26 November 2008


Mother in Irwin's Chapel, primitive church,
Musuem of Appalachia, Norris, TN., Nov. 1984.

Mary Savage Collins (click on her name to read her obit) is 94 years old today (day of original post) but she died early July, `08. I confess ambivalence about her. She’s a bundle of contradictions. She saw herself as constant. And in her way she was persistent, steadfast, and unyielding. In her final years she'd run you over with her zippiddy-doo-da walker and thoroughly enjoy gossiping with you while doing it.

Self-reflection was contrary to her natural confidence and authority. She wept over the blessing of a meal yet attended any church because the minister was handsome. She was a letter writer and diarist in a time when letter writers and diarists were declining. She was a natural organizer and keeper of papers, business documents, my formal wording giving a sense of the formality of her persona. At the same time she was a party girl and if there was ever a woman of her time to whom the saying, “Girls just want to have fun,” it described my Mother. This girl liked to play, party, and imbibe.

She was a keen observer and retainer of names and faces and of those names and faces who aspired into public places. She was a farm girl who attended Connecticut College for women during the Great Depression. She wanted to get off and away from her father's fruit and chicken farm and her family's ancestral grounds. She succeeded but just by an hour's drive. During the Depression the Hartford Courant did a feature article on her because she looked so like The Duchess of Windsor and maybe because she was one of the smart ones who left the family farm and used a typewriter and worked in the department of education and lived in the big city. She kept a copy of it and naturally showed it off and she was so proud of the comparison and the likeness was uncanny. Her ashes rest in the Wilcox Cemetery of Berlin, CT. besides 375 years of Savage family members.

25 November 2008

Economics & Beekeeping

Henry Paulson seems genuine. I'm rattled by the melting economy but Paulson's persona and economic crisis analysis reassures me. He seems pragmatic not ideologue-ish.
I like his dusky circled eyes set back in his head. I like his eyeglasses. And I like his stutter; he stumbles words composing while he speaks; he might seem unprepared but he's not. He's speaking from his professional and public mind, which he knows. He answers complex technical economic questions in sentences laymen may grasp. I like his bachelor of the arts is in English. I like that his permanently bent fifth metacarpal phalanges joint left hand little finger; maybe from wrestling or football. I like wrestling; it takes preparation, grit, and a will to persevere.
I understand Paulson's a beekeeper. I find this reassuring. I have a friend who's a beekeeper. I say beekeeping's more complicated than its' serene white cloaked humming sound. It's a vocation needing care and awareness for the bees by the keeper, and the need to adapt to changing circumstances.

13 November 2008

Office Man

If you hire an office man for your staff use him to your best advantage. Here are twelve man tips for getting more productivity out of your office man.
  1. Select a young married man.  He usually has more of a sense of responsibility than his unmarried brothers, he's less likely to flirt, he needs the work, and he still has lots and lots of energy to work hard.
  2. When you must use an older man try to get a man who's worked indoors before.  An older man who's not worked with women in an office before, or who has not worked with the public before, has a hard time adapting himself, and is inclined to be irritable or cantankerous. It's always important to impress upon a man the value of being courteous and friendly to customers.
  3. General experience demonstrates that "husky" guys - those who're just a little bigger and plumper - are more even tempered and efficient than their underweight brothers.
  4. Retain a clinician to give each hired man a special examination - one covering male mental conditions like impulse control or physical conditions like excessive muscle buildup. This step may help protect the company against future sexual harassment lawsuits.  It may also reveal whether the employee-to-be has any man weaknesses that would make him unfit for the job.
  5. Stress at the outset the importance of organization and time management.  A man is easily distracted and a minute lost here or there makes serious inroads on work productivity.  Until this point is gotten across customer service is likely to be impaired.
  6. Give the man employee a definite day-long schedule of duties so that he'll keep busy without bothering management or woman coworkers for instructions every few minutes. Numerous professional studies say man workers make excellent staffers when they have their job responsibilities detailed for them but that they take to much initiative when they must assume responsibility themselves.
  7. Whenever possible don't change a man's responsibilities during the day. A man is inclined to be happier and calmer with no changes.
  8. Give the office man adequate reminders throughout the day to keep working at his job. You must make some allowance for male psychology.  A man is less confident in the office environment and is more efficient if he's reminded how important his work is to the overall success of the business.  At the same time remind him to be neat and presentable so to present the same appearance to customers.  A man can be sloppy about his appearance.
  9. Be tactful when issuing instructions to a man or making work criticisms.  A man identifies with his work.  He can be sensitive.  He cannot shrug off harsh words the way woman can. Never ridicule a man in front of woman coworkers.  It breaks his desire to perform and cuts off efficiency.
  10. Be reasonable and considerate about using prissy or feminine language around a man. Even though a man's wife, mother, or sister may be delicate, a man will grow to dislike this in the work environment where he hears too much of it.  After investing so much in him you don't want him to leave.
  11. Have some initially flexibility in your dress codes for your office man.  A man just naturally doesn't think about what he wears or how he appears.  When you get to know his wife a little suggest options or ideas to her about how her man might dress.  She will be really glad you did.  By then he will have worked enough to have brought home some of what he has earned and it'll be more likely she can afford to buy her man new clothes.
  12. Start a weekly office betting pool. Any sporting event will do.  A man really likes sports and betting action and office women will begin to learn about a sport their office man likes.  It's a great way to build camaraderie.

10 November 2008

Class Consciousness

I have been thinking about poverty.  It started some time ago, in June '07, when I read an article entitled "The Class Consciousness Raiser." Class consciousness is taboo in American culture. Anyway I immediately made the connection with the idea of abundance. Poverty, abundance. Ah, but I digress.

Poverty is simply the lack of means for providing material needs or comforts. The operative phrase is "the lack of means."

Anyway for lots of reasons I've been thinking about poverty and abundance.  The least of which is the fact I've not had gainful employment for 11 months.  At one point, during the '08 summer months, my family was hemorrhaging cash at a terrifying rate. I'm talkin' night-terror bullet-sweatin' panic attacks. This was due to unemployment and submitting to COBRA health insurance. Rather than be dumped with none, we chose to submit to this misnomered benefit paying $1,300 a month! It adds up quick. I might as well've burned the cash; as an investment there was no return. Insurance company is not my friend just now; feels more like predation.

This is not evidence of a "lack of means." If poverty is the lack of means then what are "the means?"  "The Class Consciousness Raiser" article details them.  Well for the record, right off, people are the greatest and highest resource. Any other resource is meaningless without people. There are eight resources: 
  • Financial
  • Emotional
  • Mental
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Support Systems
  • Relationships/Role Models
  • Knowledge of Hidden Rules
These are material resources. They're also resources that are taught; they're learned behaviors, literally embodied in goods, services, and people's behavior.  For example financial resource is having the money to purchase goods and services.  Physical resource is having physical health and mobility. So if we lack financial resource we lack the means to purchase goods and services. If we lack physical resource we are immobile or in poor health.

08 November 2008


Today I saw a man I hadn't seen in months. Our orbits changed so I don't have, nor do I create, the opportunity to visit with him. This changing is a piece of life I've never understood. It is beyond me.  After our visit I felt saddened and I prayed.

Heavenly Father, I love you, I praise you, and I give thanks to you for all that I live and move and have my being in.  Thank you for all the blessings in my life.  I am especially thankful for the friends in my life.  I am sorry I have not kept up with my friendships. I am sorry I have not kept up with friends whom you have given unto me. Please forgive me. Keep them in safety, health, and in the fullness of your Spirit.  Hear my prayer O Lord.  Not my will but your will be done.

I often pray. I prayed from an early age. I don't recall when I learned to pray. I know someone taught me. I am uncertain who it was. I was reared Roman. I learned passively to pray in church. Prayer is a part of what we do in church. But at some point I started praying on my own, without being in a church, without being with other people, without being prompted to by others. Sometimes I can't keep from praying, it's overflowing. This prayer is me but it is way beyond me. How can I keep from praying? I cannot. I must.

06 November 2008

Exercise - Starting Over

I stopped 'bout 15 or 16 months ago. I was tired. I needed a rest after more than three years of regular 2 to 4 time a week exercise activity. My left hip ball & socket felt pained, like I had a little arthritis. I'd been overwhelmed with family deaths, drained. I was empty.

I went to the Central High track; nice surface, empty but for one other. Beautiful sunny afternoon day, not too warm, not hardly cool, just right. I started up with a little running, really a mixed motion combo of progressive intervals of walking, running, short distance karaoke and a backwards trot up to a peak of a full 400 meter circuit then backing down to a final cool-down lap. On that full lap my heart rate peaked out at about 172. That's 'bout tops for me. I did three miles. Not bad after the layoff. It was terrific. I felt great. Listening to i-pod music was the new twist. Nice. I could keep pace time with some of the music. Nicer.

Then I did some girlie-man push-ups and pull-ups using lay around football practice equipment. Doing the pull-ups I flipped it over onto me as I fell backwards on my ass and back. It was red painted aluminum tubing in a 3-D rectangular trapezoid, with one long side lower than it's opposite long side. I figured the lightweight contraption is used to teach lineman to stay down, way down low, when they come out of their set position and as they move forward. The paint on the underneath of the upper aluminum tubes was worn completely off. This must be where football helmets crash into it. I got a chuckle out of that. Taught me a lesson too, it didn't look lightweight, and I got bonked as the whole contraption fell on me.

Running is my all time favorite exercise edging out spinning and cycling; swimming comes in a distant third. Run, bike, swim, run, bike, swim, mow the lawn or do yard work.

Years ago in college, while I was in NYC, I read a book called something like "Sports for Life." The idea was to do varied activities one could sustain for a lifetime. It seemed so natural and intuitive. I picked up running and cycling. Swimming would not come until I could afford a gym. Of course those weren't the only activities just the ones I gravitated to. I think the book is long gone now. The key was doing activity for enjoyment and variety over a life time.