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Archive for the ‘failure to yield’ Category

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I may have written about this before.  At my age, I sometimes forget.   What I don’t forget is which way is up.

North is north, east is to the left of north, etc, etc.   Years ago, while on a family trip similar to today’s version, I called the local Amarillo Sam’s club to get directions to the cheap gas.

“Are you north or south of I-40?”, I asked.   “No, we are east of I-40” was the answer in return.   Come again?

As you can see from our trusty map, that seems quite impossible, and yet the respondent was quite insistent, despite my protest and inquiry.   EAST.   With a bit of trial and error, I ultimately found it on my own.

Fast forward 12 years.   Yesterday, gas was not the objective, but gluten free dining that would not cause the same, and more, for my travelling companions.   As Little Frau scanned Urban Spoon and the map, she settled in on our destination.  “Which way do I turn off I-40?”, I asked her.   “EAST”, was her reply.   A sly grin followed, the kind you can’t convey over a phone line.

So, what is the correct directional base when travelling thru the home of the 72 ounce steak, this Bermuda Triangle of the Texas Panhandle, you may ask?   Truth be told, I never found out, but if you get to the Cadillac Ranch, you have gone too far.

I never got a straight answer 12 years ago.   And this time?   I did what any good husband would do when faced with the same spousal conundrum: I went someplace entirely different; someplace I could find without having to ask directions.

We got dinner, and successfully escaped to New Mexico.   Now that we are here, I can’t help but feel that we are being watched.   The lady from Sams must have called to warn them about me…

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I was “away from home” ever so briefly a week or so back. The colleagues I was due to meet and work with my first full morning abroad had yet to arrive, and given the beauty of the spring morning, I went out for a brief walk.

As I often do when traveling, I was looking with great interest at all that surrounded me, and I was snapping pictures. “Toto was not in Kansas anymore”, so to speak, and I wanted to remember what was all around me. It was then that I noticed the odd looks, if not stares, from those who quickly passed by on the street all around me.

Touristen” was likely their thought. “I must look silly” was mine. Seeing the above captured “headless” reflection, I could not help recall that book from generations gone by “The Ugly American”.

As I looked up some summary info on the book, the following synopsis reminded me that lessons to learn, and awareness to maintain, is the same today as 30 or more years ago….and I’m glad I have the picture to prove it.

This is a book that is certain to deepen students’ understanding of the complexity of international affairs. Its terse, episodic style and its many portraits of individuals engaged in the process of diplomacy give readers an important sense of the dimensions of the problems which receive such cursory treatment on the nightly news. The Ugly American is mandatory reading for the citizens of a participatory democracy, in terms of understanding the mistake of the past and in order to prevent their repetition in the future.
“(chs.d211.org)

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“How dare you?”, meet “Dare I not?”.

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People complain. That is a fact of life. People make mistakes. That is another fact of life. Sometimes, mistakes take on the form of fatal errors, and that is a hard reality.

Without getting into the details, we all likely know of Penn State head football coach Joe Paterno and his living legend status, and most of us have likely heard of the recent sad allegations toward his program and his presumed knowledge and complicit failure to act in doing the right thing, albeit the hard thing.

“No one person is bigger than the institution”. I have heard that repeated many times, and I believe it. But, when you feel like you are above reproach or questioning, then you may have a problem. People change. Life changes. Environments generate stresses, and stresses generate responses. The only constant in that, I might suggest, is character, and character dictates/mandates proper responses and openness even when the exercise is difficult or painful.

People complain. My job requires that I listen. How you do that, both well and appropriately, is a constant challenge. Some complaints are silly. Some complaints are vindictive. Others have merit, and merit response. How you sift through those is cumbersome, and at times unpleasant. But sift, you must. If you ever believe you have risen above that, you are in danger of falling. I think that’s what humility is all about.

People have complained about me before, and at times it has really made me angry, but it should not define me or change me in ways that are not for the best.

Joe P has been criticized in recent years for staying in the job too long, and having his effectiveness level pass him by. That may be true, or it may not. That assertion is likely subject to interpretation. What is not is that “something bad was happening in Oz; under the surface, behind the scenes”, and that Joe P turned a blind eye.

I have two mentors, legendary icons of an institution’s history, who were not afraid to take on hard things, but were also not afraid to change their roles over time and “surrender the high ground” to those better able to scale rocky heights and have the stamina to do hard things. I appreciate their legacy and example, and hope and plan to have the courage and fortitude to do the same when the time is right. In the mean time, I wish to continue to climb the rocks, and should be accepting of the bruises that come with it.

“The wise man built his house upon the rock”…”the foolish man built his house upon the sand”…”and the rains came falling down”. Sometimes, we have to be willing to step off the field of play and climb up on the Rock, even when it hurts.

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“Wall Street has a credibility problem.”. So says CNBC.com. Thanks for that news flash, although it understates the obvious and what we all are likely thinking and feeling these days. “The Street” has no “Street Cred”, it seems.

Mean what you say; say what you mean. Why is that so hard in 21st century society? I will confess it is tough for me personally.

Why so? Great expectations? High demand? Limited resources? Unrealistic dreams? A twisted view of self worth, not to mention true value?

Is it Competition? Competing demands; competing loyalties; competing.

Consider the following excerpt from “WiseGeek.com” and then compare it in perspective:

In hip-hop and inner-city cultures, respect is something one earns through tangible accomplishments, not empty posturing or superficial bragging. The truest measure of a person’s trustworthiness and expertise is often expressed as his or her street cred, short for “street credibility.” Street cred can mark the difference between a talented rapper or break dancer and someone who’s only posing, or deliberately exaggerating their skills.

True street cred is not easy to achieve, since it is based on real skills or true experiences. A rap artist who gets signed to a known music label, for example, might earn his “props” (proper respect), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he has earned street cred yet….

The term street cred has actually worked its way into mainstream popular culture. A professional in the legal, financial or medical fields, for example, may have to earn a certain amount of “street cred” in order to attract the best potential clients. A cosmetic surgeon often builds up a significant level of street cred by performing high quality work on A-list clients. The same could be said for a stock broker who earned his street cred by selecting the best stocks, or a lawyer who earned street cred by successfully defending high-profile clients.

Street cred in the inner-city or hip-hop communities is not always a permanent arrangement, however. Someone who shows disrespect for those in his or her former community, for example, may suddenly discover his or her street cred is no longer assured. Exposure as a fraud or a cheat can also seriously affect a person’s street cred. It is important to “walk the walk” and not just “talk the talk” when it comes to maintaining true street cred.

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I’m reminded of the scene from the classic movie “Napoleon Dynamite” where he asks Pedro “you got any skills? You know, bow staff skills, nun chuck skills…”

We feel compelled to make our case, but in so doing, do we ever weaken same said case?

I think Jesus earned plenty of “Street Cred” with those around him:

Matthew 5:33 “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but fulfill to the Lord the vows you have made.’ 34 But I tell you, do not swear an oath at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; 35 or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. 36 And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. 37 All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

So, it’s time to go out and make it a day; to “earn my Props”, so to speak. If I slip up, maybe Pedro’s cousins will be there to back me up…?

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Failure to move to non adjacent lane for an emergency vehicle: that was my crime.    The layman’s term for it is sometimes referred to as “failure to yield“.

In the immortal words of Hannah Montana, aka Miley Cyrus:

Everybody makes mistakes
Everybody has those days
Everybody knows what, what I’m talkin ’bout
Everybody gets that way

Sometimes I’m in a jam
I’ve gotta make a plan
It might be crazy
I do it anyway

Nobody’s perfect
I gotta work it…Nobody’s perfect
You live and you learn it
And if I mess it up sometimes
Nobody’s perfect

I was fortunate, but also prepared.     I had my proof of insurance card.     I had my lovely wife up front and two of our three beautiful children in the back seat.    What could have painted a better picture for one of Oklahoma’s finest?   I was respectful.    I said “sorry”.   I said “sir”.    I said “thank you”.    And, I had a squeaky clean driving record for him to pull up on the old’ DPS mobile computer…and yet, I still messed up.    It seems that my opinion about the short distance between where he was parked on the shoulder and where I was going to get off the toll road (which I had just paid to drive on, BTW) and his opinion were quite different.    But, he was right, and I was wrong.   The rules are there for a reason, namely, his safety, and mine.    No short distance to my goal excuse or hall pass is good enough.    But, he just issued me a warning, thankfully.

I slowly signaled, pulled away from his souped up Dodge Charger, and took extra time to stop and turn right at the next red light.   “Good, he’s not still following me”, I thought.   I pulled into a gas station to fill the wife’s Honda, and I gave some thought to what had just happened, and what I could learn from it.    I then paid for our gas (and the imbedded state and federal highway taxes, which helped pay for the souped up Dodge Charger, and probably also go to help pay for the toll road (which I had just paid to drive on, BTW).

I then was reminded of a timeless tune sung by The Back Street Boys:

I don’t care who you are
Where you’re from
What you did
As long as you love me

No, it wasn’t the highway patrolman singing to me in my mind.   I’m not that strange.    No, it wasn’t my wife, or even the kids in the back seat.

In all seriousness, I was thinking about Jesus, of all people.    You see, I did not intend to do anything wrong.   I did not intend to put anyone, or anything, at risk.    And yet I did, mostly by just going thru the motions, and getting in a hurry.   

But it doesn’t matter.    I’ve been pardoned, both by the powers that be, on the toll road (which I had just paid to drive on, BTW) or the road of life, which is governed, and protected, by a Higher Power.

John 14:15-17:  “If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you know him, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.

It’s good to know that I can be forgiven, even for failure to yield.

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