Tangled up in Blue

While many of Bob Dylan’s songs resonate with me, my personal favorite is “Tangled up in Blue.” The poetic storytelling of this song keeps me fascinated from start to finish. Plus, the title means to me that we are all blue more than we care to admit and get tangled up in our sadness and melancholy.  Here are the lyrics to this poetic song.

Early one morning the sun was shining
I was laying in bed
Wond’ring if she’d changed it all
If her hair was still red
Her folks they said our lives together
Sure was gonna be rough
They never did like Mama’s homemade dress
Papa’s bankbook wasn’t big enough
And I was standing on the side of the road
Rain falling on my shoes
Heading out for the East Coast
Lord knows I’ve paid some dues getting through
Tangled up in blue.

She was married when we first met
Soon to be divorced
I helped her out of a jam I guess
But I used a little too much force
We drove that car as far as we could
Abandoned it out West
Split it up on a dark sad night
Both agreeing it was best
She turned around to look at me
As I was walking away
I heard her say over my shoulder
“We’ll meet again someday on the avenue”
Tangled up in blue.

I had a job in the great north woods
Working as a cook for a spell
But I never did like it all that much
And one day the axe just fell
So I drifted down to New Orleans
Where I happened to be employed
Working for a while on a fishing boat
Right outside of Delacroix
But all the while I was alone
The past was close behind
I seen a lot of women
But she never escaped my mind and I just grew
Tangled up in blue.

She was working in a topless place
And I stopped in for a beer
I just kept looking at her side of her face
In the spotlight so clear
And later on as the crowd thinned out
I was just about to do the same
She was standing there in back of my chair
Said to me “Don’t I know your name?”
I muttered something underneath my breath
She studied the lines on my face
I must admit I felt a little uneasy
When she bent down to tie the laces of my shoe
Tangled up in blue.

She lit a burner on the stove and offered me a pipe
“I thought you’d never say hello” she said
“You look like the silent type”
Then she opened up a book of poems
And handed it to me
Written by an Italian poet
From the fifteenth century
And every one of them words rang true
And glowed like burning coal
Pouring off of every page
Like it was written in my soul from me to you
Tangled up in blue

I lived with them on Montague Street
In a basement down the stairs
There was music in the café at night
And revolution in the air
Then he started into dealing with slaves
And something inside of him died
She had to sell everything she owned
And froze up inside
And when finally the bottom fell out
I became withdrawn
The only thing I knew how to do
Was to keep on keeping on like a bird that flew
Tangled up in blue.

So now I’m going back again
I got to get her somehow
All the people we used to know
They’re an illusion to me now
Some are mathematicians
Some are carpenter’s wives
Don’t know how it all got started
I don’t what they’re doing with their lives
But me I’m still on the road
Heading for another joint
We always did feel the same
We just saw it from a different point of view
Tangled up in Blue. 

If you are like me, you will be saying these words in time with the music. I love the references and wordsmithing throughout. My favorite line which I use on occasion is “we will meet again someday on the avenue.” I just find that so profound. Dylan wrote and sang about many causes and some of his songs are anthems. Yet, I find this real kind of storytelling is what makes his words live beyond his eventual death. He will be viewed favorably centuries from now. Tangled up in blue.



Welcome to Obamacare Senator Cruz

There has been a media sensation created by Senator Ted Cruz’s throwing his hat in the ring to run for President as the Republican candidate. Irrespective of how you feel about that decision, another interesting bit of news is Senator Cruz is signing up for the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare. The reason this is such news is Senator Cruz has been an ardent naysayer of Obamacare and actually played a key role in shutting down government with an over twenty-one hour filibuster replete with “Green Eggs and Ham” readings.

As a Tea Party champion, it could be safe to say, he has been a leader of the effort to denounce, discredit and disinform about the veracity of Obamacare. As an aside, while Obamacare is complex and could be improved, it is working pretty well to expand coverage, dampen cost increases and assure coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. So, what does this all mean with Senator Cruz joining the ranks?

He and his supporters have dismissed the irony noting it is the law of the land and he needs healthcare coverage. I cannot disagree with those reasons. Yet, what is more than ironic and bothers more than just me are two key points. First, Senator Cruz has not been shy about his criticisms of Obamacare. He has made others aware of his great concerns using needed areas of improvement and areas where the facts get in the way of a good story (Obamacare is a government takeover of healthcare – no it is the opposite; Obamacare is socialism – no it is a blend of for-profit and social insurance, e.g.). As a result, voters have been influenced by this bashing of Obamacare and may have made decisions that were not in the best interest of their families. While they should have considered the law on the financial merits of what it means for their family, they dismissed it as an option.

I have written before that people should not take financial advice from elected officials. On issues like whether you should look into healthcare insurance, politicians are not qualified to give such advice. This is an individual cost/ risk analysis that should be influenced by people qualified to give such advice. We have far too many people who have died, foregone care, gone bankrupt, or needed fundraisers to help pay for medical bills. I have guided several people to navigators who received appropriate advice. A good friend was one of these people and when she ended up in the hospital yet again due to COPD complications, she was covered.

Second, Senator Cruz prides himself on sticking to his beliefs. He does not advocate or condone compromise. This stance has caused him to run afoul of Republican leadership as evidenced by the shutdown of the government and his position last fall that played into the hands of Senator Harry Reid and many judicial appointments not favored by the GOP were put up for vote and passed. Now, here is one key time to stick to beliefs, but his pocketbook made the decision for him. He voted to be covered by Obamacare. If I were one of those who did not sign up because of his stance or due to news coverage of his stance, I would be more than a little perturbed.

It goes without saying I am not a supporter of Senator Cruz. He is a grandstander of the worst kind and blocks progress that could be made by more reasonable elected officials. What frustrated me most is during his twenty-one hours of filibuster to shut down the government, while criticizing Obamacare, not once did the Senator from Texas mention his state had the most uninsured citizens in the country. Obamacare has helped people gain coverage, including many Texans. It is working pretty well. And, it will work for even one of its staunchest opponents. Welcome to Obamacare Senator Cruz. It is not perfect, but should serve you well.

PS – It should be noted, the Senator is walking back his statement saying he has not made a final decision.

Also, while Googling  “Ted Cruz Obamacare,” I came across the Quick Poll the Senator did last year on the 4th anniversary. The comments he received were exceedingly positive toward the new law. One person commented I hope the Senator is reading these comments. Apparently, he did not.

My boomer lane has been bumpy, but still worth the ride

Our friend Renee writes a consistently humorous blog called “Life in the Boomer Lane.” She ranges from “tongue-in-cheek” to “call them as she sees them” humor and her blog is very much worth the read, even if you are not living life in the boomer lane. She has a range of followers, including a number of men, who will actively wade in with comments, even when our gender is being scrutinized in a painful manner. An example of this is evidenced in a link to her latest post is below.

Beneath her humor, her posts cause genuine reflection, laughter and melancholy from her readers. As one of her constant readers, I find myself often in this boat as I look back on my life thus far, complete with great moments and a few which could have been better or I could have acted better. Being a guy, we are prone to do and have done foolish and, even, irresponsible things. Hopefully, I have learned the hard lessons and will avoid them in the future, but I do reserve the right to be a dumb ass on occasion. I think we all need a hall pass every once in a while. Now, though, I recognize my poor behavior and will sincerely regret and apologize for my deficiencies. I guess that is what being a grown-up is all about.

For the most part, I have lived a life of trying to do the right thing. That was ingrained in me early on by my parents, especially my mother. Also, since I was invited by a friend to begin helping people in need dating back to 1999, it has made me realize how fortunate I have been and how opportunities do not exist for many in our country. Or, how when people are down and out, the chances to climb out of the hole, sometimes can be challenging. They need to climb the ladder, but we need to make sure that ladder exists for them and that the steps are not greased.

Yet, I have hurt people’s feelings, as well, just as we all have done. A single guy in his early twenties is prone to shun involvement and I did some of that. As quid pro quo, I have had my heart broken a few times, as well. Fortunately, that ended when I met my wife and we eventually married when we were twenty-six. We have been together for going on 30 years, so she has been able to put up with my faults and help me improve the ones she can. I look back on some of my previous relationships noting where I was less than a gentleman or where I could have and should have tried harder. Again, I guess that is what being a grown-up is all about.

So, I have been a fixer upper all of my life. I have made mistakes, but for the most part have tried to stay on a good path forward. I wish I could re-write some of that history, but it may have changed the wonderful person I have been married to for these 30 years and the wonderful children and family we have together. It is not unlike my favorite Star Trek episode “The City on the Edge of Forever,” where Dr. McCoy goes back in time and his actions negate the existence of the Enterprise and change the future. So, my life in the boomer lane is a good one. It is an imperfect, but wonderful ride. And, we still have plenty of daylight to drive on some more and enjoy the view.


The end of the beginning

My daughter just completed her senior graduation project in high school last week and the melancholy of her last few months of high school is kicking in. In August, she will be off to college, so we will be officially empty nesters. We are so very excited for her as we were (and are still)  for her brothers, when they headed off. But, this is not the beginning of the end. This is the end of the beginning.

People have said many times that it is interesting to see the change in relationship as their children grow more into adulthood. I totally see this with our oldest son and am seeing this with our youngest son. While it is a journey upward and onward, there are moments when they make child-like errors in judgment. We all do, but they are more in number at this age. Boys take a little longer than girls to make that journey, but we take pride in more adult conversations that we are having with our children.

Our girl has equipped herself with a keen sense of humor and an ability to get along with many. While we could have done many things better, our children share their friends, so our youngest is more mature due to such interaction. She also carries a passion for doing the right thing and standing up for others and the environment. She does not appreciate showing teachers disrespect for the sake of juvenile enjoyment.

She is a neat young woman and we are quite proud of her. We are looking forward to her taking flight and will be there when the need arises. Yet, this is her story to write. It is only the end of the beginning. There is much more story left.

It will also give my wife and me the chance to do things for us. As parents, we are forever planning around events, classes, schedules, etc. It will be quite lovely to do a sudden day trip or take a long weekend. Or, go on a longer vacation. We will be able to date more, which oftentimes is killed because of being tired or busy. So, it is our new beginning, as well.

Which movies include these quotes?

I am movie buff, but one who likes plot and dialogue. I am not too big on action movies unless they come with a  plot and/ or have more people than computer generated characters. The exception of course being Pixar or cartoon movies, which are entirely computer generated or drawn. I am also a collector of quotes.

With that context, let me know from which movies the following quotes can be found. Note the quotes are from memory, so I may not get them exactly correct, but they echo in my mind and come to me from time to time.

1. “We gotta get a bigger boat.”

2. “This is the stuff dreams are made of.”

3. “Sometimes, there are not enough rocks.”

4. “Mrs. Robinson, I believe you are trying to seduce me.”

5. “I’ll have what she’s having.”

6. “Louie, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

7. “I could have been a contender.”

8. “You know how to whistle Steve. You just put your lips together and blow.”

9. “You could sweep the seas for England.”

10. “Round up the usual suspects.”

11. “I’ll just have to worry about that tomorrow.”

12. “Love is never having to say your sorry.”

13. 1st person: “Love is never having to say your sorry.” 2nd person: “That is the stupidest thing I have ever heard.”

14. “Isn’t our time, my time as well Mr. Hand?”

15. “I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.”

16. “Rollo Tomassi.”

17. “Your honor is a gift you give yourself.”

18. “Snap out of it!”

19. “I am so mad, I just want to hit some one.”

20. “Twas, beauty that killed the beast.”

Let me know what you think. Try to do them from memory, first, and let me know where I have strayed on the quotes. Please feel free to share your favorites and I will guess where they originated. Sorry, there are no prizes for winning other than maybe learning of a new movie to watch or walking down memory lane.

A town’s neat idea worth replicating

With a tremendous need to return to community policing, a story about Farmington, New Hampshire has caught the attention of many. Police Chief Jay Drury started a very simple program where police officers approach citizens on the street after witnessing them doing the right thing or simply doing what they are supposed to do. To the citizens surprise, the officers award them with a coupon for a free slice of pizza or an order of fries at local restaurants who elected to participate.

Below is a link to the NBC Nightly News story where I learned of the program. People who have cleaned up after a pet, walked across the street using the crosswalks, walked with a properly leashed pet, or helped shovel snow off a common sidewalk or street, are afforded coupons. The people are surprised at first, but delighted with the positive reinforcement.

To me, this is replicable and sustainable idea. The award is not super huge, but is commensurate with an economic gold star. The restaurants benefit from getting notoriety as well as customers in the door. It is akin to the kids selling the coupon books to raise money. My guess is you will buy stuff for others while you are there, which makes it advantageous to the restaurant.

Yet, the key is the positive interaction between people and the police. As a parent, my wife and I learned there are many opportunities to fuss at your kids to correct  behavior. You could end up only being negative with them if you chose to do so. Mind you, our kids are very good kids, but they have been teenagers and pre-teens. So, when we found ourselves harping on things more than we needed, we curtailed that negative discussion. Now, when we must help them see the error of their ways, we can do it sparingly, but with a calmer voice of “you need to recognize what you did and how you could do better the next time.”

The same goes with the police. If your only encounters are negative, it flavors your perception. With the profiling going in many communities, it behooves police officers to reach out more to the communities, especially those who have members that are profiled. I go back to the book called “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg (link provided below). In the book, he notes how Paul O’Neill turned Alcoa around by focusing on safety when he became CEO. He noted later that it was the only thing he could get management and labor to agree on. In so doing, he improved communication up, down and across the organization, so not only was safety improved, but performance improved and new ideas of conducting business were shared from those on the manufacturing floor.

The same concept applies here. If the police officers reach out in positive ways to the community, not only should safety be improved but the communities will as well. People will see that what they do and say matter and will begin sharing ideas to improve their community. And, that is worth the effort. Well done Farmington, New Hampshire.



Congress – Stop worrying about keeping your job and do your job

In merger settings, it becomes apparent the employees who are doing more politicking to keep their jobs. Their focus is beating the competition from the merger partner, that some will play themselves up while putting others down. In these settings, as a manager and consultant who led teams helping the merged entity, I would find myself saying “worry more about doing your job than keeping your job.”

This is an ideal metaphor for elected officials. The issues become unimportant, except for how they are marginalized into talking points that can be won or lost. Governance is thrown out the window. Solving problems are thrown out the window. It is far more important to grease the skids to remain in office or get elected. Elected officials worry more about keeping their job than doing their job. And, we are the ones who suffer.

More often than not, unimportant issues are discussed to win a political gotcha game. It is a true zero sum game, where I must win and you must lose. In a day when neither of the major political parties own all of the best ideas and, in some cases, have only poor ones, to say the other side is always wrong, is just plain inaccurate. To say that your side is always right, is even more inaccurate.

So, let me state an admonition of our elected officials. Stop worrying about keeping your job and do your job. At the end of this month, the Department of Transportation trust fund will run out of money, again. It is St. Patrick’s Day and have you read much about our Congress doing something about this? It has been extended through smoke and mirrors for a few months, but we must do something material. Right now, our infrastructure is in need of great repair. Right now, interest rates are low, so it is an ideal time to borrow money to improve our assets. Right now, we would benefit from jobs that would be created by acting.

Yet, our Congress will not act. They would rather talk about gotcha politics that solve nothing with the intent to embarrass the other side. Folks, it is time to do your job. You owe it to the American people. If you choose not to act, I would beseech you to relinquish your position, as you are providing head winds to any progress we must make.