‘Little buddy, gonna shut you down…’ A blue streak on the open road, a boy, his dream…. and The Wife.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: There was never any doubt about which music I’d recommend for this article… it was “The Little GTO”. It was first recorded by Ronny and the Daytonas in 1964; later it went cosmic with the rendition by the Beach Boys. Right from the first line — “Little GTO, you’re really lookin’ fine…” this tune moves. You’ll find it in any search engine. Watch out… when you play it you’re 18 all over again…

This is a story that every boy who was not cool in high school can relate to. It’s a story about that day you were down at the beach (if you were in Beach Boys territory it had to be Zuma). You had gone with your best bud Herbie, but he was the president of the Chess Club. You couldn’t say a word to him; all he knew was Harvey Mudd. He’d never understand… there was no point in telling him…

Then, there it was… first for just the shortest instant as it made the turn towards the beach… … you knew exactly where it was.

Then, the sun in your eyes, a burst of color — it was ice-cold metallic blue… something cool against the heat of the day…

Then the first glance, that mobile palace of an insouciant prince of the road… his eyes dead ahead. You knew he wasn’t looking at you… but he knew you…. and every other person on that oiled body packed beach — were looking at him…

… and at the girl lucky enough to have the privilege in being his prop du jour. She had been carefully chosen by the driver… right down to the way her lightly frosted hair blew in the wind (no detail too small)… but only the clueless missed the point: the focus was not the girl… but the girl in the car…

“… let ’em know… that I’m the coolest thing around”.

And so it was….. as you ate your heart out… knowing you ached… for the car, the girl… and the profound satisfaction of being a prince in command of a certified muscle car. No wonder you barked at Herbie and told him to shut up already about Harvey Mudd, when everybody knew he couldn’t do any better than Santa Monica Junior College. He looked hurt… maybe you’d make it up to him later…

Blu Sera 385 Spiders.

Every American boy cherished his own particular image of triumph and in every story there was a car… the car… the vehicle he not only wanted, but dreamed about, obsessive, in the places in the night only he could know.

For the subject of this article, let’s call him “Alt”, that object of acute, obsessive desire was the Ferrari 348 “Blu Sera” (Metallic Evening Blue) Spider, made only in 1994 and 1995. Alt discovered through assiduous research that the other Spider colors, red, yellow, black, and white were common, hence instantly dismissed as inferior and infra dig.

Alt also discovered that the rarest interiors were grey (always spelled the English way, never “gray”). Like I said, NO detail was too small. We’re talking about The Dream and no one dreams of acquiring anything but perfection.

In due course Alt graduated from high school and put childish things behind him; only the “Blu Sera” wasn’t a childish thing… it was a part of him, something that tugged at his heart and wouldn’t go away. Godlike though it was, it might have been sent by the Devil, so insistent was the thought reiterated over and over in his brain. He wanted it. He had to have it. He couldn’t live without it. It was just as simply complicated as that.

Oscar Wilde, who understood the nuances and depths of desire, would have told him, “The only way to overcome temptation is to yield to it.”

Enter The Wife…

As every boy learns as he grows into a man with a boy’s desires… girls, even the wife who adores you… don’t get the “car thing”. A car, for them, is nothing more than a gas-guzzling necessity designed for moving screaming kids from Point A to Point B. If there’s an attractive gray interior (the English spelling means nothing to them), that’s terrific, but what matter? They know the kids will be autographing it with their spills and sticky hands. No, few women (maybe none) understand that a man makes eternal vows to only one thing: his dream car… adored in “sickness and in health”, committed till “death do you part.”

Alt had a dream. Alt had a wife. Alt had a problem.

There was no problem, of course, until his Dream became reality. And because of the rarity of this car, every arcane detail enhancing its desirability and decreasing its likelihood, there was no problem… except the problem of a man thwarted by what he could not possess. And this he could live with, just.

Then came the day, on Ebay, when the dream became reality, not something of paint and metal but a partner of power and sensuality. It was intoxicating… it was within your grasp… it was a lot of money. But there was no problem — yet. First, he had to be sure that this car, seemingly so perfect, right down to its grey interior, was The Car, His Car. He dogged the Ebay site, sick at the thought his baby would get away, but like all lovers he wanted what he wanted on his terms and his terms only. He watched, biding his time… and waiting. The car, his car, remained unsold, available, closer to his grasp.

First visit to his beloved.

Alt arranged to visit what looked to be, what quite possibly might be, the car of his dreams. He didn’t tell his wife he was going; why upset her until he knew this one was The One. He rationalized that this was better so, for her own good.

And so he went, dressing up as if for a first date to someone he had long desired.

A wealthy collector owned the car, by great good fortune so close to Alt, he could easily drive there without arousing comment. He went (perhaps too quick for strategy)… and the car, deftly arrayed to best advantage, met him. It was there… in ice-cold blue… waiting for him, just as he’d always imagined.

The owner, who had no doubt his own experience with temptations and obsessions, wisely stayed out of sight… until he saw Alt run a caressing hand over the metal morphed by a master into enticing flesh. The collector knew… Alt knew… it was a done deal… but there were the niceties to go through and the thrill of acquisition to mask. The value of the object demanded complete compliance to the code. And so it went…

Now Alt remembered The Wife and made this bow in her direction. “I have to clear it with the old ball and chain,” he said, feeling stupid, belittled, diminished at saying so. But the man who held the keys to Alt’s desire casually said “you should have brought her; we could have settled it now.”

But Alt couldn’t explain (though the collector knew) that bringing her was impossible, like bringing her to the boudoir of a more favored lover. Impossible.

But the acid in the response, the condescension, aroused Alt… and so they went toe to toe, the discarding lover, the acquiring lover, to arrange the terms of transfer, soon acceptable to both. It had been done by gentlemen, now friends.

There was now only one obstacle left, the biggest, the wife. He mulled over his options… arranging with the seller to make delivery in three days. Alt needed some time…

And on the third day, Alt arranged with the cooperative seller to meet him a block away from his house, there to take possession; the seller to exit in a car driven by his son.

Now, not as suitor testing a vehicle, but as owner of what he always wanted, Alt got behind the wheel and drove to his home…. there to surprise the old ball and chain.

He didn’t need to be told her Irish was up. He knew. She was about to say Something Disagreeable… but Alt knew his business.

He ushered her into the front seat (no prop du jour) and told her,as if in a Confessional, about his dream, that he could put the girl of his dreams in the car of his dreams. It was schmaltz… overdone… but there was something in his eyes that made the girl melt.

And there was something in his hand, serious bling in a magnificent box, to seal the deal.

“C’mon and turn it on, wind it up, blow it out, GTO.”

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant  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/listbuilding

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‘Run, Barefoot Bandit, Run.’ The story of Colton-Harris Moore, exasperatingly cute…. and as fast as the wind!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note: I had no trouble at all coming up with the theme music for this article..It’s “East Bound and Down” from the smash 1977 hit film “Smokey and the Bandit.” It’s got toe-tappin’ energy. Go to any search engine, you’ll find it. Make sure you keep the link because, sure as shootin’, there’ll be some morning or other when you’ll wake up ornery and irritable, the world too much with you. This tune will cheer you up in a flash… and make you smile. Just as this article’s going to do….

“a’we gonna do what they say can’t be done!”

You’ll never understand this story until you see the culprit. Born March 22, 1991, “Colt” Harris-Moore was a teen-ager until just the other day. He still looks like a teen-ager, and 16 or 17 at that. And he has the look of a fresh-scrubbed Disney character, all firm flesh and smiles and “yessir” and “thank you, ma’am”.

He’s a big boy; a really big boy, 6 foot 5 inches tall, 205 pounds. He’s a boy’s boy and you know, with that wicked grin, he’d be mischievous… but you’d bet your bottom dollar he’s a good boy, not a mean bone in his body. But there’s a dark side to this story, and it’s a good idea to get that out right away, so you can make up your own mind about this important matter.

“Colt” Harris-Moore grew up in his mother’s house in Camano Island, Washington. It was a zoo there; chaotic, disruptive, a mess. Neighbors said they made several calls to Child Protective Services, believing he was neglected or abused. His father, Gordon Moore, used drugs and was in prison while Colton was a toddler. When he was just twelve years old, his abusive father walked out during an argument at a family barbecue after attempting to choke him.

According to his mother, Pamela Kohler, his stepfather died when he was about seven years old, and from the time Colton was in first grade, she knew there was “something off about him”, “sort of a disconnection.” He wouldn’t listen to his teachers, starting altercations at school and would sometimes deliberately break things at home.

According to a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation, Harris-Moore said that his mother drank and became mean, breaking his possessions. Any way you slice it mother and son lived in a snake pit of anxieties, fears, and dark depressions… a place to avoid and escape from.

At about the age of 7, Colt started living in the wild; it was better than what he got at home.

It was then he learned his craft as an agile, nimble thief, motivated by what he could get, of course, but increasingly, as he sharpened his skills, pushing the envelope, showing himself how far he could go, how good he could get. He was determined to excel…

He started with robbing the vacation homes of people from far away places; rich, they’d never miss the stuff so easy to purloin, all indications of the stable, ample life he could only know second hand and would never have. They had so much; he so little. Why shouldn’t he just help himself? There’s hardly a kid, even those from the “best” homes who didn’t steal something, sometime. But if they were lucky, they got caught and learned a thing or two.

But Colt didn’t get caught — yet. And so he got better and better. And the game more exciting. He wanted to know, he had to know just how far he could go….

And so it began.

The authorities all knew about Colt… although even in his early days he had no trouble outsmarting them. Still, he got his first conviction for stolen property when he was 12; by the time he was 13, he had three more. Now diagnosed with depression, attention deficit disorder and intermittent explosive disorder, he reckoned he had nothing to lose. Each conviction bought him just 10-days in a detention center, or in community service.

In 2003 things changed and the stakes went up. He stole a neighbor’s camcorder; the police found it in his room. This time he got a sentence with bite: three years. He looked in the mirror, liked what he saw, combed his hair… and walked out of a halfway house. It was April, 2008…. and the Barefoot Bandit was about to show America how folk heroes are born….

“We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.”

Now this master thief, gifted by God with a cherub’s face and a dazzling smile, got serious.

With adolescent energy and grit and determination which any entrepreneur could envy, he found his vocation… and ran with it, bare footed. He stole just for the joy of stealing. It didn’t seem to matter what he stole… although he favored toys that could move him on… for Colt was a moving target… the fastest of all.

He pinched bicycles automobiles, light aircraft, speedboats.

He was a boy who liked speed… liked turning it on, turning it up… the wind always blowing through his hair… getting away from mother, from teachers, from court-ordered psychiatrists… and from every other trammel and inhibition.

“I’m east bound just watch ol’ Bandit run.”

He zoomed east with manic energy and no purpose whatsoever except to keep on moving. The crazinesses added up: he stole flight manuals and flight simulators… so he could steal planes…

He would often slip into homes along the way to soak in a hot bath… or steal ice cream. He stole a credit card to order bear mace; remember, he generally slept in the woods. He stole another card to order a pair of night vision goggles for $6,500.

On May 30 or 31, 2011 police found a handwritten note and $100 at a veterinary clinic in Raymond, Washington. The note said, “Drove by, had some extra cash. Please use this money for the care of animals.” He signed it “Colton Harris-Moore AKA ‘The Barefoot Bandit.’ Camano, Washington.” It was just the kind of thing a real folk hero would do.

And so America began to root for this boy who robbed with his shoes off, in the freedom of bare feet. He moved, always fast, through states he saw only as a blur… authorities everywhere eager to nab him…

“… he’s hot on your trail and he ain’t gonna rest ‘tiill you’re in jail”

And so it went…. running… robbing.. running some more through Idaho, South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois… over 100 thefts and counting.

“So you gotta dodge him… you gotta duck him”

And so he did… and while we paid bills, bought groceries, went to work, the image of that boy whirring through time and space grabbed us and grew. We knew he’d get caught…. we just hoped it wouldn’t be for a while yet. We knew he’d go to jail for a long time…. but he had freedom, real freedom… albeit purchased at a staggering price.

It all came to an end in Harbour Island, Bahamas, July 6, 2010. He was about to steal a boat, bless him, and local police shot out the engine and grabbed him. Colt had a gun to his head when apprehended. It’s a nice point about whether he’d have been better off using it.

Instead they apprehended him and, in due course extradited him back to Washington State and law and order in the shape of U.S. Attorney Jenny Durkan. She knows nothing of folk heroes and her rage about the boy and his celebrity is palpable. She made sure Colt would never benefit from films, books, or anything else. It won’t matter… we know Durkan is right, doing her job… but she is not the stuff of Americana. Colt is… and she knows it. So do we…. movie, or not.

“Keep your foot hard on the peddle… son, never mind them brakes.”

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., 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/listbuilding

It’s time to celebrate International ‘Get It Off Your Chest Day.’ You’ll feel better if you do.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. For this article Maria Mendez’ recording of “What a difference a day makes” (released 1934) is a must. You’ll find it in any search. engine. And, by the way, Maria is right: the difference is you!

Have you noticed there’s a “day” for everything… for artichoke growers… pizza makers… midgets… apples… moms and dads… you get picture.

However, after exhaustive research ( at least an hour or two) I have discovered an absolutely crucial activity which has not, so far, been granted its own special day.

Thus, I am herewith proposing “International Get If Off Your Chest” Day.

This day was inspired by my nephew Kyle who graduated from college in May 2011. As is customary (at least the graduate so told me) I donated some bucks to the young buck… then sat back (like millions of generous parents, relations and friends) for the effusive letter of acknowledgement, thanks, and gratitude.

I have waited for weeks now (along with those millions cited above) and have received nada, zip, absolutely nothing. It occurred to me that all of us long-suffering folks need an outlet for our chagrin, irritation, and soon-to-be righteous wrath and rage.

But, let’s face it, a special day for the good people who sent money (so far unacknowledged) for commencement would, I think you’d agree be (perhaps) a tad over specific…. even if we extended its focus to be any slothful, lay about graduate of any institution.

So, I put my thinking cap on and brainstormed… to see how the parameters of this holiday could be suitably extended so that more sins of omission and commission could be added.

Then I thought of a no-longer-quite-so-dear friend…let’s call him Thomas Frederick Byrd III… because that is his name. Tommy (for he is not always so formal) borrowed 10 CDs from me, what, an eon ago, making the usual sincere, look-deeply-in-his-eyes promises that “they’ll be returned, Scout’s honor, in a week, ten days tops.” As I said, and as I must reiterate here, that ample deadline has long been exceeded…. hints to Tommy (even quite a lurid one) have gone unanswered… and now the bugger won’t answer my calls. The holiday must be extended to include these miscreants and scoffers.

Tommy’s non-return of my very best CDs is venal compared to William Wilder’s misdemeanors. He put the touch on me for 200 Yankee dollars; I don’t know what I could have been thinking of. I should have listened to Polonius (ok, he’s a trifle windy) about borrowers and lenders. Bill Wilder used to be one of my best friends; now I can hardly think of him without apoplexy… for, of course, he is now in the witness protection program… and my beloved dollars with him.

Near crying at these acid remembrances of people who have let me down, in so remembering I have one “aha!” moment after another, each of which builds the case and need for this deeply sensible day.

There’s Tommy (seemingly a frequent miscreant sobriquet) at the convenience store who has promised me at least half a dozen times to charge back those mildewed strawberries. So far, no action.

There’s my cousin Clarabelle (and no she has no children named Howdy Doody) who has yet to return that lovely pic-nic basket with the (admittedly plate) silver handles.

This list, growing by the moment, represents in miniature just why we absolutely must have a day, perhaps even two, when we can let it all hang out. Such a day would of course feature politicians and the myriad of ways they irritate and abuse us every single day.

“Great idea,” everybody says so.

While writing this article, I have been tending a very busy phone. I emailed a few of my nearest and dearest to clue them in to my Big Idea. I told them their opinion was urgent and expected; my phone’s been ringing off the hook ever since with calls from people who have quite clearly mastered the superlative tense; without exception these bright folks want what I am proposing: a chance to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth about matters great and small with which less polite and perceptive folks have afflicted them. I am getting used to the constant huzzahs and raucous congratulations.

These, admittedly thrilling, have induced further cogitation on the issue. As I amble and ponder, new facets of this idea emerge and take center stage in my fervid brain; I am like a man possessed.

In addition to the specially designated “Off Your Chest” day… we need a National Registry where aggrieved citizens can post their complaints and miseries; given our digitized age it should be easy to cross-reference these, to create profiles and warning systems for people (even if our nearest and dearest) who have affronted not one, but many, and often.

And, remember, this registry, this most necessary warning system would not be a thing for just a single nation, no matter how grand, but for all the nations, even insignificant little San Marino.

Of course, there might be mistakes… or at least folks claiming they have been victimized.

I am a believer in fairness, a believer in fairness am I. As a result, there must be some means of checking the accuracy of all information and allowing folks to respond. Yes, that is only fair. Of course this will necessitate a very substantial staff; their workload, as is already plain, would be staggering. After all, nearly every person on this planet (except a few Trappist monks) have things they wish, indeed need to get off their chests… and I may be doing a disservice to Trappists who agree. If so, I abjectly apologize.

This is turning into a helluva lot of work!

You know, people like me with good ideas should be designated Super Citizen. After all, WE keep this country, this world, and, may I say, this whole solar system working.

I’m really ticked off now. My original simple idea has now morphed into a multi- dimensional nightmare. I’m over my head, for sure. All I wanted was to chide a few friends and get some bucks back and my very best CDs. Now people are starting to criticize me, yes ME, as some kind of dictator, FBI, CIA, looking-for-skeletons- -in-all-the-closets. Every time they do, I put them on my list for future SEVERE action. It’s what those friggin’ morons deserve.

I give up.

I’m ditching this idea and am heading in a brand-new direction. I’ve written Kyle’s thank-you note and sent him a copy so he knows what he said. I sent a gift card to Tommy giving him CDs he won’t give up anyway. And as for the 200 smackers, I’ll tell the IRS they are a charitable donation to people with incurable insensitivity.

As for me, I’ve sent this letter to the president reminding him the buck stops there.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is  Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://www.homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding 

Of Sundays. What we have lost along the way.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

It is Sunday in Cambridge in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. The forecast is for inclement weather, buckets of rain, wide puddles to jump across, or, if you are of the distracted variety (I’m afraid I often qualify) to splash through unawares. Even with the intermittent rain, Cambridge will be on this day what Cambridge always is: a place of intellectual power, internecine academic battles often on topics of the least significance (hence their abrasiveness); a place, too, where everyone and his brother has either just written a book, is in the middle of writing a book, or is contemplating writing a book that will transform the world as we know it.

It is beautiful… it is exciting… it is lofty and drenched with youth… but there will be absolutely nothing of the traditional American Sunday here… or most anywhere else in America for that matter. That stalwart of our society is dead…. and today I lament its passing and what we have lost thereby. The great American Sunday, sacred to God, family and jackets and ties at an abundant repast, was one of them.

American values, Midwestern setting.

I grew up in Illinois, the most American of states, ultimate home of Abraham Lincoln, the epitome of American values. All states in the Glorious Republic are American, of course; Illinois is the great beating heart of this body politic.

I didn’t know, what child does, that I was, in the ‘forties and ‘fifties living through an inter-related series of cultural transformations which would, after being boiled and scorched in the cauldron of the ‘sixties, strip my family and all the other solidly middle class prairie families of too many of the verities they loved and cherished, believing them to be essential for a life of republican simplicities, moral certainties, and the resounding democratic principles on which the nation was formed. Our Sundays reflected these essential elements and sustained them.

I’d now like to share with you the contours of that Sunday, for it was good, decent, hallowed by tradition yet as fresh as the quips that flew around the highly polished dining table smelling of beeswax and elbow grease, the ample midday fare always abundant, never ostentatious.

Sunday began, for my mother at least, Saturday afternoon. It was then she did the work she hoped and was indeed confident would pass the critical scrutiny she knew her maternal peers would exact on her, her degree of proficiency in the crucial business of mothering, what manner of house keeper, wife, and mother she was, whatever observations made to circulate around the town as fast as, if not faster, than a Western Union telegram.

Fathers could afford to opt out of the crucial Saturday evening tasks for the morrow; children knew they would be called, and often more than once, to “try this on… you can’t wear that… polish those shoes at once and put them in a bag in the car ” to keep them pristine for the absolutely certain community review and commentary. My mother’s standing amidst other mothers and in the town generally depended on what she did and how she did it. And no one, but no one, was more adept at making every fine distinction and conclusion than the matrons of the town. Sure of themselves… their opinions were resounding, incontrovertible, and could never be challenged, waived, or overruled.

My mother, born and bred in Illinois, the stock of immigrants and pioneers, knew all this, none better. That’s why she was busily at work, including doing things even the most lynx-eyed matron could not see… examining linings… ensuring the car was clean inside (outside being my father’s province)…. examining, re-examining, now dubious, now, Mamie Eisenhower-like, concluding with a white glove review and then to her arrangements and personal presentation. No detail, not a single one, was ever overlooked; each according to the standards of her peers, just so.

“God shed his grace on thee.”

I am a WASP, a White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, my lineage boasting Scots, Germans, and waves of Englishmen. These days it is rather fashionable amidst the ill-informed and worse advised cognoscenti to pooh-pooh and even deride these nation-founding people as limited, prejudiced, arrogant, self-aggrandizing, and worse. If such things were said, even softly, about America’s other ethnic varieties, there would be mass outrage against such bigotry and discrimination. But such things are said of us with impunity, on the same principle as a “cat may look at a king.” My ethnic fellow-travelers sail on disregarding such remarks and distortions. I wish it to be understood that they are as unacceptable as any words of prejudice and bigotry.

The churches of my prairie town were of the usual variety; each had its own constituency and place in the social hierarchy. The Roman Catholics built schools and basilicas on extravagant Roman models. They were, so my grandmother would whisper, full of immigrants from Eastern Europe (the lesser half) and deluded by the incense and fripperies of Pius XII, a Protestant bug-a-bear. Just saying his name could produce a noticeable frisson.

The Protestant churches were headed, such was the residual pull of the nation we had freed ourselves from, by the Episcopal Church. Then a tie between what was still called the Congregational Church and the Methodist Church. Lesser, suspect denominations like Baptists were never discussed at all; a disapproving silence was sufficient. As for religions which sent zealots door-to-door, that was all they ever saw – the door.

My grandparents sternly approved of religion and its virtues, but rarely went to church themselves. In fact, off hand, I cannot remember seeing my grandfather at any other religious ceremony but the marriages of his 4 children and blessed relations. My parents, however, were different; for both, religion was important and as a result theological discussions, publications, arguments, visiting missionaries were commonplace. It was thought only seemly that I should, year after year, win a prize for memorizing the most Bible verses; something which has stood me in good stead to this day, when a Biblical quotation is apt.

My parents were sometimes parishioners in the Methodist Church, sometimes in the Congregational. My first memory of the latter is a stack of folding chairs suitable for the frequent church socials, all stamped “Congo.” I supposed, being geographically inclined, that meant Belgian Congo, an exotic destination of my imagination. In due course I came to be disappointed, learning it was merely an abbreviation for the church itself. Still, since many of my thousand best friends went to the “Congo,” I liked going there the best. It was simply another school, filled with familiar faces.

Arrival at church, “Congo” most of all, was an event. My parents and I pretty much knew everyone because we were related, friends, school mates, neighborhood buddies. This was the importance of Sunday, for here God, family, country all came together, scenic, vital, reassuring, important. It was the heart of the heart of America. We needed more of this in our challenged land. Instead, we have far less.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant . Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding 

‘More!’ The exclusive story of Tiger Woods and Rory McIlroy. When having everything is not enough.

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Today Tiger Woods, golf legend, gazillionaire, the man of the million watt smile, from whose talents an entire industry grew and flourished, sits alone, wondering, pondering, reviewing every incident and detail.

The emperor of golf has not won a title since November 2008. In his palatial mansion, filled with the tokens of esteem and triumph which, once, seemed his to command and augment at will, a DVD player runs endless renditions of the glory days of his life… The tapes run…. but he hardly glances at them. Instead just one question runs in his brain, over and over: why?

Now thanks to this exclusive article featuring Oberon and Titania, taking time out from their long-running “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” world tour, we finally know the answer.

Frolics and hijinks of the forest elves, fairies, wizards, gnomes, et al.

The forest folk, whose antics were captured so well by Shakespeare in his play of 1590, have a problem that we humans do not share. Having eternal time at their disposal allows these immortals to do whatever they wish; problem is, there is always too much time, never enough to do…. and so, to fill the endless vistas of their limitless days, they turn to the mischievous, which they have crafted into an art form and sport.

Tiger Woods is one of their most successful creations, showing just what they can do, for good and ill, when they put their minds to it.

Titania found her 1975 Christmas presents from Oberon insufficiently magnificent and entirely unsatisfactory. Being the Queen she let him know in ways petty, irksome, and irritating that she was unhappy. The smallest traces of the herb tauri were sufficient for embarrassing oral purgings, always at the least convenient moments. He got the message and offered her whatever she wanted… She told him she wanted a human child to shape, coddle, adore. And she had just the one in mind she wanted. Burping, Oberon agreed…

Titania thereupon scheduled a great party, to take place December 30, 1975, the birth day of Eldrick Tont Woods.

Every forest dweller ever presented to Their Majesties was invited to appear, wearing full regalia, all orders, ribands, decorations and, should you be fortunate to have them, the red heeled shoes that arrested every eye and made those without writhe. Titania wished this to be her finest festival yet… and so it was; not least because each guest had been commanded to bring a gift, an attribute or skill they would bestow on the newborn child.

Much consideration went into these gifts; each wanted his to be unique, memorable, something that might catch the eye of Titania and result, it could happen, in the instant bestowal of red heels and the universal envy they occasioned.

Titania, resplendent in gossamer spun by bees at the exact moment of sunrise, a crown of iris flowers set with diamonds in her hair, greeted her guests at the top of a staircase lined with dragonflies in full iridescence, Oberon at her side… the Court Chamberlain, a Monarch Butterfly full of years and honors, announced each guest’s arrival — and gift. The cricket orchestra unveiled a new grand march….

“You will win the U.S. Amateur title 3 times.”

“You will win 4 green jackets and the excitement of the world.”

“You will drive 350 yards at will to the mortification and envy of all your colleagues.”

And so it went as afternoon merged into evening, the line of guests never slackening… each one presenting Titania with their special gift for her ward and favorite, then handing it to a powdered flunkey who artfully arranged it amongst the mound of prior presentations.

“Your balls will always avoid water and sand.”

“Every putt will appear straight as an arrow.”

“You will win more PGA events than legendary Sam Snead.”

But there was more, much more… each following their Queen’s commands to the very letter:

“You will win more majors than Jack Nicklaus.”

“You will be the only golfer to win all 4 majors in a row.”

“You will win each major (Masters, PGA, U.S. Open, British Open) at least 3 times.”

Then these…

“You will become the richest sports figure in history.”

“You will marry one of the world’s most beautiful women.”

“You will be called Tiger and the world will cheer and honor you , glad for your success, never envious.”

Now the long receiving line had dwindled; the guests rather attending to the dainty foods and cups of potent nectar. And the orchestra, weren’t they splendid tonight?

Then, as a black presence emerged, all went silent. It was Nemesis…. slow moving, her wrinkled face but little seen, swathed in black, the essence of discontent, mayhem her specialty. Titania was called, her iris headband askew, she was no friend to Nemesis, and partly feared her. “My invitation must have gone astray,” she said “I have a gift for your Tiger, too,” her voice deceptively calm, caressing. There could be no reason for refusing though Titania wished to refuse, but why spoil such a divine party? Thus Nemesis, with care, placed her gift in the cradle. It said simply: “More… Having everything will never be enough.” She then waved a wand.. and every guest fell to sleep, to awake (as partied creatures so often do) with recollection of nothing.

Year after year, the attributes so bestowed came true, the man beloved of the world, nothing too good for him, nothing begrudged. He was star-kissed, Fortuna in his pocket.

Until one day in November 2009, it all unravelled, in the testimonies of a stream of women delighted to dally with a legend, he more than they careless of his celebrity and position. The revelations were steamy, sordid, specific… the man who had everything now had universal execration and criticism too… and a whopping $750 million dollar divorce settlement to boot.

As his gilded world imploded, he asked himself as the world asked him: why had he imperiled so much for so little? It was beyond reason, beyond rational reckoning. And as he thought, the stories grew more frequent, more lurid, more damaging.

Then flashed the message of Nemesis: “More,” she reminded, the caress still in the voice, “everything will never be enough.” And now in darkened room, focused solely on this, he wondered at the trick of fate that had given everything, so ordered and ordained that it could never be adequate, satisfactory or fulfilling.

At that moment, he hears again on the television, a name he has been hearing a lot lately, Rory McIlroy, the commentator extolling his many skills, many outdoing his own. At this moment Rory is advising Tiger to stay out of competitive play, focusing on recovering his health. The sentiments are, perhaps, well intended, but their calm condescension rankles. It was then that he sees something on the floor; it’s a aide memoire from Nemesis with this message: “Not invited to Titania’s party for Rory. Crash party with usual message. It worked so well with Tiger.”

And so it does. The man with everything still has more than most anyone… but he hankers after the most important thing, whose loss will hurt forever: he no longer inspires hope, admiration, even reverence. Even were he to get everything again, these — as Nemesis conspired — are truly gone forever.

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About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant Dr. Lant is also a syndicated writer and author of 18 best-selling business books. Details at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbulding

I chose life… and so should you. 347,000,000 adults now diagnosed with diabetes. How one man’s story can help you at once!

By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

The number of adults with diabetes worldwide has more than doubled in three decades, to an estimated 347 million a new study says. The study, led by Goodarz Danaei of the Harvard School of Public Health and Majid Ezzati of Imperial College, London, analyzed diabetes data from 1980 to 2008. Their analysis found that 153 million people had diabetes in 1980; this number had swelled to 347 million in 2008.

Much of that increase is due to aging populations — since diabetes typically hits in middle age — and population growth, but part of it has also been fueled by rising obesity rates.

With numbers climbing almost everywhere, experts said the disease is no longer limited to rich countries and is now a global problem. Countries in which the numbers rose fastest include Cape Verde, Samoa, Saudi Arabia, Papua New Guinea, and the United States.

More alarming news.

These figures do not reflect the generations of overweight children and young adults who have yet to reach middle age. This will create a massive burden on already severely challenged health systems.

The most alarming news of all… Each of these people could take charge of their disease, but too often don’t, thereby triggering even graver health problems.

“A disease of the mouth.”

I like to say, tongue firmly in cheek, that diabetes is a disease of the mouth: open mouth, insert enough of the wrong things, get disease and all its myriad of complications. I should know; I’m one of the world’s aging diabetics. Now 64, I was diagnosed about 50.

The day my blunt, most direct physician delivered the news he asked me one question: “Do you want to live longer or shorter?” I chose longer; he then laid on me exactly what I needed to do to achieve the objective of more time and that of the highest quality. While hardly an ideal patient, I was more than willing to make the necessary changes in diet and lifestyle. Not only willing but committed and determined to do so. Once over 205 chunky pounds, my 5′ 10 1/2″ frame is now a lean 157 pounds… with all other numbers appropriate; something to write home about, especially since I can wear the same trousers I wore in graduate school 40 years ago! Can you?

What I have learned along the way.

I want to say, right from the get-go, that I am NOT playing physician here; you need to consult yours at regular intervals as I do. Still, diabetes seems to me a disease tailor-made for personal management. There are things, lots of things, you can do to improve your situation. Here’s what works for me:

1) Take ownership of your disease and decide whether you want to gamble with your life by doing little or nothing.

The great thing about diabetes is that its improvement or deterioration is very much in your hands. If you take charge in a positive, pro-active manner you are going to improve. if you persist in fighting your diagnosis and what you can do, right at home, too, you won’t. In other words, you can be adult about it… or select adolescent petulance.

2) Don’t try to change everything overnight; do start making changes at once. Remember, diabetes and what you do to manage it is a marathon, not a sprint. This is a disease without (just yet) a cure; it’s a disease that’s with you sleeping and waking. You cannot, therefore, do something today and then ignore it. With diabetes you’re fighting a war, not a battle. Treat it accordingly.

3) Clean out your cupboards… clean out your refrigerator.

If you don’t have readily at hand the destructive things… the high sugar drinks, the cakes and bakery goods… all the things that work against your success and create long-term problems, so much the better.

If you don’t have readily at hand the bad things and have to make a special effort to go out and get them, you will, perforce, ingest less.

4) Don’t think in terms of diets and deprivations. Think in terms of the additional life and time you’re getting.

We live in a culture that screams “I want this and I want this NOW!” We are all influenced by the “I’m worth it and I’m going to have it” mentality. Thus you need practical ways to overcome these insidious influences.

To start with, never call what you’re doing a “diet”. Diets are about depriving yourself; think instead of buying your life back from the pawn shop. When you eat bad things you’re cutting time off your life; when you make the necessary changes, you buy yourself back.

5) Count to 10.

Before you drink that sugary concoction or take another bite of your favorite confection, count to 10. This gives your brain time to remind you that you probably can live without the indiscretion you are about to make. The sequence goes like this: want. stop. count to 10.

Now, if you do this and still eat the offending morsel, even two, don’t collapse with guilt and recrimination. Just resolve to do better next time… because you can be sure there WILL be a next time, and many such.

6) Eat all day.

Still eating big, set meals that leave you breathless and bloated? These constitute an assault on the body. Stop it now!

Instead eat frequently throughout the day, small portions that satisfy and which your previously overworked body can handle.

Start eating fresh fruit… nuts… small snacks of maximum protein and nutrition, minimum sugars, calories, carbohydrates. Make the portions small but make their ingestion frequent. Your body knows its work. Don’t overfeed… graze instead. All day long.

7) Make breakfast your most important meal.

You’ve got a lot to accomplish today. You’re going to need a lot of energy and stamina. Thus, you must make breakfast your most important meal. Don’t even dream of stinting here. Breakfast constitutes the launching pad for a successful day. Treat it accordingly. By comparison never, ever eat your biggest meal at the end of the day or evening. Your body can’t handle it and shouldn’t have to try.

Before bed, give yourself a snack, fruit (raisons are always a treat), popcorn. You get the idea. Go to bed satisfied, sleep satisfied, wake up in productive good humor.

You’ll start seeing — and feeling — results at once.

The great thing about managing your diabetes is that if you follow these sensible suggestions, you’ll start seeing results at once. For one thing (and very gratifying it is) your weight will start to drop… reverting to your body’s natural weight. And as you see and feel that occurring, you’ll be spurred to keep on truckin’, towards the Promised Land.

As you go, as you achieve results, reward yourself. You deserve it, not least because you are doing what every one of the 347 million afflicted should be doing… but aren’t. Now that you are on your way to success, print this article and share it with a friend. It’s one of the privileges of your improved situation and state of mind. Use it… and help someone you know and love. Someday they’ll throw their arms around you and tell you you saved their life. And it’ll be true…

* * * * *
About The Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., 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 worldprofit.com and JeffreyLantArticles.com



It all began when a handful of revolutionary students at the University of Andes closed the University, thereby trapping a delegation from the University of California; who were there on an overseas student program. The rebels closed the University of the Andes and the students who were already there from University of California didn’t get any academic credits for the year. Their parents were furious.


Pressure came to bear on the Chancellor of the University of California system, and he shut down the program in Bogotá. As a result I who was to go to Bogotá had to make a last minute switch to participate in the University of California’s program. I who was supposed to be going to Colombia went instead to the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. The year was1968 and that is where my story begins.


While I was at the University of St. Andrews I saw a vacancy notice for the representative to the Student Representative Council (SRC). The vacancy that was open was for Faculty of Arts which was fully three quarters of the University.


I had been in Scotland for just 3 weeks but nothing daunted. I decided that I would run for the seat that had my name written all over it. Nothing was going to stop me from coming to a strange country and in the flickering of an eye lash, run for office. It was audacious. It was bold. It was thrilling. And as I pointed it out to my dear friends who were part of the University of California delegation; if I lost; no big deal, no one would know who I was anyway, but if I won… I would be at the cover of Time magazine.


Well, as things worked out. I was elected, to the astonishment of absolutely everyone at the University. However they didn’t like having an American on the SRC, much less as a representative of the largest block at the University. But because they had to do something, they appointed me Chairman of the Rectoral Committee. Rectors are a unique United Kingdom phenomenon. They are the elected representative of students on the board of trustees.


They traditionally come to the University. Spend a few days and don’t intervene too much. I was fortunate enough to meet Sir Learie Constantine (1901-1971) who was at that time the High Commissioner of Trinidad and Tobago. Sir Learie had been a famous cricketer in his youth and was now nearly at the end of his career which was capped by his selection as the first black peer of the realm.


As Chairman of the Rectoral Committee. I worked very closely with the new rector, Sir Learie Constantine and came to know him very well along with his charming wife, Lady Constantine.


The Rectoral celebrations at St. Andrews went off without a hitch giving us national publicity for the first time ever and so to speak put St. Andrews on the map. I spent many hours with Sir Learie planning things. Getting everything in order; arranging the speeches and so forth. It was in short a triumph.


Thereafter I looked around the University for other Triumph. And in my search I learned about the Royal Enclosure at the Ascot Races.


Now, I admit I am not a horseman. The quadruped doesn’t interest me very much. That degree of interest is reserved for my sister, Shelby Allison who is a horse collector and breeder. She would have been a better candidate for the Royal Enclosure. But I had my eyes open on what would increase my network of useful contact and experiences.


I wrote to Sir Learie and asked him if he could get me four sets of tickets. One for me and one each for my three friends from the University of California. Could he get me four tickets for the Royal Enclosure. He didn’t know the procedures but he willingly picked up the phone and called the Duke of Norfolk, Earl Marshal of England to get us 4 sets of tickets.


His Grace was rather taken aback as he pointed out to Sir Learie, that foreigner like us, had to go to their respective embassies to apply for tickets. That was the correct way. But what do you do when a charming man like Sir Learie ask you for a favor for his buddies? The tickets were immediately forthcoming.


This created a furor amongst my friends, because of what we would wear? The wearing of the proper clothes is absolutely essential for Ascot. You better be impeccably dressed or else you will be tossed out of the Royal Enclosures.


So, we looked around and when the tickets came; they came with instructions. There were three men in the delegation (Mark, Morris, William Powers, Ingoldsby and me) and one lady, Lucy Shepard.


Now, in those days there was a company called Moss Brothers ( universally known as “MossBros”). It is here that the gentlemen were outfitted for the Royal Enclosure.


I can well remember when I came to MossBros in London. I had absolutely no experience wearing top hat and tails. Not to worry. There is no one in the world fussier about decorum than a gentleman’s gentlemen at the establishment. He knew and he dictated. Your job was to stand quietly while the necessary decisions were rendered.


In short order we were out fitted with our royal kit. And we looked absolutely fabulous. Indeed, when I looked in the mirror the day I returned from my final fitting it was “mirror mirror on the wall, need you ask who is the fairest of them all? You are man .You are dude.” And I was.


So prepared for our trip to Royal Ascot. But where would paragons like us stay? We had no money. However, these were the days when it was still possible, according to the famous book by Arthur Frommer, to see “Europe on $5 a day”.


To do so you had to stay in places which were not at all fashionable in anyway. We chose to stay within our meager budget, by checking in the youth hostel nearest to the racecourse which was in Berkshire, England.


Such places were officially called youth hostels, but we in our grandeur called them “hovels”, and no wonder.


Here is the invariable routine of such a place. Up with the larks, to share some humble but nutritious gruel. To cheerfully do the chore you were assigned upon arrival (making beds, sweeping the floor, cleaning latrines) and exit singing “I love to go a wandering”.


As you may imagine we didn’t fit in to the designated routine. Nonetheless we did everything required. Cleaning and dusting in our Cinderella finery in which we would soon present ourselves to Her Majesty.


Work completed, we sauntered across the street to pick up a regular red two tier bus. We garnered every eye in the county. Everyone looked at us from the time when we dressed in the youth hovel to the time we got on the bus to the time we got to Ascot. We were the cynosure of every eye and quite right too. I felt like either a celebrity or a refugee from the winter palace. In those days before the renovation of the Ascot course and buildings, we were exceptionally close to the sovereign. We were, in short, her guests.


Her Majesty arrived with her family and guests in a landau. Highly polished and in the perfect condition, the British are so well known for. It made a lovely sight. Everything in place, it was a thrill for sloppy Americans who moments before were sweeping the floors and cleaning the toilets. Once we settled down, we had ample opportunity to see Her Majesty and I dare say she took advantage of her opportunity to see us. It was no doubt part of the reason why this year she found Ascot so successful.


We became quite comfy and we did this for four days. For four days we watch the queen drive up in different outfits with trademark diamond brooch, always looking regal. Everything Comme il faux.


Ascot is a place for queen to have fun, and she does. She puts some flowers in her bonnet to get into the spirit of the hats competition. She appeared at all times affable. I believe the year I went (June 1968), the queen mother was with her. She was the most affable and jolly old soul imaginable. The whole environment was light and gay.


The queen loves her ponies and no doubt places an occasional flutter at the betting window as we did, losing some of California’s money and subsidizing the profits for the racecourse. We were happy to do so.


For the four days we did this we became quite a sight in the neighborhood, after all every day we left the Royal Enclosure we returned to our youth hovel to our so-called regular life. This had no glamor in it whatsoever.


Liquor, Lunch, and Looking.


Ascot started in 1711 by Queen Ann and has always been about looking. It did start as racing and racing continues to be the official reason for having this outing. The truth of the matter for most people is the chance to be seen and to have their hats on the telly. In this competition gentlemen lose out immediately. Our role is simply to look smart and I have to add, I was delighted to preen, looking like no boy from Illinois has ever looked. In other words terrific.


Things are different for the ladies. Sadly, we no longer have milliners. Ladies have to rely on the help of their own imagination or their friends or someone in the village who creates hats. As a result most of the hats created are grotesque, garish, and something no real lady would ever wish to be seen in.


That’s where Cecil Beaton and Audrey Hepburn come in. Cecil Beaton was a marvelous artist. He designed the Ascot scene for “My fair Lady “(1964) and he did it with exquisite precision laying down a standard that no group of people has ever beaten.


What I want to do now, is show you some of the things which are at display at Ascot this year. As usual some of them were extremely regrettable sort of like a paper plate turned on upside-down on their head with a bunch of cherries or butterflies. All their on ladies heads making ladies look ridiculous. But it is all in a good cause. The queen herself often wears flowers and greenery in her hats as she is driven up in the Royal Enclosure and mingles with hoy ploy like me. Now I say to you. Everyone who should be here is here. Every duke, earl and peer is here. It is Ascot opening day.


P.S. The costume that took the cape this year (2017) was a rather rotund gentleman; who popped out of the crowd in a suit no one from MossBros could duplicate. He promptly became involved in some fisticuffs. A moment later both ladies and gentlemen were involved in a melee. Look, how the mighty have indeed fallen.


And click here for Lerner and Loewe Ascot Gavotte.

On the richness, majesty, exuberance and lush beauty of Peony.

by  Dr. Jeffrey Lant.

Author’s program note. In the bright glare of this overheated spring day, they looked faded, needing succor, getting none. Their color, the deepest imaginable red, looked tawdry and inappropriate for such a milieu… the hodge-podge in front of the local convenience store. I was enraged at such lese majeste’, an outrage that offended the princely opulence of the flower… and those who had loved them and loved them still.


Just moments before I saw this dreadful sight, I had been thinking about these very flowers… about how I had always admired them, about how my grandmother had loved them… and ensured that I would love them, too. I was even remembering the riotous display of these flowers in an Illinois neighbor’s yard and how the fastidious and shrewd ants had commandeered them ostensibly for their nutrients, but who can doubt for their rich and textured colors which capture every eye, especially the ants who traverse this beauty at will, untrammeled, at the closest range?

Thus, when I saw the bucket of peony left in front of the store and their wilted dismay, I strode in and demanded that they be put in a better place, a place more in keeping with their renown and a beauty which made even emperors stop and appreciate, glad to be the ruler of a land where so much loveliness was his to behold… and share with the petted favorites of his court.

What the proprietor told me.

Faced with me in irate mode, this was his reason for such treason to a flower he promptly admitted was his personal favorite, enhancing the yard of his own home. Unless he sacrificed some of these sun-afflicted plants, thus creating a captivating (if ephemeral) display, no one would know he had such rampant blooms within, no one would buy them, and all would perish. Thus I knelt down to the very level of the flowers, every springtime of my life caught in their unmistakable perfume. “Their scent is their destiny,” I told Tommy.  “Let it fill the store and the people who love these flowers and every memory they conjure will sell them for you.” And so he did…. and so they did.


Peony or pacony is the name for plants in the genus Paeonia. They are native first to Asia, thereafter Europe and western North America . Estimates of the number of species range from 25 to about 40. Peony are herbaceous perennial plants, but some resemble trees which can grow as high as ten feet. They have compound, deeply lobed leaves. Such are the facts about these still imperfectly understood plants. But all this pales into insignificance beside the undeniable impact of their stately flowers… and a scent more alluring than any found on the Rue de la Paix.

With such elements so apparent one knows at once that Peony are special, highly deserving of their place in our gardens and in our hearts. This place is further affirmed by the fact that each new type of Peony developed is more complex, more stunning, more desirable. And so single Peony with names like Athena, Dad,  Krinkled White, Scarlet O’Hara and Sea Shell have given way to Japanese, Anemone, Semi-Double, Double, and Bomb-Double (Red Charm, Raspberry Sundae, Mons Jules Elie).

Thus has this peerless flower concocted its own peerage of plants with flowers at once aristocratic and nonpareil. As such you can quite understand their fury at being placed so inappropriately at the convenience store, and left there to wilt, collapse, and die. It was, to say no more, unworthy of them and their high achievement. This achievement is substantial, enviable, and constantly enlarged as the plant and their signature flowers evolve and further dazzle the humans who are such an important part of the Peony and their history.

Not just a pretty face.

It is their flowers and cloying scent which first capture the attention of passers by. They are, by any reckoning, irresistible. But Peony are not just a pretty face or incomparable scent, not by a long shot. To date, over 262 compounds have been obtained from the highly bountiful plants of Paeoniaceae. These include monoterpenoid glucosides, flavonoids, tannins, stilbenoids, triterpenoids as well as, paeonols, phenols, and steroids. Steriods, you say? Indeed… and so the piquant and utterly unexpected picture emerges of sports heroes desiring (illegal of course) enhanced performance taking tablets redolent of the Peony, one of whose attributes as assigned by the Chinese was strength. Not just a pretty face, indeed.

Biological activities.

Peony are also bountiful givers of enhanced biological activities, including antioxidant, antitumor, antipathogenic, immune-system-modulation activities, cardiovascular-system- protective activities and central-nervous-system activities. In short, while their stunning flowers and unforgettable scent restore our sense of well being and the necessary harmony which is so important (if elusive) in our lives, the chemical and biological activities of Peony contribute to the health and body wellness we all must have to the maximum degree for the best lived life. It is perhaps the Chinese who have known such things the longest.. Is it any wonder then that they venerate Peony and use the sparse language of their poetry to effect the greatest meanings and incisive images of Peony?

Fan Wei (1760-1820), poet .

No one knows when the very first Chinese poem about the Peony was written. Such things are often lost, becoming part of our unknown legacy. Fortunately Fan Wei’s 18th century poem and Peony drawing were not amongst them. Thus, protected today in the collection of James Madison University they are a thing of beauty which has a good chance to be a joy forever.

“Ode to Peony

I used the brush to praise the blooming peony A cocoon-like bud bursting forth to beautiful flowers Who said the peony is like a maid Her scent and beauty makes the noble palace so inspiring, like a spring breeze.”

Such scent, such beauty summons legions of people worldwide who share these sentiments and crave these attributes. It turns even the least sentimental and sensitive into poets, for there is poetry in all of us…needing only the proper inspiration and opportunity to be released and improve a weary world.

Here is what D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930), whose mastery of the erotic helped free a world from shame at what is only natural, wrote in “A Baby Running Barefoot” (1916):

“I long for the baby to wander hither to me Like a wind-shadow wandering over the water, So that she can stand on my knee With her little bare feet in my hands. Cool like syringa buds/Firm and silken like pink young peony flowers.”

And Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), the great poet of the great American heartland, so beloved of my mother. In “Mammy Hums” (1918) he wrote about “The petals of peony pink that fluttered in a shot of wind come and gone.”

And so, word by lyric word, poets of each generation have seen the grandeur and compelling splendor of the Peony, taking pen to paper in gratefulness at such great magnanimity…. and so must I:

“There! Do you see this great effusion o’er the land? It is the springtime of the year. Peony graces, our great link with generations gone. Its tenacious beauty what they saw what we see what they will see. Peony remembers. Its scent its unremitting gift.”

Now go to any search engine and look for the work of Chinese brush artist Virginia Lloyd-Davis.  In “Peony and Butterfly” she teamed up with pianist Josh Harvey. Together they created a place of beauty and peace, a place where Peony reigns supreme and blesses us. Go find it now. Serenity, harmony… and this imperial flower so gladdening to eye and spirit are waiting for you there.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today at http://homeprofitcoach.com/listbuilding



By Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Walk down the corridor at any dormitory at any university campus in the land. One of the things you are sure to see more often than not, are sign that says “Men working” or “No Parking” or “Deer crossing” and many others. These directions are found on signs carefully “liberated” by students out on treasure hunts. The signs are considered wampum, and most college students at some point or other have lifted one or more to decorate their dormitory room. The more rare the direction the more prized they sign.

Now, technically the students know this is theft. Technically, the universities know it too. But no one makes a big deal out of it. It is just something kids do during their college years. Steal things and then post them in their dormitory rooms. It is like wearing eagle feathers in their war bonnets.

Otto Warmbier came out of this tradition, and so when he went to North Korea as part of a special trip for Westerners, he probably didn’t think a great deal about lifting a sign that was in the corridor of the hotel where he was staying. The sign said “Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il’s patriotism!” He certainly never thought it would be much of an issue. After all, why do people go to North Korea in the first place? Because it is dangerous. Because they want to come back to his home in Ohio. They want to come back to their homes with tales a plenty, tales for life.

Close to the case

I feel very close to the Warmbier case. In 1968, I was 20 year old and en route to Poland, which was then under the control of the Communist regime of Wladyslaw Gomulka. Gomulka was a very nasty character and Poland was in deep distress at that time. The Communist Party still ruled, and any action against the regime could result in torture or even death.

I was living in London at the time; Like Otto, I wanted to see the world. So a friend and I signed up for a trip offered by the Young Pioneers of Poland. You may not know what a Pioneer is but in those days Pioneers were the young Communists. These were the equivalent of the Communist Boy Scouts. Only the behavior wasn’t very Scout like.

We paid a 150 Pounds to go from London to Zakopane in the south of Poland. The trip was strikingly successfully even although it was billed as a ski-trip. Uncoordinated as I am I didn’t see much time on the ski-slopes except looking up from the ground, head in a drift. However, at the end of the trip which was in January my friend and I decided that we wanted to go to Warsaw to take a good look around the capital. This was not included in the tour price. Nothing daunted we simply got on one of the state railways and rode illegally (First Class no less) from Zakopane to Warsaw. No one stopped us. This was quite an extensive trip involving as it did, traversing the entire country of Poland.

Well, we bluffed our way through to get to Warsaw. Ticket collectors would come to us. We’d pretend we didn’t understand them- which we didn’t because we didn’t speak a word of Polish. The point was that we did this deed of daring-do without having a penny for it or even considering it might be dangerous. We thought it was the greatest hoot of our lives. The danger only added to the spice. I tell you this because American college students then and now haven’t changed that much. They want to one-up their friends when they are travelling. To go to the Eiffel Tower is nothing but to go to the top of the Eiffel Tower in a balloon is everything.

Now, I cannot get into the head of the deceased student Otto Warmbier. But I can tell you this, I can picture the scene in Pyongyang that evening when he arrived. He travelled with 10 members on this trip organized by the North Korean Pioneers.

Otto saw in the corridor a sign and I know that he immediately thought hmm, I want this to go on my bedroom in Ohio. It would have made indeed a wonderful addition. Needless to say North Koreans didn’t see it this way. What Otto did was this; he got to the hotel. He saw this sign with its provocative pro-regime message; a message one of-course never sees in Ohio outside of history books and documentaries. He then decided to take it down and keep it. Well, he got it off the wall; then discovered that he couldn’t fold it or easily carry it away. So he took it down to the staff floor in the hotel and left it.

This was all captured in film, because of course being a Communist regime there was tight control run by control freaks. The people who were watching the television screen saw what he did and immediately called in the authorities who promptly arrested him at the airport as he was ready to leave.

The tour guide, Danny Gratton, reported later that Otto didn’t resist and went away with the authorities with a half-smile on his lips, no visible fear, possibly even thinking what a great story it would be when he was back in Ohio telling this tale. And so it might have been had not the North Koreans lost their sense of proportion, something always in short supply.

At no time in the proceedings was Otto Warmbier guilty of anything other than bad judgment. He didn’t curse. He didn’t scream. He didn’t cry. He didn’t try to escape. He didn’t make a fuss. He simply cooperated after all he was bringing to the situation an American outlook. He was behaving in a polite Ohion way because he was sure that he would be out within hours possibly a day or two if the things went longer than expected. And then something went terribly wrong.

Many people know what this is. I am not one of them. You are not going to be one of them either because the people who know are not telling. But I can guess, Otto went uncomplainingly along with the guards and was locked up in a cell. At this point no charges had been brought against him and his mood would have been relatively light. However this all changed quickly.

In the event, he went before a judge, and this is where the bombshell occurred. The judge sentenced him in January 2016 to 15 years of hard labor for the “hostile act”, trying to steal a propaganda poster off the wall at his hotel.

Now think for a moment. Here is a Ohio boy, dressed in Ohio clothes, with a Ohio mentality; no doubt very polite as Ohio boys tend to be. In his eyes he had done nothing wrong, and he was no doubt flabbergasted by the position in which he now found himself.
Why did the regime decide to hit Otto Warmbier with a haymaker, especially at a time when it seemed both the US and North Korea were inching towards a thaw, no matter how slight? No one who is in a position to talk is talking and every day that goes by everyone wants this Otto matter to be silenced.

To err is human

Why? Because one mistake beget another. His captors in a short snippet of film show Otto’s North Korean guards dragging him across the court like a bag of potatoes. Otto looks like a complete and total vegetable, head down no evidence he knows where he is or what is happening. Clearly he did not expect this. No one expected it. But the judge delivered this brutal sentence which probably followed roughing up or worse. I suspect that is what happened. Was he manhandled by some prison guards? Who of course do not have Ohio manners and do not approach their task in a polite and courtly fashion.

They had this hot potato named Otto. He was there; they didn’t know what to do with him. So they probably victimized even tortured him. One thing led to another and all of a sudden there was brain damage, massive brain damage. I imagine this occurred fairly early before any outside authority could be called into the case.

The judge said 15 years. Who told him to say that? How much leeway did he have? Was he being briefed by someone? The regime had a nasty problem on its hands now. They had gone beyond any reasonable kind of punishment. If any punishment in this case; what would have been reasonable?

They had abused Otto. After all he was the prime witness. To cover up what they had done they needed to kill him. A dead Otto was preferable from Pyongyang’s point of view, because a live Otto would have told exactly what had happened, and they didn’t want to have that. So, they covered it up. They kept the brain dead body with all the brutal evidence on his body for what they had done to him. They needed time to prepare the body so there would be no evidence.

It would have been best from the North Koreans standpoint if he had died “naturally” and quickly but they could hold out for a while. Then some bright light in the North Korean government decided that they want the body out and wanted him to die outside North Korea. Anywhere but Pyongyang.

And so the case of Otto Warmbier continued to galvanize people’s attention in the government. What to do with Otto became the persistent question. And what was done with him of course was hours literally couple of days before he died. The body which was now not so much piece of evidence as something appalling which had to be removed from North Korea, everybody had to stay quiet. Nobody wanted to rock the boat.

The real problem of this case was first of all who ordered the beating of Otto? Because I am sure at the very beginning he was beaten in a prescribed North Korean fashion. Who ordered that?

Who ordered the judge to give the 15 year sentence? Because I imagine that sentence was not given by the judge spontaneously but was the result of the government intervention. What benefit would there have been?

Meanwhile Ottos’s body continued to be a silent witness. He was still technically alive but in no position to testify and as soon as the North Korean government decided that there were no telltale wounds on the body and that it was too late for an autopsy. No scabbing of past injuries. As soon as they were certain that the body offered no grounds for accusation against the regime, they got rid of the body.

Now, we have a problem in Washington. The United States government has been trying to build bridges with North Korea. President Trump even offered to go to North Korea to advance things. Now, Otto’s lifeless body was a menace to that. Something had to be done. Poor old Otto; the boy who started the whole thing off, simply by stealing a sign in a prescribed Ohio fraternity boy fashion. His body lay silent. An accusation to everyone involved in the case.

Why had the United States government moved so slowly? Why didn’t they know more about his medical condition? Why didn’t they insist on medical intervention earlier in the case and on and on… The questions are blurring.

It comes to a point where yesterdays’ front page news which is what the Otto story was becomes today’s eighth page news which is where today’s Otto story is today.

June 22nd 2017, today is his funeral where everyone involved just simply wants closure. No more questions. No more accusations. No more evidence. No more speculation. Simply silence. They want the case of Otto Warmbier to be truly buried.

I am here to offer a candle in Otto’s memory. The pictures of him show exactly what he should have been in age 22; bright, clever, a charmer, a bit of wicked wit and high jinx about the boy. The boy who will now never know the joy of marriage, the joy of children, the joy of getting old and cracking jokes on the veranda. All these were denied to him because he became involved in what is probably a human error compounded by other humans trying to cover up. It is a sad story and it is a story that happens every day around the world, the most often of all in North Korea a brutal, stupid, thoughtless, menacing regime.

It involves government officials coming together. They want closure. They want this case to be over and move on and forget Otto. Let’s not do that this time. Let’s remember him as the attractive young man that he was; who made what by any standard anywhere else besides North Korea, that labyrinth of menace was a small mistake that cost him his life. And I say this as we put this matter to rest and continue our talks with North Korea. Let’s never forget this young man. Let’s never forget what North Korea did to him and is capable of.

Let’s also never forget that human error above all is the greatest error that could be imagined and it was human error and stupidity as much as anything else which caused this boy to die. There are now 3 additional Americans in North Korean prisons and one Canadian. Let us not forget the Canadian. I urge President Trump to get on the phone and call Pyongyang and say it would be a kind gesture to let those people go and stay on the case. Otto is dead but there are four lives which could still be saved with prompt intervention. We want the North Koreans to know that what they did was unacceptable. If they wish to be part of the community of nations they must learn our ways. We know their ways; they are the ways of brutality, terror, and random pain. We don’t need to learn theirs, they need to learn ours. 

The Bad Credit Card That May Do Good.

Millions of people use credit cards all around the world. A huge chunk of those users made mistakes when dealing with their credit cards. The consequence of the errors is costly.

A lot end up in debt and most of the time these are the people who rant about the credit card being the devil. But fact of the matter is, this is not the case. When used properly, credit cards are very good financial tools.

Credit cards are not necessarily just for people who have large sums of money to use. There are some cards even for the financially challenged, and these are called the: ?Bad Credit Cards.?

A bad credit card is just precisely that: a card with a very bad or low credit limit.

There are two types of credit cards: there is the secured and the unsecured credit cards.

Unsecured credit cards are the accounts that are free from the limits of a bank account. The limit of credit is up to the bank?s discretion and not up to the size of the bank account. If the bank thinks that a person is deserving of a bigger credit, then it will be given.

This is the usual type of credit cards in the market and is fairly popular among the card shopping people. These are also the cards known to be more respected by other companies. These are also the cards known to send people to a very deep debt.

This is the type of credit card that should be avoided if the applicant is already in a financial mess.

The secured credit cards are the bad credit cards. These cards are grounded on the size of the account a person has. For example, if a person has a $1,000 balance, then that is all the credit a person is going to get. If there is a point where the balance reaches $0, then the person should go and ?re-fill? the account.

The bank limits the credit to the money already present to avoid overspending, thus preventing even deeper debt. This will monitor the expenses of the person and will help the development of a financial recovery for some.

These credit cards are also known as ?pre-paid credit cards? for there is only a fixed amount that can be used and the holder is the one who puts it there.