North Bay Fires

Among all the recent disasters in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and California, it’s the North Bay Fires (Sonoma/Napa counties) in California which resonates the most for me.

My wife is from Northern California, and for over forty years, we have been frequent visitors to the “wine country” observing its growth from small rural communities to a major economic engine and tourist area.

Earlier this month we were in the San Francisco area visiting family and decided to make a trip up to Healdsburg at the northern end of Sonoma county. As we traveled through Santa Rosa on Highway 101, we were pleasantly surprised to see the town intact. After seeing the television reporting, we expected to see the town in shambles.  Regardless, many have been affected and having lost a house to fire, I know that the next 8-12 months will be difficult for many.

Here’s the upside.  As we travelled through Sonoma County, we realized the majority of the homes, vineyards, wineries are still intact. The resiliency of the individuals who live and work in this area will ensure the area will survive and thrive – and I’m sure we will see the same in Houston, Southern Florida, and Puerto Rico.


All Lives Matter

This past week has clearly shown that we are dealing with biases in our society that are deeply rooted and cannot be ignored. Yet, when we state (by actions or words) that one part of society is more important than an another, we set ourselves up for failure – as we’ve just seen in a city that I consider home.

There’s a naiveté on the part of many activists that their actions – although well-meant – can set things right. Too often there are un-intended consequences which create a hothouse for the dis-enfranchised or bigots (of ALL colors). On the other side, there’s a feeling that lawlessness needs to be answered with aggressive tactics.

I for one, would like to see the powers that be representing both the “establishment” and the “disenfranchised” to walk in each other’s shoes, not just mouth platitudes.  There are real reasons why a minority might feel the way they do about the police, or why a police officer feels that no one appreciates the work they do – and the threats they deal with on a daily basis.

I’ve experienced both sides personally, as well as through the eyes of friends and family.  When one realizes that there are two sides to each story – and remains open to the idea that their perceptions could be incorrect – then we have the opportunity to improve our social well-being.  If one just wants to have a quick fix through legislation, or anarchy, the path becomes impossible.

The discussions we are presently having across the US and are hearing on a daily basis cannot be discounted.  It’s a dialogue of inclusion which has been slowly moving forward through my lifetime and needs to be continued, because ALL lives matter.

Golf Is A Four Letter Word

If you have played, excuse me, tried to play the game of golf, you have heard that phrase countless times.  As a baseball player in a previous life, the idea of hitting a small ball that was not moving with a stick, made perfect sense and sounded relatively easy.  Yup, and pigs will fly in formation.

Although my skills are lacking, I remain fascinated with the game and the passion which it creates.  It was very apparent at the PIA MidAmerica Kansas City Golf Tournament yesterday.  There were nearly 200 folks, including volunteers, in attendance.  Many of them drove over an hour to get there since Smithville, Missouri is a bit off the beaten path.  As I’ve realized over the years, the game is very social for many, and it was apparent yesterday with the smiles and excited voices heard prior, during and after the round.  More important, it was seeing our graphic arts community coming together to enjoy the day and get away from the daily grind which made the day very rewarding for me and the PIA staff.

I’m going to miss these events, but the game of golf will still be there.  Maybe with a bit of free time and a bit of focus, my game will improve.  Now, what did I do with my niblick?

Two Wolves

I’d like to share a story that was sent to me by Jeff Bracken with Bracken & Associates.  With today’s pressures to succeed and live life “fully,” it’s worth considering.  The story is titled “Two Wolves” based on Cherokee Indian lore.

As the story goes, one evening an old Cherokee was sitting by a campfire with his grandson. As they quietly watched the flames and listened to the crackling of the burning wood, the grandfather broke the silence. He said: “My son, there is a battle that goes on inside all people. The battle is between two wolves that live inside us. One wolf is evil. He is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false
pride, superiority and ego.” He paused, and said: “The other wolf is good. He is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.”

The boy quietly thought about this for a while, and asked his grandfather: “Which wolf wins?” The old man simply replied: “The one you feed.”

Bucket List

As we get older we start formulating a list of “to-do’s” that we’d like to accomplish before we go to the Big Print Shop In The Sky.  For many in the industry, it’s attending DRUPA in Germany.  I still want to get to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.  This past week, thanks to a few words from my friend Jim Kyger, I got a chance to see a complete copy of the Gutenberg bible and added – and completed – another item to my bucket list.

I had previously viewed the “paper version” of the Bible at the University of Texas’ Harry Ransom Center, but viewing one of five copies in the world printed on vellum was special.  Especially when one considers the legacy of this document and the impact it had on history (The Reformation being one).  Although my visit was a “drive-by” (I was headed to Senator John Cornyn’s office as I trekked from the Longworth Building), in those few minutes I also got a chance to be amazed by the architecture of the Library of Congress, where the Bible resides.

So, if you’re ever visiting Washington D.C. (or Austin), take a look at this magnificent piece and what it represents.  Not only does it embody the roots of our industry, it reminds us of how mass communication can change the world.  If you don’t have the time to visit D.C. or Austin, consider visiting this site.  In the “Harvest of Wisdom,” you’ll receive a historical perspective of the power of written communication and the role our industry continues to play.  You also might just add a few items to your list once you’ve seen this seminal piece by the late Nolan Moore.

Happy Birthday John Wayne

Yup.  Today is the Duke’s birthday.  For many of us, he was the persona of the American individual.  Rough. Rugged. Independent.  The roles he played in movies such as “The Quiet Man,” “The Searchers,” “True Grit,” were reflective of our parent’s generation – and influenced many Baby Boomers.  Do your job.  Support your family.  Live your life for the greater good.  Granted seen through the lens of time, many of his films may not be perceived as politically correct, but it reflects the world as many lived it in that era.

Contrast those aspects with today’s need to broadcast to the world what I had for lunch and the need for everyone to be on the cover of “Rolling Stone,” as well as the mandate for political correctness.  Yes, I’m started to sound like a dinosaur, but there are many aspects of what I remember of The Duke’s films and what he represented which many in our society could reflect upon.  Happy Birthday Marion Morrison!

The Thrill Is Gone

Although we lost BB King last week, his iconic song “The Thrill Is Gone” continues to resonate in my head. For any contemporary music lover, the impact B.B. had over the past 40 years is probably as impactful as Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong had on jazz.

I remember first hearing Mr. King live in 1970 in San Luis Obispo. In those days, Cal Poly had about 9,500 students, but it was a good stopping spot for many groups making the trek from L.A. to S.F.  I was able to see legendary musicians such as B.B. King, Jim Morrison (Doors), Four Tops, Temptations, Steve Miller, Janis Joplin, Grace Slick (Jefferson Airplane), and many more during my time in that sleepy Central California town.

Yet, it was King who I probably remember the best.  He had been around for a few years and acid rock was in the midst of it’s hey-day.  Many of us were familiar with the name, but really weren’t knowledgeable of his music.  He opened for Steve Miller (a Dallas legend) and between both of them it was a heck of a show.  Miller was an up and coming act, but it was the old man, as I thought of him, who really strutted his stuff.  With the legendary Lucille strapped to his back, he showcased his style of electric blues that made many of us highly appreciative — if not lovers — of that form of music.

B.B. King may be gone — but the thrill of his music will be with me forever.

Interesting Week

As a sports fan and as a competitive athlete (note — I didn’t say good!), I’ve been following the firestorm which was ignited this week regarding the NFL and it’s leader Goodell.  I’ve also been married for over four decades to a women who specialized as a psychological therapist in helping women who were sexually or physically abused.  My insights to this ugly aspect of “being a man” is somewhat unique.

As a compeitor for many years, I understand the necessity of aggressiveness in high-level sports.  Yet, I also saw the ugly side of having to be macho to prove yourself.  Becasue of my wife, I’ve learned how trapped women become in these situations and end up dealing with Hobsonian choices.

Thus, I hope the NFL gets it right.  Violence against women, in all its forms, is insidious and I’m constantly surprised of how young men are willing to accept that behavior.  Whether Goodell goes or not, is not as important as for this extremely wealthy and high profile organization to take a stand on ANY mis-behavior of its athletes/coaches.  Integrity is important in any endeavor and the NFL has an opportunity to take a true leadership position.  I hope they get it right because young men need to understand that this type of behavior – in any form – is despicable.

What Do You Think Of . . .

The Washington Post.  No, I’m not talking about its editorials which are not tolerated by many Texans.  I’m talking about its acquisition by Amazon’s founder, Jeff Bezos.  Bezos is an avid news hound – but tends to like it delivered electronically.  Yet, this marriage (of desperation?) could be the start of a new model of blended delivery.

Johnny Football.  I’m still old school when it comes to athletes.  Today’s athletes are too often spoiled emotionally, and when you add to that equation, everyone fawning over them, the result is an individual who will not be someone you’d like to have as a friend.  Think Mr. Orenthal James Simpson.  On a football note, one season does not make a football player, and the NCAA really needs to rethink its definition of amateur athletes.

George W.  Wow, 43 just had a stint put in yesterday.  Here’s a guy who seemed to eat right and exercised regularly, but still had a heart problem.  So before you start thinking about hanging up your jogging shoes and taking a permanent position in front of the boob tube, consider where 43 might be if he hadn’t been exercising.

Patent Trolls.  Nasty blood-sucking bottom feeders.  They wear the robes of the law to supposedly protect the little guy while using the broken patent system to extort money from hundreds of firms.  A group of printers in North Texas just recently said – “Come and Take It!” and with the support of PIA’s R&D folks may just give the Trolls a taste of Billy Bob Gruff’s horn.

The Ugly Truth

There’s a fire storm in Chicago as Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced the proposed closing of 54 schools.  Per the Wall Street Journal, Karen Lewis, the head of the Chicago Teachers Union, said Mr. Emanuel is sending the district into “utter chaos,” and that closings are unnecessary, won’t save money and would expose students to academic and safety concerns. The “school-closing policies put our students at real, not imagined, risk,” she said.  Yet, Mr. Emanuel and his team are saying the closings would save the district $560 million over 10 years in capital costs and $43 million annually in operating costs.

So who’s right?

The ugly truth is that both are right – but when we start talking about education of children, especially inner-city children, it gets very emotional.  Yes, it behooves society to support educational efforts for the long-term betterment of society.  Yet, the uglier truth is how do we pay for it?  And I’m not going down that rabbit hole – but just think sequestration, or federal budget.  You get the idea.

And this morning the media woke up and declared that insurance carriers are privately telling brokers that rates could possibly double for small businesses and individuals in 2014.

Are we having fun yet?