Archives For May 2010

My dad always respected people in the service, especially those who “saw action.” This probably started from a guy named Grandpa Mallach, a Civil War vet in my dad’s hometown. He showed my dad how to whittle a whistle from a willow tree branch, the kind soldiers used in Civil War battles to signal to each other. When Grandpa Mallach died, the ground was so cold they had to blast dynamite to create a grave. The town turned out to watch a horse-drawn carriage carry his casket to the cemetery. My dad’s dad Carl was in World War I, but I don’t think he saw any action or went overseas. But I do recall Carl being a uniformed military man. And, my dad became an Eagle Boy Scout.

So when World War II rolled around, it seems as though some strong seeds towards the military had been planted.

Like most guys, my dad tried to enlist. He was greatly disappointed in failing the eye exam, as he was legally blind without his glasses. But he wasn’t ready to let a little rule keep him out of “the shooting war.” So he reinlisted, cheated on the eye exam, and became a soldier in the Army.

He was in battle for a little over 30 days. Nasty watching-guys-die-before-your-very-eyes kind of battle. Killing other guys kind of battle. Watching guys get hit with mortar rounds. Feeling bullets buzzing by your ears. Fishing dogtags out of foxholes. Watching Americans die from friendly fire. Watching your friends running scared to escape, and right into enemy fire. All in the freezing cold.

He got captured by the Germans, and spent about 6 months in 3 different prisoner of war camps. He said this was worse than combat. It was a different kind of battle. I think combat was more a physical battle, and being a POW was a more mental battle.

Between combat and camps, it’s amazing he came back on one piece, literally and figuratively. The fact that he came back, and was happily married to the same woman til the day he died, and raised five great kids makes the feat even greater. He had a good professional career, had hobbies and friends and golf and fun. But it wasn’t without challenges. Supporting five kids is a lot of work. But he did so with grace and aplomb, with goodness in his heart, in a positive, levelheaded way. To me, this was all rather remarkable.

Most remarkable of all though, is something that I’ve guessed: that he did all this despite living with the war every day. I really can’t see how anyone could experience what he did, and not think about it every day. That’d make 57 years of living with war in his head and heart, and he never really let it show. I can’t imagine.

My assumption is that anyone who has seen significant battle has lived with the memory every day. Those people deserve our respect, today, and every day.

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Back on May 22, 1991, my wife and I spent a day in Savannah during our honeymoon. This last weekend, on May 22, we were back in Savannah before I gave a talk on social media, and we had a total blast. Here is what I learned, and/or what was confirmed from our first visit there back there almost 20 years ago.

– People in Savannah are very, very nice.

– Walking Savannah is a terrifically satisfying experience.

– Paula Deen is getting rich off making people fatter.

– Paula Deen’s fans don’t care about getting fatter.

– America needs to go on a diet.

– Everything (eating, serving food, walking, talking, and the general doing of things) moves slower in the south. I believe this is to conserve energy, and to not create any more heat. Things comparatively, and generally, seem to go faster in the north to expel energy to create more heat. It’s hot down there a lot. It’s cooler up here a lot.

– Grits are really good.

– The architecture and detail of the buildings has been fantastic for almost 300 years.

– Savannah’s policy of letting people walk about freely with Guinness in hand is fun.

– Spending money whilst shopping with a Guinness in hand is lots easier than without.

– Johnny Mercer could write the heck out of a song lyric, my huckleberry friend.

– I’m still crazy about my wife.

I have been a lazy blogger lately. But alas, I’m back on the horse and ready to ride.

You don’t want one? You will.

Because the iPad won’t just change things. It’ll revolutionize things. That’s my guess.

But who’s out there looking to buy a revolution? And why get a laptop when you have a perfectly good desktop computer? Or why get  an iPhone when you had a perfectly good phone? And why get an iPad when you’ve got both?

Because a laptop is not a desktop, and an iPhone is not a phone and an iPad is neither of either.

Take a look back. Apple didn’t make the iPod. Instead, it made a revolution in how we listen to, store, and buy music. Apple didn’t make the iPhone. Instead, it made a revolution in how we do mobile computing. And they sure as hell didn’t make an iPad. It made…a new revolution.

I believe it heralds the downfall/demise/end/irrelevance of the Kindle, Nook, mouse, and maybe even the laptop.

It heralds an explosive revolution in gaming, magazine and book publishing. It could change TV and movie distribution. And thanks to the Apps Store, there are already 100,000 apps ready to go, with an exponential number of unforeseen utilities are coming.

Only the purest of Apple-haters, and the most principled stubborn anti-change folks will sit out the revolution. But, my friend, mark my words: if you don’t want one now…you will. You may not get one now. Maybe you’ll wait for next year’s iPad, which will surely make the first iPad look primitive. (Remember the 5G iPod?)

Early estimates were that 1 million iPads would be sold in 2010. This morning, one estimate I saw was 10 million.

Regardless, the revolution has begun. And I don’t believe it’s a matter of IF you’ll join, but WHEN you’ll join.

We have choice.

We can choose to be good. Or not. We can choose to help. Or not. We can choose to be happy. Or not.

But happy is not easy.

It’s hard to remain happy in the face of those who bring happy down. But we can. It’s hard to attempt happiness when the world does the nasty stuff that the world does. But we can. It’s hard to make happiness a focus.

And certainly, those with dark hearts can’t deny or deflect or drown our happiness.

So make happiness a focus. Make it a force. A force of happiness is hard to stop, because happiness begets happiness.

Choose wisely. Choose happiness.