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Dates never forgotten…

September 11, 2001 – we still remember.  What other dates are never forgotten for you?

In the novel, A Tale of Two Cities © is the contrast, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times…” both occurring at the same time.  For Americans, 9/11 2001 seems like a demarcation point between the best of times before that morning and the worst of times after.  That’s when terrorism literally collided into freedom.

Do you remember where you were when news of the planes crashing into the World Trade Centers in New York was broadcast?  I always will.  In a flash our generation was tested on what we can endure during the worst of times.  December 7, 1945 tested my parent’s generation; October 24-29, 1929 tested my grandparents’.  On a more personal level April 20, 1999 was the worst of times for my home town.

It’s amazing what we can accomplish during the best of times; and what we can endure during the worst of times.  The bad times help us appreciate and enjoy the good times even more.

Our ability to gain strength from adversity should come as no surprise, though.  Our ancestry is made of up generations who endured and then grew stronger.  Much of today’s adversity pales in comparison to theirs.  Here’s what Ernest Hemingway said:

Life breaks us.  And when we heal, we’re stronger on the broken parts.

For many of us who did not suffer a direct loss of loved ones from these tragic events, our hardships now come in the form of inconvenience and economics.  We work harder today to keep up than we did before; travel has become more difficult; guns are all too prevalent in our society; in our schools; at our churches, malls, and theaters!

Things we once dreamed of seem further from our reach.  We have extended our resources close to the breaking point in defense of our country and our way of life.   But for America, that’s nothing new.  Our country has been on the brink; had parts broken; and healed back stronger for as long as we have been a country.  Were the hardships of the Revolution, the Civil War, the Viet Nam War, the Civil Rights Movement, or any other national, local, personal, or family crisis less hard?

We are up to facing today’s challenges.  We are strong because we come from generations of strength – families who struggled to make for this country, for their families, and for themselves the best of times.  Like past generations, Americans today have the opportunity to earn and enjoy the better things in life.  And we know why they are the better things:

To really enjoy the better things in life, one must first have experienced the things they are better than. 

Oscar Holmolka

So today we reflect on that never forgotten, life-changing event now known as 9/11.  Like the day an American walked on the moon, or the night the USA Olympic hockey team won the gold medal to Al Michaels’ famous words broadcast around the world, “Do you believe in miracles?”,  let’s turn to our favorite, Unknown Sage once again for this reminder:

The First Rule of Life:

The best things in life aren’t things.

Our country endured October 24, 1929 and the Great Depression; grew stronger after the December 7th, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack; my home town stands firm following the 4/20/1999 Columbine shooting; and I believe Americans remain united following the 9/11/2001 attacks.

Dates never forgotten.

GAP

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Big Mike…

What is it about horses that capture our hearts?  Their size, power, and beauty are amazing.  Have you ever seen a horse running free?  Almost every morning when I let our horses out of the corral and into the pasture, Big Mike would run and buck and whinny.   You could see he just loved to run free on the few occasions now permitted!

Big Mike was a national hunter jumper champion.  And as can sometimes happen, his owner and trainer over did things; they over competed him.  My daughter-in-law Sierra rescued him.  She bought Big Mike for $1.  She’s been a horse lover for most of her life because:

The world looks wider from the back of a horse. 

Unknown Sage

When she brought Big Mike over, he could barely walk.  Both of his front cannon and pastern bones were riddled with micro-fractures.  He needed special shoes because the heels of his front hooves were crushed.  Standing 18 hands he was badly underweight; very shy; and the low horse on the pecking order in our corral.  Last to eat; first to be picked on; settling in was tough.

His first winter was a challenge.  While competing, he was kept in a heated barn stall during the winter.  He was barn stalled most of his young life when not practicing or competing.  Well, at the Pokorn Ranch our horses are outdoor horses.  They have loafing sheds for shelter but no heat.  So come winter, Sierra moved Big Mike into the indoor arena and blanketed him every night.

Then we found out he couldn’t get his feet muddy.  Mud would cause abscesses to form inside his damaged hoof walls.  So every time it rained – back to the indoor arena he went. He wanted to stay out with the other horses; would stand by the door; eye them sadly.  Who ever heard of a horse that can’t get its feet wet?

Slowly but surely Big Mike recovered.  He put on weight; grew a winter coat so he could stay outside with the other horses; didn’t have to be blanketed.  He held his own in the herd, too.  His last two years he could even get his feet wet.  In fact, rolling in mud puddles when it rained became his favorite activity!

Growing up in Chicago, we love being horse people now.  I feel we are part of the American West.  I write often about cowboys (which I am definitely not one); horses (and how sales prospects behave with a heard animal instinct); and the special type of love you develop with a horse.  It’s a different type than the love for our dogs, cats, and other fury family members.

I think it’s their eyes.  When you look into a horse’s eyes it’s as if they see through to your very soul.  No matter their size or power, it seems horses with those soft, dark eyes have an inner gentleness they can call on when in the presence of innocence:

In the world, love sometimes comes with heartbreak.  Big Mike went down from colic.  Colic is a general term referring to gastro-intestinal issues horses can die from.  Sierra had to have the vet put Big Mike down because he coliced and twisted his intestines 360°.  It was likely from rolling in a mud puddle.

Our heartbreak was necessary to relieve his intense pain.  Colic is irreversible and twists like he had, inoperable.  We only had Big Mike for five years.  July would have been his 10th birthday.

GAP

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Independence – upheld…

Posted Jul 3 2019 by in True North with 4 Comments

Tomorrow, Americans celebrate Independence Day:

Independence Day is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the Declaration of Independence of the United States on July 4, 1776.

Wikipedia

We truly are:It’s today however, when Americans should commemorate the event that upheld our country’s independence; the event that prevented the United States from being cut in half; and the horrific toll paid for our independence and unity to triumph.

July 3rd, 1863 was the third and final day of the Battle of Gettysburg.  Of all the Americans who have ever died in all the wars our country has ever fought, almost half – 620,000 – died in the Civil War.  And of all the Civil War battles, the one battle with the highest casualties was Gettysburg – 51,000 Americans.  And within the Battle of Gettysburg, Picket’s Charge on July 3rd, 1863 was the deciding, bloody clash.

I know in today’s society The Confederate States of America; their monuments; and their flag are easily vilified.  But 156 years ago, these battles were fought by Americans not by villains; by brave souls both North and South who believed their cause was necessary to preserve their country; their way of life.  They were committed enough that they were willing to die for it.

I believe every American should visit the Gettysburg National Military Park and pay tribute to the memory of those Americans that preserved the fate of our union.  Thankfully, that battle and a succinct commemoration by one of our greatest leaders, who also gave his life for his country, ultimately prevailed:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

That day Abraham Lincoln spoke to unite all Americans, North and South.  Today, July 3rd, is the day to remember that it was on this day and on that battlefield that ultimately resulted in the United States of America remaining united.

May God bless you; and may God bless America!

GAP

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A 20-minute window…

Posted Jun 5 2019 by in True North with 0 Comments

Tough topic tonight.  If you’re not up for it, now is a good time to bail – it’s OK.

If you have read me before you know that I believe there is peace and power in maintaining a positive perspective.  I believe positive perspectives are a gift we give to those around us.  And I know remaining positive in the face of life’s tragedies can be too much to ask.  Today, permit me to write about those who can’t.

There are many things that are people’s worst nightmare.  It’s certainly personal.  Among life’s list of terrible tragedies is teenage suicide.  That nightmare struck a friend and colleague of mine earlier this year.  It caught him and his family by total surprise – there was not a single early indication; not a single clue; his teenage son seemed totally normal in every way.  But he wasn’t.  Or was he?

According to the first part of this article published in Sales Marketing Magazine “What managers can do about suicide” (link):

…in 2016, suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 10 and 34

Paul Nolan

Let that sink in for a moment… the second leading cause of death among our young people; as young as 10 years old.

The article goes on to cite additional, startling statistics, trends, and opinions but the conclusion offered is suicides are increasing and no one knows exactly why; nor exactly what the rest of us can do about it.

If isolation is a potential cause as some mental health experts suggest, then let’s at least start talking about this tough topic; let’s be more focused on our family, friends and co-workers; let’s add humanity back into our technology-laden world.

It won’t be easy in our daily multi-tasking, cell phone, app, texting world of distractions.   We will have to pay closer attention.  According to Susan Lindau a practicing therapist and adjunct professor at the University of Southern California who specializes in suicide and quoted in the article:

For many people in crisis, Lindau says, the most important thing is to get through a 20-minute window when they are the most tempted to end their lives. If they can reach out to family, friends or a co-worker and get through that moment, the pain won’t disappear, but they have much better odds of coming through the other side and moving toward treatment and recovery.

I know we all worry about many mortal risks.  Lord knows, the news media and our elected officials keep terrorism front and center.  But look at the comparisons.

According to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism as published in Wikipedia (link), in 2016 there were 64 terror incidents resulting in 68 deaths and 139 injuries.  By comparison in 2016, there were 44,965 deaths by suicide.

44,965 vs. 68

I didn’t know that.

Our country’s fight against terrorism includes the popular phrase “see something – say something”.  Let’s use the same approach at work, home, and among friends.  Let us all commit to pay closer attention to the moods of those around us.  If they seem to be acting “different”, let’s take a moment for a caring “check in”.  “How are you doing?”  “Things OK?”  “Let’s talk.”

It’s a 20 minute window. We can spare 20 minutes, can’t we?  If we can help them get through that moment there is hope.  They may reconsider; seek professional help; chose life over death.

See something?  Say something – please!

GAP

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Our Loans to Repay…

Happy Memorial Day in advance everyone!

Next Monday is an occasion to celebrate America – our America – our nation of great opportunity and great diversity, yes?  Even though we Americans are addressing many difficulties, Monday is a day to celebrate our blessings and our future possibilities.

On any other day, it’s easy to get mired in everything that’s wrong with America.  What concerns you the most? Politics?  The economy?  Health care?  World peace?  Cable TV costs? Lots of opportunities for worry, fear, frustration, and anger, I suppose.

Conservation of our Earth for future generations is another difficulty – and a hotbed of debate.  Nothing new about this however; it is a topic dating back to our country’s original landlords:

We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children.

Native American proverb

Do you believe we’re experiencing (and contributing to) global warming?  If we are, what can each of us do about it?  Will our children feel the same way about lending us their Earth as we do about inheriting the Social Security trust fund from our parents?  (Not much “trust” in the use of that trust fund, true?)

Memorial Day is a day to remember and to honor the men and women of our armed forces who have preserved a country where cultures of diversity come together unlike any other place on Earth.  It’s a time to salute our service men and women; present and past; and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice to protect our way of life:

We all benefit today from those who came before us.  But what are we making of our opportunities?  And what opportunities (and debts) will we leave for our future generations?

In every community, there is work to be done.

In every nation, there are wounds to heal.

In every heart, there is the power to do it. 

Marianne Williamson

Monday is a holiday and a time for celebration not worries; for national pride not fear; for appreciation not anger.  Monday, Americans can celebrate the interesting, diverse, and humorous lifestyle others have enriched us with as noted by our favorite, Unknown Sage:

Only in America…

can a pizza get to your house faster than an ambulance.

Only in America…

are there handicap parking places in front of a skating rink.

Only in America…

do drugstores make the sick walk all the way to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.

Only in America…

do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries, and a diet coke.

Only in America…

do banks leave both doors open and then chain the pens to  the counters.

Only in America…

do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.

Only in America…

do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

Only in America…

do we use the word “politics” to describe the process so well: “Poli” in Latin meaning “many” and “tics” meaning  “bloodsucking creatures.”

Only in America…

do they have drive-up ATM machines with Braille lettering.

Yes, remember “only in America” on Monday and enjoy the holiday.  Then we’ll go back to work Tuesday – working to overcome our difficulties; working to leverage our opportunities; working to preserve our way of life for future generations.

Let’s start working to pay back the loan on our planet Earth to our children and their children.

GAP

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Pleasantness…

I’d like to be more pleasant.  And Lord knows others around me would like me to be more pleasant, too!

I think I’ve been caught up in today’s modern society and the propensity for hyping the extreme; focusing on the negative; over-emphasizing the bad; highlighting unpleasant people.  There are many negative influences that continuously pull me towards becoming a poop-in-the-face.  It’s time to fight that gravitational pull.

Oh sure, I could make excuses.  Blame it on income taxes – that’s unpleasant.  Or, I could blame the negativity on my job; that’s what many people do, true?  Or we hate our boss; or, our workload; or, our compensation; or, or, or…  But those are just excuses and don’t justify maintaining an unpleasant personality:

Oh, you hate your job?  Why didn’t you say so?  There’s a support group for that.  It’s called everybody, and they meet at the bar. 

Drew Carey

After writing about the month of March; basketball; and “Coaching” (link); I’ve been mulling over the quote related to sales coaching from an Integrity Solutions Research Brief:

People need to change their thinking first in order to change their behavior.

That coaching tip is resonating with me because for the past year my behavior has not been as pleasant as it could be; as it should be.  Well, if recognizing the situation is the beginning of finding a solution, then the thinking I’d like to change is to change my fatty-grumba attitude:

A smile on someone else’s face can make you feel good too – especially a cheerful expression on the face of your boss.  Having a boss who is, as a habit, cheerful and pleasant, is one of the nicest things that can happen to you.

Likewise, developing a cheerful attitude is one of the nicest things you can do for the people who work for you.  No matter how capable you are otherwise, a cheerful, friendly attitude will produce better results. 

John L. Beckley

I’m not a boss today, but being a boss; an individual contributor; or simply an American citizen, having a pleasant persona is a terrific quality to continuously strive for, don’t you think?  And it can catch-on.  If I’m pleasant, others around me may be pleasant back.  Before we know it, everyone can start looking on the bright side of our daily lives!  It may not make the evening news, but it would be pleasant, yes?

OK then – it starts with me.  The research suggests changing attitude precedes changing behavior.  Of course, to be successful I must follow through and not just think about it.  I must take action and avoid Glyme:

Glyme’s Formula for Success

The secret of success is sincerity. Once you can fake that, you’ve got it made. 

Unknown Sage

It’s easy to get caught up in today’s fast-paced; me-first; uncaring world.  And when we feel wronged, finding who’s to blame can become all-consuming:

Peter’s Perfect People Palliative

Each of us is a mixture of good qualities and some (perhaps) not-so-good qualities.  In considering our fellow people we should remember their good qualities and realize that their faults only prove that they are, after all, human.  We should refrain from making harsh judgments of people just because they happen to be dirty, rotten, no-good sons-of-bitches.

Unknown Sage

No, starting today I’m not going to follow Peter and his Perfect People Palliative any longer.  I’m going to change my thinking to change my behavior and I’m going to be pleasant again.  Do you think you’d like to join me?

GAP

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40 years from now…

Posted Mar 6 2019 by in True North with 0 Comments

I recently read a newspaper article about a trend with millennials who are borrowing from their 401(k) accounts to buy a house.  The article didn’t say whether it was their parents’ house (where they’ve already taken over the basement LoL!)  OK; OK; that’s a bad joke we Boomers tell too often.

The article suggested millennials’ retirement needs that will arise some 40 years in the future are not a priority.  I get it – 40 years seems a long way off.  Truth be told, 40 years ago I would have been holding an actual paper, newspaper.  Do you think we’ll even be reading newspapers (digital or otherwise) 40 years from now?

When I was reading the newspaper I was actually reading the “paper” on my smart phone.  I don’t know why we call it a “phone” anymore – we seem to use it for everything but making phone calls.  Do you think we’ll even have cell phones 40 years from now?

According to Fox News Tech, cellular technology was quite the novelty, “40 years ago…”  http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/04/03/first-mobile-phone-call-was-placed-40-years-ago-today.html  That article was published in 2013 referring to a 1973 event – actually 46 years ago.  I bet millennials think of 1973 as the Dark Ages.

A lot has been said and even more has been written about the millennial generation which is poised to dominate the workplace – and the world!

At my company not a day goes by without some announcement and/or recognition about our college recruits.  I understand our enthusiasm.  These young professionals are bright, articulate, abundant, and affordable; all-in-all, awesome!

Yet, I find the absence of discussion about my generation – Baby Boomers – a bit concerning.  Do others think we should be retired (or dead) by now?  Now Walmart is eliminating greeters.  Believe it or not – we’re awesome too!

It’s easier to have the vigor of youth when you’re old than the wisdom of age when you’re young. 

Richard J. Needham

Too old; too expensive; too inflexible; too technically illiterate; there are many pop culture; bad jokes affixed to us Boomers.  Our knowledge, skills, and experience seem no longer to be celebrated.  But really – we are not “too old”:

Leonardo DaVinci was fifty six years old when he painted the Mona Lisa.

Leonardo lived into the 16th century.  Not exactly the Dark Ages; and no – I didn’t know him personally!

I wonder what the millennials think they will be doing 40 years from now.  If they’re already spending monies ear-marked for retirement, will they not need savings in 2059?

Maybe they think the high paying technology jobs companies are hiring them for (in some cases instead of more experienced aka “older” workers) will last for the next 40 years.  Maybe they think they will earn so much money, so quickly, that they can retire early; open a boutique; and enjoy a self-employed lifestyle that will carry them through to their sunset.  The optimism and the possibilities seem limitless.

But wait a minute… unless I’ve succumbed to Alzheimer’s or Dementia this week, it seems to me that 40 years ago those were the aspirations of my generation!  Then life happened:

Life is what happens when we’ve made other plans. 

Susan Jeffers

Well, maybe today’s youth have everything figured out.  But just in case, they might consider upping their contributions to some kind of account they will rely on when their children’s generation are ready to take over the world (and their jobs).  That day may arrive sooner for them than 40 years from now.

GAP

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Common enemies…

Posted Dec 5 2018 by in True North with 0 Comments

“OK Pokorn”, you might be thinking… “How will you correlate that title with peace and positivity?”  Well, there is actually great power found in emotional negativity that can be harnessed for the greater good.  And it is this appeal to the greater good that we should remember today and every day.

This Friday is Pearl Harbor Day.  On December 7, 1941, an emotional, negative event occurred that summoned a powerful, driving force for the greater good.  From a factual standpoint according to Google:

In total, 2,335 Americans died and 1,143 were wounded.

Nothing remarkable in the annals of bloody combat, or even the bloody headlines of 2018, true?  But the highly-charged political discourse that followed epitomized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “Infamy Speech” (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infamy_Speech ) united our country against a common enemy.

Negative emotions can be a powerful, driving force.  But always a force for the greater good?  With the difficult events that have occurred almost daily throughout 2018, we certainly hope so.

Take today’s constant drum beat around “fake news”.  Fake news is a phrase that has in recent years dominated American politics, true?  According to Wikipedia:

Fake news is a type of yellow journalism or propaganda that consists of deliberate disinformation or hoaxes spread via traditional print and broadcast news media or online social media… The relevance of fake news has increased in post-truth politics.

Post-truth politics?  Let’s follow the Wikipedia link:

Post-truth politics is a political culture in which debate is framed largely by appeals to emotion disconnected from the details of policy, and by the repeated assertion of talking points to which factual rebuttals are ignored. Post-truth differs from traditional contesting and falsifying of facts by relegating facts and expert opinions to be of secondary importance relative to appeal to emotion.

Sounds similar to the highly-charged political discourse that followed the attack on Pearl Harbor.  But in 2018, are we our own common enemies?  I say again, can these negative, powerful, driving emotions become a force for the greater good?  I certainly hope so.

Let’s look at the business world.  We often see evidence of power when a company unites against common enemies.  Steve Jobs continuously crusaded to be taken seriously – until Apple rose to dominate personal, technology devices and the way we all consume entertainment and information today.  The common enemy was their adversity when facing marketplace disrespect.  And that negative, driving force drove Apple to astronomical heights.

“ADVERSITY”:

Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which, in prosperous circumstances, would have lain dormant. 

Horace

The American Red Cross inspired from the carnage of our Civil War, formerly launched in 1881 in Washington D.C.  This powerful organization is also untied against common enemies – the devastated; the wounded; the needy; the destitute; the hungry.

Yes, there are many common enemies that coupled with the negative, emotional reactions they stimulate give rise to harnessing power for the greater good:

In every community, there is work to be done.

In every nation, there are wounds to heal.

In every heart, there is the power to do it.

Marianne Williamson

Here’s to Pearly Harbor Day and all the power it generated to propel our country forward in the face of common enemies.  What lessons have we learned?  How will we propel America and our fellow Americans, forward this December in the face of our many common enemies – real and fake?

In every community, there is work to be done.  And in our hearts, we all have the power to do it!

GAP

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To Jack Schnee…

Our best friend’s Dad passed away last year.  After 89 years, his passing came suddenly and unexpectedly.  He was preparing to go in for knee replacement surgery; his knee was bothering him when he went dancing.  He was felled by a stroke.

Although I didn’t know him very well, the way his eldest daughter and son-in-law (aka our best friends) spoke of him it was obvious he loved life.  He reminded me of my Dad’s love of life.  They called him every Sunday for a weekly update along with the enjoyment of a gin martini toast albeit separated by 900 miles.  We should all be so loved and fulfilled.

Life has a beginning, a middle, and an end.  I’m way past my beginning.  It’s the delineation between the middle and the end that isn’t quite as clear.  But as friends and family around me reach their end, I always pause to reflect.  How about you?

Here’s how Michael E. Gerber sets up one such reflection:

I’d like you to imagine that you are about to attend one of the most important occasions of your life.  It will be held in a room sufficiently large to seat all of your friends, your family, your business associates – anyone and everyone to whom you are important and who is important to you.  Can you see it? 

The walls are draped with deep golden tapestries.  The lighting is subdued, soft, casting a warm glow on the faces of your expectant guests.  Their chairs are handsomely upholstered in a golden fabric that matches the tapestries.  The golden carpeting is deeply piled.  At the front of the room is a Dias, and on the Dias a large, beautifully decorated table, with candles burning at either end.  On the table, in the center, is the object of everyone’s attention.  A large, shining, ornate box.  And in the box is … you!  Stiff as the proverbial board. 

What do you think?  If you were able to reflect while in that box surrounded by everyone you have interacted with throughout your life. What would go through your mind?

Rather not think about it?  Your prerogative, but its inevitable for us all.  And at my age, I think about being old, over the hill, past the middle:

Baker’s Byroad  

When you are over the hill, you pick up speed.  

So far, I’ve resisted gravity pretty well.  I continue to live each day with my best effort.  Of course, some days I (like you) have “one of those days”, but that’s part of living, too.  Dealing with adversities enables us to richly enjoy life’s accomplishments, true?

Besides, I follow Baruch when thinking about how old I am:

Baruch’s Rule for Determining Old Age  

Old age is always fifteen years older than I am.  

Of course, those millennials in my work place that I write of often have a different opinion.  Every time we hire a new group of college grads I imagine hearing one of them say, “Is it bring your grandfather to work day?”  I suppose they would chuckle thinking I can’t hear very well anymore.

It’s all good for me though – I love being around youth:

It’s easier to have the vigor of youth when you’re old than the wisdom of age when you’re young. 

Richard J. Needham  

So, here’s to you Jack Schnee.  Here’s to your life; your style; your zest; your family; and your legacy.  Here’s to dancing with the Lord now; never to worry about knee pain again.

GAP

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How was your day?

One year ago last week, I was in an earthquake in Mexico City; a 7.1.  How do you work that into casual conversation?

September 19, 2017 at 1:15 pm local time, a powerful earthquake shook the bejeezus out of my training class; our lunch break; my colleagues and me!  Thankfully, no one in our group got hurt.

Unfortunately, there were many in Mexico City and surrounding states that did get hurt; over 200 people killed; hundreds perhaps thousands injured.  According to The Guardian ©;

It was the second major earthquake to hit Mexico in two weeks and came on the anniversary of the 1985 quake that devastated Mexico City, killing 5,000 people and destroying 10,000 homes.

In fact, because of that 32nd anniversary; commemorating that devastation; we actually had an emergency evacuation drill at 11am in 2017.  Just about 2 hours before the real thing hit again!

During the episode, I wasn’t afraid; but I was not brave either.  I was conscious of the fact we were experiencing an earthquake – on the 19th floor of a hotel no less.  What started out feeling like a freight train passing by, causing the table to vibrate quickly erupted into what seemed like a prolonged period of ferocious shaking; I could not keep my feet.

Those much braver than I were calling out; directing us towards the archway leading into the room.  Firmly they instructed us to move away from the windows; calmly, they reassured us that we will be alright.

I remember looking out the window and seeing the glass buildings across the plaza actually swaying.  It was surreal; it reminded me of that scene in movie The Matrix when the helicopter crash caused a ripple through the facade of a glass office tower.

My overriding feeling today is one of disappointment.  So many had invested so much before the earthquake hit – and after.  Gustavo Moussalli, out Latin American Division Director and the executive sponsor for the class had made a huge commitment to his local partners; coordinating a 3-day enablement class to support their success.

Gerardo Diez Martinez, our local Channel Manager made all the arrangements.  The meeting rooms and set-up; AV equipment; food and beverage; Gerardo spared no expense to insure we would have everything we needed for his partners.

My colleague Susanna Lagtapon sacrificed time away from her daughter’s 13th birthday; traveling instead to join us for the class.  Our colleague, Tony Caporal, with cooler head and bravery, prevailed following the earthquake.  He helped us retrieve our laptops and luggage.  (Even stopping at the lobby bar to grab a free beer on his way out of the hotel.)

Our VP, Brian Enright, was our “home base”; coordinating flights out of town; hotel reservations; and anything else he could do to support us from afar.

And especially Hector Garcia from our long-time partner NetSoft.  Hector insisted on personally driving us to the airport; would not hear of us taking a taxi or a bus.  He would navigate us through the city streets; on constant vigil for our safety.  Three hours to drive us 12 kilometers.  Three hours in the opposite direction from his own home and family – taking us in his care.

As with all disasters, there were many heroes – named and unnamed.  But that was 2017; Mexico City; and an earthquake.  Today, it’s another crisis; another natural disaster; another conflict.

We are all thankful for so many first responders and other heroes – named and unnamed.  May God bless them all.

GAP

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