Category Archives: Parenting

What about moms?…

Reid on the beach at Hilton Head. Cook, digital ad guru, bicyclist, backpacker. All around good kid (most of the time).

Yeah, what about moms?

Sure, the word “dad” has been used frequently here when in reality it is synonymous with “parent.”  I’ve not intentionally excluded moms since they have a high-level stake in this, too.

The educated guess is each parent communicates in their own way and style.  Perhaps a take-charge type will prepare something on behalf of mom and dad.  (But I’ve been wrong so many times before, and that’s why you should never put any faith my weather forecasts or my picks for stocks or pro sports.)  If nothing else, it’s table fare for dinnertime conversations.  How couples accomplish this is something of a mystery to me since I’m a single dad.

But there’s no overt intent to denegrade the stay-in-touch capabilities of moms.  A further educated guess is they are somewhat more attuned to make contact.  It might be their instinctive nature.  The point being, however, that parental title is really of no matter.  It’s all about the doing.


Seeing how it’s nearly Halloween, we’ll reach into the bag of tricks for an older letter to the Dynamic Duo.

Oct. 16, 2006

EB/Reid: Charlotte was not ready for Uncle Ralph.  Once again, he has proven beyond doubt that there is no one on the face of the earth that he cannot talk to and cannot talk to at length.  From our Saturday lunch where he struck up a conversation with our waitress to a dinner at a co-workers house last night, he dominated the verbiage from start to finish.  But that’s what makes him.  When he gets nervous or excited, he talks.  Nothing deters him from talking.  That’s just the way it is.  It was so funny to have him around here because he just won’t settle down.  We saw the town, watched a couple of games Saturday night at a sports bar – he called Aunt Gayle every 30 minutes for updates on the Nebraska-Kansas State game because it wasn’t on TV – moved furniture around and did errands, worked out twice, and went out for breakfast.  Your cousins, Andy and Joe, are doing pretty well.  As you could guess, Ralph is all excited about the grandchild.  And he misses you guys and asked exhaustively how you’re doing.

The house is slowly coming to order.  Slowly.  No furniture has been delivered yet, as the trees they planted to make the furniture have yet to mature and be harvested, kiln dried then cut and sawn into furniture.  That’s how slow that is.  And the satellite TV won’t be installed until today.  It just killed Ralph to not have TV to watch sports on.  Just killed him.  I’ve got stuff, clothing, strewn everywhere with no place to go until the dressers arrive.  Can’t wait for those.  Actually, the bedroom furniture is in town at the warehouse, so hopefully – knock on wood – it will be here this week.  The guestroom and office are pretty much done except for artwork.  They have a swell Habitat for Humanity store that sells donated furniture, and I snapped up a bunch of really fine lamps, a couple of end tables and 4 different, eclectic chairs for the dining room table.  Now, it’s on to rugs.  It’s really nice to cook with gas.  Makes you feel like a chef.  EB, I have some silverware your grandparents sent, along with those cream colored plates we used to store next to the stove, if you want to take those back with you.  Or, I can ship it to you if you need stuff in a hurry.

Reid, sorry to have cut off your call this morning.  The cell service here is just lousy.  Really want to hear how things are going.  You’re almost halfway through with your stint there.  Can you believe it?  But it all sounds good.

Will take the bike to the Blue Ridge Mountains this Saturday.  It’s about two hours away, and I guess the leaves are just starting to turn.  If the weather holds it should be a beautiful ride.  Really glad to have the bike out, but when it rumbles through my town home development, it’s almost like riding through a canyon of walls, so it must disturb the neighbors.  It’s not like I’m revving it up.  The weather here has been lovely of late, cool and crisp but not overly cold like you’d find in Des Moines.  The days have been just wonderful.

Extended the olive branch to the C____________’s in that Jeff is more than welcome to come down here to explore job possibilities.  No, wait, didn’t I already tell you guys that?  Never mind.

EB, it will be great to have you and the Timster down here.  There are lots of cuisine and culture possibilities.  I may take off the Thursday you arrive so we can tour the town and area in style.  No doubt will take you to a couple of music spots I’ve frequented, the Double Door (blues) and Evening Muse (varied artists).  Both are a lot of fun.  And, you will make a cameo appearance in the office to say hello to the group.  Well, got to rumble.  Catch you two on the flip flop, as they say in the trucking biz.


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Filed under Family, Parenting, Uncategorized, Writing to adult children

Set the bar low…

People ask what Ellen looks like, so here she is with hubby Tim up to their knees in Wisconsin trout waters.

No doubt some of you – maybe all of you – have rolled your eyes at some of the sub-trivial fluff I foist on the kids and other unwitting recipients.

I don’t hold myself in very high regard as a writer.  What comes out, comes out.

My dire self assessment aside, the goal has never been to set the bar high as high art.  Instead, my goal is really to stay out of my own way and just get the letters out the door on the appointed day.  To achieve “high art’ is not in my meager skill sets.   It would seem to imply that art supersedes the doing and that the writer’s sense of self-importance surpasses the expectation(s) of the recipient(s).  In neither case is that true.   High art also takes time, suitable inspiration and untold revisions, all of which further implies a pursuit of creative perfection which, if you’ve read my onslaught of letters, is in no danger of being eclipsed.

I’ve set the bar low and am pretty much content with such lowness.  Some days might be higher than others, but not by much.


The Charlotte Observer ran my first column this weekend.  As my age will attest, my beat will be narrowly focused.


Here is last Monday’s letter to Ellen and Reid.

October 18, 2010

Ellen/Reid: Ellen, what is this with your car windows being smashed?  I thought your little neighborhood was relatively immune to such nonsense.  What a way to start your Sunday morning.  Was the car in the garage or on the street (Tim’s new rig is likely in the garage, isn’t it?)?  Just make sure you keep stuff out of sight since that’s how most of these car-invading hooligans decide to break in to your car instead of others.

My weekend was far less adventuresome than yours.  Felicia and I rode to Maggie Valley, NC in search of the ‘Wheels Through Time’ museum of ancient Harleys.  It was wonderful, and I’d go again in a heartbeat, but the real star of the trip was the trek through the mountains.  The leaves and the scenery were incredible and the traffic was nil.  That’s quite a change from my last leaf-looking trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway a couple of years ago.  This went through canopied twisty roads alongside streams, and you can tell Tim we saw lots of fly fisherpeople all along the route, and secretly, I wish I’d been among them.  The route took us northwest out of picturesque Hendersonville, NC west on state road 64 and then a right turn onto state road 276.  One of the best roads ever for riding.  The museum was just a scream.  I’d guess the guy had 100+ old Harleys and Indians and other makes strewn all over the place.  But half the fun is looking at the old memorabilia such as newspaper clippings, posters, letters, and other assorted stuff.  It was just a lot of fun.  It was a cold ride in the morning but got nicer as the day went along.  Had BBQ in Maggie Valley at some place called Butts on the Creek.  It was pretty good, not the best, but just pretty good.

Reid, Nebraska choked in the Texas game.  The Big Red came in all hyped up but came out like Little Pink (a name from Bob F____________).  On the ride I was kicking myself for not recording the game but in hindsight it was a good thing.  Your uncle must’ve been a basket case at the game.  He would’ve been beside himself, and I pity the poor person sitting next to him, in front of him and behind him.  Your grandfather probably rotated in his grave.

My lengthy interview last week has gone for naught.  I made the second cut but not the third.  In most interviews you typically rue making comments you wish you wouldn’t have made and that was true in this case.  I had nosed around with people about their impressions of _______, and was trying to relate that their views didn’t necessarily mesh with what I’d learned about the firm.  I just didn’t communicate that very well to the person who mattered most.  I inadvertently irked the hiring manager and it was instantly apparent that I was out the door – and I still have five other people to talk to.  But that’s just the way it goes, although it was a firm I would’ve liked to get to know a little better.

But things are going along as well as could be expected here at the bank.  I like the new situation, and while it’s just a temporary layover to whatever is next, it’s a daunting task.  The technical aspect of legal letter writing is overwhelming.  You really have to be on point and organized to orchestrate a letter which alternately recognizes the customer’s problem but doesn’t do anything to further irritate them.  They’re likely irritated enough already.  But it’s a challenge and that’s okay.

No real word from the place where your grandmother is staying.  I’ve been a complete absentee in that I’ve not called her as much as she deserves.  My pre-New Year’s resolution is to begin, this week, to call her 2-3 times each week.  She may not remember the calls but I’ve just been a schmuck on that score.  You guys should write her a note now and then because the staff will read them to her.   Gotta run, but keep your phones on for further text messages.

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Filed under Correspondence, Creativity, Parenting

The most important letter a father can write…

A few days back I sent Reid a letter with my advice and counsel following his nice review with an ad agency superior who is a few rungs up the ladder.

This sort of note is the most important letter a father can write.  It is a true one-off.  I’m not so much lecturing a son as I am talking to a grown man who is on his way.  Whatever path he follows is really of his choosing.  I can only weigh in with what I perceive from a distance and apply the twists and turns from my own experience.  My job is to be supportive and point out the pros and the equally plentiful cons.

In the final analysis, it’s all up to him.  But he should know I’m there for him every step of the way.  He’s gotten this far totally on his own.  He’s fully capable of taking the next steps, too.  With a little nudge from his old man.


October 13, 2010

Reid: I’ve got to hand it to you, that was good news yesterday about your meeting with the upper crust.  You’ve come a long way in not a whole lot of time, and they seem to have a good bit of confidence of what you’re doing for the agency.

I wouldn’t fret too much about the raise.  It is still a raise, and probably in line with what a lot of stressed-out businesses are giving these days.  It could be the opposite, trust me.  You have to put your one-on-one conversation in the context of where you were about this time last year, and it is a great sign of their faith.  As for the promotion, that will probably come in due time.  My guess is that as the economy has failed to perk up let alone motor along, agencies are the first to feel the pinch when companies tighten the purse strings.

You should keep doing what you’re doing with _______: working hard at your day job, yet looking for every opportunity to remind them that you have good skills, that you are ready for whatever next step there is, that you have other things to offer other elements of their business.  They apparently are starting to notice those things, too.  You should be far from panic mode at this moment.  Far from it.

That said, there’s nothing wrong with testing the waters.  From what I know of the PR and ad business, that is the lay of the land.  People move and gravitate to the next best thing.  That is just the way and the reality of that world.  I would be cautious about the come-ons and promotions you get from other hiring firms.  You’ll need to be judicious about who you talk to.  Is there someone outside the firm that you might talk to?  The grass can seem to be awfully green on the other side of the fence but make sure to talk to people before you jump the fence to someone else.  Do your diligence on whoever might hire you.  Are they are strong player in your field?  Do they have the pockets to be a player in advertising?  Is the situation right for you?  What’s the buzz about other shops that you might want to investigate a little more closely?  I suppose that’s where the local ad trade rags might come in handy.  I assume, too, that you read those.  You can read a lot between the lines.  I don’t know if Bruce or Bob have any inside information but it might be worth a shot to call them.

I’m not as keen on a move to NYC unless there is something solid there in terms of income and responsibility.  New York is an expensive town and unless you are pulling in some good bucks and have the right situation for your career, I’m just not sure about it.  But on the other hand, you’re young, you don’t have lots of belongings to move, you’re not married (that I’m aware of) and you can always cut and run for another situation back closer to the heartland.

All things considered, things seem to be moving in the right direction.  You have some options that you didn’t have even a year ago.  I’d endorse looking around if you’ve thought about the current situation and see no other roads that you can take to further yourself.  Hey, a raise is better than nothing.  Just make sure you don’t jump ship until you know you can land safely elsewhere.  I’m proud of what you’ve done and how you’ve done it.

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Filed under Adult Children, Family, Parenting, Writing to adult children

Falling upward…


My friend Bob sent this photo of my letter to him, plus the $1 I grudgingly owed him for a lost bet.


It has been some time – a few months anyway – since I’ve written a letter to only one of the kids.

Now is the time for another.

Reid has done a better than admirable job at his gigantic ad agency in Chicago.  The advertising game is a harsh what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business.  He has persevered after his primary account was lost to a competitor.  He made himself valuable with his attitude and his intellect.  The account went down but he fell upward.  And that is a great thing.  This week he got a raise and a shift to other big accounts.  Maybe he didn’t get all he was after, but I am very proud of his stick-to-itiveness.  This is a kid who, early in his agency career, got axed along with a slew of line staff at another shop.  At a tender age he became a graduate, with honors, of the school of hard knocks.

I’m not sure when the letter to him will ultimately surface on this page.  I will ask but that will be his call.  Yet that is the prerogative of dads and moms: tell their children when they have done something that is good and, secondarily, pleases their parents.  That is the gist of the note to Reid.


Bridger Wilderness update: Hey, I’m up to one companion for the July, 2011 trip.  My cousin Tom Andersen from Oregon, is on board.  Bring it on, Tom.  Hey, there’s room for plenty more wanderers.


But it’s Wednesday, and we’ll reach a bit further into my bag of tricks for an older letter to the twosome.

July 9, 2007

Reid/Ellen: As weekends go on the old 1-10 scale, I’d have to give this one a 3.  This is Murphy’s Law as relates to weekends: whatever could go wrong did go wrong.  And once it goes wrong, it really never gets right.

It started when I took the hog in for its 30,000 service — 30,000 miles, can you believe it? – and since the Harley dealership (i.e. crooks) didn’t have loaner bikes, I rented a Dyna Wide Glide for the day at an alleged steep discount.  Anyway, the bike didn’t have a windshield, so it was nice to feel the wind, and bugs, in my face for a change.  I went home and laid around then thought ‘what the heck, I might as well get out and ride’.  So I went northeast of town to Lowe’s Motor Speedway, an absolutely enormous venue that can sit 200,000 for stockcar (i.e. NASCAR) races.

On the way back, it clouded up, and before I knew what hit me, the rain was coming down sideways.  If you’ve never been on a bike in the rain without a windshield, the best way to explain it is that raindrops feel like needles.  In the space of :30, my face was utterly exfoliated.  It was raining unbelievably hard, and by the time I got to shelter under the first Interstate bridge, I was completely soaked.  But it was very hot, in the mid-90s, although the shower cooled it down a fair amount.  Seems we had a microburst which shoved down trees and powerlines all over the city, and by the time I got back to the Harley dealership (i.e. crooks) I’d navigated through standing water and was mud from head to toe because of all the traffic ahead of my kicking up dirt and debris.  And if it’s not enough to catch raindrops, try some sand and stones at 70 mph.  That gets your attention.  Now I’ve been in rain before and really don’t mind it, but this was incredible.

And that was the high point of entire two days.  Against my better judgment, played golf yesterday, and it was more of the same you’ve heard me whine so often about: bad, bad, bad.  Shank, shank, shank.  It’s sickening.  Reid, I may give you my clubs when you and Rachel are down here.  I stink.

Am supposed — supposed — to go in today for a skin treatment called Levalan.  It’s where the dermatologist slathers your face in some gunk and, as he says, you sit in the lobby for an hour or so to “let the marinade work” (his words), then you sit under some blue light for 90 minutes.  It turns your skin bright red — they say absolutely no post-treatment sunlight for 48-72 hours — and in theory it’s supposed to rid your skin of pre-cancerous cells.  I’ve had what they call squamas cell carcinomas taken off in recent weeks and this is supposed to do the trick.  But when he uses words like marinade and sort of laughs off the treatment, it makes you wonder.  So, I’m getting a second opinion in the very near future.

Did bake some round Italian loaves Friday night and dropped them off to some folks around the office on Saturday morning before the deluge.  I dunno, Reid, these loaves are good but my gosh, it’s a three-riser and takes roughly 5 hours from start to finish and didn’t take things out of the oven until 11:30.  Hardly worth it.  But damn, it makes good toast.

Okay, here’s the skinny on Grandma’s birthday.  Uncle Ralph has made arrangements for photos on Friday at 2:00.  I don’t know why he didn’t get this figured out for Saturday, but that’s the way things are.  Can you guys make that?  If you need plane tickets, go ahead and make ‘em.   FYI…with Joe’s wedding in January, it seems plane tickets may be $1,100 according to Ralphie.  That may change our plans a bit.  Let’s reconsider making that trip.

Be good, be safe, have fun.

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Filed under Adult Children, Family, Parenting, Uncategorized, Writing to adult children

When mundane is the best you can do…


The old girl finally has her N.C. license plate, yet another sign of the apocalypse: my Southern roots. The Oct. 11 letter will deal with okra, cornbread and a mishmash of N.C. roads.


There was nothing in last week’s letter to generate much more than a yawn on the part of the kids.  It’s not possible for a letter to be much more mundane.  There just didn’t seem like there was a hell of a lot to it.  But I suppose it did the job in that it spawned a batch of texts and calls between the three of us about the holidays, about work, and their grandmother.  Not that the letters are Gold Star quality every week.  Some days mundane is the best you can do.

But mundane might be welcomed by other people.  Case in point: a young woman in Raleigh sent an e-mail spoof to a friend about her escapades with an unknown number of guys – naming names and anotomical data, of course – and before she knew what hit her, her handiwork did an exponential number on her; 1, 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, 1024, etc.  All the way into the millions.  She became an Internet sensation and even made cable TV news.

In a morbid way, maybe the object lesson is that salaciousness is the quick and dirty way to spread the word around.  I’m not at that point yet, but when I feel the urge to exponentially increase my readership, you’ll be the first to know.


October 4, 2010

Ellen/Reid: This is the first morning since I don’t know when that I’ve worn a jacket to the office.  It’s on the cool side and a bit rainy although it will let up here shortly.  Ellen, I noticed in your picture of Henry that your leaves are down.  That’s just how much further along you guys are compared to the Carolinas.

The big news is the extension of my full time employment.  Just when I was ready to give up the ghost a call comes in from HR to inquire if I would be amenable to the extension through roughly mid-November.  My response was ‘of course’.  However, it’s on a rather unfortunate project.  The bank has a backlog of many, many letters of complaint and comment from customers and others, and the decree has come down that we will whittle the pile down.  Enter Dave into the picture.  I am about to become a letter writer, but nothing along the lines of the notes you get.  Rather, these are formulaic letters that must pass legal muster.  But I should be pretty good at it and have hit the ground running fast.  I’m glad to have the extension and the work, and who knows where else it might lead to.

But Tuesday night I have something of an orientation at REI.  I inquired some time ago because I like the store and the subject matter.   But half a glass full is better than none, and without knowing if or when the bank situation might improve, what the heck.  The only ticklish thing is what will come of Thanksgiving in the Twin Cities.  That’s the one drawback to this master plan.

We rode to Savannah this weekend for a budget-minded trip to celebrate my reprieve at the bank.  What we didn’t know was that it was Octoberfest and the town was packed to the rafters with revelers.  We stayed at some budget-minded place well south of the downtown.  One thing about Savannah is that the riverfront has typecast restaurants which all tend to serve the same type of fried seafood which is okay but the better eateries are outside the mainstream so all the unknowing tourists get jammed into the same general vicinity.  But it was still fun and it’s nice to be on the river and watch the boats go by.  The first highlight was riding SC 321 all the way down from Charlotte to Savannah.  A great road, and it puts you very close to the populace which is half the fun.  The second highlight was riding over to Tybee Island which is just east of Savannah.  It’s very nice and while far from fancy is the antithesis of the more well-know spots such as Myrtle Beach, Oak Island, or even Hilton Head.  The ride at highway speed on the Interstate on the way home was a downer.  You just don’t get to see anything other than traffic, traffic, traffic.

Talked to your grandmother the other day.  She is just having a rough go with things.  She has this mind set that it is her against the world.  I posted a photo of her and Ralph and Gayle and at least she’s smiling for a change.  The change in medications is helping a little bit but it hasn’t smoothed over all the rough edges.  As long as she continues to make progress, that’s fine with me.  In some ways I’m distressed at not making the trip to Nebraska – I would already be on the road this morning – because I’d like to see her.  It’s hard for me to think about her out there but she is in a better place than before.  I probably will not get out there for Christmas.

Well, have to dash back to the salt mines and the new situation.  Before long I should have a determination about Thanksgiving and will be in touch about that very shortly.  You two be good and keep your heads above water.  Glad you’re working hard, Ellen, but is it too hard?

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Roll with the punches…

Ellen keeps sending photos of Henry, and I'll keep posting them. Reid is a really good photographer, and he needs to get off his keester and send some pics, too.

Every once in a while I wonder how things might be different were I a parent of kids just now in the collegiate swing of things.  When Ellen and Reid at least feigned burning the midnight oil back in the day at Butler U. in Indianapolis, social networks were still a gleam in the eye of  techies somewhere.  The controversial subject of “The Social Network” had yet to make his first penny, let alone his first billion.

Based on what I know now, I would roll with the punches.  As a seasoned texter, no doubt the three of us would text a lot.  We are all seasoned e-mailers but not with each other.  No way we would add to what already clogs our in-boxes.  Facebook is a non-factor for us, or at least not for me.  We call with some regularity (mostly on weekends) but we’re not the chattiest bunch ever made, except for Reid.  So we’re left with texting and letters to fill the informational-emotional gap.

To sound like a broken record, I’ve made my case in prior posts that letters fill an information gap for Ellen and Reid, can be read on their schedules, and are leisurely for me as the best 10 to 15 minutes of my week.  That would likely not change.  No time machine, however, will transport me to a bygone era to correct the many wrongs I’ve made in print over the years.  My hunch is that if it all went through the wash again, I’d fall into the same pattern; a gradual progression from occupying time to the sorts of things you see today.

So, yeah, I’d roll up my writing sleeves again.  And yeah, there are more options open today, but I’ll stick to my knitting.  And that would be words on paper.


We follow a different path today.  My friend Steve in Des Moines had his third ace this past week.  He’s the best golfer I’ve ever golfed with, bar-none.  It’s irritating to someone who’s never sniffed a hole-in-one, and I can’t resist rubbing it in.

October 4, 2010

Steve: I trust Oleson held you to a higher standard when it comes to post-Ace libations.  Hopefully you sprang for some aged Scotch or some such thing.  Hopefully Kenyon and Cox and Sam and others were able to partake in your generosity.  Your ongoing purchase of the club’s hole-in-one insurance is an annuity for some insurance salesperson.  I need to log onto the Register to see how many page views your Ace announcement made.  Hope their servers were able to keep up with the crush.  How is it you can routinely pile up aces and near aces and birdies and eagles when the rest of us can’t even sniff the cup when we’re already on the green?  Life just isn’t fair.

Just saw that our Steve A______-less Ryder Cup team got edged.  If you’d been there the score would’ve been something like 18 – 10 and you would’ve stifled those yappy Brits.  It’s probably the one thing Corey Pavin will take most of the gas on.

Have not played golf in a while, with one exception the weekend of September 18.  Other than that, the clubs have collected North Carolina airborne dust these last few months.  The bank has a three day holiday next Monday (thanks, Chris Columbus) and a couple of bank guys are trying to lure me to the course.

The job thing is wearing me out.  The theory was that I would use the time at the bank to look for other situations, and then along comes the extension to my FTE.  It was very much right out of the blue.  I’m glad of it because there are a few more weeks tacked on to my stay here and the new assignment, albeit temporary, has been at least interesting.  Not on the same plane as success as Allen Diversified Services but any port in a storm.  It’s a good thing since not much was happening under any of the stones I’ve overturned.

Today is the first time I’ve worn a non-suit coat/sports coat jacket since…since I can’t remember when.  We go from 100F to 60F in a matter of days.  Good for my tomato.

Now, what date are you and Jane tying the knot next year?  I need to get it on my jam-packed social calendar.  I know Oleson has already put it down in ink.  For his sake and your sake you’d best not schedule an evening wedding or the time slot opposite “Jeopardy” because you will force him to make a decision.  Too bad he was never a contestant.  That would give us an opportunity to critique him for a change in lieu of him lambasting some poor accountant because G.T.O. is the only one who knows some spurious answer to some obscure question.

I’m sorry the job situation derailed the pending trip to the Midwest and Des Moines.  If the current situation falls through – which it always can – I will likely try to make it up sometime in early December.  That is, if my blood isn’t overly thin from spending too much time in North Carolina.  By this writing, you should already have your fifth Ace.  Or would it be sixth Who’s counting at this juncture other that the rest of us who’ve never had one?

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Filed under College, Parenting, Writing to college students

Someone worse off…

Apologies for the blurred image. I took this cell phone image while on the move after my footsteps woke this homeless man.

Sunday morning about 7:15 , a little later than usual, I hit the streets for a walk at leisure-speed, armed and emboldened by a strong – brutally strong – cup of coffee.  The path is a typical route of about 4.5 miles (Sharon View to Colony, on to Sharon, a right on Morrison, left on Delaney, another left on Fairview, right on Sharon again, then a left on Sharon View and on to home).

The goal is to get the motor running, think about the day and week, and just get outside.

I had some outside company as my walk neared it’s end.  Directly alongside my path and not 10 yards away from four-lane Sharon Road, was a homeless man, asleep.  Or at least asleep until I noisily went by.  Charlotte has a lot of such tired men.

His interrupted slumber was a metaphor.  There is always someone worse off than you.  That’s a point my letter made to Ellen and Reid this week – which is my last at the bank.  There is always someone worse off than you.


Here is last week’s letter to the kids.

September 20, 2010

Ellen/Reid: My plane hit the ground last night about 11:45 and that ended what was really an incredible trip.  It was pretty much the great escape and it was great to see Dave H__________, Bob F___________ and Dave D___________ in Coeur d’Alene.  It’s quite the spot.  Not real high (alt. 2,200 ft.) but still mountainous and the lake is incredibly clear.  The town of Coeur d’Alene is nice although none of us could see ourselves living there.  We boated on the lake, drank wine, played golf, drank more wine, golfed again and ate like nobody’s business, followed by still more wine.  The town was as you might expect, filled with tourists and mountain people.  The golf course was lush and manicured.  We had a young guy caddy for us although we were on golf carts.  Our group really didn’t spray shots all over the place so that left him to clean clubs, fix ball marks and read putts.  Dave H. made a mile of putts on the final day to take the steam out of the rest of us although bob claimed the big bucks.  On a side note, the pro shop did a nice job of displaying Pat’s Stonehouse golf prints and they said the prints really sell well.  Somehow, I need to think of an appropriate way to thank Jane for her planning and enthusiasm.  If you have any ideas, send them my way.

On the way out we flew directly alongside the Bridger Wilderness in Wyoming.  From my window seat on the port side of the aircraft I could see the lakes and stream beds where we fished and camped, and other peaks that we traversed or climbed.  It’s just an incredible place.  I will do everything in my power to swing a trip out there next year and of course you all are invited.  As we cruised at 31,000 ft. and the range crept slowly by it seemed to me that of all the places I’ve been to, this is without doubt my favorite spot in all the world.  Not entirely sure why that is since there are higher, craggier mountains.  But nothing on the scope and sheer vastness of this place.

But now it’s back to the real world.  Have an interview later this morning with a local firm and we’ll see how hard they want to kick the tires.  I hope quite hard.  It’s a media relations job.  The firm does environmentally related work and that has some appeal to me.  I am ready to work and am anxious for something to pop.  It’s all about throwing mud at the wall.  There are enough irons in the fire that hopefully something will spring free.  All it takes is one.  In the afterglow of the trip I was moping on the drive down to the office (I have 10 more days here) until I saw a homeless guy sleeping with his face impressed directly on the brick walkway just down the block from my office.  That’s when it occurred to me that there is always someone worse off than you are.  That was a pretty indelible image.  There’s always someone else worse off than you are.

On the plane I continued to draft what is a business plan and content for what could be my business web site for PR/media relations/content.  Reid, I should have that to you in short order after some additional massaging.  I’m trying to position myself as something of a hybrid communicator; someone who’s been a writer on the national stage as well as someone who’s been on the PR side of the ledger, too.  Hopefully someone will warm to that pitch.  That’s my niche.  My first client in California likes what I’ve produced so far.  They put it to use instantly.  I met with a woman last week who’s a few years my senior but has had her own little consulting/process change business the past 15 years and she thinks there are good possibilities.  But I have to make hay right now.

Well, that’s about it from Charlotte.  Let me know how your holiday plans are progressing and where you will be in November and December.  Not sure how I can dovetail with either of you but will make it happen if I can.  Hopefully we’ll have other things to celebrate by then.

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