Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Perfect Commercial

I enjoy advertising.  It tells me much about the research done by advertisers.  They want to tell a story tailored to their audience.  In my car I listen to channels on Sirius/Xm.  Apparently many truckers also listen to the same channels.  Often I hear ads directed to them.  One of my favorites is for Mobil Delvac's oils for diesel engines.  I know nothing about diesel engines.  But I know that if I had a truck with one,  I would use Mobil Delvac products.  I tried, but cannot find an audio of the ad that I consider the perfect commercial.  It is the voice of Rick Tanner, an independent owner/operator.  He has a wonderful slow southern drawl.  He loves the open road.   He loves the independence.  He had always wanted to drive, and has driven for many years.  After over 1 million miles on his engine, he rebuilt it, himself.  He uses Mobile Delvac.  He testifies that his bearings showed little wear.  He offers his view of life:  all you need for success is a clean engine and ambition.  Indeed.  Works for me.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night...

My friend the sheep farmer has a breeding flock of about 60 ewes.  Yesterday she turned them, and their 110 two month old lambs, out into her back pasture.  The pasture is 24 acres, bordered by woods on the far south side.  There are coyotes in the woods.  We see them from time to time.  They usually leave the full grown sheep alone, but the lambs are their prey.  My friend had been keeping watch, occasionally driving the perimeter of the pasture in her four wheeler.  It was time to bring the flock home to the safety of her inner fences.  It was raining hard.  She sent one of her dogs, a Border Collie named Playa.  Playa is a small dog, less than 30 pounds.  She is very good with sheep.  She can move the most stubborn and ornery.  My friend waited at the gate to see the flock through.  The rain came harder.  With great bleating and braying the ewes and their babes came through the gate and headed up the hill to the barn.  The rain came in torrents.  My friend called her dog.  Playa did not come.  She did not come after repeated whistles.  My friend feared the worst.  Perhaps Playa had become disoriented in the storm.  Perhaps she was on the road or had been hit by a car.  My friend alerted others at the barn and headed back out to the pasture.  There, at the very back, at the edge of the forest, she found her dog keeping watch.  Just beyond Playa, tucked in under the boughs of the trees, sheltering their lambs, were two ewes.  They would not come out into the storm and Playa would not leave them.  My friend helped her dog and together they got the ewes up and moving.  They made their way home.  The four lambs would spend a warm night in the barn with their mothers.  Their fate would have been very different if Playa had heeded her whistles and come home without them.  Some behaviors are hard wired.  Border Collies come into the world knowing the rules.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Won't You Be My Neighbor

For forty years Fred Rogers produced television programing that offered children (and their grateful parents) simple talk and stories about life.  One of his trademark cardigan sweaters now hangs in the Smithsonian museum.  If you did not watch Mr. Roger's Neighborhood yourself, or with your children, you missed one of the great communicators, guiding his young audience to explore and delight in themselves and their neighbors.  Last Sunday I delighted in my neighbors.  I sat in our local Middle School gymnasium and watched 31 children, teens and adults receive Black Belts, signifying their accomplishments in the Korean martial art form, TaeKwonDo.  I was proud to be associated  with this group.  We come from many different backgrounds to our shared love of martial arts.  Listen to some of the the surnames from Sunday's program: Cismowski, Carbonel, Bookter, Baek, De Jesus, Kwak, Ryckman, Stewart, Uon, Willis, Young, Vasisht, Yi.  I work out with these fine athletes.  I will test for my Black Belt soon.  On the wall of our dojang (training hall) are these words: Courtesy; Integrity, Perseverance; Self-Control; Indomitable Spirit.  We have a Student Creed.
  1. I must develop myself in a positive manner and avoid anything that could reduce my mental growth or physical health.
  2. I must develop self-discipline in order to bring out the best in myself and others.
  3. I must use what I learn in class constructively and defensively to help myself and mankind, and never be abusive or offensive.  
The commitment to Black Belt is a choice to join a team.  Our team is made up of our neighbors who can fit classes at our dojang into their busy schedules.  We support one another as we develop our skill.  We make sure each student achieves success. Fred Rogers was right about neighborhood when he said, "When we know care is there, life can seem well worth living, even with the ups and downs of our ever-changing world".

Sunday, June 8, 2014

From the New England Journal of Medicine on Veterans' Care

Here is a very thoughtful editorial from The New England Journal of Medicine from two doctors who have experience with the Veterans Administration.  While the US Senate congratulates itself that providing more money, looser personnel rules, vouchers for private care and and Blue Ribbon panels will solve the problems at VA hospitals, Drs. Kizer and Jha offer a different agenda.  I am not sure how long the link to the Journal will be live.  Read this now to become better informed.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Beware of Those Who Invoke Moral Superiority

Out of Ireland comes news of the final account of a nine year investigation.   The findings are sickening.  The subject is the Irish Catholic church-run schools and orphanages in the last century.   The reader will learn of abusive treatment that is incomprehensible when delivered at the hands of religious orders with pious missions.  The boys were sent into the care of the Christian Brothers order, founded in the 19th Century to provide education, opportunity and access to independence for the poorest of the poor.  The girls were taken in by the Sisters of Mercy, also founded in the 19th Century to care for the sick and the dispossessed.  The Sisters ministered to all people but provided special care for young women and girls who were vulnerable to exploitation.  What, then, were these religieux and religieuse thinking as they beat, sodomized, raped and humiliated their young charges?  What was the excuse for ritualized beatings and intimidations?  Was personal denigration part of God's plan for these children.  Sit down and read the full 2600 page report from  The Commission to Inquire Into Child Abuse.  But don't believe that the inquiry underway in Ireland changed behavior in other countries.  In 2007,  at the Christian Brothers Briscoe Memorial School in Kent Washington, lawsuits were underway regarding sexual abuse and beatings.  There is also news from Ireland that 796 bodies of infants and children have been discovered in an old septic tank on the former premises of a school for orphans and children of unwed mothers.  The orphanage was run by the Bon Secours Sisters whose mission is to recognize the Christ in each person and affirm God's love for every individual. Where was that recognition when these children were segregated in public school from "normal" children?  Where was the recognition when they were denied baptism because they were born out of wedlock.  The Sisters' mission also seeks to bring hope to the dying.  What did they say to dying children who would be placed in unmarked graves, in unconsecrated ground?  The septic tank tells all.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

New Words About War

In the reporting about Sgt. Bergdahl's exchange for five prisoners from Guantanamo, members of our President's administration have said "... that's what you do at the end of a war... exchange prisoners".  In other interviews the same spokespeople have said that we are "winding down the war in Afghanistan".  Is a war over just because we choose to wind it down?  It used to be that you won (or lost) a war.  The side that prevailed generally required a cessation of hostilities as a condition of peace.  No such guarantee is in the making with the Taliban.  We may be winding down but they are not bound to do the same.  The war is only over in the new language of engagement: our war is over because we are going home.  I do not feel safer.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Mon Dieu!

The French interjection is appropriate to the news from the Hollande administration.  D-Day approaches and throughout the world interest in commemoration remains high.  Francois Hollande is not content to let the world's press work out a way to share the broadcast as they have with similar news events of world interest.  Instead, he is treating the ceremony as though it were a sporting event.  Two French broadcast networks have been provided exclusive rights to the international ceremony which will include participation by at least 18 heads of state.  Those networks will charge a fee to  global news providers for online streaming and live coverage of events.  Evidently M. Hollande shares a very tin ear with our own President who had access to the memorials and cemeteries at Omaha Beach blocked during the government shut down last fall.  On D-Day 156,000 Allied troops landed on the French beaches.  Their heroic conquest of the beaches and bluffs led to the liberation of France, and ultimately to victory in the war with Germany.  Over 4,000 died, the ultimate measure in service to the free world.  24 warships and 35 support craft were sunk.  And now, on the 70th anniversary of this tremendous and successful thrust toward Berlin, the French government thinks little of those in the Allied nations who rightfully want guaranteed coverage of the commemoration.  Mon Dieu, indeed.