Three Decades

June, 1989 – Let’s get in our Magic Time Machine and go back to see what’s happening in the world.

The first HDTV broadcasts take place in Japan. The Solidarity Party is victorious in Poland’s election, setting off anti-Communist uprisings in Central and Eastern Europe. The events of Tiananmen Square are forever etched in our memories.

And… in Arlington, Texas… Kathy and I exchange vows… 30 years ago today. We’ve shared many wonderful experiences…

the births of three children, now adults and soon to all be graduates of our alma mater, the University of Texas at Austin; UT football game tailgating; family vacations to Mexico, Walt Disney World (twice) and a few other wonderful places; Phantom of the Opera in London, limbo dancing in Jamaica and Sonoma County’s Russian River Valley wineries; our favorite restaurants; good health; financial resources; loving family and close friends

Happy Anniversary, Kathy. Here’s to 30 more.

Addendum: When I met with our long-time family priest to schedule the wedding at his church, his secretary came in with the parish calendar. She named several dates and I said, “That won’t work. The Rangers have a game that day.” After three tries, we found one. He later told us that when I left, she looked at him and said: “That marriage will never last, if he can’t give up going to a Rangers game for his wedding.” He had a good laugh… since she didn’t know I was the producer of their cable broadcasts.


Northern Lights

Canadians have a reputation for being polite… typically acting in ways that are kind and considerate. Having spent more than two months there the past few years working with leaders from the western provinces across the country to Newfoundland, I think that perception is true.

Whether training, facilitating meetings or joining in a walk-around, there were three times I heard someone behaving in a contrary way. From my experience, our ‘friends to the north’ typically see the glass almost full and seek solutions to challenges. I find it inspirational to be around them.

Good for the ego, too, as the evaluation rankings I receive are always high.

Although, one of them did tell me recently: “Take our ratings with a grain of salt. We never say anything bad about anybody.” Maybe I should limit the references to college football, Tex-Mex and ‘Hamilton’ from now on.


Scope Creep

There is an accepted theorem of IT projects that what starts out as a great idea for better productivity – before the actual ‘Go Live’ moment – will ‘take twice as long, cost twice as much, and be half as effective as expected’… at least prior to the v1.1 release.

A corollary exists in home projects.

Add new hardwood flooring to the living room and that sofa and love seat just don’t seem to work like they did with your carpet. Hire the neighbor’s landscapers to mow your lawn and, by golly, come spring you’ll have them trim the shrubs, add mulch and plant some colorful flowers, too. Go to the Russian River Valley for a wonderful vacation with your spouse and you’re still getting things from the wine clubs you joined 18 months later. Oh, and you needed to buy a wine cooler to hold all those bottles.

OK, maybe that wasn’t ‘you’; it was definitely ‘us’.

The key to not having this happen is simply to increase your planned capital outlay… every time.

That way when you put in a tankless hot water heater and later find out that each year you need a service call to do something to the coils but then the first time he comes he tells you if you’ll add an external water softener then you won’t need to have him back as long as you add salt every three months to the large black container that’s visible from your street and you just know your HOA is going to make you plant a shrub in front of it because of deed restrictions and then it turns out you actually go through salt in six weeks so you make a lot of trips to Home Depot then carry two 40-pound bags from your driveway to the opposite corner of your house.

Of course, that would never happen to ‘you’… just ‘us’.


Childhood Memories

When Kathy’s parents moved into assisted living four years ago, at their request we brought back to our house furniture that had belonged to her grandmother. We also cleaned out her childhood bedroom… discovering her mom had saved a lot of things that once belonged to Kathy: grade school report cards; childhood books; high school clothes; jewelry; letters; scrapbooks; bulletin boards; thingamabobs; doohickeys; gizmos.

I held up each item and Kathy said, “keep” or “trash.” After many hours of reviewing and reminiscing, we took a lot of things to the dumpster and departed with a filled back seat.

After nearly 30 years of marriage, we’ve collected quite an array of ‘stuff’ ourselves. Enough Christmas ornaments to deck three trees, along with dozens of decorations for Easter, Halloween and Thanksgiving. Gifts from holidays and birthdays past. Books, magazines, DVDs, CDs, albums and electronic devices that would fill a section at Barnes and Noble.

Heck, I kept my Boy Scout merit badges, a folder containing photos cut from 20 years of Sports Illustrated, and all of my college essays. Plus, we have a cabinet filled with the ‘best of’ our kids’ elementary school art projects and other youthful designs.

Which brings up a perplexing thought: will they care about these things when we’re gone, or will they simply sort them ‘keep’ or ‘trash’… then head to the dumpster?

Perhaps it’s not about passing things on to my kids that has me saving things from my childhood. Maybe it’s actually about holding on to the past – and that raises the question: what is that keeping me from accomplishing in the future?


Quote This

Amidst this record-setting shutdown, each day seems filled with more negativity and uncertainty. Negativity about our elected leaders, our core values, our place on the world stage. Uncertainty about the economy, the climate, the future of our children.

Rather than wallow in what could go wrong, I find it better to focus on what will go right. Since I’m no expert at predicting the future, I typically pull out my Word document that contains more than 30 pages of inspirational quotes and let others impact my thoughts…

“The only limit to our realization of tomorrow will be our doubts of today.” ~ Franklin D. Roosevelt

“Success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.” ~ Booker T. Washington

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hold on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to society. The optimist invents the airplane, the pessimist the parachute.” ~ George Bernard Shaw

“We find comfort among those who agree with us – growth among those who don’t.” ~ Frank A. Clark

“By working together, pooling our resources and building on our strengths, we can accomplish great things.” ~ Ronald Reagan

“What is worse than having no sight is being able to see but having no vision.” ~ Helen Keller

“There are risks and costs to a program of action, but they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inactions.” ~ John F. Kennedy

“When you do BIG things, you make big mistakes. The way to get started is to quit talking and begin doing.” ~ Walt Disney

“There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist or accept the responsibility for changing them.” ~ Denis Waitley

“The problem in my life and other people’s lives is not the absence of knowing what to do, but the absence of doing it.” ~ Peter Drucker

“Those who expect moments of change to be comfortable and free of conflict have not learned their history.” ~ Joan Wallach Scott

“Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.” ~ Alfred A. Montapert

Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for.” ~ Will Rogers