Category: Musings

Eulogy for Thomas Anthony Richards | AKA "Grandpa"

Eulogy for Thomas

You’re worthy of what they say about you, grandpa. Even if you were never good at taking a compliment.

“A great man.”
“A man of integrity.”
“The greatest man I’ve ever known.”

You would shrug off such praise with pressed lips and scowl, a gentle shake of your head, and a raised hand.

A common thread, though, the word no one neglects in their praise is “MAN.” Because you were such a shining example. Certainly, you were the one who taught me what it meant.

You used to ask me a lot: “Would I lie!?” And my “of course” was as expected as my smile and laugh. Because the underlying question (“To me?”) I never had to ask. And you never had to answer, “Of course not.”

You had an answer for all my questions. Even if the answer was, “I don’t know.” That’s a profound thing for a boy to hear from someone who could engineer anything or debate any topic, from a man whose tales from around the world seemed wildly exotic compared to the corn and beans.

“Grandpa, what does ‘inconsequential’ mean?” I remember asking. I found a middle-schooler’s joy in testing your grammar, a man who bragged about never having gone to college. It wasn’t out of superiority but out of respect. Because you always knew. And you always knew *with style.*

“Inconsequential?” you said. “It doesn’t mean shit.”

You loved your family and expressed it how you could, usually through actions more than words—seldom with a kiss, sometimes with gifts, but more so with commitment. Through vacations to Florida and spur of the moment adoptions or road trips to monuments your kids were too young to appreciate—you committed yourself.

Even when it was hard, when the rest of us wanted anything but to stay, that’s exactly what you did.

You said to me once, during a particularly difficult week of hospital visits and late nights by grandma’s side, “When I say I’m going to do something, I do it. What else is there?” And you let out an exasperated exhale. Not a sigh. But preparation for a deep breath. “A man’s got to do what a man’s got to do.”

To me, grandpa, you could not have been a sinner if that word has any real meaning. For whatever your transgressions you repented and repaid 1000 times over. With your commitment, your love, and the way you made everyone around you feel like a friend. Through endless stories about stealing cars, pulling a BB gun on a cop, Sgt. Major Leech, the Zebra Club in Okinawa, RV road trips, grandma freaking out in a dark cave, Florida alligators, bar fights, or Kraus the Mouse.

“Gratitude” doesn’t express how deeply I thank you for everything you’ve ever done and will still do for me. And yet you were somehow always content with a simple “thanks” or a hug or my own expression of love or, when I forget to express it, a mere wave goodbye. You deserved so much more from me and the world. You deserved so much more happiness and freedom and honesty and time, and I regret that I can give but a “thanks.”

But just a few months ago, when we sat on the porch at night telling and re-telling countless stories, you stopped and paused. And you said so clearly and without a hint of guilt: “I have no regrets, Danny. If I had to do it again, I would do everything the same way. I loved my life.”

There is no greater lesson for being a man. Or for living.

Thank you, grandpa. I love you. Semper Fi.

"Pajama Boy" Has Us Talking But Not About Healthcare

“Pajama Boy” Has Us Talking But Not About Healthcare

Whether you think a man-boy in a onesie sipping cocoa is a good mascot for ObamaCare or not, the ad has a fundamental flaw that can’t be ignored.

Conservatives are bashing the ad for its absurdity. Liberals are defending it for being sweet and funny. But here’s the problem: No one is talking about getting health insure. They’re talking about “Pajama Boy.”

No matter how clever, interesting, or sweet you think your message is, don’t forget about the ultimate goal: To get people to adopt your position. Does this ad accomplish that goal?

Reality v. Media: Tebow Edition

Reality v. Media: Tebow Edition

JML has an excellent blog post over at The Midside about Tim Tebow, the Patriots, and getting the chance you deserve:

“[They said] He simply wasn’t good enough. His throwing mechanics were all wrong. He didn’t have the arm strength. He was better suited, due to his physicality and running ability, to be a tight end or running back of some kind. Never had a player been scouted and analyzed by so much of the American populace. Soon it seemed that almost every person was absolutely sure that Tebow would never be able to play quarterback in the NFL. That opinion became the unquestionable and irrefutable truth. Anyone who supported the former Gator from that point on wasn’t just a Tebow fan; he was a Tebowmaniac.”
The Tebow Myth

The media scrutiny of Tebow is a teachable moment for rhetors. Baseless assertions are not arguments. How can a pundit say Tebow will not be successful in the NFL if he hasn’t been given a chance in the NFL? The claim is disconnected from reality.

How “Tweetable” Is Francisco d’Anconia?

How “Tweetable” Is Francisco d’Anconia?

Francisco’s “Money Speech” from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged is about 70% “tweetable” according to a new tool from Yahoo! News. It measures the length of your sentences, looking for quips that are 120 characters or shorter. (Apparently President Obama is a natural tweet speaker.) Is being more “tweetable” a good thing? That depends on the purpose of your speech and your audience. This would be a handy tool, for instance, if want people to live-tweet your talk.

Money Speech Tweetability

Check it out. Add your own speeches to see how “tweetable” you are:

Don’t Eat Bad Lobster: The Adam Carolla Corollary

Don’t Eat Bad Lobster: The Adam Carolla Corollary

Lobster is a luxury food. At least that’s how we see it now. (It wasn’t always that way. It used to be peasant food. After all, who wants to eat giant insects from the sea? Without butter!?)

It’s really no surprise, then, that people want to save a few bucks while enjoying some tasty sea steak.

Enter Red Lobster. Or don’t, actually. At least not according to Adam Carolla, master ranter and king of podcasting. In a recent episode, Carolla spun yarn about the perils of being cheap at the wrong time. I’ll paraphrase here, but if you’re not listening to his show you’re missing out on something special: