My mother the planner

Last August, my brother, sister and I made the difficult, but correct decision to migrate our mother into an assisted living facility. She was in a Rehab facility after getting a urinary tract infection, becoming dehydrated then falling, not an unusual triumvirate for elderly women. We were  also awaiting test results from a neurologist on Alzheimer’s, a test she had taken a month before.

The advice from several nurses was to move Mom while she could cope with the change. They noted often families wait too long and the parent becomes paranoid . Later, it was confirmed she has a progressive memory disorder, most likely Alzheimer’s. She is doing well, eating better, taking her medicines and staying busy. But, she is definitely in the right place as her memory continues to betray her.

You see, Mom was a teacher. She double majored in Education and Home Economics, so she was quite the planner. She later taught bible study fellowship up
until eighteen months before her hospital stay. And, when the church needed someone to organize meals for funerals or something, they looked to my mother. She had to be very organized to accomplish her duties, work, family and volunteer.

To make ends meet, she would plan her errands and meals. After leaving teaching to raise us (she would later return), she helped my father make ends meet. Since he was paid every two weeks, Mom would buy groceries based on a preset menu following her Home Economics discipline.

Every two weeks, we would eat fried chicken, pork chops, spaghetti, meat loaf, pot roast, etc. and then do it again the next two weeks. She would allow some variation intermixing fried shrimp or salmon  croquettes, and we usually had a treat of take out pizza. Mind you, this was before Pizza Hut, so we had to go get it.

I speak with Mom a few times a week and try to visit once a month from three states away. To see her now, is disheartening, but she is always my mother. She thinks she is in a college dorm room, which is sweet. At times, she talks about her pictures as if they are real. She has been able to mask her memory loss as she is very social, but it is harder now. I visit and call as I don’t want her to forget me. She knows I am on her team, but she has introduced me as her son, grandson, brother and husband.

Alzheimer’s is a hateful illness. If you have a loved one with any memory disorder get prepared for a demise in memory that won’t come back. And, have good conversations before then about how to handle the patient’s affairs.



Songwriters and Performers

Periodically, I have written posts about the songwriters and performers who combined words and music so magically. The posts that have received the most notoriety on my blog are not necessarily the biggest names, although they are indeed popular.

The post on Bob Seger has been my most visited musical post. When I think of the line from the movie “Eddie and the Cruisers,” about the key to a great song is words and music, I think of a short list of names including Seger’s. “Rock and Roll never forgets” sang Seger. He is right .

The second most read, but with a bullet, is a tribute to Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Four terrific songwriters and musicians in one group. This post may pass Seger’s soon, but in fairness to Seger it is four against one. Plus, the music of CSNY has a more cultural message. Their self-titled first album with the four of them with “So Far” tacked on the end of the title is one of the finest end to end albums ever, in my view.

The next in kind is the post about Gordon Lightfoot. He is indeed a troubadour, but his songwriting has been covered by many including Peter, Paul and Mary and Elvis Presley. He is still touring, so try to catch his laid back sing-a-long. He speaks about his songs and life, which are also poignant reflections.

The fourth most frequented post is by an artist who left us much too soon, Jim Croce. His music spoke clearly about loneliness, heartache, love, melancholy and relationships. Had he not died so young, he would be as popular as any song writer.

Below is a link to these posts. They may also link you to other musical posts, so please feel free to reminisce and share your favorites.

Corruption abounds

If you have read my earlier posts, you may recall that I cite the comments of a missionary in Nigeria who has lived in the world of disenfranchisement for many years. He believes the global corruption is one of the top three concerns in the world behind global poverty and climate change.

He sees corruption standing in the way of doing positive things and sowing the seeds of poverty and disenfranchisement. This lays the ground work for extremists who seize opportunity to say we can help. On “Real Time with Bill Maher” the other night, Raihan Salam, a frequent guest, made the astute comment that the extremists swim in the sea of the disenfranchised and woo them to consider working for them.

But, the corruption fuels the fire of poverty and disenfranchisement. A significant investigative journalistic effort has just been published which documents the pervasive nature of this corruption. It referenced as the Panama Papers and can be found with the following link:

This stuff makes my skin crawl. It has been happening for years, whether it is a democratic, communistic, or totalitarian regime. You need only to think of the Robber Baron period in US history and consider the undue influence of an oligarchy of leaders today. Some in the oligarchy are attempting to unwind laws that affect their ability to influence and make even more money.

You can remember George Orwell’s book “Animal Farm,” who described how the pigs lived in the house while others toiled under communism. You can see why Putin is able to control power by making his oligarchy wealthy. You can ask how did Hosni Mubarak have $81 Billion in wealth when deposed, while his Egyptian people tried to get by on $2 a day. You can consider the vast nepotism in Saudi Arabia, where the ruling families live a much better life than others in a very rich country.

History has two basic truisms. People will die once they are born. And, people who have, will take advantage of people who do not. We must guard against this, which is why Teddy Roosevelt fought so hard against the Robber Barons. Everyone deserves a “square deal” as he called it. A chance to live a reasonable life and feed, clothe and protect their family. What is interesting is the data shows “we do well, when we all do well,” which is a quote from Franklin Roosevelt. When too much goes to too few, we suffer more and the economy does not reach its full potential.

Please read this article. And, then begin asking questions of our leaders.


North Carolina – State of Confusion

I have lived in North Carolina for going on 36 years, mostly in Charlotte, but with a four year stint in Winston-Salem. I moved here after college in Atlanta, which I also love, but was born and raised in Florida. Florida has basically two seasons and is flat, so being in North Carolina with its four seasons, trees, mountains and coast is more my taste. It has been a great place to do business, but the recent years have made things more challenging than they need to be.

Our state used to take pride in being the most progressive state in the south. We were open for business, research and education. About ten years ago, for example, we were hailed by passing a law that obligated our electric utilities to phase-in the use of renewable energy over the next fifteen years. As a result, our state is the fourth most prevalent state in solar energy and is ripe for more wind energy expansion. This was a prescient eye toward the future.

Yet, since the 2010 elections, our state has been governed by a very conservative set of leaders who seized the opportunity of the President’s first mid-term election and a census year to gain a majority and gerrymander the voting districts to favor their candidates going forward. It should be noted the Democrats did this in previous census years, but that does not make it any more correct – it was wrong then and is wrong now. It should be noted, the gerrymandering was overturned as unconstitutionally drawn in two districts two months ago, and all districts have been redrawn.

The dilemma is our legislature has proceeded to pass a series of laws and avoid taking positive actions that have made our state much less progressive and the subject of lampooning by national businesses and media. Some of the actions are still in court, while others have been ruled unconstitutional like the above gerrymandering ruling.

A law which made it harder for women to get access to abortion facilities was overturned as unconstitutional. A law that said the tenure of existing teachers could be overlooked was overturned. A law that said the Jim Crow like and most restrictive Voter ID Law in the country remains in court. It should be noted that the legislature tried to preempt the most recent court case, by changing some of the features last summer, knowing they did a bridge too far.

The latest foray is HB2 which unfairly discriminates against the LGBT community in response to a City of Charlotte ordinance passed last month to permit transgender people to legally use the bathroom they identify with. This law exists in about 200 cities around the country. Using fear tactics that unjustly paint transgender people as sexual predators (without data I might add), the state General Assembly swept in for a special session and passed a law to say the person must use the bathroom based on gender at birth. Plus, it went beyond this restricting formal rights for all LGBT people and preventing other cities to pass similar ordinances or minimum wage laws.

To make it worse, the Governor signed this into law the same day without reading it. I say this because at a news conference to tell others the criticism of the law is overblown, he was asked about a couple of features of the law, which he was unaware were therein. The news conference was hastily called as the backlash has been huge. So, far 120 major companies such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Google, Lowe’s, Apple, Facebook, etc. have signed a letter asking for the repeal. Thus far, a specific filming project for a TV comedy has been canceled and one convention reservation has been terminated. Others are reconsidering events, plans and projects in the state.

And, that is just to date. My guess is the mountain of companies will build and pressure the General Assembly to act. Plus, a law suit has been filed against the unconstitutionality of the law. While stranger things have happened, I cannot see this law suit failing as the law is discriminatory. Plus, it is ineffective. First, someone born as a man or woman that looks like, acts like and/ or biologically is the opposite sex, then to force them to use a bathroom opposite their countenance will heighten risk and incidents. Second, setting the legal issue aside, there is very little chance for the law to be policed. So, in practice, the issue is moot. If Aunt Edna is now Uncle Ed, there is very little chance he will be stopped from going to the men’s bathroom.

My state is in confusion. We have tarnished our image and that will hurt both our economy and reputation. And, for what gain, as there is not much that can be done to limit the bathroom of choice? Finally, if the General Assembly fails to act, they will be made to act when the law is ruled unconstitutional. This law needs to be repealed to avoid further embarrassment and negative impact on our economy.