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June 07, 2013

'Are you laughing yet?' CBS Sunday Observations by Ben Stein


The following was written by Ben Stein and recited by him on CBS
Sunday Morning Commentary.

My confession:

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew, and I don't think
Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think
People who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around,
Period. I have no idea where the concept came from, that America is an
Explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I
Don't like it being shoved down my throat...

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that
We should worship celebrities and we aren't allowed to worship God as
We understand Him? I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too.
But there are a lot of us who are wondering where these celebrities
Came from and where the America we knew went to.

In light of the many jokes we send to one another for a laugh, this is
A little different: This is not intended to be a joke; it's not funny,
it's intended to get you thinking.
In light of recent events... Terrorists attack, school shootings,
Etc.. I think it started when Madeleine Murray O'Hare (she was
Murdered, her body found a few years ago) complained she didn't want
Prayer in our schools, and we said OK. Then someone said you better
Not read the Bible in school... The Bible says thou shalt not kill;
Thou shalt not steal, and love your neighbor as yourself. And we said

Then Dr. Benjamin Spock said we shouldn't spank our children when they
Misbehave, because their little personalities would be warped and we
Might damage their self-esteem (Dr. Spock's son committed suicide). We
Said an expert should know what he's talking about.. And we said

Now we're asking ourselves why our children have no conscience, why
They don't know right from wrong, and why it doesn't bother them to
Kill strangers, their classmates, and themselves.

Probably, if we think about it long and hard enough, we can figure it
Out. I think it has a great deal to do with 'WE REAP WHAT WE SOW.'

Funny how simple it is for people to trash God and then wonder why the
world's going to @#!*% . Funny how we believe what the newspapers say,
But question what the Bible says. Funny how you can send 'jokes'
Through e-mail and they spread like wildfire, but when you start
Sending messages regarding the Lord, people think twice about sharing.
Funny how lewd, crude, vulgar and obscene articles pass freely through
Cyberspace, but public discussion of God is suppressed in the school
And workplace.

Are you laughing yet?

Funny how when you forward this message, you will not send it to many
On your address list because you're not sure what they believe, or
What they will think of you for sending it.

Funny how we can be more worried about what other people think of us
Than what God thinks of us.

Pass it on if you think it has merit.

If not, then just discard it... No one will know you did. But, if you
Discard this thought process, don't sit back and complain about what
Bad shape the world is in.

My Best Regards, Honestly and respectfully,

Ben Stein

June 04, 2013

"Nah, wouldn't look good in that red bandana"



Fifth in check out line early this morning at the Family Fair super on W. Michigan. Everyone is paying with their orange bridge/food stamp card. 'What are the odds on that?,' I think to myself. 

Old, dirty, gray grizzled wanna be biker is in front of me. 'You have a nice day!,' the clerk says to him. 'Oh, I always have a nice day. Don't let nobody or nothin bother ME!,' he replies. 

Walks out in steel-tipped boots, to his beat up old H-D, parkied illegally on the sidewalk outside the store 
door, jumps starts, and roars across the parking lot at about 60. 

'Maybe I should go down to the Toeller Human Services Building and get me one of those bridge cards today, instead of to my little 3-day a week, part-time job?,' I think. 'Nah, I'd kill myself on that bike. And I wouldn't look good in that red bandana.'

May 26, 2013

Have An Hour? Take A Walk in Battle Creek History.

Have an hour this weekend?

Talk a walk in Memorial Park Cemetery (on Territorial Rd near Helmer.  The walk around its outer pathway is almost exactly 1.5 miles.).

Kiwanis have all the flowers and flags out and placed there.

Many families adding their own flowers and visiting graves.

Lots of friends and memories to recall and appreciate during the walk.

The Cemetery has an interesting history, as well.... a later timeline to that of near downtown Oak Hill Cemetery,  with its plethora of Posts, Kelloggs and other earliernotables.  

For more about Memorial Park Cemetery, its uniqueness and role in local history, go to my blog:



May 23, 2013

The Luck of Life's Draw

The Luck of Life's Draw


If lucky, at some point in life you stop, look around, and realize that 9 out of 10 of your best grade school friends, G.I. buddies and many family and friends are gone.  

Dead.  Buried.  

And you ask: "WHY ME?  Why am I the lucky one to STILL be here?"

And from that point, you have a little better appreciation of each day, of the luck that has been your life draw, greater patience in the face of pettiness, walk a bit more gently across life's pathway of egg shell existence. 

And your eyes are better at noticing the goodness in other people...and less...much less willing to criticize or complain. 

May 13, 2013




"Cell phone talk or text while ordering? Go to the back of the line!"

Friends had children and grandchildren over yesterday for Mother's Day, and made EVERYONE check their cell phones and I-Pads at the door.


OMG, what next, check handguns at the door?  Where's the NRA's phone number when you need it?

Do I hear an AMEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! ?

May 11, 2013

Pay Telephone Scuffle Early Tripwire To Eventual Closing of Eaton Plant?


Pay Telephone Scuffle Early Tripwire

To Eventual Closing of Eaton Plant?


By Jim Richmond


The huge, tightly fenced, long vacant and unused land on the west side of 20th Street in Battle Creek has been a puzzle as I frequently drive by the location -- until the other morning.

eaton's. empty.jpgTurns out, the land may be a silent, sad witness to the all too familiar refrain in Michigan history – corporations and unions blindly fighting each other, and then killing working people’s golden goose of good jobs with high pay and benefits, as well as the law of unintended consequences.

“Let me tell you about what happened with Eaton’s,” my 81-year old friend and self described “retired Eaton’s factory rat” said to me over breakfast in Ritzee’s restaurant recently.

He described “pork chopper” union plant reps at Eaton’s  in the 1930s to 1980s, who the company paid regular hourly wages, but  “pretty much didn’t do anything but union business in the plant.”

“They were the real power, not the company people or the shift supervisors,” my friend claimed.

EatonPlant.BC.jpgOne day in the 1970s,  -- when he along with hundreds of others worked in Eaton’s 20th Street plant making car valves -- a management person from AT&T telephone, whose local union employees were on strike at the time – came into the Eaton’s plant just to empty the coins from the plant’s AT&T-owned pay telephones.

The Eaton’s union shop steward raised hell, physically barred the AT&T management person from the telephones, and then filed a union grievance with Eaton’s management over the pay telephone incident, my friend alleged.

“And before long, we (Eaton plant union employees) were on strike in ‘sympathy’ to our AT&T union brothers and sisters,” he said.

The U.S. automakers relied on the Battle Creek Eaton’s Plant for many if not most of their auto valves at the time. 

And, my friend claimed, he and other long time union employees watched as Eaton’s management quietly began a slow, steady process of dispersing its auto valve manufacturing out of Battle Creek, to other, new U.S. locations and throughout the world.

In 1983, Eaton’s closed the 20th Street plant facility in Battle Creek, after what the corporation described in news stories as “fruitless discussion with union officials to save the plant.”

Industrial pollution and contamination have kept the property from being used or sold for other purposes.

“You never know how something small -- like that scuffle over the pay phone incident -- can have unintended consequences,” my friend concluded.

Finishing coffee, getting up to leave, my friend’s wife touched the sleeve of my shirt and laughed: “Don’t let his libertarian comments, today, about the union fool you, Jim.  He (her husband) was right in the middle of all that stuff and as big a (union) supporter as any of those other people.”

Ironically,  nearby Ft. Custer Industrial Park is today home for a huge, seemingly ever expanding regional DENSO plant, which makes auto parts for Toyota and others.  Its non-union – like most plants in Ft. Custer Park – and pays a fraction in wages and benefits, relatively, to what Eaton’s union employees made on 20th Street during more than 5 decades of that plant’s existence.

Within the past year, Michigan has become a Right To Work state, over state capitol protests and demonstrations by union employees from auto plants, schools, hospitals.

May 09, 2013







A new national study released this morning reveals that women drivers (by 8 to 1 margin) are much more likely to cell phone and text while driving, and are responsible for 40 percent of all related accidents.

The study, appearing in the latest issue of The Onion, noted: "Women, by their very nature, put on lipstick, smoke cigarettes, comb their hair, drink coffee, text and cell phone while driving. It is a problem of epidemic proportions and second only to the National Debt in seriousness."

Men, on the other hand, refrain from texting and concentrate on driving and the work at hand, the study reports. "Men has much to put up with. Not just from women drivers, but from women in general," the study concludes.

May 08, 2013

"And Make It Look Like An Accident..."



".... Richmond Struck Dead by Lightening at Local Prayer Breakfast"

At a friend's invitation, I'm attending the 31st Annual Battle Creek Prayer Breakfast this morning, before going on to work. I tell myself, it won't HURT  to stretch a bit, like attending funeral wakes, bar and bat mitzvahs, or a friend's retirement party at Eaton's.

But, if breakfast organizers and prayer leaders knew my life background, and some of my views on organized religion, they'd bar me at the doors. 

If the Enquirer page 1 headline reads tomorrow: "ATTENDEE STRUCK DEAD BY LIGHTENING AT PRAYER BREAKFAST" you won't have to read below the fold or the jump page to figure out the victim's name.

AND, blogsphere friends, I WILL expect you at my wake Friday morning. "Contributions may be made to the JIM RICHMOND GOOD TIMES FUND, c/o The Las Vegas Community Foundation. All donations will NOT be tax deductible.


Author's Postscript.  Turned out to TRULY be an inspirational morning, and talk! And no lightening inside or outside the location. :-)

Don't Listen To The Special Interests

Don't Listen To The Special Interests

The World Health Organization now ranks the U.S. health care system 38th overall;  but #1 in cost.

And U.S. hospitals are the worst, the very worst contributors to our out-of-control system.

We wonder why lawyers, physicians and hospitals in Michigan are tripping over each other, trying to kill HB4936, the effort to limit personal injury coverage?

Do we think it's because of their concern for accident victims?

Don't listen to the special interests.

Michigan is the only state in the Union that mandates unlimited protection -- and it's why our auto insurance is so high. (Let's crack down, too, on the 1 in 5 Michigan drivers who are roaming our streets behind the wheel with no car insurance.)

For another example of U.S. hospitals 'at work', see story in today's NYTimes:


May 05, 2013

Life's Lessons


Life's Lessons Learned.....

Some of life's lessons are learned hard, while others we stumble into and through from ignorance and naivete.

For example, when we innocently volunteered our personal email address to Walmart or Match.com 20 years ago, how were we to know that our email boxes would STILL be crammed full of their nonsense each morning in 2013, or that they would be harder to shake than a recurring case of Navy gonorrhea?  

Not that I have PERSONAL experience, mind you.

April 17, 2013

City Water a Public Rip-Off?

City Water A Public Rip-off?

Like on TV’s Dog The Bounty Hunter or Operation REPO, the Battle Creek Water Department agents can be seen many 7 a.m. mornings in Urbandale, flashlights at the ready in the dark, turning off City residents’ water at the curbside, because of their overdue water bills. 

(Truth is, I wouldn’t want residents catching me either disconnecting their water, any more than Operation Repo snatching that 2003 Ford Escort from Car City that’s in the driveway.)

But the real turnoff and shocker for all City residents – bill slackers and prompt payers alike – isn’t at the faucet, but when we open our monthly City of Battle Creek Utility Bill.

Here is a real life, recent example. 


Total monthly utility bill: $38.08,

Actual Water and sewer consumed/used for the month: $3.68.

Then an additional $22.83 charge for “water and sewer readiness.”

Maybe this readiness has to do with providing new flashlight batteries or orange traffic cones for the 7 a.m. City Utility Department Shock and Awe Squads.

Not to be labeled a naysayer, I’m sure there are good reasons why we should support City “water and sewer readiness.” 

Some might consider such support patriotic,  like standing  for The National Anthem or when The President enters the White House Press Room.

So, as the City perhaps searches for new “readiness” charges to tack on to our future water bills, may I offer a suggestion? 

* The Dingo Ate My Baby Public Services charge 

            When we compared our City water bills last night, my next door Urbandale neighbor suggested:

* The City Police Alcohol Rehab Readiness charge

Now, now, I chided him:  water or no water, trash in/trash out, we don’t need to be trashing our local law enforcement. 

I’d be satisfied with a moratorium on Utility Bill Readiness charges. 

            But, we all know it’s tough these days to come-by five (5) City Commission votes for most anything.

April 06, 2013

Clean Underpants


Clean Underpants


It’s amazing how we're our parents' children, even in our own old age.

My dear little Irish Mother, bless her heart and her memory, now 10 years passed, had a ritual before taking us kids to see the pediatrician in the early 1950s.

She'd lay out sparkling white and clean underpants for each of us. 

Our clothes might have been a bit thread bare, but she didn’t want the Doctor to see our bare bottoms, unless he had to pull down clean underpants first.

So, I was out at the VA Medical Center the other day, approaching age 69,  getting checked out by my (as always)  proficient and efficient (and attractive) Nurse Practitioner on “Clinic Team A.”

“Drop your drawers, Mr. Richmond,” she said casually.

My blood pressure rose and face flushed red.

  “But,” I blurted out in protest, “I don’t have on clean underpants!”

“Mr. Richmond,” she said, struggling to hold back smile and laugh, “clean or dirty, there aren't any surprises in those underpants.”

March 15, 2013

March 18 Crime Worshop A Chance for Learning, Dialogue



March 18 Crime Workshop Chance

For All To Listen, Learn and Share


The City Commission of Battle Creek is holding a workshop on “Crime and Perception” Monday, March 18, 6 p.m., in the multipurpose room  at the Department of Public Works building, 150 S. Kendall

This is an important and unusual opportunity for residents of Battle Creek to listen to City officials’ comments on current status of crime and its prevention in our community, and also to share their own views. 

It is NOT intended as a forum for bashing the City police or any other public official.

I plan to attend and hope others will as well.  A great chance to learn, share and perhaps consider new priorities about an issue that affects our children, our families, our neighborhoods, and the total community. 

March 03, 2013

'Great Escape' Stage Company Is A 'Great Surprise'


C39StepsGESC (1).jpg




Last's night performance of "The Thirty-Nine Steps" was a tour de force by local writer and thespian John Sherwood (former editorial page editor of the Enquirer and now Oaklawn Hospital executive) at the cozy, close-in and comfortable 30-seat Great Escape Stage Company in downtown Marshall.

The two-act comedy and spoof of the famous Alfred Hitchcock film was like Young Frankenstein on Ritalin.

Featured were Sherwood as Richard Hannay, the square-jawed hero with a pencil mustache; and Amity Reading as the myriad of dangerous and seductive women he breaks the hearts of.

Chris Blackford and Randy Lake played every other character they crossed paths with - including the diabolical Man With No Top Joint of his Pinky Finger and "Mr. Memory", a MacGuffin in the whole spy-thriller plot!

Talented, high energy, and versatile group of actors, who handled more costume and set changes than backup singers at an Elton John and Tina Turner concert.

A very fast paced, funny MontyPythonish production, too; held back only by a somewhat confusing, drawn-out second-act plot line and close.

We're going to run not walk to the phone, ordering tickets for the next Great Escape production, "Dog Sees God: Confessions of a Teenage Blockhead"  by Bert V. Royal. Starts March 15th and runs through March 30th.

The Great Escape Stage Company: a delightful surprise and   terrific local entertainment resource.

Times and ticket prices: 269.781.2700.  http://greatescapestagecompany.com/home

February 27, 2013

Love Livin in Michigan!



Breathtakingly beautiful (and warm!) day at Leila Arboretum in Battle Creek,Michigan.

Birds are cherpin!

So, kids, get those sleds out. Adults, put those walkin shoes on.

This is why we love livin in Michigan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

February 22, 2013

Dr. Russ Mawby's 85th Birthday

RGM.6.14.12.jpgDr. Russ Mawby's 85th Birthday


Tomorrow, 2.23, is Dr. Russ Mawby's 85th Birthday.  A great Battle Creek civic leader, philanthropist, educator, and patriot.

If you know and would like to call Russ or send him an email, saying "Happy Birthday", I will forward his phone number and email address to you.

For his email address/phone #, send me an email at: jmadisonrichmond@gmail.com

February 14, 2013




I'm probably among the minority of Americans who look on the latest Cruise Ship mess with fondness and yearning.

In the two years I spent on a WWII-era US aircraft carrier (Coral Sea, '68'69) -- most of it steaming in the steaming hot and humid Pacific -- clogged toilets, no shower water, no a/c, and crummy food were, well, the norm, not the exception.  

We worked 16 hour-days.  

I don't recall the Captain handing out free drink tickets when the heads (toilets) didn't work.

And we paid a lot more than $3,000 apiece for ourUSS_Coral_Sea_cv43_1986.jpg cruise tickets.

So, stranded passengers... suck it up ... make the most of it ... you may look back with fond memories and new friends on what today seems like a really shit*y cruise experience.

I do.

February 12, 2013

Sports Apparel Just Fun For These Two "Volunteers"




Sports Apparel Just Fun For These Two “Volunteers”

Americans spend more than $8 billion a year on sports logo apparel – 60 percent of them men and most have never set foot on campus or in the classroom of the university or college emblazoned on their chest, their undershorts, socks, and ball caps.

I’ve never been able to quite figure out the attraction of the sports clothing thing. 

Tennessee.jpgAnd the two guys I ran into today didn’t help.

“Does that “T” on your caps stand for Tulane, Texas, Tennessee, or Tufts?,” I asked Jerry Tillman (photo, right) and Gary Steiner.

They laughed, looked at each other liked I’d just asked how many pennies are in a nickel.

“We were traveling through Knoxville, it was cold, so we stopped in Wal-Mart,” Jerry recalled, “looking for the cheapest cap in the store.”

They paid $1.98 apiece.

And the Tennessee Volunteers gained two new fans in Battle Creek, Michigan.

Or did they?

February 11, 2013

"You Feel So Good There"




"You feel so good there," the aging single male, whispered to his first time date, as he spread four fingers across the valley of her back, caressing, nudging and guiding her, like a beached dolphin back to sea, onto the senior center dance floor.

My long time friend twisted her lips ever so slightly in revulsion and the memory.

"He'd no idea what I was really thinking," she said. "God, I hate dating at my age."

February 07, 2013

The Mailbox

Virginia, honey,

let me tell you a story about 'The Mailbox'

Yes, Virginia, honey.   It's all so very different now that we just communicate with people with our cell phones, I-pads, kindles and computers.

It used to be that people actually went out to dinner together and talked, or visited with their parents at the family dinner table, instead of texting all the time, checking Facebook and Twitter.  

We also put our sympathy, our congratulations, our  fondest love expressions down in writing, and shared them in a very different way, honey.IMG00238-20101101-0808.jpg

We used what was called a  “Mail Box.”  There was one in almost every neighborhood.

Odd as it might seem today, people wrote down their thoughts on what we called “paper.”  They used something called a “pen” or “pencil.”

Grandma or Grandpa would then put the “paper” with their written thoughts into a wrapper, called an “envelope.” And stick a little glued photo on the outside.

And put the envelope in the “Mail Box.”

A strange lady or a man would stop at the “Mail Box”, usually once a day, and remove all the “envelopes.” The lady or man were called “Postmen.”

The “Postmen” were a proud people. 

They picked up and delivered the envelopes even when it rained, or snowed, or flooded.

They wore strange blue and grey tribal clothes.

The envelopes went by train, truck and airplane, to another person, in another neighborhood, city, state or even country, somewhere around the world.

It would take three days for this to happen!  Occasionally a week or more. And, once in a while, the envelope got lost and never arrived at all.

Imagine that!

Then the world changed. 

The Postmen disappeared.

So, too, the paper and the envelopes.

And, so, too,  but a few of these now relic “Mail Boxes” scattered in obscure, hidden away places.

Now, Virginia, honey.  Time to turn off that I-Pad and let Grandpa tuck you into bed.

Sweet dreams, sweetheart.

February 01, 2013

Mr. Kellogg would be proud!


I don't put anything on this blogsite that involves any personal remuneration or might be construed as such.

But let me say Mr. Kellogg would be proud of the new Kellogg's microwave sandwiches now available at Meijer's. They are BETTER than fresh breakfast sandwiches at Burger King and McDonald's -- and only 240 calories. If you've tried frozen breakfast sandwiches (like Jimmy Dean) you know they taste like cardboard.

Not's Kellogg's!!

Great job "Kellogg's of Battle Creek"!

January 27, 2013

Shopping at Meijer's

Shopping at Meijer's:



So I do my monthly staples trip to Meijer's early this morning. And go through a line. A woman with lots in front, and another in back of me.

Evidently Meijer's having a two-day sale, and the gal in front was questioning why there was no discount on an item.

The Meijer's clerk replied: "I don't know. It's all automatic. I just shove this crap into the plastic bags."

I laughed and said, motioning like I was reaching into my cart, "Well, maybe I should take some of this 'crap' back to the store shelves."

I am not humorless; but I think customer service and employee attitude is REALLY important.

Maybe I should look for a job as a "mystery shopper."


Booty -- or Curtain -- Call ?

Booty -- or Curtain
-- Call ?


*Sarah had energy, style, intellect, beauty and assertiveness.


woman-silhouette-4.jpgSo I asked her out on a date.  We were adults; middle age.  Well read professionals.


We went to a movie the first night.  


And then on the second date, I had tickets for a Michigan State University home football game.


In retrospect, I should have known something when she used the men’s ‘john’ at half-time because the lady’s line was ‘too long.’ 


She bantered with the University boys in the line, and ignored the 'Woo Ha.  Woo Ha," compliments that came her way...sauntering past the line of male back sides, smiles and urinals to the stalls.


Driving home from East Lansing, she invited me over the following weekend  “for a casual,  home cooked meal.”


So I arrived the appointed hour, with a nice bottle of California Sauvignon.


And rang her door bell.


Sarah opened the door, wearing a skirt and a kitchen apron.


And nothing else.  From the waist up.


She smiled and  welcomed me.   We went up the stairs to her lovely  apartment as if there was nothing unusual or needed to be explained, commented on.


I sat in the living room, reading the paper; occasionally glancing toward the kitchen where she mixed salad and removed cheese casserole from the oven.


She warmed the dinner plates.  Impressive.  How many people in places like Battle Creek, Saginaw or Grand Rapids heat their dinner plates?


We sat across from each other,  in candlelight, with soft classical music playing from nearby speakers,  toasted the night, and enjoyed the meal. 


Talked local politics.  Favorite books.  Job stuff.


And I thought, 'As odd as all this is, if she's not going to say anything, I'm not either."


We laughed knowingly over the fruit with rum sauce dessert, as if there was a third person at the table who didn't know our secret code or hand shake.


Around 9 p.m., it was somehow clear the evening was nighe over.


Sarah walked me slowly, casually to the front door. 


Trying to delay things a bit, I bantered: "Do I get a rain check?"


She laughed, applying a chaste cheek kiss, "We'll see.  This is just opening night."



Some time later, by delightful accident, I learned the first evening and Sarah’s ensemble had little  to do with romance or sex.


She'd recently had breast implants.


And this was opening night.  Like a Broadway Show.


Guess if I looked that good, I'd want the right people to see The First Act. 


All I could think about that evening was whether this was a Curtain --or perhaps Booty -- Call.




*name and minor details changed to protect privacy.

January 23, 2013

Remembering Jane Wyatt

Somehow, I missed Jane Wyatt’s death notice a few years back.

Wyatt was 96 years old when she died; and I've followed her career for much of my own 68 years.

Wyatt was Ronald Coleman’s love interest in the famous '30s film, Lost Horizon; but was perhaps best known as mother Margaret Anderson in the 1950s tv show “Father Knows Best,” with Robert Young in the lead role.

medium_Jane_Wyatt.jpgWyatt, Young and their three onscreen children did more than 200, 30-minute tv programs from 1954 to 1960. An exhausting schedule that was not without its bumps along the way.

The two were friends, admired each other; but never socialized off the set, and, in real life, their three tv show children lived problemmatic lives.

The Father Knows Best program was criticized in the '60s and '70s as being too middle class, too white, too stereotype.

But growing up, I loved the show.

And I sort of loved Jane Wyatt from a distance over all these years. And I'm not sure why. (I'm sure a shrink would have plenty of suggestions.)

Once or twice a year, I'd go to Wikepedia or 'Dead or Alive' websites, just to check that Wyatt was still around and to read up on her very occasional movie or tv credit, as late as 1986 in one of the Star Trek flicks.

I particularily admired Wyatt  for standing up to Senator Joseph McCarthy during the communist witch hunts of the early 50s.

I admired her for her life long commitment to her husband of some 62 years; and to her children.

She was also always very candid in her observations about the moview business, self deprecating, grounded, honest.

She died quietly in her sleep.

A wonderful life, and a nice last scene, for a fine actress and human being.

January 18, 2013

Rite of Passage


Rite of Passage


In the late 80s, I was very successful as CEO in "growing" a struggling NGO in South Carolina. Then recruited for another job,  I informed my Board, and was told they were having a "community thank-you party" in my honor. 

"What would you like as a gift? We are all chipping in," my Board Chairman asked me.

A bit taken aback, I replied: "Well, I've always wanted a leather briefcase." 

So, at the event, my Board presented me with this leather briefcase.

A few days later, I took it into where it had been purchased, and asked  what to use to clean it. The clerk commented: "Take good care of that.... you might want insurance. It's the best we have."

I asked: "Just curious, how much did it cost?" 

The clerk replied: "Oh, about $825."

I about swallowed my dentures.

So, 27 years later,  I'm giving it to my son, when I see him next Saturday.

Hope it brings him as much luck as it has me over the years. It has traveled many career paths since...and the world; stained with late winter snow in St. Petersburg, Russia; pelted by hot rain in Shanghai, China; and battered, buffeted and abused by baggage handlers in Cali, Columbia.

It needs a good, new home, too ...a fresh start and new life... carrying "important" papers and weekend reading assignments.

And there is no better place for it to call home than with my son, Josh.

January 13, 2013

Remember The Red River Valley

Remember The Red River Valley


“Eddy,” asks, like clockwork, as he helps pass out food trays and refills small glasses with watery apple juice.

And again at evening time: “What cha doin after dinner, Phil? Goin outside?”old-people-care02.jpg

At breakfast, about 70 seniors, most with noticeable physical and/or mental challenges, wait patiently for staff to distribute small containers of pills.

Kitchen helpers roll in large metal warmers, containing tin trays, with scrambled eggs, sausage, a piece of toast, jelly, butter, and glass of juice.

Everyone waits patiently, 3 or 4 residents to a table, for the food. For the food is the focus on the day -- three times a day for those in this 'assisted living facility.'

“What cha doin after breakfast, Bill? Goin outside?”

“What cha doin after breakfast, Sally? Goin outside?“


The facility serves poor seniors; and those with emotional and physical problems that would bar admission or acceptance elsewhere.  

There is no airconditioning in the congregate dining room in the summer, and a chill fills the room this winter  morning.

You're reminded of life changes and lessons in a 'retirement home'. About caring. Weaknesses. Emotional strength and friendship in the face of aged bodies, missing legs from diabetes, missing brain power from onset and end stage dementia.

Residents and low-paid staff are much like family. Usually cheerful, upbeat, encouraging, good listeners. Occasionally loud, unhappy, jealous, brusk.

Then tonight, the late day sun peeks in the first floor dining hall ….as residents eat hamburgers with tomatoes, onions, mustard and ketchup, applesauce, and a single, round cookie the size of a quarter.

This lovely, at one time elegant, elderly lady with red hair had sat, just this morning, with her small table group of resident friends across the way; smiling, engaged, animated.

Now, she sits at the same dinner table,  head half bent forward, resting on her chest, eyes blank, untouched food before her.


In the distance, are the faint sounds of the auto organ in the recreation room, playing "Red River Valley":

 From this valley they say you are going
We will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
For they say you are taking the sunshine
That has brightened our path for a while

Come and sit by my side if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
But remember the Red
River Valley
And the cowboy who loved you so true

Won't you think of the valley you're leaving
Oh how lonely, how sad it will be?
Oh think of the fond heart you're breaking
And the grief you are causing to me

As you go to your home by the ocean
May you never forget those sweet hours
That we spent in the Red River Valley
And the love we exchanged mid the flowers



January 08, 2013

A Good Day To Wear My 'Fighting Irish' Sweatshirt

IrishTShirt.jpgA Good Day To Wear My 'Fighting Irish' Sweatshirt

Notre Dame was outplayed by Alabama on the football field last night.

But it will never be outclassed after a football loss -- just as other great universities and programs never will be, when they lose --  the University of Michigan, Michigan State, Stanford, Northwestern, Boston College....to name just a few.

I'm going to proudly wear the green ND sweatshirt today, the one my son gave me for my birthday.  And keep a smile on my face.

Because, my love of Notre Dame and the Irish has to do with what the University and its football program stand for:  values, treating athletes like students, insisting on performance in the classroom as well as performance on the field.   

Go Gold and Blue. Green and White. Maize and Blue. Purple and White. Cardinal Red. Maroon and Gold.

December 12, 2012

Holiday Blues and Union Dues


As some of you know, I tend to obsess about things I see, hear, experience, read, screw up, celebrate. And I'm in that mode this morning, after returning from a 5 a.m. sprint through the Meijer's store to buy a few basics. I'm upset about how truly UNcivil, selfish, meanspirited we seem to be these days.

And about the mess, the lack of civility, the trashing of tents and tempers, the behavior in Lansing yesterday, which was replayed on BBC World Service Radio to 280 million worldwide listeners all last night. The British, of course, love retelling with glee, bad news from The Colonies.

The Meijer worker bees were busy, as usual, this early morning. With stacks of grape crates, tomatoes, lettuce in the produce section. Working hard. But not a smile to be found. And a strange absense of the natural energy you notice in people when they are doing a job they enjoy and/or take satisfaction in.

About eight months ago, when I was literally without both a job and almost enough to eat, I applied for a job to work in this SAME Meijer store produce section.

I was interviewed by the Produce Team Leader, and learned they had 23 people working JUST in the produce section; but were down to only about 13 because of turnover. She seemed excited at the prospect of hiring me, but I became less so as the interview continued.

"Yes," she said. 'We start you out at $7.53 an hour. (Minimum wage). You're eligible for a 10 cent increase in 3 months. You'll have to buy your own standard kakki colored slacks and button down shirts. I can guarantee you 24 hours a week; but can probably give you more ...

"And, oh," she added. "We take out $25 a month (from your pay) for union dues."

I just held my pasty smile tight as glass, and stared at her. $25 FOR UNION DUES?, I thought to myself. And 24 hours at minimum wage, pay for uniforms, and might get a 10 cent raise in 3 months?

I drove home, called and cancelled the scheduled final followup interview with the store manager.

Life has looked up for me, since, and my wants and needs are small.

I have another part-time job now.

I get a little Social Security.

I've been buying small gifts for my grandkids again. I've learned that's more fun than driving a new car, or taking a First Class seat to Hong Kong.

As for the unions, and what happened in Lansing yesterday.... I'm going to try hard to keep my attitude on gratitude this Christmas Season.

But, I still wonder, what those Meijer Associates on Columbia Avenue are getting for their monthly union dues.

It's gotta be more than what's in their paycheck.

November 25, 2012

'Touchdown Jesus' Still Loves You, Frank DeFord

‘Touchdown Jesus’ Still Loves You, Frank DeFord

Frank DeFord was on the radio early last summer. National Public Radio's Morning Edition.

220px-Frank_Deford.jpg Where DeFord, a much decorated sports guru and journalist, proclaimed in his weekly commentary: “Notre Dame Football Is Dead.”

Notre Dame will never compete with the big guys again, he said.




Washed up.

A pigskin has-been.

A legend lost ….

Future Fighting Irish teams would be off tv and traveling coach by Greyhound bus to play  Division 2 teams in places like Grand Rapids, Michigan and Duluth, Minnesota.

DeFord’s gotten rather quiet since the Fighting Irish took the field in August.

And Wikepedia doesn't say whether DeFord personally follows Christ-as-Saviour or just the baseball box scores.

But, if you learn anything growing up Catholic -- as I did -- it’s the power and potential of casting off personal guilt through confession and forgiveness.

Is DeFord ready for confession?

No matter. 

ncf_u_manti-teo_mb_400.jpgBecause, Frank -- wherever you are this morning after the Irish whipped USC, to go 12-0, and be ranked #1 nationally ...

  The Fighting Irish made their point last night in Los Angeles,

and Frank, Frank.... Touchdown Jesus Still Loves You.



November 23, 2012

Black Friday or Dark Day at Wal-Mart's Big House

Black Friday or Dark Day

walmart-protest.jpg at Wal-Mart’s Big House?

Yesterday at Thanksgiving Dinner with friends, we got into a discussion about the employee boycott today over wages at some Wal-Mart Stores, now America’s largest private employer.

Does Wal-Mart have a responsibility to pay “a living wage”?

 What is a “living wage?”


Where does personal responsibility come in at life decisions points which impact income?  Decisions like finishing high school, going to college, showing up on time for a job? 

Are we responsible for pulling ourselves up by “our bootstraps” if we had no boots to wear growing up?

What about the uncontrollable influences of family life, racism, and other factors?

We turned off the discussion pretty quick yesterday.  Heady, perhaps inappropriate, topical stuff for Stuffing and Turkey Day.

To be honest, at age 68, I remain conflicted over these questions and what I see and hear – even what I believe.

Over a lifetime, I had my turn grabbing the brass ring, the ride on the corporate merry-go-road – corner offices, world travel, fancy cars, big homes.

I’ve always told myself I earned that success by hard work, long hours, taking risks, going to graduate school, etc.

But, did I, really?

Looking back, I had many unearned advantages:  great parents, direction and hope, values taught and learned, a lot of luck.

More and more people today do not live in that world.

And it seems just too easy to become fatalistic, even hardened to their problems and their lives.

Still, I don’t think “a living wage” for the $7.50 an hour Wal-Mart Associates is either the real problem, or the real solution.

If there’s a problem and a solution, it has to begin with future generations, with our families, our children, our schools…and their future.

Otherwise, Black Friday is always going to be a dark day for some of us.