Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for February, 2012

When I was growing up, I knew of two “British” poems which seemed forever to bounce around in the back of my head as challenges – gauntlets thrown down at the foot of destiny. (I blame it on growing up in Kennedy’s “Camelot” – whether real or imagined…)  The two poems were “If“, by Rudyard Kipling, and “What I Live For” by George Linnaeus Banks.
I’ve had “If” posted on my poems page for sometime now.  I stumbled upon Banks’ poem today, so now, I’ve posted it as well.
I don’t know if all young boys think about growing up to be a man (“If” is nothing, if not a test for manhood) and what kind of man they’d want to be, but I certainly did.  I guess it comes from reading too many super-hero comics when growing up…
Anyway, read and enjoy!!
.

 

Read Full Post »

Every day, we lose more than a thousand veterans and with them the wisdom of age and lessons of history.  American culture puts a huge premium on youth and beauty and even on inexperience and naiveté, but it is hard to see how any of these traits have utility in making us prosperous and safe.  To be sure, it is more pleasant to hear platitudes from vibrant, attractive people with hairless, sculpted bodies than it is to hear the unvarnished truth from someone with a leather face and less glibness than experience, but older people are more likely to speak with authority.
And with passion, too, for the older we get the more we recognize that, when the day is gone, it is gone forever and it can’t be retrieved.  So there is an urgency to the things that mature people say, which is why they talk incessantly and won’t shut up.  So much of their lives have already passed that they don’t have enough time left to recount the lessons in it.  And they are worried that you aren’t listening, which is why they tell the same stories, and deliver the same aphorisms, over and over again.
If it seems that we keep making the same mistakes, it is because we pay insufficient attention to people who have been through it all at least once before.  In the end, we will survive rather than perish not because we accumulate comfort and luxury but because we accumulate wisdom.
  -–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
From their book:  “If Not Now, When?
.

 

Read Full Post »

I’ve been mostly in bed all week (since last Friday) with a flu-like bug which has morphed into an inner-ear infection which has resulted in pretty bad dizziness (vertigo), a hacking cough, sinus headaches and all-around misery.  Sunday and Monday I was running a pretty good fever which finally crested at 102.5 and then broke about 10:00 PM on Monday night.   If I could just get rid of this dizziness, I’d be feeling pretty decent today.  Still, I shouldn’t complain.  I’m a lot better than I was…
Today was my first day back on my feet for any real length of time.  I went to the doctor’s office yesterday, but that was getting driven to and from (by Hil) and then sitting in the front office chair until they squeezed me in.  Then straight back to bed…  Anyway, this morning I was up long enough to make myself some new “Green-Juice” in my juicer.  I don’t know if it’ll help me get better, faster, but it was nice to move around a bit.
I’m trying out a new “blend” today.  This one isn’t near the hodge-podge I’ve been throwing together.  This one is: 1 bunch Kale, 1 bunch Celery, 1/2 white onion, 2 in of ginger, 2 apples, 8 large carrots – all juiced, with a bag of spinach and a bag of salad greens (mostly Romain lettuce) blended in.  I then added a slosh of lemon concentrate, a cup of apple juice, a cup of lemonade and a cup of orange juice.  This made two 64 oz bottles of “Green-Juice”.  The taste is a LOT better than the last batch I made which included various greens, radishes and beetroots and it doesn’t taste like dirt.  It DOES taste a lot like freshly cut and blended grass with onion and a twist of lemon.  …Which isn’t too bad actually!
You just have to keep telling yourself, “It’s good for me!”
I also made a 64 oz bottle of fruit juice from apple juice, four apples, two ripe bananas, lemon concentrate, lemonade, and orange juice.  That’s blended (not juiced) and it has a nice banana smoothie taste and texture.
It all took a while, because I feel like I’m moving in treacle, and I pretty much collapsed into a chair for rest afterwards.
So, now I’ve struggled over to my desktop to do this bit of blogging…
Believe it or not, I’ve managed to plough through three books so far this week.  The are: “That First Season“, “Marshall” and “Introducing Mathematics“.   Now I don’t promise my recollection of them to be all that great a week from now, but today I feel like I still remember the gist of each of the books.  So, here goes the review for each:
That First Season” is written by John Eisenberg (2009©).  The book traces the 1959 season of the Green Bay Packers.  This was Vince Lombardi’s first year as a head coach in the National Football League and how he turned his team around from the worst team in the league the prior year to a competitive team (they finished with a record of 9 wins and 5 losses).
The following decade, the 1960’s, was the Packer’s dynasty which included winning the first two (ever) SuperBowls.  Looking back, Lombardi was probably (definitely) one of the dominant professional coaches of my youth.  His supposed quote: “Winning isn’t the most important thing.  Winning is everything!” is probably the most iconic quote from my childhood years.
This book is about the year when it (the dynasty) could have gone another direction (and never been).  Obviously, it didn’t go the other way and this book attempts to capture the spirit of the man, the team and the town as the dynasty is created.  And, I must admit, does a very good job of it.  I’ve read several books about American football over the last couple of years and this is definitely the best of the lot.  This book is NOT about “X’s” and “O’s”, but you can, in fact, pick out quite a bit of theory if you read carefully.  Instead this book is about a time in history and a sport, a man, a town, a team and a season.  I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in sport, leadership or even as a study in chaos theory – where a small change of a starting factor can have a profound impact on a larger event.
The second book is “Marshall” (2010©), written by H. Paul Jeffers with Alan Axelrod.  This book is one of the “Great General Series” about “Lessons In Leadership“.  The book traces the life and legacy of General George C. Marshall.  Marshall is probably the greatest strategic, diplomatic and effective logistician America has ever produced.  In addition to being the top non-civilian commander throughout World War II, he was also the prime architect of the rebuilding of Europe and Japan after the war.  For his plan (the “Marshall Plan“), General Marshal, who was then U.S. Secretary of State was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace.  He remains the only military commander to have been awarded the Peace Prize.
What follows is a mixed review.  That is because this is a very good book about a great man, however, I struggle to describe anything which makes it useful as a lesson in leadership.  General Marshall was an extremely private man, so merely tracing his life does little to provide insight into how he became a leader or what he considered in making his decisions.  One is left with simply observing the decisions and actions and attempting to derive the leadership lessons from the observations.  For some, this is more than enough.  For the General, I do not get this sense.
What is the reader left with then?  (This is redundant…)  A very private, dedicated man striving to achieve personal excellence in order to protect his nation; a man who returns to service for his country despite the petty attacks from those who are unfit to polish his shoes (Senator Joseph McCarthy from Wisconsin); and, a man who is the ultimate logistical problem solver at a global scale.  It’s too bad there wasn’t more information on how he did things or the what he thought about things before deciding to do them.  This is the second book I’ve read (recently) on the General, and unfortunately, I don’t believe there is any such work.  I already own another biography (so far, unread) on Marshall and am contemplating purchasing the four volume “Forrest Pogue” set which is considered the definitive version.  Why?  Because the idea of such a great leader and also such a great American …  fascinates me!!  Again, a very good read and highly recommended!
The third book is: “Introducing Mathematics”  (1999©) by Ziauddin Sardar, Jerry Ravetz and Rorin Van Loon.  This is another in the “Introducing” series which hopes to bring an overview of any given topic via a series of pictures and brief sentences/paragraphs about the great people and ideas related to the topic.  This time, the topic is math and the explanation covers from the dawn of civilization to the present and all of civilization (Eastern, Western, Egyptian, American Indian, Arabic, etc) too.  If you want a broad based overview of a lot of the main topics under math – including the people and timeframes – this is the book for you.  If you’re looking for in depth coverage and knowledge, it’s only a springboard.  In either case, it’s more than satisfactory and I highly recommend it, too.
How’s that for an unlikely trilogy?  Three high recommends…
And now, back to bed I stagger… (whew)
.

 

Read Full Post »

Love is God’s essence; Power but His attribute: therefore is His love greater than His power.
  —  Richard Garnett
From:  “De Flagello Myrteo
.

 

Read Full Post »

Love withers under constraints: its very essence is liberty: it is compatible neither with obedience, jealousy, nor fear: it is there most pure, perfect, and unlimited where its votaries live in confidence, equality and unreserve.
  —  Percy Bysshe Shelley
From:  “Queen Mab, Notes”
.

 

Read Full Post »

It never displeases a woman to make love to her.
  —  Cervantes
From:  “Don Quixote
[And women, the same is true for him…  —  KMAB]
.

 

Read Full Post »

Women wish to be loved without a why or wherefore; not because they are pretty, or good, or well-bred, or graceful, or intelligent, but because they are themselves.
 —  Henri Frederic Amiel
From:  “Journal
.

 

Read Full Post »

…As every infantryman knows: it takes more resources to hold an objective than to take it.  An assertion that it takes fewer can only come from people with no understanding of how wars are actually fought and won.
…We have a system in which military leaders serve civilian bosses, because we do not want people in uniform to run the country.  We have seen it attempted elsewhere, and it is rarely successful and never very pretty.  So American service members are inculcated with the notion of the superiority of civilian authority,and they are very uncomfortable acting contrary to that notion.  Officers have the responsibility to contribute to the plans and the decisions to execute those plans, but they are taught that, once the decision is made, they must obey — unless, of course, the order is immoral or illegal.  And this works extremely well at nearly every level of command.  Nearly, but not at every level.
…But if the Secretary of Defense wants to do something contrary to the best judgment of the general officers appointed to render advice, something so egregious that experienced military people know instinctively, if not from experience, that it is foolhardy or worse, who is left to prevent disaster?
Only those general officers.  Professional military men know how many troops are needed to perform missions, and the plans must be reviewed and certified annually.  If Tommy Franks or Dick Myers or any other officer at the top of the chain of command thought that the plan was unworthy, each had an obligation to his uniform, to the nation, and to the troops they sent to war to ensure that the plan was not executed.  And if they thought that the plan was a good one, then they were fools.  In either case, they failed this country.
Civilian control was established to prevent military domination, and the rules for following lawful orders are clear.  Who would have thought that our real danger was the civilian hijacking of the military apparatus, snatching it from officers who were either too inept or too pusillanimous to resist?
  -–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
From their book “If Not Now, When?
[In my opinion, history will not be kind to either the Bush / Cheney Administration or to the general officers in command leading up to the invasion of Iraq – with the notable exception of Army Chief of Staff, General Eric Shinseki.
General Shinseki testified to the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that “something in the order of several hundred thousand soldiers” would probably be required for postwar Iraq.  This was an estimate far higher than the figure being proposed by Secretary Rumsfeld in his invasion plan, and it was rejected in strong language by both Rumsfeld and his Deputy Secretary of Defense, Paul Wolfowitz, who was another chief planner of the invasion and occupation.
On November 15, 2006, in testimony before Congress, CENTCOM Commander Gen. John Abizaid said that General Shinseki had been correct that more troops were needed.  (from Wikipedia)
Unfortunately, one brave man was not enough to keep us out of a war of choice.  —  KMAB]
.

 

Read Full Post »

Today a book review and a movie re-review.  The book is titled: “The Faiths Of Our Fathers” and the movie: “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice“.
The Faiths Of Our Fathers” is written by Alf J. Mapp, Jr. (2003©).  Mapp is a colonial historian and this book is somewhat interesting in providing context about the differences in beliefs across the colonies.  Other than that, my own belief is that the author is biased towards “Christian” beliefs and caries this bias across in his writing.  The book attempts to offer a Catholic (Charles Carroll of Carrollton) and a Jew (Haym Solomon) as secondary evidence that one (an American of historical significance) can be deeply religious without being Protestant.  In fact, many of the most prominent founders – Washington, Jefferson and Franklin (for example) were Deists – they believed in a supreme being – but did not hold that being MUST be Christian (let alone a trinity).
While it is certainly true that most of the founding fathers were raised in a Christian faith, it is NOT accurate to portray them as devout Christians – which is definitely the feeling I was left with after reading this book.  For example: Washington did not partake of Communion.  When confronted about this and advised that others in the church found his actions “confusing”, Washington stopped attending services altogether.  Jefferson rewrote the Bible removing all references to miracles, because he considered them fantasy.  And, Franklin was a deist who questioned the divinity of Jesus Christ in his autobiography and in letters to friends.
As stated, the book is somewhat interesting as it describes the faiths during the time of the founding of the United States and it is a short book.  Other than those two observations, it is difficult to give this book more than a passing recommendation.
The Sorcerer’s Apprentice” is a movie I saw with my kids on first release back in July of 2010  (my initial review is here).  I enjoyed the movie initially, and I thought even more highly of it after seeing it this second time.  I watched it on one of the cable movie channels, so there were no commercial interruptions.  While Nicolas Cage and Alfred Molina are the two “stars” of the movie (and Molina is pretty good in his bad-guy role; Cage less so as the good-guy), the real stars are the apprentice – Dave – and his lifelong (lost and rediscovered) girlfriend – Becky (played by Jay Baruchel and Teresa Palmer, respectively).  I don’t recall seeing either of them in any other roles, before or since, so I don’t have much to compare them with beyond this role.  In any case, Jay makes for a believable Nerd and Teresa holds her own as a beautiful girl who falls for a nerd (right, that’s gonna happen!)
The movie has good to great special effects and is a pleasant family movie with a minimum of blood, killings and swearing.  It was refreshing to watch a movie that was pleasant, entertaining and contained pretty good action scenes.  The “Fantasia” mop scene is pretty well re-created in the movie, which I felt added a little bit of movie geekiness to the movie.  As I tend to be a movie-geek, this was a plus for me.
One final note, as I did not see this back-to-back with another very good movie this time (last time I saw it the day after “Inception“), the movie came across even better than after the first viewing.  I highly recommend this movie.  Particularly now that you can watch it on cable.
.

Read Full Post »

The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.
  —  John Stuart Mill
.

 

Read Full Post »

This week I completed two books – one very good and one not very good.
The very good book is titled: “On Becoming A Leader” (2003©) and was written by Warren Bennis  – updated version from the original published in 1989.  Bennis is considered to be the “father” of the developed leader school.  His mantra is that leaders are not born, they are made.  Some are made by history, but Bennis goes farther in that he believes many (if not most) make themselves.  They (leaders in process) have various ways of “making” themselves, but ultimately they follow similar paths to becoming a leader.  The book is meant to lend framework to the path – partly to define the framework, but mostly to lay out the map for readers (leaders in process).
Shakespeare states: “Be not afraid of greatness; some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.”  This is a quote often seen when discussing how great leaders come to be.  I believe all three are true for “historic” leaders and am not convinced that any one is more prevalent than the other two.  I do feel that history and luck play the biggest role in “greatness”, though.
Bennis is firmly in the “achieving” camp.  It should be pointed out there is a difference between “greatness” and “leadership” and Bennis is concerned with the latter and not the former.  This book is his version of “how” to become a leader – the personal traits you need to develop, how you should lead, and how you must form your organization or how it will form you.  There is a statement that great leaders understand themselves and “express” their nature fully.  This is the part where I start to fall away from Bennis.  While I can understand “warm-fuzzy psycho-babble”, it’s not my cup of tea.  It simply doesn’t “resonate” with me.  This may simply be because I’m not a “great” leader and I’m therefore not  able to feel the “expressive” nature of great leadership hidden away in me.  (But, I doubt it…)
Anyway, as negative as the preceding paragraphs sound, this is actually a VERY good book and I highly recommend it – not because I believe everything Bennis says, but rather because I love his use of language.  I probably hope that being “fully expressive” is all it takes to be a great leader, because this implies I may still develop into a great leader myself.  (But, I doubt it…)
By the way, this was another $2 clearance book at Half-Price Books (and worth ten times as much), and you’ll be seeing frequent quotes from the book in future posts.
The second book is titled: “Marathoning A-Z” and was written by Hal Higdon (2002©).  The book is sub-titled: “500 Ways to Run Better, Faster,and Smarter“.  The book is a series of alphabetically sorted snippets from his question and answer columns and emails about running.  The book is a very fast read.  This is partly because each offering truly is a snippet and partly because there is almost nothing stated which makes one pause to think.  As such, I could not recommend this book to any but the most rank beginner of a runner.  Even then I’d qualify the book to them by stating at least 20 to 30 of the items are repeated in a different alphabet letter.  I’m not sure if this was meant to introduce humor or simply filler because you’ve promised the publisher 500 items.  (I have a feeling it’s the latter…)  Sadly, this was NOT a $2 book for me.  It was $4.95 and I was over-charged about $4 in value vs cost.  Save your money and check this out of a library.  Better yet, just go out and start jogging.  You’ll get more from jogging yourself than you will ever get from this book.
.

 

Read Full Post »

It’s really about a search for meaning in our lives.  I don’t want a new car, a bigger house, or a more prestigious job.  You can have those.  I want more meaning in my life.  It’s not a search for truth, because there’s a connotation in the word that implies correctness.  I don’t even expect to be right.  What I really want is more meaning.
  —  Dean Ottati
From his book:  “The Runner And The Path
.

 

Read Full Post »

One could argue persuasively that if all citizens had a stake in the protection of our freedom, the arbitrary use of the military instrument of power, as a first resort, would be very difficult to engineer.
  -–  Col. Jack Jacobs (Ret.), a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient (and Douglas Century)
From their book:  “If Not Now, When?
.

 

Read Full Post »

Sunday at Mass we sang one of my favorite church hymns: “Praise To The Lord“.  I’m not sure why, but at our church, we seem to be able to turn even the most joyous song into a mournful dirge.  I remember this song as up-tempo and joyous – a song of praise!!  Anyway, without trying to sound too out of place, I still try to sing it with “spirit” to make up for the ssslllooowww pace.
There are loads of versions of this song out on the web.  (Strangely enough, none of them are slow.)  A favorite of mine is by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.  Check out the lyrics, then go look for a version you like on the web…  Enjoy!!  (And, Praise the Lord!)
.

 

Read Full Post »

In love one has need of being believed, in friendship of being understood.
  —  Abel Bonnard
From his book:  “The Art Of Friendship
.

 

Read Full Post »

« Newer Posts - Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: