Category Archives: Worthwhile Quotations

Chasing old paper trails

“Some people regard discipline as a chore.  For me, it is a kind of order that sets me free to fly.”
— Julie Andrews

I spent the day sorting through a lot of old photos, cards, letters and other old papers.  In January 1980, I completed my AIT course at the Defense Information School, becoming an Army journalist:

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I thought about this a good bit today, because I went out in the garage to sift through some old photo albums and memorabilia, that I had in my old steamer trunk.  I purchased that trunk at Fort Benjamin Harrison, IN to hold my large pile of books, which I had in my barracks room.  Someone told me that I could ship them to my first duty assignment by sending them “hold baggage”.  My AIT boyfriend, a Marine, lugged that steamer trunk to his car and took care of getting my books shipped safely.

When my steamer trunk arrived in Germany, it was shipped to some nearby infantry unit.  I was assigned to 1/41 FA (Pershing).  Once again, men came to my rescue.  I asked my battalion commander, whom I worked for, as the battalion public affairs person, how I would go about getting my steamer trunk of books.  I asked him where I should go to make arrangements to receive my steamer trunk, filled with my books.

My battalion commander, smiled and told me he had a meeting at that infantry unit and he told me that I could drive along with him and his driver.  He assured me that his driver would assist me with retrieving my steamer trunk.  I was concerned that trunk would not fit in the sedan.  When I expressed that concern, my battalion commander assured me that we would cross that bridge, if we came to it.

My battalion commander went to his meeting and his driver took me to retrieve my trunk. It would not fit in the trunk of the sedan, so the driver loaded it into the backseat of the sedan. It took up most of the back seat.

When we went to pick up our battalion commander, I was worried that he would be angry about my trunk becoming such an inconvenience. When he saw the trunk in the backseat, he smiled and said there was plenty of room in the backseat for him and he insisted I stay in the front passenger seat.  He said something like, “You young people can stay up there and chat.” He was matchmaking, because his driver liked me a great deal.

When we got back to 1/41 FA (Pershing), the driver dropped the battalion commander off at his office and then his driver drove to my battery.   He went inside and got another guy to assist him in lugging my steamer trunk down to my barracks room.

A few days later I bought a metal bookcase at the PX and sat and assembled it, so my books would have a home in my barracks room.

That trunk has served a lot of purposes in my life. When we lived in Columbia, SC, in the mid-80s, it served as our TV stand.   Here is my younger son, with wild bed hair waiting to open Christmas presents.  The pillow in front of the trunk was a crewel embroidery kit I stitched .

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In Germany, from 87-92, it served as my plant stand. You can see it behind my oldest daughter’s German Barbie dollhouse, which I purchased right before Christmas.  My Pop, who had come to Germany to spend Christmas with us, and my husband spent most of the night before Christmas, assembling that dollhouse, which had very poor instructions… in German.

Here are my other three kids, holding little stuffed animals,  mugging for this lame photo, LOL:

And now that steamer trunk sits in the garage still serving a purpose as my storage container for a lot of old papers and miscellaneous memorabilia.  Today I was working on something and I actually needed some old photos of friends from 1/41 FA (Pershing) and once again this old steamer trunk came to my rescue.

I also found this cross-stitch quote that my husband wanted me to stitch and frame for his office when he was the 1s BDE Operations SGM in the late 90s:

All in all, today was quite a trip down memory lane for me.  Unlike this Turkish mess kit, which my youngest sister, found in Turkey and gave to my husband as a unique Christmas gift, sometimes it takes quite a few pieces of paper and photos to build a unique trail to the truth::

Still have many more miles to go before I am satisfied with my early Spring housecleaning.  Here’s my motto :

This was Walmart Halloween clearance and I have this hanging on the hutch in my kitchen, right behind where I sit at the table, LOL.

I finished the day marveling how that cheap steamer trunk has paid for itself many times over since 1980…

My Army ride has assuredly led me on some truly amazing adventures!

Peace out:-)

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Filed under American Character, General Interest, Messages of mhere, Worthwhile Quotations

Toxic leadership writ large

“Men lived like fishes; the great ones devoured the small.”

– Algernon Sidney

Here’s a link to a short bio on Algernon Sidney, a seventeenth century English politician, who penned a political treatise, Discourses Concerning Government in 1698, which gained popularity decades later during the American Revolution.

I also have another Algernon Sidney quote in my old quote notebook:

“Liars ought to have good memories.”

– Algernon Sidney

An amazing aspect of many of the media and pundit reactions to President Trump’s behavior is that so many of them seem stunned each time he attacks, even people in his own administration.  He is the living, breathing embodiment of the definition of a toxic leader.

So, what is a toxic leader?  Here’s an excerpt from a 2014 Forbes article, Toxic Leaders And The Social Environments That Breed Them:

“Toxic leadership is a combination of self-centered attitudes, motivations, and behaviors that have adverse effects on subordinates, the organization, and mission performance. This leader lacks concern for others and the climate of the organization, which leads to short- and long-term negative effects. The toxic leader operates with an inflated sense of self-worth and from acute self-interest. Toxic leaders consistently use dysfunctional behaviors to deceive, intimidate, coerce, or unfairly punish others to get what they want for themselves. The negative leader completes short-term requirements by operating at the bottom of the continuum of commitment, where followers respond to the positional power of their leader to fulfill requests. This may achieve results in the short term, but ignores the other leader competency categories of leads and develops. Prolonged use of negative leadership to influence followers undermines the followers’ will, initiative, and potential and destroys unit morale.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/darwinatwork/2014/01/10/toxic-leaders-and-the-social-environments-that-breed-them/#70da5aa4dac5

President Trump often lashes out about the leaks coming from Obama holdovers or former Obama officials, but the media report many of their sources for these leaks are often Trump White House officials.   With a White House staff shake-up in the works, the new WH communications director, Anthony Scaramucci,  stated that trying to plug the leaks is a top agenda item:

“Anthony Scaramucci, President Donald Trump’s new communications director, said on Sunday that one of his first tasks will be to halt leaks and that staff on his team would be fired if the leaks do not stop.

“If we don’t get the leaks stopped, I am a businessperson, and so I will take dramatic action to stop those leaks,” Scaramucci said on Fox News Sunday.”

http://www.businessinsider.com/r-new-trump-communications-director-promises-crackdown-on-media-leaks-2017-7

This morning President Trump has been tweeting again, attacking his own attorney general, Jeff Sessions, for taking “a VERY weak position on Hillary Clinton crimes (where are E-mails & DNC server) & Intel leakers!”  It’s petty and vindictive, but also meant to not only prod Sessions to resign, but to instill fear among his staff, that they could fall into disfavor and be publicly humiliated too.

Now, I am going to quote a blog post,  My review of the GOP field, that I wrote December 14, 2015:

“In the GOP camp, Donald Trump creates drama, chaos and endless controversy.  Assuredly, on the big issues he champions, he mouths many home truths that are inconvenient for the DC cocktail party crowd to hear and acts like gasoline tossed on the liberal press and pundits’ self-righteous, politically correct  pieties.  He’s reduced their arguments to a heaping pile of ashes and for that alone, we should all cheer.  However, there are several “buts”, like, but he doesn’t have a clear grasp of The Constitution and his cures often come without clear plans and overstep constitutional bonds.  Of course, those who believe in his great business acumen, don’t harbor the doubts that I do – they see the great American success story, while I see the  yuge glowing red warning sign of toxic leadership.

I left my job at a retail store earlier this year, where I  worked for a man, whom I believe was the most talented merchandiser I have ever seen.  Along with that talent came a huge ego and the worst people skills I have ever seen in my life, that is, until I’ve watched Donald Trump brag, insult, bash and mock his GOP rivals.  This man threw anyone under the bus to make himself look good and he bragged as much as Trump.  He loved to fire people, very much like Trump.  One tirade too many right on the sales floor and I decided to put in my two week notice, after working there many years.  He was my 8th store manager and I had never had a single problem with any of the others.  YUGE relief is what I feel not having to deal with him anymore!

The only team The Donald is on, is his own.  He does not care about the GOP party or causes per se, they’re just the vehicle he is driving to become President, where he believes his dynamic business acumen will single-handedly “make America great again”. ”

https://libertybellediaries.com/2015/12/14/my-review-of-the-gop-field/

Jeff Sessions might resign, but no matter who President Trump selects as a replacement, the leaks will continue, the chaos will continue and the total dysfunction of this White House will grow.  Most of us learned how this story ends as children:

“A vain emperor who cares about nothing except wearing and displaying clothes hires two weavers who promise him the finest, best suit of clothes from a fabric invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid”. The emperor’s ministers cannot see the clothes themselves, but pretend that they can for fear of appearing unfit for their positions, and the emperor does the same. Finally, the weavers report that the suit is finished, they mime dressing him, and the emperor marches in procession before his subjects. The townsfolk play along with the pretense, not wanting to appear unfit for their positions or stupid. Then, a child in the crowd, too young to understand the desirability of keeping up the pretense, blurts out that the emperor is wearing nothing at all, and the cry is taken up by others. The emperor suspects the assertion is true but continues the procession.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Emperor%27s_New_Clothes

The problem is not the people around this president; the problem is that this petty emperor has no clothes.

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Filed under General Interest, Politics, Worthwhile Quotations

Talking to ordinary people

“My country is the world and my religion is to do good.”  – Thomas Paine

Here’s another quote I had typed on a piece of my “cute” stationery in the 70s, which was in my beat-up quote notebook.  The type is fading on these saved quote loose pages, but then again that old typewriter I used in the 70s was a second-hand, manual one my Pop found somewhere.

I had mentioned that I wanted a typewriter and Pop came home with a used one shortly thereafter.   My Pop always encouraged my interests.  When I came home with stray pets, he let me keep them, when I told him I really wanted a large desk, he found an old wood schoolteacher’s desk.  The top was badly damaged, so he covered the top with a woodtone formica, which I absolutely loved.  I didn’t have to worry about damaging the top when I set a glass of iced tea or cup of hot tea (my two favorite drinks – always) on it.  In 7th or 8th grade, I needed to do a science project and science is not my strong suit.  I decided I wanted to order some liquid that I saw in a science catalog a boy in my class had.  It could preserve snowflakes on glass slides.  My mother helped me order the liquid and sure enough, my Pop came home with a microscope and slides, he found somewhere, probably a flea market.  It worked and I got an A on that “saving snowflakes” project…

After looking through my old quote notebook, I decided to tape the falling apart cover back together the other day, using some dollar store, red duct tape I had in my sewing/craft room.  It might be good for another 40 years:

The quote at the top of this post is from Thomas Paine, one of America’s foremost political theorists, activists, and revolutionaries.  He fought with words. The American Pamphlet Debate, probably set the stage for how big issues in America are fought in the public square, as intellectuals, politicians, and often, unheard of American citizens rise from the rabble, with a voice or message that will not be silenced.  America has always had a very egalitarian view when it comes to the voices that gain prominence and effect enormous influence and change.

I like The Smithsonian magazine, because in every issue there are so many articles that spark my interest.  From the July edition I mentioned the article on the history of maps a few days ago.  There’s a very interesting article on Earl Shaffer, who was the first person to hike the entire Appalachian Trail in 1948, that’s definitely worth a read.   Another article in that edition, What Happened to America’s Public Intellectuals?, written by Elizabeth Mitchell, got me thinking, again, about America’s long history with our very open, often loud public debates.

Mitchell lays out the current angst with America’s seeming dismissal of experts, in favor of populist fervor:

“This painful conclusion weighs heavily on public intellectuals, who created the country during the 116 steamy days of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, when Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and crew crafted a new nation entirely out of words. Then they bolstered it with 85 newspaper columns under the pen name Publius, now known as the Federalist Papers, to explain and defend their work.”

Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-happened-americas-public-intellectuals-180963668/#yVyIdqRP8zD3WrGS.99
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Understanding America’s long tradition of public debate leading to great political and cultural changes leads me to believe that public intellectual battles, to win American hearts and minds, are ingrained in the American psyche and I don’t believe the soul of America is lost.

Millions of Americans may have fallen for a fast-talking, NYC real estate hustler/con man turned reality TV star, but even with the power of the bully pulpit of the Office of the President of the United States and his just “great” tweet storms, brimming with 140-character rants, he still seems to have a public image problem, if his flagging approval poll numbers are to be believed.  While some of the self-professed “experts” on politics and national security fuss and fume daily, via their own tweet storms, about how people aren’t listening to them, perhaps many of them have the same problem as Trump – overblown egos and constant braggadocio repel many people.

America’s Pamphlet Debate began more than a decade before the Revolutionary War.  I mentioned the 2-volume Library of America set, The American Revolution: Writings from the Pamphlet Debate 1764-1776, in a previous blog post.  The set was edited by Gordon S, Wood and it includes many of the most influential pamphlets in the Pamphlet Debate, which really defined both American political beliefs and principles and later, the very framework of The Constitution. Volume 2, which covers 1773-1776, includes this explanation on Thomas Paine’s writing approach:

“Paine was determined to reach a wide readership, especially among the middling sorts in the tavern and artisan centered worlds of the cities, and to do more than explain and persuade; he wanted to express feelings — even revulsions and visions — that the traditional conventions of writing tended to disparage.  He refused to decorate his work with Latin quotations and scholarly references; instead , he relied on his readers knowing only the Bible and the Book of Common Prayer.  He used simple, direct — some critics said coarse, even barnyard– imagery that could be understood by the unlearned.  He wrote for ordinary people and forever changed the rules of rhetoric.”

p.647,  The American Revolution: Writings from the Pamphlet Debate 1773-1776, edited by Gordon S. Wood, published by The Library of America, copyright 2015

President Trump may have lowered the bar with his effort to reach the common man, resorting to ruthless, modern mass media information warfare tactics (GOP insurgency, indeed), but Americans, even “the worst deplorables”, are not beyond having their hearts won over to American principles, defending The Constitution and above all treating other people respectfully.   Even with FOX news serving as a powerful Trump propaganda platform, America is not becoming Trumpistan.

The real crisis for America’s current intellectual class, is not Trump, but that many Americans are sick of puffed up pontificating pundits, parading a pile of degrees from posh pillars of academia, posing and primping before the cameras  — talking down to them.  Trump, while certainly no Thomas Paine (or Mussolini, for that matter), has learned the fine art of the con man, he identifies his mark and speaks directly to him.  That is why Trump relates to ordinary people – he knows he’s got to get them and keep them buying into him.  He talks to them.

The media faces the same problem as many of the pundits, especially given how many times, in recent months, the media spun themselves into a tizzy with a new, devastating revelation about Trump, which within 24-48 hours fell apart, as the facts in these stories turned out not to be facts at all.  The constant media and punditry Trump hysteria is destroying their credibility way more than anything Trump can do.

I agree with Mitchell’s view on America’s present crisis of spirit.  She writes:

“If we look back at our history, public intellectuals always emerged when the country was sharply divided: during the Civil War, the Vietnam War, the fights for civil rights and women’s rights. This moment of deep ideological division will likely see the return, right when we need them, of the thinkers and talkers who can bridge the emotional divide. But this time they will likely be holding online forums and stirring up podcasts.”
Read more: http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-happened-americas-public-intellectuals-180963668/#yVyIdqRP8zD3WrGS.99

One of the things I love about YouTube videos is that I can find so many crafting and sewing tutorials.   I can watch several videos on how to make something and get different approaches about how to make it.  I don’t have to buy an entire book or magazine for directions for one project.   Often, I end up using bits and pieces of instructions and advice from several videos.  Many of these videos are made by ordinary people and completely amateur.  Yet, some of these amateur videos are carefully edited and produced with the dedication of professional videographers.  Some have tens of thousands of subscribers.

Most of America’s intellectuals and experts on politics and public policy talk to each other, not to ordinary Americans.  And while castigating Trump’s use of Twitter, many of America’s intellectuals lazily lecture and throw temper tantrums about Trump, daily, on Twitter, and of course, boringly brag about all their “expertise”.

Love him or hate him, Trump talks to ordinary people.

Note: Here is a podcast that is a Library of Law and Liberty conversation with Gordon S. Wood, discussing the American .Pamphlet Debate

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