Monday, November 30, 2009

Uncle Jimmy

There are some people who don’t need a loud booming voice or a boisterous personality to make a mark on life. Such a person was my Uncle Jimmy (Redeker). He died over the weekend. He was having heart problems. He was the youngest of five siblings in my Mom’s family and had hearing problems throughout his life.

His wife, my Aunt Janice, is a force of nature. He also had three girls; Jamie, Judy, and Jeanne. Needless to say he was outnumbered by the female sex in his own family. How he would have felt about having a son instead of three daughters I’ll never know. As far as I do know he was proud of his three girls.

Uncle Jimmy was soft spoken and I never saw him get flustered during any of our family gatherings over the years. When I was a kid we used to visit with their family over Christmas, but that practice ended somewhere over the years because nobody’s kids wanted to spend hours listening to others boasting about what Santa brought them for Christmas. Through it all my Uncle Jimmy remained diplomatic.

I guess some might say he was mousey or henpecked. I prefer to think of him like Jimmy Stewart in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” He would bear what he needed to for the sake of family. There are some who don’t like my Aunt Janice and to visit my Uncle Jimmy meant having to deal with Aunt Janice. It was a small price to pay to see Uncle Jim.

Life is full of regrets and one of mine will be that I didn’t go to see my Uncle Jimmy the last time I was on vacation. My Mom told me he wasn’t doing well and we should go to visit him. I put it off thinking I could see him during Christmas vacation. How I wish now I had one of those days back. I don’t know what we would have talked about. It could have been any thing because it’s not what you say when you’re with family that’s important, it’s that you have that time together.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Questons for the Senator

It was supposed to be a forum on the value of education, but U.S. Senator Herb Kohl recently handled some tough questions off the subject. The Wisconsin Senator did extol the value of an education, particularly telling how his own helped him in his career as an entrepreneur and politician. However as with any forum where a politician allows the gathering to fire questions, the core topic was deviated from.

Q: Do you favor a longer school day or school year?

Kohl: Our students are already getting a good education, one of the best in the world.

Q: What happened at Ft. Hood, Texas?

Kohl: No one is sure why what happened did. The shooter just snapped and killed several people and injured many others. I attended the Memorial Ceremony. It was a very nice ceremony.

Q: Are you against the War?

Kohl: Wars are a bad thing. I’m not a fan of wars, but this isn’t a perfect world is it?

Q: Would you run for President?

Kohl: I have no plans to do that. I like what I’m doing for the state of Wisconsin now.

Q: If you were President what would be the first law that you would make?

Kohl: I’d outlaw wars.

At that the three 5th grade classes Kohl was visiting at Waters Elementary School in Fond du Lac erupted into applause and cheers.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Must Win Situation

You have to admit that no matter what you do in life at one time or another you’re going to be caught using a sports cliché. For me the most bothersome is “a must win situation.” With so much at stake in big-time college sports and professional sports isn’t every game “a must win situation” for coaches? If you aren’t sure ask the Green Bay Packers coaches and management after last week’s embarrassment in Tampa Bay.

Politicians frequently borrow sports clichés to feed the media sound bites on issues. You can probably supply your own, but I’m not sure if “a must win situation” would be appropriate for certain topics. Then again how would you describe the need for health care reform? Turning around the economy? Finding enough vaccine for H1N1? Creating new jobs?

Losing is not a pleasant experience. However even winning can sometimes have costs that aren’t entirely palatable. Fond du Lac kept Mercury Marine, but union workers had to give in on benefits and pay. In addition the city, county and state had to offer up incentive packages totaling more than $120 million. Some would say it’s still a “Win-Win” outcome and I tend to agree. “Win-Win” is another cliché I’d like to banish to Siberia (yet another cliché).

If every situation in life were “must win” where did the term “acceptable losses” come from? That one probably didn’t come from a sports coach. To me “acceptable losses” is another that shouldn’t be applied to real-life situations. I certainly wouldn’t use them in the case of jobs, pay cuts or 401K losses. Maybe if it were used in talking about weight loss.

So to get it out of my system, tomorrow morning I’ll make sure I turn off my alarm clock on time. It’s a “must win situation.” Get to work on time. It’s a “must win situation.” Do a better job at work. It’s a “must win situation.” And have a nice day because it’s a “must win situation.” As for putting up with the over-used term, “It is what it is!”