Find your little heart place

Yesterday, a friend of mine who lives in New York City sent me a box of cookies from Levain Bakery. If you have never had a cookie from them, go right now and get one.. or two.

I’ll wait.

Aside of being the most delicious cookies in the whole wide world, what struck me the most is the label they put on every box and post card. Along the bottom, they draw the New York City skyline in pen. Toward the very end, they color in their bakery and float a heart above it.

Subtle, but the message is clear. Even in a crowded, dense city like New York where everyone is seemingly insignificant to everyone else, you find meaning, purpose and love in a little bakery in the middle of the chaos.

Slow down and find your little heart place.

Happy holidays.

Optimism is having faith in youth — a blogoff

I spent about ten solid minutes this afternoon just staring outside my office window yesterday afternoon. The wind had kicked up fiercely, the sky had gone gray and the yellow leaves were blowing off the roof, falling all around like snow. I had no particular thoughts other than how beautiful this little scene was, that a scant few weeks ago these leaves were green and alive and that they would fall to the ground, decay and turn into rich soil for the next crop of leaves in the spring. It was at once a very sad mourning and a moment of hope and optimism for a new season.

I have no doubt there will be another spring, but I have no reason to believe that other than there was one earlier this year and the year before that and the year before that. I suppose there will be one autumn where I will be wrong, but I hope that is a long time off, despite the best efforts humans have undertaken to destroy each other over the past decade. And the decade prior to that. And so on.

….

Real patriots die at 55

When you turn fifty in America, you are old. When you turn fifty-five you are too old and should consider dying to make room for the next generation of revenue-producing units. It’s the patriotic thing to do. Hear me out on this.

When you turn fifty-five, the human resources department is looking for a legal way to get rid of you despite what they say about you having vital experience. You’re making too much money, you don’t go to as many training classes as they think you should, you are not as mobile with that family and mortgage anchoring you down and you are starting to contribute a whole lot more to the 401(k) than they had planned for matching funds. They will lay you off in a heartbeat and you will not be able to find another job. Ever. Not in this economy.

When you turn fifty-five, the health insurance premiums for the plan you had to buy on your own because your employer could no longer afford to provide benefits will double over last year. Your out-of-pocket health care costs will also go up and you will start racking up pre-existing conditions, making you ineligible for any other insurance. But you only have ten more years to go to qualify for Medicare, so maybe… oh, wait, they are going to raise that to seventy. You’re screwed.

By the time you are fifty-five, you should have already produced at least one, maybe two future revenue-generating units for the corporate consumer machine. They were far more expensive than you thought they would be, but you’ve put off saving for retirement until they finished school and left. You are now ready to front-load your 401(k) and mutual fund portfolio…

But wait! CNN tells you that you have only about a 30% chance of outliving your retirement plan at the rate you’re going. Oh, sure you’ve helped fuel the economy by having kids, buying a larger house than you could afford, paying for their tuition and feeding and clothing them, but now, you are on the taking end of the economy. Whoa, there! Your country frowns on those who take out of the system, regardless of much you’ve contributed in.

Business wants your money. They tell you this all the time by marketing to Boomers. But they don’t want you actually working for them, drawing a salary and sucking up the benefits. Heck, those young GenY brats will work for half what you need and still think it a fortune. Thank God Walmart hires old people as greeters. Oh, you can’t stand for eight hours a day because your sciatica has been acting up? You should go see a doctor about that. Insurance? Man, that’s tough luck buddy.

Next!

The business of America is business and you are standing in the way when you start getting old. Manup and die off when you hit fifty-five. Your country needs you to make that sacrifice to help reduce the unemployment rate and the federal deficit all at the same time. Moreover, you are likely to have life insurance and your kids could sure use that money to prop up retail sales.

Have you lost hope yet? Really? The great United States of America does not need its future derailed by negative-thinking pinheads like you. Is you or is you ain’t a patriot? Time to decide.

How we are all connected

Today, I heard from a long-time reader who emailed me just to let me know she was still reading and that she had been enjoying the blog ever since she first saw it.

Wow! Whenever I get an email like this, it is truly a humbling experience. Even though the DogWalkBlog gets lots of traffic, when a reader takes a few moments out of the day just to say she enjoys reading it touches. That is what blogging and Twittering and all this stuff is about; one touch, one moment.

I’m writing this immediately after looking at the pictorial spread in the Wall Street Journal. In a sea of 1.5 million people, photojournalists are able to pick out one genuine smile, one face full of hope and one little girl who gives her dad a “thumbs up” with an orange glove.

I aspire to be that lens. Always.

No party for old men

It is sad what the Democrats are doing to Joe Lieberman. The only “sin” Sen. Lieberman committed was having opinions that did not quite align themselves with the new leadership. 

I looked up the Senator Oath of Office. It reads:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.

There is no mention of party loyalty, no mention of suspending personal beliefs and opinions when taking the oath, no mention of “with us or against us.”  To paraphrase from several Obama speeches, there is no Democratic Senate or Republican Senate, there is the Senate of the United States of America.

I want my senators to think for themselves. I want my senators to take risks. I want my senators to have the freedom to have liberal opinions on social reform, but conservative views on national defense. I want a healthy, authentic discussion of ideas in the US Senate. That was the mandate we gave Barack Obama, not a mandate to further divide the country with the “victor” handing out spoils of war. 

Joe Lieberman knew the risks he was taking, but I think at some level — perhaps naively, perhaps with more hope than was pragmatic — that this election cycle held two candidates, each had the ability, political capital and personal stones to rise above partisan government and lead a country. That he chose to back John McCain who eventually did not prevail is incidental to the academic argument.

President-elect Obama needs to show strong leadership with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi. He need to put a face of cooperation, but firm leadership, on the “New Democratic Party.” All three are at a crossroads at this very moment, with Joe Lieberman being the turtle in the road.

If you have not yet read The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, read it now. Focus on the turtle. The question remains; will the Democratic Party be the truck driver that swerves to try to hit the turtle for sport or Tom Joad who shelters the turtle in his jacket. (Spoiler: the turtle prevails, despite setbacks…)

These are the tests that determine the character of a man. I hope Obama passes.

Posted by email from rufus’s posterous

The election is not about race

Sure, Barack Obama is African-American and yes, he is the first black president of the United States of America and that is historic. But, he is also a really smart man who knows how to inspire greatness in others and instill dreams that people act on instead of just wishing and praying.

Obama was elected because he could inspire a nation to act, because he enabled us to see a brighter future that was not built on hate, war or fear.

Obama was elected because ultimately, Americans want to be ethical, brave, smart, gracious, humble, proud and smart. We want to be able to see the World and be liked and respected; not because our military can bomb the crap out of any other, but because we have earned respect by giving mutual respect. Because we have developed our talents, skills, hearts and minds to their maximum capactity, knowing that capacity is limitless.

And then we give them away freely, knowing that even if they don’t come back to us, they at least make the world a better place.

That is the real wealth that needs to spread around.

Arrianna Huffington writes in her blog:

Obama’s victory holds up a mirror, reflecting the country we are. And it turns out to be the kind of country we’ve always imagined ourselves being — even if in the last seven-plus years we fell horribly short: a young country, an optimistic country, a forward-looking country, a country not afraid to take risks or to dream big.

Let me put it another way. I wish I were the person my dog thinks I am. Today, America, you are. Let’s hope you remain.

To ignore the generations of African-Americans who paved the road ahead for Obama would be a mistake. But, to attribute Obama’s win to his race would be an even greater one. That being said, CNN and MSNBC, please stop propping up black people as pundits simply because they are black. That no more qualifies them to comment than does Palin’s foreign policy experience based on her proximity to Russia.

This country wants to be smart, hopeful and happy once again. Media, start leading again! Reject the format of arguing know-nothing pundits and journalist wanna-bees and let’s start having serious conversations around real issues. The country is changing and growing up. Stay in step.

And Malia and Sasha when you go to pick up that new puppy, please go to the Humane Society and pick out a mutt. They make the best kind of dog, especially the skinny ones whose ears are a little uneven and stick out just a little bit more than they should.