Notes to Grandchildren – April 19, 2020 (Learn From Everyone)

21 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

We don’t know everything; therefore, learn from everyone.

There is a scene in Good Will Hunting (1997) that drives this home. The mathematics department at M.I.T. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) would post problems to challenge their students. The M.I.T. professors were surprised to discover that their most challenging problems had been solved. To everyone’s surprise it wasn’t an M.I.T. student solving the problems but the janitor.

Don’t close opportunities to learn because of the job someone does, how they dress, what they believe, the absence of an “education,” how they worship, the way they talk.

Many people are placed in our path so that we might learn from them. Don’t miss the opportunity.



P.S. Beware of those who think they know everything; they are frauds.

Notes to Grandchildren – April 18, 2021 (Civil Disobedience)

20 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

Opinions abound.

Isn’t it amazing that President Trump and Representative Maxine Waters both advocate civil disobedience? President Trump fought the outcome of the 2020 election. Representative Waters addressed the crowd awaiting the jury’s decision in the trial of Derek Chauvin. Is this what Henry David Thoreau had in mind when he wrote his essay on Civil Disobedience? I have difficulty accepting elected leaders encouraging civil disobedience.

What happened to the rule of law?

When did we become a nation that if things didn’t go our way we pout and throw a tantrum like a spoiled child?

President Trump and Representative Waters are entitled to their opinion. As am I. As are you. As is everyone.

However, I draw the line at endangering the lives of others.

I believe in governmental transparency.

President Trump had opportunities to challenge the election results, but opinions without evidence are vacuous.

All deaths and injuries resulting from law enforcement conduct should be examined in a public forum and not resolved behind the blue wall. The touchstone that I was in fear for my life applies to many on both sides of the equation.

We are fortunate that unanimity has not been ordered. Until then, each of us may have our own opinions.



Notes to Grandchildren – April 17, 2021 (Communication)

19 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

I’m not sure that I like email, texting, messaging, and IM. Too many misunderstanding occur.

A friend loved sarcasm. Even though I knew of this friend’s disposition, many texts, emails, and IMs prompted anger.

  • Was this person joking?
  • Was this person being sarcastic?
  • Was this person angry?
  • Was this person speaking the truth?

My inherent orientation is to believe what people tell me. I believe in the truth of the matter asserted. I may or may not act upon what has been asserted; my reasoned choice comes in here.

For example, suppose I encountered Chicken Little.

I would accept that Chicken Little believes that the sky is falling. (Beliefs fall into that that category of thoughts and perceptions that Chicken Little has complete control over.) Should I accept Chicken Little’s assertion that the sky is falling?

  • What do I know about Chicken Little?
  • What was Chicken Little’s tone of voice?
  • What was Chicken Little’s demeanor?
  • What is Chicken Little’s reputation for telling the truth?

See, it’s more than just the words. With texts, emails, and IM, I just get the words.

Before I can accept Chicken Little’s pronouncement as true, I need verification. Reasoned choice demands it.

When messages prompt anger, I need some distance before that anger can be abated. Oftentimes, in the heat of the moment, irreparable damage can occur. Distance permits cooling off.

Be on the look out for communication misunderstandings.



P.S. I’ve always had difficulty with this. My father would say things in jest that I accepted as the absolute truth because my father said it. His joke colored my perception to my detriment. It’s taken a long time to overcome my father’s “humor.”

Notes to Grandchildren – April 16, 2021 (Blame)

18 Jun

Dear Grandson,

Congratulations on being named Student of the Month — Outstanding!

I heard that sister was disappointed she didn’t get to spend time with her big brother after school. A royal tantrum followed. Oh my ….

Did brother’s absence cause the tantrum?

As a lawyer I was always looking for the just and proximate cause of an injury. I wanted to assign guilt or responsibility. Someone had to pay.

There has been a search for the cause of COVID-19. Some want to assign guilt and responsibility and plant fear and hate. Thus the small minds call it the Wuhan or Chinese virus. Some seek the cause to learn about the virus. How did it develop? How might it be defended against? How might this knowledge be used to prevent further outbreaks.

Don’t get so wrapped up in assigning blame. Use any investigation to increase knowledge and preparation.

I suspect sister just wanted brother time since she didn’t get enough after school. The tantrums were her way of getting more. You’ll need to keep that in mind when you have evening adventures.



Notes to Grandchildren – April 15, 2021 (Words)

17 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

Beware of your words.

Cher sang “If I Could Turn Back Time” that “words are like weapons, they wound sometimes.” A careless word can cause more injury than any sort of weapon.

I once stayed at my uncle’s house. At bedtime, I received the traditional admonishment — “Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” My cousins pinched me. I told everyone that my uncle had bedbugs. I was never invited back.

In the Doctor Who episode “The Shakespeare Code” the Carronites attempt to use Shakespeare’s words in Love Labour’s Won to revive their kind. The Doctor defeats them with words.

In Brida (2009) by Paulo Coelho and The Wind Is My Mother (2019) by Bear Heart, the authors warn against using the words “last,” as in the last time I visited. Given the power of words and that thoughts get translated into action, it could truly become the last time.

Words contain flexibility. In How to Read the Constitution and Why (2019) by Kim Wehle, the author notes how the 4,400 words in the United States Constitution are subject to constant interpretation as time changes. It’s a myth to think of judges as strict constructionists or liberal constructionists since both employ the same skills to read the document and obtain the desired result. The United States Constitution is indeed a living document.

Choose your words carefully. Once spoken or written they cannot be retrieved.



Notes to Grandchildren – April 14, 2021 (You Matter)

16 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

You matter!

As life goes on people get wrapped up with all sorts of stuff:

  • Jobs
  • Bills
  • Mortgages
  • Vocational progression
  • Hobbies
  • Sports
  • Trivia
  • Relationships

Often people lose sight of the fact that they matter.

What’s gained if you stand at the top of your profession in poor health?

Congratulations. You’ve earned the most trivia points at Buffalo Wild Wings. What has that done for you?

If you want to be an expert at anything be an expert in you:

  • Health
  • Wellness
  • Family
  • Growth
  • Intellect
  • Reasoning
  • Virtues
  • Values
  • Reasoned Choice
  • Leisure
  • Nutrition
  • Exercise
  • Relationships

These things pay much better dividends than being able to be a master of any other thing. Why? Because you matter!



Notes to Grandchildren – April 13, 2021 (Less Is More)

15 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

Grandma tells of attending a family reunion. It had been quite a while since the family had gathered. Renewing ties and family conversation were high on Grandma’s priorities.

One family member wanted to share genealogical discoveries and the arrival of the family in the United States from what was Czechoslovakia and the areas surrounding. The five-minute talk went on for two hours and only ended with lunch. (Talk about a filibuster!)

Keep in mind you don’t have to tell everything you know. Frequently less is more!

Why use 100 words when 10 will do? Do you wish to impress people with your vocabulary? Are you bombastic?

Thomas Jefferson accomplished many things in his life; yet, his tombstone only enumerates three:

  • author of the Declaration of American Independence
  • author of the Statute of Virginia for religious freedom
  • father of the University of Virginia

Less is indeed more.



Notes to Grandchildren – April 12, 2021 (Follow Your Dreams)

14 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

I just finished

One subtheme throughout the novel focuses on things the protagonist, Caroline, gave up to support her spouse’s career. I sensed that the Caroline came to resent the things that had been surrendered. To aggravate the situation whenever the topic came up the spouse would say:

  • You tore up the application for graduate study in England” or
  • You accepted the opportunity to keep the books for the family farm instead of doing more.”

I sensed an undertone of manipulation in each of these statements by the spouse while Caroline’s resentment intensified; what would have been her life if only she had followed her dreams?

Keep in mind only your thoughts, perceptions, and actions (reactions) are completely yours. Treasure these. The moment you accept someone else’s advice or point of view, you accept their perception of the situation. They may have an agenda you’re not aware of.

Events simply are. Events, by themselves, are neither right or wrong nor good or bad. Only perception adds those labels.

Friends, strangers, journalists, the news media, comedians, pundits, politicians, social media influencers, entertainers, bloggers, and so forth want you to accept their perception of events. Beware of surrendering your dreams to someone else’s perceptions.

Use your reasoned choice.

Follow your dreams.



P.S. I am guilty of parking my dreams to another’s perception. Only resentment follows. Sadly, I’ve heard of many who have done the same thing.

Notes to Grandchildren – April 11, 2021 (Lifelong Learning)

13 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

Ages ago a cartoon show named The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends (1959-1964) had a segment entitled Mr. Know-It-All. Mr. Know-It-All would begin expounding on some topic only to discover that he didn’t know it all.

Many people share Mr. Know-It-All’s belief that they know everything only to discover that they don’t.

Learning goes on for a lifetime but only when you recognize that you don’t know everything.

Keep in mind

Every man I meet is my superior in some point, and in that I learn from him.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Remain open to new ideas and concepts and all the old stuff you really don’t know.

For a time, my father operated a ditching machine and installed drainage tile. He would set up his transit and with a series of stakes establish a grade for the tile run so that the water would flow towards the outlet tile or the ditch. He attended a workshop about new equipment. He came home all frustrated. A new technology had arrived to replace his transit and stakes. My father ranted and raved about this new technology — this lazy beam. This lazy beam removed the skill from the job. Shortly thereafter, he ceased installing drain tile.

You and I would recognize my father’s lazy beam as a laser.

Always be receptive to learning more. Just like Mr. Know-It-All, we must recognize what we don’t know.



Notes to Grandchildren – April 10, 2021 (Escape)

12 Jun

Dear Grandchildren,

Today I left Ohio for the first time since this COVID-19 thing began.

I visited Metzger’s Restaurant in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

This restaurant has been part of the Ann Arbor cultural scene for more than 90 years. Metzger’s prepares traditional German food. You should expand your palate. My genealogical research points to both the Funks and the Smiths came from Germany.

I started off with K√§sespatzle — light noodle-like dumplings served warm over sauerkraut and smothered with onions and melted, aged Swiss cheese. Delicious>

For my entre, I had the Copenhagen schnitzel with German potatoes and a Bavarian beet salad. Outstanding! Plenty for lunch today and tomorrow.

Someday I hope you’ll join me and try something new.



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