Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Quiet Anger in America

A friend sent me this link to an eloquently written piece in The American Spectator about America's quiet anger. James P. Gannon has done beautiful work capturing the dark mood in our country.

Thanks, Rick. I'm passing it along to readers who will understand every word.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Remembering Spring

I stuck my head out the window this morning and spring kissed me bang in the face.
-- Langston Hughes

I'm a spoiled Southern California "weather baby" for many years now. We are cushioned in beautiful weather most of the year. We gripe about our few rainstorms and a "cold wave" that plummets our temperatures into the 40s at night for a week or so. Never mind that the temperatures still soar during the daytime--we feel cold! So it's difficult for us to appreciate the power of spring's long-awaited debut in harsher climates.

I remember the first day of spring in the northeastern part of the country. Although the official first day of spring was last weekend, anyone who has lived through a cold winter can confirm that spring's actual arrival has nothing to do with the calendar.

The first day of spring can come early in March or well into April. In the wintry climates, spring's entrance is different each year. Yet everyone who is anxiously awaiting it knows exactly when it's arrived, regardless of the date.

Spring is the first day that the breezes blow warm, and the sun feels like it is hugging you through your clothing. It is the first day that rich, damp soil soaks up the sunshine and smells better than fresh-brewed coffee in the morning. It's the first day since before the snows fell that you will see children bursting upon the outdoors, riding bikes, skateboarding, running freely through their yards in tee shirts still creased from winter storage boxes. People throw open their windows, chat with neighbors over the fence, start churning up the garden and checking for green sprouts. Everyone laughs and lingers outdoors. Life seems new and miraculous again. The first day of spring is always pure magic.

I wouldn't want to go back east and trudge through a "real" winter again. But every year around this time, I remember that wondrous combination of joy, hope, and promise that can enfold you only after the endurance of a long, cold, grey winter. That golden feeling comes only one glorious day of the year--the first day of spring. As I recall, it's always worth the wait.

Photo from The Guardian, UK

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fighting for America

The bigger the government, the smaller the citizen
~ Dennis Prager

After the weekend cram-down of health “scare” reform, against a storm of popular opposition, we all may as well live in Venezuela. This is a surprise?

Before he was elected president, Barack Obama promised to “transform America.” The good news is, for once he told the truth about something. The bad news is that this “transformation,” if unchallenged, holds the seeds of our destruction.

Think about it. How many young people will want to pursue medicine, now that the profession will become a government-managed bureaucracy? How many successful, long-established physicians will choose retirement rather than sacrifice their independent medical practice for a government-run clinic? In the face of either scenario, let alone both of them, who will treat the 30+ million newly insured? And by the way, who will pay the tab of trillions of dollars that we don’t have?

Oh, piffle--details, details. The president waves them away with a sniff and presses forward toward his leftist utopian dream, the U.S.S.A.—United Socialist States of America.

What will he do when the current euphoria fades and Obama realizes he can’t blame this one on George W. Bush? Although he’ll try; it “should have been done by the previous administration,” or some such whining. But, I digress. Back to Armaggedon, American style.

The health reform bill actually does create tens of thousands of new jobs—for the IRS. Yes, the provisions of the bill dictate that the IRS will expand dramatically to ensure that each and every citizen, company, organization, corporation, etc., pays its healthcare dues. Forgot to purchase your health policy? Kiss your tax return bye-bye, and get ready to cough up extra for the penalties. It’s all for the collective good, comrade.

There will be legal challenges to this travesty while the opposition gets ready to fight on this issue in the midterm elections. Voters and citizens opposed to this disgraceful legislation are furious at being ignored, and the Democrats sadly underestimate the ardor this issue inspires. So more good news, Republicans will most likely win majority in November and start down the long road to repeal. I, for one, will support that any way I can.

No, it’s not Normandy or Guadacanal, but it’s a battle in a war all the same. A bloodless civil war, as Dennis Prager notes, but just as much a struggle to defend our American identify as any fight on any battlefield in the last two centuries. To paraphrase that great American Revolutionary war hero, Paul Revere: to arms, to arms—the government is coming.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Desert Sunday

It stands guard as it is its duty
To pronounce itself a desert beauty

The kids took me on a drive today, out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and then on a hike up the Palm Canyon Trail.

Wow. The wild flowers are bursting in bloom after all the winter rains, the creek water is rushing over the rocks, and the 3-mile hike was like entering a new world. At the top of the trail, "The Oasis" (pictured) awaits visitors, a shady spot to sit in the coolness, rehydrate, and enjoy the sights and sounds near the waterfall before heading back down the trail.

I'll probably feel a few aches and pains tomorrow, but our "Funday" was worth it--and not just for the family time and the beautiful scenery. For the rest of Sunday, I'm going to eat (and drink) whatever I want!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Rules of Canine Life

If you pick up a starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you. This is the principal difference between a dog and a man.
~ Mark Twain

What with all the fuss and bother swirling in the headlines, I thought it might be a good time to take a lesson from our best friend.

Dogs live in the now. If you stop to think about it, that's a blessed state of being. You'll never catch a dog fretting about how long it will take to get an appointment with the vet after the health care bill passes. They don't worry about where the dog biscuits will come from when taxes go up. Dogs just follow their own simple code and enjoy life. We should give it a try.

Things We Can Learn From A Dog

1. Never pass up the opportunity to go for a joyride.

2. Allow the experience of fresh air and the wind in your face to be pure ecstasy.

3. When loved ones come home, always run to greet them.

4. When it's in your best interest, practice obedience.

5. Let others know when they've invaded your territory.

6. Take naps and stretch before rising.

7. Run, romp and play daily.

8. Eat with gusto and enthusiasm. Stop when you've had enough.

9. Be loyal.

10. Never pretend to be something you're not.

11. If what you want lies buried, dig until you find it.

12. When someone is having a bad day, be silent, sit close by and nuzzle them gently.

13. Thrive on attention and let people touch you.

14. Avoid biting when a simple growl will do.

15. On warm days, stop to lie on your back on the grass.

16. On hot days, drink lots of water and lie under a shady tree.

17. When you're happy, dance around and wag your entire body.

18. No matter how often you're scolded, don't buy into the guilt thing and pout right back and make friends.

19. Delight in the simple joy of a long walk.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Ides of March

Beware the ides of March

Usually the only thing alarming to me about March 15 is how quickly the year is flying by--again. It's once again time to finish doing the taxes and spring the clock ahead.

However, this year I have another cause to look askance at the date. The infamous ides of March is being ushered in by daylight savings weekend--my least favorite time of the year. Not only will I find myself in the midst of Monday in a nano-flash, we're back to pitch dark awakenings and weary evenings. It takes me at least a week to adjust to a time change. Spring, when we lose time, is always harder. It's amazing what havoc one hour's difference can wreak with one's biorhythms.

Tomorrow morning I'll be on the freeway without enough sleep. Beware the ides of March...yawn.

Saturday, March 06, 2010

Servant Leadership - A Way Forward

Servant Leadership - to equip, inspire and encourage those we influence in order to make a profound positive difference in the world.
~ from The Art of Servant Leadership, by Tony Baron, PhD

It's an intriguing story of a new way to do business successfully amidst enduring economic pain after the financial meltdown of recent years. The book relates the history of how one CEO, Art Barter, changed course and dedicated his company, Datron World Communications, to creating a better world through the philosophy of servant leadership.

Barter did this by applying servant leadership principles within both the company and the community. During this process, within a mere five years, Barter has multiplied Datron's bottom line many times over.

CEOs seeking a formula for success should look no further than Tony Baron's book. In the cynicism of today's business climate, following Wall Street's collapse and the Great Recession we still struggle to recover from, Datron's story of servant leadership offers a refreshing alternative to the standard business model of profit over people. By putting people first, Datron has greatly increased its profits, even during the worst financial crisis of our time.

In the wake of the innumerable financial failures the business world has suffered recently, Datron's success proves that servant leadership is an idea whose time has come. It offers a bright, new way forward through our dark economic times. Wise business leaders will take note and add Baron's The Art of Servant Leadership to their list of required reading.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A State of Happiness

It comes as no surprise that Hawaii tops the 2009 list of the U.S.A.'s happiest states. It's an incredibly beautiful, exotic tropical paradise, surrounded by gorgeous blue ocean, with no border problems. What's not to be happy about?

America's big cities could take a lesson from the Aloha state. I have a Hawaiian daughter-in-law and can truly say, without doubt or hesitation, that I've never met anyone happier than she.

See that photo? That's the beach across from Chinaman's Hat, near where she married my son a year and a half ago. That beach is about a half-hour drive from the house she grew up in, where her parents still live. Again, I ask--what's not to be happy about?

Hau'oli means happy. The Hawaiian word for "sad" is so lengthy that it makes me think that Hawaiians can't possibly use it very often. I've learned a fair amount of Hawaiian vocabulary from my daughter-in-law; but, predictably enough, the word "sad" has just never come up.