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Views: 628
Date Posted: Apr. 27, 5:50pm, 0 Comments

These are the times in which a genius would wish to live. 

It is not in the still calm of life that great characters are formed. 

The habits of a vigorous mind are formed contending with difficulties. - Abigail Adams

 

So, a friend calls me and says, "I need your help." 

"Sure," I tell him.  "No problem.  What's up?"

Seems he'd taken a job as Manager Of Field Operations for the U.S. Census. 

"I'm the MOFO," he says.

I say, "You got that right."

 

So, I am working seven days a week.  Some days more than eight hours a day. 

 

I am retired.  I don't need a job.  I don't want a job.  Don't like jobs.

A job - to me - means I do something I don't want to do at a time I don't want to do it with people I don't want to be with... somewhere I don't want to be. 

Jobs suck.

 

Interestingly, these people are kinda fun to be with.  Still... don't want to do it.

 

What I want to do is stay home and play poker.

 

I haven't played poker in a couple of weeks now.  Not sure this is bad for me. 

I can probably use a break. 

My idea is that this is free money, extra money. 

Of course, the bad news is I am getting paid the same wage I earned in 1970. 

Only without the benefits. 

On weekends we get time-and-a-half.  So, on those days, I am earning what I made in 1980.

 

The work is brainless.  I am literally pushing paper. 

I tried to do my Zen consciousness MINDFUL paper pushing, but then I went to the MP3 player.  I spend the day listening to action/adventure novels.  Today I was listening to I, Sniper by Stephen Hunter.  Last week, it was Gone Tomorrow by Lee Child.  I recommend both. 

But, truth be told, these authors make me feel like I should be kicking ass at every opportunity.

 

And the opportunities are legion. 

Last night - I am not making this up - the shift leader made us drop what we were doing to read a emergency e-mail from the main office. 

Apparently, there's a big problem. 

And we should keep doing what we were doing.

 

The MOFO comes by and asks, "So, how's it going?"

I tell him the truth.  He knew I would.  It's what I do.

"If these people were on fire, I wouldn't piss on the flames," I tell him.

 

I knew we were in trouble the first day. 

When I saw the schedule.

They don't know how much work there is to do.

They don't know how many people we have to do the work.

They don't know how fast the work can be done.

They do have a schedule.

And we do know when the work has to be finished.

 

Then they announce the computers will be down.  For hours.  For days even. 

 

The government has been doing this since 1790...they have had ten years to prepare and they act like the Census is a surprise. 

I have seen better organized birthday parties for four-year-olds at Chuck E. Cheese.

 

Here's my thinking.  I am going to use this money to go to Vegas for the WSOP.  I am available for fun and parties and mentoring and fun and parties. 

 

This is why I am helping to count 300,000,000 Americans.

 

Because... Not since Gen. Custer engaged a number of hostile natives at the Little Big Horn has a government project moved forward so seamlessly.

Views: 561
Date Posted: Apr. 19, 6:24pm, 0 Comments
An old prospector shuffled into the town of El Indio, Texas, leading an old, tired mule.  The old man headed straight for the only saloon in town, to clear his parched throat.  He walked up to the saloon and tied his old mule to the hitch rail. 

As he stood there, brushing some of the dust from his face and clothes, a young gunslinger stepped out of the saloon with a gun in one hand and a bottle of whiskey in the other. 

The young gunslinger looked at the old man and laughed, saying, "Hey, old man, have you ever danced?"  The old man looked up at the gunslinger and said, "No, I never did dance... never really wanted to." 

A crowd had gathered as the gunslinger grinned and said,   "Well, you old fool, you're gonna' dance now," and started shooting at the old man's feet. 

The old prospector, not wanting to get a toe blown off, started hopping around like a flea on a hot skillet.  Everybody was laughing, fit to be tied. 

When his last bullet had been fired, the young gunslinger, still laughing, holstered his gun and turned around to go back into the saloon.  The old man turned to his pack mule, pulled out a double-barreled shotgun, and cocked both hammers.  The loud clicks carried clearly through the desert air. 

The crowd stopped laughing immediately.  The young gunslinger heard the sounds,too, and he turned around very slowly.  The silence was almost deafening.  The crowd watched as the young gunman stared at the old timer and the large gaping holes of those twin barrels. 

The barrels of the shotgun never wavered in the old man's hands, as he quietly said, "Son, have you ever kissed a mule's ass?" 

The gunslinger swallowed hard and said, "No, sir..... but... I've always wanted to."

There are a few lessons for us all here:
Never be arrogant.
Don't waste ammunition.
Whiskey makes you think you're smarter than you are.
Always, always make sure you know who has the power.
Don't mess with old men - they didn't get old by being stupid.  
Views: 531
Date Posted: Apr. 15, 3:53pm, 3 Comments

 

Malcom Gladwell in his excellent book Outliers - the younger you are, the sooner you should read it - talks about how successful people are typically much more tenacious and persistent.  Failure is an option, quitting isn't.

The following piece by Jarrod Clark tells much the same story.


“Most of the things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done.”
– Louis D. Brandeis

One of my all time favorite inventors of all time is Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb. We can’t help but marvel at Edison’s drive, persistence, and determination because it was reported that he had about nine-thousand (9,000) failed attempts at inventing the light bulb.

What really moves me about Edison is that in spite of the way it seemed, he was determined to achieve what he sought after. I could imagine that during the attempt to create the light bulb, he had naysayers around him urging him to give up, urging him that it’s impossible and pointless. But Edison’s persistence is an example that motivates us today.

Edison changed the world because had he given up, we probably wouldn’t have the luxury of light in the world we live in today. Most people have a hard time trying 9 times, much less nine-thousand times at something. Most would give up after the first sign of failure. Some will give up at the first word of discouragement from their peers. Are you among this number?


What really inspires us about Edison’s persistence is that after asked how it felt to have had nine-thousand failed attempts at creating the light bulb, he said, “it felt great, for every time, I learned a way NOT to create the light bulb.”

 

Do you find yourself doing the same thing over and over, only to achieve the same results?

Edison didn’t fall into stagnation, he thought outside of the box. We can learn from Edison’s magnificence, for he’s living proof that it is possible to do what the world said is impossible.

You can achieve the impossible. ...  Find what drives and motivates you and stick to it until you achieve success. Whether you have 9 failed attempts, 900 or 9,000 failed attempts, it doesn’t matter as long as you stay persistent.

It’s not easy. No one said it would be. Don’t be moved by the way things look while on the journey to success. It’s not about how many failures you get but the successes that matter. Just like the saying goes most things worth doing in the world had been declared impossible before they were done. Prove the naysayers wrong and achieve what they said you can’t do. Keep your vision in mind as you charge forth on your journey of life.

Views: 260
Date Posted: Apr. 10, 3:28pm, 1 Comment
The wife
pried the old man
from his recliner and
led him
toward the bed.
 
Sooner
than might be expected,
the room filled
with the sound
of heavy breathing.
 
It
was
the dog....
Views: 283
Date Posted: Apr. 4, 3:02pm, 1 Comment

 

Pain was its own teacher, and there wasn't any way to learn how it worked but to be visited.  If the visits weren't right on top of each other - if they were far enough apart so you could forget the way it came but close enough to remember it went away - you could learn to ride it out. - Pete Dexter, Deadwood.
 
My father sobs.
    "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want."
 
The old man cries, as Pastor Bob recites the Twenty-third Psalm.
    "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadth me beside still waters."
 
Dad's head waters every time Pastor Bob prays.  Tears gush over porcelain cheeks that glisten.
    "He restoreth my soul; he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name's sake."
 
Dad soaks his pillow case.  I can't bear to see him cry.
    "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."
 
My head bowed, I am uncomfortable holding Pastor Bob's hand.  Don't even know the man.
    "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over."
 
Mother's face trickles.  A single, slender crystal tear torn loose, slowly traces fifty years' troth across a suddenly lonely landscape, looking very much like the rest of her days.  And nights.
    "Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life."
 
I don't listen.  I can't cry.  Wish I could scream.  I pray instead: Please, Lord.  Please don't let this guy sing Amazing Grace.
    "And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
    I scream.
 
It could be worse.  Following the quadruple bypass, Dad's complexion has taken on a waxy angelic tone.
    Following the strokes, he's finally showing a sense of humor.  Actually much funnier than before he went out of his mind.  The brain specialist said the enhanced wit was a not uncommon result of "a right hemisphere event."
    For example, Dad sat up, out of a deep sleep, looked around vacantly, and shouted, "Too much hocus-pocus!  Not enough magic!!"  Fell back, snoring again before his head even settled onto the pillow.
 
Footsteps pattered hurriedly down the hallway.
    A single-file parade of white uniforms filled the white room.  Surrounded the white bed.  Hovering white.
    Dad sat up again, looked around the crowd...slowly... his eyes narrowing in focus.  "Yuppie entrepreneurs!!!," he yelled, falling back on his pillow.
    More snoring.
    And, most importantly, none of his maladies are hereditary.
 
One day he disinherited me.
    "You can't do that.  I'm your only surviving child," I reminded him.  "I'm Junior, your first born."
    He got all serious, Robert Mitchum in a gangster movie.  "I'm leaving everything to my church."
    "You don't have a church."
    That cut him short.  His eyes glazed over like an icy interstate highway.  He drifted off, staring into the distance.                                 Lost.
 
I went looking for him.  Jabbed right where he lives.
    "You mean to tell me, I don't get your valuable paperweight collection, one from every state, where you turn it over, shake it upside down, then turn it rightside up and chalky flakes fall on some cheesy liquid plastic scene that's supposed to remind you of some long-forgotten joy ride or best forgotten family vacation!?"  I bellowed myself breathless, like I actually cared.
    So even a dead man could hear.
    "No snow globes!?!?!?!?!?"
 
No answer.  Perhaps, I thought, worried now, I should hold a mirror to his mouth.  Then I saw his chest move up and down.  Ever so slowly.
    He's in there somewhere.
    Then a wheeze.
    "How about your coin collection?  All those bright, shiny silver dollars in the thick navy blue folders.  That's gotta be worth a fortune."
    "They're worth plenty.  You can just forget my coins."
 
Finally, it was time to go.
    Mother asked Dad if it was okay to kiss him goodbye.
    "No," he says.
    I saw she was hurt.  I tried to lighten the mood.
    "How about me?," I asked, noisily pursing my lips into a grotesque, fishy O-shape.
    "You least of all," he growled.
 
The old man wasn't going to get away from me so easily.  Not this time.  With more wires coming out of him than a home entertainment center, he's far less elusive than he once was.
    There was nothing else for my dad to do but kiss me on the lips.
    "No tongues," I warned.
 
I kissed my Dad on the lips.  Surprised him.
    Saying goodbye this last time, we simply puckered up and planted smooches directly upon one another's grizzly face like it was normal.
    Like John Wayne and Humphrey Bogart swapped spit all the time, too.
    "Can't imagine life without your father," Mom sighed.
    "Try," I told her.  She looked at me like I had said something insane.
 
I told my Mom I like kissing my Dad.
    "Me, too," she said, perking up noticeably.  "You know, he's only told me twice in fifty years that he loves me.  And I had to coerce him both times."
    Followed by a vaporous sigh.  "Three times, counting right before this last surgery."
    "Four times," I told her.  "He said it right before your last surgery, but you weren't awake to hear."
 
Mom had brought their wedding portrait trying to goose Dad's memory.  They got married, it was the Christmas weekend, not so many months after the end of WWII, the second war to end all wars.
    Both of them look eager.
    It's a black and white photograph.  A busty virgin, she was young and looked younger, full of promise.  She's wearing a fuzzy suit.  Her right breast is covered with a floral corsage.  Atop her head sits a fancy bonnet, looking just like a flattened hot water bottle.
    He was the dashing sergeant on a three-day furlough, a decade her senior, with a full head of dark hair, slicked straight back.  Dad's in his dress uniform.  His left chest festooned with military decorations.
 
Fifty years later, they were still holding hands as they strolled along the beach, watching the sunset.
    We had always just assumed he was immortal.
    I can't stop thinking.  Every time I look at him, I see myself in thirty years.
    So, I go next door, to the family waiting room, where a murder trial is playing on the television.  A woman, about my age, is on the phone.
    Turns out she is comparison shopping for cremations.  Apparently, prices have skyrocketed in the last two years since she made arrangements for her late stepmother.
    Now, her father's got two days to live and she's got a sales meeting coming up.  You wouldn't believe the price difference from one crematory to another.
    Her last call is to her own doctor's office.  She needs to renew her valium prescription before the weekend.  Just in case.
 
Next day.  I can't help thinking I am too young, much too young still, to be holding my mother's hand at a time like this.
    I am holding Mother's hand, as we watch  Dad, tubes everywhere, try to remember his own name.
    "It's the same name as mine," I tell him, raising my voice.
    He doesn't hear so well with his good ear and he's part deaf in the other.  Mother left his hearing aids at home because, as she said, more than lives can get lost at the hospital.
    "The same name as mine," I repeated.
    Dad gave Mother, tears everywhere, this thousand-yard stare.  Like hollow-cheeked Jews outside Nazi showers.
    He looked right through me.
    "And who are you?," he asked.
 
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