Fly Me to the Moon…

My Cougar XR7, with the top up.
He walked and I sang. What a night.
He walked and I sang. What a night.

I remember the night forty years ago when they landed on the moon; July 20, 1969. I was sixteen years old and the night was clear with the moon visible to the naked eye. I drove around in my Cougar XR7 blue convertible, with the top down and three friends all singing Fly Me to the Moon at the top of our lungs. We were the only ones driving around. Everyone was at home watching on TV. But there was something about looking up at the moon and knowing someone from my team was up there walking on it at that very moment that made us want to ‘see it live’ from outside. The radio was telling the story, and we knew minute by minute what was happening. It was the first time I heard, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.” That was the moment my country gave me my first USA pride goose bumps that tie us all together.

So, how come we only went once?  Why has my daughter never had the chance to look up at a full moon and know someone from her country was walking on it? My generation and those before me have had many things to be proud of that feed the allegiance to the flag. My daughter’s generation, not so much. I want her to have a walk on the moon, saving Europe from the Nazi’s, the New Deal rise from a terrible time.

Back to the moon walk. Once Columbus discovered America, they didn’t say, “Been there, done that,” and walk away? Why did we?

Ok, just hear me out. What if we never walked on the moon at all and it was all simulated? What if Armstrong is going to feel guilty in his old age and threaten to tell, and the CIA then sends a young assassin in to murder him with a pillow in his sleep hoping people think he died of natural causes? At the last minute the CIA agent told to do the dirty deed refuses and instead calls Michelle Obama and tells her the plan. She immediately steps in and tells them all to tell the truth. Then, Barack tells the CIA to stop the plan and yells at NASA to get it done; make it happen. Get us to the moon pronto. Then we go to the moon and walk on it for the real first time just before the next election. My daughter, Sarah, and I watch it together in a souped up Cougar XR7 that I buy on eBay two months before the launch. I make 4 million tee shirts in China that have Michael Jackson doing his moon walk on the moon’s surface and live on the proceeds happily ever after. It could happen.

Meanwhile, back at the real ranch, I’m going to go to the beach tonight, look at the moon and imagine that night forty years ago, the flag that I love so much still standing with perfect posture on its surface, and wonder at what our country might do to give my daughter chills of pride on a hot summer night that I was so privileged to feel so many years ago.

History Politics

God Bless America, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson

I’m not superstitious, or religious, but I have always been moved in an eerie, this has a larger meaning, way by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both dying on the 50th anniversary of the Fourth of July, Independence Day. The odds alone leave me in awe.

Although failing fast, Adams was determined to survive until the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence—July 4, 1826. At dawn on that day he was awakened by his servant, who asked if he knew what day it was. He replied, “Oh, yes, it is the glorious fourth of July. God bless it. God bless you all.” He then slipped into a coma. In the afternoon he recovered consciousness briefly to murmur: “Thomas Jefferson lives.” These were his last words. Little did he know that Jefferson, incredibly, had also died on the 4th of July – just a few hours earlier.

(Jefferson’s last words? “Is it the Fourth? I resign my spirit to God, my daughter, and my country.”)

“I resign my spirit to God, my daughter and my country.” “It’s the glorious fourth of July. God Bless it. God bless you all.”

I would like to love my country that much. I want to find that part of me that cries at the Stars Spangled Banner, which is always preferable to my singing the Stars Spangled Banner. Ask anyone who has stood next to me when I belt it out. I used to feel that way, and I believe that great leadership might take me there again, but I recognize that I’m dependent on others to lead me there with their spirit and commitment; it’s not my own that paves that road for me.

The mini series John Adams by HBO, was by far and away the finest movie for TV or Cinema that I’ve ever seen. The sacrifice; the passion; the desire for freedom was shown in a way that made you feel it. Watch it if you haven’t and find from whence we come. It will change you in a profound way. It did me and anyone I know who watched it.

I leave you with the following poem as my gift. So happy birthday to all of us, and God Bless America and those that stand in harms way today on her behalf.

Our Independence Day

by Roger J. Robicheau

With our first fourth on that seventh month began

A declaration of how we would forge our life

In signature, John Hancock did lead by action

The beginning of a nation which has firmly stood

As we stop to embrace our Independence Day

We should reflect back from this sixth millennium year

Looking to the many trials we have faced as a country

Most vividly, to that infamous September morn

We have never, and never will succumb to threat

Our rigid foundation is of, by, and for the people

We heed the message of President John F. Kennedy

It is what we do for our country that stands us tall

As good citizens we put our trust in God, and each other

Under one flag we stand, united for all the world to see

Our Stars and Stripes form the Old Glory we so revere

And how gallant are those who march with our colors

As Americans, we hold freedom as a certainty

Our bravest have given their all to this end

If not for their willingness, we would not be

The cost of liberty demands this commitment

So many have endured the precious loss of loved ones

We must stay aware of the tragedy they live with

For they, more than any, feel the total cost of sacrifice

Praise their fallen heroes, they left freedom for us

My Dear Americans, as we take time to celebrate

This independence held so deep in our hearts

I hope that the following thoughts of America

Bring forth emotion, for the USA that we love

We shall always be ‘the land of the free’

We shall always be ‘the home of the brave’

We shall always hear ‘God Bless America’

We shall always love ‘Mom and Apple Pie’

Business History Technology

Do You Type?

I was at a lunch the other day when the topic of big business and its leadership’s unwillingness to take the Internet by storm and weave its marketing assets (like Facebook, Twitter, and Blasting) into the fiber of their business strategy is startling. 

I knew the answer. It’s one of those right in your face, too simple to believe answers. They don’t know how to type.

I got involved with the Internet in the early 1990’s on Compuserve, today’s AOL. As friends started going online and getting AOL and Compuserve accounts, I started teaching classes on setting up Email accounts and using the World Wide Web. It was such an interesting dynamic. 

Lots of husbands and wives (non-working wives I might add) came to the classes. Invariably, when they left, the women were stoked and ready to buy a personal computer and get online, and the men were not. The men could not get through the class because they didn’t know how to type. The hunt and peck keyboard approach made the pathway to Internet usage so painful that they became frustrated and disinterested.

My experience told me that if you were over forty (this was almost 20 years ago, so keep in mind, these individuals are now fifty-five and over), a man, and in a Fortune 500 size company, you were not going to be online. You see, that demographic never learned to type and had secretaries. You can’t do email and Internet surfing if you can’t type. Well, you can, but it’s so time consuming that it’s not worth it.

Soooo, I have found in my vast experience of discussing the Internet’s virtues for building business that it’s a hard sell for men running large companies who can’t type. You know, sometimes the simplest of explanations are true.  

A little bit of trivia inserted here: I became curious about the letter order on typewriter keyboards. “Why isn’t it set up like the alphabet”, I asked myself? A, B, C, D across the finger span on the keyboard instead of A, S, D, F? Well, you might be interested to know (you never know when you can fit this into a conversation and look really smart) that when typewriters were first built, you pushed the key down and a bar flipped up and slammed the letter onto the page over a piece of ink ribbon. Voila, the letter was on the page. Well, here is where it gets interesting. When keyboards were first invented, they found that the typing speed was affected by the fact that some letters when typed consecutively like ae, or et, ck, etc would cause the bars to get tangled up. The end result was rearranging the keyboard so that letters often typed consecutively sat far away from each other on the keyboard so as not to get tangled when they were typed. I think that is really cool and really smart. “What the hell is your point”, you ask? Well, my point is that if you made a keyboard now with the alphabet on it in the order that people know the alphabet, maybe those older people could learn to type. Maybe not.

Here is the next problem. Internet concepts are not understandable if you have no Internet experience. In my experience of ‘pitching’ Internet assets to large corporate CEO’s and decision makers, if they fall into the over 50 category and non typers, they don’t get it. Not getting it is ok. After all, I don’t get half the things people are talking about. The problem is they won’t ask the questions necessary to get it. Instead, they say, “No,” look away and head down the traditional road of offline marketing strategies where they have a solid knowledge base. I think it’s like men and directions. When you are in the top levels of business, you better know things, and not knowing the Internet basics is dangerous indeed.

Bottom line. If you can’t type, get out of top management. Look at the companies that are flying; Google, Ebay, and so on. I know their CEOs are as comfortable as I am with typing. Now, I hate to bring you back to the depressing companies that you and I now own like GM, Citibank, etc, but I have a sneaking suspicion, their CEO’s do not type. Call me crazy, but I think it matters. 

I think CV’s should now include typing in the list of assets a person has acquired. Go ahead, check it out. At the next dinner party you attend with men over my age limit criteria, ask them who uses email and the Internet. Then go around the room and ask them if they know how to type. I promise you will find the correlation.

I don’t wish to offend the men who read my blog. There are actually a large number of them. To show this isn’t about gender bias, I will tell you that I understood totally the reason women weren’t hired at Investment Banks in the same numbers as men when the father of my child (my name for my ex husband) told me that they spend hundreds of thousands of dollars training them only to have them leave when they get married. Not an opinion, but rather a statistic. So, I am an equal opportunity criticizer. 

History Politics

Memorial Day.

I really don’t know anything about Memorial Day. I have been around for 56 Memorial Days and have no idea where it originated. So, here are some Memorial Day facts to give you a better understanding of why you have the day off.

On May 5, 1868, General John Logan proclaimed Memorial Day and had flowers placed on all the graves – both confederate and Union – at Arlington Cemetery. The South refused to honor Memorial Day until after World War I when they changed Memorial Day to honor soldiers lost in all wars, rather than just the Civil War. memorial-day-flags-in-2004-0061

Red Poppies were worn on Memorial Day. This is based on the poem, In Flanders Field, by Moina Michael,

We cherish too, the Poppy red

That grows on fields where valor led,

It seems to signal to the skies

That blood of heroes never dies.

Here is the coolest thing. While you and I barely think about all the men and women who gave their lives in service to the United States, each year on the Thursday before Memorial Day 1,200 soldiers in the 3rd US Infantry place small American flags on every grave at Arlington Cemetery. They patrol Arlington 24/7 through Memorial Day to ensure not one flag gets blown over even leaning. So those flags stand with perfect posture honoring those that lie beneath them.

And, so that’s it. Memorial Day… I am going to try and find a red poppy to put on my desk tomorrow.

God Bless America.


You Are What You Are, Whether You Like It Or Not!

I spent a few hours on the phone last night with an old boyfriend, now turned phone friend. He moved to Japan awhile ago. I must recount part of our conversation that leads to the diluted point of today’s post.

“Ok, Mark, you need to come home. The country’s a mess, and you need to come home. It’s all hands on deck right now.”

“I’m not an American anymore. I’m not coming home.”

“Being an American is not something you can choose to be. You  were born here, and whether you like it or not, you are an American. You can change your citizenship to Japanese, but like it or not, you are an American. Besides, you are six feet four and no one in Japan thinks you are anything other than a very tall American who speaks really good Japanese.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Listen, saying you are not an American anymore is like dying your hair blond and saying you are a blond. You aren’t. You are a brunette with dyed blond hair. Changing your name from Ted Bundy to John Smith and saying you are not a Bundy anymore means you are a Bundy who changed your name to Smith. Do I need to go on? It’s getting late.”

“I’m not coming home, and I’m not an American anymore. Did you know that even if you change your citizenship to Japanese, earn all your money in Japan and pay Japanese taxes you can still be called on by the US to pay US taxes?”

“Well, I didn’t know that, but please tell me you’re not so delusional as to take on the IRS? You are way too far away for an intervention.”

I’m not sure that anyone in other parts of the world change things that can’t be changed and actually believe them to be changed the way we do.

I had a friend who was Jewish. She used to like to say that I was a WASP pretending to be a Jew and she was a Jew pretending to be a WASP. She wore those ridiculous velvet headbands that women on the upper east side of New York wore in the late eighties to show they were WASPs. I never wore the headbands and went around saying “Oy vey” (or is it Oy vay?) all the time. But both of us knew who we are and were only wishing we were something different. At least I knew it.

Think about some of comments in our life that we take for granted and no longer question.

“I’m 6 foot one on a good day.” Huh?

“What are you talking about, I didn’t have my boobs done. I was always a size zero with a 36 ZZ cup size. And, I’m just lucky that they point up instead of down.” Alrighty then.

“The fact Bernie Madoff is my cousin and I took all my money out of the Madoff fund five minutes before his sons made the phone call when the money had been there for twenty-six years was a coincidence.” Ok, this last one is just a plain and simple lie, which is different than trying to change what you are, but I had to stick it in because it’s so rich and everyone is still really mad about Madoff.

As usual, there is an amazing moment in film illustrating my point. Remember Working Girl with Melanie Griffith and the fabulous Harrison Ford? Griffith is a secretary pretending to not be a secretary, but rather a deal maker, and her friend Cyn (Joan Cusack) is worried she will be fired. She says, “Just because I dance around my apartment singing in my underwear – doesn’t make me Madonna.” She says it with a wonderful Staten Island accent and huge hair and sky blue eye shadow. Great moment.

Look some things are what they are. If you were born and raised here and left when you were forty-something, you’re an American like it or not. And, it’s time to come home, regroup and figure out where we go from here.

History Politics

Letters and History

I was worried last night about the accuracy of our history for future generations. How will they know what really happened? I, for example, living in this historical time have no idea what is really happening around me.

In the past, our country’s history has been confirmed and re-created through letters – letters from observers of history written mostly without ulterior motives and simply as observations or opinions. The best example that comes to mind are the letters between John and Abigail Adams.

The following is an example.

Letter from Abigail Adams to John Adams, 8 February 1795

Quincy 8 February 1795

My dearest Friend

Mr. Thomas Welch came up this Evening and brought me Letters from our Sons’ dated the 13 December from the Hague. I presume Letters are gone on to Congress Philadelphia to you, and Dispatches to the Secretary of State, but least you should not have any by this vessel, the most important intellegence which Mr. JQAs letter contains is that there is no prospect of Peace at Present tho at Paris the Moderate Party Mantain their assendency. Yet he considers Moderation like all other Principals in that Country for 5 Years past, a Watch Word of a Faction, used to oppress an other faction, whose Watch word was Terror. He adds that he should not be surprizd to see the Jacobins restored in the course of six Months to all the Plenitude of their Power and Glory.

(I hope to Heaven for the Sake of Humanity, that, that will never be.) In England he says the People are for Peace, the Administration for War. In Holland all the Provinces have recommended Negotiations for Peace. The Government Party pretend that they are going forward. The Patriots think that the French will not not [?] that but with them, and they most devoutly hope that the first article of the pacification may prescribe the extirpation of the present ruling power.

He supposes Mr. Jays Treaty is before the Senate; long ere His Letter reaches me, wishes his Friends to write to him by way of England as often as

opportunity offers. Says tho he has not received any Letters that he had news from America as late as November. Thomas Letter is chiefly taken up in discussing the Dutch Character and their predominate passion which will not even permit them to sacrifice a part of their property to secure the remainder. He finds himself embarressed by not speaking the French. Tho he understands a conversation, he can not hold one, is delighted with the Hague, receives Civility and politeness from Your old Friends there, but feel rather a State of Enuie, and What all of us have felt, but few can describe. I should pitty either of them more were they there singly.

Mr. Welch informs me that there is a vessel in to day from England with the papers to 5 Janry. The Kings speach, which Breaths nothing but War. He Mentions the Treaty concluded on between G. Britain and America. In France there has been an attempt by the Jacobines to Awe the convention, and to prevent the trial and Execution of one of the Nanty Murderers. The People broke in to the Hall of the Jacobines, drove them all out an locked up their Hall. This is only a verbal recount from Mr. Welch. I presume the papers of tomorrow will carry the accounts on to you more accurate.

I see Col Humphries is returnd upon business of importance tis said. My compliments to him.

Adieu most affectionatly Yours
A Adams

Even though the point of this is not Abigail Adams; Fool or Saint, I would like to provide the letter I would have sent to John if I were Abigail. Keep in mind when she wrote this letter, she hadn’t heard from him in months, he was across the ocean, and she had no idea when he was coming home. She was out of money, and she was miserable.

Dearest John,

Where the X&$% are you? I have not heard from you in months. Your brother is tired of running our affairs, and I can only wonder at who you are sleeping with at this moment in time. The kids are a mess, I’m lonely as hell and tired of milking the cows, planting the crops and wondering at the pontification of you and the other fat ones with wooden teeth that love to hear yourselves speak. Enough. Get home or I’m getting a lawyer.
Much love,
PS. I went through menopause and have no desire to sleep with you anymore.

Yes, I’m divorced – twice. However, I know a lot of different kinds of women, and none of them would have put up with what he put her through. Not a one. Except maybe John Edward’s wife, but that will be another post next week.

Next point. I haven’t received a handwritten letter of a personal nature since I went to Girl Scout camp forty-five years ago. And, that letter was dictated to his secretary (but signed personally) by my dad. The letter spoke of nothing happening in the world but rather what my sisters were up to and how he hoped I wasn’t gaining weight eating a lot of bread.

Will our history be confirmed by emails then? I glance through the tens of thousands of emails I’ve sent and received over the past few years in my mind and realize I never really ‘discuss’ world affairs. It’s all about me or them in a more personal nature. And, those amazing men and women in Iraq are not allowed to write about the war and where they are and what is really happening because supposedly it will tip off someone and we’ll lose the war. I’m not thinking it will be through emails.

Twitter? Twitter only allows you 140 characters (letters) to send in your twitter. I think it’s going to be difficult indeed to tell the story of what is unfolding before you in 140 characters. So you’d have to send many, and that will be confusing and they might get out of order, etc.

I saw recently a statistic in a video that said that the average person in the early 1800’s never had as much information in their lifetime as is housed on one issue of the New York Times. So, we have a ton of information from others writing from a distorted point of view (please don’t make me go there; Rush Limbaugh, Joe Scarborough) but who among us is simply writing to another that which we see in front of us, or hear first hand at a dinner table?

And even if we did, who is going to sort through these trillions of emails in search of the ones that are accurate with no one to vouch for their accuracy.

Please do not start talking about video. I saw a march with Sharpton at New York’s City Hall on the nightly news a few years ago. I happened to walk by that day in person. There were ten people in the protest and big mouth out in front. On the news, it appeared to be hundreds (not kidding) of people, because it was all close ups and seemed really loud with the cries of those denouncing something or other.

So, now there is something else besides Global Warming to worry about for future generations. Confirming history. If I see history unfolding, I’m going to write it down in personal script that used to be better when I used it more, and I’m sending it to someone I think will save it in a metal box for posterity.