Friday, July 27, 2012

Can We Turn It Down, Please?

There are several older blog posts that I wish to revisit at some point. Ones about baseball and language immediately come to mind. This week, however, there has been so much noise about some things and so little about other, more important, events, that I feel the urge to comment.

I am fond of Chick-Fil-A. I like their food but, most of all, I admire their service. They compete in the same labor pool with McDonald's, shopping centers and all the rest, yet they continually find earnest people who genuinely seem to enjoy what they do and take pride in their service. They do untold good works in the communities in which they do business. Perhaps the most bizarre notion of their business model is that they are closed on Sundays.

Last week, the CEO of this firm expressed his opinion. The world has been in an uproar ever since, with some yelling for boycotts and others yelling, equally as loud, for Christians to unite in support of this beleaguered chain.

Please. Is this how you were raised to behave?

I have not purchased Exxon gasoline since 1989. Yes, I was incensed that they spilled all that oil in Alaska. I was more resentful of that company as a result of all the facts that came out after that ecological disaster. It seemed that the spill and the subsequent PR offensive that assigned blame were indicative of how this company went about its business. Rapacious, greedy, avaricious and predatory are words that come to mind. I am not so smug as to believe that my boycott of Exxon will change their behavior or impact their profits. But, it does make me feel somewhat virtuous.

There are other companies whose products or services I have also avoided over the years: Tyco, MCI/WorldCom/Verizon, BP or any company once headed by (Chainsaw) Al Dunlap. I have chosen not to bank at any of the "too big to fail" behemoths like Bank of America or JP Morgan Chase. Since their business practices decimated nearly half of my retirement savings, I don't feel they deserve another shot at destroying what I have left. I boycotted Circuit City when they fired all their highly-compensated sales people to replace with ones paid substantially less. I avoided commerce with all these companies, not because of their political views; instead, I detested how they went about their business.

As offensive as I may find Mr. Cathy's remarks about his opposition to any marital situation that differed from his own, I was also offended when the mayors of Chicago and Boston announced that they would not look kindly on applications for business licenses from Chick-Fil-A. I'm no attorney, but it seems there may be some legal issues with that stance.

In other news over the past week, there was a mass murder in another gathering place formerly considered safe. Again, the alleged shooter acted alone. Again, there were few hints of the unhinged behavior that lurked beneath. Again, there was much hand-wringing by politicians and others about this tragedy. I have not heard anyone propose a ban of semi-automatic or automatic weapons in the aftermath of this all-too-familiar tragedy. No one is demanding that the sale of ammunition magazines designed only for killing multiple people - and no other purpose - be restricted or eliminated.

Instead of all this noise about one person's opinion, which runs contrary to how his business operates, why don't we go after some businesses that really do foment truly heinous acts? I would like to see those two mayors (and many more) sponsor legislation that will ban these weapons of mass destruction. If banning this weaponry is too controversial, let cities and states impose a severe sumptuary tax (and channel the proceeds to something worthy, like education) so as to discourage commerce in these illicit goods. Why doesn't the NRA do something truly constructive, and organize a boycott of those people and businesses that traffic in such weapons and the ammunition that feeds them? No one's constitutional rights will be trampled by such a campaign. It might even save a few hundred lives down the road, too.

To Mr. Cathy, I respect your right to your opinion, but I respectfully disagree, along with a majority of our citizens. To the talking heads screaming for boycotts or whatever on August 1, turn down the volume. Let's focus on other things, like education, saving lives and making our country a safer place for our children to thrive in.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Freeky Friday: Staying Healthy

Freeky Friday

About 20 years ago, I awoke one morning, only to discover that all my shirts had mysteriously shrunk overnight. As this was at a time when I had to wear ties to work every day, this was quite inconvenient. That day, I joined a health club and began a rigorous exercise regimen. I did well for months, culminating in completing a 5K run a mere second off my targeted time. Over the succeeding decades, that devoted daily routine simply vanished.

Twenty years and thirty pounds later, I decided to do something different. Finally, I got onto an eating program that actually worked for me, for the simple reason that it forced me to evaluate every single thing I ingested, limiting the unhealthy and increasing the amount of fruits & vegetables. I learned a phrase some time ago that went something like "act with integrity in the moment of choice." It's easy to eat ice cream daily or to swill a six pack of 20-ounce soft drinks within a week. But, those are lousy choices which I try not to make.

What I eat is but one part of what I consider healthy choices in my life. The other two are equally important. I have long enjoyed reading. When I traveled, I frequently took at least two books with me, spending my waking moments on airplanes engrossed in one volume or another. I typically read about 3 or 4 books at once, on a variety of topics. Over the years, I have found that I cannot go to sleep without spending 30 minutes reading whatever my current choices are. I'm now reading a book about each day of December 1941, in addition to Drift, by Rachel Maddow, a memoir from Madeleine Albright and a novel about the Civil War. I just finished a novel about North Korea and am about to begin one about Watergate. One might characterize my taste in reading as scattered; I prefer the term eclectic.

The other component is walking. I hate to run and never liked swimming. Walking is more my pace. It not only gets my heart pumping, it affords a time of reflection every time I do it. I have written speeches and prepared sessions; each walk also results in a planned day. I try to do so 5 days a week, 45 minutes a day. More importantly, I find when I fail to walk, my energy flags throughout the day. Jon Stewart closes each show with a moment of zen. That's how I prefer to start each day.

About those pounds? I'm halfway to losing all of them. That's my choice.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Freeky Friday: Pick Me Up

Freeky Friday

Somehow, my sister became this extraordinary baker. At nearly every family gathering over the past several decades, she always brought with her (or prepared while we were together) batches of chocolate chip cookies and this other chocolate cookie that I have experienced no where else on the planet.

My brother, sister and I are in Tulsa this weekend to celebrate our mother's 90th birthday. The three of us were running errands this morning, when we decided to stop at a local coffee emporium. There, my sister whipped out this treat.

These delicious gems only add to the joy of every time our family has been together for many years now. It's the best pick-me-up I know. I think the rest of my family would agree.