Book now for the bicentennial of America’s least necessary war, The War of 1812. The scenery will be unbeatable!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Most Americans don’t know we had a dust-up in 1812 with our not-so- distant British colonial masters. Well, we did and from June 30-July 6, 2012 we’ll be celebrating it in high style in Boston, Massachusetts, then in 11 other East Coast American cities that had a role in the war. The festivities will run from 2012-2015, with millions expected to come see.

No doubt the most popular and easily the most photogenic part of this commemoration will be the parade of the world’s tall ships, with more of these graceful relicts of days gone by assembled in one place than ever before. How many tall-ships will there be? William Armstrong, a spokesman for Operation Sail, the sponsor of this event along with the U.S. Navy, could not say exactly. But he did say that 120 nations have been invited to participate, and no doubt most of them will. As such it will draw visitors from around the globe to this living reminder of maritime majesty.

Two extra special features make a trip to Boston de rigueur when the tall-ships come. First, this is the home port of the USS Constitution, launched in 1797. It is the oldest commissioned warship afloat in the world. Dubbed “Old Ironsides” in sea battle where enemy cannonballs were seen to bounce harmlessly off her timbers, she defeated 4 superior British vessels, uniquely earning each of her captains a Congressional gold medal, perhaps in part because the Constitution’s victories were one of the very few aspects of the war in general to go well.

The second reason why Boston was selected to lead off the festivities has absolutely nothing to do with commemorating the war and absolutely everything to do with creating a truly whiz-bang of a program. While the tall-ships grace the harbor and capture every eye, the city of Boston (and all true believers in America’s national past-time) will be celebrating the centennial of Fenway Park, a theme which will inspire every sportswriter to wax poetic, nostalgic, with nary a dry eye in the (uncomfortable, over-priced) bleachers.

Not worth remembering.

Sadly all this hard work and the unbeatable thrill of seeing a large percentage of the most graceful and interesting sailing vessels still extant celebrates an entirely forgettable war that should never have occurred and which showed that Yankee rhetoric (always soaring and bombastic) far outpaced Yankee management, efficiency, and organization. In short, the Yanks, having pulled off the biggest victory of the 18th century, eviscerating British North American power and gaining independence, took the wrong moral from the tale and assumed their old nemesis was a paper tiger, always and forever to be defeated by the vainglorious sons of America. It was an arrogant point of view that was soon shown to be wistful thinking, and nothing more.

Family quarrels are always the most pernicious and hurtful.

From the very moment the British accepted the loss of her American possessions every patriotic Briton ached for a rematch with her now liberated and bumptious former colonies. Because this was a family quarrel, each side (and particularly the British) took the greatest possible pleasure in irritating Americans, outraging Americans, belittling Americans and humiliating Americans. The colonies might be lost, well then, let the regime of insult, condescension, and mutual irritants commence. And because both sides were Britons, who knew each other as well as the back of their own hand, they knew exactly what to do to cause maximum pain and umbrage… and they did it with relish and unbridled joy, “Take this, serves you right!”

For such antagonists another conflict was, and everyone knew it, inevitable. It was simply a matter of when… thus both nations bided their time; Britain bit by inexorable bit undoing Napoleon and his evanescent imperium, anxious to face again the unlikely winners who had humbled them with the gall and wormwood of 1776 and all that. It was a truly memorable antagonism, entirely personal, no holds barred, each and every encounter seen as an insult by the other. As I said, it was a very nasty family matter, casus belli unnecessary.

Historians will tell you the War of 1812 had many causes and no doubt they are right. But all those who have fought for victory in their homes and offices will know the messy battles in operation “Top Dog” in which the opponents battle for ultimate supremacy. In such a situation, with the need for overall power and control paternal, primal, with mutual good will and correct relations impossible until the fundamental matter is well and truly settled. They fought because each existed and that each found affronting and profoundly irksome.

The British goal in the War of 1812, a war which commenced as Napoleon then retreating from Russia after his fate-tipping disaster, thereby liberating British power, money and focus to upend the Yanks, was to continue her near absolute command of the world’s seaways. “Rule Britannia” was not a song; it was profound national policy.

By contrast, the Yanks, now controlling the most valuable real estate on earth, were anxious to get the rest… and this meant seizing Canada, every Yank believing that Canadians were anxious to be liberated. They weren’t, but that made absolutely no difference. Liberated and Americanized they would be, like it (and they surely would), or not.

The War of 1812 shaped up accordingly.

The British, the world’s greatest sea power, aimed to cripple the new American navy while making it quite clear that it would continue to impress seamen (particularly American seamen) into her vessels, whatever howls of outrage that might engender. Ships might be built… but able seamen were, as always, in short supply and thus England, whose very existence was predicated on maximum sea power, seized Americans wherever they could be had… without a shred of remorse.

The goal of the Americans was to justify their (to them) hefty allocations of limited national resources in a navy. Thomas Jefferson and friends (one of whom, James Madison, was president in 1812), profoundly provincial, regarded a navy as an expensive luxury, hoped to hobble it. The navy needed victories to prove how essential it was. And, of course, there was the great prize, Canada. Voltaire may have regarded the Canadas as a patch of snow… but the War Hawks in Washington, D.C. did not. They craved Canada in the worst way, and the way they went about wooing her showed just how bad that could be.

The ins and out of this struggle go beyond the confines of this article and may be found in “The War of 1812: A Forgotten Conflict” by Donald R. Hickey. Suffice it to say the Yanks made a dog’s dinner of their Canadian incursions and not a single Canadian was sorry. Thus, they kept their snow to themselves. The British burnt Washington, D.C. including the White House, to avenge a similar barbarity by the Yanks when they invaded Canada. And the greatest victory of the war by either side was the Battle of New Orleans, which in due course made General Andrew Jackson, president of the United States. Ironically that great victory took place after the peace treaty between the belligerents had been signed in Ghent.

No doubt some of this history will be told next summer, but the futile inconsequence of the war will be mentioned, if at all, sotto voce.

You, however, now know and will astonish all who pontificate in front of you. For you have heard the story here… so do book your reservations now with Operation Sail the better to see the key places in this forgettable conflict about to be commemorated more grandly than the war itself ever was.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is . at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

Casey Anthony: Now that your trial is over, your true sentence will be delivered, for you are now and truly a marked woman for life.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

These are the facts.

Caylee Marie Anthony (born August 9, 2005) was last seen with her mother Casey on June 16, 2008 and was reported missing by her grandmother, Cindy Anthony, on July 15, 2008. Her skeletal remains were discovered in a wooded area near the family home on December 11, 2008. Casey Anthony was indicted on charges of first degree murder and pled not guilty.

The prosecution sought the death penalty and the trial lasted for six weeks. On July 5, 2011, the jury found Casey Anthony not guilty of murder, aggravated child abuse, and aggravated manslaughter of a child, but guilty of four misdemeanor counts of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. Anthony received a sentence of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine for each count. With credit for time served and good behavior, she was released on July 17, 2011, free to walk out of the courtroom and resume her life as an ordinary citizen. But the fact is since the eye of the media (lead by legal commentator Nancy Grace) came to focus on you and your predicament, you have ceased to be in fact the “ordinary citizen” you are in law.

According to journalist Geraldo Rivera, you are the “most reviled acquitted defendant”, even more so that O.J. Simpson or Michael Jackson. Rivera was also quoted on the Fox News Network as saying, “We feel she is a murderer who has escaped the death penalty” Public outrage was immediate and intense.

You contributed to the mayhem by engaging in behaviors the public felt were inappropriate for a mother:

Item: lying to detectives from the Orange County, Florida Sheriff’s Department.

Item: failing to report your child missing despite the fact you admitted you had not seen her for 31 days.

Item: partying around the town both before your missing daughter was found… and, worse, after her decomposed body was discovered.

Item: Having a tattoo reading “Bella Vita” (beautiful life) placed on your body just weeks after Caylee’s death.

The prosecution’s case was based on who would benefit from Caylee’s death… with the accusing finger firmly pointed at … you! The media, which loves stories like yours that grab public attention and won’t get go… tried and found you guilty… and you only aided and abetted these folks by your endless prevarications, deceits, deceptions and lies. In short order you were turned into a pleasure-seeking monster, cavorting on the grave of your innocent child, Caylee, who, quite simply, got in the way of your selfish, sybaritic life.

The prosecutor thought their bird was cooked, when their expert maintained that you made 84 computer searches seeking detailed information about chloroform. (It was only later than this same “expert” admitted he was wrong; there had, in fact, only been a single such search. Still…

Then the unthinkable occurred: you were found innocent on all counts, except for one which convicted you of lying to police officers. I saw your face on television at the moment the verdict was handed down; you wept… perhaps just for simple relief… perhaps because you thought that your ordeal was well and truly over. But in fact that verdict immediately moved you and the entire matter to a different, much more difficult place than the penal system you had just avoided.

Millions of people were astonished and outraged by the jury’s finding and from the immediate instant it was delivered shouted their acute, their adamant disapproval and disgust. Never mind that your constitutional rights meant you were innocent until proven guilty or that the jury did its arduous work correctly and honorably. They had “reasonable doubt” and were, whatever their personal opinions, forced to decide as they had.

The people knew” (by some primal calculus), egged on by the media, that you were guilty… and now, aghast, flabbergasted, disbelieving, they watched as you, who had certainly murdered Caylee, walked. Millions of folks, certain in their minds as to what really happened and who was guilty and needed maximum punishment, wanted Justice for Caylee… and were frustrated they were not about to get it through the judicial system.

At that moment of what had to be joy for you… the system which had just given you freedom… ensured you would be a haunted, hunted, despised and disdained woman for the rest of your life. Your life on the lamb started even before you left the courtroom and was ordained for the rest of your life. For, whatever the legal system says, public opinion, fed by powerful media, have ensured that you will be seen as a child murderer, the worst crime in all the calendar, with vigilante vengeance likely and popular vindication for anyone disposing of you certain.

Let’s look at what this means for you…

You will be in a store like Wal-Mart ready to take advantage of a fantastic sale. Soon you’ll feel rather than see that there are three, now four women whispering about something… you don’t need to be told that what they’re whispering about is… you.

You hope the check-out girl hasn’t seen… but one of the women walked over to a supervisor who, without batting an eye, told the check-out girl to take a 15-minute break,that her shift is over. The supervisor stands there, looks you in the eye and says, “You’re Casey Anthony, aren’t you?”

You decide to lie…. you’re good at lying… but he’ll only ask to see your i.d. and then his strong surmise will become irrevocable fact. So, you say nothing, drop the things you so much wanted on the floor… and, for the thousandth time put your chin up and, looking dead ahead, walk out.

But, like the sentence of the people itself, this incident continues.

You are Casey Anthony… and you are beginning to understand what that means.

The women who were whispering about you inside… are now a growing group. They do not know for sure that you are Casey Anthony (you do your hair different now) but they sense it.

You see your car. You know that if you can get in and drive off before their suspicions harden into fact, you’ll be ok. And so you walk faster… and as you do you see in the corner of your eye that the women are screaming now…. You don’t need to hear the words… you have heard them all before…. over and over again.

“Baby killer! Murderer! Murderer!”

And as you open the car door,the first stone hits the windshield… the second hits you and you feel the blood run down your head.

You manage to get in… get the key in the ignition… reminding yourself to stay cool… and get out fast.

This time you get away… but you are Casey Anthony and you know that such an incident can happen any day, every day.

Then one day, you’re getting ready for a date with a boy who simply knows you as “Casey” and you’re hoping he’ll never find out. You’re leaving the beauty parlor, looking terrific for the first time in months. All of a sudden there’s a sharp pain in your chest… and you see Toni the beautician, the lady who has just done your hair. She’s got blood on her hands… the pain from the sharp instrument she’s thrust into your body is unendurable. But she’s smiling… “That was for Caylee Marie…” And amidst the chaos and confusion, you hear the women in the beauty parlor cheering, for Toni, for Caylee… and for the end of you…

… the woman found innocent of murder by a jury of her peers… and guilty by an outraged nation scoffing at the verdict, determined to get justice for the dear little thing you cared so little about. You are Casey Anthony, innocent, and your dead body lies in a heap on the floor of the beauty shop… your eyes open, seeing nothing.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is . at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associate , providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses.

An appreciation for the turbulent life and undeniable talent of Amy Winehouse. Dead at 27, July 23, 2011.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Amy Jade Winehouse was exactly the woman your mother was terrified you’d become… and nagged at you to avoid. She covered her body with old-time sailor tattoos… had a beehive style hair-do that looked like it was construction art… popped pills like juju beans… drank like a fish and then became a “bad drunk”… found men, let them abuse her, then ditched them… to do it all over again. And, if this were not enough, she experimented with every drug her international contacts could get her… then went through some more.

Yeah, she was a mess alright… but there was one redeeming grace… and that was the lady had talent… and an outsized personality that enabled her to showcase her works… and (when she was at her best) wow the folks… while changing the outmoded verities in the musical world… where she was a seismic force smoking out hypocrisies, superficialities, and any hint of silly sweetness. She was authentic to her fingertips… and that made a lot of people — including mothers with young girls — plenty nervous.

Now this volcanic force is dead, aged just 27, and we are left to wonder at why she gave up everything she loved — including her very life — to feed her destructive passions. A good place to look for clues is in her prize-winning 2007 tune “Rehab”. Go to any search engine now. Play the song once or twice, and pay particular attention to the lyrics… “They tried to make me go to rehab but I said ‘no, no, no’.” And then the kicker we all knew to be true, “Yeah, I’m outta control.” She was right… and it was the tragedy of her life.

She did what she wanted… with whom she wanted… where she wanted.. when she wanted. She knew what was acceptable behavior… she ignored it to achieve who she was. If that upset others, too bad. Her need to behave in ways you found selfish, reprehensible, ridiculous made her maddeningly impossible to be around; you never knew what was coming next… because she never knew what she’d be doing next. It was an exhausting way to live…. and no one knew it better than she did and in moments of clarity she screamed for help “I don’t ever wanna drink again”. But she did drink… and smoke… and shoot up… and inhale… engaging in every form of abuse she could think of, devise or learn from her cadre of fellow travelers, each going to hell in their own fashion….

But through it all there was the music and the talent that produced it. And if we must condemn her, let us do so for this reason: that she abused her talent, wasted her talent, insulted her talent, and treated her talent with contempt, with every injection risking it, threatening it, threatening all. For this she deserves the strongest possible condemnation…

…. Amy Winehouse knew this. But as time went on, it didn’t matter anymore… she knew she was on the road to oblivion. “Can you blame me for being a slave to my passion?” Yes, most assuredly we can… because her passion was not ingestion and self abuse (though it seemed so)… her passion was the music she created… the sound she shaped… the impacting words… these things were her passion and she squandered these with too little remorse and regret. Damn her.

The beginning.

Winehouse was born September 14, 1983 in the Southgate area of north London to a Jewish family whose inclination to jazz later influenced her work. She was the younger of two children (older brother Alex) of Mitchell Winehouse, taxi driver, and Janis Winehouse (nee Seaton), pharmacist. Mitchell often sang Frank Sinatra songs to young Amy, who took to a constant habit of singing to the point that teachers found it difficult keeping her quiet in class. Even then it was clear she had talent… Like other young artists there were many false starts… she got her first guitar at 13 and began writing music a year later. She also began working at this time, for openers a showbiz journalist for the World Entertainment News Network, also singing with a local group the Bolsha Band.

But her passion was the all-girl groups of the ’60’s, particularly The Ronettes, her favorite; it’s where she got her “instantly recognizable” beehive hair-do and Cleopatra make-up.

Break-through.

Just 20, her debut album “Frank” was released October 20, 2003. Produced mainly by Salaam Remi, many songs were influenced by jazz and, apart from two covers, every song was co-written by Winehouse. The reviews were good and brought comparisons to Macy Gray and Sarah Vaughan. In due course, “Frank” garnered a host of awards and honors… and reached platinum sales levels. The little Jewish girl from north London had her foot on the ladder… but as usual did it her way. Instead of engaging in the usual puffery, she said of this album she was just “80 percent” behind it. Her producers fumed… but the world smiled; here was a person who told the (often inconvenient) truths… and we all liked her better.

International success.

In these days, Winehouse was a prodigious worker, an artist who never tolerated the second rate in herself, or anyone else. She knew what she wanted from herself… and from you. “Back to Black” was the result, released in the U.K. October 30, 2006. It became the best-selling U.K. album in 2007, selling a staggering 1.85 million copies over the year. The money guys heard the clink of coin… and were willing to tolerate Winehouse’s often eccentric behavior because she delivered the bucks.

The most influential song on this album was “Rehab”. “Time” magazine called it the “Best Song” of 2007. Interviewer Josh Tyrangiel praised Winehouse for her confidence, saying “What she is is mouthy, funny, sultry, and quite possibly crazy,” and “It’s impossible not to be seduced by her originality.” The world agreed; prizes and honors were showered upon her… and, of course, money, lots and lots of it. All she had to do was keep her demons under control. But who can promise so much, even with the entire world and its golden prizes at stake? She still had higher to fly… the farther to fall when her punishing descent began. Let’s stay a little on the lady still ascending, for her fall is painful, distressing, the stuff of agony and dismay.

In 2008 she won Grammy Awards in the categories for Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for the single “Rehab,” while her album “Back to Black” was nominated for Album of the Year and won Best Pop Vocal award. She was now well and truly at the top of the world… for an instant, until the contrary forces she had kept in balance, began pulling in opposite directions she could no longer control. Thus did mighty mayhem break loose… and Amy Winehouse lose her ascendancy in the world… and, far too soon, her life.

She was drawn to, loved, married, dallied with and tolerated, all the wrong people… the weak men who pandered to her vices and abused her body, her weaknesses and kindness; the ones who fed her pills and substances of every kind which she never needed and was unable to resist. Thanks to the constant lurid tales in the tabloids, we all saw it. Hers was a tragedy occurring before our eyes, an irresistible inevitability which at last on July 23 bore its strange fruit. The scene was dirty, squalid, disgusting… with honors, awards, trophies strewn about the place, indicators that life was vanity, all vanity. Short, ironic, painful, pride abashed and all alone.

So did Amy Winehouse kill herself, her talent and her many dreams… but she could not kill her music, rhythmic, honest to a fault, intriguing, bold. Here was the woman at her best… and now this best must stand against the ages, to remind us of her integrity and audacity, for she had these in abundance, and so should we remember her.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

A tale of the city. Someone to watch over me.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. This article will touch you more deeply than you might otherwise allow if you find one of the innumerable renditions of George Gershwyn’s “Someone To Watch Over Me”. (1926, from the often-revived musical “Oh, Kay!”) The one by the late chanteuse Amy Winehouse (given the tragic and squalid circumstances of her end) is both ironic and haunting for she most assuredly had no one to watch over her… much less save her from herself.

Go to any search engine now, find the singer you like… play it once or twice…for this is the desired, unmistakable sound for today’s tale…

It starts with a boy from the Prairies…

“Know thyself!” is perhaps the most famous (and surely the shortest) command (and admonition) of our culture. Pausanias, a Greek writer of the second century A.D., had the words chiseled in the wall of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi. There’s been plenty argumentation ever since, as curious offspring seek to live those words, fully, completely, ardently…

… while protective parents, wiser to the world’s ways, say and will say to the end of the universe “Over my dead body, buster! And be back by 11… or else!”

If I tell you, confess really, that I was the boy who always was home early and never (except for one notable occasion, too notable to tell you here) knew what transgressing against “or else” might mean, you will perhaps have an inkling about the subject of this tale. I was always “The Best Boy”, sheltered, protected, indulged… I was not insensible of my privileged situation… but deep within (so deep for years I didn’t even know the notion existed) there was a desire to taste forbidden fruit and find out what happened when you walked on the Wild Side in dead of night

Others were anxious to help me out of my deep-seated predicament. Once, at university, a determined bunch of boys, affronted by my puritan outlook, tied me to a chair and, for an unblushing hour or two spat every four-letter word, every expletive (none deleted), and every vulgar configuration known to advanced eighteen year olds at me… my hands tied to my side, no chance of protecting those virgin ears. I was appalled… horrified… but I emerged, despite their strenuous efforts, unscathed. What was more notable than their failure to brand me was the fact that every one of my outspoken captors, every single one, was a clergyman’s son… the apple of the bishop’s eye being by far the most advanced and knowledgeable about the devil’s flamboyant lexicon. In due course, he, too, became a clergyman…

It didn’t matter where I was, people, being the helpful souls they are, sensed my situation… and wished to autograph it with a unique imprecation, malediction. One day, in about 1967, I attended a packed poetry reading given by Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982). It was standing-room only; I know. I was standing.

Rexroth, with Satan’s own radar, read a poem, perhaps it was about innocence, then announced he would, dowser-like, find the most innocent boy in the crowd. As he searched, he made his way closer to… me. And then, to my acute embarrassment, he announced he had found him… and that he was…. me. Thereupon he planted a fervent wake-the-dead kiss on me. I sank to the very earth, red, abashed, humiliated… most of all for the unwelcome designation that came with the buss: the most innocent boy on campus. Worst of all, it may have been true…

And, if so, it stayed true, for I was on the determined path to fame and fortune, which had not so much been prophesied as promised me… and I meant to have them, all of them, just as fast as possible….

It was then I discovered Nick and Nora Charles. Quick! Do you know who they are? Your parents could tell you. They were the utterly attractive couple invented by Dashiell Hammett (1894-1961) the crime writer and brought so memorably to life by William Powell and Myrna Loy in a series of 14 “Thin Man” films from 1936-1941. They were what ever boy wanted who was sure life was what was happening wherever he wasn’t… and he yearned to go to that place at once, no questions asked, full speed ahead. As a result, I didn’t merely watch… I scrutinized Nick and Nora and every aspect of their wonderful lives.

This included the way they dressed, how they made their martinis…. and how they comported themselves when they’d each had one too many (crucial for a boy who had never tasted alcohol at all)… and of course just who was included amongst their extensive acquaintance. Why, they knew everyone on both coasts, governors, mayors, congressmen, thieves, murderers, marauders of every kind. And, of course, a small army of the “little people” who keep big cities going 24 hours a day and who see everything and everyone.

I learned a lot from just how Nick and Nora (who was always quick to follow Nick’s fancy footwork) treated these folks: always with courtesy, good humor, and no “side” whatsoever. It was an eye-opening revelation; you could be a convicted felon and yet be treated, by respectable folk, like the human being you were. I saw the same truth at work when in “Gone With The Wind” Melanie Wilkes met Belle Watling when Belle dropped off a pocketful of gold for Atlanta’s desperately needy hospital. Miz. Wilkes said she was proud to be under an obligation to Miz. Watling… This, I learned for good, was what a real lady would say.

And thus, firmly convinced that each person I encountered, no matter how black their history or damning their circumstances, deserved my politeness, my empathy, my kindness, I embarked on Life 101 and began to collect an astonishing grab-bag of people from the gutter up. One day one of the most troubled of these, a young man whose life, at just 22 or so, so, resembled nothing so much as the essence of chaos, confusion, mayhem and pain, said that he respected me because I treated him the same way I treated everyone else, not like a petty criminal with a rap-sheet as long as my arm. It was one of the most profound compliments I have ever received. Such people called me “Dr. Jeffrey” and said that in the certainties of my life they found a refuge, no matter how limited, for the uncertainties of their own. And, of course, the “helps” (as Queen Victoria called them) helped, too; the food, the clothes I (the least fashionable of men) no longer needed, the few bucks that cost me so little to give… all these were thankfully received. Most of the time, it was just the thought that counted and the unjudging ear.

But just the other day, the potential hazards of my behavior was borne home to me when I received a phone call from the bank that someone had just tried to cash one of my checks, only to discover just how well known I am, since the teller knew (as she would) that the signature was not mine. The miscreant fled… in unnecessary trouble for just sixty dollars. I probably would have given it to him… after all I know he has a young child.

My valued bank officer Helen read me the riot act. How could I have let him in, into my house of all houses… and left my checks out? How could I explain… she would only say, and rightly so, that I might have been killed. But she knows nothing of writers and their needs; hers was the advice of common-sense and bankers. I took the dressing down like a boy of 20, not a respected man of 64. Then later that day I called the lady and thanked her for looking out for me, grateful for her concern and even the sharp words delivered with her Irish up. You see, I have someone, and maybe many such, to watch over me… while the thief I befriended faces misdemeanor charges and perhaps the dawning recognition of the worst that’s yet to come…. without anyone to watch over him.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

‘You know you want me!’ Crucial job-finding strategies for the unemployed and particularly for new graduates trying to enter the world of work.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. If you’re like millions of people worldwide, you’re engaged in the often frustrating, discouraging and disheartening hunt for a job. I’m here to help, especially if you’ve just graduated from college and you’re trying like the dickens to grab that first job.

The music I’ve selected to accompany this article is perfect for the state of mind you need now and must maintain throughout the entire job-hunting process. The tune is “You know you want me! (Calle Ocho) ” by rapper Pitbull, recorded in 2009. You’ll find it in any search engine. When you do, play it a couple of times. And I mean play it! And dance it!

This high energy song has just the right lyric: “You know you want me!” Because isn’t that what the entire process is about: getting the all-important employer to say these magic words to you… so that you can reciprocate the favor by saying “You know I want you!”, the mutual “I do’s” commencing the perfect relationship.

Oh, just one thing: don’t even dream of going to any job interview dressed like Pitbull and his video friends. Dressed like that, they’d never get a real job…

1) Looking for a job is currently your job. Behave accordingly.

Right now, you think you’re unemployed. But you’re wrong. You have a job; it’s looking for paid employment. You must arrange your day exactly as you would any regular work day.

Before you go to bed (at a reasonable time, too) arrange what you’ll need for tomorrow. This includes knowing precisely what potential employers you’ll approach and ensuring you have everything you need to do so (phone numbers?)

Also, lay out the clothes you intend to wear, right down to that eye-catching rep tie. That’s right, dress for success. You are what you wear.

Too many job seekers allow themselves the luxury of looking like an unmade bed as they look for paid employment. They’re unbathed… undressed… and hence unsuccessful. But this is hardly surprising. Yo! Get some self-respect and dress for business… the way your successful competitors are doing and which you most probably are not.

2) Go out, come in, start your day.

Just because you’re not currently engaged in remunerative employment certainly does not mean you jettison all your good habits. Remember, looking for a job currently is your job. Thus, after you’ve finished the usual morning tasks (including donning appropriate threads), leave your abode for your “office”.

Go out the door. Close the door. Open the door, then march to your desk, ready, willing and able to get started. You might think this exercise foolish and unnecessary, but it’s not. With it, you are signaling your brain that you are in the “work zone”. This means complete and total focus on the job hunt; no long gossipy conversations with your buddies; no old films either, or “just a few” video games.

When you are at the place you have dubbed your office, you engage only in professional, work-related activities.

This is a must.

3) Set-up your computer so you’re ready to engage.

You need a file containing complete details of the people and organizations you’re contacting. This includes name, title, street address, city, state/province, zip/postal code. Also, phone number, fax, email address, etc.. And, importantly, notes on your contacts. With this information readily available, you immediately enter the ranks of the most organized and efficient job seekers.

4) Write and keep your resume updated; ready to be emailed.

The purpose of a resume is not to talk about yourself (though it may seem so) but to show your prospective employer just what you can do for him… based on what you have done for others. This means concentrating on results, results, demonstrated results. This puts the focus of your resume where it needs to be: on what the employer wants, not on you.

But, you say, I’ve just graduated from college, what kinds of demonstrated results have I had?

At this moment, you may suddenly feel that the degree you worked so hard to get (and you an honors graduate, too) isn’t worth the paper it’s engraved on. Wrong again. It was, is, and always will be precious, important third-person validation. You were awarded this degree because of proven results.

For openers, can you write a clear, clean, understandable English sentence, one that makes your meaning pellucid? Good. You’re ahead of 90% of college graduates. Tell your prospective employer, because in moments of desperation and exasperation he’s been known to utter some abrasive home truths on the communications errors his current employees are making, embarrassing him and the company while perplexing and irritating customers. Show him you’re different.

Do you have exemplary habits? Do you make commitments and keep commitments? Or do you say one thing, and do something quite different? Your new employer is quite qualified to show you what he wants from you; but now he wants reassurance that you’re worth the time and trouble. Got good habits? Then flaunt them. Remember, “You know you want these…”

5) Treat the “little people” you encounter with respect. Remember, they know more about the organizations you are contacting than you do.

One way you can get a leg up on your job-seeking competitors is by showing you respect the so-called “little people,” secretaries, executive assistants, go-fers, young people on internships, etc. ALL leaders must have know how to work with such folks, because they (and not just the CEO) are the essential elements of the equation.

When you talk to these people on the telephone, sit up, take a deep breath, put a smile in your voice. If they use their first name (“Hello, this is Mr. Goody’s secretary Mary”), then you do the same thing. Remember, Mary has access to the people you want to connect with. Be pleasant, upbeat, friendly… turn her into your advocate.

The same applies when you arrive for interviews. Be at least 15 minutes early. Bring extra copies of your resume, work samples where appropriate, copies of letters of recommendation , extra business cards, etc. Put a smile on your face, even though you may be nervous and anxious. While waiting read the company’s brochure. And you’ll really make a good impression if you print the company’s website and underline the areas where you could make a constructive difference. Now that’s being “with it”…

It’s time for carpe diem. At the end of today, 24 hours of your life will be used up, gone forever; that’s true for all of us. The real question is whether you’ll be ahead or behind at day’s end. For the result you want, when you see your prospective employer (or talk with her on the phone), say “Hello, I’m here to help you ma’am; I hope you’ll give me the opportunity!” That said, you know they’ll want you. How could they not?

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

‘My Day’ with Eleanor Roosevelt, my father’s unforgettable visit with the most important woman of the 20th century.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: Eleanor Roosevelt was, at once, one of the most admired and one of the most reviled women of the twentieth century. You either loved her or you hated her. That’s what happens when you set out to improve the world… and do. A lot of people aren’t going to like it…

That’s why, when I went in search of music for this article, I knew it might be tricky finding just the right sound. But it wasn’t. A friend recommended Anastacia’s tune “Paid My Dues” (released 2001). You’ll find it in any search engine.

First listen for the beat; then listen for the lyrics.

“You can say what you want about me Wanna do what you want to me But you can not stop me.”

This was very much the case with Mrs. Roosevelt. And she had unquestionably paid her dues…

How the subject came up.

Most every Saturday I spend some quality time with my now 86 year old father. He’s in California, I’m in Massachusetts so our conversations are on the telephone. I’ve been urging him to get a webcam so we can benefit from the visual, but he keeps telling me that would be too hard. He’s wrong, but obstinate; for now we adhere to the phone.

Our conversations cover any aspect or subject in the lives of two active men, his and mine. Some are profoundly serious, others comical, hilarious as jokes from long ago are trotted out to be reprised and laughed at again. At the end of these conversations, we both feel good; at least I do.

A few months ago in the middle of one such conversation, he casually said, “Did I ever tell you about my visit with Eleanor Roosevelt?” Then the bombshell. “It was the most important day of my life.”

I was staggered on two accounts, first that I had never heard of this matter before and second that he regarded the visit so importantly. Of course, I couldn’t wait to hear the details…

It was the summer of 1944.

By the summer of 1944, it was clear the Axis powers had lost the war, but it was not quite clear that the Allies had won it. That’s why the total focus needed to deliver victory had to be maintained. And so every aspect of life at that time was touched by the war. It was total war, totally consuming.

My father was a candidate for the navy’s officer training program. However, when taking the physical it was discovered that he had a heart murmur. He was ordered to go to the navy hospital in San Diego for further tests. Thus, he found himself billeted in the Fine Arts Gallery and History Museum, Balboa Park. This was a facility for 1,200 patients, space very much at a premium.

One day a message was circulated by the commander that Mrs. Roosevelt would be paying an official visit shortly. He ordered all able bodied and ambulatory personnel to attend. He, of course, wanted to make the best possible impression on the President’s wife and key advisor. But some of the “boys” in hospital were determined they wouldn’t help. Their remarks were often rude, vulgar, immature; often directed at a woman who, it was true, was plain to a degree and who was thus made the butt of many crude, ungracious comments.

Many of these comments criticized her for not staying at home in the White House to serve tea and cookies to visiting dignitaries. These reflected the views of their fathers who were outspoken about the woman who did too much gadding about, interfering in other people’s business.

My father felt differently. He admired her “pluck” as he called it and was looking forward to seeing this world figure and hearing what she had to say.

When my father arrived in the Spreckles Organ Pavilion Mrs. Roosevelt, dressed in uniform, was already on stage. Right on time she started the program, greeted the audience and took questions from those nearest the stage. In an instant the crude comments and insults of just moments before stopped. There was that about the lady that turned ruffians into rapt listeners and gentlemen. You didn’t know this though until you were with her. Then you knew it, for life; it was her secret and it came in very helpful in the demanding life she fashioned for herself. She knew how to put people at ease and make friends.

After a time and as it was one of the picture-perfect San Diego days, she suggested to her hosts that they sit in the shade under the trees. Most of the audience left at that point, having, as they saw it, done their duty. But my father knew that this was the chance of a lifetime to be in the presence of History and learn. He followed Mrs. Roosevelt outside where the conversation was warm, personable, like family.

She knew two important things about the “boys” surrounding her. She knew they were far away from home and lonely, and she knew they were not the best of correspondents. She also knew that their families missed them so and worried. She knew she could make a difference… and where she could, she would.

Thus, as she talked to the young men, she took down, with a gold pencil, their names and addresses and promised to send word to their parents. She looked you in the eye, my father recalled, when asking for the details… and no one at that moment saw a plain woman; instead they felt the radiance of her personality and her humanity. She was a good, caring soul… and they all knew it.

I’d like to tell you that my father gave Mrs. Roosevelt his particular details, including the name and address of his parents; I’d like to tell you that he had framed her letter to his mother, my grandmother, and that he was giving it to me, because he knew I would take good care of it. But I can’t…

Instead he shyly watched as others, one by one, gave the information she requested…. until at last the aides who guarded her schedule (and her strength) let it be known it was time to move on. The farewells were brief, friendly, warm handshakes… and that smile instantly recognizable to a world which admired and counted on her.

At that moment my father kicked himself for not giving Mrs. Roosevelt his particulars since, as good as her word, she did write astonished parents, who instantly wrote their offspring and told all the neighbors and every one of their startled relations.

My father was chagrined but he made the best of it. He became a regular reader of Mrs. Roosevelt’s six-day-a-week syndicated newspaper column “My Day”. Written from 1935 to 1962, it is still eminently readable today. He also made the pilgrimage to Vall-Kill (as I later did), the only home she ever owned and the only home of any First Lady to become a National Historic Site.

It was at Vall-Kill she said, “The greatest thing I have learned is how good it is to come home again.” This is why my sprawling Saturday conversations with my father will continue, for these are the conversations of home, and we each have more to reveal to each other…

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

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‘Our lives, our fortunes, & our sacred Honor’. Rediscovering William Whipple, New Hampshire patriot, signer of the Declaration of Independence.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I have found the perfect music to accompany this article. It is called “Washington’s March”. It is an elegant piece of 18th century music, balanced, refined, symmetrical, as suitable for a drawing room as for an afternoon’s review of the troops.

It reminds us that George Washington and all his officers were gentlemen born and bred, citizens of substance who undertook the pronounced hazard of revolution because that was the only way open to “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” They risked everything…

You can find this tune in any search engine. It appears as part of a splendid collection entitled “Music of the American Revolution: The Birth of Liberty.” Sadly the composer of “Washington’s March” is unknown. He deserves recognition, too…

Steps to glory… or the gallows.

It is important to remember one thing about history: at the time it is actually occurring only God Himself knows the outcome. No person present can do anything more than speculate on what may happen. You must remember this, for the people you encounter in this article were each and every one making the most bold, audacious and rash decision of their lives when, on August 2, 1776 most of the delegates to the Second Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia in the Pennsylvania State House (now Independence Hall), signed the Declaration of Independence. William Whipple, one of the three representatives from New Hampshire, signed that day. We can imagine the scene…

Every man present, as his turn came to sign, would have had, must have had a moment of the utmost sobriety, even dread. He would have thought of the terrible risk he was taking to bring forth the new nation. His mind would have touched on the people he loved…. the people who loved and trusted him. As he moved up in the queue he could so clearly see the beloved aspects of his life, each and every one of them, now with his own signature in the most perilous danger.

But though there had to be profound reflections and profound anxiety, there was in that place, on that date, emanating from each man present and all the citizens there represented, a deep certainty that what they were doing was profoundly right, proper and necessary…. and as they took pen in hand, they wrote their names, if not so grandiloquently as John Hancock, yet with the same ringing belief…

They did this for liberty! For freedom! For the chance of some happiness in the shortness of life. And, most of all, to create a nation which would provide a living model, where the good of all would always be the goal, not the good of a few. They stood for a new way of governing men and arranging their affairs… they stood for a nation they insisted be great!

Thus did William Whipple, in sober reflection and invoking God’s will be done, sign the most important document in the short history of mankind, and, thus committed, did he resolve to strive, to turn brilliant rhetoric into vital reality.

About William Whipple, Jr., born January 14, 1730.

Whipple was born in Kittery, Maine, now famous for its many factory-outlet stores. He went to the sea, like so many Mainers, having studied in the common school the essentials necessary to become a merchant. He became a Ship’s Master by the age of twenty-three, and in 1759 moved to Portsmouth, New Hampshire where he established a merchant partnership with his brother. In either 1770 or 1771 (the record is unclear) he married his first cousin Katherine Moffat; they must have been in love, and adamant, for such matches between those so closely related were not recommended. But, of course, without documentation, we can only speculate and may thereby deduce the wrong conclusion.

The people’s choice.

In 1775 Whipple, a well-established businessman of 45, was elected to represent his town at the Provincial Congress. In 1776 New Hampshire dissolved the Royal government and reorganized with a House of Representatives and an Executive Council. Whipple became a Council member, and a member of the Committee of Safety, and was elected to the Continental Congress, serving through 1779. There he was one of a group of men who worked hard, staying out of sight, achieving results, letting others take the credit. He was chairman of the marine, foreign relations and quartermaster committees and served on the committee which gathered intelligence on the British. Such a committee at such a time goes only to the most trusted of men.

While still in Congress, Whipple was appointed one of two brigadiers general; John Stark got the other appointment. The appointment came at a time of the utmost danger. The Americans had evacuated vital Fort Ticonderoga, the British having then taken it over. From this key strategic position, General “Gentleman Johnny” Burgoyne meant to wreck havoc. General Whipple meant to ensure he didn’t.

Burgoyne was everything Whipple was not: a braggart, popinjay, condescending man who believed the Americans were there for one reason and one reason only: to provide him a step ladder to wealth, deference, renown. Whipple just got on with the job of defeating the man who never dreamt his defeat was possible. The result was the pivotal Battle of Saratoga, where the Americans not only defeated Burgoyne (thereby motivating France and Spain to enter the war on the side of the insurgents) but ended the Gentleman’s vainglorious career. He never had another military command; Whipple did. Appropriately, Whipple was accorded the honor of being one of the two American representatives assigned to working out the terms of capitulation. A victorious Burgoyne would have been contemptuous and insulting on such an occasion. Whipple handled the situation quite differently, although all knew how important the victory just obtained.

One more anecdote about Whipple at this time must be told. Like many officers Whipple had slaves; one in particular, named Prince, went to the war with his master. Before an engagement expected to be difficult, Whipple freed him upon Prince saying that he could only fight for freedom if he himself were free. Whipple felt the full force of this unanswerable argument, and made Prince a free man on the spot.

Whipple’s career both during and after the Revolution flourished, despite the fact that his health was uncertain, his heart weak. It because of this heart that he died. As Associate Justice of the Superior Court of New Hampshire he was required to ride circuit. One day while doing so, he fainted and fell from his horse to his death. Right up to the last moment of life, he worked for the good of the people, quietly, resolutely, obscurely, dying November 28, 1785.

Long overdue.

When it came for his tombstone to be made, his reserve served him poorly. Not even the fact that he had signed the great Declaration was mentioned. Now at last, for him and for 11 other signers, belated recognition has come. This year small bronze plaques will be added to their tombs. It’s little enough and that overdue, for those who gave so much to create and maintain our Great Republic, now imperiled by lesser folk who not only do not know Whipple’s work and legacy, but are doing everything they can to undo it.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

The luckiest man in America, historian David McCullough. God shed His grace on thee.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. To get the most from this article, go to any search engine and find the words and music to “America the Beautiful”. It is not the official song of the United States; that honor goes to Francis Scott Keyes’ “The Star-Spangled Banner” (written in 1814) . But it is America’s hymn, a paean to the land and its people, written by Katharine Lee Bates in 1895; the music composed in 1910 by church organist and choirmaster Samuel A. Ward. Play it now as this story, an American story, unfolds.

This morning on Boston’s Beacon Hill, the most historic district of America’s most historic city, David McCullough will awake betimes. He will not linger in bed. What he has to do is too important, too exciting, and his job not really work at all, but a great privilege… Thus he is ready at first light to pick up the story which he with great reluctance and regret left just a few hours before.

This is David McCullough… the luckiest man in America… for he has the high and the glorious task to reveal America and the stories of Americans to ourselves and posterity.

He has the always happy task of digging deep into the rich soil of our collective journey… and, with a deft touch, and the often lyric beauty of his words, make clear to the nation the nation’s awe and majesty.

For no one knows better than David McCullough, the awe and majesty of this land, this people, and our journey of destiny. It is a tale of the greatest importance… ready to come alive in the words and vision of a master.

And, whilst most of the nation he celebrates is still at rest, David McCullough sits down at an old, much loved, much worn Royal manual typewriter (no computer for him). He is ready… and we who know the importance of his work are impatient for him to be about it….

Born July 7, 1933.

David McCullough was born in Pittsburgh of Scotch-Irish descent. He had the good sense to select just the right parents; Christian Hax and Ruth McCullough. They provided the wherewithal for what McCullough calls his “marvelous” childhood. He was a bright, active boy, with a wide range of interests, including a love affair with books and education that still engages, in the man, what so captivated the boy so many years ago.

Iin 1951, McCullough began taking classes at Yale University. One major reason for this choice what that the faculty contained such literary luminaries as John O’Hara, John Hersey, Robert Penn Warren, Brendan Gill, and best of all novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder. An aspiring writer, which McCullough now was, could hardly have imagined a better place to be.

McCullough loved Yale… and Yale loved him. He lunched from time to time with Pulitzer-prize winning Wilder, was elected to Skull and Bones, America’s second most famous club (Harvard’s Porcellian was first)… and began to understand the methods and critical importance of painstaking research. He graduated with honors in English literature (1955).

His first job out of Yale was at “Sports Illustrated”; he was a trainee; later he was hired by the United States Information Agency, to be an editor and writer in Washington, D.C. This was followed by a stint at “American Heritage” magazine. But to become the writer he wished to be, he first needed what every writer must have: independence, a clean break from the standard world of work. He needed a room of his own and the freedom to be himself. Here he was lucky again.

He was by now married to the woman he loved, Rosalee. She encouraged him to make the break to independence, although it would mean, with the sporadic and uncertain remuneration of writers, there would be days both meager and precarious. Nonetheless, she encouraged him.

And so he became David McCullough, writer, independent man.

Then more luck…. a subject worthy of the (unexpected) historian he was in process of becoming. It was a great subject… a tragic subject… a subject of titanic mayhem and everyday heroes. It was the Johnstown, Pennsylvania flood of 1889. And in due course (1968), it became the first of his many books. Best of all, this cataclysm and its aftermath showed McCullough where his genius lay… in the great stories of America, its peoples, its hardships and exaltations… in its pulsating energies and unimaginable strengths… In telling these stories he had found himself… and he had found us, the seething core of a restless nation. He had come home. And though he may not have known it just yet he had found, lucky again, his life’s work.

“The Great Bridge”, his tale of the building of the Brooklyn Bridge, followed in 1972. It was what every historian wants to hear, “definitive”. Then, five years later, “The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal”, winner of the National Book Award for history. It was all good, it was all well written and well regarded, but he had not quite found his footing, his true voice. This only came when he had his epiphany: that “history is the story of people”. Now he had everything he needed to begin his important work, telling Americans, not merely about history, but about ourselves.

“Mornings on Horseback”, his important book on 17 years in the life of Theodore Roosevelt, followed in 1981, to a shower of accolades and prizes. Then, with the publication of his biography of America’s 33rd president Harry Truman (1993) he transcended his already substantial role, to become the historian who not only wrote history, but influenced, even made it. President Bill Clinton carried this book with him and extolled, in his voluble fashion, its virtues. They were considerable, not least revealing to a surprised America the grit and sinew of a one-time haberdasher from Independence, Missouri who became the unlikely savior of Europe, drawing an ineradicable line in the sand against the spread of Communism.

McCullough then did the same to America’s much misunderstood and reviled second president John Adams, in his effusively praised 2001 biography. It was no wonder McCullough broke down and sobbed when he finished this book. Such men as Adams are few and far between and McCullough had come to love Adams not merely as subject of a book, but as a true friend. There was another shower of glittering rewards, as McCullough became the most read, the most admired, and the most rewarded historian ever, now the highest master in the ancient mysteries of his craft. He was persona gratissima to every president. No wonder. Each knew he would, in due course, need a McCullough of his own to cement his place in history and secure his own legacy. But would any such master even then exist? On such topics presidents fret and dwell in dead of night…

Now David McCullough has released a new book, “The Greater Journey: Americans in Paris,” (May, 2011).

It is the story of Americans in exile in Paris, becoming in short order people who had two loves. As the flamboyant black American Josephine Baker (1906-1975) said “J’ai deux amours. Mon pais et Paris.” She’s just the kind of subject David McCullough likes… gritty, determined, shrewd, clever, vehement to be allowed to live larger than life, an unabashed, discriminated against still loving America American. Finding such, telling such, disseminating such is what makes McCullough tick. “Oh Beautiful for glory-tale,” thy tale teller is David McCullough… long may it be so.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is , where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

‘Don’t break the heart that loves you….’ Lance Armstrong fights doping charges by ’60 Minutes’… but this time they have teeth.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. There was that quavery, achy-breaky tone in her voice that made you believe Connie Francis’ world was crumbling… that respect, trust, love were gone and her heart was broken, all because one lover was true and the other… wasn’t.

The name of one of these songs was “Don’t Break the Heart that Loves You”. (1962). You’ll find it in any search engine. Listen to it once or twice… before you read here of the real-life tempests and troubles of a man who’s breaking our hearts right now… and it hurts.

Lance Armstrong, the very essence of grit and determination.

Lance Armstrong is as American a story as you’ll ever find.

He was born September 18, 1971 at Methodist Hospital in Oak Cliff, Texas, the southern sector of Dallas. His mother Linda Mooneyham was a secretary; his father Eddie Gunderson worked for “The Dallas Morning News”, as a route manager. He was named after Lance Rentzel, Dallas Cowboys wide receiver. His home life was chaotic; his mother married and divorced three times… and so poisoned are the confused relationships that Armstrong doesn’t speak to his father and has been caustic about Terry Keith Armstrong, the man his mother married and who adopted him.

In short, like millions of his countrymen, there was mayhem at home, not love. And Lance Armstrong wanted love… Sports were the way to get it… escape, recognition, acceptance… and above all love.

Armstrong got active in sports for the first time when, aged 12, he finished fourth in Texas state 1,500-meter freestyle. But when he saw a poster for a junior triathlon he ditched swimming. It was a good move. In 1987-1988, Armstrong was the number one ranked triathlete in the 19-and-under group. It was now that people began, with seriousness, to look at Lance… and the magnificent body God gave him. It was the vehicle to move out… to move on… to move up…

Armstrong’s point total for 1987 as an amateur was better than the five professionals ranked that year. At 16, A:rmstrong became a professional triathlete and became national sprint-course triathlon champion in 1989 and 1990 at 18 and 19, respectively.

A boy and his bike.

Every American boy wants a bike…a bike he can use to get away from mamma… and taste freedom… a bike he can pound, dance wheelies, maneuver with show-off arrogance… and no hands. Yeah, every boy needs a bike. Lance Armstrong did, too. In short order he and his bike had fused; Lance needed his bike… and his bike needed him. They were an unbeatable team, soaring, energized… true grit, the centaur of the course, a phenomenon that made, even in these early days, the crowd scream his name as he whirled by, the ultimate manifestation of what every boy with a bike could feel and imagine…

It became supremely clear that Lance’s greatest talent was for bicycle racing after he won the U.S. amateur championship in 1991. Representing the United States, he finished 14th in the 1992 Summer Olympics. And now the money came; it was the folks at Motorola who got there first. They wanted what the whirligig of Armstrong could deliver… speed, grace, excitement, and the thrill of escape from everyday woes and oppressions.

In 1993, Armstrong won 10 one-day events and races. He stunned the cycling world when at age 21, he became one of the youngest riders to ever win the UCI Road World Championship, held in pouring rain in Norway…. and so it went, dazzling speed, even more dazzling endurance his to command and ours to exult. We loved this boy… and the smile he flashed us as he sped by… he was our Lance.

The big “C”.

And so it might have gone… more prizes, more victories, more fame, and the money that pours in such situations. But fate, wide-grinning fate, was not finished with Lance Armstrong, not by a long shot. On October 2, 1996, aged just 25, Armstrong was diagnosed as having developed stage three testicular cancer. The cancer spread to his lungs, abdomen and brain. On that first visit to a urologist in Austin, Texas for his cancer symptoms, he was coughing up blood and had a large, painful testicular tumor. Immediate surgery and chemotherapy were required to save a life which had now taken a very painful turn.

But here is where the story of Lance Armstrong morphs into something greater, more compelling, and infinitely more important. For now, to the admiration of all, he becomes the very embodiment of American grit and determination, a man of gallantry and fortitude, a hero for our times. And so Lance Armstrong showed the nation and the world what real courage was all about.

He got back on his bike and turned it into a symbol of hope. And we loved him, if possible, even more… for he carried on his handlebars the best of us…

Tour de France

Before his cancer treatment began, Armstrong had already won two Tour de France stages. Now, a cancer survivor, he wanted to show the world not so much what he could to… but what they could do for themselves if they would never quit, never waver, never doubt, never throw in the towel or pity themselves. Lance was never about pity. He was about being the best you could be whatever your affliction. And the grueling stages of the Tours of France,(which he won 18 times) became a manifesto to the world about rising above and winning the great game of life, whatever stood in your way.

Oh, had it all just ended there… on such a note of bliss and transcendence; even his bitterest foe might wish as much.

But it did not, has not ended there… wide-grinning fate has seen to that.

Throughout Armstrong’s career, there have been charges he achieved his great feats solely or in large measure because of performance-enhancing drugs. These are charges he has adamantly, unequivocally denied, pointing to his willingness to take hundreds of drug tests. But the charges have persisted over time, gaining credibility and adherents. Now the most substantial of these charges has been made on CBS’ respected “Sixty Minutes” program (May 20, 2011) by former U.S. cycling professional Tyler Hamilton.

The cornerstone of Armstrong’s defense against previous charges was that he had never tested positive during his career. But this was flatly contradicted by his former U.S. Postal team-mate Hamilton on “Sixty Minutes”. “I know he’s had a positive test before,” Hamilton said. “For EPO (at the) Tour of Switzerland, 2001.” Asked by the CBS reporter Scott Pelley how this alleged positive test had not been made public and no action taken, Hamilton said “People took care of it.”

Armstrong through his attorney instantly answered this and the other charges, and immediately threatened to sue. But CBS is holding its ground, since they have credibility to protect too. Both sides know the seriousness of this matter… a fight perhaps to the death.

As for Lance’s fans; they are fewer now, quieter, reflective.They are hurting bad, afflicted, unhappy. They want their boy back, riding like the wind past them, arrayed with dazzling smile, victory in his pocket. We loved that boy and everything about him… he was ours. Now he’s slipping away…

Connie Francis knew everything about that, about the misery, the longing, the brutal unhappiness and regret when love goes bad. “Don’t break this heart of mine…Don’t break this heart that loves you so…”

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates

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Write to be read. What you need to know and do to turn every word you write into the word that gets results.

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Allow me to introduce myself. I am a writing machine. My first article was published when I was 5 years old, 59 years ago; I’ve been a writing machine ever since. I’ve made a fortune knowing how to manipulate the incredible English language.

Sadly, I am in the minority. Having taught writing courses at many institutions of higher learning, including Harvard, I long ago came to the conclusion that most people would rather get a root canal than struggle with the dicey business of writing so people will read, understand and respond to what they write. Needless to say this costs them big bucks, since if you cannot use your own language, the lingua franca of the world,as the essential tool it is for business and life success, you lose much of the value of that language. And that is a crying shame.

I want to help you out, and I’ve therefore created the list below of key points which when mastered dramatically improve the way you write and the results you get.

1) Just because you’re a native English speaker doesn’t know you know anything about writing our complicated, sophisticated, absolutely splendid language. Speaking and writing are two separate, though related, things, and must be seen as such.

Start from the proposition that you are, shall we say, “challenged” by writing in English. There are many reasons why this could occur: you weren’t properly taught. Although teachers unions may strongly disagree, the fact is most teachers are not trained to write words that get results. Thus, they are unable to teach their students, who thereby start off their life-long relationship with writing the right words on the wrong foot. What’s more, most never manage to overcome this poor start; instead of trying to overcome the problem, they find ways to minimize or even avoid writing altogether. That is surely what throwing the baby out with the bath water means.

2) Admit you have a problem that’s not going to get better on its own.

As a business writer for my entire (now long in the tooth) adult life, one of the saddest things I see is respected business leaders not only unable to write the Queen’s English proficiently but proud of themselves because they mangle it in both its spoken and written manifestations. Yes, proud of themselves… each embarrassing misusage and mistake proving their warped satisfaction that they are therefore “people of the people”, thereby immune from proper usage. Just to state this proposition is to prove what a zany idea that is… yet it is common.

3) Force yourself to write more and better.

Like so many things in life, the more you write, the better you’ll get. Most business people are poor writers because, being VIPs, they delegate such “minor” tasks to others. What seems at first glance to be something rational and efficient, upon second glance proves to be nothing more than a means to slough off something you strongly dislike. Now hear this: even if you are the Chief Poobah of the world, indeed because you are that self-same Poobah, you need the ability to write the right words to get the results you must have to expand your clientele and business altogether.

This means no longer delegating all writing projects which ordinarily accrue to people of your dignity and position, but accepting at least some of them, not least to give yourself necessary practice… with the clear understanding that practice does most assuredly make perfect.

4) Less is always more.

Brevity, it is said on the highest authority, is the soul of wit. It’s also the key to ensuring that what you write will be carefully read and easily understood.

Poor writers are prolix writers; they write too much, edit too little, and manage to kill any fruitful results that might come by burying the objective in verbosity thereby suffocating the writing and ensuring its failure.

When you sit down to write any document whatsoever, your objective, 100% of the time, is to

state what you aim to achieve

Then, succinctly, marshal your arguments, with the preeminent and clear focus on what the recipient gets from you by taking the promptest possible action.

This means that if you want results, your invariable focus must be on the “you” you are writing to; getting this person’s attention, interest, then action is what all good business writing is about… such writing may never win the Nobel Prize for Literature… but who cares? It can make you rich.

5) Use numbers to structure what you write.

Good writers, particularly good writers in a hurry (are there any others?) use numbers to ensure readership and clarity. Thus,

“I have three reasons for contacting you today….”

“There are 6 major reasons why you must respond today….”

“Here are the 5 reasons you’ll want to take advantage of this offer now….”

Get the picture? Numbering provides structure, and it makes both writing and reading of what you write easier. Remember, you do not need to win prizes for your prose; it need only be good enough to get the results you desire.

6) Always write for the “you” receiving your writing.

Good writers, and by that I mean fast, efficient, easy to read writers, know a secret which, until now, has been unknown by you: that English prose sings when you make it “you” centered, the you in question being the person you are addressing your words to.

All people are egotistically and I-centered. Don’t fight City Hall on this one; take advantage of this fact, to your substantial advantage. The words you write should always be about, for, directed at and done (whether explicitly or not) for “you”, the person you must never forget you are writing for.

7) Read your words aloud… and save your breath!

Want to know whether what you’ve written will achieve your purpose? Read it aloud to yourself. If you find yourself meandering through dense thickets of words and punishing verbosity, difficult “show off” words and elusive meaning and directions, you need re-write (as every Hollywood director knows).

Sentences should never be longer than you can comfortably read in a single breath, no fudging either.

Key points should be made, emphasized, stressed… but always in short sentences.

Your writing should have a cadence which reading aloud will demonstrate. The best writing is writing that moves you briskly through the subject at hand, without a single superfluous word.

Start today.

As you implement these steps and begin to see tangible results which will only improve, you will be glad, even blissful, that the bugaboo of being a poor writer is now gone… never to return.

What will fill its place is one result after another achieved by deft use of the written word you feared at the beginning of this article… and now rejoice as one of the absolutely essential tools for enhanced business success. And that’s a fact you can write home about!

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is ., where small and home-based businesses learn how to profit online. Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/associates