Saturday, March 31, 2018

Where Did We Come From

So my sister, her two sons and I had DNA profiles done.  The surprise for me, was to be 39% Scandinavian. Maybe that explains why I felt so at home in Iceland.  I knew Great Britain would play a major role.  There was a family legend that my mother's mother was half native American, nothing in the DNA of the four of us shows that to be true.  My sister has been in contact with third cousins, from my grand-mother's, father's side of the family.  Immigration and a century of time, and we know so little about from whence we came.  

Have you done a DNA test yet?

Friday, March 30, 2018

Random Thoughts

It does the mind and body good to take a break, sit in the square, indulge in something refreshing, and watch the world go by for a few minutes. 

What do I like in a blog posting?  A nice photograph or image.  I am a very visual person, a blog posting that rambles on for pages of uninterrupted text does not work for me.  If I want to read a book, I will pull out my Kindle.  

Some days I am tempted to go by the White House with a sign that says, "Remember to Take Your Meds!"  Based on the behaviors, most of them need meds, and NONE of them take them.

I have returned from 10 days off from blogging.  I know there was not a gap in my blog, I was that far ahead.  I am in the midst of getting that far ahead again. 

Why do business websites lack real contact information?  I was looking at one recently and had a terrible time finding the location of their retail store in Chicago, I am going to be in Chicago and I am interested in buying their product.  No one lists an email address on their website.  I know an email address online will bring lots of Junk Mail, but it will also bring email that generates business.  Communications, missing a major communications link. Businesses pay more attention to social media trolls, than real customers trying to contact them by email.  

What is on your mind today?   

Thursday, March 29, 2018

I remember

I remember the first time I saw a picture of Mt St Michele.  I was about 5 and my father was rebuilding an airplane with a lifelong friend of his.  The wings were in the dinning room of Bob's house.  A painting of Mt St Michele was in the hallway.  I fell in love with it.  I had no idea where it was.  There was no explanation of the painting.

Decades later, after my first visit to Normandy, I had a collection of photos published in a book and gave my parents a copy for Christmas.  My father showed the book to Bob, he cried and then explained.  He was in a landing party on D-Day, he watched his friends drop around him in a hail of machine gun fire.  He had bought the painting when he went to back to Normandy after the war to accompany with the remains of his buddies being returned to the states.  The painting was a reminder to him of the beauty of a place that saw so much horror.    

Wednesday, March 28, 2018


No secret that this spring is a heavy travel cycle for me.  Unusually so, three personal trips and eight work trips in the first 6 months of 2018.  All on the same airline.  I am going some nice places - places I see a little of here and there, only a couple of free personal days in the trips.  They leave me longing, longing for a week or two off, in someplace iconic.  I was looking at vacation apartment rentals in Rome the other day, when my boss walked into my office to talk.  Oh the frequent flyer miles I am piling up. 

Where do you long to go? 

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Shoes!

I worked in the ladies shoe department in a department store for several months one year.  The experience left it's mark on me.  I notice things, but then who could overlook these? 

Do you notice people's shoes? 

The Answers to the Sunday five: 1b,2a,3c,4c,5a. 

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dare to be different

Tucker dared to be different, to take on the established automakers, to challenge the norm. He innovated in design and safety.  The establishment saw him as a threat and pushed back, ultimately the company went out of business, but he left his mark.  You see this, and you immediately what it is, and the story behind it.  

How are you daring to be different? How are you leaving your mark? 

Sunday, March 25, 2018


I was born and spent most of my childhood in a very rural area.  We were surrounded by farms.  My family had a farm, sort of a funny farm.  When I was in the 8th grade, I went to school in Florida for 5 months.  One of the core classes was agriculture.  Despite growing up in a rural area, that was the only agriculture class I ever took. We started out by learning the correct names for farm animals by gender.  Hence I know that is a bull above (male of the bovine species.) 

This weeks five:
1: In cattle, is female who has not had a calf is referred to as: 
                    a: a cow
                    b: a heffer 
                    c: a virgin 
2: In honey bees the male is referred to as:
                    a: a drone
                    b: a bull
                    c: a drake 
3: In pigs (swine) a female is a sow, a male is referred to as:
                    a: a bull
                    b: a buck 
                    c: a boar
4: In cattle a Steer is a:
                     a: male 
                     b: female
                     c: castrated male 
5: What animal mates for life?
                      a: queen bee
                      b: rabbits 
                      c: geese 
I will post the correct answers in a day or two. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Sedimentary People

Our lives are built in many layers.  Our heritage and early childhood.  Growing up and schools.  Our family and friends.  Further education.  The work we have done. Our loves. Our wins and losses. Our accomplishments and failures.  The adventures we have experienced.  We build up kind of like sedimentary rocks, one layer at a time.  

What did I leave out?  The opposite of love, I don't have room, time or space for reflecting on that layer in my life. In the words of the Bard, breath in, breath out and move on. 

What layer do you not have room or time for in your life? 

Friday, March 23, 2018

How did they do that

When I see this, and I think of the decades of work that have done into trying reassemble this temple, using modern machinery, and am amazed at the amount of work that has been done and that needs to be done.  Then I stop and think, how did the Ancients build this thing without machines?  It is on top of a tall hill, with steep cliffs, how did they get the stone up there, how did they cut it, raise it into place?  If time travel was possible, spending a couple of days watching this being built would be a great adventure.  

Would you time travel with me? 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Routine or Rut?

We are creatures of habit, we like routine, a regular schedule, the comfort of knowing what we are doing.  After a while, routine can turn into a rut.  One book I read suggested simple things, taking a different route to work, stopping to look in a different store, going someplace different for lunch, walking around the block in a different direction to introduce novelty into our lives and stimulate our creativity.  

My Saturday routine, is get up, read blogs and FB, go grocery shopping, come home put things away, start laundry, go to the gym, and write blog postings and fiddle on the computer all afternoon.  I have done that 45 Saturdays a year for 8 years.  The last two weekends, we did something different.  Jay was here for spring break, we hung out in the morning, went to lunch, then grocery shopping, laundry, gym and blogging.  That little change of going to lunch then shopping opened new doors.  A new routine, or will it be a new rut? 

What is your Saturday routine? 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


It's spring school tour group season in DC, the annual pilgrimage of hundreds of thousands of yokels from Nowheresville to a major world capital.  It use to be just high school seniors and the occasional band, these days the school groups start in their early teens.  They arrive by bus, generally stay in suburban hotels, frequently near subway stations.  There is noting quite so fun as a hundred, sleep deprived, lost in the big city, away from home for the first time feeling their hormones teens, crowding into the subway at morning rush.  They all try to cram into the same car, afraid that if they don't they will get lost and never find their way back.  There are worse places to be lost.  

At this time of the year, when I get into an empty subway car, it is worth taking a picture of the well worn carpets.  When the DC subway system was put together in the 1970's they decided to put in comfortable seating and carpet the floors, to give it a comfy feeling.  It worked better than you would think.  The carpets wear, and have to be cleaned.  It was recently revealed that the specifications for the carpet, limited the manufacturers to just a couple of companies.  No one else could make a rubber backed, glue down carpet that was 100% virgin wool. Is it corruption or just detailed specifications?  Only in the last couple of years were the specifications changed so they could get more than one bid for replacement flooring.  And they announced that they are going to all hard surface floors, phasing out the carpet. 

Is it tourist season in your town?  

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

These Young People and Their Hair

Two more fashion statements in hair.  I remember how much my father loathed my long curly hair when I was a teenager.  I refuse to be like that.  Hair is an expression of individuality or identity.  Most young people wear their hair like others to fit in, to be identified as part of their group.  Wearing hair that is totally different, is a statement.  I did it, they do it today, and that is fun. 

I do have fun collecting pictures of the top-knots, or man-buns.  

Did you hair frustrate your parents when you were a teenager? 

Monday, March 19, 2018

Face of Experience

I need to update my office picture, it was taken a decade ago.  The picture has held up well, I have aged a bit.  I have put on a bit of weight, there are more lines and creases, a little less hair on top, and a lot more grey.  And that is fine.  My face reflects the life I have lived.  The victories show in the laugh lines, the weight is a sign of having survived and at times prospered.  You can tell I have been able to keep a roof over my head and good food on the table.  There is a scar on my left temple, left over from removal of a small tumor in my late teens, actually it was removed twice, the first time the doctor cut into it and went "opps."  It was exploded in his grip, leaving enough of it behind that it grew back and had to be taken off a second time.  That scar is largely lost in the wrinkles, wrinkles earned by years of paying attention and squinting in the sun.  My skin is dried and leathered a bit, it has been worn hard and put up wet.  I have lived life for the adventure, and not with the goal of preserving a beautiful corpse.  And that is fine with me.  I will take the wrinkles, and lines, and spots, and scars, and grey hair, as evidence of the adventures I have lived. My hair is honest, it is mine.   

If you offered me a free facelift, I'd pass.  I don't want to erase the life of adventure from my face.  

Would you accept a free facelift? 

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Sunday Funday 5 times 4

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Cheese
2. Do you sleep naked ? Usually 
3. Worst physical pain you have been in? Hmm, wisdom teeth removal?  The spine was bad, but the drugs were so good. 
4. Favorite place you have been? Florence Italy 
5. What’s your favorite music genre? Can't pick one, kind of like asking which of your kids to you like best. 
6. If you could move somewhere else where would it be? France 
7. Which of your Facebook friends lives the closest? Charlie 
8. When was the last time you cried? last Thursday 
9. Who took your profile picture? I did  
11. What's your favorite season? Spring 
12. If you could have any career what would it be?  Dictator 
13. What was the last book you read? Italian Life Rules
14. If you could talk to ANYONE right now, who would it be? My sweet bear 
15. Are you a good influence? Yes
16. Does pineapple belong on a pizza? On the right kind 
17. You have the remote, what channel will you choose? Discovery 
18. 2 people who you think will play along? Anne Marie and Deedles
19. Last concert attended? Kiss
20. Favorite type of food? Red sauce Italian 
Ok friends, copy and paste and change the answers

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Random Thoughts

I had two postings on Wednesday, one of them was suppose to be for today, one wrong click. 

I am thinking about a trip to Michigan in late summer, any suggestions for a nice hotel in the Detroit burbs? 

Crazy busy in the office.  Am I the only one that wants to give up and say "why me?" shortly before finishing a big project? 

Bizarre times continue in DC.  If Tillerson writes a book, I'll buy it, especially if the title is "Fucking Moron - the twitter in the White House!" 

Spring has got to be just around the corner.  It was a warm mild winter, until spring.  

Have Fun! 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Making it Look Easy

I watch the guys do this, and it looks so easy. But I suspect it is not easy.  Blogging looks easy, and practice makes it so.  Recently I am struggling to come up with interesting things to say.  Yet, I know I must keep practicing.  And so I do.  

Thursday, March 15, 2018

My First!

Like many firsts in my life, I have long ago lost track of what . happened to them or where they went, but I found the owners manual for my first camera.  I was about 10 and it was a Christmas gift from my parents.  It used 126 cartridge film.  I was able to process and print black&white film in the garage darkroom at home.  I remember saving up to buy film at K-Mart, being thrilled when I found it on sale for 79-cents a roll.  I moved up from this to a nicer Instamatic that was a hand-me-down.  From that to father's old Argus 35mm rangefinder, then when I was 15 buying my first 35-mm SLR.  

I have owned a lot of good cameras over the years.  Last summer I bought my first digital SLR and I really like it.  I also bought an underwater camera for the first time.  

What was your first camera like? 

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Dogs Life

Not all, but many dogs have a good life.  Lots of attention, walks, good food (by dog standards), lots of rest.  Some people take better care of their dogs, than they do of themselves.  

If dogs could talk, I am sure they would have an opinion on being "fixed." They would tell us that it worked before the visit to the vet.  I understand that unrestrained, the world would be overrun with dogs, but it can't be the highlight of a dogs life.  

Dog's have their people well trained.  We feed them, provide fresh water, take them for walks, lavish praise on them, and play games with them.  

I am sure they are mystified as to why we follow them around gathering up their crap, putting it in neat little bags and collecting it, while at the same time we ignore out own and flush it away.  Humans can be such strange animals.  

When you get home and the dog greets you at the door, the dog is not happy to see you, he has you trained to come home, take him for a walk, feed, water, and lavish praise on him.  The dog is stimulating you, to do the things the dog has trained you to do. If you fail to do this, the dog will punish your bad behavior or failure to act, with a little surprise in the middle of the living room carpet.  

Is there a dog that has you well trained?   

What A Life

I was talking with a colleague about work and retirement.  I sometimes complain about work. At times I have over committed and ended up working a real grind, but all in all, I have had a good run.  As my father once said, "when work looks nasty, just remember some guy is the gut snatcher in a hog processing factory."  Kind of graphic, dad's can be like that, but his point that someone out there has a nastier job stuck over the years.  I may not have spent my work life sitting on a chair watching the waves, but I have had some comfortable jobs.  

Hubby was talking with a colleague about his impending retirement from teaching, and they said, "after a while you will miss it and want to go back to work."  To which he responded, "I never wanted to work in the first place, that is why I never left school."  

I do think that I will want to keep doing something, but I can see changing pace to only doing the parts that I love doing in a few short years.  

How do you feel about retirement? 

Tuesday, March 13, 2018


I was visiting family in Florida in January and someone mentioned possibly visiting me in the DC burbs some day.  I said it is easy, go over to US-1, turn left and then turn left on Mt Eagle Drive.  Let me know ahead of time, or security won't let you in the front gate.  The building I live in is group of high rises on the hill top dead center in this quick shot from takeoff from National Airport. 

Is it easy to give directions to your house? 

Monday, March 12, 2018


The 2017 taxes are done - I did five tax returns, my federal return, Jay's federal return, two state returns, and my middle brother's federal return.  Taxes returns don't scare me, modern software makes it easy.  Always a taxing job, I am glad it is done.  I paid my fair share this year.

I still need to deal with Dad's last tax return, his are a little more complex, and there was a trust involved.  I have talked with the accountant that prepared dad's taxes for the past decade and I will bundle those up and send them off soon, I think I finally have all of the paper work for his.  The trust was empty enough by December 31, that it will only need to file one return. 

Hubby is here visiting for the week.  We still know how to make each other laugh.  I am looking forward to being in the same house year around soon.  He is taking early retirement at the end of the year. 

My microwave died.  It was a cheap over the range style, that was poorly installed.  It was here when I moved into the condo.  I replaced it with a new counter top style and removed the old one revealing a segment of wallpaper from prior kitchen decor showing through.  Kitchen archeology.  And an in my face reminder that I need to have the kitchen updated.  The cash is on hand, I just need to get to it and get it done. I find that more taxing than taxes. 

I am home for three weeks, trying to get caught up and ahead in the office.  Then I am on the left coast for a week.  Only one out of town trip in April, then May, I will have time to do laundry between trips in May (barely.) How busy is May, I had to decline a conference in one of my favorite cities in California - or buy more clothes and a bigger suitcase.  June two trips, Toronto and San Francisco (again!)  My favorite airline is going to LOVE me, 11 adventures in the first 6 months of 2018. 

The BOD at SpoReflections says five things is best, so there you are.

Do you do your taxes yourself?


Sunday, March 11, 2018

Sunday Five Questions - Diversity

1: Have you voted for a woman? 
2: Shared a meal with a person who is transgendered? 
3: Visited a country where you were the minority? 
4: Visited a country where you didn't speak the language? 
5: Worked with a person with a disability? 

My Answers:
1: Have you voted for a woman? Several times, Hilary - how did this happen?
2: Shared a meal with a person who is transgendered? Yes, a judge from Texas. 
3: Visited a country where you were the minority?  Mexico. 
4: Visited a country where you didn't speak the language? Several. 
5: Worked with a person with a disability? Yes, I hired an intern a couple of years ago with mobility challenges, I have a colleague in another department with a significant mental illness (who graduated from Georgetown Law and passed the New York Bar.)  

Your answers? 

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Everything Old, is New Again

Nearly every "agreement" you agree to, you know like those software licenses that you click agree to, without reading, contain arbitration clauses.  To hear the consumer advocates whine, you would think arbitration was something dreamed up in the past 20 years to screw the little guy.  It isn't, above a a tablet containing the details of an arbitration from nearly 2,400 years ago.  

Friday, March 09, 2018

Headline Nonsense

I just ran across a news headline on MSNBC, "The Secret to Getting Out of Debt Without a Loan."  I wonder who thought that one up, how it made it past an editor?  You would have to be a dumb bunny to not know that the secret, is pay off your debts, don't refinance them.  If you take a loan to pay off a debt, you are replacing one debt with another debt.

I have watered things brighter than some of the people who write these headlines.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Death by Power Point

This pops up on the screen and the presenter says, "those of you in the back of the room may have trouble seeing this, but."  

I am a visual person, I think Power Point is the best tool for effective presentations, when used properly.  Unless this slide is prefaced with, "I want you to see how complex this is,"  it is a slide that should never be shown.  

I am doing a program later this month on aging alone or Aging Solo. Using this as a visual:

Do you think the audience will get the joke? 

Wednesday, March 07, 2018


It was one of those unexpected emails, asking me to speak at a conference and not really saying on what topic.  I tossed out a couple of ideas and they said yes, mash those two together. Kind of like merging offshore swimming and the happiness of cats - I can do that - somehow.  So off I went to Pinehurst North Carolina.  The Carolina Hotel opened in 1905. It is on the model of a grand railroad resort hotel.  There are a ton of golf courses, if that is your game.  The hotel was nice, the golf courses pretty, the weather spring like, and the conference was good. Pinehurst is pretty, but it is surrounded by very rural North Carolina. 

Do you play golf? 

Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Nice Collection

I was in Kentucky visiting the hubby and the other house recently.  We went out to dinner at a local steak house, it was a rainy Saturday evening, the place was busy and we didn't have reservations, so we ended up seated at the bar.  Really great food, and a live show (cute bartenders.) And this was the view.  The front row of Van Winkles is about $40,000 worth at the price per one ounce pour they were charging.  I have never found anyone willing to sell a bottle.  Nice collection, very nice collection.  I had a little Angel's Envy - and a braised short rib that was really very-very good.  

Have you tried a Van Winkle? 

Monday, March 05, 2018


I am working on a research project on health care decision making (again - another one.) Part of this one was interviewing a couple of dozen experts - I was intimidated by the thought of interviewing a professor at Harvard Medical School, and she was the nicest person you would ever want to chat with - if I was dying, I'd like her as my doctor.  

One of the topics was helping patients develop and articulate goals of care.  As an example I talked about my experience three years ago.  When asked what my goals were, I was clueless.  I said, Well I'd like to survive.  And I was asked, "then what?  Go home, "then what? To which my answer was in "90 days I want to fly to Germany and ride on a Zeppelin."  That usually resulted in the person asking me about my goals, looking in the chart for what meds I was on, or to see if a psychiatric exam had been ordered. One of the doctors came back the next day and said, "I did a google search, you were serious!"  Yes, I knew I needed to be well enough to walk 150 feet across the grass, and climb 6 steps unaided to ride the Zeppelin, that was my intermediate goal.  And I made it.  If you are curious, there is a link to the You-Tube video of the Zeppelin ride on the right hand side of my blog.   

So what is your goal of care? 

Sunday, March 04, 2018

It is time to say, NEVER AGAIN!

Two weeks after the shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, I visited friends whose son is a 9th grader who was sheltering in a classroom during the shooting.  We went to the son's basketball game, I sat next to the parents of one of the children who was murdered and listened to them talk about trying to get the strength to get out of the house and figure out the "new normal" of life without their son Alex.  We visited the memorial along the fence at the high school.  It broke my heart to see three high school students sitting on the grass looking at the fence, stopping by to say goodnight to a classmate who was killed in the class.  

It is time to say, NEVER AGAIN.  It is time to change the law, amend the Constitution if we have to,  so no family has to find the new normal, no community has to live through the tragedy that has become the new normal. 

Below is an open letter to Congress and the President that the friend I visited wrote shortly after the shooting.  
“It is 2:38 pm on Wednesday, February 14, 2018. I am at work when I receive a text from my son, Noah, a 9th grader at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.
It reads:
“Dad, I think there is a shooter at the school I’m in.” “I think it’s real.”
“How do you know it’s real?” I ask, not knowing whether now is really the time for discerning inquiry with my 15-year-old. Do I just accept this information as true and react? It’s not every day a father receives that kind of text from his child. Let’s see what he says…
“I hear gunshots, right outside my classroom,” was the response. How could anyone argue with that, I think to myself. OK, as I begin breathing deeply just to maintain some composure, what do I say next?
“R u safe?” Wow. That’s really stupid. Of course he’s not safe. He’s in a school with a mentally ill person running through the halls of the school shooting everything and everyone in sight.
“There was gunshots and there r sirens and we hear police in the classrooms.”
“R u safe”, I say again, desperately needing to know if he is safe, or as safe as can be under the circumstances and as events are unfolding.
“I’m in classroom.” “Police are here.”
“Is your teacher there?”
“Yea.” Thank G-d for that, I think to myself.
“Is there a cop in the room?”
“In the school trynna to find the guy.”
“R u underneath a desk?”
“Yea.” “They’re fighting him now I think.”
How’s this for some fatherly advice: “Stay low to the ground, cover your head with a thick text book, and if anyone with a gun passes by you, do not breathe or move and make it appear like u r dead already.” What? Did I just write that to my son?
My wife, Robin, had a similar exchange with Noah during the shooting spree. Her motherly advice consisted of a text that read: “Stay under the desk, away from floors and windows and do exactly what your teacher tells you to.”
Last night my son had a nightmare that the shooter was following him. I suspect the first of many. So many questions are running through my mind. My mind is racing. Why did this happen? How could this happen? How could this happen in Parkland, Florida? Everyone I speak to all over the country has heard of Coral Springs and Boca Raton, but throughout the years, few people I speak with have heard of Parkland. Could this really be happening here?
Grandma Mickey asked Noah if there was anything she could do for him. His response? “Yeah. Make it Tuesday.” Couldn’t have said it better myself.
My daughter, Jocelyn. I think of her now. She is an 11th grader at Stoneman Douglas. But she is not at school today. In fact, she is in Israel doing her entire second semester abroad and has been there since January 28th. Thank G-d she was not at school today so she is safe. Wait, did I just say that? How ironic, I think to myself. My daughter is safer in Israel than she would have been had she gone to her high school classes in the United States.
Thankfully, my son, Gavin, is out of high school and attending college in New York. Safe, I think, unless there should be a school shooting where he is.
Why does anyone think that the Second Amendment right to bear arms is an unqualified right? A right that transcends the right to pursue life, liberty and happiness? A right that transcends the right of our children to attend school in a safe and secure learning environment? For those without mental illness, it makes sense that people who act/can act responsibly with a gun should have the right to defend themselves and their family. But do we really believe so wholeheartedly in the right to bear arms that anyone, regardless of how they act with a weapon, has this right? It is not a right to inflict pain and suffering on others, and when used in that manner the right must be restricted. I just can’t figure out why our leaders in government don't see that. Forget about the NRA. That argument is old and tired. You want support, financial and otherwise? Give people a safe learning environment in our schools, and I’ll give you millions of people all throughout our country to make up the lost financial support you get from the NRA.
What would happen if someone entered the Capitol Building and went on a shooting spree, killing Congressmen and women, I wonder? How fast would we see gun control laws passed then? Or better yet, when the next school shooting occurs, a child of a person in Congress is one of the students in the school, or gets shot, or gets killed, G-d forbid.
You send our children into a killing zone every day during the school year, and you allow people with mental illness armed with semi-automatic weapons to freely enter enclosed surroundings (also known as schools), leaving our children defenseless (note to self – for the 2018-2019 school year, make sure to add hand guns to the school supply list and give to each one of your kids so they can defend themselves. Oh yeah, that would be illegal). How can you live with yourself knowing that this has been going on for over 20 years and no action has been taken to resolve these issues?
The only improvements we have seen are in the responses to these tragedies. The police in Parkland were on the scene within 3 minutes of receiving the call for help. Grief counselors, clergy, the Red Cross and so many others came to the aid of all of us affected by this shooting. The protocol for catching the shooter has been improved. People all over the country and the world show support, offering thoughts and prayers. But these are just reactions to the tragedies. None of these responses does anything to solve the core issue. Nothing, not one thing, has been done to reduce or eliminate the likelihood of another school shooting from occurring. That is the real tragedy in all of this. This is the problem we all sent you to Washington, DC to resolve. Not immigration reform. Not whether Russia conspired to alter our 2016 election results. Not anything else. I encourage you to read the New York Times article by Dan Barry titled “Gunfire Erupts at a School. Leaders Offer Prayers. Children Are Buried. Repeat.” This article accurately describes the insanity that is going on in our country every single time there is a school shooting and appeared in the New York Times yesterday, February 15, 2018 (…/florida-school-shooting-thoughts-…).
The problem is not mental illness alone. Clearly, we need to be doing more to screen, evaluate, assist and support those with mental illness. The problem is not guns or gun control alone either. Can’t you see that the problem is the combination of the two, and as long as we have both in our society, we should expect these tragedies to continue? Why do you think the Second Amendment is imbued with an unequivocal right to bear arms. I think it is a right to bear arms responsibly. And if a person cannot responsibly bear arms, s/he does not have an unfettered right to own or carry a weapon. What are you so afraid of? How difficult would it be to pass legislation that screens for mental illness and precludes those with a history from obtaining or carrying a weapon? We have precedent for this: In 1982, 7 people died when Tylenol packaging was tampered with. Since then, it takes a PhD, channel locks and a sharp object to open a bottle of pills. In 1995, a bombing using a certain type of fertilizer, solution grade ammonium nitrate, killed 168 people, so the government imposed severe restrictions on the purchase of that fertilizer. In 2001, a person tried to blow up a plane with a shoe bomb. Since then, air travelers must remove their shoes for scanning before being allowed to pass through security. Since 1968, 1,516,863 people have reportedly died from guns on American soil.
Today is Friday, February 16. It is the morning and nearly 2 days since the shooting. My other son, Justin, attends Westglades Middle School, adjacent to Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. We kept him home from school yesterday, although the middle school was open and classes were held. I received an automated message from the school on my phone stating that Justin was absent that day, even though the school informed it would be an excused absence. Today will not be an excused absence. We kept Justin home yesterday because at age 11 he verbalized the fear he has in going to school given the circumstances. Is he any less fearful today? Do I have a choice but to send him to school today? Stoneman Douglas of course remains closed until further notice. How can I justify sending my 11 year old into a school building today? Tomorrow? Or the next day? Oh yeah, and remember to hug your kid and tell him you love him. Just in case he doesn't come home this afternoon. My wife shared this with a cousin concerned about how we are doing: “I dropped Justin at school today, watched him walk into school and then had to pull over to vomit. That’s the intensity of my fear of not knowing if I will ever see him again. Within 30 seconds I had an EMT beside me with water, a Red Cross volunteer holding my hair with a cool towel on my neck and a crisis counselor standing in front of me to “get it all out.” Luckily, Justin saw nothing. Now I showered and getting ready for Meadows funeral today at 12:30 pm. I really can’t think beyond that. Thanks for reaching out.”
Our new reality, I suppose.
On Sunday, we will attend the funeral of Alex Schachter, a 9th grader one classroom over from where my son, Noah, was during the shooting. Alex has been part of Noah’s close circle of friends for many years now. They played basketball on the same team for the last 2 years. Alex and Noah had plans to go on a cruise together with Alex’s father, Max, during the upcoming Spring Break. We spent Super Bowl Sunday at the Schachter home along with many of Alex’s friends. Alex, we learned late Wednesday evening/early Thursday morning, was one of the 17 killed in Wednesday’s shooting. We are working through this day by day. The funeral is Sunday. The next basketball game. Spring Break. None of these things will be the same now. And every day for the rest of our lives will be different because Alex is not here. To Caryn, Max, Ryan, Morgan and Avery, we love you guys and our hearts are broken thinking about your pain and your loss. My hope is that the opportunity Alex lost to make a difference in this world when he lost his life on Wednesday will not be for naught. Legislators, are you listening? Take this tragedy and use it to pass legislation that addresses the combined problems of mental illness and possession of weapons, and honor Alex Schachter, the other 16 people that lost their lives, those who were injured in the shooting, the entire student body and teachers at Stoneman Douglas, and all those in school shootings that have occurred previously in our country (Columbine, Sandy Hook, and Virginia Tech just to name a few).
I am an attorney. I went to law school. I am supposed to understand the legal system, how laws are passed, and how change can be effectuated. And yet, I feel powerless. I am not in Congress. I am not the President. I am just an attorney. I don't sponsor legislation – that is what people in Congress are supposed to do. Congresswoman Deborah Wasserman Schultz, are you listening? Senator Marco Rubio, are you listening? Maybe gun control laws won’t prevent mass shootings, but shouldn’t we try to deter them, and make it more difficult for people who use weapons FOR MASS SHOOTINGS from purchasing them? Congressman Ted Deutch, are you listening? Senator Bill Nelson, are you listening? Governor Rick Scott, are you listening? House Speaker Paul Ryan, are you listening? Do you really need more facts before the House of Representatives you are in charge of acts responsibly toward every parent and student in this country? We don't want to hear that free grief counselors will be made available at our school. We don't want to hear the problem is mental illness, or the problem is the Second Amendment, or the NRA, or anything else for that matter. We have solved many other issues in our country, as noted above. The time has come to solve this problem. Now.
I want to end with an apology. My apology goes to everyone affected by other school shootings in our country’s history. My heart went out to everyone affected during those times (I sound like one of the politicians), but it wasn’t until it hit me in my own home, my own backyard, and my own children were affected, that I took the time to write this plea to our lawmakers seeking to effectuate change. I hope you can forgive me for that.
Howie Krooks”

The Sunday five will return next week, I needed to get this posting out. 

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Love What You Do

A simple message, Love what you do, or do what you Love.  Life is to short to spend time doing anything else.  

Friday, March 02, 2018

Mardi Gras

A few years ago I was in New Orleans for a work in February.  It was just the beginning of Mardi Gras season.  I looked up the schedule, walked a few blocks off the beaten path and waited 45 minute for a parade to pass.  It was great fun, I am glad I did it.  Adding a little adventure to what was otherwise a meeting to talk about work, work and more work.  

Have you been to New Orleans? 

Thursday, March 01, 2018

Florida Again

Assuming everything is on schedule, I am in Florida for a couple of days of meetings.  Someone has to do it.  Maybe I will see a few native's.  

Would you stop to take a picture if you saw this big guy on the side of the road?