Words…

images-8.jpegAs I sit down to write this latest epistle I am amazed at how long I have been at this. In December it will be ten years. The average Ted’s Head is 1,000 words so when I do the math it means I am approaching 500,000 words in print in the archives. You poor sick people. There are a few of you who have claimed to have read every one of them. They correspond to me often from their latest mental institution. 

There are times when I am serious and others when I am just hacking around. I have more than a number of misspellings, crappy punctuation  or probably some that just don’t make sense. It is Ted’s Head after all. I haven’t figured me out so why should you think you can? I could never run for office because what I wrote in 2010 probably bears no resemblance to my current philosophies. They would have a field day. 

A friend once asked me if I was afraid every time I hit the “send” button.Huh? Not really.  I guess I don’t worry so much about what I have to say as to whether it is coherent. Most of the time it just flies out on the page. I hope it feels like we are just talking with one another. I just get an idea and try to develop it. I am not claiming to be right. All I try to do is get you…. and me to think. 

In this world of texting and sound biting we grow impatient. A few of you have said “Ted’s Head” is too long. It requires too much time to read it. I guess it just takes more than a 15 second spot for my poor little brain to develop a theme. Mea culpa. 

I am passionate person. About my wife, my family, golf, friends, hospice and mental health to name a few. It is beyond gratifying to do so. It causes me to stop and take stock. To both dig deep and to savor. If you can’t get wound up about something you should not bother getting involved in the first place. Where do I get my energy? All of the above. 

images-11.jpegI love to have deep conversations. There are a few of you whom have fed my addiction for this. At first people are wary, like where the hell is this going? Then all of a sudden after testing the water, we jump in with both feet and man is it fun. Some come back for more and others determine they don’t want to hang around with this lunatic any more. Perfectly understood. 

I guess I just love the power of communication of any sort. I think people are by trait and practice wanting to relate. The recluse or hermit can have their way but there is an absolute joy of meaning something to someone. I matter. You matter. How best to demonstrate that? By reaching out in a letter, text, phone call or face to face conversation. 

Vulnerable? Of course. What will they think? Did I word this or that properly. Am I gong to offend people? If I waited to figure all this out I would be fraught with all sorts of reticence. Perhaps our society today is too worried about the phraseology or word usage to see the message through the trees. We are always at the ready to pounce on any misstep or malapropos. 

Think of words as the most powerful and creative tools in your arsenal. Spoken or written it is a sure fire way to let people know about you. You are beyond interesting and have so much to offer. Don’t sell yourself short. Share the wealth. On your next provocative email, CC the world. Come on in, the water is fine Unknown-2.jpeg

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

There are more than 170,000 words jn the modern dictionary. There are also 47,000 that are obsolete. We have new words because we create new things that have to be described. That is cool.images-14.jpeg

There is a word that is over 190,000 letters long. I won’t print it here. It would take you longer than an hour to say it. That would probably shut me up but not guaranteed. 

Schoolmaster is an anagram of classroom. Walrus probably means whale horse.The exercise equipment that’s a standard part of every gym today, the treadmill,  once served as punishment for Victorian prisoners. Still does for me. 

Scrabble was invented by an architect in 1937. The game did not catch on until the late 50’s when  Macy’s put in a huge order. The board and 100 tiles have remained the same for 80 years. Playing the game in other languages really causes a stir.

All the Decent People….

With apologies to the Beatles and  Eleanor Rigby, “All the decent people where do they all come from?” Songs and refrains stick in my mind and this one has been there all week. My buddy Patrick sent me an article written by a Doc from the Mayo Clinic. It had to do with self importance. It seems to me to be a real clash with decency. Let me try to get it right. 

Down deep we all want to be someone. Not necessarily famous but to be a contributing part of society. A tip of the hat or a pat on the back will suffice for most. In a way it is Thank You For Your Service….to the world you live in. A recognition that you matter. 

For some that is not enough. The warped sense of self is starved and emaciated. If you don’t think you are getting enough attention then you try to do something about it. The easiest way is to put someone down. It could be a friend or coworker or even a lesser person on staff. You chastise them to make them look  inferior and you superior. Good luck on thatUnknown.jpeg

I love going to a party, especially a big one. Now if you are full of yourself, air kisses only. Don’t let people get too close. Bro hugs are out of the question. As you work the room you are looking for where the cool people are. You shake hands while scanning the crowd looking for someone who is really important. A quick,”You take care now,” having listened to nothing that person said. Man, are you good!

Your best bet is to stay within a very close knit group. Same faces. Same talk. Very predictable. Don’t want to look stupid. Politics? Only the Left or Right and nothing in between. You are sure of yourself and do not want a scintilla of doubt to creep in. You pepper your conversation with “you must” or “you should” go to this restaurant or country or whatever. You are the cat’s meow. 

In a way it is a terribly sad life. Your day is taken up by what you think people are thinking about you. You worry about your looks, your clothing, your car, your spouse or significant other. Are they up to snuff? Comparing, analyzing, equating. Gotta have the latest, fastest, prettiest, biggest or most expensive. There can’t be anyone better than you. 

Some of you laugh and say that couldn’t possibly be so. Others are now tinged with a little guilt that some of this might be part of you. In actuality it is apart of all of us. We want to take pride. There is nothing wrong with that. Even this old fart looks at the mirror in the morning and thinks I am not looking half bad. Emphasize the half part. images-1.jpeg

And then that is when people are decent. They realize they are part of a universe that does not revolve around them. They have their faults and foibles. The game is to keep them to a minimum. They really do care about their fellow man or woman, especially when they are hurting. They give to others and they give of themselves. They are willing to take the chance. They are okay with being open, warts and all. 

My most despised trait as many of you know is arrogance. The failure to believe that any one else’s ideas could be more believable or acceptable than my own.The fact that someone could be smarter or more talented than me is alien. The fact that I am just an average person in a very smart world. Not a prayer! Yikes!

Being honest with yourself is a bitch but it leads to happiness. Someone once said, if your are truthful you don’t have to remember anything. Life is not a facade but a person like you and me just trying to do our best on the big blue marble. 

In closing my favorite thought for honest people is a group of farm people at a simple restaurant in middle America. They are sitting having a cup of coffee and scrambled eggs or a beer and some chips. They are talking about the weather and crops. They have known each other for decades and their families are intertwined. images-5.jpeg

There are no secrets. They rely on each other in hard times. No one is comparing their work clothes as to who is wearing the latest. Their life is simple and they like it that way. This is where the decent people have gone or should I say have been all along. 

But they are everywhere in these United States. Not just farms but staff in hospitals, local merchants, corporate staff and even the higher echelons. Just ordinary people making this whole thing work. We titans of industry and finance and medicine are not all that smart despite our own beliefs.  We have made this thing way too complex. Just be ourselves. Nothing more. Nothing less.  That’s decent!

As always 

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Ironically our self esteem is not based on how others think about us but how we view ourselves. Our ups and downs are created by us not others. 

Researchers used ten words to activate stimuli among powerful and collegial people:

 The 10 power words included affluence, authority, dominance, fortune, money, power, prestige, reputation, status, and wealth.images-4.jpeg

 The 10 collegial words were affiliation, attachment, belonging, closeness, collaboration, community, cooperation, family, harmony, and relationships

Which ones worked for you?

Friendliest States

Minnesota

Iowa

Colorado

North Carolina 

Washington

Least Friendly

New York

Delaware

New Jersey

Arkansas

Massachusetts

 

Til Death Do Us Part….

I was visiting a patient on my Monday morning shift at Treasure Coast Hospice. This was a gentleman in his late 50’s with cancer, who had been hanging on for over ten days. Family and buddies had come and gone, having to get back home both far and wide. I marveled at his tenacity. Just hanging on to that one thread from slipping into the netherworld. How does that happen?

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If you don’t want to hear about death read no further. You would be joining many others who choose not to talk about it. They deny it exists. Our miracles of modern medicine convince us we can be cured of anything. We are not talking about what your body or psyche will be like on the other side. We are going to give you a few more precious months or years. Quality of life? What is that?

People have survived well past medical predictions. Some have even thrived and gone on beyond their wildest dreams. That is a marvel and a testament to their will and perhaps their faith. Yet so many cling to a hope that is a mirage. Their beaten bodies show up at our doorstep at Madera House. A battle well fought or a cruel injustice? Is it fair to the caregivers who have worked so hard for years? The question haunts me. 

In hospice when a patient transitions it is quite evident. A person you spoke with yesterday may be in a semi comatose state. There is not so much a conscious decision but rather an automatic body response to survive at all cost. Your extremities become cold as your efforts to exist  are centered in your torso. Breathing becomes more and more shallow and at times it seems to stop, only to frighten this poor old hospice volunteer to death by a sudden gasp. And then you pass.

If you are privileged to be there you realize a sacred event has occurred whether you are religious or not. There is a peace and quietude that ends a life of however long. When my son was born it was the beginning of being allowed in the delivery room for dads. The OB wanted to meet me to make sure I was not going to my knees. I was struck when he said that each time was a miracle. He opined, “There are five in the room and then there are six”. As I sat with this dying man I thought to myself, “There are three in the room and soon there were will be  two”. The cycle of life.

Nobody wants to die but I don’t know of anyone who has beaten the rap. I think often of my own morality. I take stock on a regular basis and ask myself if I have lived a good life. It is not maudlin but sobering. “Life is precious” is more than a suitable aside after seeing trauma. I walk out of there humbled and with a different perspective on my crazy world. 

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Hospice is one of those institutions and philosophies that is so misunderstood. I have just been asked to join the board and I hope in the days to come to be part of a speaker’s bureau to tell our story. People freak out at the word and that is sad. It is the embodiment of empathy for one’s fellow man or woman. The word meant “inn” or resting stop in the journey during the Middle Ages. Indeed it is on this road of life. 

Spouses and families are struck with denial and even a sense of abandonment when they commit to be part of us. The patient must be certified to have a prognosis of six months or less to live. Yet you can leave hospice at any time. We treat the pain of the illness not the illness itself. We do everything we can to make you and your loved ones as comfortable as possible. We are very good at it. 

80% of Americans would rather pass in their homes rather than a hospital bed. In spite of this, 80% die in hospitals or nursing homes. We have both an in home and our residence program of care. We neither retard or accelerate your normal progression. You will be treated by some of the most caring and gentle professionals in the world. You are in our hands and we take that responsibility with the utmost of devotion. 

Probably one of the most fascinating aspects of hospice is that people do enjoy a better quality of life. In Denver, I had a man in his eighties who escorted his wife’s stretcher into our residence in tears. He just blurted out to me. “I just couldn’t do it anymore”. I hugged him and told him he was home. I can’t tell you the number of families that state unequivocally they wish they had done it sooner. 

The upshot of it all is that the patient is usually the one who get its most clearly. Their loved ones often don’t or are so intrusive as to create quite a ruckus. We are used to it but it is often comical when the one in the bed winks at me while the spectators think they are calling the shots. 

I had a woman with ALS who chatted with me for about a half hour while scribbling on her IPad. She was beyond accepting of the hand she was dealt. She said the only problem was when people would start crying at her bedside. The two of us were laughing when she wrote,”They have go to get over this.” She gave me a big Thumbs Up as I departed upon the arrival of visitors. It is an amazing gig.

I love life. I love my wife and kids and grandkids and friends. I love doing what I do. In just about everything. 

As always 

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Medicare or Medicaid cover hospice and the cost of medication for your palliative care. 

There are four levels of care:

Home Care: Patient visitation and monitoring. Usually one to two times a week by a RN or CNA. 

Continuous Home Care: When a nurse is required for a continuous period of time. 

Respite Care:   To provide in our residence a break from caregiving for loved ones. 

General Inpatient Care: For severe pain or other symptoms that require a skilled nursing environment. 

Hospices are both Not For Profit and For Profit. 

Hospices can provide grief counseling for members of the family as part of their mission. We all think we are rocks but it is highly recommended. Death is a life changing event for all. 

In Denver there is a sign in the nurses station: “Angels Gather Here”.  They sure do!

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High Country…..

th.jpegThis morning I decided to take my Boeing 737 MAX for a spin. With everything going on today, the world has got to look a little better from 35,000 feet. Whoa TTG, that plane has been grounded. For mere mortals of course. Suffice to say  I have always played against the rules. Nose down problems? Life has tried to push me that way but I have sufficient strength but not necessarily brains to overcome my inherent software glitches. 

Heading north from LaLa Land, I am taken by the sheer beauty of our land. The Great Smokies and Appalachians on my port side and the Atlantic beaches to my starboard. People below are just getting up. If they are lucky they have not tuned into the world events. Maybe they will grab the cup of Joe and resist the urge to sneak a peak at chaos. Whether it is the endless horizon of the sea or the grandeur of a mountain range slowly changing its color, there is a lot to just sit back and enjoy. 

As I approach DC there is some heavy turbulence. Hot air is causing immense wind shear. I notice on my chart there is an aviation warning here 24/7. No one here looks at the scenery. We have to be about the people’s business. Climate change? Illegal immigration? Infrastructure? No you fool,IMPEACHMENT!!  What was I thinking? 

The oxygen masks drop precipitously from the overhead. Seems all the air has been sucked out of this particular region. th-4.jpegMy airship banks hard left and the hard right trying to find some sort of equilibrium. I know the center is the preferred path but it is almost impossible to find it. Are we going to die? No stupid, just take it off automatic pilot. Trust your instincts. 

Are you nuts? Everyone needs a mentor or guru to get through life. Without CNN or Fox we would be lost. Those guys and gals are beyond smart. Otherwise they would not be on TV. Right? They get paid a lot of money just like pop singers and football players. They are to be respected and admired. They have made it. Really?

True to form I have decided to opt for independent thinking. Just ahead is the Big Apple. Glitz and glitter and skyscrapers challenging God to say no, soar skyward almost to our assigned altitude. th-8.jpegIf you can make it there you can make it anywhere. Bright lights and big egos. I think I will pass on the opportunity of a lifetime. I saw what they did to that little Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg. I read some critical assessments of her and these dudes don’t pull any punches. How dare she?

I will make one pass over St Patrick’s Cathedral. As a former New Yorker it was always a place of devotion and beauty. Uh oh! I thought they cleaned it up but the spires are badly tarnished and bird droppings everywhere. Did they miss those spots or did they just fail to get all the dirt out from their last purge? Interesting question. 

I head West with a little bit of trepidation. As the roads constrict from ten lanes to four to sometimes two, am I getting away from civilization or closer to the real thing? Silly me. I just got buzzed by three Amazon drones and a flying pizza truck from Domino’s. Nirvana. The zillionaires are buying up everything to find spots to get away to escape. Wait, does that make any sense? I thought they already had everything. 

Maybe I have overstayed my welcome with the hoi polloi.. I am gong to put it on auto pilot and head back LaLa Land. I might just stretch out in an empty first class seat  and watch Ken Burns’ Country Music Series. Do I dare have a single malt this early?

Wow this is really fantastic. This guy has taken an iconic medium to reflect on its most simple tenets. People struggle and claw and fight to crawl out of squalor and misery by doing something so simple. Singing! They do it while they are working. While they are praying. While they are just sitting after a long day. This is cool stuff. 

The sheer analgesic of listening to throaty basses of negro spirituals while picking cotton makes the day pass. th-12.jpegThe foot stomping fiddling on Saturday night celebrates another successful passage of the week. The lyrics are at the same time sweet and gut wrenching, talking about the vagaries of life. The rise to the top of stardom and the crash beneath the collapse or booze and drugs. It is hope, love and tragedy all rolled into one. When was the last time I felt that?

Johnnie Cash is singing, Orange Blossom Special so I must be getting close to home. Wheels down but does the reverie have to stop? I have travelled Everywhere Man and it truly is spectacular. I have sensed joy and also a lot of heart break. It is that stupid thing called life once again. 

Go find a plane or car or bus or maybe just a record. Take it upstairs and look down. Think about what an incredible world we have but don’t forget just how badly we have screwed it up in spots. We are all humans with a lot of failings. But if we step back for a minute there is so much we as owners and caretakers can do.

As I gaze at the little screen at my seat I am amazed at the wisdom and simplicity of our our lives. As they are or maybe as they should be. No, I do not want to be an Okie from Muskogee nor do I need to be in Folsom Prison singing the blues. But there is an earthiness and honesty here that I wish we could go back to. Mutual concern not disdain. Sweetness not acrimony. Maybe just understanding we are all in this together. Please unfasten your seatbelt and see the world

As always

Ted The Great. 

Factoids:

Country Music on PBS is an eight part 18 hour presentation that is simply wonderful. Take the time. It is well worth it. 

The Grand Ole Opry, America’s longest-running radio broadcast, began in 1925 and moved to the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, in 1943.th-15.jpeg Dedicated to country’s old-time roots, the Opry prohibited the use of electric guitars until after WWII, and drums weren’t allowed onstage until 1973. This conservatism extended to artists as well: a young Elvis Presley made his only performance at the Opry in 1954, and was asked politely to not come back.

Jimmy Dean translated the success of his 1963 hit “Big Bad John” into a television program, and then into an $80 million sausage company. Fellow ‘one hit wonder’ artists should take notes.

Classic Songs:

You’re The Reason Our Baby’s So Ugly

She Got The Gold Mine And I Got The Shaftth-16.jpeg

She Got The Ring And I Got The Finger

My John Deere Was Breaking Your Field, While Your Dear John Was Breaking My Heart

I’ve Got The Hungries For Your Love And I’m Waiting In Your Welfare Line

I Wouldn’t Take Her To A Dawg Fight, Cause I’m Afraid She’d Win

Her Teeth Were Stained, But Her Heart Was Pure

Drop Kick Me, Jesus, Through The Goalposts Of Life

Sensory Overload….

too-many-tabs.jpgI have been struggling with this session of Ted’s Head for three weeks. It is not that I have writer’s block but there is just too much jammed into my little brain. We have just completed a 3,000 mile version of Ted’s Magical Mystery Tour. From start to end there are stories to be told and experiences to relate. I hope I get it right.

There was a wedding of Kathy’s nice to be attended in New Jersey on Labor Day weekend. That morphed into stops in Savannah,Asheville, the Hamptons, Rhode Island, DC and Pawley’s Island, South Carolina. Yikes! Crazy but somewhat predictable. There was joy at young couples, old friends and family. There was sadness at tragedies occurring and evolving. Methinks it is that little thing called life. 

Our stops were not the big city lights but the heart of America. The incredible seafood omelet on the Savannah River. The vastness of the Biltmore and the funky nature of a metropolis in western NC. The simplicity of Morristown NJ and the tranquility of the eastern end of Long Island or Narragansett Bay. DC, thankfully without the pols and the Low Country hue of fog over the marshes. Pretty special.

My radar was working full bore trying to see what these people were about. The wedding was a white and black one and was reflected in a  half chocolate and half vanilla wedding cake. Not a swipe but an effort from a young couple to make fun of our prejudices. At the wedding I crossed the divide and met some wonderful people. A black gentleman, a retired firefighter from the Oranges stood in the bar line with a cigar. We both reveled in the nirvana of a fat one and a glass of single malt neat on the back porch. What do you drink? Balvenie, he said. 15 year old ? Nope! I drink 21. What was I thinking?

My Navy buddy resides on the shores of a bay that also is home to US Navy OCS. A car ride through history. UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_189e.jpgWe went to the Black Pearl on Thames Street that witnessed a transformation of Blood Alley, where I would ride in the “Meat Wagon” for Shore Patrol to the trendy enclave of the rich and famous. We calculated that less than a dozen spots in the Newport  Shipyard held more than a Billion dollars of nautical real estate. And they were not alone. What an incredible collision of man’s hubris and ingenuity to create the beauty of a massive sailboat or yacht. 

That evening I was privy to  Mr Holland’s Opus in the flesh. It seems my friend’s son in law is a music teacher of some 17 years in East Providence. It is a blue collar area. As he talked, I was enthralled at his love of his craft as well as his students. I peppered him with questions as to the state of education to class mobility to his hopes and dreams. 

The reality is that for some of these kids to sing in a chorale is their one chance to shine. This was it. They weren’t taken up with soccer, lacrosse, SAT tutoring and socializing. They are good and went to Europe on monies not from the school board but the car washes and bake sales of a toiling community. As he told me of graduation day they took the top students in caps and gowns and they were allowed to parade through the halls with underclass kids cheering. He proudly  noted that 90% of the super achievers were his students. So much for getting rid of the arts. 

Our new friends from Harbour Ridge live in Fairfax, Virginia. He was a 23 year veteran of the Army. As an Army wife she was too. As we went to the Army Navy Country Club for dinner I looked around the room. With no mention of rank, I wondered who were three stars and who were ordinary looies. There was a woman in her 50’s having a meal by herself. Where had they been? What had they seen? Above all the place oozed pride for their particular branch and for their country. Thank you for your service. What a place. 

The last leg was to visit my college roommate from Georgetown. We have known each other for 60 years. Their burgh, just south of Myrtle Beach is idyllic. th-6.jpegWe played golf and ate and drank too much single malt over a cigar one night. He is a hoarder and he brought out yearbooks where you looked like a dork or handsome devil depending on the time frame. Here’s to the brothers who are no longer with us. 

From all of this I came back with a gazillion thoughts and vows to do this or that better. For the last 450 miles Kathy and I just sat in silence, reviewing all that has passed over the days. It felt so good to just be yourselves. Conversation gaps of anywhere from a few months to decades melt away when you are comfortable. No airs. Just enjoying friends new and old. 

I guess we saw life at its simplest and most beautiful. I wonder how we get so wrought up or better yet why? We seem so hell bent on improving our lot in life do we ever just sit down and enjoy it? I want to improve when it comes to this or that. That is normal and healthy. But to make it an obsession to outrun or outgun my peers seems to me to be an absurdity. I am the luckiest person in the world. I hope you are too?

As always

Ted The Great 

Factoids:

Rhode Island is the smallest state in area. With a tad over a million inhabitants it is the seventh least populous and second most dense housing in the US. East Providence has 47,000 residents. 

th-3.jpegThe Biltmore in Asheville was built by George Washington Vanderbilt in the 1890’s and is till owned by his descendants. It weighs in at 179,000 square feet. It has 250 rooms including 35 bedrooms. I would love to have the listing on this place when they sell.

The Hamptons include Easthampton, Southhampton, Westhampton, Quogue and Hampton Bays to name a few. They range from middle class to the elite. It is said the bigger the house the less time peole spend there. Kor J’s fish market has about 30 different kinds of fish and the biggest cherrystone clams you can imagine. $6 a dozen and a little more to shuck them. Eat them right out of the shell.

The Cross Bronx Expressway and I 495 around Washington are pretty much grid lock 24/7. The condition of some roads were beyond deplorable. It is pretty much a tossup whether there are more prone end replacement shops and psychiatrists in both. th-12.jpeg

World’s Got Talent

Fionn Fereira, Susan Boyle, Nathan Patterson. If these names don’t appear household to you, don’t be ashamed. Each of these undiscovered people happened upon fame under the unlikeliest of circumstances. They came out of nowhere to win fame, fortune and even a contract or two. 

th-9.jpegFionn Fereira, hails from a remote town in Ireland. This teenager was walking on an isolated stretch of beach and happened upon a rock covered with all forms of plastic. With limited resources he researched what is a problem worldwide, microplastics. All by his lonesome and with no testing facilities, he developed a procedure to fitter water and won the Google Young Scientist Award of $50,000. He will be studying chemistry at the University of Amsterdam this year. 

Susan Boyle was the rather dowdy woman in England, who left Simon Cowell on Britain’s’s Got Talent with his jaw just millimeters from the floor with her rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. th.jpegProducers thought she was mentally ill and she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital for three days after her performance. Silly boys. She just celebrated the 10th anniversary of her career. 

Nathan Patterson was just goofing around with friends at a Colorado Rockies game. The have a cage there where you can throw a baseball to see how fast you can toss the horse hide. I once hit 45mph. Nathan hit 97 mph and his feat was recorded and seen on You Tube. It got him a contract with the Oakland A’s farm team. 

Science, entertainment and baseball are not remote fields. There are people everywhere culling through data and tryouts looking for the next wunderkind. Yet these were not found. It got me thinking about both the process and the world itself. Are there undiscovered Einsteins, YoYoMa’s, and Nolan Ryans everywhere? Is it a matter of luck or a selection process that is not bad but leaves out so many? Good questions TTG.

In sports the experts deem someone too small, or their mechanics too faulty to make in the Bigs whether football, baseball hockey or what ever. Maybe it begins even earlier? th-3.jpegDoes a Mom or Dad consider their child too uncoordinated or aggressive enough to warrant the special attention among their other brothers or sisters ? Ditto trying to get into the chorale or AP courses. You will hear a parent describe their child as a nice kid but not exactly the sharpest knife in the drawer. Yikes! 

I have a brother who we believe was and is dyslexic.Nobody knew about it back then.  I remember my dad doing battle to get him to finish high school. Yet he is a McGyver type who given a situation can figure out some ingenious way to solve the problem. He has always loved fire engines and pumps of all sorts. In high school in mechanical drawing class he would design fire apparatus but back then there was no real outlet for his talent. It has been a tough road for him. Should not have been.

We rank kids by IQ’s, SAT scores, and who knows what else. The methodology is impersonal to the core but given the vast numbers of prospects, it is somewhat understandable. When law firms, med schools or Wall Street come a calling, they always target the “best” schools. That’s fine but are there so many others out there who perchance are even more qualified?  Is there any possibility that the professors at Podunk University  or a local community college, are doing a better job of preparing their students for expertise in a profession as well as life itself? Interesting question. 

It goes beyond the educational field. How many times are very smart and innovative people buried in the bowels of some large corporation. As you get further up the management chain you are plagued by two things. First is you do not want to rock the boat, especially when you make the boss look bad. Secondly you don’t want to any young Turk making you look bad. You see it in business, non profits and even in our social sectors. 

I personally hate mediocrity whether it be corporate, religious, my community or myself. th-4.jpegYou have often heard me cry in dismay at the “Why change, we have always done it that way” directive. It is that reluctance to try anything new or accept that maybe there is a different way to look at things that makes us stale and prone to obsolescence. 

As I look back over the many years I am fascinated by companies that had it all figured out only to fall by the wayside by more nimble competitors. IBM owned the computing world. This team or that were best in their league. Network TV was the only act in town. Macy’s was everybody’s place to shop. Bear Sterns, Lehman Brothers et alia. The Catholic Church? Who knows maybe Amazon or Google will suffer from the same blight?

Point being is simple. Look at people and things around you. Don’t dismiss them by color or sex or nationality. Don’t sell your kids or your spouse short. Don’t look askance at a new and sometimes revolutionary idea.  The world has enormous amounts of talent. Do you want to utilize it or get run over by it? I know my answer. 

As always 

Ted The Great

Factoids:

Acceptance Rates;

Harvard 5%

Stanford 5%

Yale 6%

Annapolis 7%

Dartmouth 10%

Duke 10%

I guess the other 90-95% are not worth a damn. 

Low Draft Picks

JJ Watt and Michael Strahan were walk ons in college. 

Shannon Sharpe 192nd draft pick in NFLth-8.jpeg

Tom Brady 199th

Albert Pujols 402th In MLB  Draft

Never finished college:

Henry Ford

John D Rockefeller

Steve Jobs

Larry Ellison

Ted Turner

Different Perspectives….

I have been in deep thought for the last two weeks as it relates to our mass shooting episodes. I have listened to the left and the right. I will admit upfront I am not a fan of guns but will give latitude to my hunting buddies. El Paso and Dayton play well in our sensational and political world. I just think there is more to it than meets the eye. 

By definition a mass shooting is any time there are more than four deaths. They caused 550 deaths last year. robin-1024x576.jpgBut all told there were almost 20,000 homicides in toto. Who is weeping over the other 19,450? Almost 50,000 of our fellow Americans killed themselves. Isn’t that also murder of a sort? This is the larger picture to be analyzed.  Are these causes or merely symptoms of a troubled world? Either way it is not right. 

Let me address guns right off the bat. There are over 350 million of them in these United States. That is beyond obscene. We can have all the background checks we want. There is no sane way of ridding ourselves of this terror. We should have started a long long time ago. The fact there is no system in place to track them all is beyond disgraceful. 

As for mental illness I am of course one of the most ardent supporters of mental health. But right now there are 35 million of us who suffer from some sort of malady both acute and chronic. How do you prioritize treatment? Where are you going to find practitioners to work with 10,000new cases  much less tens of millions? Another example of great press with a poor chance for success. 

 Murder et al go all the way back to Cain and Abel and if you are not religious let’s go with Caesar and Et Tu Brute? th-1.jpegSince primitive days of humanity, the only way to survive was to protect oneself from wild animals or the local invaders.  

The world got more complex. Stir other deadly sins like jealousy, hatred, greed into the pot and you have a solution to all of man’s or woman’s problems. Just do away with the target or competition, whether in war or peace. No sweat. 

Today I think killing whether it be mass or otherwise has been woven into our culture. It is part of who we are. We no longer are revulsed. We shake our heads and in two days it is on Page 13, if it is there at all. We go back to our lives thanking God it wasn’t us or any of our own. 

In days of yore life was simpler. Small towns that dotted our country were more like large families. Everyone knew and took care of each other. Everyone took part like the butcher, the baker and candlestick maker. You mattered.

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As towns grew into cities there was this loss of identity and the growth of anonymity. That bespoke a somewhat solitary and almost irresponsible lifestyle. You lose your sense of belonging and whatever part you play feels less and less essential. Some of us deem ourselves as outcasts.

That territorial nature of our beliefs is often poisonous. If I don’t share your mores or can’t pass your entrance exam, then I will start my own. This splintering takes its toll. Now instead of a couple of groups disputing broad brushed tenets we have every type of interest be they religious, national, color or sexual preference squaring off against each other.

These groups are all valid but their quick appearance and perhaps overinflated publicity has rocked us to our foundations. There is little to share as core beliefs and ethos vary wildly. Oppressed peoples see that protest and outcry get attention and they have their right to the piece of the pie. We have sky high stock markets, 3.7% unemployment and an underbelly that is ready to split wide open. 

White Supremacists fear the degradation of their race. Religious right see Sodom and Gomorrah. Progressives want to blow up the whole thing and start over again by taxing the rich to extinction and cancelling all outstanding debt. Technocrats see the elimination of 40% of the work force by robotics and AI. Underneath it all, everyone is out for themselves and therein lies our downfall. And FOX and CNN will bring it to you 24/7. It is great optics. 

We have lost respect of our leaders. We have seen cheating and corruption at every turn. We have no self discipline and refuse to take responsibility for our actions. Our morality has pushed every acceptable limit. But above all, is our loss of empathy for our fellow man and woman. 

What changes this?  9/11’s horror should have, but it was short lived. Sandy Hook? Las Vegas? We have neither the political nor popular will to change. We have become numb either by the constant killing or just because it is easier to look the other way. 

Will we have more mass shootings? Unfortunately the answer is yes. But as I said they are a symptom. We have to change our way of thinking from the ground up. We need a new set of ideals. th-5.jpegUnfortunately we are too busy making money or protesting about those that do, to employ some deep and serious soul searching. Maybe I  think too much. It is a tragic flaw. Unfortunately the story line of this fairy tale ain’t looking too good right now. I hope I am wrong.

As always 

Ted The Great. 

Factoids:

There are over 1 million organization and associations in the US. Each one has a specific purpose and promotes a different agenda. 


 

  • For all age groups, the top five killers are heart disease (633,842), cancer (595,930), lower respiratory disease (155,041), unintentional injury (146,571) and stroke (140,323).

Guns with 20,000 are looking good. Only 289 in NYC in 2018. Chicago only 561. Things are looking up.


Ethnic Breakdown of the USth-3.jpeg

German 14.7%

African American 12.6%

English.  12.3%

Irish 10.6%

Native Americans 1.6%

Mexicans 10.9%

American 7% (Not sure what that means)

Italian 5.5%


 

More than 80% of guns used in mass shootings have been purchased legally.