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Archive for the ‘musings on’ Category

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East meets West: Better versus the best? Such are the musings of the morning, for today we are Living On Tulsa Time.

They say that what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas. The same could be said of Broken Arrow. Some artists are purists, others are hard core. Some are true to the discipline, others let it all hang out, so to speak.

It is indeed a tale of two cities, OKC and Tulsa metro areas, respectively. Some bands reflect a cross section of their less than ginormous schools; others are the carefully selected few of the masses. Some march to the beat; others move about the staging on the field.

We are proud of our Bulldogs, and our neighbors from the West. Yes, what happens in Broken Arrow stays in Broken Arrow. Sadly, so do the trophies. 😦

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The meaning of this phrase may be a bit of a mystery to some, but this is one colloquialism that rings true to many.

Truth be told, the words “You’re not very…” may have been uttered about yours truly from time to time, and from Fraus and a few non-Fraus alike, and while context may not be everything, it means a lot. In the context of the big “WB”, one constant is true. Desire. Desire, and passion. Simply put, when you want something badly enough, you dive right in with all you’ve got.

But when it comes to “WB”, not everyone can be judged on the same plane. Unless you have walked a mile in another’s Merrells, we can never have quite the full and complete picture, now can we?

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I’m not a highly mechanically adept person. I’m a bean counter. I push a touch screen. But I learned from a few folks early in journey through the teenage wasteland how to be WB. I know how to handle a mop. (thanks, Shirley). I know how to apply leverage to a straw broom. (thanks, Grandad). I know how to sling a paint brush. I know how to handle a mower. And I know how to drive a dolley. After a recent extended bout of office cleaning, a colleague was heard to utter “it’s good to see you actually get up and work”. Ouch. My response? “I was driving a dolley before you were born, young lady”. That was fun, especially since she was probably bebopping to ABBA long before I drove my first dolley.

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But, back to context. And passion. I have lots of hard working colleagues. Some are horticulturalists. Some are professional writers, and good ones at that, and some are bean counters, carpenters, and the list goes on and on. They are all passionate, and each one’s role is vital.

So, back to the original question. Let’s look to the web for some insight. It’s spot on.

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The meaning of this phrase may be a bit of a mystery to some, but this is one colloquialism that rings true to many. Now, let’s go out there and “git er’ done”. Oops. Here we go again…

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…marks in the sand. It is a quiet Sunday morning on the golden spread, as the man calls it. It’s just me, a few song birds, the sunrise, and “the Bear”. Bear is a dog.

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Adjacent to us is a highway, and a train line. As the moments have passed, traffic has picked up. There is an occasional car or 18 wheeler. Earlier, much earlier, there was a train.

People have been this land for centuries, long before these tracks were laid. My son and I found last night what could have been some ancient Native American tools of stone. Or not. On trips past, we have found arrowheads in the field behind the house.

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What will remain when we are gone from here, and our tracks no longer remain? Tracks in the sand won’t last the week. The land, and the grass, are battling the asphalt even now. And the train tracks will even fail, allowing enough time, and neglect.

God’s love will survive, I believe, and surrounds us like a good pastureland fence. It doesn’t hold out all predators, mind you, but is always there to remind us not to stray too far.

Have a blessed Sunday morning, whether your tracks today are here, or beyond.

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We call it “The Vault”. It is a small 8 foot by 12 foot room, is wrapped in foot thick concrete, and has a massive metal door with an antiquated combination lock. In this protected room, we place all things tangible that are deemed to be of great value to the university where I work. Emphasis should be placed on the words “all things”.

We are doing some minor cosmetic work to our building this summer, and several people are moving offices. We are in the middle of several “digitization projects” that will put more and more records, and possibly history, into an electronic format. Accordingly, it seemed like a good time to clean out the vault.

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Clean out, indeed. What began as a simple exercise was quickly recognized to be so much more. We brought in some additional hourly help to shred and move boxes. We made a huge mess of the office. And, we made some amazing discoveries. Minute books. Silver. Old jewelry. Personal notes. Handwritten general ledgers from 1949. Land deeds from 1914 for valuable property (an entire working ranch, no less, with cows and everything!) donated to the school many moons ago.

You see, our organization is 62 years young, and we have the records to prove it. All of the records, as the case may be. Perhaps the more operative word is “had”. Before you hoarders and “Nervous Nellie” types begin to hyperventilate, let me assure you that we threw nothing of relative importance away. In fact, with a deference to history and “old school” methodology for accounting in days gone by, we probably kept too much. But, the banks statements (all of the bank statements!) from that account closed in “nineteennoneofyourbusiness” are headed to the shredder. So sorry.

What we uncovered, however, seems to be so much more. In some sense, this vault is “the brain trust”‘ or at least the record thereof, for the past, present, and a potential repository for the future, especially now that we have made some room.

According to our friends at Wikipedia, “Brain trust began as a term for a group of close advisors to a political candidate or incumbent, prized for their expertise in particular fields. The term is most associated with the group of advisors to Franklin Roosevelt during his presidential administration. More recently the use of the term has expanded to encompass any group of advisers to a decision maker, whether or not in politics.”

And this record collection categorizes it all. But, it made us all feel a bit odd about our work. You see, I have worked at the school for the past 13 of the 63 years, and was a student for another 4 of those much farther back on the timeline, and I have been acquainted with this university for most of my life. I remember much of this and can relate to and recall decisions and events, even those for which I was not present.

As we worked through a growing pile of trashed records, many of our own creation over the past decade, I could not help but ask “is this all we have to show for all those years?”. And the answer would be a resounding “no”.

You see, we are not in the document business, thank goodness. We are even not in the information business. We are in the business of “transforming lives for faith, scholarship, and service”, and the contents of this vault chronicle much of the love, sleepless nights, difficult decisions, sweat, and tears that the servants of the school have contributed over low, the many few years. And a labor of love it is, indeed.

So, these records chronicle both the Brain, the thinking actions and history of the leadership, and the Trust, the sacrifice and love of founders, donors, alums, parents, and students have placed in those brains. And a sacred trust, it is, indeed.

Thank you’s are in order here, to those who have gone before, and prayers for those who will one day follow. The vault is cleaned and ready for chronicling another generation or two of labor.

Alma Mater, hail to Thee.

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Last July, I listened to Donald Miller’s book “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years” while on our road trip to the Grand Canyon and Colorado. Kudos and thanks go to Little Frau for buying me that membership to Audible a couple of years ago. It has been one of two or three major life habit changing events over that time frame.

I began to listen to Miller’s book for a second time as we hit the road on Saturday for another trip, this time southward to elevations much closer to sea level. Correction, make that, at sea level!

The book has prompted me to “tell a better story”, and is prompting me to work on “living better stories”. I’m bookmarking some of my favorite quotes, and home to take some beach balcony time later in the week to share them here. In the interim, here are just a couple to chew on:

“Here’s the truth about telling stories with your life. It’s going to sound like a great idea, and you are going to get excited about it, and then when it comes time to do the work, you’re not going to want to do it. It’s like that with writing books, it’s like that with life. People love to have a lived a great story, but few people like to work it takes to make it happen. But joy costs pain.”

“And that’s the thing you realize when you organize your life into the structure of story. You get a taste for one story and then another, and then another, and the stories will build until your living a kind of epic of risk and reward, and the whole thing will be molding you into the actual character whose roles you’ve been playing. And when you live a good story, you get a taste for kind of meaning in life, and you can’t go back to being normal; you can’t go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time. The more practice stories I lived, the more I wanted an epic to climb inside of and see through to its end.”

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A friend and colleague was coming home from the airport with me recently and was perusing content on his iPhone. He said “how did we ever get anything done before email?”. We had just gotten off a cross country “red eye”, so I will give him credit for a potential momentary lapse in discernment.

I thought for a moment about what he said, and the 2011 me agreed wholeheartedly, but the base model me took exception. Allow me to explain.

You see, I began my career circa 1988. They issued me a large leather bag and a gigantic “10 key” calculator, complete with a paper tape. They also showed me the supply cabinet, with it’s wealth of multicolumn spreadsheet form paper and other goodies made from wood pulp, but no computer. And we got a lot of work done. Boy, did we ever.

18 months or so later, we were all issued start of the art laptop computers, first generation MacBooks, no less. The processors were slow, the software was cumbersome, but we were expected to use them and become “paperless”. Instead, hours worked increased, pounds lugged to the client site doubled, we printed everything, and productivity trudged along for the ride.

Fast forward 23 years later, and we still have not gone paperless just yet, but I’ll admit it’s getting better. But, has productivity really improved, or do we just work more? After all, as my friend made his statement, we were riding home in a car after a 32+ hour day, and he was reading email while our greater conscious selves were napping.

A digital native, I am not. But i consider myself a wise gray haired immigrant who knows his way around the digital continent. Email. Cell-phones. Websites. Texting. Cloud computing. We are more accessible than ever.

While writing this, I took a Saturday morning phone call from a colleague in another department a few moments ago, and he was looking for the cell phone number of a colleague in mine. And he apologized for the “interruption”. Does that word even apply, anymore?

Points of contact are up, no doubt. More things have our attention. But does more get done, or do more things go on our to do list as “undone”?

Don’t get me wrong; I love the new digital world order. I would not go back, I don’t think. I have fully embraced my new nationality. But, it might be nice to visit the fatherland. I guess that is what books are for.

So, I guess my point here is that we can get work done, maybe even more without our “devices” to keep up with and upgrade/follow/maintain.

I’m going to log off now and go out to mow the yard. My friend has already done the same with his.

If you need to reach me, I’ll have my cell phone, just looking for the next interconnected unproductive opportunity to visit. 🙂

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Did you know?     Do you ever wonder “Why do they…?”,or more specifically, “Why don’t they…?”.

It seems our family (both immediate and extended) has hit the trifecta, and then some, when it comes to autoimmune disease.     Mothers, cousins, kids, nieces, nephews; all seem to be having significant health issues pop up in the past few years.   

If you don’t know much about it, autoimmune illnesses are in the genes.      Some from grandpa, some from grandma, some from mom, some from dad, etc.     Sometimes they all show up in one generation; sort of a “perfect storm” of genetic material bubbling to the surface all at the same time.    Who knows why.     Tests have shown that, when it comes to celiac/gluten intolerance, both Sherry and I carry the gene, so we know it comes from both sides of the family tree.

Specifically, for the Binghams of Edmond, America, Invisible Chronic Illness manifests itself as Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) and Celiac/Gluten Intolerance for “4 out of 5 surveyed”.    Today, I seem to be the only one not yet impacted in this jar of clay that I inhabit, but experience with others tells me to enjoy every day, and more importantly, to take better care of myself, because time, environment, and experience can change or trigger things.    I’m working on that one.

When I met Sherry’s family 22 years ago, her paternal grandfather was completely disabled.     He was near 70, and had suffered with severe onset RA for over 30 years.   He was 38 when he first became ill.   Doctors attributed the condition to a fever he had contracted in the Pacific during WWII, and they may have been partially right, but the genetic material, explosive black powder if you will, was already there, waiting for a final trigger to be pulled.

The family had to sell their farm and move into town, where he struggled managing a feed store for many more years before having to give up working entirely because of the disease.     I recall stories of him waking up early in the morning, his hands completely curled up and disfigured from the effects of the disease during his hours of sleep, and him walking out into the garage on frozen mornings and sliding his hands tightly in between two heavy metal pipes that were mounted for this very specific purpose.    His hands wedged in, he would slowly, painfully begin to walk backwards, pulling the fingers out straight as he walked.    This drill was repeated most days, until he reached the point that he could not comfortably walk outside and the gain was no longer worth the pain.    I remember watching silently, feeling sorry for him, and wondering how someone’s life would be in such condition.

The Binghams of Edmond, America have long been an adventuresome lot.    Travel, especially seat of your pants, explore the countryside, camping type adventures have long been part of our experience.     In 2006, we set off on the grand adventure of Chicago, and catching up with dear friends who had moved away a year or two before.    After a great week, we started the long trek back.    After many hours of uninterrupted driving, we stopped half way home for the night.     Upon exiting the car, Sherry commented “I must have sat still for too long.   Everything is really stiff and sore”.      The memory of that moment still burns in my mind’s eye today.    She was 38 when she first became ill.   When we woke up months later to see that the tendons in her hands had curled up during the night, I had an even greater understanding of what was ahead.

 Let’s fast forward and wrap this day’s post up.    More on this topic may follow in the days to come.    We are blessed and greatful that medical research has delivered many different medications to combat aggressive onset RA that did not exist 40 years ago.

Suffice to say, those who suffer from “Invisible” Chronic Illness don’t want sympathy, they just want a level of understanding, and acceptance.      “But you look so good” is a common response from friends and acquaintances, and on the outside they very well may.      If so, just know that it likely took some degree of pain and sacrifice to get to where they were for that day, and they want to enjoy life just as much, or even more, than you or I do for that particular moment in time.

As for the rest of us, in closing, the following is from the very first blog post ever by “Bing”, circa January, 2009:

whereforearthou, Gluten?

Have you ever gone to the pantry to find it empty? Have you ever gone to the pantry to find it full, but full of food that is, empty? Empty of gluten, that is? That is where I find us these days.

Taste aside, I can’t complain (too much). The son is feeling better, the wife is feeling better, and the tendency to eat out has mysteriously vanished.

Life is good. Now if I can just find some Quinoa based Nilla Wafers to go with the Silk/Soy/Somethinerother white drink in the fridge, it will be ever tastier!

http://invisibleillnessweek.com/

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