Friday, June 19, 2015

Best Quote

An executive said recently that her final question to an interviewee is: “What is the best quote you remember?” I challenge anyone to read that and not think of a quote of their own.

Since quotes and clever sayings have been an abiding hobby of mine (I recently ran on to a daily calendar page from 1972 upon which I had written, “Fragile as November ice,” which apparently appealed to me on that day), my mind was flooded with quotes. Most of my remembered quotes are either amusing or snarky in some way, and not fit for repeating in an interview situation, so I was discarding them as soon as I remembered them. One, however, might work.

The event was the Ak-Sar-Ben rodeo, and one of the events-within-the-event was for a few of us from the Nebraska National Guard and Reserve units of all branches of the service to receive medals from the Governor, James Exon, recognizing us as Outstanding Soldiers. The irony cannot be ignored, but that isn’t the point.

At the preceding dinner, the speaker was not the Governor, but an admiral who they must have flown in from somewhere else because I can’t think of a job for an admiral in Nebraska. We braced ourselves for something sleep-worthy, and I will never forget his opening—“I feel like the movie star’s seventh husband on their wedding night. I know what’s expected of me, but I don’t know how to make it interesting.”

Make it interesting. What a concept. When writing or in any job, that isn’t a bad motto. It stuck with me for something like 40 years, and I thank that Navy officer wherever he went, whatever he did and hope he lived up to his advice. Oh, and I still have the medal and a picture of the gov and me.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


The Chicago Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup Monday night. Great celebration and joy all around. But Stan Mikita wasn’t celebrating. You see, Stan wasn’t remembering. He has dementia.

Back in the day, to coin a phrase, they played without helmets. They played in the winter against foes from the Original Six, with names like Bruins and Rangers. Not “Lightning.”

His wife said that “Stan knew the risks every time he laced up the skates,” so they won’t be suing anybody. Besides, she said, “It won’t help.”
Sad that one of the Blackhawk greats can’t join the others, but refreshing that his family appreciates how this Slovak boy, raised in Canada benefited from professional hockey. Yep, those Canadians. Eh?


MSNBC has pretty much locked up first place in the Joke-Network competition. Chris Matthews established the network as the worst of the worst with his fawning over the POTUS, and now Melissa Harris-Perry has finished the race to the bottom by opening up a discussion featuring Rachel Dolezal as the “Caitlyn” Jenner of the “trans-black” movement.

To borrow a phrase—C’mon, man!

Anyone who knows me, listens to my rants or reads them is familiar with my dismay at the way traditional journalism has been jilted in favor of the trash available on NBC, CNN, Yahoo!, and all the others. Don’t they employ editors? How about fact checking? Again, the scourge of the 24-hour news cycle.

Just last weekend, Linda asked, “Can’t you believe anything you see on the internet?” It is difficult. The guy on CNN who suggested that aliens might be involved in the disappearance of MH370. Now this “trans-black” stuff.

This has to be raised to a level beyond an old man ranting. We need to find a way to inform our children of the way people behave properly in a society rather than have them bombarded by daily assaults of the latest doings of the Kardashians. Are they to be the guides for our next generation?

Radical Muslims are teaching their populace a rigid code. Period. How do we teach our children and citizenry? Well, you know. It involves explanations bordering on the insane, such as trans-black and justifications for the latest behavior of a celebrity.

A word describing an action that is essential to human society but has been warped: Discrimination. We must discriminate to survive, between poison and healthy, between dangerous and safe, and so on. In society, there is always conflict and balance, between the rights of one group and the rights of another. Progress involves the evolution of the lines of discrimination, not the abandonment of all selective thinking.

Without the grumpy, experienced editor and his blue pencil scrawling symbols on the copy, it is just a free for all out there. Bad spelling, fabrications, flawed concepts, absence of thought. How do we fix it? We better find a way.

Monday, June 8, 2015

Hang up and Drive--and Get off my Lawn

As you all know, I often find others who say what I would like to say...only much better than I could have ever done. The following is from Wards Auto and it says what we all know to be true.
Hang Up and Drive – And Get Off My Lawn

Jun 4, 2015 by Tom Murphy in Road Ahead

We have become a nation of awful drivers.

The statement is based not on witnessing the occasional indiscretion behind the wheel, but instead a pattern of carelessness, distractibility and recklessness.

An alarming number of drivers just aren’t paying attention and would rather bury their noses in their smartphones than devote the necessary concentration to safely pilot 2 tons of metal down the motorway, through the neighborhood or around town.

How do I know people are looking at smartphones while half-heartedly attempting to drive?

Because when I see a vehicle drifting into my lane, or someone else’s lane, or over a curb on a busy street, or if an aimless vehicle corrects abruptly at the last second to avoid a fire hydrant, I glance at the driver and see that he or she is looking at a device instead of the road – and continues to do so even after a near miss.

My latest pet peeve has become a daily occurrence: Sitting in queue at a stoplight, I watch the light turn green and then wait for the vehicle at the front of the line to proceed. Invariably, the lead driver has no idea the light has changed because the information on the smartphone is a whole lot more interesting.

In these situations, I don’t want to be too quick to lean on the horn for two reasons: If I honk at the precise moment the driver steps on the gas, then I look like an idiot.

Second, it’s entirely possible some other imbecile crossing through the intersection is texting his girlfriend and failing to recognize his traffic light ahead now is red. Although annoying, that delay may save my life someday. Did I mention I also see people drive through red lights without even tapping the brakes?

For this reason, I count to four before alerting the vehicle at the head of the line to get a move on.

This insatiable appetite to interact with our devices is turning us into inconsiderate drivers, too. Countless times I have seen people change lanes, no matter the proximity to another vehicle already in that lane, without signaling.

If I can get a look at that driver, it’s often a person who is texting or talking into their handset. You need at least three hands to steer, cradle the Starbucks, hold a phone and activate a blinker. Most of us only have two.

If you spent hard-earned money for turn signals on your car, why not use them?

I wrote a song 14 years ago called “Hang Up and Drive,” and bandmates said this bit of social commentary would be meaningless in a few years.

I wish that were true. Instead, the problem has spun out of control as people either are too lazy to sync their phones with a car via Bluetooth or refuse to pay for the technology. Or, they just can’t stand to put down their devices.

There are inconsiderate drivers, and then there are truly dangerous ones.

A Livingston County, MI, jury recently convicted 69-year-old Martin Zale of second-degree murder for shooting a man who confronted him for aggressive driving near Howell, northwest of Detroit.

Derek Flemming, 43, a father of two, was at Zale’s driver-side window when he was shot with a 9 mm Ruger. Zale claimed self-defense.

Road rage is an ugly thing that can turn lethal, which explains my sense of alarm when I was leaving my office a few weeks ago in Southfield, waiting first in line at a stoplight right outside our parking deck.

I was fully attentive, and I stepped on the gas when the light turned green. As I moved through the intersection, I noticed in my rear-view mirror that the driver behind me seemed highly impatient and was tailgating.

With both hands, he was motioning me forward, as if I were going too slowly. He couldn’t pass because the car next to me was going the same speed.

That stretch of Central Park Blvd. is a notorious speed trap, but I was going slightly above the limit. Not fast enough, apparently. I was relieved when he turned off and sped through a parking lot.

It’s because of encounters like these, as well as the distraction epidemic, that I teach my kids about defensive and responsible driving. I’m proud to say they’re both good drivers.

I used to think autonomous cars were silly science experiments and potentially dangerous. I’m reconsidering. Our roads likely will become safer because people will be able to text to their heart’s content, same as they do today. But they won’t have to drive.

The older I get, the more my wife says I sound like a grouchy, old Clint Eastwood.

Well, I’m proud to say it: Stop Texting, and Get Off My Lawn!

I doubt I’m the only person with tales of woe from behind the wheel. Care to share your stories?

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Frank and the Snakes

I posted "Frank Pickett" in March of 2014 and included the story of Frank and Ada's house being infested with snakes causing Frank to step on one when barefoot in the dark on his way to the bathroom.

Just saw this:

A Maryland family found lots of snakes in their new home, black rat snakes. Harmless, but not my idea of house guests.

Yee haw. Gives me the willies just thinking of it.

On a practical basis, what made the real estate agent think they would be able to sell the home without disclosure? Like nobody would find out? Some people.