Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Oh, the Places You'll Go!

One of my favorite books is still "Oh, the Places You'll Go!" by Dr. Seuss. You see it in the store every year around this time, graduation time. It makes a good gift. It was one of his last best sellers. It can be interpreted at several levels. It is full of wisdom put in a catchy way.

I first remember using it in my classroom when I taught a precocious 2nd and 3rd combo at Vista. We did a full musical, "Really Rosie" by Carole King and we did this book as a group Choral Verse with scenery and props. It was so much fun I did it again that summer in Summer School at Chaparral. We had an artist father who helped us with the perspective of the backdrop scenery. We did alot of physical sight-gags and group-motion on stage.

It starts with the premise that the reader has "brains in his head and feet in his shoes" and it is up to them which directions to choose in his life. It talks about "not so good streets" and heading straight out of town. I look back at raising my sons and realize that happened and is happening to them. They are all better traveled that I am even at my advanced age. Two of my grandchildren have been places I haven't been. This is good. I still want to travel and Betty and I have plans we will act upon soon I hope. The books talks about not worrying when "things start to happen", we'll start happening too. We took a hiatus on travel after 9-11 and our plane trip back from Italy. It was a nightmare.

The book goes on to be very "up" and positive until it talks about "Bang-ups and Hang-ups" that can happen. The gang will leave you in the lurch...and you'll be in a slump. I can see this happening too. It may still be. "Unslumping yourself is not easily done." It talks about streets that are not marked, windows not lighted, mostly they're darked. It is very hard to decide what to do, even for a "mind-maker-upper" like you. You feel lost and don't know whether to enter from the front, left or right or sneak in from behind. Then you'll find yourself racing at break-neck speed to a most useless place ie. "the Waiting Place" Marking time and trying to decided what to do with your life. Waiting for a Better Break or Another Chance, just a Yes or a No. I think I'm observing this happening now. Praying and hoping he will escape as the book suggests. It talks about becoming famous and then choosing not to be.

It talks about playing lonely games, "games you can't win" because you are playing against yourself. It talks about being scared "right out of your pants" so much you won't want to go on. But, hopefully, it talks about going on "though the Hakken-Kraks howl" and facing up to your problems whatever they are. Sometimes I think I feel like a Hakken-Krak. It then warns about getting mixed up with many strange birds...and the best line, "Life's a Great Balancing Act!" How true!

Since my theme remains, Self-Preservation, these are certainly words of advice I live by and hope my sons do also. I am "moving mountains" as the book suggests and I am doing it through this blog, believe it or not. I am setting records...98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed. My heart goes out to my loved ones almost daily in thoughts and prayers. Giving them space to go to the places they need to go (or just waiting) is what I can best do now. Bob

Monday, May 30, 2005

In Memoriam

Yes, I did get today off. It used to be called "Decoration Day" because folks went to decorate the graves of the fallen heroes of the foreign wars. Fortunately, I don't know any. My dad served on the battleship Iowa but it wasn't war time. I remember my mom getting the folded Stars and Stripes that draped his casket. All our boys just missed the mandatory draft and chose not to serve, thank God. I'm sure it must be one of the hardest things to have to do: to bury your son or daughter who was in"harm's way". I'm afraid I'd have a hard time supporting their going to Iraq and even supporting the war over there; especially now that no WMD's were found. Our trying to impose our kind of freedom and democracy on that kind of culture/religion is also hard to accept at times.

I once had a teacher who said, "All the world's ills, on the national level down to the personal level, can be attributed to: 'Man's inhumanity to Man.'" I see it at every level continuing. We will never learn.

I usually remember, on this day, my stint in the military and how it affected my life at the time. I remember getting the draft notice after completing college and choosing to enlist in the Naval Air rather than have to go to the Army and be trained to fight/kill hand-to-hand or with a rifle. As it was, we had one day of training on the rifle range, with handguns too. I wasn't all that good at it. Didn't want to be. I had volunteer for airplane maintenance since it sounded interesting and my dad and I used to make model airplanes and fly them. It was a group called "Sky Pilots" and it was at our church. It's main purpose was to learn Bible verses while building models at the fellowship hall. I won the memorizing contest and my dad and I got a 1/2 hr. free ride over L.A. in a piper cub. What a thrill to fly over my little house. Anyway, I remember my mom in tears when I was taken to Los Alamitos Air Station to fly out with the other new recruit/reservists to Memphis, Tenn. It was a 14 hr. flight with a bag lunch and several got sick in the plane that didn't seem to have proper pressurizing. We were taken from the plane and loaded into a "cattlecar" trailer/truck to our new barracks. We were given our new uniforms, shoes etc. that didn't really fit and I was lucky to get a top bunk. I was appointed squad leader, maybe my height or college degree, and given the honor of leading my 12 guys to make the latreen spotless for daily inspection. We were given all the cleaning materials, including toothbrushes. A dozen toilets lined up without privacy booths to clean during that six weeks. Then there was the marching and jogging everywhere, even to meals. Hurry up and then wait in line for chow...good chow though...best fed Navy in the world. It wasn't long after night, fire-guard duty etc. that I got the "attitude"..."bring it on! Whatever you want, I will do it and not complain" I saw several others who fought it and got washed out. They had to repeat the six weeks of hell. When that was done I was assigned to a training squad to learn metal craft and hydraulics of airplanes, my classification. I learned alot. It was getting cold, we had started in August in the heat. One of my buddies got pneumonia, went to the base hospital and died. That shook us up. I noticed that the "performance squads of "flying rifles and the Navy Chorus" didn't have to do the 4-hr. duty out on the cold line, guarding the planes. I could sing bass. I had toured the country in college, east and west coast. So I auditioned and made it. We had practice every other day and just had to do barracks fire watch inside.

When I came back to do my reserve 8 years, after the 6 mos. in Memphis, I just had to go to Los Alamitos one weekend a month and just two-weeks in the summer. This allowed me to get a job teaching and start a family. I had several interesting 2-wk. "cruises to Hawaii, Wash. D.C., Seattle and San Diego. I qualified for my crew wings in Hawaii, flying in a P2v and loading sono-bouys. I strained my back and flew a typewriter in personnel from then on with a medical release. My C.O. called it, "Hen House". I didn't care. I was happy to be serving my Country and doing my duty in this small, non-combative way.

In my years teaching I have taught patriotism and taught the songs, but not the wars in elementary history class. "I will study war no more." Bob

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Our Ash Grove

"The Ash Grove" is the title of a familiar and very traditional Welsh folksong. It is beautifully performed by The King's Singers, a small, all-male choral group. They are accompanied by harp and flute. It takes me to another place metaphorically, my ash grove. It speaks to me of a time in my life, that is ever-present, past and future. It evokes, with its quaint melody and speech, a feeling of sweet sadness and piognancy.

"Down yonder green valley where streamlets meander... When twilight is falling, I pensively rove"...this describes me sometimes lately. "Or at the bright noontide in solitude wander...amid the dark shades of the lonely ash grove"...however, this also can be my mood, even with all the attention and recognition of my careers.

"'Twas there, while the blackbird was cheerfully singing I first met the dear one, the joy of my heart"...my wonderful memories with Betty over the years come back to me often. "Around us for gladness the bluebell were ringing. Ah! Then little thought on how soon we should part"...our life together has been so happy and fleeting, and it is winding down. We can tell.

"Still glows the bright sunshine o'er valley and mountain...still warbles the blackbird, its note from the tree"...we still have alot of fun together on my days off and in between. Our grand children now provide so much joy. "Still trembles the moonbeam on streamlet and fountain, but what are the beauties of nature to me?"...however, the same activities and routines don't hold the same meanings they used to. There is increasingly something lacking in our life.

"With sorrow, deep sorrow, my bosom is laden"...possibly a glimpse of my future, (or hers)
"All day I go mourning in search of my love"...I can't imagine what it is going to be like to be alone and not have her to come home to everyday. I'm starting to miss her already but I don't want to deal with the inevitability of it. Our togetherness has been so sweet.

"Ye echoes, O tell me, where is the sweet maiden?...She sleeps 'neath the green turf, down by the ash grove." Unthinkable! Betty and I will never be truly separated like this. Our love will go on and on as we meander in our Ash Grove. Bob

Friday, May 27, 2005

Blog Spam

I understand the New Hit Musical on Broadway is "Spam". It is a Monty Python take off and is up for several Tonis. One of the songs links Spam with Blogs...two made up words. They say it is a riot...if you remember the original song. It think spam is a combo of ham and ? spare parts ? of other meat. Blog is the combo of Web and log (as in journal) Made up words fascinate me. I suppose over the years I should have collected them. Betty and I have always had fun making up words between us of which only we know the difinition/origin.

I just got a new book from Blas Bleu called "Bloom's Bouquet of Imaginary Words" by Jeffrey and Carole Bloom. It is full of such examples: Compromice = Rats that settle for less, Alphapet = Top Dog, Anonymouse = Rodent with no name, Animall = Zoo, Catthroat = a ruthless kitty, Whinoceros = A large, thick-skinned bitchy mammal. This is just the first page.

Jeopardy just had on a category called "Palindroms" The had answers of "nun", "boob", "gag", "toot", "eke". They didn't get them all.

As kids, my sister and I used to make a game out of passing the: "tlas", "reppep", "klim" or "ragus".

Shel Silverstine's latest book published after his death was "Runny Babbit" Stone and Layla loved it when I read it to them, asking for help. I even wrote them a letter using that trick.

I cut out this cartoon in the L.A. Times from Danziger, titled Technology. It shows the corner of a bar where drinks are served. Two guys are commenting on a third guy who is at the other end of the bar word processing on his lap-top. "Remember when that tiresome old drunk used to sit and bore us to tears with his cockamamie theories and insane opinions?"..."And then, thank God, he got his own Blog."

Well, in this blog, I won't be doing that. I may be boring; I may be opinionated; I may be full of theories; But I'm not drunk...unless it is drunk with words, word-play and the ideas they conjure up. Bob

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Pool Precautions

Summer is upon us and the use of the backyard pool will increase. Since the title of this blog is about Life Preservers, and my first entry is about that specifically; I think it is fitting that I reiterate my purpose. If you want to read my first blog, click on the May archive and "What's in a Name?" It is hidden there since I write almost everyday and there just isn't room to display them all at once.

All my grandchildren now live with a pool in their back yard. We used to have one too. However, our kids were older and knew how to swim when we got it. I think Stone and Layla know how to swim, no worries. However, Soren doesn't. His pool is fenced adequately. I checked it out, as did his parents, I'm sure.

Knowbeforeyougo.org is a website that goes over precautions and gives tips to prevent drownings:
a Install alarms on doors and windows that lead to pools
a Have rescue equipment mounted by the pool
a Learn cardiopulmonary resuscitation
a Enroll kids in swim classes
a Never leave a child alone near a pool, spa, bathtub, toilet or standing H2O
a Have a phone near the water
a Most kids don't yell for help, exhausted or struggling underwater, so watch

Kids can drown in almost any amount of water if it covers their nose and mouth. They wouldn't even get a chance to "BOB" OK? Bob

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Six Sigma to the Extreme Habitat

Today I found out what Six Sigma means. It was explained at length at our Progress Meeting for Pardee Homes. It is our company's attempt to improve in a very analytical way. It reminded me of my college classes in statistics. Sigma is the greek symbol (a number 6 fallen over to the right) that has come to mean a measure of significance of deviation from a set standard ie. mean. The number 6 is considered the best. The company has a "hand-picked" elite team of key, leaders who can attain "green belts" and then "black belts" with projects that do indeed improve the companies bottom line through improved procedures etc. Their guiding questions...How can we know what we don't know? How can we improve what we don't know etc. Their process is 5 fold: Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve and Control. They do it exhaustively thru pareto charts, flow charts and statistical analysis. It was all very fascinating but too detailed for the mixed crowd of employees we had there. It was over most of our heads and way too long. This doesn't take away from its worthiness. I would love to be involved in such a study eventually.

We also saw our company's "behind the scenes" DVD of the recent Extreme Home Make-Over we did in Santa Fe Springs for ABC-TV. What a wonderfully rewarding experience it was. I'm sure the company learned alot from what they had to go through during that 5-day monsoon. I felt pride and identity in what expired. What a wonderful company and opportunity I have with Pardee. It is very motivating to see what can be done and is expected. Much was made of the "internal customer" vs. the "external customer". It is a whole new culture that I am learning about.

Mention was made of possible future projects involving Habitat for Humanity. This would be a very worthy cause. They could contact Thane Smith who is in charge of the HFH in Orange Co. I think. They also talked about future communities possibly in Arizona and Norther Nevada. I couldn't believe there are only 650 employees in this growing company. I'm impressed with the leadership and proud to be associated with it. Bob

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Go Big! or Go Home!"

This is an expression I learned yesterday from my new boss. He says it is from his extreme skiing days. He was using it in reference to our sales goals in our weekly sale meeinting. I can apprciate what he is trying to do. I think it is working too. I like the new format where there is praise and applause for meeting goals and setting new and challenging ones. In previous companies, where I sold for myself, and not as part of a team, there was not as much of this. I never thought of myself as "extreme" even though I had my good months. My May of '02 I sold 13.5 homes by myself. There were other months where I exceeded goal, both personal and company. This striving is all apart of sales and sales managers. You come to expect it.

It does apply to other parts of life too. Go for the gusto! Gung ho! etc. It has always been my way of motivating myself and those who I taught. Goal-setting was a valid part of the annual parent conference that I always tried to hold with the child there. Realistic goals were set and interim objectives to meet those goals. In most cases it worked and we saw it happening or we re-met and reset goals. Success and feelings of accomplishment were what we wanted to keep the momentum going. Negative talk and thinking were not tolerated. I see this happening now more at our workplace and meetings. This is a good thing. Even comments about "goals" being unrealistic for the month are not tolerated outloud. The assumption is that they will be made up the next month and adjusted for in the quarter or year end.

Tomorrow we are going to the semi or quarterly progress meetings at the Mission Inn for a luncheon. I expect this to happen from the coporate level down. Sucess breeds success! Fortunately, I can feel proud. Our community, as of yesterday, was sold out. We have two deposits to convert to a sale and a reservation before our new release of ten more homesites. There is a good "team work" feeling about it too. Lainie, Mike and I have worked hard to get to this point. And I am confident we can maintain it; even with Solaris coming next month with a lower price point and smaller product. We have our niche in the market, "still under $400.K. The challenge now is just keeping all these buyers/customers in escrow and happy and also keeping our "internal customers" happy. We need all the support we can get from our "intra-team-mates" too. I am committed to doing my best and I think my team-mates are too. This July I am looking forward to taking classes that will help me become a "CSP" Certified Sales Professional. It has been a goal of mine to be certified in sales just the way I was certified in teaching as a Mentor and master teacher for so many years. I can do it again. Bob

Monday, May 23, 2005

Handel Yourself

My first real contact with this name is when, in college, I got to sing along with several choirs at Christmas the "Messiah" by Handel. What a thrill! It was at the North Park Covenant Church with members of the North Park College Choir. I had never been in a singing group that size with that overwhelming sound accompanied by orchestra and pipe organ. "For Unto Us A Child Is born..." my favorite; I was singing bass at the time. Since then and now I have had to switch to tenor. I like both parts. I plan to sing it again this year with the L.A. Master Chorale at the Disney in their "Sing-along". I'm really looking forward to the Halleluyah Chorus where everyone stands because when it was first sung, the King of England stood.

I get a kick out of Bill Handel on the radio. He has a morning show I listen to when I drive into my Monday morning meeting in Corona. He's current, humorous and very out-spoken. He used to call it "Handel Yourself in the Morning". Most of the time I agree with him. I respect his stand on stem-cell research. He has another business that has to do with embryos and surragate parenting. Betty and I often listen to Handel On the Law and have checked out his website. Through it we have used Legal Zoom for our Living Will and Trust. I wanted to buy a Noritz tankless water heater, his sponsor, but the timing isn't right yet and we are not sure if it will handle constant recirculation of hot water which we now have.

Other associations with Handel are homophones...sound the same but spelled differently. What is your handle? Your name on the CB radios. "You can't handle the truth!" from a good movie. Handle your problems yourself. Handle your secret concerns. Be the master of your fate. This is my continuing challenge. This blog and thoughts about it have begun to help me get a handle on this part of my life. It is channeling my creative thoughts and urges into something that is useful and productive. It may appear as a bit of "self-promotion" ie. stroking oneself, bragging, but, to me, it is much more. Who knows where all of this might lead? A book? A poem? Publishing, historically, for some has been the first step to immortality. Dare I even think of that remote possibility? Why not? Handel, the Composer, lives on through his music. Bob

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Karmic Email

In the last five years have learned alot having to use email in my corporate setting. It can come back to "bite ya". It can be forwarded to others who you never intended for it to go to. I once, and only once, didn't notice who my answer was going back to and I had written something derrogatory about a company policy and it had gotten back to the boss. I had alot of "splainin" to do.

A good rule of thumb, "Never write/publish anything that you wouldn't want to be printed in the newspaper." I now keep my answers as brief and factual as possible. I don't initiate any emails that might be negative in their purpose and might deprecate someone else or their actions. Don't get "carried away" with rhetoric. I might use humor to suggest that certain things would be better if... ;-)

I still believe that "what goes around, comes around" and "the law of attraction" You put bad-vibes out there...in the Universe or ethernet...and you attract them back. I think it happens alot faster with email, even faster than face-to-face communication. Telephone conversations, unless they're being recorded, are also not as karmic. It gets into the difference between libel and slander...legal definitions. I think they require witnesses and email is certainly a "witnessed communication" It is also without the aid of non-verbal clues ie. facial expressions, inflexions, tone of voice, pauses etc. These would all temper/heighten a communique.

I do face-to-face best. I think most people do. The expedience of email causes it to lack that emotional content or get it added or imputed by the receiver/reader. Next best might be my phone demeanor. "It's a beautiful day in Carina. This is Bob. How can I help you?" Sometimes I change it to "gorgeous". I'm not being phony. It truly is all that to be helping people with something you know is worth it. Selling is karmic because you are putting out that positive vibe and helping others find what they need/want. As the Bard once wrote: "Brevity is the soul of wit." ...especially in email. Bob

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Have A Long and Happy Life!

Dr. Tim Johnson, ABC News Medical Correspondent, has an article in the Sept. 2004 Guideposts that I especially like. It caught my eye as I was coming from swimming in the clubhouse hall magazine rack. He's on the cover. I have always admired him and the way he reports.

When I went to North Park College back in '57-'58 I had a part-time job at the Swedish Covenant Hospital as an orderly. I was told that I took Tim Johnson's place. He used to clean up the OR's (operating rooms). He was just ahead of me and, I guess, went on to seminary there at North Park and eventually Harvard Medical School. It was there he decided to become a minister and then a doctor. It was that hospital experience I had that convinced me that I did not want to have anything to do with a medical career. At the time, I was still considering the ministry.

Now, almost 50 years later, I'm convinced I made the right choice ie. Education etc. I'm sure he did too. His continuing good advice: The body and soul are a single entity, and what's good for one is usually good for the other.
1. Move it! Exercise at least 30 mins. a day. He walks.
2. Give of yourself! From his mother's example...those who help others have a more positive attitude and they live longer, happier lives. It is exercise for the soul.
3. Make it a point!...to see your doctor regularly, do all the check-ups...especially a colonoscopy and PSA tests. Catch a condition before it gets a firm hold on you.
4. Got to have friends! Get together. No friends? Volunteer and make new ones.
5. Rest Easy! Get a good night's sleep, a vacation. Take up meditation ie. good for the blood pressure.
6. Make Your Move! Follow your heart, your bliss, your passion. Do something you love and makes you happy.

At this point, I feel confident about all but one. I'm working on it. Can you guess which one it is?This blog has something to do with it too. Bob

Friday, May 20, 2005

Blink/Wisdom Paradox

These are the titles of two very interesting books I have read recently. They have stimulated my thinking and are partly responsible for my starting this Blog.

The first is "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. I read his first book, "The Tipping Point" and found it so fascinating that I shared it with my boss at Pulte Homes. It spoke to what that fast-growing company was trying to do in So. Cal. a couple of years ago. Blink again has stimulated my thinking and activities at my job with Pardee Homes. It seems to sum up my approach to sales. ie. "Thin Slicing" It speaks to one's ability to make decisions about potential customers with very little, if any, information. It is more like a feeling I get when working with people and I just know who is going to buy and who is not. It applies to many other areas of life and I can see it happening all the time. It is almost apriori or intuitional thinking/acting. I've felt it on-stage when lines/directions have been missed and you're on your own.

The second is "The Wisdom Paradox" by Elkhonon Goldberg. This book was a real revelation as a former teacher. It debunks the old belief about Right Brain vs. Left Brain dominance and problem solving. I thought the right was more for non-verbal, emotional issue and the left was more for rote or verbal tasks etc. No. New tasks and problem solving are mainly handled by the right brain and then when we have it down, the left brain takes over as a routine task master. The book gets into how your mind can grow stronger as your brain grows older ie. Use it or lose it, challenge it, keep those neuron/dendrites growing. London taxi cab drivers are one of the examples given, the older, more experienced ones tested highest. ie. continually learning and memorizing new maps in their heads of alternative routes to places. Cross-word puzzle addicts are also there. Musicians who are still actively playing/singing ie. reading music etc.

So you can see the challenge ahead of me. Keep adapting and adjusting to new challenges, customers, escrow challenges, new bosses, new/old teachers to mentor. Keep trying to "get it right" just like "Groundhog Day"...Bill Murray again...so much of what I attempt to do I end up doing it again and again, hopefully with improvements and learnings. This, for me, is the true joy of living/learning. So...stay tuned..."I've got you babe!" (Sonny & Cher every morning on the radio) Bob

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Disneyland's 50th

I didn't write here yesterday because Betty and I spent the day at "the happiest place on Earth" with Soren, Clark and Kristen. What a day! I've seen it more crowded. The weather was perfect. We had our camera at the ready. Soren has just turned two and is so verbal. His first and second ride was the Jungle Cruise. He absolutely loved it! He was looking for Mowgli. You can tell he is read to alot. He knows all the animals. It was even more of a joy to watch Clark with him...a big kid and a little one. We tried to take Soren to the Tiki Room but he would have none of it. Threw a tantrum on the floor. Clark took him out and went back to the Jungle Cruise for a second ride. We had just eaten at the Blue Bayou, our favorite. Soren noticed the sounds. It was darker than I remember.

Soren finally fell asleep in his stroller for a two-hour + nap. We rested in the shade. Then we went on the Small World boat and the Storybook Land boat. We had a bit of a line to stand in for those...not a Soren thing. He seemed to enjoy his first experience, I know Betty and I did through his eyes... and also to see Clark doing it again too. We also rode the train and the tram. That was it for the first time. We were tired and sore of foot. We'll be back this 50th year with them and on our own, I hope. Got to see the parade again and a few other sites.

Most of the families didn't look all that happy...I'd say, more "driven" and doggedly determined to do everything, consume everything and see everything they could. I noticed alot of new and refurbished things/events. Mini-picture collages were new and fascinating. Everything, of course, was more expensive. The place is full of memories. My first grad nite in '57 when it was just 2 years old. Kissing Linda Carlson in the sky buckets and sticking to her make-up. Meeting Betty there on an Easter Sunday when I had Navy duty and we didn't have kids yet. Taking winning groups from my classroom. Betty's director's pass getting us in free for many years with pictures. Singing with a methodist church group at Christmas there and having to go behind the street scenes to deal with a group of student I brought picked up for shop-lifting. We called their parents to come and pick them up. My last trip was with Pardee as a reward. We got to eat at the exclusive, upstairs restaurant with the only address in the place: 33 Royal St. above the Blue Bayou. Walt's private restaurant. What a buffet! Betty has been there with her sister a few times and also eaten there.

The happiest time we had there was when we were on of the invited guest of Von's to see a new replacement parade for the Electrical Parade. We didn't like it all that much but we loved free run of the park and no lines. Lots of walking and waiting or sitting and waiting for others. Soaring over CA is now one of my best rides. I'd like to stay at the Hotel sometime.

Our future best times, I'm sure, will be to have the priviledge of seeing it all again through the eyes of our grandchildren and feeling their wonder and excitement. Bob

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Rhyme, Rhythm and Routine

I seem to be happiest when I have these three things in my life in balance. It has taken me awhile to truly notice this and realize its benefits for me health-wise and attitude-wise.

I think the first R, rhyme, comes from my early childhood and all the training and recognition I had from my mother when I memorized songs, poems etc. She used to insist I perform for her friends with my sister while she played the piano. I had to learn "The Night Before Christmas" and a special Swedish duet. Later on in school I was most at home in choirs and drama groups where this was the coin of the realm. Even in the Navy, I joined the chorus and got out of the more dangerous duty. I sang for years with barbershop groups and master chorales. I used it in teaching, memorizing was of value. Now, I'm offering "Jabberwocky" as one of my volunteer choices for classes. Mountain View middle school drama dept. wants me to tour the kids to elementary schools with scenes from Shakespeare (my scripts) We'll see about that. I usually have several good books going, fiction/non at the same time; rarely finishing them.

Rhythm is used with spoken and sung words, but I think here I'm referring to my response to my many activities. For example: first thing almost every morning I swim laps at our clubhouse indoors. I get in a rhythm, almost a trance, as I "bob" up and down the lanes. It is better if I'm the only one in the pool. However, it is harder with choppy water and all the "regulars" at 6AM. It is almost like the movie "Cocoon". Out the window I can see the homes I sold when I work here in Sun Lakes. When I meditate, usually once or twice a day, I get in a rhythm from my breathing and the mantra. It helps me transcend and reduces stress. I also walk on the treadmill next to our bed. I vary the rhythm/pace every three minutes from very slow and plodding uphill to very fast on the level when I'm near the end of my 30 mins. I've lost weight too.

Since I was raised with a routine, and taught by one for so many years, I seem to feel better and more secure when I follow a routine in my daily/weekly schedule. Right down to bedtime and arising time, what I initially drink and eat hasn't changed for years. I'm comfortable doing it. I know, it sounds rather boring but it works for me, especially of late. "Wine, Women and Song" are now only memories, fantacies...weren't they always? Bob

Monday, May 16, 2005

The Sun Whose Rays

This is the title of one of my favorite songs from Gilbert and Sullivan's "Mikado" It is not a patter song but I like those too. This one is soft, smooth and calming. It has helped me in many ways recently.

I volunteer at our local elementary school called Sundance. I consult mainly and help with the glee club and plays etc. my joys from my former profession. They have a theme song about their school which involves the sun, their logo. I shared this song with them. The resident teacher/aide is also a retired teacher who teaches music. These teachers are rare or about extinct in Calif. The first verse tells the story that the emperor of Japan "needs to rule the Earth as the Sun rules the sky" They both know their worth and are not shy. This is the message that alot of elementary students need. Self Esteem and Stage Presense go hand in hand. One of the challenges of the glee club is that it is K-5. You have a range of attention spans and interests. It is not just for performance but for school spirit and music appreciation and learning another language ie. music.

Last week I had the wonderful responsibility of baby-sitting my new little grandson Soren. He is the Sun/Son in his father's eye. Clark has turned his life around since that wonderful person was born. We had gone to lunch and Clark had to stop by Home Depot and pick up a hose for his new garden. Soren was falling to sleep in the back seat in his car seat. I wanted to keep him asleep so I let Clark go into the store and I drove around the parking lot. I lullabied him with this song. From his little point of view, he too needs to rule his little world. He is their emperor. However, the second verse fits too. The moon reflects the suns glory...and so does Soren. You can see it when he and his father are together; even right from the hospital nursery where Clark got to go. Ah, the beauty of it. What a precious previledge. I don't think we, as fathers realize what a wonderful responsibility we have. I know I didn't realize it fully with my four sons as they were growing up. I hope it isn't too late. Bob

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cat's Cradle

I remember when I first heard this. It was in reference to a sting game with the hands that my dad played with me. He was good and could make "Jacob's Ladder". He also showed me how to make a "mouse" out of a handkerchief when I waited to have my tonsils out. He was a good and loving dad and always had time for me. I would watch him fix things and help with the yard work. Later I helped him with the janitorial work at our church on Saturdays.

The next time I heard this was in the Song by Cat Steven(?). It struck me because the words told the story, too often true, of a father and son not connecting and having enough time for each other. It was a popular song when our oldest son, Clark went off to college in Santa Barbara. I gave him that record and a note. I felt we hadn't gotten to know each other that well. I was always working at least two jobs and he had his friends etc.

Now I'm hearing it everyday as part of our "musak" we play in the models for the public. It still strikes me a poignant and bitter-sweet. This time it is happening to my son with his son, my second grandson. He is a great dad and spends alot of time with him. He sings to him, reads to him, draws for him and then he has to go off and travel to sell spas. Soren cries. I think he might know how I have felt.

It also reminds me of that book by Shel Silverstine, "The Giving Tree". We as parents want to give our kids everything and keep doing it. It again is a bitter/sweet feeling. It is hard to deny them anything and yet, we have to to be good parents and help them grow and become more independent and self-reliant. Good parenting is "letting go...gradually" all the way from birth to death. We fight it but it is for the best. It is part of being human I guess. If you love someone, set them free. Let them make their own "mistakes". We sure did...and still are. Bob

Saturday, May 14, 2005

What's In A Name?

BOB! Yes, that's my name. It is a palindrome. It is "life saving" because it is what you might yell if someone is drowning. It is also recommended when boxing. It has become a humorous name in many TV commercials. For this reason my wife said she would like to start calling me "Rob". This could have double meaning also. My parents called me "Bobby" and I got to hate it. I then wanted "Robert" but no one would cooperate and call me that. I've never wanted "Robbie" or "Rober". I ask Spanish speakers to call me "Beto". They laugh. Bill Murray had a great movie persona in "Bob"...baby steps...it was so funny. Sometimes, when I have to put on a name tag, I print the first B backwards so it looks like I am really kind of nuts.

Anyway...The purposes of this blog are not just for the mental ramblings of an old teacher (retired) and a new real estate salesman, ie. his vast wisdom and wit gained from 43 years experience but, as the name states, A Life Preserver for me primarily and my sons and grandchildren if they should happen to read this someday. I have found over the years that writing stuff out helps define it better and "gets it out of my system". It also is a system for releaving stress/pressure when something is bothering me. When I was "called on the carpet" by my boss say from a parent complaint, I used to write everything down on the spot. It helped alot. I also have something I have been working on for years that is still bugging me. This may be just the remedy for that too. So...if you are interested in any of this...stayed tuned...check out this blog from time to time...and maybe, together, we'll preserve My Life and someone else's. My motto still remains,"El que da, recibe!" El que ensene, aprende!" I still want to give and learn. Bob