Friday, April 27, 2007

Forrest Ralph

“Stupid is as stupid does.” That’s one of the lines I remembered from the movie Forrest Gump this week.

I've been away from home three nights this week traveling for work. I’ve been trying to reduce the number of road trips but at certain times, it’s just impossible.

Checking into the third hotel this week, the young lady at the front desk was quite helpful. She made sure I was aware of the amenities the hotels had and where they were located. Then she handed me one of those electronic keys the size of a credit card.

I placed the key in a small notepad I carry in my back pocket and noticed I still had keys from the previous hotels that I had forgotten to turn in. Gathering my suitcase and computer, I headed to the room.

Standing outside the hotel door, I put my luggage down, took a key out, and inserted it in the door. The light flashed red – access denied. I inserted the card again. Red light – access denied.

This has happened before so I know a few tricks. I slowly insert the key. Red light – access denied. I slid it in fast, red light - access denied. Okay, I was getting a little frustrated but tried it fifteen more times. Every time I got a red light – access denied.

Somewhat irritated (okay I was really irritated) I gathered my suitcase and laptop and headed back to the front desk. Naturally, when I got there a line of four or five people were ahead of me. I patiently waited my turn (no, really, I was patient – I had nowhere to be). As I approached the front desk, the same lady who checked me in looked up, smiled, and said, “Hi Mr. Campbell is your room satisfactory?”

I handed her the key and told her I didn’t know the key wouldn’t open the door. She smiled and immediately gave me the key back while saying, “I glad to hear that. This key isn’t for our hotel.” Looking at the key, I realized I was using the electronic key from a previous hotel.

Heading back to the elevator with the right key in my hand I thought to myself, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.”

Monday, April 23, 2007

January Tears, April Cheers

Life is an amazing thing. The first six weeks of the year were pretty hard on ol’ Ralph.

Tiffany went back to Chicago. Why anyone would want to live in Chicago is beyond me – but she does and she is happy. I’m glad.

Then Nate moved to the mid-west. It was hard to see him go. But I knew it was one of those things he had to do. He seems to like it and for that, I’m happy.

Then I got the “ring” call. While I was happy, it made me nervous. Okay, it made me really nervous. I kept thinking those kids (and they will always be kids) most likely don’t know what they are getting into. They will face some hard times but they are strong and they will make it work. It is what they want and that makes me happy.

While I don’t want to pat myself on the back to hard, outwardly I handled these things okay – not good, but okay. Internally, I was a nervous wreck – probably should have used caps to emphasizes the word WRECK.

Fast forward to April.

Tiffany and Jason came to visit over Spring break. They have a true respect for each other. The more I talk to them they just seem to compliment one another. It also helps that SILOR has a sense of humor I can relate to.

Nate came to visit in April as well. He flew in for the weekend. We had lunch and he told us some good news. Nate seems happier than he has been in awhile. For that, I am grateful. The news was good and I will post about it sometime in the future.

After lunch, we played golf. I made a spectacular shot with my four iron. It was a shot that Tiger Woods would have admired. Nate didn’t because I beat him on that hole. I love my four iron.

Later it was off to dinner where we had a great time. There was a lot of laughter around the table. The older I get laughter is something I appreciate more and more.

Family and laughter. Does it get any better that?

Yeah, I like April.

Friday, April 20, 2007

What Would Les Do?

I’ve learned a lot of lessons in my life. Some I have learned, forgotten, relearned, forgotten. . . you get the idea.

Last week I did an Arbor Day program for a group of fourth graders. The kids sat through three speeches full of facts and figures. Things like how much storm water a tree can absorb, how trees can lower energy bills, how many trees were planted during the year, etc. One speech was given by the Mayor, another by the Principal, and the third by the City Forester. I was to be the fourth speaker. Looking at my note card all I saw were more facts and figures.

Walking across the stage, I looked at the crowd of fourth graders. They were restless, there was a little talking going on, and most of them had that glazed over look in their eyes.

Then I noticed one little boy with a shaved head holding his head in his hands. For whatever reason that reminded me of this story. That made me think of Les Morrow who is Cliff’s brother. Les is a GREAT storyteller and thinking of Les prompted the question, “What would Les do?” Yeah, I don’t know how my mind works either.

When I got to center stage, I asked the kids if they would like to hear a story. There was a resounding "YES". I ripped up my note card and told them a story.

Here is the Readers Digest Condensed Version. There once was a young forester who planted trees around a pond that was in located in the middle of nowhere. The pond is now close to their school. The pond didn’t move but development including their school took place. I talked about how the young forester had gone back every few years to look at those trees and watched as apartments, houses, shopping centers, and even schools went up around the area. How the young forester went back when a park was being developed around the pond and trees he planted. And how that forester, who is not exactly young any more, still goes back every once in awhile just to watches people in the park enjoy the shade of the trees.

Then I told them I was that forester - yeah, this is a true story. The whole story took about ten minutes. When I was done, hands went up across the auditorium and we spent another ten minutes answering questions like:
How old were you when you planted the trees?
How big were the trees when you planted them?
How tall are they now?
Does anybody living around the trees know you planted them?

It was a lot of fun - so much fun that I almost forgot to give the Mayor the award.

Yesterday the teacher who arranged that program called to thank me again and to let me know the kids are still talking about my story. She also said her class wanted me to come back and talk with them again. She told them I was really, really busy and didn't have time. Before we hung up, I freed up some time the first week of May to return to her class.

So what was the lesson I relearned? Sometimes, probably most of the time, a good story will get the point across much better and be remembered far longer than all the facts and figures in the world. It also helps to know your audience.

Thanks Les.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Computer Fun

Okay, I have to admit it – some computer people DO have a sense of humor. I received this not long ago. Give it a try.

1. Go to

2. Click on "Maps" (along the top). Or click on "Google Maps".

3. Click on "Get Directions" (along the top.)

4. Type "New York" into the first field, and "London" into the second, then hit 'get results.'

5. Read line #23. (On some systems it is line #24)

Monday, April 16, 2007

1963 versus Now

Back in 1963, November 22 to be exact, President Kennedy was assassinated. I remember listening to it on the radio at school and later watching it on TV at home. People like Walter Cronkite reported the facts. Reporting what they knew to keep us informed with the truth.

Today, I like Cliff, was upset at the reporters talking about Virginia Tech. Their lack of depth, lack of compassion, lack of concern, and even lack of truth in their reporting was inexcusable. Investigative journalism – I think not!!

I was taught reporters were to be objectives and report the facts. The ones today were already pointing the finger. They are not concerned with facts or truth or for that matter, the people affected.

I like Walter Cronkite’s approach better.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Following Instructions

We all know or have seen people who aren’t very good at following instructions. You know the ones. They park in the fire lane because they are only going to be in the store for a minute. They are the ones who park in the handicap spaces because they are in a hurry. Or, perhaps you have seen them with a full shopping cart in the ten items or less lane.

For the most part, animals know how to follow instructions.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Holiday Confusion

There are times when things just run together. Usually at the end of one of those days, I am confused and dazed versus the more conventional dazed and confused. But I don’t have trouble with Holidays.
Saturday night DOR (Daughter of Ralph) and future SILOR (Son in Law of Ralph) along with Char decided to dye Easter Eggs for the egg hunt the next morning. My job was to stuff several dozen plastic Easter Eggs with candy.
DOR and SILOR were starting to dye Easter Eggs when Char showed up.
I just assumed she got the Holiday mixed up with . . . oh, say, Halloween.
Then to make it even worse, DOR got a little jealous when Char tried to apologize to SILOR.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Dining Out

Char and I were dining in a plush restaurant, and I kept staring at an old drunken lady swigging her gin as she sat alone at a nearby table.

Finally, Char asked, "Do you know her?"

"Yes," I said, "She's my ex-wife. She took to drinking right after we divorced, and I hear she hasn't been sober since."

"That's amazing!" said Char, "Who would think a person could go on celebrating that long?"

Okay, that was a joke.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

We're Okay

There were some tense moments. At times anxiety levels were elevated and tempers started to flare, but the most important part is everyone is okay and no one got hurt.

Yes, I took DOR (Daughter of Ralph) and future SILOR (Son of Law of Ralph) out golfing yesterday. DOR has been on a golf course once. This was the first time for SILOR. Several trees were injured and at one critical moment, Ralph and SILOR had to take cover when DOR ricocheted a golf ball off several trees. Numerous windows in the adjacent apartment buildings were threatened and cars in the parking lots were considered primary targets.

But we made it through the par three course without hitting any cars, breaking any windows, or inflicting bodily harm to anyone.