Wednesday wanderings on a spring day

It is certainly a great day to wander about, but I think I will mow the grass first. Mowing has always been a chore I don’t mind, as you can see your progress as you go. Plus, freshly cut grass has a fresh smell. Since I have a battery powered mower, I don’t have to worry about inhaling gas fumes.

As I mow or wander, I can do some good thinking. I find myself thinking about past events and friends, since some of the current day issues are puzzling at best. I read a post (it may have been Jill or Joy’s) that some celebrity said “act like a grown up” used to be an admonition to misbehaving children. Now, we have too many grown-ups that act like spoiled toddlers. Of course, when some stand firmly behind one of the biggest acting toddlers as a former and possible future presidential candidate, it truly shows how low we have fallen.

We have too many that forget there is a responsibility that comes with our liberties. When my freedom to do things could be harmful to your freedoms, then we must cease or reconsider those actions. The opposite should be true. It reminds me of the caution to the newly launched Spiderman, when his grandfather said “with great power comes great responsibility.” Our freedoms to do things that are not permissible in some countries is a great power. Yet, we must honor it, nurture it, protect it for all.

Some have taken reaction to actual or perceived offenses to an awful degree. Just because someone disagrees with you, does not entitle you to hurt, threaten or kill the other person. Full stop. Just because you cannot tolerate failure, does not entitle you to turn over the chess board, throw a tantrum, claim cheating or instigate an attack on a branch of government. Full stop. Just because you are in a position of authority does not entitle you to ignore the people you represent. A good leader listens to others. A foolish one does not. Full stop.

There are many old lessons that are getting ignored these days. A key one is if someone has to tell you how great he or she is, then maybe we should look a little deeper as to why he or she is having to tell us such. When a colleague was complaining about being removed from marketing to a prospective client, unsuccessfully over several years, he said “I have known John for twenty years.” The thought running through my head was “And, he has known you.”

Whether you are religious or not, in many religious texts is some variation of Jesus’ golden rule. Treat others like you want to be treated. Let’s be responsible to each other. Let’s be civil in our discourse. Let’s protect their freedoms like they were our own. Let’s try not to be blowhards and listen to each other. Spiderman’s grandpa has a good lesson for us all.

Interesting thing about masculinity

In an article I read today, one political party is beating on its chest about masculinity. I guess it is some crazy notion or slogan similar to real men don’t like quiche. I guess they are saying only real men vote for our party or tribe. What I find interesting is the person who is the standard bearer of this political tribe exhibits so very few of the attributes of being a man or adult for that matter.

Mind you, I am positive there are more masculine men than I am, although I do try to stay in shape. To me, being a man or adult is being accountable and responsible. What I have witnessed for a long while, the standard bearer of this tribe blames anyone for his mistakes or what he did or failed to do except the man who looks back from the mirror when he shaves. I have rarely, if ever, heard this person say it is my fault. Even when he apologized after four years about his bogus claim that Obama was not born in the US, he blamed Hillary Clinton for his story. It is her fault that I have been making an issue of this for four years.

Yet, the best example is how much of a hissy fit this grown male has thrown over losing the 2020 election. As his niece Mary said, her uncle will burn it all down to avoid losing the election. A real man would have sucked it up a long time ago and accepted his loss, especially after failing to prove his claim in over 65 court cases and numerous audits. In other words, this person who hates to lose continues to do so with his bogus claims. Even yesterday, a Federal Judge noted in court that Al Gore was a real man who admitted he lost the 2000 election after SCOTUS ruled against his last request on the Florida recount. This latest former president still has not admitted such.

Finally, a real man or adult shoots straight with people. Outside of autocratic heads of state, I have never witnessed a more untruthful person as a democratically elected leader than the latest former president. Through numerous sources and individuals who worked with him, the truth is a rare occurrence by this party standard bearer. What frustrates me is people get hurt or die when some lies are left unchecked. The former president missed a golden opportunity to lead us when the pandemic struck, but his naysaying and hoax dealing still impact people twenty months later. He also put his most loyal followers in danger with the pandemic, when he admitted later he knew of the danger when he invited them all to rallies.

False bravado is not masculinity. It is akin to chest beating to garner attention or promote fear. It is the epitome of fake news. A real man or adult does not need to boast. I am not saying those who do are not real men, but they better be able to back it up. To me, there is an old saying – beware of the quiet one. The one who shows up, does his job well, and does not boast about it. That is the one to be reckoned with.

The second time you die

There is a Jewish saying that goes something like you die twice – the second time you die is when your name isn’t spoken anymore. In other words, when the last person who knew who you were passes on, your name will die with them.

This saying shows how short a time we are on this earth. So, we better make the best of it. I have long told my children what I learned. Your name is the most important asset you have. When people hear your name, what do you want them to think?

Would it be she was a real a person? He would give the shirt off his back. Or, would it be, I never trusted him. She was selfish and mean-spirited. Knowing we cannot please everyone, we can strive to be the best version of ourselves. We can endeavor to be kind, fair, honest, hardworking, etc. and when we fall short, we can acknowledge that we have and make amends.

Even if we are not effusive or outgoing, we can still represent ourselves well. More often, it is the folks who do not draw attention to themselves that do the heavy lifting and show up everyday on time. As I have been around the block a few times, I have observed that a person’s true value is often uncorrelated with how much they beat on their chests. The louder the false bravado, the more dubious I become about the boasting.

My step-grandfather was the only grandfather I really knew. My mother’s mother divorced her first husband as he was a “rolling stone” as The Temptations used to sing about. Ironically, my blood line grandfather’s brother, was one of the finest of men and he and my step-grandfather would fish together. Neither of these fishermen were boastful. They were hard working men, who spoke little, but when they spoke, you listened.*

I remember my step-grandfather as he was a very generous and genteel man. He was a builder, a master bricklayer which left his hands quite rough. Fishermen and women know that you need to be careful handling catfish, as their fins can slice your hands. My grandfather’s hands were so rough, he could simply grab a catfish, unhook it and throw it into the bin. I also recall a day when five us caught about one hundred fifty fish. My grandfather caught over half of them but he never said a word as he would reel them in.

False bravado is not a term one would use to define my step-grandfather. But, he is remembered well. And, he is remembered in the manner in which I would like to be.

*Note: My bloodline grandfather’s brother married one of my grandmother’s older sisters. So, two brothers married two sisters. Yet, the irony of my grandmother’s second husband being a fishing buddy of the brother of her first husband is interesting. The other less ironic note, is both sisters were gregarious characters, who married and settled down with quiet men.

Good faith dealings – a needed reprise

I wrote the following post following the death of the 41st president. While an imperfect man, with whom I did not always agree, he lived an exemplary life. There are several lessons for us courtesy of George H.W. Bush.

The passing of former President George H.W. Bush has highlighted the many positive attributes of the imperfect 41st President. Of course, we are all “fixer uppers,” and our willingness to know this about ourselves keeps us humble and in a constant state of self-improvement.

Many positive things have been highlighted about the elder Bush this past week, with many of us nostalgic to how we all should conduct ourselves, especially our leaders. Here are a few things I took away:

– a communication advisor to an early campaign noted he made a big mistake from which he could not hide. Thinking he would be fired, he recalled Bush telling him “I know you will knock the next opportunity out of the park.”

– a friend noted he played golf often with Bush when he was President. He noted the clubs Bush played would invariably try to “comp” his green and cart fees. Bush insisted that he pay for his and his friends fees. He noted it would not be right for a golf club to not expect him to pay.

– a Democrat Senator noted that it was not unusual for Bush to invite a handful of Senators or Congressional representatives to the White House on late Friday afternoons for martinis, which Bush made. He would also give them a tour of the White House, if any had not seen it before.

– many noted that Bush was a voracious note writer and they took pride in words of encouragement, support, sympathy or thanks; these notes were received by media, foreign and domestic leaders, public servants, fathers, mothers, sons and daughters.

– after he retired, the son of one of his secret service guards was struggling with Leukemia and losing his hair due to the Chemotherapy. Bush shaved his head in solidarity with the son to lift his spirits,

– many leaders and public servants noted that Bush had many relationships around the world and here in the states, which benefited him and our country in troubling or challenging times. His ability to tap these resources to build coalitions to do things is paramount to several successful endeavors.

– relationships matter at home too, with a lovely marriage to Barbara for 73 years and a beautiful family of children and grandchildren. Marriage is hard work – this speaks volumes about the Bushes.

– Finally, in today’s times it is hard to convince some that perception is not reality. We seem to spend an inordinate amount of time polishing our own apple or thinking those that do it well rate more highly as a result. One magazine defined Bush as a wimp when he ran for President, primarily because he was an obsequious Vice-President. Here was a man who flew 58 combat missions in WWII and was shot down. He was not raised to brag on himself. It would not have been false bravado for him to do so. False bravado seems to be mistaken for actually bravery these days. But, the reason he was called a wimp due to being obsequious is while he offered criticism to  President Reagan in private, it would have been detrimental to call him out in public.

Each of us could be better people. Our leaders should be among our better angels. Character matters. Dealing with people in a good faith manner matters. Telling the truth to the media, colleagues and the American people matter. Being accountable matters. Real courage is usual quietly borne and not bragged about. We should remember these truths. We should do our best to emulate them.

False bravado

False bravado per the Urban dictionary means “Portraying yourself as much more confident then you are as a defense mechanism.” One of my favorite examples is that of the male gorilla who will beat on his chest and make a ruckus in an attempt to intimidate his opponent. Unlike his human counterpart, the gorilla can usually back up being a blow hard.

I have long grown weary of politicians who intentionally portray a false bravado or faux toughness to appeal to voters. Politicians blowing smoke at people to paint a picture of toughness occurred long before the latest former president. What has always amazed me about this former president is the thing that scares him most in this world is a woman (or man) armed with facts. He would much prefer a name-calling mud fight, as he has a better chance of winning that. It is those pesky facts he fails to study, that get in the way.

His greatest fear is being found out that he really is all about perception and his base of knowledge tends to be far less than portrayed. This is why a false bravado is so important to him. He must look tough and smart. To my earlier point, we must not forget he declined to do one debate if Fox News’ Megyn Kelly was there asking him questions. She was mean to him at the previous Fox debate asking him questions he did not know were coming. We learned much later that the Fox News network had fed him the questions that were to be asked.

I read this morning that Senator Rand Paul is the latest tough guy saying he does not need a vaccine. Fellow Republican and realist Representative Adam Kinzinger mocked this false bravado. Being an eye doctor, Paul believes he can convince people the vaccines are unneeded. I find this to be a dereliction of duty. What is sad is the whole attempt is to mask over the former president’s woeful handling and downplaying of the COVD pandemic that caused more people to die than should have. Even today, too many people do not take this pandemic seriously thanks to this political messaging.

The people who tend to be the brave ones, usually do not need to broadcast that. This is one reason people who have done brave things in wars do not want to share details, as it is too horrific and they were just doing their jobs. A famous baseball pitcher who did well in pressure packed games said something interesting about this. The people who do well under pressure tend to do their jobs at the same level when the pressure mounts; it is others whose performance falls off when the pressure increases. They were just doing this jobs.

That is what we need more of in public service from politicians. Worry less about keeping your job and just do your job. That is all we ask.

Keep these trends in the back of your mind

It is easy to get distracted with today’s news, where “he said what about that” gets way too much press. Here are few other trends that we should keep in the back of our minds. Some are more pressing than others:

  • Drug companies make money by inventing a recurring need and marketing a drug you need to take the rest of your life. Mind you, there are plenty of good reasons to invent new drugs to help, but there are a series of runaway trains being advertised daily. One trend I noticed is the “add-on” drug. What I mean by this is you may be taking a recurring drug for a condition that works just fine. But, the company or even another company comes up with a supplemental drug that makes that drug a little better. Or, in the case of opioids causing constipation, there is a drug to help you with that. Suggestion: Speak with your doctor and do some research.
  • Your data will never be fully protected and safe online. We should do everything in our power to limit what is out there, but hackers are way too sophisticated and diligent. I applaud the security folks greatly, as they are tasked with a hard job. And, as I mentioned in an earlier blog, some apps like Facebook make money selling access to your information. Unless they change that model, your data will be exposed. Suggestion: Know what data you have out there and decide if you want to limit any of it. Do not use wi-fi in public places to do sensitive financial transactions (banking, credit cards, etc.). A security person said using a hotel’s wi-fi is like picking up a croissant off the floor and eating it. Change your passwords every so often, but make sure you can remember them.
  • Bottled water is a threat to our environment and your wallet. There are floating islands of plastic in the ocean as big as some states. If you must buy water, then recycle. Then there is that cost thing. Much cheaper is buying a filtered water pitcher and keeping it filled in the refrigerator. Some major named water sellers simple use purified tap water with additives. So, why not cut out the middle man. Suggestion: Check out how much you spend on bottled water or even soft drinks each month. Filtered refrigerated water (either from your door or pitcher) will save you money and the environment. Plus, if you reduce the number of soft drinks by drinking water, it will do the above, plus improve your health.
  • An authoritarian type leader tends to use a lot of false bravado. It is my view that the amount of bravado is highly correlated with the amount of lying. Think Trump, al Assad, Putin, Kim, Duterte, Maduro, etc. Suggestion:  Take everything said by these people with a grain of salt. I assume their comments are untrue and work back from there. Plus, do your homework and don’t be made out to be a fool. As Mark Twain said, “It is easier to fool someone than to convince them he has been fooled.”
  • Speaking of correlation, larger family sizes are highly correlated with a propensity toward poverty (this one is not just my impression). I read again this morning the solution to poverty is smaller family sizes, yet the source also denies the need for family planning funding. Another variation is there are too many single parent families. Again, family planning helps, but also marriage counseling with 1/2 of marriages ending in divorce. Suggestion: We need to avoid stating obvious problems as if that statement will solve them. We must do something about the problems. Data reveals states that have robust family planning funding have fewer unwanted pregnancies, fewer healthcare costs, fewer STDs and less poverty.

What are some trends you are seeing? Please offer a suggestion as well.