thing but a scarlet letter for the major portion of high school. At least in your mind. If you are lucky,you have friends that get it.

College is a little different. You can completely change your persona and the tribal elders are still in flux at least until the end of the first semester. Then you are pegged one way or the other but at least the populace is larger and more diverse. Your studies take you to new landscapes and your conversations and perhaps your loves become more intense. And of course beer or pot in the prescribed amounts brings you to the level of just short of genius.

During these stages comes a deeper communication and the accompanying risks. Remember when you first got to know a girl and the first few dates you wanted to share everything with that certain someone. You were soul mates and the world was your oyster. The more confident you became the more you told. And then you hit the point of no return. No, not that one, you slug. You really started to speak of the inner you. The one that you always protected and never let out. By opening up in a word you became vulnerable and that was scary as hell.

Progressing through life it does not get any easier. College gives way to corporations and clients. You don’t have dorm mates but neighbors. Club members and couples round out the roster. A whole new set of standards and challenges. Where do I fit and who is a kindred spirit? Sooner or later you winnow down the mob to a controllable few. It’s not a secret society but a comfortable mix.

Strangely enough as we grow older for the most part we have less friends. We become more selective about our environs and comfortable in old shoes. Why go to all the trouble to start up all over again? That is too bad but all too true. Just at the time we have more leisure time we find crazy ways to waste it. Too busy or too content. Leave well enough be.

I have had a totally different experience over the last few years. I’d like to tell you it was intentional and pure brilliance on my part. Not so. Of course years of therapy have slowly brought me out of my shell but seriously I look at most things as an absolute adventure. It is almost as if I wander down dead end roads and dark alleys on purpose only to find a whole new world. In my work on the Creek I have probably met well over 100 people whom I never would have known before. People in business, volunteer work, government and just neighborhoods. Wonderful people who are open and giving. A lot more giving and gracious than me. The bar has been raised.

That whole giving thing is serious stuff. If I share a piece of myself to anything or anyone there is an automatic responsibility. I have made a commitment to a thing, an event or a person. I have started a relationship. I can no longer turn my back and claim ignorance of you or your travails. I think that is why the elders like to shut the door. Courteously, but firmly saying no. I have enough they say and yet the true fun is seeing how far you can get out there. The hardest part is reeling it back in. It is addictive.

In a contrarian thought I find as you move on in years you become less concerned about criticism. I like to think people aren’t sure whether I am just nuts or eccentric. Probably a little of both. I ask questions without reserve. I probe but am not afraid to be called to task myself. If queried I probably will thoughtfully consider a response not to appear PC but so that I can properly elucidate what the hell I have in my mind. And I want the same from you.

The only real drawback is when things fail. I have had a few wonderful friendships go bad over the years. In most cases they are heartbreaking because I try to put a lot into things of this sort as I am sure they did too.Alas, I am hopelessly afflicted with Irish Alzheimers. YOU ONLY REMEMBER THE GRUDGES.Just one of my many tragic flaws

The corollary to opening up is learning to listen. Sitting there and looking into someone eyes and yes maybe their soul and shutting up. Not looking for a segue into your own experiences or finishing sentences for them but hearing what’s important to someone else. This is my toughest lesson but one I constantly strive to get better at. It’s a struggle but I am trying. Test me out some time.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Adults spend an average of 70% of their time engaged in some sort of communication, of this an average of 45% is spent listening compared to 30% speaking, 16% reading and 9% writing.

“If we were supposed to talk more than we listen, we would have two tongues and one ear.” Mark Twain.

A good listener will stop talking, physically prepare by relaxing, put the speaker at ease, eliminate distractions, empathize,be patient, avoid personal prejudice, listen to the tone, be alert for ideas not words and watch for non verbal communication. Geez Louise!

A study published in The New York Times states that men who kiss their wives before leaving for work get into fewer car accidents, have a higher income and live longer than married men who don’t do so.

Research from the University in Vienna shows that hugging someone you love releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin. It also lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and anxiety, and can help improve memory.

(These have absolutely nothing to do with listening but they sounded great….Party on mes amis )

Spotlight….

I was going to be clever and frivolous this week…until Friday night. Kathy and I went to see Spotlight and all I can say is the Academy in Follywood for all its faults and foibles got it right. For the uninitiated it is a film about an investigative group at the Boston Globe called Spotlight and its dogged pursuit of the Catholic diocese of Boston and its horrible handling of pedophilia among several of its priests. This is not going to be a movie review but musings from a long time Catholic who loves great journalism.

At its best it shows what a principled group of reporters can do. They pursued the story for over one year and by all signs got it right. At its worst it shows what it takes to get a story out as editorial boards decide sometimes arbitrarily what gets through and what doesn’t from both a worthiness as well as political perspective. Good ideas sometimes find the circular file because one doesn’t want to make waves or enemies. You have the feeling it is not only the Fourth Estate that exercises the prerogative.

As portrayed and I believe in reality there were no superstars but a group of people who received a tip and delved to find its veracity.They literally turned over every rock and pursued every lead. If you are looking for salacious details they are not there but the underlying misery and guilt of those preyed upon lets the story unfold. It is an indictment of the Catholic Church for sure but it also affects society as a whole. While watching, you can’t help but let your mind drift to every seat of power and apart from the specifics of this particular situation see them every bit as culpable.

I have locked horns with our former bishop about the Church’s response or lack thereof. It wasn’t naivete but an assault on their power base that caused them to cover up and subject those poor bastard victims to intimidation and guilt. We are sacrosanct and holier than thou and don’t you dare challenge us or our decisions. Our failures and perversions are not to be displayed lest one shake the foundations of the Holy Mother Church. By the way our bare knuckled exercise of ordained powers have kept us in the driver’s seat all these centuries. We have history and God on our side. What incredible arrogance!

For those that shout foul please consider there were 87 priests in the Boston diocese that were guilty of the most heinous crimes perpetrated on young people. Let’s take your cries of unfairness and reduce that number by a half. But then multiply that by hundreds of dioceses throughout the US and sadly the world. For a moment let’s even give the offending clerics a pass and say they were sick, sick people. I lay the blame at the feet of the hierarchy. The wealth and power of the Church is over the top and that has been passed on to its district managers everywhere. Now this is the point where I think of the Congress and board rooms and say the religious are not alone.

Think about Watergate, Clinton, GM,Volkswagen, JP Morgan, Bear Sterns, Lehman, Enron, BP, Madoff to name a few before you cast the first stone. It is considered dangerous to your career if you don’t  look the other way. At the same time we see every type of transgression and dismiss it saying we are just following orders or even worse using it as get out of jail free card. 50 shades of gray is not a tacky novel but a way our consciences and outrage shift and bend to make every situation different and somehow palatable.

I am not a boy scout or trying to adopt some sense of righteousness but I can’t help but think our keen sense of right and wrong becomes duller over time. One of the most telling lines in the movie is a Lebanese lawyer named Garabedian who states in a very Irish Catholic town that,” It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a village to abuse one”. We don’t worry about political correctness but how we will look to our fellow man or woman. Hey, we have to work together or see each other at the club. Don’t want to get the evil eye you know.

I came away feeling incredibly sorry for the poor parishes of North and South Boston, Revere and the Elmhursts and Woodsides of New York. These places grew up as places of solace for poor immigrants. You were known not by where you lived but what parish you belonged to. It wasn’t a Sunday go meeting place but in many cases the center of your life. You went to school there, were an altar boy and your mom and grandparents made novenas for those who had gone to war or a dad who had lost his way. The titular heads of this family were the pastor and his curates. It was a place of trust and unfortunately who one trusts one becomes vulnerable. Kind of like when one puts faith in a company where they work, a boss they loved to work for or even a company they invested in for a better life later on. Not so simple to just say one of the oldest and most revered pillars of decency is besmirched. They, my friends are not alone.

This is a far cry from the pithy piece I wanted to write but I hope you understand that after seeing the movie and cogitating for many hours I had to open up and maybe yes for once not look the other way. Those shades of gray become a lot more black and white when one puts a Spotlight on them. I felt deep down a bunch of emotions and I just wanted to share that with someone. I guess that was you.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:
Newspapers today have for the most part forgone investigative journalism. It is too time consuming and expensive. People want headlines not deeply involved analysis. Too bad.

It is estimated that some 5,000 priests are guilty of sexual predation in the US which is about 5% of the clergy. Of those that have come to light it appears that 80% of worldwide offenses have been here in the US but the factors enabling people to come forward are incredibly difficult to quantify.

If there are 5,000 rogue priests that means there are 95,000 out there who are for the most part wonderful and decent people. The Catholic Church has led all other charitable organizations in the help of the sick and the poor. I have known priests and religious my entire life. Many of them are close friends whom Kathy and I treasure. In all those encounters over 65 plus years I have never encountered even a scintilla of impropriety.

Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. is a grassroots nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the quality of investigative reporting. IRE was formed in 1975 to create a forum in which journalists throughout the world could help each other by sharing story ideas, newsgathering techniques and news sources.

 

Sea Changes….

Sea Changes….

I have always been a proponent of the pendulum theory. Call me a student of history or just a cockeyed optimist. It always seems that no matter how crazy things get, there occurs a righting moment. That’s a nautical term where the ship can list over only so far. If it goes beyond it, the mighty vessel capsizes. If it holds there is soon a return to equilibrium or and even keel as it were.

Last Saturday morning as I opened the Wall Street Journal’s Review section I was hit right between the eyes by Charles Murray’s discussion of “Trump’s America” which I think was poorly titled. I passed the article on to a few of you stating it was not political and I don’t think it was. It defined an anger and frustration that could have been amped up by either The Donald or Bernie. A frustration that can only be described as an alienation from what has made America great.

Let’s say the American tradition or creed as Murray puts it has been egalitarianism, liberty and individualism. Fair enough. Point being that the  middle class doesn’t feel the love and are backing the two outsiders. They feel and its true that over the last few decades that have at best been treading water financially. The old formula of work hard, raise a family and do your best has produced a bitter taste rather than the sweet nectar of accomplishment.

They want to lash out at Wall Street but that is just an address. There is an elite of the media, legal fields, finance and technology that embodies raw power and separation from their lesser brethren. When I was growing up I guess you could say we had money and many of those around us did also. But we never knew it or even more importantly betray any sense of elitism. We were part of the town, church and school in every sense of the word. If you got on a high horse there was mom or dad more than willing to knock you off it.

Egalitarianism was alive and well in Manhasset, NY. You played ball with every ethnic and racial group. Yes, there were plenty of blacks. It seems the affluent, whatever that means, were neat but not gaudy. We lived in nice homes but if I were to go there today I would not describe them as opulent. If people had wealth they did not flaunt it. They wanted to fit in rather than stand out. Their weal was not hidden as much as worn well. Then things changed.

Probably the seeds were sprouting some twenty five years ago. A lot was not enough. Some wanted it all. Everywhere we became driven by ROI. Find the fastest,cheapest way to deliver product and mom and pop did not enter the discussion. This is not a diatribe against capitalism a much as a description of what happened to a whole lot of people as a result. Wealth no longer described a nice lifestyle but a race to have it all and fast. And there were casualties. Those were not bums but nice guys who saw their way of life and dreams shattered. And they are fodder for our opportunistic politicians.

Establishment is not selling. Each party is wringing their hands trying to find the right message but the natives are restless. They are galled and they are impatient. They have been buying the Kool Aid for too long. It no longer slakes their thirst. As we grow larger and larger we have to deal with the masses. Treat people as groups not individuals. Gotta have a rule for this and that and the government becomes stifling rather than empowering.

Add them up and our American creed as we knew it seems to be fraying at the edges if not completely threadbare. We lash out at the immigrants and if we send them all back home everything will be all right again. Really? A lot of these people are more than hard working and resourceful. Family and religion for all it defines are terribly important to them. We started off for the most part as Anglo Protestants. Gradually that morphed into Catholic, Judaeo Christian and yes a melange of Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists and whatever. Pardon me but I think that is what makes us great….or at least did.

This election cycle as obnoxious as it is becomes defining. There is a considerable part of our populace that are pissed off for one reason or another. I happen to believe that the middle class have a case to make. They are not on the dole as so many of our lower class are. They see the poor as living off the fruit of their efforts and the dependency is not easing. Men don’t work and fewer and fewer are married. Numbers of unwed mothers are soaring and the resources to sustain them are incomprehensible. They have also been outed by the upper class. The rich and famous like things just fine but a lot of what they have has to a large degree been on the back of productivity and cost cutting. Trickle down is exactly working out as planned.

Somebody or some party might figure this out. We can’t have healthcare and free tuition for all. At the same time we can’t be insular and pay lip service to the shills of conservatism. It’s ironic that Nino Scalia died this week. He was a strict wordsmith when it came to the Constitution. It’s not today that set the end lines but what was happening in the 1700’s. The founding fathers laid down the rules and we agreed to live by them. But once again those were based on egalitarianism, liberty and individualism. Do we still believe it?

I am not sure if the ship is going to right itself or if it should? I just hope we put some real thought into our collective cultural future as well as our economic one. I would hope the WSJ and other media outlets would put in as many articles as this one as they do on the IMF, The Middle East, the price of oil  and the Fed. That would really be a sea change…and for the better.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

None to speak of.

 

Fueling Up at the BP

Tis the season and an austere group known as LOFO,Loyal Order of The Fat Ones (cigars, not body type) assembled at a den of iniquity called  Churchill’s, in the Brown Palace(BP) Hotel here in Denver.This crowd of reprobates numbered close to a dozen. It’s just good for the soul to smoke a cigar, drink some scotch and tell lies.

I immediately came under fire for sporting  a still sizable bandage on my bald melon. I had MOHS surgery on a squamous cell cancer two weeks ago and still have the stitches in. There was no mercy. Several questioned whether they went deep enough to find gray matter while others asked if it was a frontal lobotomy? I finally shut them all up by claiming their sympathy was fraudulent and besides we were not talking about a vital organ here.

The makeup of this crowd was significant. There were lefts and rights. Big wheels. Not so big wheels. One heads up the Small Business Administration for the Rocky Mountain Region. There was the Body Snatcher who owns a highly successful funeral business here in Denver. Alex calls himself a Blaxican because his parents were black and Mexican. He sells agricultural goods to the Ivory Coast in Africa.There were lawyers, oil men and Wall Street types. There was a great friend who is going to be spending his first Christmas without his dear wife who passed on this year. Another was ecstatic that his son was going to be moving to Denver to start a new job. So many twists and turns.

The conversation was energetic. People switched seats constantly to engage one another. No one was looking around the room to see if there was somebody more important to talk to. That person was right in front of you .We laughed heartily. I mean belly shakers that felt so good right down to your bones. There was no ISIS or Trump or stock markets. No agendas. We just had fun.

As I drove home I thought about my week. I have had interactions with people in the city administration in my quest to clean up the Cherry Creek.  People told me to stay away from this one or that because they were assholes.  Turned out not to be true. Funny how a civil tone and just treating someone like a human being can go a long way. Even more I dwelled on the thought that over the last year I have met a whole raft of people I would never had known if I hadn’t gotten involved. That’s a very cool thing .

Last Saturday my son in law and I drove out about forty miles from Denver to a place called Byers, Colorado. It was snowing and visibility was low but it didn’t matter because there is nothing but open plains to see there anyway. We were going to pick up a new Labradoodle puppy for his kids. Funny, we acted just like kids ourselves.

The breeder told us how she had lost her husband last May. She wanted to talk and the paperwork took far longer than it should have. Impatience could have come spilling out but somehow we thought that we should just let the woman speak about hospitals and doctors and whatever. It was the right thing to do. When we got home the girls were beyond elated. They screamed and giggled and welcomed the new member of the family with proverbial open arms. Life is good.

Sunday evening we fly to London to be with my son and his family. We are beyond thrilled to be able to go there. Nothing crazy or extravagant  but just spending a Christmas in their home even though we will be far away from ours. Seeing how their part of the world lives. My thoughts go not only there but to all the places we have been lately. I wonder what the holiday is like in South Africa or Zimbabwe? What about those kids in the orphanage at Victoria Falls?

Sorry if this all sounds corny to you. I truly hope it doesn’t. I guess I am just lucky, happy and most of all thankful. We all have so much and that is fine. I hope we just realize it and sit down and think about it from time to time. I have had a lot happen this year from surgeries to jumping out of airplanes to walking with lions. Shot a couple of decent rounds of golf and have a great wife and kids and grandkids. On balance I would say I am very much on the plus side.

I will write next from across the pond. I hope I can find a BP just like the one here in Denver. Maybe just sit down and enjoy a Scotch with my son or a glass of red with his wife. Filling stations are great wherever they are. They keep our motors running and the lube bays keep us from rattling or squeaking too badly as we get older. Don’t ever let your gas gauge go down to E . It’s bad for you .

As always
Ted The Great.

Factoids:

None to speak of.

Aha Moments….

I am siting here in the Cutaneous Oncology department of the University of Colorado Med Center. They are performing MOHS surgery on my forehead or as a golfing buddy says,”they are taking a divot.” Now this being Ted’s Head I am not sure if they will tap into my grey matter or even more terrifyingly if there is any? I will try to write fast.

Mindsets, creativity and innovation have been cruising around my cranium for the last few days. I look at everything going on in the world and rather than succumb to depression about the course of events I find myself looking for where the solutions will come from. I noted the other day that technology of the future will be able to examine my stools on a daily basis to see if I am healthy or not. Surely such a noble pursuit should make it easy for us to solve more obvious problems.

Now do we look to the octogenarians, millennials or infants for salvation? I happen to think it is going to be all of us. From just a few months after birth we begin on life’s journey for better or worse. We develop mindsets which may encompass our intelligence, personality and aptitudes. We become us. Science has taught us that through genes and environment that somehow the dye is cast one way or another. You only have so much to work with and we will do our best but please realize your limitations.

Aha, there is a different dimension. It seems that may best be described by the concept of fixed and growth mindsets. Fixed is as we described above and the resulting implication is eye opening. If you believe you can’t be any better, then you are preoccupied with the hand you are dealt. You then seek out attribution, praise and judgment based on that. You are looking at the same face in the mirror every day and seek approval over and over again. As one pundit put it,”You have been dealt a hand. You would like it to be a royal flush but you are petrified you are just a pair of eights.” Interesting.

Now the growth mindset is more fluid and in a way forgiving. You are encouraged to try or experiment but you also make mistakes. That is how you learn. You look at your ignorance not as an ugly birthmark but something to be corrected and enhanced through hard work and persistence. You don’t worry about your self esteem because you really don’t have time for it. You develop a passion for learning because that is how you get better…and brighter, whatever the hell that means.

Today we mark everyone on material accomplishments which is fine. But you could take a billionaire who although rich is not realizing his potential. His gauge of measurement is completely out of whack which is why we find major portions of people from all economic strata trying to find themselves or at best merely unhappy. I was in a meeting last night with a young woman who is a paleontologist for the Colorado Department of Transportation. What ?? As she explained what she did there was a wonderful element of passion for finding bones or whatever at the site of a new highway in the mountains.

Passion is a wonderful word. How about zeal,ardor, love, fervor, fire, enthusiasm, relish, gusto, vigor, energy, intensity. When was the last time you felt any of those? It is about having a vision for who you are or what you want to learn rather than just marking time. You potential becomes unknowable because each turn opens up a whole new roadway.

We hear the word talent and feel it is innate. Ben Hogan was a klutz in high school. Gates and Jobs were flops in academia. Oprah Winfrey grew up dirt poor. Henry Ford was a farm boy. Lucky or just driven by what could be? We seem obsessed by have and have nots, blue collar and white collar, right or left. We want to put people in categories because it is a lot simpler than having a zillion people with an equal number of conflicting beliefs. We fail to see each of us an individual with deep inner worth and yes incredible potential.

I am truly concerned about our kids from preschool to college. The recent university upheaval over the desire for a warm and nurturing place is not going to prepare them for a tough world but just an extension of the coddling first 18 years. Universities should be places of conflict and resolution of those travails. We praise, we pamper and most of all we make excuses for their inadequacies.We teach them how to cop out and not how to grow up. I am not saying beat them over the head but a critical evaluation provides a plan for betterment in the future rather than a cushy throne when they fall.

Just them? Think on. Through life we face the same fork in the road. I have this or that and it will keep me in whatever as time goes on. Happy? Sorry TTG, that is a state of mind that I can ameliorate through the finer things in life. Old farts? I have earned my life as it is and I am going to just sit back and enjoy it. As a matter of fact you owe me. I am entitled.

Growth mindset requires constant challenge and uncertainty. It is contrarian in so many ways. We can’t stand the unknown and what we perceive as impossible. You can give me a thousand reasons why something won’t work. Don’t bug me with all your foolishness. I am not a risk taker. I have never been good at science or math or art. Thinking outside the box is too scary. What if it doesn’t work or God forbid I lose everything? Are you really thinking about yourself or are you wondering and measuring by what other people think about you?

What if you just could pursue what you want to? What if you didn’t have a spouse and kids? What if you were impervious to judgment and criticism? What if you could just be you…the real you that lies within? If you can get there my friends, that is a real Aha Moment.

As always
Ted The Great

Factoids:

Only about 7% of the companies today are considered dynamic and open to change. Contrast that with the fact that we are by far the most innovative country in the world.

Change evokes several fears. First and foremost is the fear of failing. Secondly is insecurity. You get used to who and what we are and don’t want to risk the alternative. Third is the fear of being judged by others.

3M is a marvelous company. It thrives on innovation and failure. The Post It Note was accidental while trying to find an all purpose adhesive. They have a 30% rule where 30% of their business has to be from products developed in the last 4 years.

The Torrance Test for Creative Thinking has been administered to grammar schools students for the last fifty years. It does not test IQ but rather creative thinking. The test scores have descended significantly significantly. One possible cause is lack of free time and helicoptering parenting.