Thursday, December 28, 2006

Shameless


The essence of shame - It is a deep, pervasive experience of loathsomeness or disgust about who or what we are.

It is different than guilt. Where guilt is about specific actions that may be put right or forgiven, shame is about our core identity; the experience of seeing ourselves from another perspective, in the worst possible light; or of fearing that others see the secret self we keep hidden away.

It's interesting to me that shame seems to be linked with seeing and being seen.

Others have distinguished between guilt and shame by indicating that - We feel guilty for what we do, We feel shame for what we are. Shame is often a much stronger and more profound emotion than guilt. Shame is when we feel disappointed about something inside of us, our basic nature.

Shame is the aftermath of having egregiously violated an internal warning to not commit an act that we have educated ourselves against, and crossed over. Shame is that painful emotion caused by a strong sense of embarrassment, dishonor or disgrace.

And I have known those who are shameless and selfish. They have no shame because they have no sense of right or wrong. They were not taught. There are many instances of parents choosing to bring lives into this world, only to destroy their young innocence and purity by abandoning them. If anyone should feel shame it should be the parents. So some never learned.

But for the rest of us, the shame is deserved when we commit the unthinkable. The child molester and the preying on the elderly come to mind.

I, in my life, have known the feeling of shame. It is not good. We all want to be
highly regarded and thought well of. It brings you to your knees.

The bar seems to change from generation to generation as to what constitutes shameful behavior. I remember when “gays” were in the closet because they would be ashamed if others found out their secret. Motherhood out of wedlock was a cardinal sin in society. Alcoholics, prostitutes and strippers led a secret life they wanted none of their friends and family to know of. A history involving prison life was a well guarded secret. Gambling was only done behind closed doors. A drug user may as well have been a murderer in the eyes of the public. Adultery…God help you if you got caught and it became public.

Shamelessness is rampant in the business community today. Words like Enron tell it all. A lack of shame is not something new to our political system. High-class swindlers everywhere - their fancy homes and ludicrous perks gained by fraud and deception - their accounting systems nothing but elaborate lies. TV evangelists, businessmen, lawyers and politicians, they go on doing what they do, devoid of a sense of shame, with no intention of stopping unless the cops come calling. Other forms of shamelessness permeate society at its highest levels.

But from where I sit, even though “the times they are a changing,” character still does matter.

Being a good person, whatever that specifically means, involves making accurate judgments about the rightness or wrongness of one's actions and conforming one's actions to those judgments. The concept of "good person" or a "decent society" is not meaningless, though there is strong disagreement about what a "good person" or "decent society" is.

Shame is one way society shapes the behaviors and attitudes of its members; it
follows from and is a sign of membership in a moral community.

The sense of shame is a kind of cement in any decent society. The fear of shame
reminds each of us that some things must not be done. You don't become a criminal because you would bring shame to your family. You don't employ muscle against the weak. You don't beat up women or prey on the old. You don't father children and then abandon them. You don't cheat or swindle because exposure would coat you with the tar of shame. You don't preach high ideals and live a lie.

But it's clear that we are now awash in shamelessness. It's clear that the sense
of shame needs to be revived and the shameless held to account.

Take care...Ric

Monday, December 18, 2006

Mastery of the Mental Game of Pool


Pool is a game of nerves where the slightest notion of unworthiness can knock you right off your game. Like some other things if life, pool is mostly mental.


Some people look at a pool table and see a pool table, with balls arranged upon it in some pattern; they hold the cue and feel a straight stick, which can be controlled and aimed. Others look at a pool table and see a large battlefield, with offense and defense, attacks and retreats, with landmines and casualties and a battlefield filled with heroics and valor. They remember and savor the sweet smell of victory, and try as they will to forget, remember the near misses and heartbreaking losses.


The problem with being a pool player, is that an inordinate amount of time is spent missing shots. Miss after miss after miss, and loss after loss after loss, can easily lead to damage one’s self image. You begin to think you are not good enough or that you don’t have what it takes…that you don’t belong. You become conscious of people watching you and judging you.


This insecurity cannot be just ignored or set aside leaving a void. It has to be replaced by something else. I suggest contempt. It is no good to approach the table feeling unworthy, thinking thoughts like “I’ll never get this,” or “watch me screw this up.” It is all right to say this sort of thing as it may serve to soften up your opponent and get into his head a bit, but you must never think this way to yourself. But as you approach the table, no matter how difficult the shot, say “Hmph.” This should be thought with some force, with narrowed eyes, drawn lips and jaw set. You first must believe, “I can do this.” “I belong here just as much as any of you bastards and there is no reason I cannot sink this shot because there is nothing wrong with me and I am prepared to gut the eyes of anyone who thinks otherwise.” This simple assertion enables the development of actual skills and puts you on the road to true confidence. Confidence leads to victory. At least, if nothing else, it is sure to keep your opponent vaguely frightened of you.


And speaking of opponents, a sense of territory is important. The opponent should be regarded only as an imposter. Scrutinizing your opponent in a narrow and judgmental fashion such as being critical of his shoes, estimating his manhood, critical of his bathroom habits or his upbringing or manner of speech, you can give him some sorry little nickname, like “big ole loser.” It is ok to drag their sorry characters over the coals in your head, but care must be taken to not over-do it, because you must maintain an almost affable enjoyment of social intercourse, so that your opponent feels in some way that your character is larger than his, more generous and more exacting.


In the end, being good enough isn’t good enough. It takes mental toughness. It’s about character. It’s about heart.


Finally, at some point, it will happen. You will internalize your intellectual understanding of the game. Your hours of practice will seep into your subconscious, and into the muscles and nerves of your body itself. When this transition occurs, no more conscious effort goes into the positioning and movement of the body. At this point of unconscious knowledge, pool becomes self-expression; it becomes art.


In addition, to me at least, there are outside influences that make my game better. Some pool tables are better than others and some pool halls are better than others. You will need to pay attention to certain aesthetic considerations in choosing an environment conductive to mastery of the mental game of pool.


I like green cloth tables, not red. Green is calming and beautiful, red is ridiculous and for the life of me cannot think why anyone would want one. You need good lights over the table. Music is crucial. It is good to be in a place where the music doesn’t annoy you. I lost a championship game one league night due to being in an unfamiliar, overcrowded bar with loud annoying music. Food is important. After trial and error, the only acceptable foods are nachos and onion rings. And playing pool in a non-smoking environment is downright impossible. And, for pool, you need a drink that suits the pace of the game. Not something that will get you too drunk, but something you can sip on for the entire evening and still be ok. If pressed, I will have to admit that not everyone needs booze and cigarettes to play well. Many masters have become so, without both. But for the rest of us, it is as important as the fundamentals. There is no avoiding it. Pool, drinking and cigarettes (or a good cigar) are inseparable and should be treated as such. Pool is a sport that places great physical demands on the body, and if booze and smoke are starting to be too much, it is probably time to just give up the game. J


It is a great game. I love it. Some nights you get in the groove. You are unconscious. And it just doesn’t get any better. The challenge…the strategy….the chess game…the geometry…the physics…the luck….the psychological battle of wills….the war. And finally the victory. So sweet. It happens that way, but first you must believe.

Ric

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Do Reindeer Really Know How to Fly?


Yes they do...I know they do.
You see, I'm a believer: reindeer and Santa and cookies by the tree.
Caroling and good will towards man,
All are things so special to me.

The children awaken to find their gifts.
Yes, Santa was here for all to see: yes we believe.
The happy little faces - the joy down deep in those little hearts.
Thank you reindeer for flying to our house this christmas eve.

The special dinners, time out from our hectic lives:
christmas cards and phone calls and a special batch of fudge, we
pause, we stop...and spread a little love and cheer.
Thank you reindeer,
For making this the best time of the year.

The music, the songs with words of warmth and hope.
Sing to me, oh yes sing to me: how I love your happy tune, for your
song I'll keep with me all year long.
Thank you again reindeer,
For my heart, my soul... me: somehow I'm better now, filled with the
ole familiar songs.

So, fly reindeer fly.
Do your thing on christmas eve.
Thanks to you, my life is better.
Oh yes, I believe.



a poem by Ric Justiss
Do Reindeer Really Know How to Fly



____________________________________


More stuff about Santa's Reindeer


What Are The Names of The Reindeer That Pull Santa's Sleigh?

Rudolph,

Dasher, Dancer,

Prancer, Vixen,

Cupid and Comet.

Donner and Blitzen


Are Santa's Reindeer Male or Female?

Male reindeer generally shed their antlers long before December 25, whereas the females retain theirs until at least January. The reindeer pulling Santa's sleigh are always show as having antlers, so Santa's reindeer must all be females.

Do Santa's Reindeer Live At The North Pole?

Only part of the year does Santa Claus live at the North Pole. In 1925 it was discovered that there are no reindeer in the North Pole. But there are
lots in Lapland, Finland. So today we know that the
reindeer live around the secret village of Santa Claus
and the elves (their summer home) somewhere on the Korvatunturi mountain in the Savukoski county of Lapland, Finland, which is on the Finnish-Russian border.


What Makes Santa's Reindeer Fly?

Long ago, Santa Claus and the elves discovered the special formula of Magical Reindeer Dust which make them fly. This dust is sprinkled on each of the reindeer shortly before they leave on Christmas eve. It gives them enough magic to fly right around the world. They can fly very fast: at about the speed of a Christmas
light.

The Reindeer driven by Santa Claus are the only known flying Reindeer in existence. Besides the Magic Dust, Santa's reindeer are fed a "special" diet throughout the year which helps give them the power of flight.

This magic corn is given to Santa Claus by a great and
wonderful unknown wizard. Through this magic corn, the strength of the Reindeer is increased threefold, their stamina increased to infinity and their hooves can manipulate the air as though it were solid ground.


Are Reindeer Really Deer?

Yes they are. Reindeer are a species of deer located in the Arctic regions of the world.

The largest Reindeer can reach up to four feet high at the shoulder and weigh as much as 250 pounds. It is believed that there are no longer any wild Reindeer, the entire species seeming to have been domesticated. Each Reindeer can pull up to twice its own weight, making it an ideal animal for pulling a sleigh loaded down with any amount of cargo.

Thus, nine Reindeer would be able to pull a sleigh with 13,500 pounds of toys for an unlimited amount of time.


How Can Santa Deliver Presents to Everybody In One Night

With the reindeer traveling at the speed of Christmas Light, Santa can come and go in the "twinkling of an eye." He doesn't need to fill his sleigh with toys for every single boy and girl in the world all at once, it's really easy for him to make several trips back to his Toyshop to pick up as many loads as necessary.

The Elves have his toy sacks sorted and ready to pack onto the sleigh when it arrives back, so the exchange happens within seconds to get Santa back on his way.

New information recently revealed, leads us to believe that Santa has "secret" hiding places located at strategic places around the world, so he can instantly pick up a new load of toys easily and quickly.

Perhaps one of those "secret" hiding places is located very close to your house?


History of the names of the Reindeer


The first record of santa's reindeer having any names is from "A Visit from Saint Nicholas", an anonymously submitted poem in the December 23, 1823 edition of Troy Sentinel newspaper, New York. The poem was widely spread and very popular, you know it today as "The Night Before Christmas".

Eventually, the anonymous poem was attributed to a professor of New York's General Theological Seminary, a professor by the name of Clement Clarke Moore. While Moore is now generally accepted as it's author, much debate has arrisen over who the real author is, with many accrediting Henry Livingston, a New Yorker of Dutch decent. Donald W. Foster, a text analyst expert, is the current voice for Livingstons defense, as written in his book*

An original excerpt from the poem would name Santas reindeer:

"Now! Dasher, now! Dancer, now!
Prancer, and Vixen,
On! Comet, on! Cupid, on!
Dunder and Blixem;

Dunder and Blixem? Sure, it's not Donner and Blitzen, it's a Dutch expression (literally "thunder and lightning") meaning "hurry, faster". So santa wasn't calling out eight reindeer, he was telling his six to get their rear in gear. :)

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, and Cupid were Santa's original six reindeer.

Now comes 1837, a publisher by the name of Charles Fenno Hoffman reproduces "A Visit from Saint Nicholas" and alters this to read "Donder and Blixen" for the sake of making it better rhyme and making it easier to pronounce in English. The final change came in 1844 when Clement Moore, who was familier with German, but not Dutch, changed it to "Donner and Blitzen" (which is german for "thunder and lightning") and giving birth to the final two reindeer.

Finally, there comes Rudolph.

Rudolph was the creation of Robert L. May, in a 1938 promotional booklet, for use in their Montgomery Ward department stores. He penned a story of an underdog reindeer, taunted for a his abnormal nose, which glows bright red. Original name ideas, Rollo and Reginald, were rejected for being too chearful and too British, respectively.

Originally dubious (with "red nose" being a referance to a drunkard), his department store is finally convinced when they see the animations of the lovable character. Mongomery Ward begins giving away the lyrical booklets for their christmas promotion to roaring success Over the course of the next 9 years, Mongomary Ward would distribute over 6 million copies of the story.

Come 1947, May pleads with Mongomary Ward's coperate president Sewell Avery for distribution rights to his story, to help pay the debt dug by his wife's terminal illness. Thus begins the commercial distribution of "Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer" across America. It even makes it's way to theatres as a 9 minute animation. Rudolph, however, has only seen his first taste of stardom, before May's brother-in-law Johnny Marks pens a song for the misfit reindeer.
Originally recorded in 1949 by Gene Audrey, the song is a smashing succress, overshadowing the success of it's literary companion. This song is soon to be known by just about everyone in the country, and finally solidified the names of Santas, now nine, reindeer as: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen... and Rudolph

How the reindeer were named is, as you can see, a long story, but the final answer is that most of us learnt the reindeer from "Rudolph the red nose Reindeer", performed by Gene Audrey, Written by Johnny Marks, adapted from a book by Robert Mays, based on a story by Clement Moore revised on a poem by Henry Livingston, based on a legend of Santa Clause.


Thanks greatly to Snopes.com for information! ..........Ric

Friday, December 15, 2006

Legal Holiday Agreement


1. Pursuant to an impending Holiday Season, the undersigned hereby covenants and agrees that on or about the date thereof the party of the first part (herein referred to as "you" or "your") shall execute, to the best of your ability, a spirit of kinship and goodwill inclusive of, but not limited to, all holiday activities.

2. This Agreement shall be binding upon and inure to the benefit of the parties hereto in accordance with appropriate holiday festivities.


Article 1: Christmas Cheer shall be deemed to be appropriate on those days defined as set aside for the purpose of frivolity. Decorations may be displayed or indeed worn for a period extending to but not beyond Twelfth Night, being that day eleven (11) days following 25 December.

Article 2: 'Tis the season to be merry and ipso facto the party of the first part may party with the party or parties of the second or more parts (but not ex parte) as appropriate for the pursuit of innocent merriment on the part of all parties to the impartial benefit of every party concerned.

Article 3: Misuse of mistletoe: traditional use of the hermiparasitic evergreen Viscum album and related species of the genus Loranthaceae for the purposes of entrapment and osculant activity should be limited by the bounds of decorum and political correctness, whichever are the more stringent; the precept of ex abusu non arguitur ad usum nevertheless applying.

Article 4: Resting of merry gentlemen (deemed for the purposes to include merry gentlewomen). It being established that the season of goodwill takes an exacting toll, on those days defined in Article 1 (quod vide) and any other day which shall immediately follow such a day, gentlemen inter alias shall apply due diligence to the pursuit of rest and recovery.


AGREED TO:

By _________________________




'With Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year'

By _____Ric Justiss_____________

Friday, December 1, 2006

Taking a Stand / Whiskey


My friends,

I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be.

One has asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right then, here is how I feel about whiskey….



If, when you say whiskey, you mean

…the devil’s brew;

…the poison scourge;

…the bloody monster that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children;

…if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame, and helplessness, and hopelessness,

then certainly I am against it.



But, if when you say whiskey, you mean

…the oil of conversation;

…the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good friends get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes;

…if you mean Christmas cheer;

…if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring into the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning;

…if you mean the drink that enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s greatest tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows;

…if you mean that drink the sale of which pours millions of dollars into our treasuries, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm and also builds highways and hospitals and schools,

then certainly I am for it.



This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise. Ric

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Thanksgiving


What a year. Some pain. So many decisions. So much hurt. And Happiness like never known. Whole new experiences. Amazing people walked in. Some walked out.

And most of all, a lady that stood by me in EVERYTHING. I don't know how I would manage without her...

I am thankful for the lessons, even if learned the hard way.

I'm thankful for my friends - the old ones who have stuck around, and the new ones who dare to venture into my circle.

I'm thankful for Dallas....everytime I leave town, it always feels good to get back home.

I'm thankful for the web for giving me an amazing outlet and the ability to connect with people all over the world. People like you.

If you are like me, this holiday conjures up memories or anticipation of such traditions as the huge Thanksgiving meal with cranberry sauce. I love carving the turkey. Sometimes we travel "over the river and through the woods" to celebrate with our families — this year they are coming to us. I of course look forward to the Cowboys game. When I can, I get the kids in the yard to play some ball. It's been that way all my life.

I think it is my favorite holiday. No stuff to buy. No pressure. Just good company, good food and good fun.

But at some point I find myself all alone, with time to reflect and to really be
thankful.

Thank you. Jesus. My partner & My Lady. My family. My friends. My work.

This year - I LIVED.

Friday, November 3, 2006

Ham or Eggs


There are times when even the best of us have trouble with commitment.

We may be surprised by the commitments we are willing to let slip out of our grasp.

Commitments are complicated.

We may surprise ourselves at the commitments we are willing to make.

True commitment takes effort.

And sacrifice.

Which is why we sometimes have to learn the hard way, to choose our commitments very carefully.

It has been said that the difference between involvement and commitment is like a ham and egg breakfast – the chicken was involved but the pig was committed.

The power of commitment is within each of us. Once we know what we want, we make up our mind to not settle for anything less.


Take care....Ric

Friday, October 27, 2006

It's Ok to Cry


There was once a great and wise Zen master who taught his students about life and death, truth and illusion. His students hung on every word. One day the master's son died. The students came to the master and found him weeping. One of the students said, "But master, why are you crying? You told us that death is only an illusion" The master looked up, his tears still streaming down his cheeks and replied, "I am crying because I am sad."

I am a grown man and sometimes I cry.

I remember a time when I was with a man, and he was trying his best not to cry like a baby, and I just leaned over to him, and said, “You don’t have to be strong; it’s okay to feel this pain.” And then he fell apart. He told me later, “thank you,” and how much it helped and how good it felt to let it out.

Life isn’t always butterflies and roses. Sometimes there will be death and thorns, and those have their place. We should not try to deny it. It is not comfortable dealing with grief and our sorrows and our disappointments. It is sometimes the hardest thing we are called upon to do. It seems like we are not called to be comfortable.

There are many things that come up that make us sad. I could make a list and you could too, of losses that affect us deeply. We usually apply the idea of grieving only to the idea of recovering from the death of someone close to us. But, grieving has many applications. We lose our health, our strength and vitality of our youth. We lose our jobs, our income, our source of security. We lose our innocence, experiencing all the evil and meanness in the world around us. We lose friends. And it hurts. Sometimes it is devastating. And all you can do is cry. Sometimes we need time to grieve.

It is right to grieve our losses, to mourn the space they once occupied, the emptiness inside. It is also right to celebrate the love they gave. To deny yourself time to grieve is to deny yourself the chance to heal. You can try to suppress it, and swallow it, try to ignore it or cover it up, but until you properly grieve, it will still be there, somewhere inside, like a cancer. The old saying ‘time heals everything”…not so true. Time, along with proper grieving, changes the depth of the hurt. I would encourage you to stay honest with yourself and your emotions by allowing them an outlet.

Eventually you come to a point where you can talk about your loss. You can step into your pain and talk about the heart breaking, the soul aching and the flesh wanting. And when you do, you will feel the pain releasing. As you lose the pain, you gain strength. You reach a point of strength that once you thought you would never have again, where you can remember the source of the pain and not experience the pain. You can celebrate the memories and remember the joys and the good times. Finally, again you can smile.

A four year old boy had a neighbor, an elderly gentleman who had recently lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went and climbed into the man’s lap and just sat there. When his mother asked what he had said to his neighbor, the little boy said, “Nothing, I just helped him cry.”

Wishing you the best....Ric

Love at First Sight



I've been asked, "Do you believe inlove at first sight?" My answer is "I believe we quickly know at firstsight who we are 'capable' ofloving.” We might later change our mind. For myself, almost 99% of the time I can spend a lunch or dinner with a person and I'll know within as little as twenty minutes whether I could ever even consider this person. And getting to know the person better has rarely changed the way I initially felt. But bear in mind, I'm thinking of my DESIRE to get to know this person better to determine if this is someone I could love or have a friendship with... not to be confused with accurately judging someone's character.

When it comes to figuring out a person's character I am not as accurate. I have been fooled. I can be way off the mark, and have been on several occasions, but I would estimate my initial judgment falls in the 75% to 80 % success bracket.

To get back to the love at first sight question... I think this miracle is quagmired. If someone meets a person of the opposite sex and says, "I think I'm in love" – sometimes what they mean to say is, "I'd really like to have sex with this person." Love and lust are two different things. We all get that. In love, my thinking is for their welfare, being a help to them in their life, thinking of how I can contribute to their happiness. In lust, I seek how they could provide me sexual satisfaction. When we love we have a natural sexual desire for them coupled with a true caring for them. But lust has no conscience or regard for them as a person, only how selfish sexual desires can be satisfied through them.

So do I believe in love at first sight? Yes. Yes, I believe it happens... we know who we are 'capable' of loving right away and sometimes a man and a woman meet and both have this same identical response to each other. Some people call it a 'gut feeling.' Then they continue getting to know each other. Although you can just know immediately if someone is sexually attractive to you, smart and interesting, it takes time to discover whether that person is truly honest, kind, dependable, trustworthy, emotionally available and compatible with you in terms of values, interests and temperament. Sometimes, once we have made the decision we want to get to know this person better, we find out and realize they are perfect for us, and we just cannot imagine life without them. And sometimes we find out they fall into the “no way-no how” category.

I have seen people date for many years, finally get married, and then divorced in very little time. Even after plenty of time of trying to get to know each other, they still were not right for each other. On the other hand, there are plenty of stories of people celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, who met and married in a relatively short time. They just knew.

All I am saying, is that, hey, I’m a believer. It can happen. You might call it fate. I call it God bringing together two who are right for each other and need each other. A miracle!! Two falling in love, who without his intervention, never would of found each other in a million years. If it happens to you, fall to your knees and give thanks to the one above who loves you that much. You have been truly blessed.

Wishing you the Best....Ric

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Leadership


Leadership is one of those things you know when you see it. It's a subtle quality. I don't know if I can define leadership, but I know when I've been led.

I know it is important. Every facet of our life is influenced by the leaders we have in our life. We depend on good leadership from our country's leaders, our work-place leaders, our family leaders and the leadership in our past-time activities and organizations we participate in. Poor leadership in any one arena of our life will cause us concern and heartache and problems. Good leadership will give us confidence, high morale, courage and hope.

I demand certain characteristics of the people I choose to follow. If and when I have a choice, I will choose to follow those with ntegrity and Character. This is a deal breaker with me if it is not there completely. I look for a strong sense of "what is right" and a demonstration of ethical practices that sets the tone for others. I look for Courage, the strength to act in accordance with your own values and the greater good despite pressures pushing you in other directions. The ability to put the cause before the desire to be popular. I look for Confidence, a belief in your ability to meet most challenges that come your way. Our best leaders will have Vision, a strong sense of where you are going as a person and where you think society, your community and your organization should be going – and how it might get there. I like to see Enthusiasm, a lively interest in the people, issues and events around you, a feeling of excitement about the possibilities, and the energy to guide them towards fruition.

The most gifted athletes rarely make good coaches. The best violinist will not necessarily make the best conductor. Nor will the best teacher necessarily make the best head of the department. So it's critical to distinguish between the skill of performance and the skill of leading the performance, two entirely different skills.

You need Mental toughness. No one can lead without being criticized or without facing discouragement. A potential leader needs a mental toughness. I don't want a mean leader; I want a tough-minded leader who sees things as they are and will pay the price. Leadership creates a certain separation from one's peers. The separation comes from carrying responsibility that only you can carry. You have heard that it is lonely at the top. This is true. A leader must be able to keep his or her own counsel until the proper time.

Another very important quality to seek in those we follow is Respect. Respect doesn't reveal ability, but it can show character and personality. I look for people whose associates want them to succeed. It's tough enough to succeed when everybody wants you to succeed. But when others don't want you to succeed, it is an uphill battle all the way. It isn't important that people like you. It's important that they respect you. They may like you but not follow you. If they respect you,
they'll follow you, even if perhaps they don't like you. Leaders have a "holding court" quality about them. When they speak, people listen. Other people may talk a great deal, but nobody listens to them. They're making a speech; they're not giving leadership. I take notice of people to whom others listen.

A leader is someone who helps others do and become more than they ever thought possible. Leadership is about unlocking potential, whether individual potential or that of a group, company, or organization. It is not about telling people what to do, but inspiring them to see what they are capable of, then, helping them get there. Leadership is not a formula or a program, it is a human activity that comes from the heart and considers the hearts of others. It is an attitude, not a routine. Blessed is the leader who seeks the best for those he serves.

Take care....Ric

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Moochers


I would like to say that I love mankind, but every day it becomes more and more populated by moochers, thieves, bullies, busybodies, liars, fools, and thugs. I am done. I have had it with these people, and I am done.

You have heard me rant on liars and thieves and thugs, but the latest on my list to get the boot are the moochers. It has taken me so long to work this out in my own mind because of a great theological dilemma.

First, let me preface this by saying that I know there are people who really need a helping hand sometimes and I am all for giving someone a break. I believe we must help those that are less fortunate. If you are guided in your life by principles of Christianity, you know you must be willing to help those who come to you for help. It’s a no-brainer for a Christian. “But for the grace of God, there go I.”

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels [of compassion] from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?

If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, [in that] which he wanteth.

He that giveth unto the poor shall not lack: but he that hideth his eyes shall have many a curse.

So this has been my dilemma. Someone comes to me and asks for something, do I give it to them? Do I have one response for a friend and another for a stranger?

I have worked for years downtown Dallas. I go out on the street to walk somewhere for lunch, and everyday some street person asks me for change, or asks for a cigarette. A guy dressed in a suit on the sidewalk downtown is a sure target for these folks.

Just recently a girl in the neighborhood where I live saw me outside and came over, started a conversation, and then she asked if she could borrow a cigarette. “Sure, no problem.” Then the next day, she sees me outside and comes over again. Same thing. Third day same thing. Fourth day, I am not outside and the door bell rings, and it is her. “Can I borrow a cigarette?” “Sure, no problem,” I said. The next day, for the fifth day in a row, door bell rings, and here she is again. “Can I borrow a cigarette?” “No,” I said, “I am done.” “Please” she pleads, “I will never bother you again.” “No,” I said, ‘I am not playing anymore.”

It is a small thing. I could give her a cigarette everyday, and never miss it.

But it becomes irritating to me when someone is just taking advantage of my kindness. In this case I thought nothing of it the first day, but on the second day I was on to her. I tend to act very na├»ve at first, pretending I don’t realize they are just abusing my magnanimous persona. Shoot, I am renowned for my generosity. But I am mentally taking notes, giving them the benefit of the doubt maybe, hoping they are better people than they appear. But once the jury is in, in my mind, then I am done.

This issue and the dilemma for me is the same whether is it a cigarette or something much bigger. We have known friends who were down and out, in a bad situation, and needed a place to stay. They needed shelter. They needed food. They needed gas. They needed something.

On the one hand, I want to help. On the other I have no interest in supporting their laziness. Why should I enable them to continue is their laziness?

There are different types of moochers. There are those who constantly want to bum a cigarette or something similarly small. There are those who never want to contribute to the tab at the restaurant. We have all seen or heard of those that someone takes in to help out, but then they overstay their welcome. They won’t leave. They don’t get a job. They are deadbeats who outlive the generous hospitality of their friends and family. There are those that borrow money, but never pay it back. And there are the professionals, those with a cause to promote, who could never do it on their own, but have to rely on others to promote or develop their agenda. They seek to convince you that their cause is worthy of your free time.

But what they all have in common is that they just take and take and take. They will take anything for free. Sometimes you feel like they would take a disease if it were free. They take anything and everything. And to them it is a gift. And the good ones, they even smile and say thank you for your generosity.

I have more respect for prostitutes.

The way they usually operate is to play on your sympathy, telling you their hard luck story. They tell you how they are broke, but they need this or that. Maybe it is just $20. Or less. But they do this all the time, over and over. A little bit here from one, and little bit here from another, and a little bit more from someone else. None of the victims of the moochers know about each other. The moochers don’t want one victim to learn of the other victims generosity to them. They don’t want them sharing notes of how much they are giving to the moochers. They get something for free, and then go on about their business, smiling and laughing at what they just got a way with, laughing at the suckers who just fell for their line, and their manipulation.

I work for a living. Many times it involves long stressful hours. I don’t have much, that is for sure. But what I have I came by it honestly. The old fashioned way. I earned it. The last thing I need is freeloading moochers leeching on my wagon.

So, Notice to moochers….and you know who you are….the free ride is over. Please don’t ask me for free money, free food, free place to stay or to come work for you for free. I don’t work for free for moochers.

If you are a moocher, please quit. Quit being a moocher. A moocher is a liar, a thief and a moocher is a thug, in my book. There is no difference. Try being real, a real friend and a real person, a real person of integrity and character. Start acting like a grown person, a person who can walk with his or her head held up high. Shame on you moochers. You are fools.

I have tried my best to be your friend. But your constant mooching has proven you do not want to be a friend. If you are mooching off of me, you are not my friend. It’s time you showed me you do want to be a friend.



He that begetteth a fool [doeth it] to his sorrow: and the father of a fool hath no joy.

Speak not in the ears of a fool: for he will despise the wisdom of thy words.

Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou also be like unto him.

Ric

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Two Great Stories


STORY NUMBER ONE
Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn't famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.

Capone had a lawyer nicknamed "Easy Eddie." He was his lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, Eddie's skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al out of jail for a long time.

To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but also, Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block.

Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly.

Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price was no object. And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he could not give his son; he could not pass on a good name or a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al "Scarface" Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity.

To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great. So, he testified.

Within the year, Easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes, he had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem read:
The clock of life is wound but once, And no man has the power To tell just when the hands will stop At late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will.
Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.
____________________________________________
STORY NUMBER TWO

World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission.

After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to top off his fuel tank He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship. His flight leader told him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet.

As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He could not reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save thefleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must somehow divert them from the fleet. Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another. Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of Butch's daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft. This took place on February 20, 1942, and for that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W. II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It is located between Terminals 1 and 2.
********************************************

SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?

Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

I Am What I Am


The Good Book says, “One generation passeth away and another generation cometh. But the earth abideth forever.”

Among other things, that tells me, that my generation is not only going to pass away, but also that the generation that now is, is tied to the generation that preceded it. We all are a part of an ongoing movement set in motion many many generations ago, in the beginning of time. We are tied to the past and weare connected to the future. Everything is joined together in a continuous stream. My generation is a product of the generation preceding us.

And this is also true of not just us as people, but also true for me individually. I am a product of the past. I am here today as a result of some other people and events and circumstances that took place many years ago. If things had not happened
just the way they did and certain people made some particular choices, there
would never have been a “me.” I would not be here today. There are certain
people, not only responsible for my existence, but also for at least a part of my
make up and character.

So, as a starting point, let me say that I exist. Here I am, I exist. I am not
concerned as to whether that is good or bad. “To be or not to be,” that is not the
question. Whether it is a good thing or not, all I know is that, I do, in deed and in fact, exist.

From the time we were small children, we learned to use the words, I, me, mine,
and my. We spend a lifetime calling attention to our own existence, in one manner
or another, of letting people know, “hey, I am.” “I exist.” We sometimes get the
feeling that it doesn’t matter that much, that we are nobody or that we don’t
amount to much.

But I want to say that we not only exist, but we are very important to a lot of
people.

There was a time earlier, when I was not. And I time is coming in the future, that I will no longer be, as far as this world is concerned. I have been here for 52 years. But for now, at least, I can say, I am.

And to go further, I can say not only that I am, but I am what I am - whatever that is, good or bad. I personally don’t believe there is much difference between what I
am and who I am. We all can say the same thing. “I am what I am.” Do you ever
wander who or what that is? Have you ever heard of anyone having an identity crisis? The implication is that some of us may not really know who we are or
what we are. And that is pretty valid.

It may take some a while to figure out just who they are. For me, I am comfortable
with my understanding of who I am. I know it is my birthday, 52 years. All things
being equal, I can plan for my lifetime to include 25 to 30 more years. Who knows,
you never know. I know I am not important to the world. I am not actively
involved in major causes today. But I also know that to some people, I just may
be the most important person in the world. I have people that look to me and rely
on me. They love me, and I love them. Our love for each other is real, and
sustaining, and important.

I have friends. I have learned that friends are important. Real important. We need our friends to talk to, to ask for help from time to time, to ask them to listen to us from time to time, and to be there for us. Our friends encourage us. Sometimes challenge us. We help each other. It is a two way street. But more than that, they allow us an outlet for sharing the details of our life. Talking and sharing with them things that happen to us and that are important to us is not just helpful, but also fun. It can bring merriment and joy into our life when we have that someone to talk to, that cares what is going on with us. We laugh together and dance together and it fills our life with joy and laughter and peace. We have fun. And then when hard times come, we can hold hands and cry together, and plan
together to pull ourselves back up. I am very thankful for the friends I have in my
life today.

I am. I am what I am. And I am happy with that.

I know my life matters to some. It actually does matter. I can give advice. Sometimes someone wants advice from me. So sometimes I teach. Other times I listen. I think it is important that we show we care to those for whom we care.
Give them our time. We spend our time with those we care for, family and friends.
The time is spent hugging, laughing, swapping stories or maybe we work together to seek solutions to problems. Sometimes it is light-hearted and fun, and sometimes it can get serious.

But that is life. I can look back some day and remember the time I spent with
someone in particular and remember how I was their friend. I tried to be a friend,
the best friend that I could be. And they tried their best to be my friend. Others we know not so well, but we really liked them and have fun memories of the times we
spent together. And then still others, are those we didn’t care for or want to have
in our life at all. They were bad news.

But as I think to myself, and say, “I am what I am,” and then try to define it, it is not so important what career path I chose. I have had several already, but none of them defined me. How I made money was not so important. I think the most
defining thing is the love we have in our hearts, the love we have for ourselves,
for our parents, our family, our spouses, our children and of course our friends.

I have loved and lost. I had relationships that didn’t work out. I have had losses,
and lost people I cared about. But I have had successes too.

“What I am” seems to me to be more about my values. We have all grown up over
the years being taught the value and substance of faith, hope and love. We have
learned that faith, hope, and love, are not passive feelings but the active positive
substance that define our character, our goals, our values. Our faith, hope, and
love declare to the world what we believe to be good, better, and best in life; what
we consider important, what we focus on in life, and that which we will celebrate.

And the most significant factor in molding my character and values has been the
people around me. My family and my friends.

All of this is just a long winded way to say thank you to each of you, for being in
my life, for the times we get to be together. I am surrounded by good people. I
am rich in ways that cannot be bought. I have been blessed in an abundant and self evident manner. My wife, my children, friends, family and all loved ones are
the blessings in my life.

I love you all, and thanks to you, “I am what I am.”

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Manners


There was a time when good manners were commonplace. Young adults answered with the customary "Yes, ma'am" and "No, sir," gentlemen tipped their hats and neighbors banded together to welcome new families.

We were gracious in conduct and courteous in demeanor, contributing a thread of gentility to our surroundings. Sadly, I had to watch old episodes of Leave It to Beaver to come across manners like that. Welcome to 2006.

We are different today—an era of fast cars, fast food, fast computers and dwindling tolerance. Civility seems doomed to extinction. It should have its own glass case alongside Archie Bunker's chair in the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

Rudeness is a problem.

We have become a people where blatant disrespect is everyday: a surly bunch of unchaperoned schoolchildren with full reign of the classroom.

Take our behavior behind the wheel, for example. Remember the days when a car ride was a pleasant event? Neither do I. Our daily commute can be as treacherous as the Indianapolis 500.

And God help us if traffic is at a standstill. The language is fouler than the fumes in the air.

Rudeness has many faces.

Lack of manners for Americans is not whether you confuse the salad fork for the dinner fork. It's about the daily assault of selfishness—inconsiderate behavior.

Rudeness can be found in high schools where fierce competitiveness dominates the popularity game and in the workplace where the "kill or be killed" philosophy, once the underbelly of ambition, is now the standard.

Insolence is like a cancer. Simply put, it is a question of sides.

Some favor a well-mannered society and will stifle their rudeness. The others are the conspirators in the quickening demise of civility and respect.

Monday, January 16, 2006

No Free Lunch


There is a parable about a king who ordered his wise men to condense all human wisdom into a small, manageable amount of print.

The men returned after twelve years with twelve volumes. "It is too large," protested the king. "Condense it further." So the wise man went out again and returned in a year with one large volume. "It's still too large," objected the king.

They went out again, only to return the following day with a single statement written on a slip of paper – all the great wisdom of the world in one line: "There is no free lunch."

While this greatly oversimplifies all human wisdom, there does seem to be an unfailing law of sowing and reaping in life. We get out of anything just about what we put into it. There is no free lunch. This is the now age old adage. Everything of quality costs something. It is just a question of how the price is paid, at what time the money changes hands, and who pays the costs of the service.

This is especially true in the Christian life. "Seek and ye shall Find," we are told.

And this is true at my new job. I have had to pay for lunch....everyday since I got here.

While the wise men of the story and the wise of the world are right, in general, for me, there was a time when I received free lunch each day at work. One could argue that is was not free, because if I didn't work on the case of the client providing the lunch, I was not invited. But I know I would have worked on the case anyway, and so, for me, it was free. I enjoyed a free lunch, and many of them at that.

There are many free lunches. They arise every time a person doubles his productivity. If you work for three hours in the morning to produce lunch, and then double your efficiency to produce two lunches for the same amount of work, you have got a free lunch.

It really happens a lot. You receive a gift. A bonus. That something extra or something special that someone does for you that you know and they know they did not have to do or was not expected.

Today, living in a world where everyone is always trying to get our money away from us, always wanting to charge more than the service or product is really worth, it is so special and satisfying and refreshing, when someone wants to go that extra mile, completely out of their way, to extend to us, a free lunch.

There are those who do not recognize a free lunch when it comes their way. It reminds me of the idea of whether the glass is half empty or half full. Some just always see the cost of something.

But each time someone offers to me their love, their friendship, their support, their encouragement, or even just a place at their table, I recognize it, appreciate it, and count it as a blessing.

Be well....Ric

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Handyman


Stuff breaks. And when it does someone has to fix it.

The word "Handyman" dates back to 1872 and is defined as a person who is competent in a variety of small skills or inventive or ingenious in repair or maintenance work - also called a "handyperson". I have never been very handy, mostly because I have never been around anyone who really was. I never had a good teacher.

I enjoy doing it when I know how. I like doing it myself. And if I think I can figure it out, I am willing to try. This week the faucet over our kitchen sink broke. It had to be replaced. So I spent Friday night, installing a new one. And I was successful. It really feels good when I am able to figure it out and get it done.

And then earlier in the week, our main line to the alley got stopped up. And I
figured out how to un-stop it without having to call a plumber.

So mark up a couple wins for the un-handy man.

Yall be careful out there....Ric

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Custody battle


We had a guest visiting this past weekend. Our friend Jill was visiting. She now lives in Seattle. She is a long time friend of Michelle's, was one of the bridesmaids at our wedding and a really cool person...we like her. She was here to attend court for the final decree of divorce hearing, in Collin county. She left her husband a year ago. He first moved out, and then after he had been out for some time, she moved to Seattle. They had each taken their own stuff, and each were happy with the way things were divided up. But then, all of a sudden out of nowhere, he decided to contest custody of the dog. So, they had this big hearing before the judge about who should get the dog. When he moved out he did not take the dog. And it was her dog anyway. She picked it out, she bought it with money given as a gift from her Aunt, and she took care of it. She couldn't believe she had to fly in to fight this. The husband had a lawyer, and she did not. She represented herself. Michelle went with her to court Monday morning. She had prepared all these questions to ask him on the stand, she was well prepared, and did a great job of pointing out to the court how she had bought the dog and cared for the dog, and loved the dog...while also pointing out what a loser he was, with no job, and a recent DWI resulting in loss of this driver's license. The judge awarded the dog to her.

Who gets the family pet following a divorce? In most cases, pets are treated just like all other marital property because pets are considered personal property under state property laws. However, this traditional view is beginning to be challenged. Lawsuits are being filed challenging the longstanding view of the treatment of pets in divorce proceedings. Often, the spouse who did not receive the family pet as part of the divorce settlement, is seeking "visitation" or "custody" rights.

There is essentially no difference between a piece of furniture and a dog. It's really up to a judge's discretion to determine how the dog situation will be handled. Some judges refuse to hear animal custody cases, leaving it to the couple to work out an agreement. However, more states are adopting language that refers to people as dogs' "guardians" rather than "owners" elevating the status of dog. The guardianship idea will probably change the law considerably when it comes to determining who gets custody of the dog. I expect to see the law change in the next few years to regard dogs less as property.

Take care...Ric