Friday, December 26, 2008

ELLEN

This last Tuesday in the early afternoon of that December 23, 2008 I received a telephone call while at work from Brother Coby with the terrible news that his Mother, my Step Mother, Ellen Werner Buxton Salander, in her 82nd year (1926-2008) had passed in her home that morning in Englewood, Florida. For me the fabric of the universe was torn open and a ghastly void had been created that would never be filled. My visceral reaction was immediate with the devastating news so shocking and an awful contradiction to the true spirit of this promising Christmas season. The Matriarch of the Buxton Family had joined her ancestors and we have been left to fend for ourselves. Well, maybe only for a short while (more later).

Though she always signed her cards and letters and was known to most as Ellie, I persisted in calling her Ellen. Always erring on the more stern and serious side, I guess that it was for me a more respectful and appropriate tone for my Stepmother. I talked with Ellen the Sunday before she died and she was her usual supportive self and extolling the virtues of the holiday season and a bright future, reflecting on a recent communication with my son Geb and her best wishes for he, wife Dona and their two kids, Quinton and Cameron.

She was anticipating and looking forward to her Christmas dinner with daughter Susanna where they were going to do Chinese, again, enjoying her favorite food and the convenience of it all in a usually hectic holiday season full of too many turkeys and hams. Ellen recently sent me the photographic proof of her last Tex-Mex sortie with Susanna - a photo that I shall always prize…

Well, Ellen never made it to Christmas 2008, the celebration of not only the birth of Jesus but as an added and loving bonus, the natal day of her eldest son, Coburn Allen Buxton, Jr. (aka Coby).

Ellen was looking forward to her weekly bridge match but didn’t respond either on the phone or at her door when her ride and bridge partner called. They found her sitting in her favorite chair appropriately clutching a pen in one hand. She had joined Dad and Bernie on that heavenly plane where Brother Coby and I have assured ourselves, they are appropriately waiting on her, hand and foot.

Please know that my always positive recollections of Ellen cannot be construed as her memorial, rather what will most assuredly be an inadequate attempt to capture the living essence of a singularly great Lady. This will be a remembrance and work in progress where I will supplement, tweak and modify as the pleasant and significant memories of many years come flowing back to me. I can’t apologize for all the superlatives I engage as they are totally appropriate to describe Ellen. Her approach to life was a complicated though simple formula that was ultimately punctuated by thousands of acts of incredible kindness directed at Family, Friends and the Community at Large, most of which we will never be able to document as she never looked or sought recognition. Ellen understood all the incredibly subtle nuances of human relationships and through her great communication skills was able to help us mere mortals successfully negotiate this great maze we call life. She made life bearable, richer and rewarding for all she touched.


We will always remember this daughter of Judge Herman Werner of Akron, Ohio who found her way to the heart of one Coburn Allen Buxton while on holiday with sister Ann and where in the Sazarac Bar in the old Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans, she met Dad. She had a profound positive affect on all she touched. She was first and foremost, a loving Mother not only to daughter Susanna, and sons Coby and Ricky but also to her stepsons Ned, John and David Seabury who she treated as blood. She told me once that it always seemed that Ned, John and David always, “belonged to me'...in a very nice way!”

Ellen held high the mantle of the Buxton Family and well celebrated our history and heritage. She was the consummate cheerleader constantly reminding all of us of our roots and the pedigree that we all enjoy. She motivated, prodded and cajoled so as to take each of us to that next level…

On a personal note we shared a love of the ancients and of anthropology in general and she prompted my seemingly unending quest for knowledge about our Buxton/Littlefield ancestors and of Man in general. She demonstrated an uncommon, extraordinary high intellect and understanding of a wide variety of subjects and an enthusiastic willingness to share that knowledge which she demonstrated so ably for many years as a Docent at the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) in Dallas, Texas.

Her efforts in her capacity as Docent was instrumental in organizing and scheduling the now iconic AD 79 exhibition on her beloved Pompeii appropriately in 1979 at the then Dallas Museum of Fine Arts (DMFA) facility at Fair Park in Dallas and helped spark the spirit of what is now one of the more important museums in our country. In part because of this success a city of Dallas bond election passed with voters pledging almost $25 million dollars towards the construction of the facility they currently occupy in downtown Dallas. The DMFA was later renamed the Dallas Museum of Art in 1984 when they officially occupied their new home. Ellen’s legacy is all those exhibitions that now flow so smoothly due to the outstanding efforts of her extraordinary and very able successors. The 1984 date is not without significance as this also marked the passing of Coburn Allen Buxton, Ellen’s significant other and our Father.

Ellen was a strong personality and fiercely independent. When sure of her environment she could hunker down with the best. I would fight back-to-back with her against any foe and be well assured of victory. Despite the best attempts of this writer and other Family members, Ellen never evacuated through the terrible 2004 Florida hurricane season that saw four major storms slam through Englewood. Ellen admitted and then proved that all she needed was some candles, a few bottles of wine and some good books to successfully weather the storms.

In recent years Ellen devoted much of her time to the Friends of Elsie Quirk Library in Englewood, Florida where as a member of their Board of Directors she served so ably as a long term Treasurer and most recently as vice-President and Membership Chairperson. Ellen was also a proud Benefactor of the Elsie Quirk Library. Seems fitting as she appears to have been there much of her waking hours serving on one committee or another participating in their Great Books Discussion Groups or coordinating/moderating the Library’s Great Decisions forums. Last March 31st Ellen moderated a lively discussion on US Defense/Security Policy. Her effort prompted a positive community response assuring many that she had a hell of a lot more working knowledge of world dynamics and US politics than most including one recent hockey mom governor…

Ellen and "special Gal Pal" Angie Zerad, a well known speaker and musician (piano & organ) teamed up and were known as the Eighties Ladies. Ellen was a talented singer and one time actress who felt right at home on stage. Wearing an old timey plains bonnet and hamming it up for audiences at the River Oaks retirement community in Englewood, Ellen lead sing-a-longs of mostly American music from the Stephen Foster era through World War II. Their twice monthly programs with Alzheimer’s patients and seniors allowed a greater quality of life for this group. In a recent letter to the Buxton "Boys" Angie expressed her condolences on the loss of her best Friend and dedicated every song she plays henceforth as a tribute to, "this wonderful and special Lady."

In this time of great need in our economically challenging times Ellen supported the effort to curtail the usual and very generous Buxton Family gift giving tradition and help provide for those less fortunate in our society. In mid December Ellen wrote to all Buxtons:
Just a card with Joy a’plenty
Within perhaps a single twenty”!
Which I will give (with several more)
To Helping Hand Salvation Store

Right here in quiet Englewood
Can you imagine all the good
Your gifts will bring to those in need?
I’ll sign your name so they can read

That though afar, you care to give…
And made the Christmas Spirit live!
That was Ellen. She always thought about others first to especially include her Family and Friends which were legion. Whether she was mentoring Family and Friends, adopting manatees and sea turtles or engaging yet another philanthropic or humanitarian effort, Ellen was always giving of herself. Indeed, she was one of those animated thousand points of light. Her life is the legacy that will continue to motivate us to make a difference in our respective communities. Ellen’s caring and loving persona and hands-on leadership will continue to provide a positive example so long as we who remember hold high her life as an example of a life well lived.

Yes, like the Buxton Family motto which she often quoted and used to motivate Family and Friends, Ellen always did it, with all her might. Well done, Ellen. Sleep well.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, December 20, 2008

DALLAS COWBOYS PARKING TURMOIL

The turmoil ongoing with the Dallas Cowboys is well documented and is nothing more than the predictable machinations of some very talented players frustrated at not winning every game. The intrigue appears to be part of the Dallas Cowboys Package especially when you have the likes of Terrell Owens and Adam “Pac Man” Jones on the roster. Owner Jerry Jones, either innocently but more than likely deliberately, keeps the pot stirred. But, that’s not the topic of this post. The turmoil we reference is caused by the incredible traffic jams ongoing at Texas Stadium and the seeming inability and unwillingness of the Dallas Cowboys organization to do anything about it. It looks like this same scenario is going to carry over to the Cowboys new stadium in Arlington, Texas. The Cowboy's on field antics may just well pale beside their parking headaches - the supposed price of success.

Last Sunday Brother Coby and I attended the very important Cowboys-Giants tip that turned out to be one hell of a game. I wished that fellow Ole Miss Alum Eli Manning would have had a better game, though if he had, the Cowboys would have lost like the last time these two teams met.

What was really significant was the two hours it took to get to a Blue parking space (time mostly spent around the stadium) and the additional two plus hours it took to get out of (OK escape) the Texas Stadium parking lot.

I could almost understand the maelstrom before the game, but the confusion after the game was unforgiveable where it was literally everyone for themselves. Most drivers didn’t acknowledge the difference between parking spaces and lanes and it was like a whirlpool in reverse that would only allow cars to escape the lots until they had achieved the perimeter when the equally, very frustrated Irving, Texas police took over. Until that point it was pure confusion. The Cowboys impressive 20-8 victory may have been the only counter to a parking lot rage that could have understandably washed over many folks. Many season ticket holders including Brother Coby stated that it was the worst they had seen in twenty years.

What made it so bad were the parking attendants who seemed totally impotent with most just standing or sitting and just doing - nothing! When you tried to engage a parking attendant the response was a deliberate failure to make eye to eye contact, silence and a total failure to recognize your presence. They were in the eye of the hurricane - in their zone and they miserably failed the test. That happened over and over again much to the chagrin of Cowboys fans who had paid a hell of a lot of money to attend the game and park their transport. Many attendants didn’t attempt to direct traffic or bring rhyme and reason to the chaos and disorder. They just flat gave up! Shame on them!

I have attended Cowboys games since 1960, from Cotton Bowl days to the ascendency of the Cowboys in Texas Stadium in 1971 to the shut down of the stadium in 2008. Brother Coby, inheritor of the Buxton Cowboy heritage, again offered me a ticket to the Cowboy’s last game in Texas Stadium this Saturday, December 20, 2008 where they play the highly regarded Baltimore Ravens. I declined Coby’s very generous invitation for a couple of reasons. First, I had already committed to attend another function and secondly, I had no willingness to endure what will undoubtedly be another traffic nightmare. Brother John has declined invitations to attend Cowboy games because of the traffic bottlenecks and attendant confusion.

Mind, you, the Cowboys are bringing in their top 100 players to be present at the event and, no doubt, it’s going to be a media madhouse, not to mention the manic Dallas Cowboy fans that will travel from far and wide to just be in the same vicinity with and/or see the likes of Bob Lilly, Emmitt Smith, Don Meredith, Bob Hayes, Cliff Harris, DD Lewis, Tony Dorsett, Danny White, Rayfield Wright, Don Perkins, Craig Morton, Lance Alworth, Lee Roy Jordan, Herb Adderley, Chuck Howley, Randy White, Mel Renfro, Ed “Too Tall” Jones, Troy Aikman, Drew Pearson, Dan Reeves, Roger Staubach and Michael Irvin among many others.

It is no rumor that the late. great Coach Tom Landry will take the field with his players, at least in spirit. Landry with his dignity and class, twenty straight winning seasons, 19 playoff appearances, 13 division titles, 5 Super Bowl appearances and 2 victories was the reason so many of us prevailed with the Cowboys. He was and remains the essence of this great team.

The frustrating thing is that all that august history and winning tradition doesn’t appear to offer hope for more and easier parking at the new $1.3 billion dollar (US) Arlington, Texas home of the Dallas Cowboys. Local Arlington residents are already frustrated since it takes over an hour to get out of their neighborhoods when the Texas Rangers play. It would seem that they are in for a more garish nightmare when the Cowboys start playing in 2009.
The Cowboys sent the city of Arlington an impressive looking traffic management plan about how they'll get fans to the new stadium smoothly. It appears to be a pie in the sky plan which will be a work in progress for many years to come.

The new stadium will have a seating capacity of 80,000 with a probable expansion of up to 100,000. Texas Stadium has a capacity of 65,595 and with much fewer problems though the potential for fewer parking options.

Surprisingly, no rapid rail was ever planned for Arlington though the Cowboys reflect that they are talking with the Dallas Area Rapid Transit and the Fort Worth Transportation Authority? Since, Arlington, Texas has no local transit the future seems to hold little or no prospect of a rail line or mass transit to the new stadium. It would appear, then, that the greater majority of Cowboy fans will continue to arrive by car. In a green mindset the Cowboys speculate that the average per vehicle occupancy will be three people requiring a minimum of 26,675 parking spaces. The Cowboys are hopeful that they will have access to 30,000 parking spaces all within a mile of the new stadium. The Cowboys will have to rely on their neighbors that include Six Flags Over Texas, the Texas Rangers, privately owned office parks and shopping centers and a herculean cadre of parking entrepreneurs to reach that figure.

The Cowboys concede that some ticket holders will still have to walk nearly a mile from their parking spaces to the new Arlington stadium, but also point out that the back-row parking at Texas Stadium requires about the same trek. It would appear that the numbers of trekkers will increase substantially.

This plan will require very aggressive traffic management strategies via reversible and reassigned lanes, parking restrictions in residential neighborhoods and access control. Some folks including a lot of Cowboy fans have stated that the plan is just flat - not manageable.

The bottom line is that all those Cowboy legend luminaries whether they show up at Texas Stadium or in the future at the new Arlington Stadium probably wouldn’t be enough to entice me to attend another Cowboy’s game.

Well, OK, I’d attend if Landry came…

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, December 13, 2008

THE DOWN ESCALATOR?

I grew up in Cathedral School at St. Matthew’s and eventually attended St. Marks also in Dallas, Texas and then on to St. Dunstan’s School in Providence, RI and Lenox School in Lenox, Massachusetts. They were all Episcopal schools so I was literally raised in the church. It became a part of my DNA. I was an active participant in the church singing in church choirs and glee clubs as an accomplished a capella soprano soloist all the way to my evolution into a mediocre, burned out baritone which was proved again at the annual company Christmas party. I went on to become Sexton of Trinity Church in Lenox. My confirmation by Bishop John Seville Higgins at St. Martin’s in Providence was one of the high points of my life. I remember it like it was yesterday… Was I a willing and compliant child doing my catechism? Well, probably not as I was sometimes incorrigible and hard to handle. I questioned everything including the color of the sky and made other provocative and now potentially embarrassing inquiries.

I even thought about going into the Episcopal/Anglican priesthood given the influence of one Dr. Robert L. Curry, DDS, etc the headmaster at Lenox, an incredible, positive influence in my life. I was his, “Miracle of Lenox School.”

At Lenox and ultimately at Ole Miss I was taught to question everything, to be inquisitive and come to my own conclusions about all matters. That’s what impressed me most about the Episcopal Church – it allowed for the option of original thought, not a blind rush towards and acceptance of what was to me some opaque doctrine. I was taught to think.

And so it comes to the subject of this post – the concept of Hell. No, I’m not going anywhere near the deliberation of the existence of Heaven and I don’t believe that the existence of one begets the other. We’ll save that one for later.

I heard reports most recently on National Public Radio (NPR) where parishioners of the Reverend Carlton Pearson’s New Dimension Church in Tulsa being literally stopped on the street and in a very public inquisition questioned by strangers about their supposed heretical lack of belief in Hell. I pray that someday someone has the temerity to so question me. They will regret their imposition on my privacy though they will be treated with respect. Why do these people refuse to let others worship and believe as they see fit? Yes, that news made me mad as..... well, Hell!

While this Christmas season might seem an inappropriate time to so deliberate, I see these kinds of behaviors occurring at an alarming and increasing rate, especially here in the South and Southwest. We are the home of the Pentecostals and the conservative Christian Right and what’s left of the right wing of Republican Party (they are still legion) and one of the reasons the GOP failed so miserably in representing The People. If you don’t believe what we believe, they say, then you are doomed to eternal damnation and Hell. If that’s the case, then Hell has to exist for their belief system to survive. Ka-ching! It’s mostly this mind set that bothers me, not the existence of Hell.

As a child my parents never threatened me with the fiery pit if I misbehaved or “sinned” though some righteously motivated school masters insinuated that may be my ultimate fate if I didn’t toe their line. I have been intrigued with my ultimate fate since then with one Episcopal priest even righteously praying for the disposition of my soul (for another reason).

Most Christians are taught and believe that there is an underground domain – an endless, irreversible, infinite abyss - an actual physical place of eternal fire, damnation and torment called Hell. They believe that when they die their souls will either go to Heaven and forever enjoy the rewards of a sin free life with God in some cumulus firmament or descend into Satan’s sulphurous realm, Hell, where they will painfully and excruciatingly burn and be tormented until the end of time. Then there’s Purgatory which we will discuss at a later time along with Heaven.

Of course, a stagnant and corrupt Catholic Church was want to keep their mostly illiterate, ignorant and disobedient fold compliant and in line. The way to do that was to unfurl the banner of intimidation, superstition, fable and ultimately persecution to hold them in check. It mostly worked. We have apparently forgotten that The Catholic Church viciously persecuted and executed those that disagreed with or contradicted the church’s belief system (Galileo is but one example). That was one of the reasons so many ultimately immigrated to America, including many of my ain folk. I am pleased and honored to uphold their tradition. I will also concede that unlike other denominations the Catholics amid great controversy now appear to be trying to right their ship.

Yes, like many other aspects of Christianity, the concept of Hell, eternal damnation and torment wasn’t original to Judaism/Christianity or part of the early teachings and message of Jesus. The reality is that the concept of Hell predates Christianity by a thousand years (Zoroastrianism). Distinguished historians and theologians have long corroborated (using the historical record) that the early so called references to Hell are mistranslations that have no basis in reality. Just because people (sincerely or in an agenda driven angst) were/are taught that it was/is truth doesn’t make it so. Some folks feel that it has devolved to the level of pernicious propaganda that further degrades our students committing them to the bottomless pit of ignorance.

The early development of the Jewish State and later the Christian Church was predicated on the Roman occupation of the Jewish Homeland and how they were going to free themselves from tyranny (their Salvation). Theologians state that we have mistranslated, embellished and reinvented the early Christian religion so as to ultimately embrace the concept of Hell in a more modern context. It needs to be said that for the early religion and even now the penalty for sinning was and is purely and simply – death – an easy out as we all (good or bad) will ultimately embrace that outcome. This is not a eureka conclusion, rocket science or magic.

The Protestant concept of Hell has most recently been an effective tool of fire and brimstone Elmer Gantry evangelists intended to save “sinners” and absolutely frighten church members into what they deem righteous behavior. Their premise is that if you don’t believe in Hell then you don’t need to believe in Jesus and you will become, “exceedingly sinful.”

Though some will protest, many believe that it is irrefutable that there is no physical domain of Hell or eternal damnation. All many hear are the empty threats of an overbearing, ethnocentric literalist religious mafia trying to impress their beliefs on those who don’t share their beliefs. On a personal note, I am positive that those inclined to believe in Hell (whatever I believe) don’t care about me personally or surely the ultimate repository of my soul. They appear scared to death that those who question the existence of Hell such as the parishioners of the New Dimension Church in Tulsa may threaten their status quo and system of checks and balances. Maybe, just maybe, their Mafioso tactics will prompt some folks to start thinking about their own environment and belief systems. Needless to say, all people need to become more tolerant and appreciative of differing belief systems. Now, that’s a good Christmas message!

Today, even the Catholic Church and some Protestant denominations are withdrawing from the myth of Hell, conceding there has never been a Biblical basis for that supposed physical realm. Witness Pope John Paul II in 1999 when he stated that, “Hell is not a place of fire and eternal suffering.” John Paul referred to the descriptions of eternal torment and damnation as, "improper use of Biblical images." Well, maybe we will eventually get it right though some in Tulsa seem to be embracing and fomenting the old ways.

The reality is that we appear to have a few loud, narrow minded folks in our midst that embrace a short-sighted religious dogma-driven agenda and folly intended to impress their views upon the general populous. The rest of the world is wrong and they are right. You don’t believe? You are going to Hell.

So, many now concede that a physical domain called Hell is not real, never has been and does not reflect the sentiment/heart of the God that they worship. Most believe and I concur that Hell is at least that metaphorical separation from the presence, influence and love of God. It would appear that Hell is right here on this planet in the personages of those who would voraciously and wantonly feed on the weak in our society. Ironically, it is our critical responsibility to respect, protect and support the right of everybody to include the Reverend Carlton Pearson of the New Dimension Church in Tulsa to practice their faith as they deem fit. I pledge myself to that effort.

Yea, I am still trying to figure it all out…

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life (KJV).


Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, December 6, 2008

SEEMS LIKE A GOOD IDEA TO ME

Today President-elect Barack Obama announced his commitment to engage a public works construction program not so subtly reminiscent of the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and the Works Progress Administration (WPA), both originally established by President Franklin D. Roosevelt as part of his New Deal in the 1930’s.

The WPA and the CCC employed millions of people and positively affected most every segment of the population of the United States. Obama’s intent is to resuscitate our ailing economy and put as many as two million folks back to work - actually a small amount compared to FDR’s WPA.

The ultimate success of Roosevelt’s New Deal CCC and WPA which, by the way, still survives in myriad forms in many state and federal programs, would appear to be part of the answer to our very complicated economic plight.

The first thing everybody needs to acknowledge is that the infrastructure of our country, whether we highlight bridges, highways or other critical structures, is in abysmal shape. I am reminded immediately of Atlanta that only resurrected its infrastructure to its current state because of the preparation effort prompted by their highly successful 1996 Summer Olympics (same song, different verse).

The catastrophic collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River Bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota on August 1, 2007 which killed thirteen and injured many more is a tragic reminder of the sorry state of our bridges. I saw a Department of Transportation report several years ago which declared that of the 591,707 bridges then in the US inventory, 162,869 were classified as deficient (27.5 percent), either for structural or functional causes. Federal officials cited this as an improved figure though that would appear to be the tip of the iceberg. A more recent report confidently reflects that the situation has improved and that only 12% of our bridges remain deficient? Again, I question whether in three years our bridges have been brought to that secure level. Since bridges are only inspected every two years we could have a strategic lag time here.

When you factor in that there are over 60,000 bridges over water with unknown foundations which require an aggressive risk analysis and probably mitigation, the problem would appear much greater than admitted by our government. This figure will also validate that our bridges require constant maintenance to stay ahead of the safety curve.

While I question government statistics and certainly their assertion of overall improvements, their admission would appear to still leave many Americans exposed to a repeat of the Minneapolis collapse. Yes, Minneapolis could happen again and hangs like the threat of another Al Qaeda attack. It’s that real. Let’s get our bridges and roads fixed and solve another problem…

While some economists and politicians argue that this strategy is only “illusory” prompting a “Peter to pay Paul” scenario and only a shift in spending (and borrowing), Mr. Obama and others appear ready to argue that President Eisenhower’s ultra successful federal Interstate program is a more recent example how folks can be put back to work for the ultimate good of our country.

This sure appears to be a win-win situation. Why the nay sayers (hence this comment) keep coming out of the woodwork and politicizing such constructive programs is beyond me. A loyal and aggressive minority which can offer constructive criticism and viable options is a noble and critical component of our society. Where are they?

Perhaps like the WPA of old they are scared folks will find out that they are just moving piles of leaves from one part of the park to another.

Aye,

Ned Buxton



Sunday, November 30, 2008

SENSE OF BELONGING

My guru whilst growing up in my work life was one Abraham Harold Maslow (April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970). Maslow was an American psychologist (Brooklyn born of Russian/Jewish parents) long considered the father of humanistic psychology and most noted for his "hierarchy of human needs". I have utilized Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in all my Human Resource deliberations over the last thirty plus years and find them to be as relevant today as they were when he conceived them in the year of my birth, 1943.

Just about in the middle of Maslow’s Five Step Hierarchy Pyramid is “Belonging”, above the basic psychological needs of food, shelter, health and safety but below “Esteem” and the ultimate value of “Self Actualization”.

We know that belonging is a basic fundamental need and probably the reason why we gravitate towards and ultimately join those kindred spirits who share our values and beliefs. For most of us, it is this association that ultimately helps drives our personal growth.

The bottom line is that all Humans need to feel, “a sense of belonging and acceptance.” Aside from the basic concept of safety in numbers, a sense of community evolves where the urge to share your accomplishments and grow your group becomes pervasive. The absence of sharing and belonging can prompt the misfits of our world to resort to violence in order to express their philosophy or to just express their ultimate frustration (a laTimothy McVeigh and Ted Kaczynski).

While this post is not an ethnographic study it is intended to validate Maslow and my assertion that we all want to be part of something that tells the world (well, at least our immediate community) who we are and even what we stand for (good or bad). I could surmise that the ultimate association for many of us would be that we are Americans standing up for Freedom and Justice, etc. (i.e. Proud to Be an American). That sentiment is obviously not shared by many in the world, witness the recent savage terrorist acts targeted against Americans and many others in Mumbai, India. But, that’s another story.

Most of us primarily operate at a much lower level and that is all predicated on our individual social, political and economic standing in our respective communities. In Texas where cheerleading appears to have ascended to iconic social status, we are not surprised to see signs in front yards all over the state identifying Lori or John as cheerleaders for the XYZ High School. Maslow would have understood the significance of the decals on rear car windows or bumper stickers that proudly declare affiliations for named daughters and sons who are members of the football, lacrosse, baseball, basketball, hockey and, yes, cheerleading teams for whatever school.

Indeed, decals and bumper stickers have evolved into a great vehicle for those of us so inclined to raise our heads above campus culture and use them to. “…identify the artifacts, values, and assumptions that comprise an organization’s culture” (Kuh and Whitt- 1988). Others have noted that bumper stickers and decals can even be viewed and interpreted as “cultural artifacts” that can provide valuable data when attempting to understand individual cultures.

OK, let’s roll with that premise. We can have a field day with our American culture. No doubt that bumper sticker and decals have evolved from the campus into the preferred way to express opinions and reinforce affiliations and hobbies by many who interpret this act as a “constitutional right.” Of course, that doesn’t protect the inflammatory, obscene (yes, S__T HAPPENS is one of those) and other false, misleading, bigoted and patently offensive signs that appear to adorn many automobiles these days. Of course, most have nothing to do with the owner’s “right of free speech” though I personally appreciate them for the display as I can eliminate these folks from any future positive social interaction.

The new car decal culture appears to operate in the stratosphere though they also have their degenerates (more later). We can’t help but notice all the Aggie or Baylor Moms in the world and proud alumni from a myriad of schools declaring their pedigree. In the Lone Star State we are blessed with an abundance of Texas Ex’s… They are all one again with their Austin roots and, yes, the eyes of Texas are upon you. Given my father’s vigilant tutelage The Eyes of Texas and Brunonia, Brunonia were the two first secular songs I ever learned as I was identifying a potential alma mater even at an early age.

Many choose to declare their faith and especially their specific church affiliations with car decals or evangelical bumper stickers enthusiastically inviting one and all to join them at the ABC Church. Some are OK though for me religion is an extraordinarily private expression of faith. Recent bumper stickers and decals that insinuate or even proclaim that the End Is Near of if you don’t cop to Christianity you will forever roast in Hell are patently absurd… My God is compassionate and understanding…

My former choir masters at St Mark’s School of Texas in Dallas and St. Dunstan’s in Providence, Rhode Island (Mr. O’Connor and Mr. T. James Hallan) would have appreciated the most recent rear windshield decal I spied on Preston Road the other day declaring allegiance and participation with a local school’s choir and glee club (I say, Well done!).

My Friends and family will not be surprised though others probably disappointed that my favorite decal/bumper sticker does not involve a body part or function, is fairly clean and mostly accepted – especially in the Scottish Disapora, “If it’s nae Scottish, it’s crap”. Of course, it is true, it does get the point across and I have heard it in all the cities and far corners of the United States, Canada and Scotland.

That leaves us with those that have apparently failed in all their endeavors to associate/identify with anything worthwhile and can only (we assume proudly) display their car’s name and/or a young boy peeing on an opposing brand (Ford v. Chevy and vice-versa)? Yikes, what an example for young folks!

I was reminded the other day of an ingenious bumper sticker that invoked other drivers to, “Stop texting/calling and drive” though the offending drivers probably wouldn’t/couldn’t look up long enough to spy the other car, though they might have a unplanned meeting with that opposing bumper.

Don’t think that either of the latter two will get to Maslow’s self actualization level…

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, November 15, 2008

THANKSGIVING REDUX 2008

I was going to use this week’s post to discuss my take on the 2008 presidential elections. The recent media and internet diatribe and the dissing of Palin by supposed McCain staffers have me totally disgusted. It certainly appears that all that needs to be said – has been said. I can’t offer anything else. Obama is now the President-Elect and deserves our respect and attention. Let’s get behind him and pull our nation through one of the most challenging periods in our history. To do anything else at this point would be petty, counter productive and I would recommend following John McCain’s lead. Yes, I think that Senator Clinton would be a fine Secretary of State…

So what do we talk about? Well, I engaged a post last year that expounded on the sentimentality and faux history that surrounds that most American of traditions - Thanksgiving. I attempted to dispel that myth and some of you have expressed support and a desire to see another comment. Well, here it is somewhat amended from my 2007 offering.

I just watched The History of Thanksgiving on The History Channel hosted by CBS Early Show host, Harry Smith. For the most part, he did a good job but then ended the program by noting this grand celebration's date on the last Thursday in November (Yikes!). They did their best to dispel all the old myths about the holiday and then blew it at the end!

Despite all the myths, Plimouth Plantation, the ultimate authority, reflects that the truth is the Pilgrims never celebrated what we now refer to as “Thanksgiving.” They did have a great three day secular “harvest feast” (Samhain anyone?) in 1621 (maybe around November 11?) with the Wampanoag First Nation (who brought most of the food) though they never repeated it at any point in their history. They never called it Thanksgiving and Pilgrim men never wore those black steeple hats with a buckle, black breeches, square white collar and cuffs and wide buckled belts.


Notwithstanding George Washington’s 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation, we probably wouldn’t have this celebration were it not for a Mrs. Sarah Joespha Hale whose lobbying finally prompted Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday in 1863, the last Thursday in November (11-30). The celebration of Thanksgiving on the next to the last Thursday in November was Theodore Roosevelt’s commercially inspired 1939 idea. In 1941 Congress declared Thanksgiving on the fourth Thursday in November where it now proudly reposes.

Thanks to the Canadian Parliament, Thanksgiving has been formally and officially celebrated in Canada since 1957 on the second Monday in October. The Canadian Thanksgiving traces its roots to the old European farming custom of celebrating and giving thanks for a bountiful harvest. Wikipedia reflects that the first known Thanksgiving celebration on Canadian shores was in 1578 hosted by a European explorer named Martin Frobisher. Frobisher celebrated his good fortune upon reaching Labrador and Newfoundland and surviving the travails of sea travel. We need note that not so ironically the Americans who remained loyal to England (they were legion) during our Revolutionary War brought many traditions with them to include their Thanksgiving holiday. In some provinces the celebration has great religious overtones though it is perceived my many as a secular celebration. The Canadian proclamation reads in part, “A Day of General Thanksgiving to Almighty God for the bountiful harvest with which Canada has been blessed … to be observed on the 2nd Monday in October.”

Whatever its origins (secular or religious) in North America, Thanksgiving has evolved into a festive celebration of Family & Friends and a time to reflect on Life, express gratitude for our blessings and recognize the opportunities afforded to all free men to pursue their own destiny. This observance is not the exclusive domain of some alleged American Aristocracy, rather an inclusive celebration for all those that choose to embrace its tenets. We should never fail to pause at least once a year, take a deep breath and celebrate the blessings of Family and Friends for yet another twelve months.
In the Scottish Community we have a great habit of saying the names of our ancestors and our recently departed Friends and Family usually on the occasion of our many Scottish Festivals & Highland Games (Flowers of The Forest). On high occasions in a place of honor we will set out an empty plate, silverware and glass representing those who are no longer among the living or cannot attend the function. They are, then, with us in spirit. Thanksgiving seems most appropriate for this tradition.

All of this comes from a grand Mayflower descendent. My heroes growing up were Myles Standish and John Alden. I strongly suspect that The Society of Mayflower Descendents really do understand the reality of this celebration though some of their members seem unwilling to relinquish their Thanksgiving pedigree.

Hey, thanks for being part of my Life and have a safe and prosperous holiday.

Yours, Aye

Ned Buxton

Saturday, November 8, 2008

A BETTER CLASS OF PEOPLE

As many of you know, I am rarely at a loss for words and surely not afraid to express my opinion on a wide variety of subjects. While this week seems to offer so many possibilities, I have decided to update The Might of Right re. Jim Greenwood and his appeal to the Stonebriar Home Owners Association (HOA) of Frisco, Texas and table for one week my take on the recent United States presidential election. My good English Friend who feels that I am highly subjective when it comes to The English (v. the Scots), will also have to wait for another couple of weeks for my reply which will to some degree surprise him and validate his observation.

First, I want to express my appreciation for the responses to my August 23, 2008 post about the gated community of Stonebriar in Frisco, Texas which prohibited one of its more august residents the right to park his new 2007 Ford 150 pickup in his own driveway. You see, their home owners association only allows pickups of the ilk of Cadillac Escalade, Lincoln Mark LT, Honda Ridgeline, Chevrolet Avalanche and Hummers to be so displayed. All other vehicles of the subclass commona pickemupa have to be cloistered in their garages or banished to the hinterlands which seems to include anywhere outside Stonebriar.

I received a response from the president of an HOA in California who rightly so condemned the ban and opined that the action was discriminatory. We agree and are pleased that some HOA folks out there are righteously concerned and maintain realistic perspectives about their communities.

By the way, a disappointed Jim Greenwood, the subject of the pickup ban, lost his appeal to his Stonebriar HOA and is now parking the pickup in his garage whilst he considers his options. As reported earlier Jim appropriately noted the incident on his Concentra blog invoking, “the basic values of reasonableness, fairness, and respect” as the motivation to pursue his rights. Greenwood has not commented further since he lost his appeal save that he is considering a, “Plan B”.

We love the response of a “flabbergasted” Denton (Texas) Record Chronicle who opined that the decision makers in Stonebriar were “a bunch of nouveau riche busybodies”. The Record Chronicle gleefully fantasized what the late Sam Walton of Wal-Mart fame who drove a red 1979 Ford pickup truck until the day he died in 1992 (usually accompanied by his dog Roy) would have done if he had been the subject of such “mindless groupthink” discrimination. We agree that Walton probably wouldn’t have tolerated such silliness. We also earnestly hope that Jim Greenwood will continue his fight. In the meantime we counsel all those contemplating residence in a HOA driven community to read all the covenants and fine print.

If as reported, “the majority of homeowners in Stonebriar agree with the policy as it’s currently stated”, then its time for Greenwood to start associating with a better class of people. Apparently, the Stonebriar HOA would agree based on their earlier statements though that will surely require Greenwood’s move from Stonebriar.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, November 1, 2008

MULTITASKERS FOR VICE PRESIDENT

At this late hour I have no enthusiasm for either of the two vice presidential candidates, though I have to say that Sarah Palin is a hell of a lot more attractive than Joe Biden. Since she also appears to be “all out there” (there is no more…) I suspect that she is less duplicitous than our good senator from Delaware though that probably goes with the territory.

I was certainly amused and seconded Fox News contributor and former Clinton Advisor Dick Morris’ statement during an edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor when Morris opined that Biden, “only got into the race this time because of a menopausal midlife crisis.” Well, his resurrection seems assured though while many people won’t vote for Obama because of Biden, others will for the same reason.

Of course, Sarah is only in the race because she is a conservative, fundamentalist female governor/hockey mom whose favorite meal is moose stew.

The bottom line is that we are stuck with one or the other and the scary proposition is that many voters are going to use this as the basis for their ultimate presidential choice. I could and would have supported either Mitt Romney, Bobby Jindal, Mike Huckabee and even Carly Fiorina for the VP position but they have all gone the way of the wind and political fortune. Despite that reality at this late date I find myself looking for others who might be suitable for the job.

I was humbled and impressed the other day when on my way to work, driving north on Preston Road in Plano I happened to come upon a very attractive young female driver (in a Lexus with Texas plates) and watched her transformation to office appropriata as she proceeded from from President George Bush Parkway to Legacy Drive. It was amazing to watch as she admirably maintained control over her vehicle whilst text messaging, taking and making several phone calls, doing her hair (including hair spray), putting on her makeup and lipstick and then curling her eyelashes with one of those torture devices that would appear to impede one’s vision.

She never lost a beat and didn’t swerve an inch left or right (Hmmm) and proceeded north as I turned west onto Legacy. She didn’t have any bumper stickers that would have given a hint as to her presidential choices – I looked.

So like two ships passing in the night, each in their own world, this extraordinary multi-tasker came in and out of my life in a matter of ten minutes. A lost opportunity though surely validating that there are other more qualified candidates waiting their turn….

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Thursday, October 16, 2008

THE LAST DANCE

I spent the evening of the most recent and last McCain/Obama debate from Hofstra University in New York at the home of an absolutely delightful Democrat-leaning couple (homemade soup and great company!) in Dallas, Texas. I subconsciously expected an enthusiastic Obama reception and attendant behaviors. While I did find pro-Obama folks, they certainly appeared objective in their perceptions of the candidates and their debate performance. They gave both McCain and Obama high marks for some of their statements and even chastised Obama for his almost smug grin when McCain went on the attack.

I was bored with most of the candidates’ rhetoric and though an eager - almost anxious - McCain made some relevant points about ACORN’s admitted voter registration irregularities and some of Obama’s supposed previous (we hope) associations, the debate appeared to be another draw though I would give a slight nod to McCain. Both threw allegations at the other which were summarily dismissed by each as distortions. NBC validated later that both candidates at times strayed away from the facts. The bottom line is that there are some substantive differences in approach by both the candidates, especially as relates to economics and health care, though they don’t appear to be enough to alienate any one class of sincere voter.

McCain looked to all the world that he was not comfortable being there. His overall demeanor was pained and maybe that’s part and parcel of his horrific Viet Nam past that‘s permanently altered his posture but not his attitude. At times he was like an exasperated, arm waving school boy who was the only one in the class who knew the answer to the teacher’s question. On occasion he huffed and puffed, gesticulated and rolled his eyes while Obama maintained his calm and composure, his smile aside.

One of the great tragedies in this election is that the greater majority of African-Americans (led by the Afrocentrists) are going to vote for Obama for no other reason than he has associated himself with the Black Community (no intellectual process here). There are many others who are also agenda driven such as the Christian faith based, right wingers who will vote for McCain for no other reason than he is White and Christian. Many young voters (perhaps guilty over their grandparents perceived racism) will vote for Obama for no other reason than to show the world how liberal the US has become – that we can Kum By Ya vote a Black Man President of the United States (yes, we are over the 1960’s). It would appear, however, that despite the aforementioned groups, the greater majority will be voting based on what they feel are pertinent issues and for the greater good of our country.

Aside from the predictable “Legalize Marijuana” signs carried by some Hofstra students and a small anti-war protest, the more ascendant of the issues was brought up by McCain - the effect of Obama’s economic policies on small business and the hardships facing average Americans as defined in the personality and situation of one “Joe the Plumber” aka a surprised and almost chagrined Joe Wurzelbacher of Toledo, Ohio. You see, Joe wants to buy a plumbing business that will annually gross over $250,000.00 subjecting him to a higher 39% tax rate under the Obama economic plan. When pressed the day after the debate Joe would not divulge who he was voting for.

I don’t feel that anyone who witnessed this last debate will be swayed to change their vote or migrate to either candidate as both McCain and Obama seemed to be playing to their acknowledged supporters. It would appear that many independents are still undecided and that may be the case until they ultimately occupy the booth and cast their vote.

The Vice-Presidential candidates still appear appropriately rogue with Biden appearing to be mostly opaque though he is the obvious foil for those who cite Obama’s lack of experience. That, of course, conjures up ghastly images of a very likable President Sarah Palin should the Republican ticket prevail and MacCain succumb to his seniority. That scares the hell out of a lot of folks.

Please know that I truly respect and admire John McCain and the tremendous sacrifice and stalwart service he has given our country. I will follow him anywhere… The real tragedy here is that McCain is a truly great Man and American who is probably the better man in this election. It appears, however, that he couldn’t conjure up the fire in the belly or capture that lighting in the bottle that would allow him a more dynamic public demeanor and general acceptance by the populous. Maybe if John had been attired in his dress whites…. But, it’s all about time and space and today it’s Obama’s race to lose.

I was certainly proud of the effort of host Hofstra University and that great Fort Worth, Texas native and CBS icon, Bob Schieffer who most effectively moderated the debate. I was equally proud of my alma mater, Ole Miss, for hosting the first 2008 presidential debate and the outstanding moderation of PBS’s Jim Lehrer, Executive Editor and anchor of The News Hour on PBS. Hotty Toddy…

In closing it seems evident to me and many of my Friends and Family that unless something mind bending occurs, an Obama victory appears assured. CAUTION: There is a danger here and the Democrats need realize that any victory will be the result of a collaboration of Democrats, Republicans, Independents and other like signs, all mostly fed up with the status quo. Any attempt by the Democrats to reassert their traditional, entitled social agendas will set them back twenty years or more. The Republicans (or what’s left of them) will gleefully smack their lips in anticipation of that pendulum swinging back their way (it always does).

The past is prologue.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Sunday, October 12, 2008

THE CAT DID IT - THAT'S MY STORY...

Last Tuesday I walked back into my house in Richardson, Texas and couldn’t find my cat, Ms. Sophie Baggins, at her usual perch. I went through the Family Room to the hallway that runs down the bedroom wing and was greeted with water - water, water, everywhere! The hot water in near sink in the middle guest bath was full bore on. The overflow wasn’t sufficient to handle the excess water which had poured out of the bathroom to the front bedroom down to the middle and then ultimately the master bedroom. I turned the water off.

As I walked down the Brazilian Cherry hallway installed only a few years earlier, water squished up through the boards. I figure that about an inch of water had been deposited through those areas and only became obvious when my footprint on the carpet was immediately filled with water. The presence of the water was also evident in the Family room and the prospects of dismantling the TV and attendant cabinetry made me depressed, all by itself. Where was the cat?

I telephoned good Friend and contractor John Healy who answered his cell in Boston whilst enjoying a New England leaves holiday. One down… Brother John came up with the idea to contact nephew by marriage Jeremy in Florida who is with SERVPRO, a company dedicated to mitigating water and fire and smoke damage. A quick telephone call to Jeremy who called SERVPRO of Richardson, set in motion a series of actions that found a team of SERVPRO professionals at my door within a couple of hours. They didn’t leave until after 3:00 the next morning…

They assessed the damage and started ripping out carpet and the luxurious, thick pad that had sucked up most of the water. Carpet and pad were summarily cut out of all the aforementioned areas and attention was directed to the wood flooring that seemed to be weathering the affects of the water. “We’ll know for sure in a couple of days, but you’ll probably lose the flooring too.” the SERVPRO Team Lead sympathetically intoned. At the end of three days a slight warping was evident so the floor will probably have to be replaced.

Five days later and it’s Sunday morning and the SERVPRO rep just left taking the remaining industrial blowers and dehumidifier relieving my home and the neighborhood of what was surely 110+ dbs of cacophonous, jet-like roaring noise that prevented sleep or any semblance of sanity. I have an idea about another grossly inhumane torture tactic that can be used at Guantanamo…

I had up to sixteen blowers in the house and with the general contractor, flooring and carpet company agents, State Farm adjusters and the ever present SERVPRO reps the house had been a beehive of activity for those five days.

The house is now dry and all that needs to be done is the carpet and flooring installation and the daunting task of putting together the TV and cabinet. I had several great neighbors who kept watch on the house to discourage those always at the ready to take advantage of this situation.

Wednesday AM before SERVPRO set up the blowers Sophie presented herself looking bedraggled and limping. She had sought refuge I know not where and had apparently been injured during what I now call the “water incident.” Unless someone stole into the house, turned on the water and then left without taking anything, there are only two other explanations for the incident.

I thought, well, perhaps I turned on the water for Sophie and forgot. You see, Sophie is a Maine Coon cat with an uncommon love of water. A full basin was always left for her refreshment and recreation. But, the hot water spigot was on and not done by these hands!

However, a brain trust now agrees that Sophie was the most likely culprit and in one of her affectionate water dances probably turned the lever precipitating (yes) the incident. My State Farm adjuster convincingly admitted to many such incidents…

For the five excruciatingly long, moisture mitigating days Sophie found sanctuary in my office and mostly lying behind the monitor of my computer or on her favorite Jacobean chair (she supported the Bonnie Prince in a previous life). She is no longer limping though was affected (as was I) by the antibacterial/antifungal agents that SERVPRO sprayed. She now has a whole new world to discover and assess and I wonder how she will like the new carpet (not really).

The great lesson here is the absolute reality and more firm understanding of the great loss and mental anguish experienced by the victims of the floods in Gainesville and Sherman, Texas in 2007 and those affected by the floods precipitated by Hurricanes Gustav and Ike most recently in Louisiana and Texas. Wind damage aside, the losses resulting from the flood waters was more the failure to immediately mitigate the moisture and water damage that soon spawned molds of all varieties that doomed many homes. Would that they had the services of SERVPRO…

I sure wish that I had video of my water incident that would allow some confidence in the speculation about the cause of overflow. Alas, Sophie’s water games will not continue in the basin in the guest bath. Thanks to a good Friend who suggests that the shower off the utility room might offer some potential water recreation for Sophie without any attendant risk.

Common sense, eh?

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, October 4, 2008

HOCKEY MOM FOR PRESIDENT?

I thought that Sarah Palin did one hell of a job in the debate with Joe Biden. Did she win or so dramatically influence the Independents or undecideds on both the Republican and Democratic side so as to prompt a reversal of the current sentiments? I think not… Alaskan Governor “Can I call you Joe?” Sara Palin recovered a lot of dignity for herself and the Republicans though at times her responses seemed canned and the product of the intensive tutelage that she received in the last several weeks. That’s OK too as she is obviously a quick study… Bottom line is that she didn’t change or redirect sentiment to the Republicans because of her performance. The sigh of relief by the Republicans is that despite her lack of experience and fact that she has never been tested in national/international politics, she probably didn’t cause a mass exodus of Republicans. Her supporters will stay firmly in place as Joe Biden’s will.

Biden also had inestimable pre-debate counseling to eliminate some of his verbosity (What’s wrong with that?) and his God given talent to fully stuff both his feet well beyond his tonsil and adenoids. He did not appear condescending to Sarah and was, indeed, deferential to her persona and position. A couple of times he could have gone for her jugular and didn’t. He showed a class that I didn’t think he possessed and suspect that he won a lot of confidence in the process.

I thought (along with many Republican strategists) that Biden was articulate without being haughty, maudlin or extra-political or nearly as predictable as Sarah was in her responses. Biden seemed willing to go anywhere or talk about any issue while Sarah did not wander far from her comfort zone. Again, to her credit Sarah demonstrated that she wasn’t the one dimensional Saturday Night Live character played by the very talented Tina Fey in her recent most extraordinary virtuoso performance as Palin. Frankly, I can’t tell them apart and I wondered later with Friends who was satirizing who? One thing’s for sure - Palin now has no control over her own image.

Fey wasn’t kind to Palin and that was OK by me though Fey’s career (if she persists with her characterization of Palin) may be so remarkable as to throw her in the company of George Reeves the ultimately tragic actor who was typecast as Superman, the role he played for many years. Yes, her characterization was that good…

I was drawn back to the Canadian (CBC) Red Green Show or even Fargo to capture what many feel – that Palin is a caricature of the archetypical Alaskan and Northwood’s culture that is seemingly out of touch with world politics. Palin’s earlier attempt to reinforce her foreign policy credentials by invoking Alaska’s proximity to Russia was incredibly naïve and inappropriate.


As a former Amazing Maize Maze, Maze Master for the Catawba Valley Scottish Society in Huntersville, NC I was chagrined when Duke Wheeler of Whitehouse, Ohio recently created a 16 acre corn maze that features the likeness of Governor Palin replete in her 60’s hairstyle and distinctive eyeglasses. Gads there go the corn mazes!

Frankly, I don’t want a self-styled “Hockey Mom” as my president, rather someone who has the dimension, experience and erudition to relate to all the challenging foreign and domestic issues we will surely face in the next few years. I want someone who can make the tough and sometimes unpopular decisions about these incredibly sophisticated and complex challenges. I honestly don’t feel that she has a clue about our current banking and finance crisis though that puts her squarely in the company of the greater majority of those in government and many of our citizenry.

I do think that she is very attractive, has a lot on the ball and probably much more than she’s letting on. Doggone it, I would like to be her Friend, share a moose or caribou burger (no pork re. pig with lipstick reference) and an Alaskan Amber in Wasilla and celebrate all that is right with our country and that great state from which she hails. Maybe we could watch a hockey game or two and talk about icing, two line passes or even some goaltending moves.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

YOU CAN FIX STUPID

As my favorite comedian Ron "Tater Salad" White of Fritch, Texas says, “You can’t fix stupid.” and Nancy Peolosi the less than illustrious Speaker of the United States House of Representatives tried to prove that yesterday when her partisan vitriole managed to anger and submarine the crucial so-called “bail out package” in that illustrious body. She took a deal brokered by her own party which really demonstrated most of the leadership in the negotiations and because she just couldn’t resist turning this into an election year spectacle, pounded the Republicans and President Bush. Republicans so angered, yea incensed, with her rantings and Democrats indignant over their perceived forced support for the package turned it down by twelve votes, votes that had already been tallied in the “Yes” column. Then, as we know, all Hell broke loose.

I certainly blame the Republicans and the Democrats as much as their less than illustrious leader for voting the bill down and causing the single greatest loss in the history of the New York Stock Exchange. We then heard that thousands of our great (and mostly ill informed) citizens e-mailed, telephoned and faxed in their condemnation of the package which in their estimation would only bail out those who had caused the problem in the first place. Yikes!

Ignorant perspectives like that and the reality that much of the deregulation which actually started around 1990 was coupled with apathy from the Fed who in a generous non-partisan spirit failed to perceive the risk along with our highly touted representatives in Congress, both Republican and Democrat. Yes, it was a consensus and everybody can accept part of the blame.

The real test was whether our representatives in Congress would accept the terrible burden of voting on an issue of greatest importance to the stability of our country or capitulating to the partisan ramblings from their mostly ignorant constituencies. Yes, it’s an election year and most are scared of getting voted out of office rather than voting in the best interests of their country and, frankly, the world. They are paid to make sometimes unpopular and difficult decisions – for the good of the many.

Today the market rebounded gaining almost 500 of those 777 lost points back. That rebound was due mostly to the optimism that Congress was going to do “something” soon and the money and action of the smartest among us who seeing an incredible bargin bought low and made a lot of money today.

This whole issue could ultimately put more money in our treasury and it’s sad that many don’t have the basic math skills in order to comprehend that the issue is really the difference between the market value of the properties in question and any potential loss/gain.

Now, what do we do about the members of Congress who failed to vote for the recovery package? You can fix stupid by voting them out of office. Thankfully, both Obama and McCain both ardently support the bill and demonstrated an admirable spirit of cooperation amidst the turmoil. It would appear, however, that despite Pelosi’s predictable bad judgment (as if she ever had any good qualities) the Republicans with their incredible showboating and bad judgment just lost the presidency.

Yep, you sure can fix stupid…. Too bad the elections aren't sooner for if a recovery package isn't passed soon, we'll all be slurping thin gruel whilst in pursuit of our own happiness - anticipatng the great Yellowstone Super Volcano...

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, September 20, 2008

HURRICANE IKE AND GALVESTON

With Hurricane Gustav exited and just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, Hurricane Ike pounded the Texas coast on Saturday September 13th inflicting heavy and catastrophic damage to Galveston and many other portions of south east Texas. Residents of Galveston were even warned by the National Weather Service that they may "face certain death" should they stay in defiance of mandatory evacuation orders given by Galveston part-time and unpaid Mayor Lyda Ann Thomas. Many stayed, however, and remain so presenting a conundrum for city, state and federal officials. That too will resolve itself. A large number of residents who did not heed the order to evacuate in advance of the storm are still missing. Local officials have even speculated that many may have been washed out to sea. We sure hope that they are found alive and well.

Many shelters remain open throughout the State of Texas including many in the DFW area. The Dallas Convention Center remains the lynchpin of the sheltering effort, having entertained just under 1,500 evacuees following landfall. As of today some 630 evacuees remain as the daily population fluctuates back and forth as people alternately arrive from the Texas coast even as others try and return home (to what?).

Authorities caution returning residents that there is no power; non existent or, at best, limited sewer services and spotty water utilities (among other challenges) that await residents when they start to return next week. I guess I ask myself why were evacuees allowed en masse back in (even for a look) when it was obviously hampering the recovery efforts well underway by FEMA and the State of Texas? Yea, I guess that I would want to know what happened to my home and my possessions, but reason has to prevail here… Perhaps a neighborhood by neighborhood survey by residents would keep the roads open and allow bona fide residents to evaluate their property and retrieve belongings for what will surely be a long recovery period. That is apparently the tact that Galveston is now taking allowing residents of the least damaged and ultimately the areas most devastated to “look and leave” in distinct phases.

Reports are filtering out now that returning residents and first responders have gotten ill from the Galveston situation exacerbated by the lack of sanitary facilities and the insidious fungus and mold that always follows floods. I remember the floods in Gainesville and Sherman, Texas last year and becoming ill when we were doing damage assessments. The black mold has this terrible acrid smell that almost seems to block out the ability to breathe. The reality of this soon transcends the heart breaking emotion of “getting back home” and all you want to do is get away…

As with most post disasters we now are seeing the finger pointers and spin doctors coming out of the woodwork and from under their rocks. Many now allege that Mayor Thomas didn’t order a mandatory evacuation when it appears from the new stories we saw here in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, that she did. At least I couldn’t find any documentation where she was alleged to have advised her residents to “hunker down”.

This is all reminiscent of Hurricane Katrina when the City of New Orleans and State of Louisiana miserably failed their constituencies immediately prior to and following Katrina while FEMA and other organizations waited for permissions to enter the area. We have since cut through all that BS with local and state authorities almost eagerly waiting on their hot lines to declare a disaster and request Federal assistance.

The post Ike reaction has all the hype and spin of a post Katrina event with little substance, rather vulgar, pointless posts and Internet gibberish. At any rate both New Orleans and the State of Louisiana have done a great job since. The point here is a thoughtful analysis of the situation in Galveston is surely in order but not the maniacal ramblings of an ill informed or agenda driven public.

Let’s concentrate on getting resources to those affected by this disaster and then engage some planning that will allow for a greener and smarter community and minimize the affects of the next “big one.”

I want to thank evacuee Tessie for presenting me with a pink heart at the Dallas Convention Center earlier this week and a happy face on my ID and photograph. It was an improvement. Hope your life returns to normal real soon…

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, September 6, 2008

READY WHEN THE TIME COMES

Well, we finally entertained well over one thousand evacuees from southeast Texas and from all over the state of Louisiana at the Dallas Convention Center. While there was some credible damage, we were relieved that Gustav did not become the great threat that was anticipated and that damage to individual and commercial interests was not catastrophic. This proved to be a great test for the new response mechanism on the local, state and national levels. All agree that we passed with flying colors. I give Mayor Nagin, Governors Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal and FEMA and all their partners excellent marks.

The City of Dallas, Texas and the Dallas Area Chapter of the American Red Cross (DARC) and the Salvation Army and their Volunteers need to be thanked for their conscientious and humanitarian response. A lot of folks gave up their Labor Day holiday to address a much higher calling. Kudos go out to many of the EDS/HP Employees and folks from other companies, churches, schools and other community organizations that volunteered with the Dallas Area Red Cross chapter under their Ready When the Time Comes Program (RWTC).

RWTC is a community volunteer program that literally taps the Human Resources of Corporate America and other community organizations. Participating organizations commit to making a certain number of Employees available for voluntary service of at least one day per year. In many cases (not unlike Jury Duty or other public service) companies continue to pay wages to their Employee Volunteers.

The American Red Cross then trains Employees from partnering entities and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes. RWTC Volunteers are trained by DARC on Shelter Operations and then undergo background checks, a requisite for DARC and RWTC service.

This has allowed DARC to have an even greater number of ready and well-trained Volunteers who can be immediately mobilized and like other DARC Volunteers, can step in and provide a credible, high level service to the community when disasters strike (and they do).

A great story went unreported in the wake of Hurricane Gustav and you will learn of it here and now. Following Gustav’s landfall on the Louisiana coast, WFAA-TV and other local Dallas, Texas TV and radio stations put out erroneous on-air messages that the Red Cross desperately needed Volunteers for our shelters prompting a generous outpouring of Dallas Citizenry. I personally related to around thirty-five of these incredibly motivated folks who unfortunately had to be turned away from Convention Center since they did not have basic ARC training and the requisite background check. Do not despair, though, for they were directed to the DARC headquarters where we hope many took advantage of special Boot Camps that put qualified Volunteers in positions where they could assist their communities.

The bottom line is that well trained and vetted Volunteers ready to be deployed in times of disaster are/will be desperately needed. If you are a Corporation (large or small), Church, Mosque, Synagogue, any community organization, or just any group that wants to give back to their community and be part of the solution, then the Ready When The Time Comes Program is your answer.

Richard L. Keyser, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Grainger, a major supporter of the American Red Cross, nails the motivation for organizational involvement in ARC and RWTC.

“In our experience, the benefits of philanthropy definitely outweigh the costs. I’m proud to be part of a company so dedicated to being an active contributor to our community. I’m also proud of Grainger’s affiliation with the American Red Cross and look forward to continuing our partnership in the years to come.

As the Red Cross continues to strengthen disaster preparedness and response in our communities, there will be more opportunities for partnerships. For those efforts to be successful, businesses need to accept the responsibility that comes with having significant resources at their disposal. The Red Cross needs creative ideas and dedicated support. They need businesses both large and small to play critical roles. What part will you play?”

So, if you are part of a group of like-minded folks, please call your local chapter of the American Red Cross and inquire about participating in the Ready When the Time Comes Program. Yes, Hurricane Ike is on the way…

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, August 30, 2008

READY FOR THE WORST – HURRICANE GUSTAV

I was telephoned yesterday by the Dallas, Texas Area chapter of the American Red Cross and put on standby as a manager for one of the Dallas area shelters in the event that Hurricane Gustav strengthened requiring the evacuation of the Louisiana and Texas Gulf coast. Overnight Gustav suddenly strengthened into a strong Category 3 hurricane with winds up to 125 miles per hour – and getting stronger (shades of Katrina). Well, as I am writing this post the Weather Channel announced that Gustav has now been upgraded to a Category 4 with sustained winds in its now well defined eye clocked at 145 miles per hour. Yes, it’s still strengthening… Hurricane Fay was but a harbinger of Gustav and now even Gustav may be beckoning what is now Tropical Storm Hanna...

I received another call from Dallas Red Cross with the news that the City of Dallas is now going to also reopen the Dallas Convention Center and would I work with AM shelter manager and Friend Gary Wilkins? You betcha! Dallas and north Texas are expecting 8,500 or more evacuees from the Gulf coast to start arriving late today.

On Wednesday Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal (why didn’t McCain pick him?) declared a state of emergency and requested a presidential pre-landfall disaster declaration. President Bush immediately declared a state of emergency in Louisiana, a move that allows the federal government to coordinate disaster relief and provide assistance in storm-affected areas. All this sure makes Jindal’s predecessor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco
look even more incompetent than she was.

Furthermore, Governor Jindal activated 3,000 Louisiana National Guardsmen, and triggered preparation measures for the potential evacuation and shelter of affected Louisiana residents and enjoined the American Red Cross to be on alert. Governor Rick Perry of Texas also issued orders Friday deploying 7,500 Texas National Guard troops to Beaumont, Houston and Galveston. But back to Louisiana.

Admirably, and all in direct contrast to his predecessor, Louisiana Governor Jindal has engaged a specific working timeline with his disaster and emergency services staff to include the scheduling of the evacuation of hospitals, nursing/retirement homes, animal shelters and even the start of contra-flow traffic out of Louisiana as early as Saturday, August 30 – two to three days before estimated landfall. Residents of Louisiana can even sign up for critical cell phone alerts and status on the weather. Your tax dollars really at work. So screw any states rights or sovereignty lip synch, FEMA and other federal and local agencies (including the Red Cross and those great Southern Baptist Men with their mobile kitchens and feeding stations) are already in place along the entire Gulf coast. The Baptists even told me they would take a sometimes Episcopalian!

New Orleans and surrounding areas have now engaged voluntary evacuations while Mayor Ray Nagin of “Chocolate City” fame has ordered the mandatory evacuation of all visitors to the City of New Orleans. Well done! We understand that the Superdome under no circumstances will be used to shelter displaced citizens. Again, well done!

The Dallas Independent School District has sent 100 school buses to assist with any evacuation effort from Louisiana. Other school districts are doing the same and authorities are also engaging virtually all forms of transportation to include rail. We have learned our lesson well.

As already reflected, the American Red Cross has been in place for several days and continues to set up shelters across the States of Louisiana and Texas to accommodate what is estimated to be a substantial evacuee population. If the traffic coming out of Louisiana and the Texas Gulf coast is any indication, everybody is paying attention. Texas is ready to once again assist our neighbors.

Those citizenry in the watch area that aren’t wisely headed to safe areas like north Texas are, no doubt, contributing to the gross sales of Wally World (milk, bread and toilet paper) and Home Depot (plywood and generators). These two companies have been herculean in their corporate efforts to help folks prepare for these conditions and then contributing a sizable part of those profits to disaster relief. Believe me, I have seen hundreds of pallets of relief goods from both these companies.

But, you can also contribute to this effort. Go and Volunteer to help your local chapter of the American Red Cross. Even as you read this post, some of the folks from your local chapter are being deployed to assist in what will be a most challenging disaster relief effort. So, if you’re from Dallas, TX; Charlotte, NC; southeastern Michigan; South Bend, IN; Atlanta, GA; Providence, RI; Seattle, WA or any other part of our great country, get out there and do something positive!

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, August 23, 2008

IN THE FACE OF ARROGANCE AND STUPIDITY - REASON

Much to the chagrin of many of her great citizenry, Frisco, Texas has once again hit the national news and for reasons that conjure up memories of the 2006 debacle that involved Sydney McGee the once teacher from Fisher Elementary School in Frisco.

Veteran art teacher McGee who taught in Texas school districts for 28 years arranged and secured approval for an April, 2006 field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Apparently one of those 89 fifth-graders while in the museum and on their way to their exhibition happened to see in passing what was characterized as an “abstract nude" and later correctly identified as a Greek funerary relief from 4 BCE depicting a nude male torso in marble. Should we note that the field trip was accompanied by twelve parents?

Well, we all know what happened from that point. One parent (not in attendance) later complained and all of a sudden performance issues miraculously surfaced all culminating with the suspension and ultimate termination of McGee. The school district in an ultimate deflection states they didn’t fire her, they just didn’t renew her contract.

Now there is no doubt that this whole issue was handled very badly by Frisco ISD who embarrassed themselves, their community and the State of Texas. Though we will probably never know the real truth about all the issues it sure appears to be a matter of convenience and timing invoking the three versions of any story – theirs, mine and the real truth. If McGee was such a bad teacher why was she allowed to teach for 28 years? If McGee was such a bad teacher why did McKinney ISD provide her with a favorable performance review? I agree that if teachers fail to perform they should be given counseling and the necessary tools to do the job and that failing, held ultimately accountable for that failure.

I will concede at least that and hope that all parties would have learned that mutual respect, honesty, effective communications and fairness are four principles, which if invoked, might have prevented this tragedy.

Ultimately, Frisco, Texas and their ISD were held up to the ridicule of not just a nation, but the world and you would think someone would have noticed and learned.

Now comes Stonebriar the exclusive gated community of, yes, Frisco, Texas who through the Stonebriar Home Owners Association (HOA) told resident Jim Greenwood that he couldn’t park his Ford 150 pickup truck in his driveway overnight. They cited Jim three times for violating a subdivision rule that prohibited, “pickup trucks in your driveway."

Several of my Friends (with me close behind) immediately assumed that Greenwood’s truck was perhaps a junker and eyesore that my own City of Richardson would gloriously (to great applause) pull off the streets. Not so, the F-150 is a good looking 2007 model – I've seen the photos.

Well, we soon found out through an inquisitive media that Stonebriar HOA board members had changed their own rules, making exceptions for several luxury pick-up trucks, to include the Cadillac Escalade, Chevy Avalanche, Honda Ridgeline and the Lincoln Mark LT.

Jim, and not defiantly so, petitioned the Stonebriar HOA board for a review of that policy. Local Dallas television station WFAA noted the response of Bill Osborn, chairman of the Stonebriar HOA board, who stated they also prohibit boats, trailers, golf carts and RVs in driveways. But Osborn didn’t stop there, "The high-end vehicles that are allowed are plush with amenities and covers on the back. It doesn't look like a pickup. It's fancier." When reminded that the Lincoln Mark LT was just a dressed up version of the Ford 150, Osborn is reputed to have responded, 'It's our belief that Lincoln markets to a different class of people.” With that statement Mr. Osborn waded into Tolkien’s Dead Marshes and The Mere of Dead Faces.

Greenwood who continues his petition with the Stonebriar HOA and is now compliantly parking his Ford inside his garage (I would at least leave the door open) has communicated that, "Furthermore, one board member told my wife, that if we don't like it, we can move."

Now, I need to ask why Jim didn’t read the fine print of what appears to be incredibly restrictive covenants. Having said that how many of us take the gazillion hours to do that trusting to the good faith of our hosts? Remember your last closing?

The tragedy here is the arrogance, snobbery and the absolute stupidity of allowing and then enforcing this kind of covenant. HOA’s have brought such incredible negative attention to themselves because of this kind of onerous hedonism. The state legislature here in Texas and others around the country are now considering action to severely limit the power of HOAs because of activities like this.

Now the really interesting twist here is that our Mr. Greenwood just happens to be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Concentra, one of the largest health care companies in the United States. The significance of the disagreement with some of his neighbors is the mature and classy way that he has handled the situation. Jim thought to share some of his thoughts on the Concentra web site at (http://www.concentra.com/Newsroom/).

“As the CEO of a major health care company, I’m sometimes quoted in interviews, press releases, and other communications. But I’m currently at the center of a media story that’s unrelated to my position at Concentra. And yet, in the way that separate things can be somehow related, I see some interesting connection points between the two. And that’s what I’ve chosen as the subject of my first blog.

In short, members of my homeowners’ association maintain that our 2007 Ford pickup is not classy enough for our neighborhood and needs to be parked in our garage. When I pointed out that the F-150 is practically identical to a Lincoln Mark LT, which is one of five trucks allowed by the ordinance, the response was that “Lincoln markets to a different class of people.” To me, this position is not only unreasonable but disrespectful to people who make the vehicle in our driveway.

Here are the connection points. The company I help lead serves the country’s major automakers and their employees; in fact, we see close to 30,000 patients every day, most of whom are working men and women. These people help make America great, and they deserve respect and care. When we were developing Concentra’s new mission, vision, and value statements early this year, we felt it was critically important to bring respectful care and customer service back to health care. Our vision is to “redefine patient care by treating individuals to a welcoming, respectful, and skillful experience.” Regardless of the zip code they live in, the vehicle they drive, or the clothes they wear.

My company is also concerned about the health crisis in America: the incidence of obesity, diabetes, and other chronic conditions is rising at an alarming rate. Working Americans are at the center of this crisis, and we think they deserve access to quality, affordable health care options. We’re working hard to develop a wide range of health and wellness services that are available at the workplace, online, and near people’s homes. These include biometric testing, health coaching, weight loss and smoking cessation classes, urgent care, and many others. I think everyone would agree that the health care system has both problems and potential, and we want to harness that potential to make a real difference in people’s lives.

I think this story about me and my truck resonates with people because it points to the basic values of reasonableness, fairness, and respect. But no matter how my personal situation is resolved, Concentra and I will continue working tirelessly to achieve our mission: improving America’s health, one patient at a time.”

Well stated. Sounds like a company I want to do business with…

Some feel that Jim in his spare time should run for the Stonebriar HOA and affect some positive reform and insure that a better class of people will work for the best interests of all in the community.

Aye,

Ned Buxton

Saturday, August 16, 2008

ABNER DOUBLEDAY OUT - ORIGINS OF BASEBALL

Despite the recent events of the first week of the 2008 Bejing Summer Olympics that include the incredibly naive misstep by the Spanish Men's Basketball Team, the babies on the Chinese Ladies Gymnastic Team, the ongoing supression by the Chinese government of the world media and much more I had the oportunity to wax eloquent on a variety of topics. I have chosen a more mundane, discreet path that will keep me out of the politics of the aforementioned situations save a sincere, "Shame on you" admonition.

Towards that end I just received another response to my October 7, 2007 post Proud To Be a Canadian??? where I had originally responded to what were the ramblings of an egomaniacal Canadian intent to “up” the Canadian experience and “down” America by spouting some gibberish about Canadian inventions. One of those was the certainty that Canadians had invented baseball. Let it be said now and forever, I frankly don’t care who invented the game whether it be Canadian, Russian, Chinese, Scottish or for that matter, any other nationality. It’s just nice to embrace the truth.

Admittedly, since my youth I have been cursed with stories of iconic and apparently mythological import that Abner Doubleday of Cooperstown, NY had invented that most American of pastimes, baseball. I initially offered that Doubleday or the equally iconic Alexander Cartwright of Hoboken, NJ were the Americans attributed with the invention of the modern game. Along with Ken Burns I was wrong about Doubleday who has now been discredited.

This respectful Canadian (whose privacy I will protect) accurately opined to the contrary though ignoring the Cartwright connection. She offered the opportunity to further my research into this subject. Her e-mail and my most recent response follow.

“I just came across your blog. While I have to agree with most of what you write, my quibble would be with 4. The oldest verifiable use of the word baseball comes from an Ontario newspaper in 1838.

Just as you believe that ice hockey is derived from the Scottish game shinty, there are those that believe that baseball is derived from an English (Irish?) game called rounders.

As far as Abner Doubleday being the inventor of baseball, I would submit his 37 volume daily journal as proof to the contrary. Not once is the game or the idea of baseball mentioned, which would be impossible if he had actually invented the game.

A Canadian...”

Here is my response.

Thanks for your welcome response. The origins of baseball have been the subject of much debate and my opinions also continue to evolve. The observations in my Blog related directly to the modern game as we know it today though I now emphatically concede that Doubleday was not involved in the invention of baseball at all. With one American myth dispelled let's reflect further on the reality of the origins of the game.

Most now agree that Alexander Cartwright (1820–1892) of Hoboken, NJ (photo above) who founded the Knickerbocker Base Ball Club of New York (named after the Knickerbocker Fire Engine Company where Cartwright was a volunteer firefighter) was the “Father of Modern Baseball.” The Knickerbockers had played a recreational bat and ball game among themselves called the Town Game. When the Knickerbockers lost their free playing field in 1845 and had to start paying for the privilege, they founded a paying league whereupon Cartwright and a committee first drew up rules that eventually became known as the Knickerbocker Rules. These 20 rules are believed to be the basis for and evolution of the Town Game into the modern game of baseball. Cartwright is credited for the concepts of: fair and foul territory; three strikes per out; three outs per inning; nine players per side; and ninety feet between bases. We need note that while others have also been credited, Cartwright is thought to be one of the first to draw a diagram of a diamond shaped field. In recognition of his contributions, Cartwright was officially credited by the United States Congress on June 3, 1953, with inventing the modern game of baseball and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame. Cartwright then and for the rest of his life took baseball to the next level.

I do disagree that your 1838 Ontario newspaper reference to "baseball" is proof positive that the game was invented in Canada. In short, your claim that the first use of the word “baseball” comes from an Ontario newspaper in 1838 bears scrutiny. Actually this supposed first recorded account of a baseball game, which allegedly occurred in Beechville, Ontario on June 4, 1838, was actually a letter apparently written by Dr. Adam E. Ford, and then recounted in a letter by Ontario resident Dr. Matthew Harris that was published 38 years later on May 5, 1886, in a magazine called Sporting Life.
Whew?

In this letter, many of the elements of what was evolving into baseball were described including bases/byes (5), base lines, distance from the pitcher to the home bye, Innings, types of pitches and three outs, among others.

There is no doubt that some of the elements of modern baseball were coming together. This letter is recognized by many as perhaps first documented evidence of a baseball game in Canada not the first game of baseball

There were much earlier references to baseball. I would draw your attention to a 1791 bylaw in Pittsfield, MA which only four years after the US Constitution was ratified, "banned the playing of baseball within 80 yards of the town meeting house." The statute also mentions other prohibited games to include wicket, cricket, batball, football, cats and fives. I have seen a woodcutting depicting an American bat and ball game dated in 1833

http://www.19cbaseball.com/game.html reflects in its very comprehensive history of baseball that The Boy's Own Book first published in Boston in 1829, referred to a game called "Round Ball," "Base" and "Goal Ball" and the first documentation of a game more closely related to modern baseball. The article included a field diagram with locations noted for bases all arranged in a diamond. Other early 19th century American newspapers regularly mentioned games such as "Bass-Ball," "Base," "Base Ball," "Base-Ball," "Goal Ball" and "Town Ball." Hmm, I wonder if Dr. Ford or Alexander Cartwright saw this article?

19cbaseball.com continues reflecting that “The first town ball club to adopt a constitution was the Olympic Ball Club of Philadelphia, founded in 1833. It was formed by combining two associations of Town Ball players. One of the Town Ball associations may have begun play in the spring of 1831, in Camden, NJ on Market Street.” And so it goes on…

Please note that my remarks in that original post were more a reaction to the mostly ridiculous rantings of someone trying to up the Canadian image, no matter the truth. Canadians don't need to cop to some false sense of accomplishment when they have so many legitimate and laudable achievements.

I absolutely agree that the modern game of baseball is based in part on earlier versions of rounders, a similar English (Irish) bat and ball game and the more formal game of cricket. But that's recent history. The Scots also had their version of a bat and ball game. As my anthropology DNA kicks in we need note that there is also evidence that the Romans played a similar game and in more recent history (the 14th century) the Russians had a bat and ball game they called Lapta.

According to highly respected Wikipedia, "Americans played a version of the English game rounders in the early 1800s which they called "Town Ball". In fact, early forms of baseball had a number of names, including "Base Ball", "Goal Ball", "Round Ball", "Fletch-catch", and simply "Base". In at least one version of the game, teams pitched to themselves, runners went around the bases in the opposite direction of today's game, and players could be put out by being hit with the ball like in Schlagball. Like today, however, it was three strikes and you're out."

It is almost amusing that the Americans at one point during the early development of baseball wanted to do everything they could to draw a distinction between rounders and baseball.

There is no doubt that whoever invented the game probably borrowed from many different versions of previous "bat and ball" games and that appropriately reflects both the Canadian and American distinguished pool of émigrés from all over the world. If the basis for the modern game was invented by someone other than those cited herein then they were obviously not well served by a lethargic media proving again that it always comes down to who timely writes the history.

When it comes to ice hockey we could give the ultimate credit to our First Nation Brothers and Sisters in present day Canada though we cannot be assured that other native peoples (like lacrosse) were not playing a similar game in other northern latitudes. Again, the Scots looking to busy themselves during the dark days of winter may have gotten the nod because of their proximity to someone who could write.

But, back to baseball. Frank Ceresi in The Origins of Baseball (Baseball Almanac, 07-2004) stated, "In truth, the game evolved over many decades, if not centuries, and its roots are, in reality, a tangled web of bat and ball games brought to this country by immigrants." It would be nice to think that there was some interaction, however subtle, between, those who were playing a similar game.

I also want to note that since Canada didn’t become a country until July 1, 1867 - well after the invention of the game - can the claim be made that a Canadian…………
well, you get my drift…

We can agree on one thing- that the history of baseball can parallel the history of America. Baseball has evolved into a uniquely American pastime where according to Ken Burns, “Nothing in our daily life offers more of the comfort of continuity, the generational connection of belonging to a vast and complicated American family, the powerful sense of home, the freedom from time's constraints, and the great gift of accumulated memory than does our National Pastime.”

Even though other nations have embraced and in some cases surpassed our ability on the diamond, it’s still American. As Walt Whitman stated in a different time, “Well — it's our game; that's the chief fact in connection with it; America's game; it has the snap, go, fling of the American atmosphere; it belongs as much to our institutions; fits into them as significantly as our Constitution's laws; is just as important in the sum total of our historic life.”

Thanks for your input and note that I have already corrected my post.

All the Best, Aye

Ned Buxton