My friend, Jack, has a short list of people he totally respects. He told me that recently, and then he told me who is at the top of that list. His Dad. He said, "Don't think that meant I always did what he said when I was a kid, in fact, the usual script went something like this: Dad told me to do something or not to do something and because I'm stubborn I'd go ahead and do what I wanted! After which my Dad would spank me, after which I would do it Dad's way." And then Jack smiles and he said, "Now let me show you the kind of rocket scientist I am." I began to think, "You know Jack the story always ends the same way, you end up doing what your father says. Either you do it when he says it or you do it after you get spanked. But either way you do it." Now, he said, "Here's where my scientific mind kicked in. Why not eliminate those middle steps where you get spanked and just do what he says." Hey! Do I have brilliant friends, or what?
I'll tell you what kind of airplane passenger makes an interesting neighbor - someone who has never flown before! Flight attendants sometimes refer to them as white knuckle flyers from the way they hang on. My friend, John, was on his way to speak somewhere and since it was just a one day meeting he was dressed in the suit that he had with him. And that day John had the joy of sitting next to a lady who was on her rookie flight. She was as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs! Whenever there was a noise, like the landing gear retracting, she would say, "What was that?" And John would patiently explain. After they had been airborne a few minutes, Mrs. Rookie suddenly muttered, "I feel sick." Well, my friend hurriedly found that little discomfort bag in the pouch in front of her, the one they give you when your stomach doesn't want to keep what it has. Wouldn't you know it, a few moments later, John's neighbor turned to him and unloaded her lunch all over his only suit. And what was her only comment after redecorating him? "I feel so much better now." Yeah - well, how do you think he feels now?
We've had a lot of fun in our family with some of the tapes I made when the kids were little. I can hear what they sounded like before they had much of a vocabulary - before their voices changed. It's special memories. So is the tape of our wedding over 30 years ago, it's always a pretty tender time when my wife and I sit and listen to the day we made our lifetime vows to each other. Happy tapes - and then, there was President Richard Nixon - not happy tapes.
The Watergate accusations flew back and forth without making any fatal damage until an aid testified that the President had tapes of his oval office conversations. There was a big legal battle over releasing those tapes, but, eventually the world heard the not very pretty things that were said behind closed doors. I wonder if President Nixon just forgot sometimes that the recorder was running, or if he thought none would ever hear what he was saying. Well, he was wrong.
I really enjoy picking out gifts for the people I love, I enjoy giving the gift, I don't enjoy wrapping the gift. In fact, it's tempting just to hand them the present, but it just isn't so special to get a gift in a K-Mart bag. It's nicer to have it wrapped in wrapping paper and bows. But there's something about my motor coordination I guess, the lines must be down between my brain and my hands. My wrapping looks alot like a five-year-old's, so I usually prevail upon my wife, or if it's for her, my sister-in-law. You see, wrapping is extra trouble but a nice gift should come in a nice package.
A lot of us will tell our grandchildren about the winter of '96. In the New York area we had a double hit. It just about buried us, or sank us, or both! Now snow can be beautiful. It can be fun. I've always enjoyed the unique charm and beauty the snow brings, but not when there's three feet of it in one day! It's too much of a good thing. A lot of wet moved up from the south and it met a lot of arctic cold coming down from the north and we were shoveling the result for days to follow. I told my wife, "We won't see our yard for months!" I was wrong. A couple of weeks later some more "lot of wet" came from the south. Now rain is good! When we don't have enough of it for our reservoirs we get a drought here. Warm is good! It melts mountains of snow. But a lot of wet met a lot of warm and everything melted so fast that we got floods! Two good things, but not good when there's too much of either one.