Thursday, April 30, 2009

Thank You for Not Smoking

My brother-in-law, Ed has been a smoker for many years. He’s tried to quit on several occasions but has just had a heck of a time stopping for good. Well, last Monday the doctors got his attention when they performed a triple bypass surgery to get the blood flowing back into his heart. He has been in the hospital now for almost a week and no cigarettes, no smoking, no joke - no butts. I think they got his attention now.

Having been a smoker for 25 years, I know how difficult it can be to give up the habit. I’d be smoking today if it hadn’t been for an employer who would not allow it. He called UPS and asked for a different delivery driver after smelling smoke when he came to pick up a package. Bless his heart. Quitting was the hardest thing I’ve ever done and the sickest I’ve ever been.

Ed had a couple of minor heart attacks in the weeks leading up to his surgery. I thought the first one happened at my son’s wedding 3 weeks ago, when my sister-in-law, Carol locked her purse in her trunk in the church parking lot, forgetting the keys were in her purse. Ed and Carol had to call their insurance company who sent someone to get the trunk unlocked. They made it to the reception in plenty of time but I thought Ed was going ballistic. He was smoking like a chimney. He says he was unfazed; he’s been married to Carol 30 years now so I guess he wasn’t all that surprised.

We’re all very happy Ed made it through the surgery and we hope he will have an easy time giving up the nicotine.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Plagiarism

If you have seen the movie Hook, you probably recall Dustin Hoffman decrying three times, “I hate, I hate, I hate… Peter Pan!” Irascible Robin Williams plays the part of Pan whom we all love of course. Hook is probably singular in his opinion of Peter. Unless I am terribly na├»ve, we all love Peter Pan. He is the hero of fairy tales.

I used to do a newsletter for a Mortgage Broker client and confess to “borrowing” statistics and data from the local newspaper for his newsletter. I had the opportunity to speak with an English teacher from a nearby Junior College and feeling a little bit guilty, asked her opinion of plagiarism. “From my students there is no such thing,” she said. “It’s so rare they write anything at all, I’ll gladly take it plagiarized or not.” Now this was a dozen years ago but I’m not all that certain things have changed that much. One of the shortfalls of the internet is the temptation students are confronted with to use another’s ideas rather than their own. I’ve been there and done that.

This self-imposed deadline of writing something for my blog once a month gets me to come up with something to say without borrowing. Usually, we’re too busy and have too many other things to do than sit down and write something intelligible and comprehensive. I notice the kids today have no problem texting themselves into oblivion; I’m not sure how intelligible that stuff is, however. It appears more like socializing than communicating or sharing ideas. Even what I write here is probably coming from my ego; not myself. As human beings, we rarely sit still long enough to really know what’s going on with ourselves. We’ve adapted to a faster-paced society that springs into action, responds proactively, and really never takes the time necessary to digest what is happening and apply common sense and manners we used to have and our parents worked so hard to teach us.

I’m just too slow to keep up. I usually have to read the instructions two or three times to get the message. My wife will ask if I saw a commercial on TV that just went by and the truth is I have to see it three times for it to sink in. Most movies today are so full of explosions, crash scenes and suspenseful dialog I just can’t follow them in real time. It could be middle age slowing me down. It may be those good manners are working like a drag chute, slowing my mind and making me face the right and wrong of what I am experiencing and we are all about.

I must confess that I work at a much slower pace these days. I am guilty of watching too many news hours and politico talking heads offering their philosophy to us, the gullible audience. It is apparent that I am not alone in these troubled waters of morality and decision making. At least, I still have a moral compass or, at least, know what one is used for.