Sunday, November 30, 2008


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…


Ned Buxton

Saturday, November 15, 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


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.


Ned Buxton

Saturday, November 1, 2008


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….


Ned Buxton