The Devil went down to Georgia

Happy Tequila Friday one and all. And as happy as we all are about it being Tequila Friday, I’m sure that you have seen or heard that Charlie Daniels died this week at 83. 

I always liked the fire that he brought into the music world as he joined a long list of great country music crossovers. That said, I’m not going to really review his music, but I thought I would share how it came to pass that I met Charlie, spent about 20 minutes with him backstage, and how all of that turned out. 

When I lived in Charlotte from 1977 to 1984, the Queen City was a quiet moderately sized city trying to grow up and find its place in the world. At least that’s how I see it looking back. When I arrived on the scene, it had already gone through a 70’s renaissance of sorts. As a matter of fact, part of that renaissance was in how it reimagined downtown, connecting a series of existing stores, including the Belk Department Store, with a series of enclosed pedestrian bridges and interior large hallways that made for the “Overstreet Mall” concept.

I found it cool and exhilarating. Afterall, I’d lived my life in small America up until then. So, to say that the city was embracing, if not starving, for attention and respect, would be an understatement. And that leads up to its brush with Hollywood, celebrities and the world stage. What helped bring it to the attention of the film industry was its kinship with NASCAR through the Charlotte Motor Speedway, its willingness to roll out the red carpet and pay homage to all things tinsel town and its chance at fame and fortune. And that is when the city and its reserved Southern elites ran into Burt Reynolds, Lonnie Anderson, Jim Nabors and “Stroker Ace.” 

In 1982, the hype started with the sightings of the stars and crew filming at locations in and around Charlotte. Women swooned just knowing that the rakish and sexy Reynolds, the darling of fast cars, blue eyes and blonde women, was in town. Then it calmed down after principal shooting until the finished movie opened with its World Premiere in Charlotte. The production made big plans including a festive weekend of star-studded parties that culminated with the showing of the film in Ovens Auditorium to an invitation-only crowd.

I don’t remember the details of the manner in which WSOC-TV got involved with the premiere but Channel 9 was in some way a media sponsor of the event. That meant that in return for promoting the premiere and the movie the TV station got exclusive inside cooperation to produce a special that would air in concert with the premiere. 

And, for the life of me, I can’t remember how it came to be that I was given the job of producing an interview with the musician whose music became the soundtrack for the film. That musician was Wilmington, North Carolina’s own Charlie Daniels. But I was tapped from the Promotion Department in an “all hands on deck” production effort. I was working with my long-time co-hort, Keith Smith, veteran station photographer with whom I worked over my time at WSOC-TV.

The day of the premiere we were allowed to set up in Daniel’s backstage dressing room for him and his band. We were going to interview him prior to their performance in front of the showing of the film and we would get 15 minutes max with the entertainer. And I was asking the questions.

I don’t remember all of the details except feeling nervous about handling the interview, also anxious about being set up, ready to go as soon as Charlie was ready. Our job was to get what we needed and then get the hell out of the way. Nothing could get in the way of the performance. 

Well, of course, we waited. And waited. And waited. The clock was ticking down and cutting into a comfortable time to get our job done. Every minute meant a narrowing of the window. Narrowing our chance for success in producing the content we needed to fill our show. 

And then, suddenly the big man burst in, huge cowboy hat balancing out his lengthy straw-like beard. His body filled the threshold for a second and changed the air pressure in the room as he walked in, and his seven or eight member band flowed in behind him and scattered about the room.

“You the boys doing the interview with me before the show?” he asked, looking at Keith and me. “Yes sir, Mr. Daniels,” I said as Keith nodded as well. He reached out to shake our hands and said, “Well, let’s get to it. Where do you want me to sit?”

We had set up two chairs facing each other, lighting one side for Charlie. I wasn’t going to be on-camera at all. Thank goodness. Keith ushered him to the chair and ran a lavalier microphone on him, hiding the wire as we do. As he sat down and we talked for a second about what we were going to do and talk about, the band members were busy eating and drinking, popping beers and Cokes and snacking. As we were getting ready to record, the noise level in the room got pretty raucous. Keith, wearing headphones, pointed at his ears letting me know that the noise level would be a problem for our recording. So I did what I did whenever we were getting ready to start sound recording. I called for quiet with a “We’re recording, please can we keep it down for a few minutes.”

You would have thought that I had dropped a bomb in the room. Or maybe farted. I got what I wanted. The room immediately became silent. I also got what I didn’t want. An unhappy staredown from Charlie, who switched from likeable to not so much in that instant. 

He drew down on me like he was holding a pearl-handled Colt 45 with eyes of steel. 

“Nobody, and I mean nobody, tells my boys what to do! Especially before a show. You got that?”

Boy did I get that. 

“If they want to laugh and scream and play around, they can laugh and scream and play around. I don’t allow anything to get in the way of their performance.”

He sat on that for what seemed like forever. I didn’t know if he was done with me and the interview or what. I am sure that I mumbled some sort of apology while I looked straight at him to see if we were moving forward. 

Then, his eyes smiled, and I remember that I could even see a smile through his massive beard. 

“Now come on, let’s get this done. I want you to get what you need for the show. And then, me and my boys are going to go out there and light up this arena.” 

The rest is a blur. I asked questions, probably run-of-the-mill what’s it like to be you? What was it like writing music for the movie, blah blah blah. 

And then, they were gone, but not before Charlie leaned over and said quietly, “Sorry about that. I know you’ve got a job to do. But I’m pretty protective of my guys and the show,” he said. Then he winked and he was gone, playing his fiddle walking down the hallway. 

Keith and I gathered our gear, carried it to the truck and I went back in to watch the show. 

Sadly, the best thing about the event was Charlie Daniels and his band. The movie sucked. It would later bomb at the box office. And it did little for Charlotte and its relationship with Hollywood. 

But it did give me a memory and a backstage pass to hear, “The Devil went down to Georgia” and see fire fly from his fingertips as he played that fiddle against the Devil.

So, pour a glass of tequila, rosin up your bow and hoist a toast to Charlie Daniels. May he rest in peace and beat the Devil again. 

Hey! Keep it down down there, will ya?

How I Met Your Mother

The story of the kiss and the date

So, you now know the story of how we met from an earlier post. The next piece of the story is…

…the first kiss.

I had a party at my apartment one Saturday night in the Summer of ‘77. It was a backgammon party. Backgammon was the rage, the most ancient of games on a resurgence and providing an excuse to hang and party. While folks were facing off at the multiple game boards set up in my apartment, Julie and I went outside and strolled across the green lawn in between the apartment buildings to the parking area. We found ourselves leaning on her yellow VW Super Beetle. 

In just the few months that we’d lived side-by-side we were getting to know one another. What did we like about each other? What was making that spark? Were we friends, just friends or could we be more. 

There were so many clues. 

I remember early on thumbing through the collection of albums leaning on the floor and finding an album by Long John Baldry, an obscure 6’ 7” English blues singer, called “It Ain’t Easy.” One side was produced by Elton John, the other by Rod Stewart. Nobody that I knew had that album. Nobody. I looked over at Julie and her roommate, Diane, and asked, “Who owns this?” Julie said, “I do.” I said to myself, this is kismet. 

That alone could be enough to lead to the night of our first kiss. But there was more. Like the WSOC lake party. The station owned (forever leased) land at Lake Norman and had a boat ramp, dock, a covered picnic area and, importantly, a bath house. Staffers were free to use it and boy they did. Camping on the grounds, swimming off of the dock, those with boats skied and sailed. And, each summer, they barbecued a whole pig. My rookie summer at the station I was “volunteered” to pick up and cart the pig 40 miles north from Charlotte. I used a station supplied Suburban, tan and brown with the EYEWITNESS NEWS logo emblazoned on the sides. I asked Julie and Diane if they wanted to go to the lake? They said yes. I told them there would be a pig pickin’ and that we needed to make a stop on the way. I didn’t exactly explain what we were stopping for until we got to the meat plant, backed up to the loading dock and the guys slid a 90 pound porker laid out on a piece of plywood for the trip into the back of the wagon. He was uncovered, his head towards the front. Julie and Diane’s reaction was priceless. I worried that maybe I had really made a big mistake, a mistake that we had to ride with for almost an hour. Turns out, it just made a long-lasting memory for us all. That we could handle surprises. Do things we’d never done. And handle it with humor.

So, back to the party night. We were leaning on her car, talking the talk that eventually led up to our first kiss. I remember looking into her beautiful hazel eyes and I melted. I mean “melted” right there in a puddle next to the car. I remember the softness of her lips, the smell of her hair and the warmth of her body next to mine.

Wait a minute. That’s exactly how my dad described his first kiss with my mom!!! But actually, it is, in fact, the same. The kiss that sealed the deal. Mom and Dad’s lasted their lifetime. I expect ours to do the same. I knew that I would never forget that kiss on that night in late June in Selwyn Village. 

Shortly thereafter, it was time to get back to the party that I was hosting. But before going inside I asked Julie if she would go on an official date with me. She said yes. YES!!! And we set it up for the next Friday night. July 1, 1977. 

The first date…

We went to this terrific Japanese Steak House in Charlotte called Nakato where we sat at a table that could hold about six to eight people. The table was also the cooktop. The chef prepared the meal right there for you in a performance that rivaled anything I’d ever seen before. 

A few years after we were married, we returned to Nakato to celebrate our first date as well as our marriage.

We drank Saki. Marveled at the knife work of our table chef as he flipped shrimp in the air and caught them behind his back before spreading them out to serve each individual. We ate steak. We drank more Saki. We toasted our table mates. Our table chef. And each other. We toasted to desert.

We never left each other again. 

And here we are, together in 2020, 43 years later, toasting our first date and how we’re on the greatest of rides…together…and running up to our 40th wedding anniversary.

More to come on the story of us.  

Happy 4th of July.

With the year that we’ve experienced in America, this is a very special holiday. Beyond the fireworks. Beyond the romanticization. I’m going to find time to think about our country. How it serves me. How it serves those like me and unlike me. We’re at a moment of truth. How we face the many truths before us will determine how great this country is and can be.

And how, when we dig just under the veneer, we are more alike than not alike.

Joys of Fatherhood

With COVID19 Father’s Day 2020 in the rear view mirror, I’ve had some time to give my life as a parent some thought. It’s a responsibility for which we had little training. We did, however, train heavily for the giving birth part of our first child. Lamaze, a path to natural childbirth, was THE in thing of the 80’s. But after that, man, you were on your own. Julie and I did some reading. Dr. Spock, of course, was great for medical advise, but his theories on raising kids just confused us. It was reading John Rosemond’s column that we really found our inspiration. He wrote a book in which he espoused six points you need to follow to raise healthy and happy children. He was more focused on parent-centrist advice. Number one on his list…take care of your marriage…first and foremost. The best thing you can do for your kids is to provide them a loving, happy home. Second, don’t parent from your chair. Your arms aren’t long enough. If your kid is acting up, get up, get them and take them away from what they want to be doing. Last on the list, remember, what you’re doing is raising your kids up so that they can leave you. That’s your job. 

Anyway. We all find our way somehow. We make mistakes. We do the right thing. We love ’em. And then, they leave us. If we’ve done the right things over and over again. 

It won’t surprise you that I’ve kept a journal for quite sometime. I want to share with you some short stories (short for me) that give you a peek into what I most enjoyed…being a dad to Clark and Blair. Being with them. Watching them grow from precious little ones into two great kids who graduated into life as pretty swell grown ups in whom we take great pride and joy.

The Pull of the Moon

April 6, 1993. Family vacation at Ocean Isle, NC

Partial Crew: Steve, Blair, Julie, Clark, Lauren, Mel, Johnny, Momma Rudy, John. Not sure where the Mitchells were.
Kids testing the chilly springtime waters of the Atlantic.

Going to bed after watching “Field of Dreams” took a bit of a trip toward bad dreams.

Clark wanted no lights. The other cousins wanted night light. So they kicked him out with some help from his Aunt Mel.

Of course, flexibility presents a great challenge to our boy Clark at times. He reasons like his father, and those reasons don’t understand why anyone going to sleep needs the comfort of seeing anything. 

He came out of the “dorm” room with a “Fine! I’ll sleep on the couch,” which turned on a dime into a beautiful 30 minutes for the two of us.

I sat in a rocker while he rested on the couch. We talked about why we do what we do, and how, through it all, we love each other.

I told him about how I quit playing golf, kinda like Ray, the main character in the movie, who quit playing baseball when he felt his father’s pressure too heavily on his shoulders.

“Gee. That’s so weird,” he said. “You quit just like the guy in the movie? And he turned out to love baseball. And now, you love golf, although you do say “no” to playing sometime, like last week when we had hockey.”

I just held him in my lap like I used to cradle my baby boy and we talked on.

Then, in the darkness I looked out the window and he glanced out at the same time.

“Dad, what time is it?”

“About 11:30,” I replied.

“Wow! It looks like it’s getting daylight.”

The moon, full and bright, was glistening on the surf. I asked Clark if he wanted to go outside to the end of our pier.

“For real?” he asked. “Sure,” I answered as we got up from the rocker. We put on our sweatshirts and walked out together. We took a seat at the top of the steps leading down to the beach. The tide was out and the beach was at its widest. We talked about the moon and how it made the tides, and how wind created waves. Then, we got cold and went back inside. I turned out all of the lights. Clark laid down on the sofa with the moon lighting up the room. Even still, he fell asleep but not before mentioning that the moon seems to follow us everywhere we go. I said, “Thank goodness for that. For where would we be without the pull of the moon? 

“I love you Clark. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight Dad.”

I felt the pull of the moon drawing me back into our bedroom. I peeled back the covers and wrapped my arms around Julie who was fast asleep. I thought of one of our favorite children’s books, “Goodnight Moon.” The next thing I knew, it was morning. The sun was up, the moon was gone, and we were halfway through our week at the beach. 


A Rainy Monday

April 28, 1997 Pittsburgh

I rolled over, checked the clock, counting down to 6 a.m. when I usually get up, walk down the hall to Clark’s room and open the door, if not his eyes, to the day. He and I talked recently about him using his own clock to rise and shine. Well, today, just before my alarm went off, I heard the shower in his bathroom come on. I lay there, smiling, and thought, “Another step towards independence.” Nudging his mom, I said, “Hear that?” 

“Uh huh,” she groaned.

“That’s the sound of your little boy growing up.”

I got up and walked down the hall to the kid’s bathroom. I knocked on the door. Clark heard my knock through the noise of the shower. 

“Good morning glory,” I said, like my dad used to say to me. 

“Morning Dad!” He yelled back. I could hear a sense of pride in his voice even through the door. He knew he had made a big step on his own. I smiled and walked down to Blair’s room. I gently tickled her awake, sitting on her bed, watching her eyes blink into the day. I asked her, “When was the last time you knew that I loved you?” Without opening her eyes she smiled, “ I always know that, Dad.”

What a great start to a rainy Monday. 

You Never Know

May 21, 1997 Pittsburgh

The sun cut through the window like little butter knives with yellow rays running in and around the quilt on her bed,

Dripping in and out of crevices,

Just barely tickling her chin,

Yet she still slept on,

That quiet soon-to-wake-up-sleep

Ending the night,

Starting the day.

I sat on the edge of her bed,

Holding her retainer container.

She rolled over, took out a clear, juicy, slobbery appliance,

Without so much as opening her eyes, 

Held it out and deftly placed it in the blue box.

Her eyelids fluttered like a sparrow’s wings.

I whispered, “Good morning.”

She smiled a stretch smile, clamping down her eyes even tighter.

“Morning Dad,” she said. 

“I love waking you up,” I said, “because I like being the first person you see in the morning.”

“Why Dad?”

“Well, you just never know what you will do today.

“You might draw a mouse

“Or a picture of our house.

“You might make a great grade in class,

“Or run up our street incredibly fast.

“I never know what you might do today.

“Only you know what you might do today.”

 “Dad, you ought to write a poem,” she said. 

“I just did. I wrote it for you and now it’s in your head for you to have always.”

I love waking Blair up in the mornings.

Could you come over?

June 24, 2020

How I met your mother…to borrow a riff. 

Yesterday, Julie had to have some dental surgery that required the removal of a tooth. That removal opened up a memory in my first waking moment this morning. It started with a morning phone call 43 years ago. 

“Steve, this is Julie’s mother. I wonder if I could ask an odd favor of you. Julie hurt her back and can’t get out of bed by herself. She needs help getting to the bathroom.” 

I had just arrived in Charlotte for a job running camera on the early evening and late news at WSOC-TV. That is why I was home in bed when the phone rang around 9 a.m. and why Julie asked her mom to call me.

Not long before this call I had moved into Selwyn Village apartments next door to Julie and her roommate, Diane Helms. We shared a common entrance to our townhouse apartments. I had briefly met Julie the day that I moved in when I used their phone before mine was installed. Remember those days? 

Julie, sitting in her and Diane’s apartment next door to mine. Circa 1977ish.

Anyway, Julie’s mother called understanding that this was a very personal request, helping her daughter to the bathroom.

I got up and hustled over. Her apartment was the mirror image of mine. I went upstairs and found her and her mom in the front bedroom. Of course, Julie not only felt bad, she felt pretty vulnerable, in her pj’s and bathrobe, unable to take a step without help.

Oh, and why did her recent dental surgery surface this memory? Well, she had just had her wisdom teeth removed the day before. Her cheeks were swollen and bruised like a chipmunk with a mouthful. 

I did my best to make her feel at ease and helped her to the toilet, leaving her to her privacy until she needed help to return to bed. And then I left her to recover with her mother at her side.

And that was the real beginning of our beginning. And that’s how I met your mother. At her most vulnerable. 

First, we became neighbors, then fast friends, and then friends for a lifetime.

And, now, we’ve been inseparable all those 43 years as we come up to our 40th wedding anniversary on July 19th. 

More to come. 

Oh, Julie is way better off this morning, the day after, than back then.

Have a great Wednesday.  

Black Lives Matter and Why #BLM Should Matter to White People Like Me…

A Juneteenth Celebratory Post

People speaking out during this time of protests in the aftermath of the murder of unarmed Black men by armed police officers has raised the overall consciousness of the nation. 

More and more, White people are seeing that we are not nearly where we’d like to think the nation is when it comes to race and equal treatment under the law. As these young Black men have died right in front of our eyes, we cannot ignore nor deny the systemic racism bleeding through our institutions. And it’s not just in policing. It’s in access to healthcare. It’s in access to education. It’s in access to safe living communities. It’s in access to money and all things related to financial prosperity and building wealth.

And, it’s buried in the lack of trust, one race of the other. It’s the difference in real and imagined fear. The real fear of historic and deadly consequences Black people have endured for centuries, occurring even now in broad daylight and recorded for the world to see. The imagined fear of white people of what would happen if the shoe is ever moved to the other foot, if true equality for all somehow means less for White people. Fears encoded in the stories told generation to generation that continue to sow the seed of racism. Fears represented by every single monument to the Confederacy existing in our country today.  

From the peaceful marches and the inflamed chaos rises inspired serious conversation of the country. Here are the words of others on Racism, White supremacy, the Black experience and the inextricable link of peaceful protesting, looting and rioting. It’s the language of today, where we are in 2020 and where we need so desperately to go as one.


 “While I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: You take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything.” — Scott Woods, African American author and poet


“As a white male of the South, I know all too well the impact of segregation and injustice to African Americans. As a politician, I felt a responsibility to bring equity to my state and our country. In my 1971 inaugural address as Georgia’s governor, I said: ‘The time for racial discrimination is over.’ With great sorrow and disappointment, I repeat those words today, nearly five decades later…

“People of power, privilege, and moral conscience must stand up and say “no more” to a racially discriminatory police and justice system, immoral economic disparities between whites and blacks, and government actions that undermine our unified democracy. We are responsible for creating a world of peace and equality for ourselves and future generations.

“We need a government as good as its people, and we are better than this.”

– From Former President Jimmy Carter, Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Political Insider”


Four U.S. presidents spoke this week about systemic racism and injustice. They used their platforms to illuminate the humanity in all Americans and to decry the dehumanization of some. And they summoned the nation to confront its failures, make change and come together.

A fifth U.S. president spoke instead this week about using military force to dominate Americans who are protesting racial injustice. He declared winners and losers among state and city officials trying to safeguard their streets. And, with his reelection campaign in mind, he sought to apply a partisan political lens to the national reckoning over racial inequities.

The outlier was President Trump.   – From the Washington Post


I don’t often post about political topics, but the more I think about it, the more I realize that this isn’t political. This is personal. I am the proud father of two Black teenage sons. Many in this country view them as threats, just as I have been viewed, as my brother and brother-in-law have been viewed, and my father and father-in-law have been viewed.

During the initial night of protest turned riot in Atlanta, I was watching the coverage live on TV. The White male anchor asked, “Where are the Black leaders that can talk to the people?” I am sure many other White people were asking the same thing. My reaction was, and still is, we do not need to hear from “Black leaders” because this is not a Black problem. We need to hear from the “White leaders” because racism and all its trappings, police brutality for example, are a White problem! – From Paul Goodloe, friend, golfing mate and Weather Channel Meteorologist 


How a White person should apologize

“I won’t insult your intelligence by saying, ‘I am not a racist’ becauseI know I am. As a white person in a society where every institution is geared to advantage people like me, it is literally impossible for me to be anything else. In that, I am like a man in a male-dominated society. He cannot help being sexist, his good intentions notwithstanding. Saying he’s not sexist is like a fish saying he’s not wet. 

“Many of us as white people struggle with that. That’s because we process racism as a loathsome character defect, when really, it’s the water in which we swim.

No, the question is not whether we are racist, but what kind of racist we will be. 

Will we be the overt kind, whose behavior marks her from a mile away? In many ways, her very obviousness makes her the least dangerous.

Will we be the racist in denial, who thinks that because he doesn’t use racial slurs and eats lunch with a black guy at work, he’s all good? He’s ultimately the most dangerous, because his racism is reflected in implicit bias but otherwise hidden, even from himself. 

Or will we be the racist in remission who knows good intentions are not enough, that he must consciously commit not simply to being nonracist, but actively anti-racist?

“That’s what I aspire to and what I hope I achieve more often than not. – Excerpt from Leonard Pitts Jr, writer/columnist for the Miami-Herald on how a white person should apologize for saying something racist.  


The civil rights movement was not purely non-violent. Some of its bravest, most inspiring activists worked within the framework of disciplined non-violence. Many of its bravest, most inspiring activists did not. It took months of largely non-violent campaigning in Birmingham, Alabama to force JFK to give his speech calling for a civil rights act. But in the month before he did so, the campaign in Birmingham had become decidedly not-non-violent. 

Though the Civil Rights movement won many battles, it lost the war.

Mass incarceration, the fact that black wealth and black-white inequality are at the same place they were at the start of the civil rights movement, that many US cities are more segregated now than they were in the sixties: no matter what “colorblind” liberals would say, racial justice has not been won, white supremacy has not been overturned, racism is not over. In fact, anti-black racism remains the foundational organizing principle of this country. That is because this country is built on the right to property, and there is no property, no wealth in the USA without the exploitation, appropriation, murder, and enslavement of black people.

Modern American police forces evolved out of fugitive slave patrols, working to literally keep property from escaping its owners. The history of the police in America is the history of black people being violently prevented from threatening white people’s property rights. When, in the midst of an anti-police protest movement, people loot, they aren’t acting non-politically, they aren’t distracting from the issue of police violence and domination, nor are they fanning the flames of an always-already racist media discourse. Instead, they are getting straight to the heart of the problem of the police, property, and white supremacy.

Excerpts from “In Defense of Looting” an essay by Vicky Osterweil published in The New Inquiry


Yes, protests often are used as an excuse for some to take advantage, just as when fans celebrating a hometown sports team championship burn cars and destroy storefronts. I don’t want to see stores looted or even buildings burn. But African Americans have been living in a burning building for many years, choking on the smoke as the flames burn closer and closer. Racism in America is like dust in the air. It seems invisible — even if you’re choking on it — until you let the sun in. Then you see it’s everywhere. As long as we keep shining that light, we have a chance of cleaning it wherever it lands. But we have to stay vigilant, because it’s always still in the air. 

What I want to see is not a rush to judgment, but a rush to justice.

Op-Ed: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar: Don’t understand the protests? What you’re seeing is people pushed to the edge


There’s overwhelming evidence that the criminal justice system is racist. Here’s the proof.

Of particular concern to some on the right is the term “systemic racism,” often wrongly interpreted as an accusation that everyone in the system is racist. In fact, systemic racism means almost the opposite. It means that we have systems and institutions that produce racially disparate outcomes, regardless of the intentions of the people who work within them. When you consider that much of the criminal justice system was built, honed and firmly established during the Jim Crow era — an era almost everyone, conservatives included, will concede rife with racism — this is pretty intuitive. The modern criminal justice system helped preserve racial order — it kept black people in their place. For much of the early 20th century, in some parts of the country, that was its primary function. That it might retain some of those proclivities today shouldn’t be all that surprising.

In any case, after more than a decade covering these issues, it’s pretty clear to me that the evidence of racial bias in our criminal justice system isn’t just convincing — it’s overwhelming.  – From The Washington Post


White people have continued to cordon off Black people in where they live, school, work, play and seek healthcare. Advancements have been made. More people of color are in high local offices, from mayors to police chiefs to city council members. More people of color are rising in the ranks of business executives. And yet our prisons continue to be predominately filled with black citizens. 

The first step in eliminating white supremacy lies in eradicating the notion that freedom in America is somehow a level playing field in 2020.

White Supremacy is an environmental seed implanted in children by their parents and nurtured by their community. It isn’t genetic. But, once planted, that imprinting lives in the brain as if it was wired in. 

I know. I’ve spent a lifetime fighting that internal demon of racial judgement. Once I realized what racism was in my life, I’ve worked hard to keep it in remission ever since. Somehow I became racially aware at a young age, that it lived in our own home, our neighborhood, in my school, at the public golf course across the street, and downtown in the movie theaters, lunch counters, clothing stores and water fountains.  

Even still, at 67 years old, things of the past pop up in my brain that I must recognize and discard, again. It’s a never-ending process.

What I’ve learned, to borrow from Leonard Pitts, is my responsibility as the lifelong benefactor of white privilege: to consciously commit to be actively anti-racist

That means enjoin in the fight #BlackLivesMatter. Voice the requirement to fair access to healthcare, education and loans long withheld from African Americans. Eradicate Voter Suppression so that all have their say in the political future of our country. Hold our elected officials accountable to pursuing the overriding of these injustices. Learn how to talk to family and friends honestly about racism.

Right now is our time to put our shoulders together against the flywheel and generate the energy of real progress. It is time to stop wringing hands about history. It’s time to make history and ring the bell of freedom for all. 

Each of us have to help each other find a way to contribute to the overarching cause. Each of us have some gift that we can share in this cause, whether it is money, talent, ready hands, will, desire or all of the above. 

Some of that work is political. Legislative. Realigning the power structure of our country so that the party of Whiteness is overtaken by the party of Inclusion. 

Much of that work is personal. Reexamining and reimagining how we live our lives. Where we live. Who we sponsor. Who we invite into our personal life bubble. How we raise our kids…and influence our kids’ kids…how we share our lives and life experiences for the greater good of understanding. 

That’s the hard work and nothing could be more rewarding. And, we must do that starting right now. 

My niece voiced her well-intentioned desire to turn her “upset into action.” She asked if I had formulated a personal response plan and, if so, would I share it with her. It’s a great question. What I’m reading and writing about is making me more aware, more engaged and more communicative of how to interpret and act upon what’s going on in our country and the world regarding race and racism, and how we can get involved. In answer to her direct question, do I have a response plan. I’m working on it. Hard.

Thanks for reading these words of remarkable people in these necessarily changing times.

Paul Goodloe suggested a couple of books that I plan to read to grow my understanding and turn my upset into action.

The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander for the history of how we got here. “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo speaks to how we can move forward from here together. 

I have some suggested reading as well:

And, I encourage everyone to listen to the podcast, “1619,” by Nicole Hannah Jones for The New York Times 

“I imagine one of the reasons people cling to their hates so stubbornly is because they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

― James Baldwin, The Fire Next Time

Big Floyd Comes Home

Known in life by his childhood friends and family as Big Floyd, George Floyd is now known around the world by how he died. Handcuffed. Faced down. On the street in Minneapolis.  A police officer’s knee to the neck. For 8 minutes and 46 seconds. 

I was compelled to watch the funeral service for Floyd streamed on Tuesday afternoon in his hometown of Houston. Many spoke, sang songs of hope and sorrow and read scripture.

His family of brothers, his aunt, niece and friends addressed the crowd who were dispersed throughout the large chapel, wearing masks and maintaining safe distance from each other. From their remembrances of George Floyd, the man, I learned what a central figure he was in their lives and in the community. A good hearted giant who loved playing sports. A man who was there for them. A man, now, who is gone from their lives forever because the law enforcement in Minneapolis failed him to death.

And, I could feel the need of the speakers to talk about George Floyd whose death is now the symbol of a movement, and about how he did not die in vain. 

The way that he died became the theme of the Movement calling for Justice

Those two sides of the story of Floyd get intermingled into the total conversation. First, a man. A man who had restarted his life, redirected his path living beyond troubles with the law in his past. A reporter for the New York Times said that his friends and family needed to celebrate and remember him as the man that he was before the symbolism took over his memory.

I can breathe.

Brooke Williams, Floyd’s teenage niece, declared, “I can breathe. And as long as I’m breathing, justice will be served. This is not just a murder but a hate crime.” 

She went on to talk about her uncle, how funny he was, how loving, how supportive. He was her Superman. “I want to share some memories of my uncle, because that’s all I have…memories.” She poured her young heart out and then she quoted Tupac Shakur. “You gotta make a change. You see the old way wasn’t working so it’s on us, to do what we gotta do to survive.” And then she closed with, “America, it is time for a change even if it must begin with more protests. No justice. No peace!” 

The Reverend Al Sharpton gave the eulogy as he did the week before at a memorial service in North Carolina. As Sharpton began speaking I started transcribing his sermon. I felt like what he was saying was going to be important. The Reverend is known for speaking the hard truth as an activist for racial justice. Below are his words as best as I could transcribe them.

Rev. Sharpton: I hear people talk about what happened to George Floyd like this was something less than a crime. This was not just a tragedy. It was a crime. 

They’re going to do everything they can to delay these trials. To delay the accountability. To try to wear this family down. And many of those coming here today, skinning and grinning for the cameras, will not be here for the long run. We must commit to this family, all of this family, that until these people pay for what they did, we will be there with them because lives like George will not matter until somebody pays the costs for taking their lives. 

There is an intentional neglect to make people pay for taking our lives. If four blacks had done to one white, if four black cops had done to one white what was done to George, they wouldn’t have to teach no new lessons! They wouldn’t have to get corporations to send money! They would have sent them to jail!

Until we know that the price for black life is the same as the price for white life, we will keep coming back to these situations over and over again.

Either the law will work or it won’t work.” 

Sharpton recognized the families attending today who have had fathers, sons and daughters killed by police officers around the country. He called them each by name and asked them to stand. 

These families understand the pain that the Floyd family is going through more than anyone because they have gone through the pain.”

The mother of Trayvon Martin, will you stand.

The mother of Eric Garner, will you stand. 

The family of Pamela Turner right here in Houston, will you stand, 

The father of Michael Brown of Ferguson Missouri, will you stand.

The mother of Ahmaud Arbery, will you stand.

All of these families came to stand with this family!

Until the law is upheld and people know that they will go to jail they are going to keep doing it because they are protected by wickedness in high places. 

The signal that they are sending is that if you’re in law enforcement, the law doesn’t apply to you. 

It’s nice to see that some people have changed their mind. Head of the NFL said, ‘Yeah, maybe we were wrong. Football players, maybe they did have the right to peacefully protest.’ 

Well, don’t apologize, give Colin Kaepernik his job back! 

Don’t come with some empty apology. Take a man’s livelihood. Strip a man down of his talents. And four years later when the whole world is marching all of a sudden you do a FaceTime talking about you sorry. Minimizing the value of our lives. You sorry! Then repay the damage you did to the career you stood down because when Colin took a knee he took it for the families in this building. We don’t want an apology. We want him repaired.  

I was working out this morning, white fellow exercising there said to me, ‘I see you on tv and you are always talking about race.’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ He said, ‘But haven’t we come a long way?’ I said, ‘Yeah, but what you’ve got to understand is how far we’ve got to go. And you gotta understand how deep it is. 

He said, ‘Whaddaya Mean?’

I said, about nine years ago a newspaper in NY did a background story on my family, and it found out that my great grandfather was a slave in Edgefield, SC. I went down there with the newspaper and other press. And we went to the graveyard. My great grandfather was owned by the family of Strom Thurmond, the segregationist. I went to the white church, the First Baptist Church, and in the graveyard…about a quarter of the cemetery’s tombstones were Thurmonds and Sharptons. And I said, you mean all of these…they said, wait a minute, the plantation of your great grandfather was about a mile away. They buried the slaves there. They put pebbles over their graves. 

So it occurred to me that every time that I write my name, sir, that is NOT MY name. That’s the name of who owned my great grandfather. That’s how deep Race is. Every time I write my name I’m writing American history of what happened to my people! 

I can’t talk about what my great grandparents did. They were enslaved. And we’re still being treated less than others. 

Until America comes to terms with what it has done and what it did, we will not be able to heal because you’re not recognizing the wound. 

God took the rejected stone and made him [George Floyd] the cornerstone of a movement that’s gonna change the whole wide world. 

If you had any idea that all of us would react, you’d a taken your knee off of his neck. 

If you had any idea that everybody from the 3rd Ward in Houston and from Hollywood would show up, you’d a took your knee off his neck. 

Sharpton addressed the actions of President Trump head on.

You’re sitting there trying to figure out how you going to stop the protests rather than how you gonna stop the brutality.

You calling your cabinet in trying to figure out how it’s going to affect your vote rather than how it is going to affect our lives.. 

You scheming on how you can spin the story rather than how you can achieve justice!

Wickedness in high places!

You take rubber bullets and tear gas to clear out peaceful protesters and then take a bible and walk in front of a church and use a church as a prop. 

Wickedness in high places!

You ain’t been walking across that street when the church didn’t have the boards up. You weren’t holding up no bible when Arbery was killed in Brunswick. When Taylor was killed in Louisville. 

Wickedness in high places!

August 28th we’re going to Washington on the anniversary of “I have a Dream”. George Floyd’s family, and all of these families will lead the march.

I pulled photos from the Houston Chronicle and the Washington Post for this article.

“I just wanted to cry.” Atlanta burns again

Friday, June 5, 2020

Today’s post consists of quotes that struck me as our nation and we, as a people, a city, a community and as a family, have gone through the last ten days of protests in the name of George Floyd. The quotes speak for themselves and I chose them from a wide variety of people, from protesters on the street to well-known Civil Rights leaders to former and current presidents. I chose them because they spoke to me. I hope that you will read them all because we all need some speaking to.

The undeniable murder by police of another African American man caught on video by bystanders and police cameras showed it all. 

The despair, anger and centuries of frustration spread across the country and flowed into Atlanta, the heart of the Civil Rights Movement, my home town for the last two decades.

Andrew Young, former Atlanta Mayor and U.S. Ambassador, and former partner with the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., watched TV from home as the peaceful protest turned to violence. What he saw during the day had stirred his soul and memories of his days in the Civil Rights Movement in the 60s. And then, as he saw someone lighting the American flag on fire, he knew what was coming.

“I just want to cry,” he said. He wanted to cry because he knew better than anyone that the violence and looting will be used to overshadow the message to White America. He wanted to cry because he knows, although we’ve come far in our country’s relationship with race, we still have so much further to go. He wanted to cry because he and his time were not able to deliver our country and his children and his children’s children to the Promised Land.

It stirred me deep down. I knew how he felt. The right to peacefully assemble and bring our grievances to the government is a right of the American people. I grew up during the turbulent 60s and 70s, the days of ongoing antiwar and Civil Rights protest marches. The era of Kent State. The march on Selma. The march on Washington. The protests and riots in Chicago and Detroit. The Civil Rights sit-in in my hometown of Durham, North Carolina. The aftermath of the Rodney King trial. All too often, violence by a few overthrew the peaceful protests of the many. Military and uniformed Might came down in the name of preservation of law and order and in the form of attack dogs, fire hoses and billy-clubs. It’s hard not to see the irony in the fact that it was the unlawful and murderous act that began the protests in the first place. 

From Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, 5/29/20, after the day’s peaceful demonstrations turned to looting and burning.

“Above everything else I am a mother. When I saw the murder of George Floyd I hurt like a mother would hurt. You’re not going to out concern me and out care me about where we are in America. I pray over my children each and every day.

What I see happening is not Atlanta. This not a protest … this is chaos, a protest has purpose,” Mayor Bottoms said.

Statement from Congressman John Lewis

ATLANTA — “Sixty-five years have passed, and I still remember the face of young Emmett Till.  It was 1955.  I was 15 years old — just a year older than him.  What happened that summer in Money, Mississippi, and the months that followed — the recanted accusation, the sham trial, the dreaded verdict — shocked the country to its core.  And it helped spur a series of non-violent events by everyday people who demanded better from our country.  

“Despite real progress, I can’t help but think of young Emmett today as I watch video after video after video of unarmed Black Americans being killed, and falsely accused.  My heart breaks for these men and women, their families, and the country that let them down — again.  My fellow Americans, this is a special moment in our history.  Just as people of all faiths and no faiths, and all backgrounds, creeds, and colors banded together decades ago to fight for equality and justice in a peaceful, orderly, non-violent fashion, we must do so again.

“To the rioters here in Atlanta and across the country:  I see you, and I hear you.  I know your pain, your rage, your sense of despair and hopelessness.  Justice has, indeed, been denied for far too long.  Rioting, looting, and burning is not the way.  Organize.  Demonstrate.  Sit-in.  Stand-up.  Vote.  Be constructive, not destructive.  History has proven time and again that non-violent, peaceful protest is the way to achieve the justice and equality that we all deserve. 

“Our work won’t be easy — nothing worth having ever is — but I strongly believe, as Dr. King once said, that while the arc of the moral universe is long, it bends toward justice.”

A Tweeted response to Lewis’s statement

“I love you, you are a hero in my family but we have organized, sat in, stood up, voted,” Twitter user @RykerStevenson wrote to Lewis. “We’ve been doing that for decades. Maybe what the country needs is to know that if you murder a black man in the street then every street in major cities across the country will burn.”

“There’s COVID-19 and there’s COVID-1619 — the year when slavery came to America.”

Pastor Hans Lee, at the Calvary Lutheran Church, a block away from where George Floyd was killed.

Reporting on the ground in Minneapolis, 6/1/20

“The Daily” podcast by The New York Times on Sunday night, focused on the protests that had spread across the city. John Eligon, a national correspondent who covers race for The Times, a black man, was in downtown Minneapolis following a group of protesters marching towards the interstate. The march came upon lines of police armed with billy-clubs and tear gas and were under orders not to allow the demonstration to get to the interstate. The police surrounded the group and arrested about 200 of them for violating the 8 p.m. curfew. It was a peaceful submission.

While the protestors were waiting to be processed and taken to jail, Eligon interviewed a young black woman. He asked her what it was like for her that night.

BLACK FEMALE PROTESTER: “It was scary. Bad. I was scared but you want to stand up for something right.” 

ELIGON: ‘Why was it important for you to come out?”

BLACK FEMALE PROTESTER: “My younger brothers…they have been profiled since they were 8 years old. White woman got her bike stolen and they took my brothers while they were riding their bikes on their way to get a haircut and put them in the back seat of a police car. Taunting them. Then, they let this white woman be the judge of whether they were guilty or not. That’s why I am here. It happened in 2009. This is not a new problem. 

“Everybody is doing their job. They’re on one side and I’m on the other side. They’re not backing down and we’re not backing down. That doesn’t mean I want them hurt. It doesn’t mean that I hate them. But I am going to stand up for what I believe in. 

“The problem is the system. The power. We’re fighting the power. And until everybody is out here and we outnumber everybody on the other side things will never change. Things haven’t changed in years.

“I’m a Black American. I’ve never been arrested. The only difference between me and you is you have the press badge.” 

When Eligon asked a black male protester in the group, “Do you think this is necessary to keep the peace, to hold down the violence?” the protester offered this measured response, 

BLACK MALE PROTESTER: “You’re a black man looking me right in the eyes. You think this is necessary? It coulda been you [referring to George Floyd]. It coulda been me. Instead, you’re holding the phone. The only difference between you and me is that you have the press badge and that camera. Otherwise you would have been arrested for being here.”

NYT reporter says destroying property is ‘not violence’

New York Times reporter Nikole Hannah-Jones argued that rioters destroying property is “not violence” — and referring to the crimes as such goes against what’s moral.

“Any reasonable person would say we shouldn’t be destroying other people’s property, but these are not reasonable times,” she said.

“These are people who have protested against police violence again and again and again, year after year after year and still, we can have videos of law enforcement with witnesses taking the life of a man for the alleged crime of passing a fake $20 bill.”

“The law is not respecting them. You can’t say regular citizens should play by the rules when agents of the state are not,” she continued.

Full-page Ad in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, June 2, 2020

Team ROC, philanthropic arm of Jay-Z‘s Roc Nation, took out full-page ads in newspapers across the U.S. in support of protesters. This includes The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The ad is dedicated to George Floyd, Publication of the ad marks a partnership with multiple families who’ve lost children to police brutality, as well as activists and attorneys. The letter quotes from the speech Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave in Selma in 1965. 

“A man dies when he refuses to stand up for that which is right. A man dies when he refuses to stand up for justice. A man dies when he refuses to take a stand for that which is true. 

“So we’re going to stand up amid horses. We’re going to stand up right here, amid the billy-clubs. We’re going to stand up right here amid police dogs, if they have them. We’re going to stand up amid tear gas!

“We’re going to stand up amid anything they can muster up, letting the world know that we are determined to be free!”

An email statement from singer/songwriter James Taylor, May 31, 2020      

THE GEORGE FLOYD KILLING where the rubber bullet meets the road to freedom

A time has come in our country where a significant amount of the people demand a change. We have been here before, at a time when the people spontaneously take to the streets out of a common sense of outrage. In my opinion, we have forced our societal problems into this confrontation between the police, who are tasked with keeping the peace, and a segment of our population, subjected to perpetual, institutionalized suffering. We have seen their road to freedom and equality blocked, their great struggle thwarted and stalled. We have let our leaders drop the baton. They have encouraged a backlash against what we know to be right: the inclusion of African Americans in the rights and privileges guaranteed by our constitution. In denying those constitutional rights, we have forced this failure upon our police. But the hammer sees only the nail. Of course we must rigorously police our police, that is given. But seeing this only, or even primarily, as a police failure: a problem to be fixed where the rubber meets the road, is tragically myopic.

What we face is nothing less than The Great American Mission: a national commitment to ending the injustice of Slavery and a national rejection of racism…

~James Taylor

Excerpts from President Donald Trump’s speech, 6/1/20 from the Rose Garden

“ I am your President of law and order, and an ally of all peaceful protesters.

“If the city or state refuses to take the actions that are necessary to defend the life and property of their residence, then I will deploy the United States military and quickly solve the problem for them.” 

From Barack Obama 6/1/20

How to Make this Moment the Turning Point for Real Change

I’ve heard some suggest that the recurrent problem of racial bias in our criminal justice system proves that only protests and direct action can bring about change, and that voting and participation in electoral politics is a waste of time. I couldn’t disagree more. The point of protest is to raise public awareness, to put a spotlight on injustice, and to make the powers that be uncomfortable; in fact, throughout American history, it’s often only been in response to protests and civil disobedience that the political system has even paid attention to marginalized communities. But eventually, aspirations have to be translated into specific laws and institutional practices — and in a democracy, that only happens when we elect government officials who are responsive to our demands.

the elected officials who matter most in reforming police departments and the criminal justice system work at the state and local levels.

“I can’t legislate you love me, but I can pass laws to stop you from lynching me.

I can’t legislate the heart, but I can legislate to restrain the heartless.”

Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as quoted by Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey

Happy Tequila Friday Rob Day

Saluting Rob

Rob the Birthday Boy, May 29, 2020

I just wanted to start today off with a Happy Tequila Friday Birthday wish to our daughter’s boyfriend, Rob. They’ve been together for a couple of years now and seem to be handling the working from home together during the COVID Home Alone period well. That shows a lot about their relationship doesn’t it?

So, in the loving Riley spirit, let’s all give him a big “Hooray for Rob!!” Happy birthday and Cheers!

And, as you wash your hands today, sing your Happy Birthday song to Rob.

What’s that line on my window pane?

“I’ve had a heck of a morning!” Mom told me when I called to check in on her.

So, at 96, every day is a day for optimism, but imagine you wake up and roll over to look at the day outside your window. You see something that seems odd. It’s a thick black line going up your window pane. Your brain tries to match what you’re seeing with some plausible explanation of what you’re looking at. You rub your eyes to improve your focus. You look again at the black line and follow the line down to the window sill. There you see more black and squiggly. You roll over in bed a little closer while before you figure it out.

SNAKE!!!! Holy SH*T!

This is not Mother’s snake. Just an image to stir your imagination

Now, remember, you’re 96 and can’t afford to fall, but you don’t feel like you can afford to make a slow retreat either. Carefully you move to the other side of bed and dismount, locate your walker and make a beeline for the door, closing it behind you. You breathe a sigh of relief and say out loud to yourself, “Damn! Why does all the crazy stuff happen to me!”

You pick up the phone and call the main line at The Home. You excitedly tell the operator that there’s a snake IN YOUR BEDROOM! And you need help now.

The operator handles this frightening call calmly as she was trained. She wisely urges you to stuff a towel under the door to keep the snake IN YOUR BEDROOM! And, she will send security immediately. Don’t worry. 

Right. You’re 96. What’s to worry about? It’s just a two and a half foot or so snake. IN YOUR BEDROOM!

The doorbell rings and the man dispatched from security is standing there. You’re thrilled. He is a big towering man, just what you need when there’s a snake IN YOUR BEDROOM!

He inches open your door to the bedroom and the snake is still on the window. Sunning maybe. Who knows. As the security guard slowly enters, you realize that he seems nervous. He’s sweating. And breathing heavily. It’s not like he works for the DNR and trained in capturing animals. He’s a security guard at a senior citizen community. And this snake is in a 96 year old woman’s BEDROOM.

Mom told me that she didn’t watch. He had closed the door behind him. But she heard a scuffle. A couple of huffs and puffs. Then, calm. The snake lost. And there was blood. On the carpet. IN HER BEDROOM. Just to help her remember the day’s events.

My tale of voting by mail

One of the upsides to voting by mail is how much better voters we became because we got to spend time with the ballots. We actually studied the candidates, going through each race including down to our state and county races for judges and commissioners. It was easy to go online and review each candidate, their resume and their vision for the job they are running to hold, made us better voters. Yes, in the past we would review the ballot, usually on the League of Women Voters website, but never to this extent. 

Now, to mail it in. Hmmmm. That’s an entirely different story. The three steps to voting end with a bullet point that specifically instructs you to make sure that you use “Sufficient Postage” to mail in the ballot. And therein lies the quandary. What is “sufficient”? Why doesn’t it just say, use one (or two, whatever is necessary) first class Forever stamps? I mean, the State designed the ballot, the envelope. Could not the state weigh and determine the necessary postage based on federal postage rates for size and weight? 

I searched online at the official Georgia.gov website and found more non-specific information, just the reiteration of “Make sure that you use sufficient postage.” 

Now, how do I do that without going to the post office. What if I didn’t have a car? It surely seems like adding one more bump in the road to voting…on purpose? Or through ignorance?

Anyway, we decided to drop it off at the County Center three miles from home. It’s located, ironically, across the street from the post office.

LATE BREAKING NEWS

We drove over to the County Center. I masked up and walked into the building. There were signs about the upcoming early voting on the doors, but nothing about where to drop off a ballot. All of the offices inside were COVID CLOSED. I walked the length of the main hallway. Still no sign of a dropbox for ballots. Disappointed, I walked back to the car, got in, hand sanitized and told Julie we needed Plan B. Cranked her up and drove by the front of the building to get to the street. That’s when I saw what looked like a mail box wrapped in a flag decal. I backed up, drove back around the circle and there it was, the signage I’d been looking for.

After I deposited our ballots as I walked back to my car I saw a young woman walk inside with a ballot in her hand. I went back to the entrance to the center and she was walking back down the long hall confused like I was. “Excuse me, are you looking for the absentee ballot drop off?” I asked. “Yes I am.” It’s right around the corner in that stars and striped mail box.”

“Thank you so much. I don’t think I would ever have seen that.”

My point exactly. They made it take diligence, whether by accident or on purpose.

Proof that I deposited our ballots in the very hidden absentee drop box.

And finally,

Another Mac has moved on

My nine year old iMac has gone potentially kaput. It will no longer complete its boot up after making its way tantalizingly close to finishing its path to opening up. There it sits. Grey screen. Apple logo. Progression bar all filled in.

Sadly, as far as it gets.

Apparently, it can’t find the hard drive. After working with Apple support chat and using the utilities program, my Apple Tech determined that it was in need of a hands on exam. She set up an appointment at a nearby Simply Mac for the next day. I bagged the iMac in a black plastic bag to protect it from the heavy rain that had popped up and lugged it to the store. When I got to the store it was raining even harder. I picked the computer up, the plastic making it quite slippery and unwieldy, dashed over to the store, one arm clutching the computer, the other opening the door. Once inside, only two customers were ahead of me. I waited 15 minutes more than socially distant from the counter and customer during which I removed it from the bag. The customer finally learned what he needed to know and it was my turn. I place the computer on the countertop and explained the situation. He then explained more of my situation. They, Simply Mac, do not work on “vintage” machines. They don’t stock the parts. And, he said, Apple should know that and yet, they still send folks like me there who are trying to keep their investment working. Arggggg. As I rewrapped the machine in the garbage bag, he gave me a compliment. “Smart move protecting it from the rain. No need to ruin the processor.”

It continues to amaze me the short life of a highly designed, well crafted machine which is “vintage” in the vernacular of the industry at the young age of nine. I mean, a Mac is not a throwaway creation. It runs counter intuitive to my nature of taking care of expensive quality products and getting maximum use.

I also lost the operability of my HP flatbed scanner, which I bought about five years ago, to scan slides and negatives. One day last year, the software stopped working, specifically for negatives and slides. It would still scan a photo or document. What caused this? After a lot of online searching and a call to HP support chat, I found out HP no longer supported the scanner with software updates. That meant that as the Apple OS moved forward, it left behind the HP scanner driver. I could revert back to the older version of the OS just to use that scanner. That seemed dumb. So, I had to buy a new scanner. ARGH. This time, Epson. We’ll see how long that works out.

Quote of the week from my sister-in-law, “I’ve washed my hands so much I’ve uncovered crib notes from a 7th grade exam!”

So, one more tip of the hat to Rob on his day. And to you, remember…

Stay home. Put off that tattoo one more month. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Have a great weekend.

My Uncle Grover

It’s Memorial Day 2020. Certainly, the coronavirus will mark this as one of the more unusual celebrations of the fallen soldiers who gave their lives in battle fighting for our country’s very survival. The history of this holiday dates back to the end of the Civil War and incorporated those soldiers lost in the two World Wars, Korean War, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan as time and conflicts moved on.

The large gatherings associated with this holiday will be changed as we all, civilians and soldiers alike, wage our silent war against a deadly enemy we cannot see, cannot yet kill, and can only try to protect ourselves and others by cleanliness and social distancing to minimize risk.

Remembering a Sailor

I dedicate today’s blog to all of the soldiers and sailors taken in the line of duty. And I ask your leeway in speaking about one special sailor who served but thankfully, did not die in service. I have found myself thinking of him with the coming of this military holiday and wanted to write about and share him with you.

IMG_0090

That sailor was Grover Cleveland Glymph, Jr. Born in 1925, he lived for 89 years before dying just two days before Thanksgiving in 2014. 

That sailor was my Uncle Grover. I cannot claim him all to myself as I was but one of his many nephews and nieces, so he really was “our” Uncle Grover. But to me, he was my “only” Uncle Grover.

I have recollections of Uncle Grover from almost since my time began. He was kind of cuddly sweet. He had a warm smile, a strong hug and handshake, a soft voice and a frequent laugh that accompanied his teasing remarks. Like he tickled himself. For years I thought of it as a Glymph characteristic trait, as my aunts and uncles on my mother’s side all had that laugh. I’ve come to learn it is more of a Kelly trait than Glymph. The humor and good nature came from my grandmother’s side of the family.

Growing up Grover

Grover, like his older brothers, was not a tall man and had balded early in his life. He wasn’t a commanding presence. He didn’t just walk in and capture a room’s attention, nor did he demand it. He kind of wove his way in and around it. At our many family gatherings, he spent time with almost everyone, young and old, although he always found his way to be with and near his sister, my mother. Mom was the “knee baby,” the baby before the youngest baby, still sitting on her mother’s knee when Grover was born. He was the last born into this Depression era family whose parents had moved up north to Durham from that other Carolina just south of Charlotte. 

Grover Cleveland Glymph, Sr., their dad, known to many as “GC,” was a stern father typical of the era. Their many children were to be seen and not heard, and if they were heard during dinner, they were excused quickly from the table to finish their dinners on the back porch. 

I just learned this story from my cousin, Denise, Uncle Grover’s only child. According to Denise and verified by my mother, Mr. Glymph ran a strict household in which his children feared him while adoring and protecting their mother from his unbending nature. “Daddy wasn’t a lovable man,” Mom told me. 

G.C. sold all kinds of insurance and he often made the kids ride along for hours with him as he went calling on his customers to pick up their insurance premiums or to convince them of the need to have a safety net to protect their family from the unknown that lay ahead.

Growing up on Englewood Avenue, the Glymphs were early settlers on what was then a new street cut parallel to the gracious tree-lined mainline of Club Boulevard in West Durham. The small tobacco and mill town was expanding when the house was built in 1920. (Today, their home still sits on the corner of Englewood and Carolina and is in the national registry of historic homes.) These children found their joy in each other and the kids on their street and in school. Only sixteen months apart, Mom and Grover were their own best playmates, once apparently burning down the chicken coop while playing with matches together in the backyard. Whether it was, in fact, a chicken coop or just a storage shed has always been in dispute in the family lore, but burn it down they did, partners in crime, a brush with tragedy that turned out with no injuries so everyone was glad, except Granddaddy.   

Grover worshipped the ground Ed walked on.

Mom has said many times that Uncle Grover worshipped the ground his oldest brother, Ed, walked on. Whatever Ed did, Grover wanted to follow. In talking with Denise recently I learned that there was, of course, much more to that story. That, yes, it was true that her father admired his older brother but the why became even more understandable. You see, Uncle Ed despised his father. He hated the way his father treated his mother and family. Although Mr. Glymph was never physically violent, he had a streak of mean no woman as warm, caring and hardworking as his mother should ever endure. Ed felt belittled by his father, never good enough, never what his dad wanted him to be. When Ed lost his hair in high school, Mr. Glymph found moments to ridicule and make fun of his son making the embarrassment even more unbearable. 

Ed determined early on that he was getting out of that house as soon as he could. But, while he was home, he took Grover under his wing and became his protector, his mentor and instructor. He filled the role of dad for his baby brother. He taught him how to ride a bike, how to swim, catch and throw a ball and how to drive a car. Before he was done, Ed also taught his brother how to leave home.

The Navy is the only way to go

World War II provided Ed with the opportunity and motivation to leave Englewood Avenue and he enlisted in the Navy. America was under attack and needed men. He advised Grover that if he ever thought about enlisting, the Navy was the only way to go. “You’ll always have a bed to lay down in at night, never in a fox hole. And, you’ll get three squares a day.”

At 17, Grover stepped up, dropped out of high school and took his brother’s advice. With his parents’ approval and necessary signatures, he enlisted in the Navy during the heart of the war in the Pacific. No one knows the perils that lie in wait going into service, and few can imagine the terror, violence and carnage that men sling at one another in battle. In the Navy, war was waged on the high seas. And for Grover, it all came down to April 6th, 1945, just four slight months before the Japanese surrendered to the Allied Forces on August 15, 1945. He was a sailor on the new Fletcher Class Destroyer, the USS Colhoun. The ship was launched on April 10, 1944, commissioned on July 8 and sunk by Japanese aircraft off of Okinawa on April 6, 1945, almost one year later to the day of launch. 

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USS Colhoun DD 801 class Destroyer

Grover’s ship provided assistance in the invasion of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. During its off-shore support it was damaged by a salvo of heavy enemy batteries ashore on March 1, which killed one man and injured 16. After repairs at Saipan, Colhoun sailed for Okinawa

With a fleet of other destroyers positioned to provide support for the invasion of Okinawa, they came under heavy air attack from Japanese fighter planes, each armed with a bomb. One destroyer, the USS Bush, after an intense air attack was dead in the water. The Colhoun steamed to support, aid and rescue when it came under attack as well. The following is the Wiki depiction of the battle.

At 1530 on 6 April 1945, during the first heavy kamikaze raid of the battle of Okinawa, Colhoun received a request for help from Bush and sped to her aid. Interposing her guns between Bush and the attacking suicide planes, Colhoun downed three planes before a kamikaze crashed into the 40 mm (1.6 in) mount scattering flaming wreckage across the ship and dropping a bomb into the after fireroom where it exploded. Retaining power and using emergency steering, Colhoun awaited the next attacking trio, shooting down the first two while the third struck her on the starboard side.

The bomb from the second kamikaze exploded, breaking Colhoun‘s keel, piercing both boilers, ripping a 20 by 4 ft (6.1 by 1.2 m) hole below the waterline, and starting oil and electrical fires. Operating the remaining guns manually, the crew gamely faced yet another wave of three attackers shooting down one and damaging another, while the third kamikaze struck her aft section. This airplane’s bomb bounced overboard and exploded, adding another 3 ft (0.91 m) hole to allow more flooding. Colhoun valiantly struggled to stay afloat, but a final kamikaze crashed into the bridge in a mass of flames. At 1800, LCS-48 took off all but a skeleton crew, which remained onboard while a tug attempted to tow Colhoun to Okinawa. Heavy listing, uncontrolled flooding, and fires made it impossible to save her, and she was sunk by gunfire from USS Cassin Young (DD-793) at 27°16′N 127°48′E. Her casualties were: 34 killed and 21 wounded.

On this fateful day, Grover was assigned to man one of the guns on deck instead of his normal deployment in the engine room. When they came under attack he and his gunnery assistant fired on the incoming aircraft. His assistant was feeding the ammo rounds as Grover fired upon the kamikaze planes until he ran out of ammo. After the first kamikaze hit the ship, he saw the hatch from the engine room pop open, and men climbed out one after the other. They were all on fire and they all died. He knew them all. But for the twist of fate of assignment, we would have lost Grover that day. 

Grover and the other survivors were plucked from the sinking ship by smaller craft in the fleet. He was then sent back to California on an Army Supply ship. It took 30 days to sail home. 

Back home, his wife, Vera, was living and working in California awaiting the end of the war. She’d heard the news of the battle and the sinking of the Colhoun. But no word came on the crew. Communications were tight as the Allies were moving into the final throes of defeating the Japanese. She had no idea whether her Grover was alive and well, injured or dead. There is no way to describe what that wait for news was like for her.

One night there was a knock

One night there was a knock on the door. She opened it and there stood her Grover. He’d lost 20 pounds on the trip home. He said the Army ship was filthy. There were roaches in the rice and they got sick. They ate C-rations the rest of the way home.

Once Uncle Grover and Aunt Vera returned to Durham from California, they were constants with my family. Grover had grown up knowing my dad, playing stick hockey in the streets and tagging along with my parents who were sweethearts starting at 14. They were all like family. They all had two things in common. A healthy respect for Mr. Glymph with a good dash of fear, and an abiding and enduring love for my grandmother. 

Denise said that we never knew of Grover’s war stories growing up because her dad never talked about them, not even to her mother. After one of many harrowing nightmares in the early years, she finally coaxed him to talk some, to confront the nightmares. 

He never really opened up until many years later when Denise joined her dad and Fran, Grover’s second wife, at a Navy reunion. There was a Fletcher class destroyer docked at the reunion that was an exact duplicate of the USS Colhoun. Grover was able to take them below deck, down the hatch, down the vertical ladder into the heart of the ship. There he pointed out, “There’s my bed. That’s my locker. Here’s the engine room where I spent most of my time and where I would have died.”        

Later in Life

Every Sunday when we attended Asbury Methodist Church, there was Uncle Grover, a frequent usher waiting in the vestibule to take us to our pew. As he walked us down the aisle to the center second row pew, the worshippers were almost always standing, the organ playing big and loud, and the choir singing. For years I believed they were standing because Uncle Grover was our usher and they were standing for us. It felt like we were royalty. Turns out, as I later realized, they were standing because it was the singing the opening hymn, we were late as usual, and it was one of the allotted moments for the ushers to seat people. Still, it was a grand entry and Grover always seemed so proud. 

A card every birthday until…

Grover and my older brother, Lin, shared the same birthday, March 14th. For years, he sent us each a birthday card on our birthday. It always made me feel special as I’m sure that it did my brothers and sisters. Then, one day I was talking with Mom on the phone and she asked me if I ever sent Grover a birthday card. I replied, no, it had never crossed my mind. I was in my forties at the time. “Well,” she said, “That’s what I thought. Grover said as much the other day. After all of these years that he sent you kids a card every birthday, you and your brothers and sisters had never returned the favor. ‘I don’t know why I keep doing it,’ he said to me. And, I don’t know why he did either.” 

I felt so guilty for having taken his love and kindness for granted. It was the only time that I heard of him wanting attention, acknowledgement. 

From the March 14th forward until he died, I sent him a birthday card. He had stopped sending one to me. And, that was okay. He’d done his part for far too long. 

And, to this day, I send my nieces and nephews a card on their birthday. It is one way to  honor of Grover and remember and pass along his feeling of family, of staying connected and paying tribute to the courage he summoned to fire away at the enemy bearing down on you from the sky, doing its best to kill you, and, by killing you, kill the country, one life at a time.  

Thank you Grover. 

A couple of things…

Here’s a link to the story of Hutch Hutchinson, Dad’s buddy in the Marines who “got it” on Iwo. You won’t believe this story of men, war and 65 years later.

Here’s the Official Deck “Watch Log” dated April 6, 1945 from the USS Colhoun. It is the report from the ship’s watch on the attack in which Uncle Grover fought and survived. Straightforward and harrowing military description.

USS COLHOUN (DD-801)

1610 – Sighted Bush dead ahead. 1635 – Closed Bush who was dead in the water smoking badly and down by the stern. She still had remains of what appeared to be a Betty plastered on her starboard side amidships. She was being circled by a group of enemy planes …. At about 1710, the leading top Zeke peeled off and started a run on Colhoun …. Opened fire at 9000 yards …. motor started smoking at about 1000 yards off. Plane released bomb at about this point, but continued his strafing and glide. He passed over the ship …. no damage to ship …. Plane apparently headed for Bush …. Bush was in line distant about 4000 yards, 40mm and 20mm continued to register hits …. plane hit water about midway between Colhoun and Bush …. another attack started about 1714 …. received report that plane on port bow was about to crash us, ordered full left rudder but too late …. Plane hit in flames on main deck at #44 40mm mount, part of flaming fuselage swept across ship, engine and bomb penetrated main deck exploding in after fireroom …. also setting fire to handy billys which had been placed in readiness for going alongside Bush …. Gun crews of 40mm mounts 3 and 4 were either killed or badly burned, mounts destroyed by crash and fire and ready ammunition on fire. Gun crews of 20mm guns 1 and 3 were all severely burned but guns not badly damaged …. 1717 …. high Zeke started in …. this time the two leading Vals came along …. The Zeke came in on starboard bow, one Val on port and one on port quarter. Again all three came in at about at 45o dive very slow …. All guns opened fire when attack started on port bow targets …. hit Val square with first 5″ salvo thereby splashing him off port quarter about 200 yards. Guns 1 and 2 obtained hits early on (estimated 6000 yards) Val on port bow and he appeared out of control. (This plane missed us attempted to suicide Bush and was splashed by automatic weapons of Bush and LCS64) …. Shifted to plane on starboard bow. Here our lucked failed …. and plane crashed through starboard motor whaleboat and into forward fireroom, where bomb exploded, breaking keel, piercing both boilers, putting hole about 20 feet long and 4 feet wide in starboard side below water line …. All communications lost with after part of ship …. were soon dead in the water …. We still had 120 cans of foam extinguisher on board …. In about eleven minutes all fires were under control by use of foam or CO2. …. 1725 another attack commenced ….. the Val on starboard bow caught his port wing on the after stack bounced off gun 3 knocking off his gas tank which flamed to the main deck by gun 4, flaming and taking 45 director bath tub along, bounced off main deck into water where bomb exploded putting a hole below the water line about three feet square in compartment C-205, but so deluging the after part of ship with water that all fires started were extinguished. The water however washed most of after 20mm crews and a few of the torpedomen over the fantail. They were in most instances able to swim back, one was rescued by Enyon, Coxswain and four by ship’s port motor whaleboat …. This attack was followed by the remaining two Vals who came in off starboard quarter in loose echelon about 4000 yards apart, strafing as they came. Each let go one bomb when about 300 yards off the quarter at about 500 feet. They were fired on by gun 4 but undamaged. One pulled out and headed for Tokyo the other hit Bush starting fires and explosions. The Bush sank about 1 hour later. The area now appeared clear of all aircraft, so attention was devoted to getting some assistance. (The LCS 64 had cleared Bush sometime in the melee and was apparently damaged herself, but she certainly had done a brave bit of work in going alongside …. In fact her conduct throughout was that of complete fearlessness coupled with good gunnery and good seamanship.) …. The ship was down about 3 feet by the stern but on almost an even keel at this time (About 1800) when out of nowhere appeared a Hamp smoking badly and diving on the starboard bow, guns 1, 2 and 41 scored direct hits, but at very close range. His left wing hooked the pilot house but the gasoline spilled on the bridge did not catch fire, and all personnel had taken shelter so no great damage …. this completed the enemy action for the day as far as we were concerned.

… G. R. Wilson, Commander, USN, Action Report dated April 27, 1945

Coronavirus Diary Wednesday, 5/20/20

May 20, 2020. Now that’s a lot of 20’s in a row. Silly that I like to see the repetition or pattern of dates. It puts some irrelevant significance on a day and that gives me joy. 

Let me just say from the top, I’m getting pretty dry today as I reread what I have dug into for you. Sorry, as my Canadian friends say. You may or may not find it your cup of tea. That’s certainly no way to promote and encourage you to read this and it runs totally counter to my lifetime in marketing. But, what the heck, just being honest. Today is about voting by mail in Georgia, changes we’ve seen in isolation and a couple of things to share to get your day rolling. 

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Voting by Mail 

For those of you living outside of Georgia you may not know that the secretary of state, due to the virus, mailed every registered voter an application to vote by mail in the upcoming primaries. A gutsy and expensive decision, but one with which I whole-heartedly agree. 

It’s a multiple step process because you must first declare that you want to vote by mail and in which party primary you want to vote. Send that in and you receive the ballot for your chosen party. Fill in and send and you’ve voted in your primary. Then, in October/November, you’ll also receive a ballot by mail to vote in the 2020 Presidential Election.

Now, I have never, ever, ever voted by mail. Ever.

And, I have only missed one presidential election in my life. Ever. I always chose to vote in person even after the rules for voting by mail relaxed from “absentee” ballots to vote by mail for anyone for any reason.  

From what I’m reading, mail-in is the fairest way to hold the election. Oregon has led the way with a 20-year history of mail-in voting. Other states that are highly rural have also seen the positive results of giving more people the easiest route to vote. 

That aside, I’ve always enjoyed the experience of voting in person, and wearing the Georgia Peach “I Voted” sticker all day long to show all I’ve completed my patriotic duty and taken advantage of our most important right as an American. 

My excitement over voting dates back to elementary school. The voting machines would show up at Hillandale Elementary School in Durham ramping up to election day. They sat in the auditorium, each one covered up, tested and readied to capture the votes and set the course of our country’s future. On election day, a stream of adults flowed in all day long to cast their votes generating a lively feeling of excitement and anticipation. And, I wanted to participate. I couldn’t wait. Especially after accompanying my mom, standing inside the booth with her as she pulled the big red-handled mechanical lever to close the curtain, then flipped the small levers voting for her candidates. The array of races were all across the face of the machine. Then, once she had flipped all of the switches and rechecked her votes, she pulled the big lever again that at once opened the curtain and counted her votes inside the mysteriousness of the machine. 

Back then, you had to be 21 in order to vote. I turned 18 during the Vietnam War and it was then that the voting age was reduced to 18. It took an act of Congress pressed by significant antiwar protests across the country which pushed to match the draft age with the voting age. Finally, rationality met reality. If you’re old enough to be drafted, fight and die for your country, you should have the right to cast your vote in the very course of the country. I cast my first ballot in a losing effort to upend Richard Nixon running for his second term. Nixon won reelection in the most lopsided victory up to that point in U.S. history. Of course, Nixon was undone by the Watergate break-in and other malfeasance and resigned in disgrace in 1974, halfway through his second term. 

But I digress. Let me get back to today and the freedom to cast our individual vote. In person, or by mail…until 2018. 

Election 2018 is when then secretary of state and Republican candidate for governor, Brian Kemp and team, reduced the number of voting machines at our polling place by two thirds, from 12 down to four. All the polls had predicted a higher than normal midterm election. And yet, many polling sites across Georgia were ill-equipped to handle the turnout. Voters had to endure long lines and late waits. Polls were held open to allow all to vote. 

Plus, the downright nerve of the man running the the election process to also run for the highest position in the state government showed Kemp’s stripes even more than his commercials sitting on his porch with a shotgun or standing next to his beat up pickup truck talking about “illegal immigrants” and how he will personally send them all back across the border…but I digress, or regress.

On that election day I had to wait in line for over an hour. Julie waited over two hours when it had never taken more than 15 minutes in prior elections. 

So, I was opting to vote by mail this time, virus or not. I’ll have to miss the excitement but happily skip the waiting…and waiting…and waiting…a roadblock which is an often-used form of voter suppression. The harder you make it…and for many, waiting cuts into their paycheck if they’re hourly wage earners or have children at home or in line with them. 

There’s a lot of argument about the merits, safety and the often discussed opportunity for fraud with the mail-in ballot. 

And, there’s the President saying, out loud and without evidence, that if mail-in voting is allowed across the country, Republicans will never win an election again

I’m watching the building debate closely as we look down the barrel of a hugely important presidential election as well as a slate of both federal, state and local offices in Georgia up for grabs. 

Although investigation after investigation has proven that election fraud is a non-issue, it continues to be the rallying cry for those afraid of high voter turnout and involvement. 

Living in a state that has a history of proven voter suppression under the guise of holding down unproven voter fraud, I worry about the fairness of our election and the accuracy of the end results regardless, that all votes will be cast and counted. Afterall, this is where the secretary of state and 2018 Republican gubernatorial candidate, Brian Kemp, oversaw the largest mass disenfranchisement in U.S. history. Kemp should have stepped down from his appointed position upon declaring his candidacy for governor. Instead, he maintained his position throughout the election while laying a path of voter suppression.

Losing under those conditions was the genesis in Stacey Abrams creating FairFight Georgia, an organization that promotes fair elections in Georgia and around the country, encourages voter participation in elections, and educates voters about elections and their voting rights. It has become a substantial watchdog over elections. I highly recommend that you check out the great work of Stacey and team Fair Fight.

When Social Distancing makes urban feel rural 

Or, enjoying the smallness of life when staying home for safety. Another way of looking at it, said an article in the WAPO, is “comfort in being cocooned, or our routines being limited to a few permissible daily activities, and just having to take care of the people and things in our immediate bubble.”

Actually, have you given thought to what you will be giving up to go back to normal? 

This slow down, bad though it has been and will be for our economy, has been liberating for many. “Some people have really flourished in isolation,” said an emergency doctor who, herself, spent a year in Antarctica studying the long-term effects of isolation. “They learned a language, they made art. For many, it was a rich period of personal growth.” 

As far as how her studies on human behavior in the Great White South relate to our re-entry after a few months of staying at home in the comfort of our homes, well, the things that fell out of our orbit of experiences might have lost some of their appeal. We’ve formed a new normal of what we enjoy. Our “creature self, that which gives us emotion, is wary of changing the routine we’ve learned to like in the last month.” 

The advice from the experts lines up with the gradual return to normal phasing for each of us, not just businesses. “Be easy on yourself. Start your social engagements with familiar people, rather than trying to see all of your friends at once as soon we’re all let back out.”

In other words, take it easy. Don’t stampede. Don’t throw or go to a “We’re back” block party. 

Take a breath today and write down what are good things that you learned, adopted, realized during your and your family’s isolation. What do you want to maintain going forward. What did you like about staying at home? What made you feel good, or even better than before the virus.

How do you want to reset your values? If you’re a business owner or leader, what have we learned that should be made a part of doing business going forward?

And, of course, what have you missed the most and look forward to getting back to doing. 

I can assure you, commuting to work is not one of them!!

 

The business of reopening…from three weeks ago

I’ve been circling articles in the AJC and grabbing links to online stories that I believe relevant and from reliable sources just like I watched investigative reporters do all the years I was in TV. Looking for ideas, context, people of note for sourcing, a small item that could be a large item. Frankly, I got behind in circling back to them to review and possibly include in the blog. 

Today, while waiting in the car for Julie’s eye appointment, I pulled out the small stash. I found one article dated April 26, which is not that long ago really, but lightyears ago with regard to our understanding and progress through the virus. Regular Money Matters columnist Wes Moss in the Sunday Business section caught my eye with his column “Georgia’s reopening can be a model for U.S.” With it having been written over three weeks ago I was intrigued to see if the article still held water. You decide.

Two things that I circled were “Social distancing is working. According to www.covidtracking.com, the five-day rolling average of new cases in Georgia peaked at 969 on April 11, and is now running at approximately 700.” 

Wes puts forward the question, “So, do we really want to back off on a strategy that’s working? No, not completely. But we have reached an inflection point with our economy – one that demands a smart balance between protecting human life and preventing economic catastrophe.” Wes interviews a source who is part of Strategies Research Partners which provides macroeconomic research. This advisory firm stresses the importance of a May restart – instead of a June or July reopening. According to his source, “starting the reopening in May gets us to a minus 30% GDP number for the second quarter. Waiting one more month takes us to minus 60% GDP” and suggests that that 30% spread is the difference between “bending our economy and breaking it. 

During the dark years of 2007 and 2008, we were at minus 8% and minus 4.5%.  

Without a vaccine, we can’t secure ourselves against the virus and the virus is with us for the foreseeable future. And, we cannot afford to delay reopening until we effectively wipe out the virus. Moss’s advice:

  • Continue working from home for all jobs that allow for it. 
  • Businesses must institute practices to protect employees – monitoring for symptoms, testing even those without symptoms given the spread possible by asymptomatic infected individuals.
  • Social distancing is the new normal. PPE of varying degrees, from full on to masks only. 
  • Those businesses that can should stagger their in-office workforce by staggering days employees are expected to come to the workplace. This could cut the number of exposures by half, and keep the traffic down as well.

Moss didn’t get into restarting schools, both grades K-12 and higher education. That’s a very huge and different question but figures into parents going back into the workplace versus home, working with kids. The latest information regarding COVID-19 attacking healthy young people showing up must make this decision even more difficult. Or easy. 

 

Nothing like a pandemic to insight interest in making a will

Another article in my stash dated April 20 was headlined, “Pandemic creates sense of urgency to make a will.” Some lawyers were offering free services to draft wills and advanced directives for first responders. You have to celebrate their willingness to help those taking care of us.

If you have been putting this one off, take advantage of the extra time you have to put your mind at rest. Make a will! Most especially if you have kids or family. Or, if your current will is outdated because the kids have grown or you’ve moved to another state, or federal tax laws have changed since your previous draft, fix it!! 

By happenstance, Julie and I were already in the throws of doing just this before the virus showed up. We’d found, interviewed and met with new counsel since our lawyer had retired. Our drafts were in process at the beginning of the year and by the time we were ready to execute, we went to an almost empty office, put on gloves and signed the various documents including the will, and power of attorney for health and finances. What a relief without the virus hanging over our heads. And even more so, after seeing people struck down with COVID-19 apart from family. The power of attorney for health couldn’t be more important to your family should you fall ill and be separated from them.  

 

If you made it this far, thank you, thank you, thank you. You are a trooper. I hope that you found it interesting and informative. Let me know. Comment below.

 

Stay safe. Stay home. Find yourself. Dream of beaches.

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The ultimate in optimism arrived in my Sunday AJC

 

Tequila Friday Already Day!

Let’s start with today’s cocktail – and how to make THE best version of the Margarita in my estimation. Although many favor the popular frozen version, Julie and I favor serving it up in a chilled martini glass or on the rocks. 

We use the recipe reputed to have come from Margarita Sames, a Dallas socialite, who had been searching for the most refreshing poolside cocktail that she could serve at her home in Acapulco. Actually, there are plenty of people who “claim” the honor of first making and naming the drink which is basically built off of the same support team as The Daisy, which featured brandy instead of tequila. The arguments will continue, still, I like this one because of the taste and the result.

Margarita hosted parties and her recipe is in parts versus actual measurements because it’s easier to make a lot at one time. You can make each part equal 1/2 ounce if you’re making one or make each part 1 ounce and then pour two glasses. Whatever your prefer. 

  • 1 part Cointreau
  •  3 parts WHITE/Silver tequila
  • 1 part fresh squeezed lime juice

Lightly dust the rim of frozen martini glass with regular salt. Or, you can enjoy it over one large piece of bar ice in a rocks glass. Whichever, rub lime around rim to moisten and then coat rim with salt.. Stir in a glass mixing pitcher and pour.  

DO NOT GO ANYWHERE!! 

Speaking of Don’t Go Anywhere

The Riley family has a cabin on Beech Mountain, NC. Which is in Watuga County which has mandated a restriction for visitors to the area. If you go up there, you must self-quarantine for two weeks. That means that you must bring in all that you need in the way of food and supplies. This is enforced until June 5th. Restaurants on the mountain are takeout only. I think we’ll wait a while. 

Book Virus

Speaking of books, there’s something running around on Facebook these days that you’ve probably seen if you’re on the Book. One person issues a challenge to another person to post a photo of their favorite seven books, one photo each day for seven days,no critique or review or story. With each new post, you must challenge another person to do the same. It struck me that this is like a virus. One person infects seven other people, to what end I’m not sure. If those seven do their job, they infect another 49, which now totals 56 people infected by the person who accepted the challenge. 

Julie reminded me that it’s nothing more than a chain letter from the olden days of yore. Those carried the heavy burden of some sort of pox upon your house if you didn’t pass it along. Plus, you had to buy stamps for all of the chain links you mailed out.

 On the plus side, it opens up eyes to books yet unread. On the negative, it just gives Facebook more traction. The cynic in me thinks that it was started to sell more books? 

I got the challenge from an old buddy of mine. It surprised me actually. But I didn’t pick it up for the reasons stated above. 

However, I will, unchallenged and unasked, share the last seven books that I’ve read in the order that I read them. I haven’t read one that I wouldn’t recommend and more than half I would read again. 

  1. A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles  A Christmas gift from Clark. I loved it from the first sentence all of the way to the end. The writing was luscious. So easy to feel, picture and understand. The storyline was amazing and it all built to a crescendo ending. Beautiful, wonderful characterizations. If you haven’t, you must. READ. I heard that there was a series in the works. I surely hope so.
  2. Rules of Civility by Amor Towles  After reading “Gentleman” I went begging for more Towles, I could drink up anything that he has written. This was written before “Gentleman” and did not disappoint. Very different storyline but still the best writing I’ve put my eyes and mind in to in a while. 
  3. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr  Thank you ,Julie, for recommending this one to me. I’ve never read a book arranged in such a way. Rather than organized in chapters, it’s more like scenes, little flickers of happening that edge the plot along. Some scenes are half a page long, some are chapter length. And they hop back and forth as the plot follows two main characters whose lives were running in parallel during the lead up to WWII in France and Germany. A young girl goes blind as a child. Her father raises her and teaches her how to think her way through the world without sight. Doerr gets inside the blindness with a prose that is poetic in its feel. There’s so much to be felt without the benefit of sight. A young boy, orphaned with his sister, is struggling to find his place in the world and falls in love with wireless radios.
  4. Janesville An American Story by Amy Goldstein. I found this book as we roamed Powell’s Books in Portland, a must visit every time we go there to visit Clark. The fact that I had never heard of this book before, had no knowledge about Janesville, that I purchased it, read it, and am better informed about the cataclysmic effect of the closing on GM’s first plant, put into operation in 1923, is a tribute to bookstores everywhere. Goldstein’s job as a reporter took her to Janesville, Wisconsin many times during the dark days of the Great Recession. She turned her reporting into this book, following the same families and individuals whom she interviewed over 2008-2013, the roughest patches in the area’s long history. It’s heart wrenching for sure, but it’s also eye-opening in so many ways about the human condition, the country’s condition and the ability to, or not to, change. Goldtsein both humanizes the people of Janesville and its surrounding counties, while ending the book with statistics about employment, retraining efforts, income loss and other facts about the economic toll on people through the Recession.
  5. Shanghai Girls by Lisa Lee  I think the background story here is that Clark gave this book to his mom, an avid reader, who reads or listens to books throughout the day. However, she’s reading on her iPad these days so she can set the font size. After I finished Janesville, she thought I might like a change of pace and suggested that I read this book. She’s a great reference source so I dug in. I recommend this not because it is the most well written, but because it was  unusual for me. It’s a historical fiction novel about two sisters born in Shanghai, daughters of a Chinese couple. Both girls are quite beautiful and become models for illustrators. The story is told by the older, slightly less beautiful daughter. It’s about class, loss of class, sibling love and rivalry, horrors of war as the Japanese attack and overrun Shanghai, and the Chinese  immigration to America.
  6. Don’t be Afraid Gringo The Story of Elvia Alvarado. A Honduran woman speaks from the heart. What an interesting read. I bought it, I think, a year or so ago in a used book store. It was published in 1987. The book found me with its photo and title and the whole narrative of today regarding immigration was on my mind when I picked it up. It turns out it’s not really about immigration but about living a Honduran life in abject poverty, the struggle of peasants (campesinos) against the land owners, USA Military investment, large sugar companies and government corruption. The whole book is the translation of Alvarado’s verbal storytelling over time as recorded by the reporter. 
  7. Beloved by Toni Morrison – This is what I’m reading at this very moment. After finishing Book #2, I went look for something more literary.I found it in our house. For years I’ve known that it was an important book and one that I should read. I think the kids read it in high school and that is why it’s in our home “library.” I’m halfway through. It has taken a lot of effort to get into the phrasing, the language and the storyline but I can certainly see why this drew so much attention to Morrison. I am starting to feel the book. Know the characters and understand what they’ve been going through that got them to this point in time. It’s about slavery, the end of slavery, sex abuse and sexual love, finding oneself, ghosts and so much more.

Stay safe. Wear your mask over both your nose and mouth! I hear that toilet paper will be back in supply soon. Cheers!

 

Coronavirus Diary Update

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Your intrepid blogger reporter

Have you noticed that the iPhone Facial ID does not work when you’re all masked up?

Momma Monday

“What a difference a day makes.” Ever since retiring, Monday in our home is the weekly house cleaning day, even if it’s the Monday after Mother’s Day. It’s quite a jolt back into reality for Julie the day after being lavished with love, luxuriating in a long hot bath, receiving loving cards and calls, champagne and a surprise social distancing visit from Blair and Rob, martini at cocktail hour, cedar plank salmon from the grill, a pinot noir from our favorite Willamette Valley winery then…Bam!!! Overnight, it’s Monday morning. A morning of cleaning rags, dusting and scrubbing tools and vacuum cleaners. It’s the day that we eat breakfast to move on, change into work clothes and get at it. Julie takes the upstairs and I take the main floor. Biggest jobs upstairs, of course: three bathrooms including the master bath. Biggest job downstairs: the kitchen. We used to have a cleaning service, or I should say, we went through multiple services, never satisfied with the depth of the job…and then there was the breakage. It was basically “mow and blow,” to use a phrase often describing the yard crews, and occasional carnage. So, it’s on us. Keeps us closer to the finer details in the goings on with and within the house. Keeps us grounded. We can get it all done and finished by lunch. Although after the cleanup, there’s a moratorium on walking too soon on the pristine “mowed” carpet…leaving footprints. 

Georgia COVID-19 cases: Which way is up?

Georgia bungles COVID19 data that misrepresents the progress of cases. The dating of cases and where they appear on a timeline were not in chronological order thereby not showing the true timeline history of the reported cases. “Where does Sunday take place twice a week? And May 2 come before April 26?” 

The state cases are not actually going down as the states presentation charts showed. And yet we’re opening. 

AJC cartoonist, Mike Luckovich, shows exactly what happened.

Screenshot 2020-05-14 10.46.52

Opening Schools

I hear talk from the President about restarting schools since young people aren’t getting infected with the virus to the same degree as adults. Even with the new and very concerning presentation of critical health issues in children possibly linked to COVID-19, that remains true. Kids have been less likely to show symptoms of the virus.

However, and counter to what many believe, kids don’t run the schools. In order for schools to open will require teachers, administrators, building services employees, security guards, crossing guards and bus drivers to go back to work and mix with all of the children – who can carry the virus. 

Learning from being alone

This article in the AJC in the AJC last week suggests that a little (or a lot) of Henry David Thoreau would be a very good read during this time of social distancing and staying at home. I’ve got to do some digging to find my copy of Walden; or, Life in the Woods. It’s probably in the box of college books in the attic. I think the columnist is right. Thoreau learned a lot about who he was by moving away from the town folk into a small cabin, growing his own food and getting one with nature and that special pond in Walden. He was sort of the original transcendentalist and environmentalist. If we must be alone, or mostly alone, why not take advantage of the moment. It will be over and you’ll be back in the rush hour traffic and helter skelter you complained about so often in the “no time for me!” modern life. 

COVID TOES

Have you heard about COVID toes? It’s one of the “New Six” symptoms of COVID-19 infection. It’s weird but true. 

When the coronavirus pandemic first emerged, public health officials told the world to watch out for its telltale symptoms: fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. But as the virus has spread across the globe, researchers have developed a more nuanced picture of how symptoms of infection can manifest themselves, especially in milder cases.

Screenshot 2020-05-14 11.21.00After you get over the grossness of the toe picture, here are the other five:

  • Chills/repeated shaking with the chills.
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore Throat
  • Loss of smell/taste

We’re getting a “better understanding of how these symptoms express in the general population and not necessarily in hospitalized patients,” which is whom most of the earlier studies from China looked at. “So it’s a bit of a bigger picture,” says Charitini Stavropoulou, an associate professor in health services research at City, University of London in the U.K., who led an analysis of known symptoms in milder cases as part of a collaboration with Oxford University. [NPR]

Who wants to buy a Car? Uh, Nobody!

Coronavirus has hammered auto sales. Cox Automotive furloughed over 12,000 workers. No one much is driving. And few are feeling comfortable laying out the cash to buy a new or used car.

Top COX execs are taking no base salary for the duration of the pandemic!

By furloughing the employees rather than laying them off, the company continues to pay for the employees healthcare benefits for up to 16 weeks. Way to go COX! A company whose mission has always been employees first. The company is well aware that, even with health care covered, this is a very painful situation for each employee. 

Georgia passed a new state law that employers, not the furloughed employee, must file for unemployment benefits each week. This was an emergency bill passed by the legislature intended on easing the burden on recently unemployed workers out in the cold due to the virus. There’s differing opinions as to whether or not this has sped up the process of getting unemployment money into furloughed employees bank accounts. [AJC.com][Vox]  

Some things won’t go back to the pre-COVID

They call them “Stay Healthy Streets” in Seattle, which closed nearly 20 miles of city streets to make way for more pedestrian traffic…permanently! It’s one of the big changes from the city’s adaptation to the virus – providing more bike and pedestrian friendly streets. [Seattle Times]

Guilty/Not Guilty. That is not the question

Both of our kids were called for Jury duty during the virus, Clark, in Portland, and Blair, in Atlanta. It was a surprise to receive the notice, followed by a much welcomed and hoped for notice that they both were excused. Atlanta will not hold court through the month of May.

Here Kitty Kitty

On a personal level, one of the positive outcomes so far of the stay at home/working from home orders is that Blair’s extremely shy cat, Ramble, has turned a corner. It took a bit for Ramble to get used to Blair and her sig other, Rob, being home all day, every day. Especially Rob. And, believe it or not, this cat, that I think I’ve only seen out in the open in Blair’s small condo twice, is taking a liking to Rob. I’m sure that it doesn’t hurt that he is feeding her. She’s out from under the bed. Mostly. They’re seeing her playing. She’s openly displaying affection! 

It’s going to be a big deal when they go back to work…at work. 

 

That’s it for now. Tomorrow is another day. But wait! It’s not just another day. It’s Tequila Friday Already Day. Stay tune for the best margarita cocktail recipe ever, ever, ever.