Saturday, March 31, 2007

John Henry Part 3

At the sound of the day’s whistle, the outcome was already known but the length of measure confirmed it. John Henry had drilled 14’ to the steam drill’s 9. Man had apparently won. The crowd cheered and the celebration began. Then all of sudden, not five minutes from winning, John Henry dropped dead.
Some say it was exhaustion. Others say it was the blood vessels done burst in his brain. Yet others say God took him because after that display, there was nothing left for a man to prove in this life! Whatever the case, the mighty John Henry was dead.
The salesman, being a quick thinking type, immediately pointed out that his machine was still ready to go. “Man may have won today, but I’ll win tomorrow!” he claimed. Everyone knew there was no other to challenge the steam drill the next day.
John Henry was quickly buried along the hundred others in a shallow, sandy grave outside the would-be tunnel. Some thought never to be spoke of again; forgotten like all the others.

Tragedy? Maybe. John won the contest only to loose his life and the steam drill eventually displaced all the other hammersmons. Bu many a hero and legend are not recognized until they move on from us. John Henry was about the individual. He possessed the raw strength that no system could take away form him.
How would you respond? When faced with a challenge, John Henry did not shrink away. When tackling a challenge, John Henry gave it his all. In this day when we, as individuals, are constantly being challenged by faster machines, corporate price saving policies and plans, how will you make your stand? How much are you willing to put on the line and also say “I am here and will not be easily dismissed.”
John Henry did not go quietly into the night, John Henry instead said, “You cannot defeat me, you may outlive me, but you won’t ever defeat me.” And they didn’t and that’s the stuff from which legends are made!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Getting Off The "Pot" of Potential

Potential is a French word that means "still not worth a damn".
So what good is potential? Is it really helpful to be told, or worse to know that you have "potential"? It's said that is is a frightful thing to be in the hands of an angry God. I think it's even more scary to look into the face of potential. It's your future staring back at you and wondering, without emotion, do you have the balls to pursue it or not.
No one cares whether you live up to that potential or not. In fact, you will be mocked if you try and fail. Sometimes it feels safer to rest on the fact that you had potential, but never had the time to "cultivate it".
That's why it's so tough. You have two options to loose and one to succeed and the easiest is to not try.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

President Bush Said...

A year ago my approval rating was in the 30s, my nominee for the Supreme Court had just withdrawn, and my vice president had shot someone.

Ah, those were the good ol' days.

Radio and Television Correspondents' dinner, March 28, 2007

Monday, March 26, 2007

John Henry as told by "Billie Harold Jones" as told by Mike Jensen Part 2

John Henry had been born a slave and had been freed following the War. Although the work was ever as hard as it had been on the planation, John Henry now worked for himself; he worked as a free man. At 6 feet tall and 200 pounds, John Henry was a mountain of a man. His size, his determination and his swinging of his 14 pound hammer allowed him to drill 10-12 feet per day; a depth not matched by any other man!
One day a salesman came to the camp. “The day of the hammersmon is over!” He proclaimed. Leaning against his contraption he continued, “This here steam powered drill can out-drill any man, any day.” The crew foreman was interested. The crew was amazed... all except John Henry.
John Henry walked up to the machine, looked it over real good, looked at the salesman (who was now looking very small and very nervous), looked back at the machine and then with a smile beaming brighter by the second, he turned to the crew and said in that deep smooth voice, “Unless dat man 's me!” The crowd exploded in cheers.
“You might be a mighty man, but this here machine is the future. Men, like yourself, are well the past.” The salesman retorted, momentarily recapturing the attention of the crowd and immediately drawing all eyes to see what John Henry would have to say.
“Well, I seen da past an’ I donts know much about da future, but I do’s know bout the now. How ‘bout seeing for real just who’s the best, that machine of yours or me.”
“A contest?” asked the salesman.
“Yessir” responded John Henry as he continued to smile out to the approving crowd.
The salesman was also smiling at this point and exclaimed, “Gentleman we’ve got ourselves a contest!” And the crowd went wild.
The contest was set for the next day. Man vs. machine. After twelve hours, who could drill the deepest?
The next morning, John selected a 20 pound hammer and the best “shaker” he knew and at the sound of the whistle both he and the steam drill, operated by a foreman, went to work.
With both the steam drill and the sound of the twenty pound hammer going full speed, the mountain itself seemed to shutter. Like claps of thunder rolling up and down the Greenbrier River canyon, the sound of drilling filled the entire countryside.
Folks say that John Henry had never worked so hard. He was a man determined to show his stuff. On his shoulders rested the fate of the hammersmons, in his arms swung the hammer of hard work, and at the end of the hammer he drove the drill of determination: a determination to make his mark, a determination to say, “I am here!”

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Scripture Choice

Hebrews 7:19

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Party Left Overs

After a company staff meeting, the only food left was the broccoli. Proof that whatever people may say, they don't really like broccoli!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Pablo Picasso Said...

Some painters transform the sun into a yellow spot; others transform a yellow spot into the sun.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

John Henry as told by "Billie Harold Jones" as told by Mike Jensen Part 1

On May 10, 1869 the Golden Spike was driven, completing the Transcontinental Railroad and joining once and for all the East to the West.

About the same time, there were other railroads being built. The war between the states had just concluded and President Lincoln had called for a healing. This healing would include the rejoining of the North and the South and again it was to be done by the railroads.

Somewheres around 1870, the Chesapeake and Ohio railroad was cutting a path through West Virginia and they were moving along quite fine, quite fine that was until they ran into the Big Bend Mountain. Big Bend Mountain was a mile and a quarter thick and it sat right in the middle of Green Brier River. Even the river had enough sense to go around and not try to cut through it. The men that ran the railroad were not like other men. They just set their mind to it and they just did it. To around the mountain would be an extra 7 miles of track, so they decided to go through it.

Saying you're going to go through a mountain and going through the mountain are two different things. The C&O railroad would soon find out that lesson as they would spend the next three years and 1000 men to build that tunnel. Hundreds of those thousand men died in the process as well. It was the making of a true tragedy, and it was, but it is also the thing Legends are born from. In in this case, that Legend is John Henry.

John Henry was a hammersmon. He drove steel spikes, called drills, in the rock by means of a hammer. A hammersmon had work with him another man called a "shaker". The shaker would shake and twist the drill following each hammer strike. This shake and twist kicked out the excess dust and kept the drill from wedging itself into the rock. The two would work the drill until they had drilled a hole deep enough to load with explosives and blasted out.

John Henry was, by the way, the best hammersmon around!

Monday, March 19, 2007

Time Stands Still

Antelope Island- Whiterock Bay

I read last week that there are several sites that were historic Civil War battlegrounds that are now in danger of being lost to development. One of which is the battlefield of Gettysburg. I found this hard to believe, but it was true and there were many other sites listed as potential losses.

I am saddened to think that such historical sites are expendable to development, in most of these cases to houses. But it is also hard to say, why it cannot be developed. Someone legally buys the land, someone legally builds the houses and there is always someone there to legally buy them. I am sure the historical relevance will not be lost as streets will be named Robert E. Lee drive, Grant Ave, and Lincoln court. Just how much "hallowed ground" does a battle field need anyway, right?

It's not really my place to say, but I hope that those entrusted with protecting the sites are able to preserve not just the actual site but protect the feel and integrity of the memory of those events and that the forces that challenge them...well go away.

I feel it a lost when we have to fill in every empty spot around us. When an open field is always an endangered species. I am saddened that around our house, the foxes and pheasants will soon be gone as houses will take their place as well.

One consolation of living out West and being in the desert is that there are places that I believe will never see development. Our weekend visit to Antelope Island was refreshing as it was still in the wild. We saw the wildlife everywhere and no houses. Yet across the lake on the east bench on the Wasatch Mountains resides over one million people. Few venture out across the lake and visit the island. Few know or want to know of its natural beauty.

I am sure the overlook of Whiterock Bay will look the same in 100 years as it did 100 years ago. Rugged, desolate, yet a monument to places that man will never want and will never have.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Sunday Scripture Choice

Deuteronomy 31:6

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them; for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Friday, March 16, 2007

A Great Moment in Time

It's funny how things run together. At the same time that I am working on research on John Henry, my son is memorizing the Gettysburg address, I am reading Life on the Mississippi by Mark Twain, and yesterday there's a CNN cover story on Civil War sites. Life's funny that way. So bear with me as I go nostalgic for the next few entries.

To get things rolling, let's start with a classic. One of the greatest speeches ever delivered. Not just because it was short, but because of what it says in such a short time. In the movie "National Treasure" Nicolas Cage's character says, in referring to the beginning of the Declaration of Independence: "Nobody speaks like that anymore". The same applies to the Gettysburg Address.

So please, Mr Lincoln, take us back to when Presidential speeches were Presidential and meaningful.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate -- we can not consecrate -- we can not hallow -- this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Thank You, Mr President.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Elias Schwartz Said...

Anything not worth doing is worth not doing well. Think about it.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Cat Watches

How does a cat, or any animal for that matter, know how to tell time. I swear my cat does the same things at the same time every day!

I know it's the same time, because I look at my clock in my room every time he wakes me up during the night and it is always around the same time.

His favorite time to wake me is 3:58 AM. Before my alarm clock, and enough time to fall back to sleep, but close enough to really be annoying.

I heard once that the biggest difference between man and animal is the fact that man can build a clock. Apparently, animals don't need to.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Stephen Colbert Said...

When the president decides something on Monday, he still believes it on Wednesday -- no matter what happened Tuesday.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Sunday Scripture Choice

Micah 7:8

Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

The Science Fair

Marci and I spent the day involved in yet another Science Fair. This time, however, it was to support our oldest in his appearance at the District level. I noted several things:

1) Isn't it cool that there are students and parents that are interested enough in education and learning to show up to a volunteer event like this? The kids may get extra credit, but they also have to re-study their projects and take time to defend them to judges. It's encouraging.

2) I have to laugh at the parents who are more serious then the students. I guess I should say more intense. They are forced off the floor during judging, they practice the responses with the students before and they are the ones video-taping the award ceremony. I love my kids, but there is a time to let them fly and does anyone REALLY watch those videos?

3) Even though I give them credit for sponsoring an event like yesterday, I still don't the District gets it. You may not have the social attachment, but why not treat the event like it was important. What if this was the District Championship for Basketball, or football, or what if the whole world was watching? Put some flash or some showmanship in the thing. Like most events, it was more of the same. When an organization puts value into something, the participants will feel like its more valuable.

I am very proud of my oldest, even if he didn't win one of the trophies. I am proud of what he knows and the effort he puts into learning it. Anyone who dares ask him a question will soon find out just how serious he takes his education as you will receive one yourself.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Phillip K Dick Said...

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Lynn Johnston Said...

Complaining is good for you as long as you're not complaining to the person you're complaining about.

Monday, March 05, 2007

Mark Twain Said...

I have studied it often, but I never could discover the plot.
(On the dictionary)

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Sunday Scripture Choice

Proverbs 16:32

He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Maureen Dowd Said...

The minute you settle for less than you deserve, you get even less than you settled for.

Friday, March 02, 2007

Feeling Big

Standing next to Mark Eaton might make you feel small, but listening to his story makes you want to stand tall. What an incredible story. What an incredible voice to reach out to others and urge them to "Play Large". Mark's story shows that it really doesn't matter where you are from, or what you think you can do but he advises to listen to others who do believe in you and let them show you how to play large.

Great speech Mark!

Thursday, March 01, 2007

What Was That?

Can you believe it? It's March already! What happened to February? I swear I missed it!

In any case, here's my issue this morning:

We are expecting snow today. We had snow yesterday, and on last Friday and a couple of days before that. All coming directly after a week or two of 40-50 degree days which was preceded by 18 straight days without reaching freezing!

This is winter in Utah. Every year is plays out in almost the same fashion, yet people are once again surprised.
Many people are talking about how they are so depressed by all this snow activity. They were ready for spring after all the warm weather and now it looks like winter is back. Guess what, the ski resorts biggest snow month is March! This is when they get tons of snow...every year!! If it snows up there, we usually get snow as well so it must be one of our biggest snow months too!

But if the weather doesn't change much from year to year, I guess I shouldn't expect that people who talk about the weather would change much either.