Of blueberries. They’re mine!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

We are just now in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts being fried by one of the worst heat waves in our long history. Mitigating factors are few and far between, and meteorologists are enjoying themselves digging for obscure facts that do nothing to reduce the debilitating heat. Only one thing helps in this climate, and that is… blueberries.

And so that is the subject of today’s reflections. And not a moment too soon, for today promises to be another scorcher.

Author’s Program Note. Before continuing, I want to remind you of a most appropriate tune that will provide just the right background for remarks. You’ve known this tune your entire life. It was recorded by many artists, perhaps most notably Louis Armstrong in 1949. Then Fats Domino, in the 1950s, recorded a rock n’ roll version. It is, of course, “Blueberry Hill”, and I suggest you go to any search engine and find your favorite rendition. If you’re alone (but only if you’re alone) belt out your favorite version. You’ll have fun doing it. But make sure the neighbors are not in ear shot. They will not understand.

My sentiments on blueberries.

I am a prodigious eater of blueberries. I don’t just eat them, I live for them. Why, the room in which I am writing you today was even painted in a delicious shade called “blueberry muffin”. At $3.99 a box at Montrose Spa (the nearest place for blueberries) but not always the best quality (Shaw’s Market in Porter Square takes the prize) I am a significant supporter of the entire blueberry industry. Indeed, I say (with pride) that during blueberry season I dispose of thousands of them, very few (I confess) shared with another. Which is why I want to share my special poem about blueberries with you. It is in the nature of a declaration and must be treated as such:

“They’re mine.”

Touch my blueberries at your risk; each one is mine and must for me be kept.

Of course you want a basket, then you want more but have them here you must not nor even dream.

For these berries each and every one are mine.

And don’t attempt to beg for more these berries are as I have politely said all mine and shoo you off I would if you should transgress.

A scene is small price for every berry on the hill.

And now I sense you are about to cry and beg for blues you cannot resist but these (I must insist) are mine.

And if you fail to find and pick (for fail you must) and forced to other hills and selfish folk the same will be… those berries, too, will be for me.


But that’s the way it must be for berries and I make two and have no need of thee, for three.

Some facts about blueberries.

Blueberries are flowering plants of the genus Vaccinium (a genus that also includes cranberries and bilberries). The berries themselves are blue and sometimes purple in hue and are perennial. Species in the section Cyanococcus are the most common fruits sold as “blueberries” and are mainly native to North America.

Blueberry flowers are bell-shaped, white, pale pink or red, sometimes tinged greenish. The fruit is a berry 5-16 millimeters (0.20-0.63 inch) in diameter with a flared crown at the end. They are pale greenish at first, then reddish-purple, and finally dark blue when ripe.

Blueberries have a sweet taste when mature, with variable acidity. Blueberry bushes typically bear fruit in the middle of the growing season; fruiting times are affected by local conditions such as altitude and latitude, so the height of the crop can vary from May to August.

Cultivated or wild bushes.

Blueberries may be cultivated, or they may be picked from semi-wild or wild bushes. In North America, the most common cultivated species is V. corymbosum, the Northern highbush blueberry.

So called “wild” (lowbush) blueberries, smaller than cultivated highbush ones, are prized for their intense color. The lowbush blueberry, V. angustifolium, is found from the Atlantic provinces westward to Quebec and southward to Michigan and West Virginia.

Blueberry connoisseurs may engage in heated exchanges on the merits of both varieties. I aver, indeed I insist, that the so-called wild version is not only the most beautiful variety but the most tasty, too. I came to this unshakable conclusion one afternoon when returning from Maine, arguably the capital of blueberry nation. The traffic moved so slowly I was able to stop at every roadside stand to taste, purely in the spirit of science, both varieties in ample measure… first sampling one, then the other, then back to the first, thereby avoiding any hint of prejudice. My verdict is final.

Where blueberries are grown.

Maine produces 25% of all lowbush blueberries in North America, easily making it the largest producer in the world. Its blueberry industry was propagated from native plants that occur naturally in the understory of its coastal forests. The Maine crop requires about 50,000 beehives for pollination, with most of the hives trucked in from other states for that purpose. The wild blueberry (my favorite as noted above) is Maine’s official fruit, and rightly so. Taciturn Mainers do not like to admit its superiority; for them, as for me, “they’re mine”.

It should be stated here (in the interests of fairness) that Michigan, not Maine, is the leader in highbush production. 32 percent of such blueberries are grown there; New Jersey, Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina also grow them in large numbers… but, as I told you, these (though they will always do in a pinch) lack the distinguishing characteristics prized by adamant purists like me.

Uses of blueberries.

Blueberries are sold fresh or processed as individually quick frozen fruit, puree, juice, or dried or infused berries which in turn may be used in a variety of consumer goods such as jams, jellies, blueberry pies, muffins, snack foods and cereals.

Blueberries have a diverse range of micronutrients, with notably high levels (relative to respective dietary reference intakes) of the essential dietary mineral manganese, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin K, and dietary fiber.

Especially in wild species, blueberries contain anthocyanins, other antioxidant pigments and various phytochemicals, which possibly have a role in reducing risks of some diseases, including inflammation and certain cancers. These facts, of course, bolster our affection but cannot account for our passion for this supreme fruit, enticing, seducing, secure not merely on our palate but in our hearts. For this we must turn to our musicians, our poets.

I give you “Blueberries” by Robert Frost (1874-1963). In this rattling poem, Frost, who so well knew the land and its bounties, described blueberries “as big as the end of your thumb, Real sky-blue and heavy, and ready to drum in the cavernous pail of the first one to come!” He made sure he was that first one, for he too knew the necessity of coming early and making sure “they’re mine”.

But we leave this colloquy with Fats Domino, who, rightly too, found his thrill on Blueberry Hill, where he, no doubt, made it clear to all comers, those blueberries, each and every one “are mine”.

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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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Of the nation’s heat wave and how we kept cool in years gone by. A story of high summer. July, 2011.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. When one is sweltering in the immensity of unbearable summer, one does (as you well know) what one can to cool off, and promptly, too. Music helps… especially if it’s as cool as Martha and the Vandellas and Cole Porter. They have provided me with the background sound of the day, the sound of this article.

In 1963 Martha and the Vandellas (known from 1967 to 1972 as Martha Reeves and the Vandellas) released an absolutely sizzling dance number entitled “(Love is like a) Heat Wave.” It was a jump-up sound then, urgent in its insistence that you get up and dance, whatever the thermometer. And all these years later, it hasn’t lost the zest that made this popular Motown group a pulse for the nation. It’s one of the reasons “Rolling Stone” in 2004 ranked Martha and the Vandellas #96 on their list of the 100 greatest artists of all time.

An entirely different — but equally cool — sound distinguished Cole Porter’s come-back musical “Kiss Me, Kate” based on Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. It came after a string of disappointments, which made America wonder whether this master of wit and sophistication had lost his touch. He had not… and it became the first musical to be given a Tony Award, in 1949. “Too Darn Hot” comes from this, Porter’s biggest hit and summarizes exactly how I feel about the terra caliente. You can easily find both songs in any search engine. Find them now… listen carefully… and of course do so in a very cool room. Otherwise, you may not be tempted to get up and dance…

Heat, more heat, no break in sight.

I checked the 5-day forecast today in the Greater Boston, Massachusetts area, though it only reinforced my pronounced sense of doom that we are in for it and no mistake. Today will reach an insufferable 94 degrees F. Tomorrow even worse and on Saturday but paltry “relief”. I plan to remain in the house, swathed by “cooler” air; be clear I do not say “cool”. I suffer from the completely characteristic belief of all true New Englanders that there are only a few unbearable summer days and that one falls far below one’s hardy Puritan ancestors if one gives way and “coddles” oneself with refrigerated air… when God’s own, good enough for grandpapa, should be good enough for me. I suffer accordingly and am derided by my air-conditioned friends, whom I publicly chide for their lack of grit and fortitude… and secretly envy and covet.

Summer at 4906 Woodward Ave. when we burnt and never worried.

These punishing days of discomfort, perspiration and self-pity go to my memory at once and return me to the searing days of a 1950s summer in Illinois, where humidity and high temperatures produced a keen desire for escape, to anywhere else at all. Even to one’s own backyard turned water park and entrepot for experiments in cooling off. My family with three children and young parents (but without air-conditioning) lived outside as much as possible, and had all the necessary accoutrements for comfortable surviving.

Liberally strewn about the yard, much lived in, never immaculate with carefully tended grass, were the symbols that made clear an active, kid-centered environment. There was a simple garden hose, turned into aqua-weapon with deadly effect… little brothers with attitude soon learned to peer around the corner of the house before advancing, since big brother prided himself on ever new, more exacting forays and gambits. When all else failed on a brutal summer’s day, the hose always worked, the water clear, frosty, unpolluted, never in plastic bottles with pompous names and pictures of snowy mountain tops.

Then came the Slip ‘n Slide.

Slip ‘n Slide is a toy manufactured by Wham-O, first introduced in 1961 after being invented by Cody Abramson. The toy is a long sheet of thin plastic, flanked lengthwise on one side by a heat-sealed tubular fold. The tube can be attached to any ordinary garden hose. Water runs through the tube and out small perforations, spraying into the sliding surface. The Slip ‘n Slide then becomes very slippery, enabling users to jump onto the plastic and slide the length of the sheet. June, for the record, is National Slip ‘n Slide month, but only by company fiat.

Slip ‘n Slide provided years of fun and also, no doubt, a plethora of plastic burns, scuffs of every kind and a body deeply red from one “watch me mom!” stunt after another. Years later both manufacturer and the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommended that only children use the toy because of back and neck injuries when teenagers and adults use it. Injuries occur because people heavier or taller than children might stop suddenly while diving onto the toy. Between 1971 and 1991, seven adults and one teenager reported injuries while using Slip ‘n Slide including neck injuries, bone fractures, quadriplegia, and paraplegia. No doubt we sustained bruises of various kinds… but the only member of the family to complain was Mrs. Whiskers the cat, who was often (and always hilariously) taken down the yellow plastic slide to howls of feline indignation and outrage. By contrast, Missy the beagle delighted in the hub-bub and spray. On one memorable day when an unknowing neighbor sought to remove “that dog” from the Slip ‘n Slide, my 4-year old brother put her firmly in her place: “Is no dawg,” he pointed out, “is Missy”, an unanswerable line that makes me laugh to this day.

One necessary kid device after another.

This yard extensive with woods where wild animals were still to be seen, before the unceasing growth of this suburban sprawl drove them away, this yard featured amusements both handmade and manmade. There was the much-used remains of a real fort my father (talented with his slender hands), built for us. It was a minor work of art, soon demolished by older jealous boys with less nimble fathers. We built another, more practical, always well stocked in buried storage bins with the hard crabapples we knew so well to throw and sting. Illinois, remember, prides itself on its handy young men, and we were surely such.

And so it went, our yard an open-to-the-sky toy box… here featuring the shoebox lifted by a stick, pulled by a string the better to catch the careless robin; we did one day… and, having succeeded in our task… promptly let it go again. We were not a family that killed for fun, sport, or pleasure… and I am proud of that.

In due course, my father had his way and constructed one of the large plastic pools where the water was six feet, or more. It instantly became the center of young, leisured Illinois, to the extent that when the municipality built a brand- new facility, we refused to go… to my father’s chagrin, since he was one of the trustees who made that pool possible. Frankly, the raspberry and blackberry bushes that grew beside our pool, made ours seem desirably rustic and secluded. After all, what is summer moonlight for?

And still the unending heat beat down, but we were not done with our responses yet.

About this time, my grammie came, who always knew a thing or two about families and the need of parents (however young) for a respite. In her immaculate Oldsmobile she drove us to the Walgreen’s in the center of town, the only place to get the ardently desired and soon gone cherry phosphate or raspberry-lime rickey. I’d know their taste anywhere.

And then home, dinner and the last sacred rite of a sultry summer’s evening: running behind the DDT truck as it sprayed the neighborhood with poisons, the fleet of foot (myself in the lead) at the pipe, quaffed and quaffed some more. The dense chemical clouds, the whoops of joy and laughter didn’t lower the temperature one degree… but they raised our spirits… and thus exhilarated we moved out of the heat… towards the livable September temperatures which would liberate us all for another year.

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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

Atlanta, Georgia school cheating scandal. How a pencil eraser and mendacious educators shamed a great city and robbed its students.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. The great city of Atlanta and many other Georgia towns are, at this very moment, in the throws of the latest installment of their ongoing school cheating scandal. It’s a scandal that could take place in most any school district, but which is worst in Atlanta, a city that has well and truly lost its moral compass . Here no one, whatever their high titles and educational degrees and licenses, is responsible for anything.

And so I have selected for the music to accompany this article, Chaka Khan’s tune “Ain’t Nobody” (released 1983)… because in Atlanta ain’t nobody educatin’, ain’t nobody learnin’, ain’t nobody leadin’, ain’t nobody truth tellin’… and ain’t nobody cleanin’ up the mess and galvanizing the folks so that Atlanta can hold up its head again… proud of its achievements, not abashed by its lies, deceptions and deceits. You can find Chaka Khan’s tune in any search engine. Get it now… and let its pulse get you in the mood not just for disgust, outrage and indignation but for the hard work of school and municipal reform which must start at once, this very day… And don’t read this article with any smugness at all… for you cannot be sure the “educators” in your town aren’t doing the same things but just haven’t been caught yet.

Who’s bright idea was this anyway?

Investigators and the public may never know the name of the first educator who erased the wrong test answer and entered the correct one, and if there were only one such infraction, or even just a few more, we could simply say, “There are always some bad apples in any barrel.” But this is not what happened in Atlanta… where, at least 178 Public School employees in 44 schools, including 38 principals, all decided, some independently, some working together, to alter standardized test results.

Now think about this for a moment.

Each of these educators has gone through years of (we hope) rigorous training, with degrees and licenses to prove their hard work and diligence.

Each will swear on a stack of Bibles that they believe in education and that they are well and truly dedicated to helping students achieve success through the application of high standards of learning and instruction.

Each would take the most sacred oath that cheating, altering test results, passing off another’s work as your own, and all the other egregious forms of educational mendacity are wrong… and can never be tolerated at any time…. and that educators who perform these deeds should and must be punished and driven out of the Academy forthwith fueled by the indignation of the worthy.

Every teacher, every administrator would, I know, signify in any way requested their adamant belief in these propositions… and yet an astounding, astonishing number of these same teachers and administrators altered test results with their own hands… risking their careers and sacrificing their self-respect and honor to do deeds which all knew were wrong and which each abominates and deplores.

How had so many gone so wrong?

While there is finger-pointing all around, the most digits are pointed at former Superintendent Beverly Hall (1999-2011). Her mantra was “performance, performance, performance” which was what the people wanted…. but which morphed over time to “performance at any cost” with the emphasis on the “any”. In the Hall Administration you got the Superintendent’s eye (and extra bennies and emoluments) by demonstrating improved, increasing, dazzling performance. She, once so voluble, now has “no comment”.

The problem is, education doesn’t work like a machine process, a conveyor belt delivering better product for less. Oh, no, education is not remotely like that. Education is a slow, incremental process, where results today, with today’s students, are determined by what each previous teacher in each grade was able to achieve with each student. There is no activity slower than education… nor one in which so many each have a part to play.

Each and every teacher and administrator knows this… but each one decided that pleasing the powers that be was more important than doing the hard work of focusing on each student, with painstaking dedication, effort, and patience. And thus with a simple pencil eraser did each erase everything each knew to be true, good and necessary about their vocation… thereby shaming themselves, their city, their honorable colleagues, and, of course, the students who were, with each erasure and substitution, bereft of what they needed so desperately, a real education, an education of merit, of high standards set and high standards achieved, and above all of honest endeavor and honest testing and review.

As I said, finger pointing is rampant as everyone scurries to save themselves in an environment where there is now intense scrutiny and a desire to see heads roll and so demonstrate that there is a new broom sweeping clean. Interim Superintendent Erroll B. Davis, Jr. says that the prevailing “culture of fear and intimidation” in his predecessor Hall’s regime must be changed. “People,” he says, “felt that it was easier to cheat than to miss their goals and objectives.”

Not just one incident, but a series of incidents.

Americans, of course, want fast answers to endemic problems. And here is no exception. The people don’t want to believe they were thoroughly betrayed by the very people they must rely upon the most: the teachers, educators, and administrators charged with the sacred objective of lifting their children, one step at a time,to a higher, better place.

But the current scandal is just that — “current”, for the good citizens of Atlanta have been cheated by the cheaters since 2001 at least, and quite possibly longer.

Over the course of the last decade, one cheating scandal after another has punctuated the Atlanta school calendar. All bear a dreary resemblance to each other. High standards are set which cannot be met, though those setting them reap a torrent of praise for such daring and boldness.

In due course, though, the high standards are shown to be too high, unrealistic, overly ambitious. Cheaters enter to bridge the difference between what is… and what could never be. And, in due course, these cheaters, or at least some of them, are caught… to the outrage of citizens and short-changed students.

And so new leaders are brought in, who set unrealistic goals and tell you they have the necessary skills, you betcha, to achieve the objective and make Atlanta proud… yet in due course they, too, fail — but only after reaping educational awards and honors for proclaiming goals too steep to achieve. Thus they, too, are discarded and villified.

And all the while the students of Atlanta are bereft of the education they must have and have every right to expect. They do not get it because their parents, their teachers, their elected officials and bureaucrats at every level will pontificate about education… but will not engage in the slow painstaking business of educating one student at a time… for they want an education to be what no education has ever been: a machine process, an assembly-line activity… and until the citizens of Atlanta know this and demand this these humiliating, demeaning, abashing scandals must and will continue.

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.

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.


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