February 18, 2009

More Cheapness and Incompetence

Today's thundering rant has some advice for business executives.

Uncle Bob has been hearing some unpleasant things from Neil and his friends. Too bad I can't get them to join my crew. It's dangerous and sometimes borderline legal, but my organization shows appreciation. Well, I do, anyway.

Neil's department at a huge Fortune 500 soulless company is run from ivory towers with incompetent stronzos. They have to process forms in a "timely manner", and the semi-sentient subhumanoids that run the show have made the situation worse by quadrupling the work load and not providing extra staff to cover the work. The amazing thing is that the upper managers have no concept of how the work is done! They just come up with schemes and make things worse. And yes, the people that actually do the work resent the meddling of the ivory tower managers.

Let me interject something that puzzles me here. How is it that his department resents having a manager that has no experience in the field, but is willing to vote someone into the highest office in the land who also has no experience in the field?

A friend of Neil is in a different department. She has worked for the company for thirteen years, and had a few years in her current position. A supervisory position opened up, and she applied for it. Her supervisor said that there was not anything else for her to learn about the position, yet he did not feel that she was ready for it! What a load of merda.

The fact is that this company is cheap and incompetent. They do not reward good work and do not promote from within. How stupid can you get? I sure don't want some college edjamakated clown with no practical experience telling me how to do my job. Does anyone? And how much sense does that make, anyway? Those situations always get worse.

Do you know why they do this? So they can pay less! If I was working there for $250,000 USD and wanted a promotion, but was turned down because some bright and shiny face got the job for half of what I'm worth, sure, they save money. But it's short-sighted. When you take the cheap way out, you pay more in the long run. There's training, mistakes from inexperience, more training, fines are paid, lawsuits happen (both of these apply to Neil and his pal's company) — if you take the cheapest way out, you often get bitten in the keester in the long run.

Do you know what a "resource" is? It's something that you take, use, bend, shape, squeeze dry, force fit, abuse and throw away when it's no good to you anymore. I hate the term "human resources", because it implies "using" people. The problem with having people working for you is that people have lives to lead, needs to be met, events in their lives. So, executives, deal with it. You can't change that fundamental fact of life.

And this is not the economy to get cheap in. Sure, be frugal when it's justified. But don't hurt the ones you depend on to get the job done. Work intelligently, instead. Or the job won't get done at all, and you'll really lose out. And get out of that ivory tower so you can see what the job entails. Then, maybe, you'll have a better idea of what you're demanding from people.

February 16, 2009

Grave News

Buon giorno. Yes, I'm back and ready to rock. Nicky and Lela didn't let me down and kept the crew in line in my absence. Good thing, I didn't need to come back from my father's funeral and deal with extra stress. I didn't even have time to visit any of my Michigan goomahs while I was away!

I've talked about my feelings on funerals and memorial services in another post, so I'm not going to rehash that here. But what I will do is tell you how I deal with these things.

Don't hide from it
This is probably an extension of the Buddhist approach of facing your problems. What works for me (and I wish my surviving brother would try this instead of putting it out of his mind) is to face it head on. There were feelings to sort out and there was sorrow to face. There was regret because he didn't know me when I last saw him, and did not have a chance to see where my spiritual and mental development have taken me.

I'll admit to shedding tears, but I contained myself to keep the worst of it when I was alone. When I was actually at the funeral, it wasn't so bad for me. Back when my mother died a few years ago, someone wisely told me that sometimes things will creep up on me and set me off again, and that proved true. It was nice to know, and I won't be surprised when it happens again.

Talk about it
This is almost a "part B" to the first point. There were a few people that I could express some deep inner feelings with. Also, there were memories to share with friends and family members. I looked at the pictures and remembered things, and talked about them.

Don't be afraid of the humor
My father liked a good joke, and would have had a good laugh at the, uh, colorful ties that my brother and I wore; they were his ties! (In fact, I believe that he was there, watching.) Some of the pictures were reminders of some good times, and worth discussing. Other people were sharing memories of funny situations as well as meaningful events.

Here's some of the humor of the situation. My father (as well as my brother and mother) was cremated. My brother had the box with his remains so that we could take it to the military honors at the national cemetery. But my brother also had plans; he and his wife were leaving after the interment for a long-planned vacation. I helped them pack their car. My sister-in-law said, "Do you want to put Dad in the car?" So, I grabbed the box and stowed it next to their luggage; my father spent the night in the back of their car.

On that note, I was about to hang my clothes in the guest room closet and asked my brother if the closet was empty. "Yes. No! It is, but it isn't." It turns out that our brother was in the closet. Yep, his remains are going to be intered in April, and he's in a box in the closet. That first night in the guest room, I wondered if his spirit was going to "prank" me, but he's long gone and having a good time in Heaven.

Celebrate
Celebrate the life of the departed (unless the person was a total stronzo, then you can privately celebrate your own freedom). In my heart (yes, I do have one, despite what political opponents and my ex wife will tell you), I celebrated his release from this life and entry into Heaven, and the reunion with my mother, my brother, my father's brother and parents...

Keep the seriousness when it matters
That one is rather hard to explain. You can get too solemn and serious and bring everyone down, but you also have to clam up when someone just doesn't feel like easing off from the sorrow, capice? It's a meaningful time, and the overall attitude should be respectful.

I did some serious things, such as wearing his World War II dog tags at both services.

Listen, everyone has to do what works for them. I happen to believe in my approach. Thanks for reading.

February 9, 2009

Another Time of Grief

“I wasn’t there that morning when my father passed away I didn’t get to tell him all the things I had to say...in the living years.”

If you’re looking for thunder and lightning, try the archive or come back another day. I have some things to work through. Friends and family may be interested, and casual readers may still get something out of my experiences. Uncle Bob is sad lately.
My father died two days ago (February 7, 2009). If he could have lasted another two months, he would have been 86. He went quietly in his sleep in a home in Michigan, and I am in New York. Naturally, I felt sadness. This cowboy has no shame in admitting that he wept.

My oldest brother died on December 21, 2008. Before that, my mother died in November of 2003. And before that, my father’s brother died in March, 2000 (while I was going through my divorce). No wonder I don’t like winter... My parents were both reasonably sound of mind for that funeral. I learned things about my uncle, and realized that I missed out on a really great guy. At least my surviving brother is in good health, so it's reasonable to hope he'll stick around.


However, this grieving process has helped me learn some things about myself and my relationship with my father. We had an awkward and somewhat strained relationship. Part of the reason for that was his job. He was a pastor from 1951 until he retired in 1985. (Retired? He kept active for a few years in Florida after that.) In his church system, relocation was expected and frequent. I lived in five different towns and cities before I moved out on my own, so I did not have deep roots. Also, he had a hectic schedule with meetings, hospital calls, counseling, preparing for and doing the actual preaching, weddings, funerals and everything else that goes with it. So, the usual father-son things that are typical did not happen much with us.

I always felt like I let him down. Not so much in the way of my character and integrity, but that I was not a “success” in life. But he did not say that to me at all, and wanted me to be happy. Still, he had high hopes for what I would become...

He had his inner demons, but that was kept locked away inside him for the most part. It was not until very late in his life that we learned of some conditions that could have been medicated. And my own suspicion is that he had adult ADD. I saw the Alzheimer's and dementia forming years before they were full blown. Later on, Parkinson’s Disease was added to the mix. The last time I saw him (I think it was three years ago, damn the distance and financial difficulties that kept me away for so long), he did not know me at all.


Part of my grieving was from an awareness of my own failings; I did not feel like I was a good son, and was judgmental about his weaknesses. No, I was not abused per se, but his parenting skills were lacking. Perhaps that was because he was human. At any rate, some harsh words were said. I had said and done things to hurt him as well. Perhaps that is because I have human tendencies myself.

My father was always reminding me not to “shame the family”. I remember him going to the jail to talk to someone who shared our last name and talking to the guy to try to straighten him out! There were a few times that I had made some bad choices and fully expected to be disowned. He surprised me by putting those things aside and we went on with life. (And if you think I’m going to be so transparent as to tell you what those were, fuggedaboudit!) But I will add that I expected him to be very upset when my then-wife and I left his denomination and became Baptist. Not a ripple. If that’s where we felt we needed to be, that was fine with him. But I don’t think he’d approve of my lack of church-going now.
I have to point out that he hated it when I would put myself down.


He tried to teach me right from wrong (and succeeded for the most part) so that I was able to know the choices that I was making. Also, he believed in his duties as a pastor. No, he did not always like his job, though. One church, which shall remain nameless, gave him ulcers so severely that he almost died. His doctor wanted him to sue that church, and offered to sign papers! Also, I remember him bluntly saying in another one, “You're a bitchy church.” Hey, maybe his influence is one reason that I can be so direct.


Having pastored so many churches for so many years, he made many friends (so many hours spent talking and playing cards). In fact, he had friends that were clergy of different faiths as well. Many of these friends kept in contact over the years, even after his moving from town to town, and eventually to Florida. Perhaps I envy that, because I’ve had friendships that died out after we parted ways. I’m thinking of a line in a song by Boston: “You’ll forget about me after I’ve been gone...”


One of the greatest benefits that I had from his pastorate was the “ministerial exchange” to Loughton (suburb of London), England. They were in our house for six weeks, we were in theirs. Truly amazing. One drawback for me was that it was in 1975, and my depression (which would not be diagnosed for several years yet) was making my behavior rather quirky and morose. Even so, it was a great time and remains one of the best experiences of our lives. The shorter return trip in about 1980 was also great!


Something that really saddens me is that he did not know my development and where I am now. I think he would laugh that I'm listening to music that he would like, from Sinatra, Big Bands, bluegrass and more (plus stuff he would really loathe). Although he said he was a Republican, I feel that he was “moderate”, and it was not discussed much at home; my interest and Conservative development happened much later. But he did know that my theology was much more conservative than his liberal theology, and we had a few brief discussions on that. He was in Florida when I was teaching creation science in Michigan churches; he wanted me to become a pastor and would have liked to see some of that happening, such as it was.
It’s kind of funny, he also thought I should consider going into journalism. Hey, Dad, does Weblog writing count? At least I can write what I want, here.

My father would also appreciate how I’ve learned to see the bigger picture, and try to see where someone is coming from. I’d like to think that I’m being much less judgmental now. He had different experiences, teachings and so forth, and I have my own. Distance, resentment, mental illnesses, my late intellectual development, his own changes all add up somehow.


So anyway. Thoughts are still spinning in my head, and I’m still discovering what I can learn through all of this. But a conversation yesterday with someone who had a strained relationship with her father revealed something to me: He’s at peace, so is she, and there’s nothing to gain by holding onto unpleasant thoughts, memories and imaginations. I need to apply that to my own life. Not only forgive him, but forgive myself as well. After all, it’s done and he’d want me to be happy.


It may be difficult, but if you’ve read this far, I hope that things I’ve learned will help someone else. I've learned about communication, seeing someone else's perspective, forgiving them, forgiving myself, and I don't know what all, yet. But I think I "may just be OK". And, Dad? At ease, Sailor!

One last thought. There's a grand reunion going on. (Oh, Lord, just set myself off again...) A wife had been waiting for her husband of many decades on this earth. Their mentally retarded son is there, now perfect. The husband and father has now joined them. The holiday commonly called Easter, where Christians celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the defeat of death, is coming. There's an even more grand celebration coming
!

Before I go relax and watch a cowboy movie, I’d like to close with a song. Mike and the Mechanics did something that touched me years ago. Now I realize just how close to home it actually hits:

The Living Years

Every generation
Blames the one before

And all of their frustrations

Come beating on your door


I know that I’m a prisoner

To all my father held so dear

I know that I’m a hostage

To all his hopes and fears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years


Crumpled bits of paper

Filled with imperfect thought

Stilted conversations

I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got


You say you just don’t see it,

He says its perfect sense

You just can’t get agreement

In this present tense

We all talk a different language

Talking in defence


Say it loud, say it clear

You can listen as well as you hear

Its too late when we die

To admit we don’t see eye to eye


So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past

We only sacrifice the future;

Its the bitterness that lasts


So don’t yield to the fortunes

You sometimes see as fate

It may have a new perspective

On a different day

And if you don’t give up,
and don’t give in
You may just be OK


Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear

Its too late when we die

To admit we don’t see eye to eye

I wasn’t there that morning
When my father passed away

I didn’t get to tell him

All the things I had to say


I think I caught his spirit

Later that same year

I’m sure I heard his echo

In my baby’s new born tears

I just wish I could have told him in the living years


Say it loud, say it clear

You can listen as well as you hear

Its too late when we die

To admit we don’t see eye to eye

January 13, 2009

Cheapness Plus Incompetence Equals Disaster

Buona sera. I received some distressing news from Neil. (Yes, he's fine and the Bulletproof Bitch's influence is less pronounced in his life.) He works for a huge company that shall remain nameless for now. It's a "Fortune 500" company with international activities. They count their profits in the tens of millions of dollars each quarter of the year.

The distressing news? No raises this year. Neil's company sent out a memo announcing that not only would there be no raises ("economic uncertainties"), but employees should work harder and be happy. Stronzos! Who likes to work extra hard without appreciation? Everyone wonders how big the salaries are for the CEO and the Ivory Tower Management, and if those will be frozen as well. Not bloody likely.

Part of the problem is that this company has regulations to follow. So, they are in and out of court a great deal. If they are late or foul up somewhere, they have to pay fines. There seems to be a lawsuit of one kind or another happening constantly. The Attorney General is going after them again right now, too.

To me, their solutions are simple. First, hire enough people and trained them properly so they don't have so many grotzits going out the window. Second, stop being cheap by cutting corners. (This company wants the employees to build Rome with nothing more than two bricks and a turdball, and then wonders why it's in so much trouble.) With adequate staffing, adequate training and adequate provisions, they would be in far greater shape.

But add to this cheapness and incompetence the element of fear. After all, 2009 begins a new season in the White House with a nut case tax-n-spend Liberal. Democrats were so intent on punishing "the rich" for being "rich", that they did not care how it affected businesses. And businesses are expecting to pay higher taxes.

Yesterday, January 12, Rush Limbaugh said (my paraphrase) that things like this, including layoffs, are a pre-emptive strike. Although nothing has happened yet, B. Hussein Obama wil not be in power for a few days, companies are still hurting the people that they depend on for their financial success.

One of my contacts in the 00 Division has been laid off. Amazing! Nothing is sacred. I offered him my services and some words of wisdom that I hope will do him some good. But both of these situations are agonizing.

Sure, I guess we should all be happy that we have jobs at all. But for how long? Neil is polishing up his résumé and is ready to jump ship if an opportunity arises. He just has to be careful that he doesn't jump into something that will be sinking faster.

January 7, 2009

John Wayne Values

"It's kind of a sad thing when a normal love of country makes you a super patriot. I do think we have a pretty wonderful country, and I thank God that He chose me to live here."
— John Wayne

Buona sera,
Pilgrims and Pilgrettes. Yours truly still has a Duke buzz going.

After watching John Wayne movies and reading some biographical information, I see more than ever that he was the embodiment of strong American values. Something that bothered me on a quotes page: "...major American motion-picture Actor who embodied the image of the strong, taciturn cowboy or soldier and who in many ways personified the idealized American values of his era."

"...of his era"? Say it ain't so, Joe! Not only do his values apply today, but we need those values.
He did not want to get on a soapbox and preach. Instead, he'd say it through his movies.

But when he did speak his mind, it was straight to the point. Just like he did in his "pictures".

"I want to play a real man in all my films, and I define manhood simply: men should be tough, fair, and courageous, never petty, never looking for a fight, but never backing down from one either."

And another to go with the first:
"I've always followed my father's advice: he told me, first to always keep my word and, second, to never insult anybody unintentionally. If I insult you, you can be goddamn sure I intend to. And, third, he told me not to go around looking for trouble."

This gem fits very well:
"I have tried to live my life so that my family would love me and my friends respect me. The others can do whatever the hell they please."

Yep, no nonsense.

And his political views were startling for Hollywood. I have to state here that I detest it when someone will use their star power to influence someone's vote, such as people named Baldwin, Streisand and others. In The Duke's case, he did not spend years campaigning for a cause or to have a President thrown out of office. It turns out that he had strong Conservative views (another trait that I find endearing).

"If it hadn't been for football and the fact I got my leg broke and had to go into the movies to eat, why, who knows, I might have turned out to be a liberal Democrat."

"I don't think a fella should be able to sit on his backside and receive welfare. I'd like to know why well-educated idiots keep apologizing for lazy and complaining people who think the world owes them a living."

"
We've made mistakes along the way, but that's no reason to start tearing up the best flag God ever gave to any country."
"Very few of the so-called liberals are open-minded . . . they shout you down and won't let you speak if you disagree with them." This one is very timely. My experience with Liberals is exactly the same; freedom of speech, except when you disagree with them.

He was his own man, however. The Duke broke ranks with the Republicans on the issue of the Panama Canal, and sided with Jimmy Carter. Don't know if I agree, but he took his stand according to his own beliefs. That is something I can respect.

The Conservative movement needs John Wayne today. America needs John Wayne today. But the values he possessed are in the hearts of freedom-loving men and women all over this country.

John Wayne was given the Congressional Gold Medal just before he died. The inscription that was requested for him, and granted? "John Wayne — American". Straight to the point.


January 3, 2009

Cowboys, Rednecks and Heroes

"Courage is being scared to death - and saddling up anyway."

Buon giorno. Now that festivities and difficulties surrounding Christmas are over with for a while, it's time to get back to the business of daily living. And writing.

"Are you going to be a cowboy again, Uncle Bob?"

Yep. Well, people do expect it of me, don'tcha know.

Cowboy Bob Sorensen from Question Evolution Day 2012I've been thinking about being a cowboy. (No, I don't mean that I'm going to be a poser and dress up in the full western regalia, smoke long cigars, drawl and do other things that movie cowboys do.) What got me thinking about it was when a woman called me a cowboy one time. She was making a joke, but I started thinking about it after that and realized that it has some truth in it for me and my father as well.

What does it mean to be a cowboy?
Sometimes it's a derogatory term, meaning someone who is reckless. When used in the proper context, I can understand this usage because sometimes I go into situations with guns blazing and taking risks. The classic cowboys were known to get very rowdy after a long cattle drive.


A real cowboy knows how to ride and care for horses, tend to the cattle, put in long hours, work hard and do all sorts of difficult things. They need to have a strong work ethic in order to succeed. If I was put on a ranch and told to go to work, I'd need to have things explained to me, or ask if the ranch needed computer assistance. That is, if I was needed to do actual cowboy work, I would be lost. Real cowboys have a high-risk occupation. Reckless? No.

Recently, I've been rediscovering Western movies. I'm not into the modern, R-Rated Westerns, though. No, I'm talking about the classic Westerns. John Wayne and friends. You may recall that I briefly went on about the "Bonanza" television show a while back, saying that they had good values in that show. I've been seeing strong values in the classic cowboy movies, too.

Please pay attention, 007. I'm well aware that these are idealized, fictional characters and concepts on celluloid. But I'm more than willing to draw valid points from them. And I'm going to stick with John Wayne for this discussion.

In McClintock, a man asked G.W. McClintock (John Wayne) for a job and received it. Then he took a swing at G.W. (unsuccessfully). The new hire was frustrated because he never had to "beg for a job" before. McClintock said, "I don't give jobs, I hire men." After a brief discussion, he took his new hire to the ranch anyway. Why let a little thing like throwing a punch at you in a moment of emotional turmoil spoil everything?

From The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance: "Out here, a man solves his own problems." Right. No room for whining or expecting someone else to take care of things for you. It's a harsh life, and you have to adapt.

John Wayne's character in The Shootist said, "I won't be wronged, I won't be insulted, and I won't be laid a hand on. I don't do these things to other people and I expect the same from them." Fair enough!

"I never shot nobody I didn't have to", in True Grit. What, are you supposed to let someone try to kill you and not respond? Not in that environment. And in Big Jake, "There's two reason to kill - survival and meat. We need meat."

And when a good man would give you his word, you could count on him keeping it. Similarly, in Chisum, "We do exactly what we started out to do." Get the job done, capice?

Not only are these cowboys "straight shooters" with their guns, they speak their minds. Maybe because they believe in doing what's right. I also like Sheriff Bart in the Mel Brooks comedy Blazing Saddles. He did what was right in the face of adversity and despite the fact that the people he was trying to help didn't really like him.


"A man's got to do what a man's got to do."

There's a song title that comes to mind, "All of My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys". In a way, that's true for me. Bruce Willis in the extremely violent and profane Die Hard had to get the job done under adverse circumstances with what he had available, yippie ky yay. Video game hero Duke Nukem was a bit of a cowboy in that shoot-em-up. So were Indiana Jones and James Bond, to some extent.

In real life, General George S. Patton (I want to stand up at the mere mention of his name). He knew about courage in the face of fear, and getting the job done.

Ronald Reagan was considered a political cowboy by his detractors because they considered him reckless, but he got the job done as well. Those landslide elections kind of put his political enemies in their place, huh?

Uh, sorry, Kid Rock. Your "Cowboy" song doesn't fit here.


By the way, have you ever noticed that people use "redneck" as a derogatory term? Of course you have. What do rednecks have to offer?

First of all, "rednecks" are considered to be from the south for some reason. Yes, I know that Jeff Foxworthy says that being a redneck has a "glorious absence of sophistication", but in the broader usage, a redneck is a southerner with values that some people don't like. However, I do like the stereotypical redneck values. The good values of "rednecks" are often the same as those of cowboys.

By the way, I sort of disagree with Alan Jackson's portrayal of the "southern man", because it implies that a northern man doesn't have those same values. But — why is it that I don't see many of those values proclaimed in the North? (Or in rock music, for that matter?) Is it my imagination? Someone needs to explain it to this former Michigan boy living in upstate New York.

Charlie Daniels has something good to say about rednecks. Here are some highlights:

What this world needs is a few more rednecks
Some people ain't afraid to take a stand
What this world needs is a little more respect
For the Lord and the law and the workin' man
We could use a little peace and satisfaction
Some good people up front to take the lead
A little less talk and a little more action
And a few more rednecks is what we need
I was raised on beans and cornbread
And I like my chicken fried
Yes, I drive a pickup truck
And I'm full of American pride
I keep a Bible on my table
I got a flag out on my lawn
And I don't believe in mindin'
No one's business but my own
This part gets a "yee haw":

...it's a shame ole John Wayne
Didn't live to run for president
John Wayne didn't think an actor could run for president. And then cowboy actor Ronald Reagan did it. Ironic and hilarious, I think. The Duke supported him.

Back to Charlie Daniels:
What most people call a redneck
Ain't nothin' but a workin' man
And he makes his livin'
By the sweat of his brow
And the calluses on his hands
Now you intellectuals may not like it
But there ain't nothin' that you can do
Cause there's a whole lot more of us common-folks
Then there ever will be of you
"How does this make you a cowboy, Uncle Bob?"

I was coming to that.

It's the values and the concept. I believe in hard work, success, being able to speak the truth, being a man of honor, solving problems and the basics of "right and wrong". I don't know about hayburners (horses), campfires, herding cattle and branding, and I won't pretend to be a cowboy in the truest sense of the word.

I'm not stupid; I don't believe that cowboys are perfect. And I don't pretend that I've "got it together" myself. Maybe I'll even become somebody that I like by the time I'm fifty.

So, yes, I think there's a bit of cowboy in me. And "redneck" values. Now, 'scuse me while I whip out that Trace Adkins CD that I got for Christmas.

Ciao, Pilgrims!


December 29, 2008

Thoughts About Memorial Services

Buon giorno. While this may appear somber at first, keep going.

I did not make it to my brother's funeral. With the snow and ice in Michigan and New York, the cost and difficulties of actually getting a flight just after Christmas, etc., I was not expected to be there. But I expect to make it to the interment service in the spring. However, aside from being there in spirit, parts of this earlier post and Sharon's writings were included.

My other brother and his wife told me that it went well. And it was very different that what you might expect. Sure, it started with a hymn (one of his favorites, "He's Got the Whole World In His Hands"), Scripture readings and prayers at the beginning and end. But the part I like was based on one of Jack's favorite characters, Frosty the Snowman! This was also because Jack was a "happy, jolly soul". The sermon title was, "Don't You Cry, I'll Be Back Again Someday!" What a great double meaning!

I was cheering inside what Keith, Sharon and Rev. Gary had put together for Jack. (Yes, I feel it's safe to put first names in here. Especially since Tommy the Knocker has volunteered to give trouble to anyone who gives trouble to them. Capice?) Good job!

But in a way, why the sad faces? Yes, someone is no longer with us. But shouldn't this be a celebration of his or her life? Lela and I agree, "Roast me and toast me". We also agree that cremation is best (much of my family is using that route). On a side note, I know that some people say, "Gosh, Cowboy Bob, isn't cremation a pagan thing?" My response is, "So what? They can have a pagan ritual, we can have a Christian ritual."

I remember a recent episode of Ghost Whisperer, where a friend of the departed was supposed to give a solemn message. Instead, he said (paraphrasing here), "He wouldn't want us acting like this, all sad and everything. Let's celebrate his life, the joy he's given us!" Then he played some music and had everyone in the church dance to it. I thought that was great.

Maybe the funeral industry needs an overhaul. A good mix of spiritual values and celebration seems to be in order. When it's my time, I want to be looking down (heh, I hope I'm looking down and not looking up, if you catch my drift) and seeing some joy. At least, I hope I've brought some joy and been of some benefit to people.

OK, that's enough. Although somewhat joyous, I have to admit that the monitor got blurry a couple of times.

Ciao, Jack!

Addendum 12-30-2008 :

"God, how I hate solemn funerals. When I die, take me into a room and burn me. Then my family and a few good friends should get together, have a few good belts, and talk about the crazy old times we all had together."

— Marion Robert Morrison (John Wayne) . Jack liked John Wayne.

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