Archive for the ‘ Rules of Life ’ Category

This is not a football post.

Well, it could be, I do enjoy watching College football on TV, I have a favorite team, and there are a few that become my favorite team when they play Michigan.

But, that’s not what this is about.

This is about the National Anthem flap started by a professional football player that’s getting so much attention.

Seems he’s protesting by sitting and kneeling during the anthem rather than standing, which is the traditionally acceptable thing to do when the Anthem is played.

Note, I said traditionally acceptable, not required.

As an erstwhile but former singer who has actually performed the Anthem publicly, I can say the US National Anthem, or The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key is one of the most difficult songs to sing.

It’s a pain.

It takes a truly gifted singer with a great range to do it justice, and in my experience, there have been few.

I am quite sure I was NOT one who did.

But again, I digress.

In September of 1814, while Washington was smoldering and Alexandria was in British hands, President James Madison sent Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner flying a flag of truce on a prisoner exchange mission.  Seems an elderly and well loved doctor had been taken prisoner by the Brits.

Key and Skinner dined with British General Robert Ross and others.  During dinner, a battle plan for an attack on Baltimore was discussed and after first refusing to do so, Ross agreed to release the kindly old doctor as well as the US diplomats, but not until after the battle.

Couldn’t have Key dashing back to Madison with the battle plans, now could we?

Key and Skinner spent the evening aboard the Surprise a British warship.

During the night, the diplomats watched the bombardment of Fort Henry observing that the small storm flag was still flying, but could not see the American Flag until the break of day.


On September 14, the storm flag was lowered and the larger American standard was hoisted.


Key, inspired by the American victory wrote the Star Spangled Banner as a poem while still aboard the British ship. On September 16, he and Skinner were released.  Key then completed the poem and called it The Defense of Fort Henry.


OK, so that’s not catchy at all.

Key gave a copy of the poem to his brother-in-law, Judge Joseph H. Nicholson.  Nicholson felt the words fit the music to a song in use by a gentlemen’s club of amateur musicians and took the poem to a printer, who made a copy.  A few days later, newspapers The Baltimore Patriot and The American published the ditty.

It caught on.

Papers from New Hampshire to Georgia printed it, and a music store in Baltimore published the words under the title The Star Spangled Banner.

Which stuck.

By October, it was being performed publicly.

Over the next 100 years, there were several versions which apparently annoyed “Mr. Picky”, President Woodrow Wilson who charged the Bureau of Education to come UP with an official version.

Key was dead, copyright was – meh, stuff happens.

The BOE went one step further and hired a couple of musicians to write an arrangement.

Walter Damrosch, Will Earnhart, Arnold J. Gantvoort, Oscar Sonneck, and John Philip Sousa voted on a standard – I am not making this UP –  and it was premiered at Carnegie Hall in December of 1917 during a concert staged by the Oratorio Society of New York.

Prior to that, all through the 1800s, the song picked UP speed, became popular, and was the accepted number used to open political events, national meetings, Independence Day Celebrations, and the like.

But it wasn’t the “national anthem.”

In 1889, Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Tracy signed General Order #374 making “The Star Spangled Banner” the official tune played when the American Flag was raised.

Still not the “national anthem.”

In 1916, Woodrow Wilson ordered that it be played at military and other appropriate occasions – there was no clear definition of “appropriate occasions.”

In 1918, it was  played during the 7th inning stretch of first game of the World Series.

I guess the chicken dance hadn’t come along yet.

Hmmm., I’ll have to research that!

In April of 1918, John Charles Linthicum, a Democrat and a US Congressman from Maryland introduced a bill to officially make it the “national anthem.”

The bill failed.

Still not the “national anthem.”

Apparently taking the “little engine that could” philosophy to heart, the undaunted Congressman introduced the bill six more times, the last being in 1929, with no success.

In 1930, the VFW started petitioning the government to officially recognize “TSSB” as the national anthem. Five million people signed the petition in less than a month.

Congressman Linthicum wanted to know where these people had been for the last decade!

On January 31, 1930, the petition was presented to the House Committee on the Judiciary while Elsie Jorss-Reilley and Grace Evelyn Boudin sang it!

They were trying to refute the “theory” that it was too high pitched for a typical person to sing.

They were wrong, just sayin’.

The committee sent a bill to the House for a vote, the House passed it, and President Herbert Hoover signed it into “law” on March 4, 1931.

Having died in 1843, Francis Scott Key was not available for comment.

The bill contained no restrictions on behavior during its performance.

Lean to the left, lean to the right, STAND UP, sit down, it doesn’t say which.

BUT, people stood, some placed their hands over their hearts, and men removed their hats.

It was a sign of respect, not for the song, but for the nation and the national pride it represents.

Now, spoiled millionaires everywhere are choosing a semi-sacred score to protest actions and behaviors occurring in our often troubled nation.

Protesting is protected by the Constitution, a right I’m glad we have.

But, as we’ve heard so much this summer, words and actions have consequences.

Quite frankly, the national anthem isn’t the culprit we can blame for a nation’s woes.

Greed, mismanagement, lack of compassion, lack of national pride, and corruption are the things we should protest.

The national anthem’s words are not the culprit.  I seriously doubt that half the country knew there was more than one verse to the song.   There are at least 5 including the one added during the Civil War by Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Many people can’t get the first verse right when singing along with the rest of the fans at an NFL game or a NASCAR race or a Baseball stadium.

And often times, people behave disrespectfully by cheering loudly during the song.

Knowing it, singing, it standing for it:  none are required by law.

So, what is traditionally acceptable behavior?

Well, from what I can tell, and what I’ve done all my life, everyone present, except those in uniform are to stand at attention facing the Flag (if it is there) with their right hand placed over their heart.  Those not in uniform should remove their hats; hold them at their left shoulder with their hand over their heart. Those in uniform should give the military salute at the beginning of the anthem and hold it until the last note sounds.

Even these behaviors and standards are disputed – some say you stand at attention but don’t cover your heart – and any ‘standard’ would be unofficial – there is no law.

The key term is acceptable behavior.

What does society expect?

They expect everyone with the freedom to sit during the national anthem to stand to show their appreciation for the fact that it’s not required.

They expect everyone with the freedom to protest to do so in a manner that brings light to the wrongs, attention to those in need, and makes already glaring injustices more visible.

They expect everyone with the freedom to act, to act in a positive and productive manner.

Well, at least that’s what I expect.




The words to the National Anthem are provided below.

O! say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This is the Oliver Wendell Holmes addition.

When our land is illumined with Liberty’s smile,
If a foe from within strike a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that dares to defile
The flag of her stars and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained who our birthright have gained,
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained!
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

It Really Is!

Recently,  I’ve heard the term “Blood is thicker than water” more often than usual.  As is always with me, my first thought was not about the conversation, but was, “Why do we say that?” and “Where did that come from?”

Blood is thicker than water

So, I looked it UP.

It is a German proverb (originally: Blut ist dicker als Wasser), but, since Americans steal everything from Europe, and so many of us are of German descent, it’s prevalent in English Speaking Countries, like, you know, America used to be.

It generally means that the bonds of family and common ancestry are stronger than the bonds between unrelated people (such as friendship).

The saying made it’s first appearance in a medieval German Epic, called Reinhart Fuchs or ‘Reynard the Fox’ in about 1180BC.  We have Heinrich der Glichzezaere to thank for the adage.  The direct English translation is actually ‘Kin-blood is not spoilt by water.’  Proving that we not only steal things, we change them just enough to make them our own.

A few centuries later, around 1412, an English priest John Lydgate wrote:”For naturally blood will be of kind / Drawn-to blood, where he may it find.’

Syntactically confusing, and a little off mark, he was trying to say the same thing.

Morphing to 1670, the modern version was included in a collection of Proverbs by John Ray, and later appeared in Sir Walter Scott’s novel Guy Mannering (1815).  He of course gave it a Scottish take with  “Weel — Blud’s thicker than water — she’s welcome to the cheeses.”

I have no idea what cheeses have to do with it, but…I digress.

It has appeared in many, many other writings as well, including The Family by Mario Puzo of The Godfather fame, where he says, ‘blood is thicker than holy water.”

The Pope was not amused.

Even Aldous Huxley used it.

It didn’t make it to the US until around 1821, where the maxim first appeared in a ‘Journal of Athabasca Department’, what ever that is!!

Generally the phrase means that family ties are stronger than any other type of tie.

But, is that true?

Scientifically, yes, it is.  Blood is thicker than water. In pascal-seconds (Pa·s), the viscosity of blood at 37 °C is normally 3 × 10−3 to 4 × 10−3.and the dynamic viscosity of water is 8.90 × 10−4 Pa·s or 8.90 × 10−3 dyn·s/cm2 or 0.890 cP at about 25 °C.  (Science not being my strong suit, and my apologies to Duane Burkholder, Gary Hamm, and every other science teacher who tried, really tried to teach me,  I’m hoping one of my genius children or nephews will chime in on this and explain it to me!)

Philosophically; probably not so much.  We’ve seen a recent example as much of the family of the Boston Marathon Bombers sat idly by and didn’t rat their terrorist brother/son/nephew/cousin out.  And of course, that was shameful.

I look at it this way:  Blood is physically thicker than water, but right is always right, and wrong is always wrong.  Or, more succinctly put, I love all my family members, but I don’t always like them or what they do.  I’ve often said, “Me loving you is on me, me liking you is on you.”

And I mean it.

Oh Mom!

…or Oh Dad!

We”ve all said it, and most of us have heard it!

A roll of the eyes, a huff, a sigh, a down right blood curdling scream followed by an “Oh, Mom!” can be pretty annoying.

But, look back in your life and think of the things you’ve heard and you’ve said and mull them over.

It’s not just the simple, silly “Keep making that face and it will stay that way!” comments that rile the teens and tweens of the world, it’s really stupid things we say and hear.

“Do as I say, not as I do.”

Really, if it’s so stupid that I can’t do it, why are you?

“You’re the best/greatest/tops.”

They probably aren’t and it may give them a false sense of ability that puts them in a position of embarrassment.

“Stop bothering me.”

Ok, it’s too late to re-think that ‘should I have kids’ question, but you did, so let them bother away, you have to take every opportunity to teach them and to learn from them.

“You’re so clumsy/lazy/sloppy!”

Although I think most people in the world have too much self-esteem, little things like this can really hurt, and really stick.  And a lie told often enough does become the truth.  Just stay away from the name Grace if you remember yourself as a klutz!

“Stop crying.” or “I’ll give you something to cry about.”

Seriously, can YOU stop crying?  And apparently they already have something to cry about.

“Why can’t you be more like your sister.” 

This may be a tad confusing and quite frankly if you say that often enough, you don’t have a Prada Pump to stand on when he comes out in a prom dress or a cheerleading outfit.

Kids are individuals, and that’s a good thing.

A teacher who taught my daughter, once said to me UPon finding my son in her class, “They couldn’t be any more different, could they?”  Knowing where this was going, I simply replied, “Yeah, I know, isn’t it great!”

The conversation stopped!

“You know better than that!”

Maybe not.  Maybe you should take this as an opportunity to …what’s the word I’m looking for…PARENT!

“Wait til your Dad gets home.”

I’m guessin’ he’s hoping you’ll take care of it before he does, and you should.  Nipping it in the bud usually works better.  Why let the kid stew all day wondering if Dad’s gonna’ go all Rambo on him?  And you know, Dad may not have a problem with it.  Either way, you lose, and so does the kid.

“Can’t you walk any faster?”

Probably not.  Measure your legs, then measure theirs.  I’m guessing you’re a tad taller than that three year old, so he’s probably walking as fast as he can!  Slow down, smell a rose, let him look at the Lego window, and if you’re in that big a hurry, rent a stroller!  Well, unless he’s 16.  But, then he’s probably not going to the mall with you anyway, and if he does, he’ll be at least 10 stores behind you the entire trip.  What self respecting teen wants to be seen at the mall with his mom?

“Are you going out looking like that?” 

I’m guessing that was the plan.  Frankly, unless they are over-exposed, indecent, or have profanity on the T-shirt, let it go.  Purple hair doesn’t last forever, and guy-liner washes off once the other kids tell him he looks “gay”.  But, pissing Mom off, now that’s priceless!!  Give him/her the keys, make sure he/she knows not to text and drive, know where they are going, and rest assured that outfit will be in the Goodwill bag by Tuesday!

“Don’t make me turn this car around.”

They know you want to go to the mall just as badly as they do, and they know that dress/shoes/purse is on sale, and you’re not going to turn the car around…unless you see a better deal!

And for Pete’s sake, don’t do the Duggar thing and say, “Go ask your brothers!”

What Not To Say!

Seems conversation and communication are on my mind lately. 

Wanna keep your job? 

Here are some “communication errors” you might wanna avoid!

The Boss is important, and there are just some things that aren’t said.

Here are a few:

Not my job!  Yeah, keep saying that and it probably won’t be much longer.  Really, I’ve always said at work,  the first line of my job description is “Do what insert boss’ name here tell me to do.”  And frankly, I’ve used that philosophy for years. 

I’ve had a job of one sort or another since I was 14 years old.  I learned early on that I need to follow directions as long as it wasn’t “immoral, illegal, or unethical”.  It may really be beneath you, but get it done, even if you have to make someone else do it.  And what’s the big deal about ethics anyway?

Not my fault!  Maybe not, but if it falls in the realm of your department and or your responsibility, then the end result is your fault.  If you’re not afraid to take the credit for all the good that comes from your department, then don’t shirk the blame!

I’ve only got 2 hands!  Well grow a pair, and do what’s needed to get the job done.  This type of statement, and there are hundreds of ways to say it, usually makes the boss feel like you’re in the mood for “Tea and Sympathy”.  And if the company is falling around him, there will be little.  So buck UP, get to work, and get things done.  You may be trying to be funny, and it may fall on deaf ears…know your audience.  He may be the “poster child for the humor impaired”.

I’m over qualified for this job.  No, no you’re not.  You may have qualifications that would allow you to do more for the company, but right now, this is what’s needed of you.  Your boss cares less about your MBA now that you’re on staff, and more about your production.  So, get to work, use that fancy schmancy edumacation of yours and find someone else to pawn the task off onto.

Anyone could do this job.  Ok, then move over!  I’m sure there are hundreds if not thousands of 50+ year olds that would love to have it since they’ve been down-sized, right-sized, displaced, surplussed screwed out of a job.

Can’t be done!  If the boss thought it couldn’t be done, he’d never have asked, unless there really is a conspiracy to get rid of you…and from the looks of things, there just might be.  If it’s needed, it can be done.  You may have to get very creative, think outside the bun, but you have to deliver.

If I were in your place… Well, you’re probably not gonna’ be sayin’ crap like that.  So keep your trap shut and bring in some results.

Not my problem.  Guess again.  If you work there, then it is your problem.  You have to be committed to the success of those around you, and you have to be committed to the success of the company.  If not, you’ll have more problems than you bargained for.

It’s not the skirt that makes your butt look big!  Do I really need to go into detail here?

When it comes to business, “See no evil, Hear no evil, and Do no evil” usually don’t apply, but “Speak no evil”…now, there’s a keeper!

Get to work!  Quit whining!