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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

On doing things out of character

One night, in the fall of (I think) 1982, I was at a Knoxville bar, sitting in the back with a friend.  Coincidentally, the regular singer from the hotel bar I worked at (a different bar) had a gig there that week.  When he saw us, his eyes lit up and he excitedly moved the seats around so that we could sit in the very front, as his guests. We were a little embarrassed about the special treatment, and covered it up by joking around, poking fun at the guy.  He noticed and was hurt. We left soon after, ashamed and with our tails tucked between our legs. I felt rotten about it.  30 years later I still do. He wouldn't talk to us, and as a matter of fact, I've never spoken to him since.  It was a horrible, mean thing to do to someone.  I'm not a mean person. I'm an ok guy. I generally like myself. As a matter of fact, like Terrell Owens,  I love me some me (ok, maybe not to that extreme!)

My point is that it was something totally out of character for me. In being mean to that guy, I betrayed something inside of myself.  Part of my core belief system.  The betrayal to myself was almost worse than the hurt I inflicted on this guy, who was just so happy that people he knew had come down to see him!

Have you ever done something completely out of character and hurt someone? I tell you, it comes back and haunts you.

So, to anyone I've hurt - from the guy from the Sheraton Campus Inn in 1982, in Knoxville, Tennessee - and to anyone else, I apologize.

I'll keep working on being an Alright Guy

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Sarah Palin - Brilliant?!?

Please bear with me on this post.  My point is not the obvious one, but one I'll get to before too long:

(Also, I don't care about your politics, and I promise, you don't know mine - even if you think you do.)

So, today Sarah Palin said “President Obama’s shuck and jive shtick with these Benghazi lies must end.The term "Shuck and Jive" is a racial pejorative. I won't argue with anyone who disputes that - it is. It just is.

On Twitter, I called her out by saying "wow, Mrs. Palin. Racist much?"

(BTW, my Twitter handle is @Harper_Ian - why aren't you following me?)

A couple of her followers responded to me quite quickly - one even followed me and then unfollowed me after realizing her mistake (presumably after reading my comment to Mrs. Palin)!

Ok - now we are getting to my point:  One of her followers tweeted me and (presumably with a straight face) said, "Sarah Palin is brilliant."

Palin on her insight into Russian Politics

So, you may vote Republican this election cycle, and good for you.  You may vote Democratic this election cycle, and good for you.  You may even vote Libertarian, as the Chattanooga Times Free Press advises.

And, finally, here is my point:  Sarah Palin is not brilliant.

Monday, October 22, 2012

4 bridges 1/2 marathon

The past year or so has been personally horrible for me. I mean it's really stunk. On par with 1992 for Queen Elizabeth
Personal malaise has ensued.
One of the things that has suffered this year has been my level of fitness.  For the past decade I've been a pretty avid, if not particularly good, runner. I barely ran at all in 2012 (through about mid August), and gained 10 or so pounds.  The last time I ran a race was in November of last year.
So, on to October of 2012.  I had been doing sporadic and unfocused running (a 10 miler one week followed by a 2 miler, then nothing for another week, for example), and had registered for a couple of fall races - the first was this past Sunday's 4 Bridges Half-Marathon in Chattanooga. I came very close over the last week or so to bailing on the race, as I was very much undertrained.  Ultimately though, I decided that I had to start back somewhere and so I toed the line.

I won't bore you with the details.  It was pretty ugly.  Not Mayan calendar ugly, but ugly nonetheless. I did beat my publicly stated, "I'll be lucky to break this time", goal, but not by very much.

BUT, the most important thing is that I "ran" the race, collected the medal and remembered why I enjoy running races so much. I'm not competitive, but I do enjoy the competition - if that makes sense. I also have a new, slow, benchmark to start with.

On to the future.  I am registered for the Chickamauga Battlefield Marathon on November 10 (the site of my first marathon), but I will probably drop down to the half-marathon as there is no way I would be in shape to not embarrass myself.

And then big things for 2013.  Stay tuned.  I know you can't wait.

Monday, October 15, 2012


Bear with me as I tell (rant) my story:


Today I went to a government agency as part of my work (I'm a CPA and the government agency goes by a three letter acronym, so you figure it out)..


I've being going to this office, working with these people about once a week over the last 15 or so years.  I call them by name, they call me by name. Part of the protocol is that they tell me their name and I give them my drivers license - to establish identity.  A typical exchange might be "Hello Sharon, how are you?  Fine, Ian - How was the drive from Cleveland?"  Today, the security guard even joked "I thought you were an employee, as much as you've been in here lately?" We all chortled merrily.


Fast forward 5 minutes:  I'm at Sharon's  employee X's desk, and, as per usual (after saying "hello, Ian"), she says "My name is Sharon  employee X, my ID number is on my badge, how can I help you?" I say, "I left my wallet with my drivers license in my jacket pocket, hanging on the door in my office." Her response?  "Well, what are we going to do about that?"  Yep - she was not willing to help me, because I had left my license back in Cleveland (The IRS unnamed government agency is in Chattanooga, 30 miles away). She wound up calling her manager (who also knows me).  "Hello, Ian, it's a rule that you show your ID -  TO ESTABLISH YOUR IDENTITY!!" (caps and exclamation marks are mine).


To make an interminably long story mercifully shorter, they made me recite all of my id numbers, phone number and address before they would talk to me - oh, I was told that a business card would be acceptable!!


Look, I'm not trying to unduly criticize this agency.  Instead, I'm just marveling at the "follow rules blindly, ask no questions" mentality that some people have.  I like these people, they are typically quite helpful, but doggone it, that is just ridiculous, don't you think?


Point is: The rule to show ID is to establish identity. I have long established my identity with everyone in the Chattanooga office. Asking me for a drivers license did not establish identity (I assume that if a clone came in who looked like me, he would ALSO LOOK LIKE THE PICTURE ON MY LICENSE).


Thanks for reading.  Carry your papers.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Do the debates serve any purpose?

I won't be watching the debates - I'll let someone from the news (or Jon Stewart) tell me what was said.  Personally, I've never heard anything substantive come out of a presidential debate.  To me, they are just opportunities for one candidate to make a strategically placed quip at the other candidate's expense.  Meanwhile (it seems to me), the television and studio audiences are sitting back, waiting with baited breath, for someone to make a mistake, get a fact wrong, or forget something.

Is this how we would expect our President to govern? Is real diplomacy conducted under studio lights, and in sound bites? Or, as I believe, are solutions hammered out in meeting rooms, over time and with painstaking detail?

It is said that races have been won and lost during debates (remember Nixon's sweaty upper lip?).  Not everyone agrees: Mike Donning of Bloomberg News, for instance.

Regardless - to me, political debates are uncomfortable, mean spirited wastes of time.  I'll just let someone else tell me what happened.