Category Archives: Life Lessons

Assistance, Please

I’ve been mulling what follows over for 48 hours. Arriving at no easy answer/resolution, I turn to my fellow PPPers for any thoughts, suggestions, recommendations or other input you might offer.

As many know, I reside in a townhouse situated within an apartment complex. Given the length of time here, my walks, and general interaction from sitting on the front stoop, I meet many residents. Some, I know by name. Most, I recognize. As the property manager (newly hired, relatively) said last week, most know who I am.

One of the latter is a young man I’ll refer to as W (he’s a writer). W and his spouse (“S” hereinafter) reside in a townhouse in the building to my South.I’ve not met S.

Thursday evening W knocked on my door looking to bum a cigarette. No problem there. As we were standing outside, I asked W how things were as it was apparent he wanted to talk. He responded with a not very good. He then told me that in early November, the little boy (about one year old) that I had met earlier this Fall had died suddenly. My head reeling, I made the appropriate noises and told him about my wife’s death four years ago. As we talked, it became clear that even though the boy was not W’s child (biologically), W had been very attached to him. W then mentioned he was in counseling with an appropriate individual whose name I recognized. We continued to talk, with me listening and offering such bits of learning I had to offer. During this time (about an hour), W’s cell phone rang multiple times, irking W. He finally answered, and after that conversation, he and I continued. W was quite agitated.

W acknowledged he was working through his grief, having moved recently to the anger stage. W then went on to tell me S refused to get any help, preferring to habituate various bars nightly for the purported purpose of becoming and remaining numb. Further, S had locked W’s car and taken the keys (which is why W was out of smokes). The rationale was to prevent W from potentially harming himself. I think otherwise, but whatever. Then, S calls again, and got most disturbed by the fact W was not home, but rather out talking with a neighbor. S kept getting louder and louder, finally terminating the call. W said S doesn’t like their next-door neighbor, who has been trying to help. The feeling is mutual; I’m acquainted with the neighbor (who has an adorable 15 month old daughter).

The next day, W and S’s neighbor came by. She related that there had been a terrible argument after S had returned from the bar (“shit-faced”, she called it), and S had threatened her earlier that day. After she clarified that W hadn’t been talking to her, S went ballistic and wanted to know with whom W had been talking. She didn’t know, but had a feeling it was I involved. So she could stay truthful, I neither confirmed nor denied. Her parting comment was that anyone who had been talking to W needed to be on their toes.

The question(s): If W comes back, I intend to do my best to help in any way I can. Should I refuse to so do? If S shows up shit-faced and threatening, 911 gets called by me. No further discussion on that. However, if S comes by and just wants to talk (without W) about the boy’s death, should I listen or suggest S find another outlet? If I was still practicing, the answer would be easier.

Any advice, etc., offered will be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.

N.B. Full disclosure: W’s mother (single) has seen me during my excursions and has bugged W about who I am. I’ve told W the bare details, and he wishes to introduce the two of us. If his mother is the woman with whom I had a conversation two months ago utside W’s front door, I’m interested.


Filed under Ethics, family, Life Lessons


It started out to be a way to bring into prospective what is most important in life and relationships, but ended up being more disturbing as a whole about a younger generation of men.  The general question, is if you are far away from everything that you know in life what do you think you would miss the most?  Would it be a car, movie, game system, places to eat or someone that is in your family which would you miss the most?  The first person gave a simple answer; he said everything and not one thing in particular.  This was like saying that everything, including a human being that is thought of as a loved one, is equal and there is no real emotional attachment to anything over another.  After a while of thinking about it, I asked another young man in the family and got basically the same answer.

This reminded me of a recent incident, where my daughter asked her soon to be ex-husband whether he was at the house because of her and his sons or simply because he had no where else to be? His answer was because he did not have anywhere else to be.

Three young men of about the same age and all lacking an emotional attachment to those who they should have this attachment to. That the human beings were of no more importance then the objects they also enjoy spending time with.  A wife or a child is not more important to them than a good cup of coffee or an enjoyable game to play.  Simply something that they enjoy spending time doing or having around at the moment.  They boil down the only reason to be in any relationship as a convenience of the moment.   They aren’t saying their loved one would be missed, but rather that they could be replaced and are not a special selection among any other who would also perform the same functions as someone to talk to or be around.

The ability to have emotional attachment gives us the ability to see others as special or even fellow human beings. That goes beyond those outside of our family and in a sense our own value as human.  Lacking it is what enables everything from theft to mass murder like in the case of Hitler.  If this had been shown in only one individual it is a matter of concern but in three in the same generation and from different families is alarming and makes me wonder if it is a symptom of the generation?

Emotional attachment is a key benchmark of being a human being and one of the foundations of the very concept of humanity.


Filed under Life Lessons, Thinking/Considering



Tobacco being an expense and not having gotten any unemployment for the last five weeks.

This morning I was reduced to digging out a relic, my dad’s pipe and a bag of tobacco.

Fortunate for me my son-in-law has better taste in pipe tobacco then dad did and the bag was left by my son-in-law.

The pipe really is a relic, twenty years ago my dad had broken his pipe and I was smoking a pipe then.

So I had given him one of mine, since I had about ten different pipes I was really into smoking a pipe!

Well this morning I load the pipe and started to light it when I noticed I was having trouble.

The bowl seemed out of line and turning away from me.

I finally took it from my mouth and looked it over, dad had done his remodel on it!

He liked straight stem and I like to have a downward bend, he had done some craving and then taped it to suit him. The problem was he was right handed and I am left handed.

Being in my right mind often sets me at the mirror image of how everyone else does things.

Left justified instead of right justified, once I moved the pipe to the other side of my mouth everything seem to line up just fine.

Does that ever happen to you, something that once belonged to a parent and it was passed down.

But it brings out a difference between you and them?


Filed under family, Just Plain Fun, Life Lessons, memories, You know you're getting old when . . .

Run, Colton, run!

The police in the Bahamas have captured the “Barefoot Bandit,” Colton Harris-Moore. After two years on the run, the 19 year old fugitive is behind bars, after having been arrested after a high speed boat chase. Harris-Moore was taken into custody in shackles, true to his nic, barefoot.

There is a Face Book page, dedicated to Colton Harris-Moore, with 71,000 friends. Tee-shirts have been sold with the message “Run, Colton, run!” and “Fly, Colton, fly!”

(Harris-Moore has allegedly stolen five small aircraft, taught himself how to fly and crashed landed in the Bahamas after a 1,000 mile flight in a plane he stole in Indiana.)

Colton has become a folk hero over the past two years.  Like Bonnie and Clyde before him, his exploits have made front page news and earned him a rabid following. It should be noted, of course, that Colton has not been alleged to have killed anyone.

So, why do we tend to glorify outlaws?

The afore mentioned Bonnie and Clyde, John Dillinger, Jesse James and Billy the Kid have all been given a place in American folklore, despite their violent pasts. Even D.B. Cooper has his fan club. BTK was a folk legend until he turned out to be just Dennis Rader.

We glorify outlaws, in my not so humble opinion, because they do what we fantasize about doing – running from the law and getting away with it.

What does our fascination with outlaws say about us?

On one hand, the American thought is “hang ’em high!” or “lock ’em up and throw away the key!”

On the other hand, we celebrate the outlaw. We root for him (or her) to continue to evade Law Enforcement and continue with their illegal activities.

Which will it be?

Colton Harris-Moore is likely to get twelve or more years in prison. Will his Face Book admirers still be around when he is paroled? Will the “cult of personality” that surrounds him still be foursquare behind him or will they have found a new “outlaw” to rally behind?

(The thread photo is not of the author. My beard is white.)

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Life Lessons

Lessons learned from a novel

To Kill A Mockingbird was published on July 11, 1960.  The book was adapted into an Oscar-winning film in 1962.

To  Kill a Mockingbird is a Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Harper Lee. It was instantly successful and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author’s observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936 — when she was 10 years old.  The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality.

The book has valuable lessons about an evil that needed to be brought into the open and defeated.  I’ve heard it said of this time, “We liberated not just black people, we liberated white people.”  Surely, Harper Lee contributed to this liberation with her book.

What defeats evil?  Is it kindness?  Could it be knowledge which seems to tame, if not defeat, fear?  Is there a lesson you learned from To Kill A Mockingbird?  How do the lessons the novel offers relate to problems in our world today — immigration, embracing the different cultures of all countries, fears of the unknown?  What other current issues could we relate to this timeless novel and the lessons it offers?



Filed under Book Reviews, Life Lessons, Original writings


The surprise I got for my wife was a scooter, we had seen it at a garage sale and she loved it.

But I also knew she would not get it for herself, one thing that many men would love to be able to say about their wives. Mine is not prone to spending money or wanting things that are expensive that is just for being able to say they have it.  For years she has denied herself many things she wanted but would not get because of it cost money.  When it comes to spending money she makes me look like a Bush conservative.

So after going to the bank to discuss the matter with our loan officer which seems that height of arrogant considering the situation we are in. I was able to add to the existing loan with no increase in what we were already paying a month.

She loves the scooter riding it to work everyday and taking to just going for a ride to enjoy the day.

Gee sounds kind of familiar somehow?

Well she told me after I got back of an incident that happened, one that is so familiar that I myself have lost count as to how many times it has happened to me! I have a couple of pieces of advise to those who decided to ride a motor cycle on the streets. You ride like you are invisible because that is exactly the way it is.  There is a reason that it is a old saying and one that came about since motor cycles became common place.

“Honestly Officer…. I did not see the motor cycle!”.

Another is simple logic and can save your life, what is the first thing on the car setting at a stop you should be watching? It’s the wheels, if the car is going to move the first thing that will move is the wheels.  If the wheels start to roll the car is going to pull out in front of you!

She told me it happened that she was approaching a side street where a car was waiting to pull into traffic, suddenly the car pulled out right in front of her! The woman driver seem to have been watching the traffic and waiting but then just pulled out.  I replied, “And she seem to be looking you right in the eyes didn’t she?”.  My wife said, “Yes she seem to be!”.  Again this kind of thing has happened to me so many times I can not tell you how many times.

She said my advise which I had given her just before I had left gave her the time to be prepared and stop in time. As she approached the corner she started watching the wheels and when they started moving she was ready.

My wife is now officially a motor cyclist, all that is left is to dump the scooter either through hitting loose sand or because of not noticing a bump or pot hole in the road. Then the test will be does she get back up and on or say this is not worth it! Of course to my thinking it is worth it and she is getting to that point.

I wonder how long it will be before she starts talking about wanting something bigger?


Filed under Just Plain Fun, Life Lessons, Woman Power

It’s Tee Time!

Sports can thrill and inspire, but of late, sports can be equally frustrating and disgusting. Anymore, it seems you can follow sports stories in the gossip columns and police blotters as much as you can on the sports page.

Nominally, this column is about golf, but it is really about heart.

The US Open begins Thursday at the famed Pebble Beach course in Monterey, California. Being one of four major golf championships, the US Open will feature the best names in golf, Tiger, Phil, Padraig, Miguel and Vijay. Tom Watson will be there. So will Erik Compton.

A dozen golfers will tee off with a realistic expectation of contenting for the championship. Erik Compton is not one of those golfers. Actually, he will be extremely fortunate just to make the cut. He barely even made the field at Pebble Beach, having had to survive a 39 hole qualifier just to make it to his first major championship, but Erik Compton plays with a lot of heart.

In fact, he’s on his third one.

Erik Compton is a thirty year old journeyman golfer from Florida, married, with a 14 month old daughter. He received his first heart transplant when he was twelve, his own heart having failed due to cardiomyopathy. That heart began to fail in 2007 and Erik suffered a heart attack. In 2008, he received yet another heart transplant.

Erik Compton’s playing partners this weekend will include Jannine, the fifteen year old victim of a drunk driver, and Issac, a former student/athlete that fell victim to a hit and run driver.

There will be no storybook ending this weekend. Erik Compton will likely be just one more golfer that tries to follow his dream of winning a US Open championship. Come Sunday afternoon, it will Phil or Tiger or Miguel in the final pairing, pursuing the title and fame and fortune. Erik will probably be watching it on television in his motel room.

Erik Compton’s wife and daughter, along with his parents will join many fans in the gallery, watching him play Pebble Beach.

Also in the gallery, will be the parents of a young man named Issac.

(The thread photo is the Eighteenth hole at Pebble Beach.)

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Life Lessons

Is there any good news out there!?!?

If you are a news junkie, the world looks down right depressing lately. We have oil spills, killer floods, massive deficits and debt, a roller coaster stock market, our own wars in Afghanistan and Iraq,  drug cartel wars in Mexico, ethnic cleansing in Kyrgyzstan and general mayhem around the world.

Iran is ratcheting up the conflict in Gaza with Israel, God only knows what’s going on in North Korea and the African continent continues to be sea of despair, famine and bloody conflict.

Down right depressing.

Helen Thomas opens mouth and inserts an anti-Semitic foot, something called a Lady Gaga flips off an entire stadium of Mets fans, the Big Twelve might be the Little Nine by tomorrow, the Tiny Five by week’s end and you can’t watch World Cup matches without feeling like you just stepped into the world’s largest bee hive due to the vuvuzela horns.

Down right depressing, I’m telling you.

Right here in the good old U.S. of A., the partisan divide grows by the  day and our politicians make you long for the good old days when pols settled their differences like Hamilton and Burr.

Are you depressed yet?

In China, a man and boy walk into an unsecured tiger enclosure and Dad gets munched. In Florida, a teacher is fired for having premarital sex with her now husband. And right here in this little burg that most of us call home, the assassins delivered their victim to the hospital before shooting him.

And just when you have truly had enough, something catches your eye that restores your faith in this world we live in……………


“SYDNEY – In those bleak moments when the lost souls stood atop the cliff, wondering whether to jump, the sound of the wind and the waves was broken by a soft voice. “Why don’t you come and have a cup of tea?” the stranger would ask. And when they turned to him, his smile was often their salvation.”

Do you have some good news to share with those of us that are getting a mite depressed?

(The thread photo is of the cliff mentioned in the story, the Gap, in Sydney Harbour, Sydney,  Australia. Presumably, the man’s house is on the far right.)

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Life Lessons

Exactly “when” were the good old days?

“I was eight years old and running with a dime in my hand
Down to bus stop to pick up a paper for my old man
I’d sit on his lap in that big old Buick and steer as we drove through town
He’d tousle my hair and say son take a good look around
This is your hometown, this is your hometown
This is your hometown, this is your hometown”

Bruce Springsteen, 1984

(The thread photo is of the now abandoned Grande Ballroom in Detroit where I saw numerous acts including the Who, Cream, Fleetwood Mac and the MC5.)

In troubled times, such as today, many people look at the past and recall fondly the “good old days.” But, in all honesty, were the “good old days” really that good?

For many, the “good old days” were their childhoods – a simpler time when Mommy and Daddy took care of the big issues and a child was mostly concerned with school and play.

To be honest, my childhood was by far the most miserable time of my life.  At six I was torn away from the grandparents that loved me and shortly thereafter dumped at an orphanage, to eventually be adopted by “good Christian” parents that had no business having children.

I’m not asking for pity for the previous comment, just expressing a fact.

I grew up in the Fifties and Sixties with all the social upheaval that entailed, and came of age in the Seventies. I served my sentence in the corporate world and tried to be what it was thought that I should be; the middle-class manager with a house in the suburbs and the de rigueur three children and an SUV.

For me, the “good old days” begin tomorrow. As I rapidly approach sixty, I have my children and grandchildren, all relatively healthy and happy. I have my three cats and two dogs. I have my many friends and my many personal interests and hobbies.

I still have my many bad habits, but if I didn’t, I would be perfect and that is a terrible burden to bear.

When I hear those that long for the “good old days,” I have to think; just “when” were the “good old days?” The days of discrimination (which still continues) and fear-mongering (which still continues) and a lack of equality for women (which still continues)?

What was so “good” about the “good old days?”

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under family, Life Lessons

The Reset Button.

Do you ever wish that life gave you a “reset button?”  Well, the answer for nearly all of us is an unqualified “yes!”

Do you wish that you could go back and make that one phone call? Change that one stupid decision you made years ago that still haunts you? Have a “do-over” with that relationship that you screwed up with that one special guy or girl?

I have a million of them.

Do I wish that I had accepted that job offer in Oregon 15 years ago? Yep. Do I wish that I had never sold my Harley-Davidson Electra Glide? Yep. Do wish I had never wasted three years of my life with Cindy? Yep.

Do I regret the children I have had with women that I no longer “care for?” Nope.

My children are the love of my life and nothing, no matter my thoughts about their mothers, will change that.

But what about the transfer I accepted in 1982 from North Carolina to Kansas? I have serious mixed feelings, but if I hadn’t taken that move, I would have never met the mother of my son, and for that, I would be sorely less blessed in my life.

They say that any action has unintended consequences. True enough; we cannot change fate and we shouldn’t try to.

But really, shouldn’t I get a “reset button” for the pitch I took in a softball tournament back in ’76? I always “took” the first pitch, but this one was right in my wheelhouse in the bottom of the final inning of the game, down by one run, with a runner on first.

Many times that season, I drove a similar pitch over the fence.

If I had done the same that time, we would have been league champions.

Instead, I flew out to left on the next pitch and we lost the game and the championship

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Life Lessons, Psychological Disorders

“Holding Out For A Hero”

Heroes are defined by each of us, in many, many different ways. The cop on the beat. The fire fighter. The Super Bowl hero. The guitar hero. Heroes in real life and heroes in fiction. Tough guy heroes. Tough women heroes. War heroes – peace heroes. Nameless heroes and heroes that have their names splashed across the Front Page.

The fallen hero.  The unsung heroes. A new hero. The everyday Mom and Dad heroes. The heroic relatives that step forward to care for children in times of tragedy. The old, nearly forgotten, hero from a time long ago.

Personally, I am not given to hero-worship. There are many, many people that I admire greatly, including our President and the First Lady, but very few that I would consider a hero. The list is short:

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr.

Heavyweight Champion Muhammad Ali.

Senator and presidential candidate Bobby Kennedy.

It is noteworthy that all of my heroes made their mark in the Sixties, the era in which I came of age.

“Holding Out For A Hero”

“I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ’til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight”

Bonnie Tyler, 1986 – written by Jim Steinman and Dean Pitchford.

So, you don’t need to call them heroes if you don’t want to use that term, no labels required, but who would you put on that pedestal and why?

William Stephenson Clark


Filed under Life Lessons, Uncategorized

I miss having only one pair of sneakers.

The two lives I have led came together, looking back at the music that long ago meant something to me.  And two of the tasks of today was picking up the room and doing the dishes from the weekend.

It did not help the matter when I hunted up a picture frame for a long ago picture of my wife. I had found the picture in a box while looking for something else and it also takes me back to another time.  One of those School pictures of her while we were dating, reminiscing of the style and period of the mid-seventies and her as the teenage love of my life.  She of course hates the picture saying it is ugly while to me it is an image of the most beautiful of all creation. She will surly hate to see it hanging on the wall now but to me it is the girl now the woman that caused me to Love more then I thought possible.

The picture, the music and the picking up around the house, it started me on a journey of looking at the two different lives I have lived in this lifetime.  At times seeming like they are of two different people.

While cleaning up the family room, I came across two pairs of sneakers; both pairs are mine,  One, the whenever I need to do something that is dirty or may cause harm to my footwear.  The other, the newest and a beautiful and pure white for those occasions when I need to look less like white trash.

Seldom are the newer ones worn, generally when going out in public and my wife wants me to be presentable to the world. But otherwise they are to be hidden away so as to not become dirty and scuffed.  Dirty and scuffed is the job of the old and beaten up pair which if not on my feet end-up just under the coffee table in the family room. Well within reach and always looking like they were used to wade through a swamp.

I miss the days when I only had one pair of sneakers!  When there was simply my current pair of shoes and the world just had to be happy or sad in the same pair. Continue reading


Filed under Diversity, family, Life Lessons, Original writings

StoryCorps Illustrates the Mother/Son Bond

StoryCorps Illustrates the Mother/Son Bond

From this short video exchange between a mother and her son is a lesson for all of us, not just mothers, not just parents, but for all our interactions with other humans.  We really should spend the time to find the best in each person, or at least spend less time finding the least.

Comments Off on StoryCorps Illustrates the Mother/Son Bond

Filed under family, Life Lessons, Thinking/Considering

Creating An Anti-Bullying Culture

This is happening at some of our nation’s schools!  Such an exciting and badly-needed lesson to be learned.  There is an excellent article at NPR titled, “Hit Back At Bullies?  Not At This School.” Continue reading


Filed under hate groups, Life Lessons, Progressive Ideals, Public Education, Research

What we’re losing without noticing.

Civility. Compromise. Discussion.

Remember them? Me too. I feel as if I’ve been a witness to their destruction at the hands of Stridency, Volume, and Exclusion.

Consider the news this week. A man with Parkinson’s disease, engaged in the simple act of letting his opinion in the face a of anti-health care reform protest – shouted at, mocked, humiliated. Was he hit or injured? No. Can you say you didn’t believe it was about to happen the first time you saw that video? Me neither. I feared for him and admire his bravery.

Where was the voice of reason in that crowd? I’d like to think I live in a nation where people are not afraid to protect those who need it, regardless of their political stripe. Yet none of the bystanders raised a hand to stop what was going on. “This is wrong, brother. I don’t agree with him either, but this is wrong.” That is all it would have taken. It didn’t happen.

This morning’s news is that Congressmen in favor of health care reform were spat upon and called hateful names that dredge up shameful portions of our nation’s history. What has become of us when men who are responding to the voices of their constituents can be humiliated for doing their job?

An important principle of our nation gives us all a voice. We’re all blessed by that principle. I’m not sure that principle doesn’t imply that we use that voice responsibly. Who in that crowd on Capitol Hill yesterday said “this is wrong brother. I don’t agree with them either, but this is wrong”?

On social media sites, opinions on health care are often met with strident opposing responses that come across as dismissive of opinions other than what the responder holds. Friends and families become estranged because the political atmosphere calls for not only rejection of opposing opinions, but shaming those who hold them.

My son will vote in his first election in November. After seeing the tone of arguments made on-line by admired friends and family, he has made the choice to speak only with his vote on political matters. I’m proud he’ll stay engaged in the process, but saddened that the tone of discussion these days is driving his voice, and probably others, into silence.

This is wrong, brother. We don’t agree, that’s our right,  but this atmosphere is wrong.



Filed under Diplomacy, Ethics, hate groups, Life Lessons