Speechwriting: Corporate, Weddings, Retirement

9/22/09

Morning in Suburbia, Morning in the World

One morning last summer, when there was no snow, and a friendlier sun, I awoke early and thought about what was around me. It was not the drab beige life of minivans and soccer moms. The Midwest has more than that to love, but can be missed if we forget to see the life we live for what it is.

Listen to me read this on BlogTalkRadio.

Few things equate the visceral joy of the first rush of morning as I sit down before sunrise to write. All is quiet except for crickets and the paperboy thumping a newspaper on my steps.

Nothing about the scene is unusual. Its usuality, in fact, is the thrill. In the usual is sometimes the most beautiful thing. The morning is the morning for all of us. Some are up already, coming home from work, or, like me, just starting the day.

While I lived in the heart of a major metropolitan city's suburbs, what I hear, what I see outside my window is found everywhere in the Midwest. When I lived in central Illinois, in a small city surrounded by farms, I awoke to the same sounds. Those days, before I owned a computer and when I worked in jobs that required me to arrive at 6:00 am, I would drive close to where I needed to be, and sit in a cafe surrounded by men who met there each morning. I was never one of them. Too young, too college to fit in. They never rejected me; I thought I was too different. I missed what these men knew: before the world is fully moving, there is a time to connect with good friends.

In my 20s, I had a mix of love and hate for the small town. I loved the Norman Rockwell aspect, but disdain what I thought was small minded living. I could only see the cliches and felt confined by the stereotypes. Academic, liberal, and big city was how I envisioned myself. Instead, the small mind was my own. What I did not know was the depth of discussion about farming issues. Farms are big business, but all I imagined was a guy with a hoe. The job didn't need a suit, but this did not mean the men were not well-read in current issues or classic topics.

The men, or their sons and daughters, are meeting somewhere just outside of Bloomington in the morning today. Maybe in Downs, or Hudson, or Towanda, but life is happening just as real as the suburbs and the city.

The morning is great for writing. I am high energy, and still gearing up as the day grows older. Coffee speeds things up, but mostly, when I wake, I am awake. Crash and burn. All the way awake, or all the way asleep. Little middle ground. The dawn is the closest I find to the peace of steady thought.

I think, now, in the afternoon as I finish this post, I will pour another cup of coffee, and think about the morning. There is little new to say about the morning and I like that.

9/14/09

Why I Won't Be Meeting Barry Trowbridge for Coffee Tomorrow

Instead of having coffee with Barry Trowbridge tomorrow night, I will be at his funeral. He's dead.

That's him on the left, swiped from his Facebook profile. He was that happy in real life, not just when getting his picture taken during a road race.

Who is Barry? Right now, I don't know. He's with God, and I don't know how to describe this. Is he singing? Running? Eating all the foods he denied himself as he fought obesity with regulated discipline? I honestly don't think any if those things are true, but given that I'm here on Earth, I don't have a keen view of what our life in Heaven looks like. Whatever it is like, Barry is not disappointed. He sees the face of his savior.

The Barry I knew through Friday was the kind of guy I want to be. He had a corporate job, but was not settled in the cushioned lifestyle. He knew what he was given, and worked hard to give it back. He was upbeat, passionate and joyful, and not satisfied with watching others do the work. His faith in Christ drove him to live well.

When the doctor said he needed to shape up or die, he took this seriously. He lost 60 lbs, at least, and was on his way to not just lose more weight, but become fitter. He ran and ate smarter.

As he was new to running road races, with just a few 5Ks under his belt, we talked about the joy of hitting the synchronicity of pace and fitness. His times were slow. His race last week was at 11:59/mile pace. Barry ran with no delusions, and, like me, raced because of the love and inspiration of running with others. We talked about getting together this week or next to run.

We shared a few tips about running music for iPods.

I saw him Friday. At our church, Barry was an instrumental lay leader in our men's ministry. We talked about me taking on the communications aspect of things. My first meeting with our leadership team was at 6:30, and ended around 8:00 am. When I got home, as he promised, I received an e-mail for an invite on my Google calendar to meet for coffee and discussion about the technical side of transitioning the responsibilities. This meant passwords and that kind of thing.

It is still on my calendar. I don't have the heart to remove it. 8:00 pm to 9:00 pm, at the coffeehouse on Roosevelt and Main.

Barry Trowbridge died Saturday morning at around 9:00 am on his way home from running. I don't know if he ran a road race. At that time, I was finishing my duties helping cheer on runners at the fundraising 5K/10K for PADS Dupage. Barry apparently had a heart attack, passed out and crashed his car on Butterfield Road.

The last thing I said to him was a silly thought on his Facebook page Friday at 3:39 pm. His status said through his cell phone, "Barry Trowbridge needs to remind himself that double bogeys are always better than triple bogeys...." I responded with a comment about how many children the Bogart family might have at once, "Mrs. Bogart was content, don't you agree, with just one Bogey at a time?" It wasn't very funny. He did not reply.

His last status update was at 11:15 pm Friday night when he posted a link to his most recent blog post (see links below).

There is no cool spin to put on this. I didn't lose a longtime friend. I was only getting to know the guy. He knew a great number of people better than me. We had maybe five or six conversations. One good one on the phone. One good one over coffee. We connected well. We looked at life, work, God, running, family in a similar way. And lots of plans about getting together. I miss the friend I never really got to know.

He was 43. I just turned 43. I can do the math.

Right now, as our nation argues about the health care issue, we cannot ignore what Barry learned the hard way: health care starts with being healthy always. Some readers of this blog do not exercise, play around with diabetes, eat too much, smoke, drink and make excuses about it. Barry looked at his reality and made bold changes, but he knew well he was not out of the woods.

I'm likely much healthier than Barry probably ever had been, but anything can happen. I'm looking to set an appointment with my general physician soon and get a check up.

There's no good way to end a post like this.

RIP Barry Trowbridge. You finished well.

9/9/09

Why I Do Not Want a Government Run Health Care Insurance System

Why I Do Not Want a Government Run Health Care Insurance System?

Why?

Besides...

  • The billions of dollars, you ask? That is, the billions of dollars not already part of our debt?
  • The famed inefficiencies and corruptions that happen in government?
  • My personal expectation that abortion will be funded for more than life of mother situations?
  • My personal expectation that this is giving the government more power and invasion into my life than I want?
  • My personal expectation that we will shift from the corporate and broken free-market version of health care to a government and broken socialistic version?

I do not trust the government to handle this. Already, schemers are looking for potential loopholes.

I do not think President Obama has a true pulse on what America wants. Lots of Americans want this. Many do not. Obama has demonstrated he cannot build bridges in this issue, but instead, has created a polarized discussion.

Meanwhile, we have a war in Iraq still unresolved. It is not in the news, but soldiers are fighting hard. Now, any who die are on Obama's watch. He is not able to fight two fronts, and he has chosen health care as his issue.

What about our messed up corporate insurance? Corporate is the new profanity, so please forgive my intrusion into the delicate ears of naive readers. One massive issue with the current situation is size. Under a government run plan, any plan, things will get bigger. Essentially, we get the same thing, same problems. Corporation by election.

Neighbors?
Remember (no, I suppose you don't, since neither do I) when neighbors helped each other? Real help. Gave the neighbor $1,000 to pay for car trouble. How about you? Helping out?

What if all the money we are about to be taxed was saved up in a special savings account. Only you can access it, just like any account. This money is your "help my neighbor fund." See a neighbor in trouble? Dip into the fund. Don't have enough? Talk to another neighbor, get him involved.

If enough neighbors did this willfully, we might just not need Obama to tag my pocketbook.

Churches have deacons funds. They might call itself something else, but most churches have these. It helps people with emergency needs. This is above and beyond what churches already give to local homeless shelters, battered women's shelter, pregnancy help centers, food pantries, and other outreach efforts. Sometimes that money goes to help health emergencies.

9/4/09

What Book Should I Read Next?

On Twitter yesterday, I asked for book ideas. I said:

Too many of the books I am reading are the easy, unsubstantive ones. Give me skill, style and meaning. Challenge me with authors long dead.
Suggestions flew in. Maybe you have ones to add to this. I should qualify this a little, as Twitter's 140 characters gave way quickly. Not every book I read is intellectually easy. I have recently read critical looks at poets, some poetry collections, and some nature guides. This isn't the same, though, as you'll see below, George Eliot's Middlemarch. I somehow dodged reading it in college, as I was, frankly, intimidated by it immensity.

I am suggesting dead authors only because I want to avoid the flavor of the week. Amy Tan is not challenging. I don't want to read some musing of how someone grew up. Few writers ever do that well, and Mark Twain is retired.

The political books listed in the NYT Bestseller list are lightweight (presently loaded with conservative writers, just as when Bush was president, it was loaded with liberal writers).

Summer's basically over. Toss the beachside reading aside.

Current Suggestions
  1. "Middlemarch" George Eliot
  2. "Anathem" Neal Stephenson
  3. "Sunnyside" Glen Gold
  4. "The Histories" Herodotus
  5. "Triumph: The Power and the Glory of the Catholic Church: A 2,000-Year History" Harry Crocker
  6. "Robin Hood" (who authored the book?)
  7. "A Thousand Years of Solitude" Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  8. "Valley of the Dolls" Jacquelyn Suzanne
  9. Specific books not indicated: Balzac, Colette, Graham Greene