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The other day it was suggested that teachers be armed while working in schools. Yes, that’s what I heard — arm teachers with lethal weapons to ward off potential mass shooters in schools.
I thought this was a spoof or a very bad joke. But the speaker appeared to be serious. Very serious. So I took it seriously. Not because the message made sense but because it was coming from the President of the United States.
Do you remember a President ever suggesting that teachers be armed? Teachers actually carrying guns into classrooms and through the school halls? Being a military veteran and a teacher I was amazed — and disheartened.
So I contacted the head of the department in the college where I teach. The first question I asked was, “So where are we going to keep the gun rack? And the ammo magazines? And the gun cleaning kits? And the gun holsters? And the practice targets? And the phone numbers for the lawyers we’ll need when someone is shot or killed accidentally?”
He didn’t have an answer. Neither does the person who came up with this suggestion in the first place.
True story — unfortunately.
This morning a group of us had a discussion about happiness. One person wasn’t happy and couldn’t figure out how to be happy or at least find some sliver of happiness. He was doom and gloom personified! Long face, grudging smile, sagging shoulders, you get the picture.
Various suggestions were offered to cheer him up — go out, meet someone, take a trip, indulge a personal desire, eat good food, etc.
Then someone offered a novel perspective. She said when you take the word, “blame” and remove the “me” then you’re left with “bla…bla…bla”
In other words the only one, at the end of the day, we can point at a finger at for our unhappiness is ourselves. Unless there is some sort of organic, congenital or chemical reason at work, happy or sad is largely a function of attitude.
So how does one shift the attitude? One way I have found is to shift the word “me” to “we.” Go out and help someone else and see what happens.
I can’t guarantee much in life but I can guarantee one thing and it’s from personal experience. Money can’t buy it. Status can’t acquire it. Fame or celebrity isn’t going to collect it.
Helping someone other than yourself is a sure-fire cure for the self-imposed blues.
Works every time. Really. Truly.
Today is January 18, 2018 and it is cold. 34 degrees cold. Not quite freezing but it will be frigid later after the sun goes down.
I bet you’re thinking this is going to be a piece about how much I hate the cold weather. Nope. I actually enjoy the winter and the cold and the wind that slips up your jacket sleeves and down your overcoat collar and chills you like a frigid caress.
The cold makes you walk faster — which is good for your heart.
The cold helps you burn calories faster — because your body needs more calories to generate heat.
The cold is a good reason to duck inside stores to warm up and maybe do some browsing since you’re now inside — and that’s good for the store’s business.
I like the cold. In fact I’m going to head out into it right now. And maybe duck into a bookstore to warm up with a hot coffee and blood-pumping which warms the body, mystery book.
I was watching the show “Shark Tank” the other night. A fellow came on with a product that at first seemed crazy. He had developed nose plugs that look like small oval band aids that cover your nostril openings. They allow air to pass through while at the same time filtering out germs, bacteria, fungus, pollution, all types of harmful elements. And according to the creator of these nostrils covers they are 99% effective in filtering out pollutants.
The group of “sharks” who he was making his pitch to all chuckled and were on the verge of dismissing his invention as a who-needs-it-this-is-a-crazy idea shrug when he suddenly hit them with one detail: He had already obtained a $7 million purchase commitment from a company in Saudi Arabia.
Whoa! The sharks sat up straight. $7 million purchase up-front and all the inventor was looking for was $500,000 to fund the making of the nose covers and for that he would give the investor a percentage of the company plus a 10% royalty until the shark’s investment was paid off.
The sharks all started circling him but they weren’t looking to chomp him into bits. They were looking to throw money at him like fishermen throw chum to sharks in order to bait them, hook them, and haul them on-board.
It was an amazing transformation from disinterested to mesmerized. What caused the shift? Once they heard that the inventor had already acquired a $7 million sales commitment they were ready to open their wallets.
And what does this prove? All the hype…all the talk…all the brand building and brand imagery in the world doesn’t mean a thing unless it can generate results. And when you can talk about results — “Over a billion served” — you will allay doubts and drive people to your product or service like a, well, a shark to chum!
One morning last week I turned on C-Span TV network. C-Span has a morning show where people call in and talk about some issue or another in the news. On this particular day the subject was the new healthcare program being proposed by the US Senate.
The callers were divided into three categories — Democrats, Republicans, Independents. Each caller was allowed a reasonable amount of time to make their case for or against the bill. Some made sense. Some made no sense. But one stood out.
An older woman called (no faces are seen but voice tone is a pretty good indicator of age) who had the most amazing opinion. She asked for how long we have been trying to find a cure for cancer.
The TV moderator estimated research had been going on for 70 years or so. The caller then asked if we had found a cure yet. The moderator said no. The caller then declared, with the utmost sincerity, that we had wasted millions and millions and millions of dollars trying to find a cancer cure. According to her we should immediately stop throwing away money on cancer research and re-direct it to taking care of sick people. Doing this, in her mind, would save the healthcare system.
Between the TV moderator, myself and I’m sure everyone watching there was a coordinated rolling of the eyes and laughing out loud at the proposed cure for our ailing health system.
I thought to myself are people really and truly that dense?
Well, I got my answer later that day when I met a friend of mine for a business meeting. We were sitting at a casual outdoor coffee shop in the Flatiron district of Manhattan to go over a TV show proposal. Before we got into the details we called one of the wait-staff over to order. My friend asked for tea. When the wait-staffer turned to me I said I would like a cup of coffee. I was then asked how I would like my coffee and I said, “Black.”
The charming, cheerful, eager, bubbly wait-staffer smiled at me and asked, “Would you like milk with that?”
I couldn’t believe it! Two dense-confirming, eye-rolling incidents in less than 24 hours.
Just minutes ago I was evacuated from my office due to a fire in the building basement. Right now I’m in the cafeteria of another building just a block away that my firm uses for administrative office space.
All evacuees are safe. But I’m loopy. Which shouldn’t be surprising since it doesn’t take much more than a change of daily routine to do it.
I guess you could say I suffer from the curse of unstructured time. I am a list person. Lists on legal pads. Lists on paper scraps. Lists on my cell phone. Lists are the anchor that keeps me from getting squirelly.
When I don’t have a list to structure my day I feel adrift – like going around and around in a loop.
So while I wait for the fire department to give an all-clear signal to return to my office I guess I’ll make two lists. One of the things I still have to do today. The other of the things I could do if they shut the entire building.
Know what? I’m just going to make a list of the could-do things and go do them.
Not loopy anymore.
A good-hearted guy asked me to help him with a pproject. He wants to make a documentary ir TV series about his business which helps children with “special needs.” But first we need funding. Never having done this before I’m entering unknown territory. So I will be keeping the world posted about the process. And in keeping with the theme of this blog every step taken and written about will be true.