Monday, July 27, 2009

End of Perks....

Running a multi-million dollar company has its perks. Most of these perks are supplied by product vendors. I have toured Italy and central Europe on someone else's dime. Rarely a week goes by without someone wanting to take me to lunch at some nice eatery. Then there are the golf tournaments where every team wins prizes. NBA tickets, concerts, and formal balls are always in the mix.
Pau Gasol and my bride.
I've learned to eat left handed fairly well but recently, at lunch, someone ask me if I was on some kind of medication.
I'm not on any medication. There goes the lunch perk.

My ilness has caused me to become anti-social. At first I tried to hide it. Now I just try to hide.


Thursday, July 23, 2009


Many years ago, in a Physiological Psychology class we studied Biofeedback. It had nothing to do with the day you were born or where Saturn's fifteenth moon happened to be. It was all about what the body's autonomic system did under certain conditions. Things like heart rate, blood vessel diameter, breathing, etc.

We used different mechanical devices to measure what our body's functions were doing while we reacted to different stimulus. Modern lie detectors use these devices. Then, for extra credit, we would spend time connected to these devices learning how to control various autonomic systems with our own minds.

I became very accomplished at being able to control my heart rate and my galvanic skin response. We would even have contests where two students would hook up and compete to see who could best control their systems. This was particularly difficult because the very nature of competition causes your autonomic system to kick in. I kicked butt!

Now, these many years later, I feel like I'm walking around hooked up to a giant monitoring machine. If I become frustrated while trying to perform some task my brain fails to block some of the autonomic systems that would normally require a real jump start. For instance, if you become incredibly angry, you would likely become red faced (open capillaries-rapid heart rate) and even begin shaking (muscular twitching). But you would not experience this without being really ticked-off. I, on the other hand, now have a much lower baseline.

I can have difficulty inserting a key into a lock and as I struggle I can feel my system kicking in. I am fortunate that I understand what is happening and am able to revert back to my days as a Physio-Psych-Geek-Stud. I breathe slowly and use my old tricks (that shall remain a secret lest I expose the link between autonomic and carnal).

At this point it works, but my baseline is lowering or perhaps even dissolving. Thank you Biofeedback!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Spray or Not to Spray......

My tomato/flower garden is coming along nicely despite my late season start. Sunflowers are shooting up and the zinnias are blooming.

I use jute string to tie up the plants to prevent storm damage and help the tomato plants support the weight of the fruit. There are certain things that just have to be done with two hands and tying up tomatoes is one of them. I can do it but it takes concentration for my right hand to work and even then sometimes it jumps from position to position. I can't carry a cup of coffee in my right hand anymore. Well, I can but it's messy (and painful).

My condition casts such a cloud over my outlook on life. The distant future is so bleak and causes such dilemmas. My work is fairly rewarding and gives a momentary meaning to my life, but my hobbies and interests all included physical activity or required at least some dexterity.

I'd love to be "the guy" that faces all this courageously and finds meaning in the fight. I DO put up a facade to my parents and children and try to with my wife (but she reads my blog).

How do I find JOY under my present circumstances?

I fear I can no longer hide my condition from business associates. I can see the look in their eyes. They know something's not right. I was too vigorously active in the past. Two years ago I played 18 holes of golf in the morning and biked 55 miles in the afternoon. Now I can't even putt and riding my bike would be suicide.

Two days ago I found a caterpillar on a tomato plant that was the size of my pinky (finger!). I picked him off and looked at the minor damage he had done. I can spray the plants to kill any others or try to manually find each critter. If I do it manually I'll surely miss some, leading to more damage. If I spray, the plants don't seem as healthy but there won't be any further bug damage.

All I need! Another dilemma in my life. At least I have a hobby.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

34 degrees 54 minutes 49.52 N by 89 degrees 59 minutes 11.75 W.....

Twenty-three years ago, the 1948 Massey Ferguson tractor I used to periodically mow a nine acre piece of property that adjoins ours, gave up the ghost (Died - for my Canadian listeners). The tract of land had been a hay field when my grandfather grazed cattle on it and I continued to mow it long after the cows were gone. There is something manly about driving a tractor.

But the tractor had gone to a better place. The next time the grassy field grew to about a foot high I used the riding mower we used for the lawn to cut a path from one end of the old hay field to the other. Then I cut a few paths that branched off the main path to create a maze of trails throughout the old cow pasture. Over the next twenty plus years I continued to mow the paths leaving the rest of the vegetation to nature.

Today you can see the paths from space (see Google Earth at the coordinates in the blog title). How cool is that?

The paths and the surrounding foliage has become my personal park. I put an old bench under a big pine tree where I sit in silence remembering the past and contemplating the future.

It's ironic. I mowed that first path 23 years ago having no inkling where it would lead and now I know though the path itself has never changed, just everything around it.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Failing Leadership.....?

As a young child I was small and was often one of the last boys chosen in the neighborhood pickup games. This fact may be at the root of why I have spent most of my life in positions of leadership. From High School on there is a pattern of being at the forefront. Multiple team captains, club presidencies, jury foreman (twice), student governments, retail management, and now running an 18 million dollar a year company. I guess I loved to play the game a lot and the only way to be sure your in it, is to start it.

I've always felt a bit shy in social situations and I would (and do) compensate by pretending to be confident. This gives people the impression that I AM confident, so they step aside and put me in charge. Then I'm forced to find the courage to follow through. Does that make sense?

The most important way to fool people into thinking you have it all together is using body language. Shake hands firmly and enthusiastically, don't cross your arms or put your hands in your pockets. Stand squarely on two feet with shoulders back and chin up. Smile confidently even if your knees are knocking. The next thing you know you've been elected. (Lots of opportunity for Bush jokes here, but I must resist).

My point here is that as I feel more frail and less physically able to maintain the image, I fear someone is going to find me out. I'm actually the little kid in right field that was the last one picked. They all just thought I owned the team.


When a resolute young fellow steps up to the great bully, the world, and takes him boldly by the beard, he is often surprised to find it comes off in his hand, and that it was only tied on to scare away the timid adventurers.
R.W. Emerson


Wednesday, July 1, 2009


Not mine, his!

We live in northern Mississippi about a ten miles from the Big River. We have mosquitoes that steal cars. You can worry about West Nile Virus while we worry about dying from blood loss.
But not from this guy (or his progeny)!


On another note: I feed birds (and regretfully, squirrels). It can get expensive if you are committed to keeping the feeders full. Every once in awhile I get a real surprise. Like this Red Breasted Grosbeak. It is always a surprise when I see one but according to my little log book they return every year on April 29th, the day before my redheaded son's birthday. Weird but true. This was taken a couple of months ago.

If you like birds (and squirrels and chipmunks) and get a little bored then CHECK THIS OUT.


On a personal note: My walking gait is slowly getting worse, but while at the grocery store yesterday if felt kind normal as I pushed a shopping cart. The bad news is......... I hate shopping!