Archive for November, 2008


Time to Speak the Truth

This is preeminently the time to speak the truth, the whole truth, frankly and boldly. Nor need we shrink from honestly facing conditions in our country today. This great Nation will endure as it has endured, will revive and will prosper. So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself—nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance…They concern, thank God, only material things. Values have shrunken to fantastic levels; taxes have risen; our ability to pay has fallen; government of all kinds is faced by serious curtailment of income; the means of exchange are frozen in the currents of trade; the withered leaves of industrial enterprise lie on every side; farmers find no markets for their produce; the savings of many years in thousands of families are gone.

More important, a host of unemployed citizens face the grim problem of existence, and an equally great number toil with little return. Only a foolish optimist can deny the dark realities of the moment.Yet our distress comes from no failure of substance. We are stricken by no plague of locusts. Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for. Nature still offers her bounty and human efforts have multiplied it…Happiness lies not in the mere possession of money; it lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort. The joy and moral stimulation of work no longer must be forgotten in the mad chase of evanescent profits. These dark days will be worth all they cost us if they teach us that our true destiny is not to be ministered unto but to minister to ourselves and to our fellow men.—Franklin D. Roosevelt, First Inaugural Address

Some things to think about…at the time FDR took office, almost 40% of the workforce was unemployed. Banks were failing by the thousands. National income went from 81 billion to 41 billion between 1929 and 1932. Economic turmoil was worldwide. Sound familiar?

Yes, things aren’t great now, and the signs point that they will get worse. However, the gloom and doom that saturates the news and conversations is somewhat pointless. Clearly, as bad, if not worse, times were experienced in the past, and societies and countries survived. Who exactly do you think will solve the problems we face if it isn’t ourselves? Isn’t it time that instead of only talking about how bad the problems are we focused on how to fix them?

One of the best examples of words taking the place of much-needed action was the Big Three CEOs in Washington begging the government for money. Never mind that they flew there on their private planes (undermines the “need” argument a bit). Why aren’t they back in Detroit examining their companies from top to bottom looking for ways to fix the problems their companies face? In this instance, actions speak louder then words. Even those politicians that are willing to consider loaning these companies the money want a plan that shows how these struggling entities will become successful. Words alone aren’t enough anymore. We have to make a conscious decision to act.

We have two choices: one, we can succumb to all that is bad and hunker down, hoping that the worse will pass us by, or two, we can dig in and use some of that ingenuity that seems to have been tossed by the wayside in recent months. One person won’t solve this problem. The sooner we recognize that a brave knight isn’t waiting to ride to our rescue, the faster we can move towards future success. Make the commitment to seek out the people who are talking about real solutions and ignore the people who say the sky is falling. The sky may still fall, but the solutions people will have developed a sky-proof helmet before it happens.


Tagged by Chris Brogan

If I didn’t like him so much, I might smack Chris Brogan for tagging me with his latest meme. I have a hard time believing that anything you don’t already know about is that interesting, but here’s my contribution to the pile.

1. Growing up, I planned to become an architect. Any chance I got, I’d sketch little house plans then I’d build those house plans out of Legos. I loved looking at blueprints and cobbling together different parts of houses into one of my own. In high school, I put together two sets of plans for people looking to add on to their homes. Only one was built, and I still enjoy riding my bike past that home and seeing the addition. However, reality intruded in college when it became clear that calculus and physics were never going to be my forte, making an official degree in architecture impossible. To this day, I still enjoy drawing house plans.

2. In college, I had a job for three weeks at a survey call center. It was horrid. We were paid a skimpy hourly rate and then we had to hit a certain number of completed surveys to get anything more. Besides the fact that I hated interrupting people at home, if I was even one question short of the completing the survey it didn’t count. Sometimes, we’d have a particularly long survey, say 30-40 questions. Without fail, I’d get at least one person who get through all but one or two and hang up on me. After deciding that bashing my head against the wall wasn’t an option, I quit a job for the first time in my life and only felt guilty about it for a day.

3. My junior year of college I was the Arts & Entertainment Editor for my school newspaper. Here’s the funny thing: I loved working on the newspaper, assigning stories and editing copy, but I absolutely loathed doing interviews. So I would scoop up as many CD and movie reviews as possible and send my reporters out to do the one-on-one stuff. That job was also interesting because it marked a year where the editor elected to insert a paid advertisement that denounced the Holocaust. She did so to illustrate a free speech objective, which she explained in an accompanying editorial, making it clear she gave it no personal credence. No one was surprised when she started receiving threats, and we were encouraged to leave the newspaper office in pairs. Luckily nothing happened, but it was a reminder that words come with responsibility.

4. I’ve gotten into the habit of building my own computers. My most recent one replaces my aging tower that started flashing the blue screen of death after five years. In theory, I fixed it, but decided it was time to move on. There’s something so satisfying about knowing how to put a computer together. My first time, I didn’t match my processor and my motherboard, which for some reason took me forever to figure out. Then the case’s power button had a short, blocking it from powering up as normal. All told, it took me close to six weeks to get the stupid thing working. My latest build only took me two days. Yes, I smiled when I typed that.

5. I own over 1,600 books, and I keep track of my collection with a barcode scanner and a database. Why? I got tired of buying duplicates. I love books. A friend recently asked if I’d buy an Amazon Kindle, and while I might for convenience at some point, I’ll never give up my physicial books. There’s something so right about holding a book in one’s hands. Some of the earliest pictures of me, even before I could read are of me holding a book and pretending to read. Few things give me greater pleasure than reading, and I feel safe saying I like books from almost every genre (I still struggle with poetry).

Memes like this one make me wonder if we ever really know another person. Or whether the information that’s shared makes a difference about how we perceive another person. Part of me hopes that no one finds out everything about me, while the other part hopes one person knows everything. How’s that for contradiction?

Be sure to check out the other tagees: Jon Swanson, Becky McCrayMegin, and Glenda Watson Hyatt.

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November 2008
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