Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Dorothy Miller

This is a message I sent to friends today:

My Dear Old Mum, Dorothy, died yesterday at the age of 99. For most of her years she lived an active life and enjoyed good health. In recent months that changed. She had a difficult time moving around and her mental capacity and behavior seemed to be deteriorating rapidly. We attributed the changes to dementia, which probably did account for some of what was going on. But a couple of weeks ago we found that she had a brain tumor, clearly the main source of her difficulties.

Given that the tumor was the size of a large plum and growing rapidly and that she was 99, there was nothing to be done except make sure she was comfortable and to the degree possible, pain free. She went from the hospital to hospice care and after some difficult days was finally resting peacefully. Not long after she passed on.

Quietly, with no fanfare, she had a positive impact on everyone she touched. She was an authentically decent human being. When I hear that someone was a really good person my skeptical antennae go on high alert. In the case of Dorothy Miller, however, she really was – through and through.

She was a great mother, a leader in her community, successful in the workplace and at home and exhibited a boundless generosity of spirit. She saw the best in people and always had a positive attitude toward the world around her. (As you know, her eldest son can’t make such a claim.)

Yesterday my cousin Sharon wrote: “We have to accept things the way they are and just get on with our life.” On the occasion of her 99th birthday celebration, this is the pearl my Auntie Dorothy nonchalantly offered. It was this type of understated wisdom that my mother’s eldest sister let hang in the air for anyone lucky enough to be within earshot to gently accept and hold. If you weren’t listening, you wouldn’t know to hold out your arms to catch the inspiration that embodied Aunt Dorothy because it was served up with such grace and humility. She had a sparkle in her eyes that reflected the smile and warmth in her heart.

I think that covers it.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010


You’re deluding yourself if you think:

We can buy our way into favor with the people of Pakistan by helping them cope with the floods that have devastated their country. Won’t happen. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t provide assistance. It only means that their long-standing dislike of our actions and policies in their part of the world will not go away quickly – or maybe ever.

You’re deluding yourself if you think:

It’s un-American to oppose construction of an Islamic cultural center and mosque two blocks from Ground Zero. It’s very American to be opposed to ‘the other.’ It’s been that way from the beginning. Pilgrims and Puritans. Settlers and Indians. Germans and Irish. Irish and Italians. Almost all of them and Jews. Almost all of them and blacks. It’s in the Good Old American tradition to be the last one in and then try to prevent new ones from arriving. Today’s justifications for what is simply anti-Muslim prejudice are laughable. Too close to Hallowed Ground my ass. It’s more NIMBY, as evidenced by protests from white Christians elsewhere in the country. Give me a break.

You’re deluding yourself if you think:

Our latest, greatest military savior, the brilliant, prescient warrior with a gentle demeanor, the one and only General David Howell Petraeus, will agree to reduce American forces in Afghanistan on Obama’s promised schedule next summer. Ain’t gonna happen. There will be a full-court public relations press to convince us it’s not a good idea. And Obama will cave while arguing that he isn’t. And this hopeless war will go on so more can die, more resources can be wasted, and in the end we’ll slink out with our tails between our legs saying we’ve done the right thing. Don’t get your hopes up because the polls say 2/3 of your fellow citizens are against this war. Our leaders don’t have the guts to admit they’re on a fools errand.

You’re deluding yourself if you think:

The US can maintain its economic preeminence for more than a few more years. I’d give it another 20 years at best. We can continue to be a major player for the rest of this century – maybe. If we have the courage to confront what it will take to get our house in order, i.e., reduce the deficit by cutting expenses and raising taxes. If we curb our protectionist instincts. If we bury the arrogance of American exceptionalism. If we establish mutually beneficial relationships with our main competitors. If we learn how to listen more and speak less. Like that. And to make all this happen? – good luck to us.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Today's Thoughts

No need to be profound or significant. Just a desire to sit down and say something.

Latest new toy has arrived – an iPhone4. Having resisted smartphones for years, I finally gave in. No need for a rationale, but I had one. With a built-in GPS and an appropriate app I could use it in Europe to tell me how to go through the maze to get from Point A to Point B in those confusing little (or large) towns. For decades, in the face of what in the moment seemed like overwhelming odds, we’ve managed to find our hotel and other destinations, but it hasn’t been easy. I’m tired of the struggle (and aggravation.) So an iPhone it is. And I have to say, after a couple of days of playing around, it is an extraordinary device.

The Premier League in England opens its new season tomorrow. I’ve put together my lineup for Fantasy Football. Ten teams are represented among the 15 players I’ve chosen. And I’m ready to kick ass again this year. I’ve programmed by DVR for the games on TV. I was surprised, and pleased, to see that between the Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Soccer + and ESPN, 9 of the 10 games that will be played are being televised here. That’s an amazing turnabout from the way it used to be. In the old days, like 2 or 3 years ago, I lucky to find was any games to watch.

We were at the ballpark yesterday to see the Giants beat the Cubs 8-7. While exciting, it was harder than it should have been. We had a 7-3 lead after six innings, when Cain went out and the bullpen took over. They managed to squander the lead, and going to the bottom of the ninth the game was tied. But in the end the guys came through and we had a thrilling finale. The game featured back-to-back homers by Burrell and Sandoval. Sandoval put his ball into McCovey Cove, the 54th time a Giant has done that since the park opened in 2000. Later Burrell hit another, this one a grand slam that gave us that four run lead. As always, it was fun being at ATT Park. Big crowd. Sunny. I had my traditional hot link and Anchor Steam. Couldn’t ask for anything more, especially since the game ended as it did. It was our 5th game this season. We’re 3-2 so far. Beat the Phillies and Mets and lost to the Red Sox and Colorado.

I decided to do what I needed to do to have my book, “Look With the Heart,” available on Kindle. Turns out the process wasn’t all that difficult, and so there it is – downloadable in 60 seconds. Cool!

Personal dramas and traumas (I’ll spare you the details) have interfered with my blog output recently. So today’s non-profound, non-significant blurb was fun to do.

Later . . .

Friday, August 06, 2010

What Has My Attention Today

For a few minutes at least the fog has lifted and I see blue sky. July and August in San Francisco are traditionally cold and foggy, but this year has been ridiculous. I can’t remember one day in the past six weeks when it was sunny from sunrise to sunset. Mark Twain is right again: “The coldest winter I’ve ever spent is summer in San Francisco.”

Tiger Woods continues to implode. I thought he was mentally tough enough to overcome all his personal bullshit and continue to play great golf. I was wrong. After the second round of the Bridgestone Invitational he is 72nd (out of 80). Unbelievable.

The other day I learned that throughout Europe, Sept. 29 has been set aside as a day of protest by labor unions and others. The complaint? Austerity measures being taken (intelligently and appropriately in my view) to save Europe from sliding further into the economic toilet. Poor Euro-babies. It will probably mean they have to work more and delay retirement past 50. What a shame.

Why do I care? Because we were scheduled to fly from Athens to Rome and then on to Catania that day. In all likelihood air traffic will be disrupted and strikes will make travel difficult or impossible. So I’ve taken steps to delay this travel for a day. Making airline and hotel changes has proven to be time-consuming, aggravating and costly. Doesn’t make me happy.

My plantar faschiitis and tendonitis stricken right foot, now in its fourth month of hurting, showed some signs of improving the day after I had a cortisone injection, but since then has blackslid some. Over these months, after several visits to a podiatrist, orthotics, massage, physical therapy, acupuncture, anti-inflammatory drugs, exercise, heat and cold applications, and a night splint – nothing has helped. The cortisone did make a difference and lifted my spirits. I’m looking forward to more of the same – soon.

I’ll note, but not spend time ranting about, the ongoing fucked up nature of our government, politicians, legislators, the media, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the right wing, the left wing and . . . you can fill in the rest of the blanks.

Having (partially) unburdened myself, it must be said that there is much to be thankful for: Sandra and other close relationships, friends, generally good health, a wonderful environment in which to live, peace and tranquility in the neighborhood, blessings that are not necessarily deserved but are deeply appreciated. Have a nice day.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Message #7 - To Thine Own Self Be True

This is the seventh in a series of monthly messages:

From Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”:

This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.

Living up to my personal values and ideals, and maintaining them in the face of life, is difficult. When I am most proud of myself, or when I am inspired by another, it usually has something to do with integrity of self, being true to oneself. That kind of integrity cannot be imposed. It is created by me and freely chosen by me. It allows me to express who I really am.

If you’re a rooster, crow; if you’re a hen, shut up and lay eggs.

Russian Proverb

Let each of you find where your chance for greatness lies.

“Chariots of Fire”

Success rests with having the courage and endurance, and above all, the will to become the person you are, however peculiar that may be. Then, you can say, I have found my hero and he is me.

George Sheehan

The splendor of furrowed fields is this: That like all grave

things they are made straight, and therefore they bend.

In everything that bows gracefully there must be an effort at


Bows are beautiful when they bend only because they try to remain

rigid, and swordblades can curl like silver ribbons only because

they are certain to spring straight again.

But the same is true of every tough curve of the tree trunk, of

every strongbacked curve of the bough;

That same thing in nature, that mere droop of weakness, rigidity

yielding a little, like justice swayed by mercy, is the whole

beauty of the earth.

The foil may curve in the lunge, but there is nothing beautiful

about beginning the battle with a crooked foil.

So the strict aim, the strong doctrine, may give a little in the

actual fight with facts.

But that is no reason for beginning with a weak doctrine or a

twisted aim.

Do not be an opportunist; try to be theoretic at all the

opportunities; fate can be trusted to do all the opportunistic

part of it.

Do not try to bend, any more than the trees try to bend.

Try to grow straight, and life will bend you.

GK Chesterton – “To Grow Straight”

Joseph Campbell summed it up best: Follow your bliss!!