Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Udderly In Love With The Senior Citizens

I love old people.

The other day the Men's Choir from our church entertained the residents at the Gateway Senior Community in Euclid.

About an hour before we began, I had the idea of dramatizing the latest addition to our repertoire, GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY A REINDEER.

Just a few days shy of Christmas, reindeer outfits were not to be found. The clerk at the costume shop said the only animal available was a dairy cow.

So it was with apprehension that we enacted the tune GRANDMA GOT RUN OVER BY ELSIE THE COW.

My brother dressed up as Borden's favorite bovine, udders prominent and well, you get the whole ridiculous picture.

Few audiences would have known how to respond to such bizarre theater.

Except for this audience.

These folks, average age around eighty-eight, loved it, laughing uproariously.

It was a grand time in the Gateway Social hall that night, walkers banging against the floor in rhythm to the music.

The Men's Choir was enveloped by a collective hug of warmth and appreciation despite Rudolph being replaced by the Great Guernsey.

Only a group of senior citizens would have had the goodwill and sense of humor to let us get away with a gag like that.

That's why I love old people.

I also love them because they tell it like it is.

Perhaps for them, the life left is too short to beat around the bush wasting time dressing up the truth.

Give it to 'em straight.

A famous Catholic preacher told the true story of an old woman who listened to a rather liberal Jesuit proclaiming that modern theology viewed hell as a fiction.

"You don't believe in hell?", she asked incredulously.

"I most certainly do not, madam", he replied.

She looked him right in the eye and said, "You will when you get there."

We called my mother's father "Gran" and we loved to listen to his stories of what Mom was like growing up.

He played piano with superb chord structure up until the day he passed away, despite his loss of sight years previous.

He trained us kids to be Chocaholics like him, always in search of new ways to incorporate the taste of a Hershey bar into a recipe.

He was the oldest person I knew and he embodied fun.

The Chinese revere oldsters. They value their wisdom and experience.

I value their joy.

So should you.

Besides, who else would appreciate the fact that you can't get milk from a reindeer?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Urgent: Read This If You Use A Computer

                Metadata scares the living daylights out of me.

                Metadata is something that's been around for a long time but which has only recently come to the attention of the mainstream media and the public in general.

                Metadata is information encrypted in every document that you prepare using a computer.

    So far so good.

                This  encrypted information is forever  attached like superglue to the document you prepared and it includes everything that may have been included in that writing before it was finalized to your satisfaction.

                When you send that document to another person by way of e-mail or any other form of digital transfer, your Metadata goes along for the ride and you don't even know it.

    Enter the miners.

                Using special  software, those receiving your electronic mail can "mine" the Metadata.

                The recipient can re-create every single keystroke you entered in the preparation of your document and therefore will have access to all of the earlier versions of your written conveyance.

                If you are accustomed to placing comments in the margin of documents for private limited circulation prior to final draft, your confidential remarks can now be viewed by those to whom you are sending the final document.

                Imagine the nasty e-mail prepared in the heat of the moment that you edit before you hit the send key. You were relieved that you allowed yourself to cool off and remove the offensive diatribe prior to sending that message.

                The object of your erased anger learns what you originally intended to say by mining the Metadata.


    In case you doubt whether this  sort of thing really happens, read on.

    When President Bush nominated Sam Alito to the  Supreme Court, his nomination was placed in doubt because of an anonymous and damaging anti-Alito memorandum that made its way into the offices of members of     the     United     States Senate.

                 Mining the Metadata allowed Senate staffers to determine that the memorandum was actually prepared and sent by members of the Democratic National Committee. Oops.

                 Here's another one.  In 2005 Great Britain's Home Secretary sent an e-mail showing his support for anti-terrorism legislation.

                Some sophisticated mining of the Metadata showed that this English politician actually harbored early doubts about the legislation which were omitted in his final draft.

                The situation is so serious that the American Bar Association has actually suggested that the best way to communicate is simply by producing a hard copy of all documents and then sending them through the United States mail using that ancient object called a postage stamp.

                The Postmaster General of the United States, faced with  e-mails   cutting  into his revenue,  is doing cartwheels.

                So stock up on your stationery and invest in a few thousand "Forever" stamps.

                Your Metadata is following you.

                Leave it behind and together we'll save the Post Office.

                 And perhaps your reputation.   

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Scientists Looking For Love in All the Wrong Places

                News from the science world recently fought its way into the headlines of newspapers all across the country with the announcement that scientists were close to identifying the "God particle". 

                Guido Tonelli, spokesman for the European Center for Nuclear Research   in Switzerland, said the evidence of such a particle was there in their findings.

                For lay people, the God particle is defined as a sub-atomic particle whose presence allows other particles to join together to form an accumulation of mass.

                In other words, the God particle would explain how things or objects came into existence at the beginning of time.

                Scientists have for years been searching for an explanation of the force that caused randomly wandering subatomic particles to conglomerate into objects instead of just bouncing around the cosmos in their sub-atomic state.

                The God particle would therefore help to provide a scientific explanation for creation itself.

                Except for one problem: they can't find it.

                What they have been able to prove is that since subatomic particles have no intelligence of their own, something must have been present leading to an organized plan generating material things and living things.

                It seems to me that these God particle scientists in Geneva have merely proven something that surveys show most of us believe in: God.

Many years ago a scientist by the name of Duncan McDougall used science to prove the existence of the soul. His scientific experiments proved that a human body, upon death, becomes slightly lighter in weight at the moment of expiration.

Dr. McDougall pronounced his data as proof that we all have a soul that departs at the end of our life.

                What bothers me is the danger that many will rely on these limited tools of science in order to reach conclusions about the existence of God and the spiritual nature of mankind.

Tumors disappear without explanation frequently after families and friends petition God through their prayers.

Doctors are often left dumbfounded when patients awake from a coma with normal intellectual capacity after an MRI previously demonstrated that the individual had no brain function.

                In Canton Ohio you can visit the home of Rhoda Weiss, where you can see the hundreds of photographs and blood stained garments showing the stigmata she endured for many years as a way of uniting herself with the suffering of Jesus.

                My point is that you don't have to go very far to find evidence of God.

                Have you ever seen a newborn baby?

So while the scientific community is spending millions of dollars at a research institute in Europe, I humbly posit that these learned men and women are, like the song says, looking for love in all the wrong places.

The God particle is inside every single one of us if we would just listen to God's call to be more like him and let the divine within us shine through.

In a soup kitchen somewhere tonight God will manifest himself in acts of kindness shown to a lonely old woman who thought that no one cared for her. The God particle is there.

Just like it was in the manger 2000 years ago, surrounded by oxen and sheep and the mother and father who didn't need Guido Tonelli to tell them that God might exist.

You don't need Guido either.

Do you?


Thursday, December 8, 2011

Man Made Machine Might Corrupt Justice

Let me begin by saying that drunk drivers must be punished as a deterrent to ensure that we keep our highways safe for the rest of us.


But do you believe that it's okay to convict otherwise innocent drivers of this politically incorrect crime?


Welcome to the modern age of DUI prosecution in the Buckeye state.


Ohio recently spent over $6 million to install brand-new portable breath testing devices at police departments throughout the state.


The Ohio Department of Health has determined that the Intoxilyzer 8000  be the only alcohol testing machine used throughout our state in order to provide uniformity in the treatment of those suspected of driving while impaired.


Here's the problem.


It turns out that the Intoxilyzer 8000  is a piece of junk.

The state of Minnesota sued the manufacturer of the Intoxilyzer 8000    because the machine's  creator refused to disclose its software source code  to  allow the state to properly evaluate the accuracy of this device.


In Florida, DUI cases are thrown out on a regular basis due to the inaccuracy of the test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000. The state of Arizona has experienced the same miserable results.


In the state of Tennessee,  a task force determined that the Intoxilyzer 8000   did not yield satisfactory results to determine blood alcohol levels. Tennessee won't touch this Rube Goldberg product.


Right here in Ohio Municipal Court Judge Gary  Dumm ruled that test results from the Intoxilyzer 8000   will not be admitted in his court until the State of Ohio can present scientific proof of its reliability.

 Athens County Judge William Grimm  also expressed concerns about the way that smart phone and radio interference distorts the accuracy of  Intoxilyzer 8000   readouts.


As if this were not bad enough, the Ohio Department of Health recently expressed in  its own website that "no warranties, expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, reliability or suitability" of data obtained from the Intoxilyzer 8000   can be made by the State of Ohio.

If the state of Ohio is unwilling to rely on the Intoxilyzer 8000  results, should they be sufficient to send you or a loved one to jail?


Here's the real kicker.


When the Ohio Department of Health was in the process of choosing a new testing device for purchase by the taxpayers, Dean Ward served as the head of the Bureau of Alcohol and Drug Testing for the State of Ohio.

 Mr.  Ward recommended the Intoxilyzer 8000   and millions of taxpayer dollars were expended for the purchase of these useless machines.


The manufacturer, a company called CMI  in Owensboro,  Kentucky was very happy to win the Ohio contract.


Dean Ward then left his job at the Ohio Department of Health and 13 months later found a terrific new position in the private sector.


His new employer?


You guessed it. Dean Ward is the new  Director of East Coast Sales for CMI.

Now I must disclose that as a lawyer I have both prosecuted and defended DUI cases.

I want our streets to be safe from people that turn automobiles into weapons of mass destruction when they get behind the wheel having had one too many.


But we can never accept the idea that justice must be sacrificed at the altar of technology so flawed that entire states and municipal courts refuse to accept the results of that technology.


Especially when that technology has been chosen from a process tainted by the implication of corruption.

Have another cup of black coffee, Ohio.

By the time we learn the whole truth regarding this controversy, you're gonna have a hangover.

Or at least Dean Ward has a machine that says you will.  

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

TSA Script: Airport Screeners Scream"Spread 'em!"

Here's something that'll make you think twice when you take that holiday trip.


I've noticed over the last couple of years that the airport screeners  all across our country do something disgusting that could present a health risk for passengers.


Some of us are  selected  for an item by item examination  of the contents of our carry-on. Those who examine  your bags wear those beautiful sky blue industrial gauge rubber gloves in order to protect themselves as they rummage through your belongings.


Here's the problem.


Sometimes the inside of a passenger's bag can be pretty disgusting.


When I was at Georgetown University in Washington D.C., I can remember getting ready to fly home back to Cleveland for the holidays.


I was always running late and figured I could just throw a bunch of dirty laundry in my bag  so mom could help me with her professional touch doing the laundry at home the way laundry ought to be done (as opposed to the disorganized  bachelor style methods I used living on my own).


So it was normal for me to be tossing dirty underwear, soiled socks, and mildewed bath towels into a humongous gym bag I carted off to the  airport.


And I'm sure you've seen the filth inside a bag when someone comes home having done a little camping. Hiking boots that tramped over moose ka-ka sometimes find their way into somebody's American Tourister.


In any case, I  have continued to observe that the Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) employees wear those same rubber gloves from one baggage search to another  WITHOUT CHANGING GLOVES BETWEEN SEARCHES.


This means that Mrs. Shtoopenheimer's Chanel No. 6.4  could end up on little Jimmy Butler's blankie.


Residue from Mr. Planter's peanut puffs could  accidentally end up on my nephew's pillow.  My nephew has  a peanut allergy.


           My real  concern is for the gross things that will be transferred from one bag to another.


Remember my bag at  the airport during my college days? No hands plunged into my bag should have ever touched the contents of anyone else's bag without being completely sanitized at high temperature.


The Center for Disease Control lists the transmission of germs by hand to be one of the most significant health hazards that we face. Venereal disease, skin problems, and fecal residue are likely stowaways joining you on your trip to your destination because our government just doesn't give a damn.


James Fortenos, Public Affairs Officer for the TSA,   was kind enough to send me a copy of the official airport screening policy. The screeners have an official policy that does not require changing gloves between luggage searches.


If you want them to put on a fresh pair of gloves, you have to ask.


This is completely unsatisfactory for two reasons.


First of all,  you should never have to ask for something which is a matter of basic health and safety. Can you imagine having to ask the waitress to wash her hands before she handles your food?


 Your local health department would never tolerate this TSA practice were they given jurisdiction over such matters.



Secondly, the entire screening process is often so intimidating that passengers are afraid to request anything out of the ordinary.


 I think most of us are afraid that asking for special treatment  means we'll end up on some kind of list circulated throughout the offices of Homeland Security.


So here's a message to our government: keep your smurfy  latex out of my Samsonite until you establish an official policy requiring fresh gloves before you start rooting through my Fruit of the Looms.


Now that's not too much to ask, is it?

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Father Guido Sarducci brings us Humor and Wisdom

Here's a question.

Where are you going when you die?

Survey after survey shows that the vast majority of us believe there is life after death.

So why do we live our lives as if we'll live forever?

You'd think we'd live this life as a preparation for the next.

Is that next life important?

Well,      if our next life lasts for eternity, then I'd say it makes sense for us to be prepared.

By the way, for a sense of the magnitude of eternity, follow this illustration described by Father Larry Richards of Erie, Pennsylvania.

Imagine an old man who picks up a grain of sand from the shores of Lake Erie and then takes 10,000 years to take one step.

He walks one 10,000-year step at a time to place that one grain of sand on the top of Mount Everest.

Then imagine this man making these trips walking to place every grain of sand from every lake, river, and ocean on the top of Mount Everest.

When he has finished,  the first day of eternity has passed.

 Mind-boggling isn't it?

So here is the question: If eternity is the length of our next life,  why do we waste even one second of this brief present existence on anything that doesn't help us to be ready for the next one?

Comedian Don Novello invented the quirky lovable character of Father  Guido Sarducci, Vatican emissary.

Father Sarducci once described heaven as a place where an angel presents us with a box containing all that we lost during our life on earth.

In a premonition, he saw his box in heaven, filled with lost wallets, car keys, watches, and parking tickets.

He says that he now purposely loses things just to make sure he is well supplied when he gets to heaven.

It's a pretty good bit of humor but it carries a subtle message.

             Are we giving up the pleasures of this life in order to ensure a more glorious existence in the next?

Look, I'm not arguing abandonment of your family or your job.

I am, however, urging a reassessment of your daily priorities.

We are all dying.

I recently met a 35-year-old stenographer who two months ago saw life turned upside down as the doctor told her that the pain in her chest came from a malignant  tumor. This young mom is thinking about eternity.

Are you?

Better hurry up and do so.

We are all one pathology report away from eternity. One turnpike car wreck away from facing the path that requires 10,000 years to take one step.

Are you going to do one thing, anything, today that helps you to be ready?

Do you live a daily life that does nothing, in terms of a real plan?

We are not plants. We are not animals.

There is more in store for us after the ICU screen reads flatline.

Pick up a Bible.

Volunteer at a homeless shelter.

Create something good and noble.

Help someone without any concept of benefit or gain for you.

Selflessly love someone.

Do something.

Forever after you die is a very long time.

Get ready.


Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Remains of the Day... could belong to Your Son or Daughter

            Societies reveal their most cherished values by showing respect for them.


            That's why we whisper in church and bow and kneel before our God.


            That's why we remove our hats in Court.


            Respect for that which we hold dear.


            And that's also why we pause to honor our war dead.  They are perhaps the one group of heroes that most universally joins us together as Americans.


            In rural towns and crowded cities, our military's fallen inspire thousands of Americans to stand solemnly curbside, hands over their hearts or hands in salute.


            The very deepest of respect for those who paid the ultimate price on our behalf.


            That's what's so disturbing about the news reported from the Dover Air Force Base Mortuary a few days ago.


            It seems that is has been a regular practice to have the unattached body parts of our slain soldiers cremated.


            And then dumped in a landfill!


            Family of our most gallant had been assured that the ashes had been given deserved respect.


            The government lied about that.


            The Washington Post reported that families of Americans who lost their lives on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan were never told the truth.   


            Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz recently told congress that they now bury the remains at sea with a proper ceremony.  Problem fixed, he claims.


            Nevertheless, the story was stunning and disturbing.


            The body parts that can't be identified must be treated with respect.


            We treasure these young men and women.  If the ravages of violent battle separate them from any part of their body, we should honor these heroes by honoring those sometimes shredded and difficult to manage remains.


            Every drop of their blood is a tribute to their courage.


            No greater love has any man than to give his life for a friend.


            I am relieved the situation has been rectified.


            But I wonder how Mrs. Jones feels as she bows in prayer at Arlington Cemetery, knowing that the severed limb of her young son is scattered among the rats and decayed garbage at Waste Management's landfill center.


            General Sherman told us that war is hell.


            Must we perpetuate hell for families by disrespecting their noble children?


            Never again, you say General Schwartz?


            We hope and pray that you are right.


            If not, we stand for nothing as a people.


            Americans, let's keep this promise.


                Our war dead deserve nothing less.




            DAVID M. LYNCH

Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Agony of Defeat Often Focuses Our Priorities

  Here's a personal story.


            Someone I am close to ran for office the other day and lost in an extremely close race:  one-half of one percent difference in votes between winner and loser.


            I have been on both the inside and the outside of the winner's circle in the past at different times.


            Losing an election is often tough, even emotional at times.


            In any case, I received an e-mail from the losing candidate that put life into perspective.


            Here is an excerpt from that e-mail.


            I awoke early after a restless sleep, tossing and turning all night, trying not to think about what I might have done differently.  I walked into my kitchen feeling a little sorry for myself.


 I kept thinking that after all the time, money, and effort spent on my campaign, hadn't I earned the victory?


 As I reached for the coffee, Razzy came trotting in, same as always.  She stretched and padded over to the refrigerator and waited for the small piece of cheese she's come to expect each day.  She wagged her tail in great expectation.


 She could not have cared less that I was not going to be elected.  Her love, attitude and expectations were unaffected by my disappointment. I began to be jealous of my dog!


            God's love for us is pure, constant, and eternal.  His divine providence is not dependent on our failure or success.  He is the same every morning, and He is good all the time! 


 We all face disappointments in life, yet God remains faithful!  Faith is always easier on the mountain top, but it is in the valley where we learn the important lessons!    



            In this age of emphasizing the importance of winning, this candidate reached some pretty important conclusions about life, God, and keeping your priorities straight.


            It's easy to admire the winners.


            Sometimes the losers have something important to say.


            At a handicap Olympics a few years ago, one boy shot to the front of the footrace while another fell to the ground only a few yards into the race.


            The lad about to break the tape at the finish line stopped dead in his tracks.


            The crowd shouted "You're a winner, Jimmy, you're a winner!"


            Jimmy didn't win.


            Instead he looked back at his fallen comrade and shouted "you're a winner, too, Frank!"


            He then came back to Frank and helped him limp to the finish line, both  tied for last place.


            Victory is the frequent calling card of the Yankees, the Steelers, and Southeastern football teams.


            We bask in the warm light of superiority as Americans who are used to winning and being number one.


            There is nothing wrong with striving for excellence and realizing our loftiest ambitions.


            Let's just not lose sight of the fact that despite Vince Lombardi's coaching mantra, winning isn't everything.


            Nobility, virtue, and faith can be found outside the spotlight and in the shadows where the losers wistfully observe the celebration at home plate.


            Are your  priorities in order?


            St. Peter doesn't give one dog-gone about your promotion or your new Lexus or your high school state Championship or your stunning electoral victory.


            He wants to know how you treated people and whether you kept God's goals high up on your list with your own.


            Razzy and God love you for who you are.  Not for what you've done.


            So give the Razzy in your life a little chunk of cheddar and give God the chance to see the kindness and faith that you give to others.


            Win or lose.



David M. Lynch

Friday, November 4, 2011

And the Survey Says... When Buckeyes go to Hollywood

            Here's a true story about a game show experience.


            Years ago, my sister-in-law had us audition at an Eastlake hotel for an appearance on the "Family Feud" game show.


            I didn't really think it would go anywhere.


            I was wrong.


            We were selected to fly to Hollywood and appear on the daytime version of "Family Feud".


            I was the guy or the end, you know, the family member who is there as the husband of one of the family members.  I was pretty sure that, being on the end of the panel, I'd get the least attention.


            Again I was wrong.


            I was Mayor of Euclid at the time and the producers decided to designate me as the head of the family – my wife's family!


            They made this switch, transforming me from the barely noticed to the spokesman and team captain only five minutes before we went  live on National TV!




            The Host was a wonderful  TV personality named Ray Combs who was beloved  by the Family Feud Production staff because of his professionalism and kindness.


            Apparently this was quite a contrast to his predecessor, Richard Dawson, who launched the original show.


            Dawson was notorious for kissing female contestants and acting like a jerk off the air.


            Well, it all came to a crashing halt as we were eliminated on our very first day.  We came home, tails between our legs, better off for the experience but disappointed.


            A few months later, we received a phone call.


            My wife's family was so engaging that they wanted us to return and appear on the night- time version of "The Feud".


            So off we went again, this time competing for larger prizes and before a bigger audience. 


            The producer, a man affectionately known as "Howie",  greeted us like old friends.  They gave us a rental car, spending money (were they nuts?) and put us up in a posh hotel.


            The same old set felt like our home court in Television City in Hollywood.  By the way, the sets look great on TV but up close they are pretty cheap and much smaller than what viewers see.


            We were veterans and we were ready!



            We rolled to victory and we went into the bonus round where lurked substantially larger prize money.


            In this part of the game, two players provide responses to survey questions hoping to match the most popular answers.


            My wife's sister went first while I contemplated life in a sound-proof booth that played elevator music to ensure that I couldn't hear the questions.


            Released from my cubicle, it all fell on me.


            The last question, the one where I needed a good response,  was this:  Name something people do with snow.


            I said build a snowman.  Ray said try again  because this answer  had already been given.


            With only 3 seconds to spare I blurted "make snowballs!"


            A suspenseful revelation of the point totals a moment later said that "make snowballs" was the number one answer and we won the grand prize!


            We went home, the conquering heroes.


            Now it's all sort of faded away and I realize how shallow the whole process was.  People acting excited just to win a few bucks on television.


            Ray Combs committed suicide shortly after that, the  victim of pain pill addiction after a serious car accident.


            Sometimes I pause to consider this: When it snows, do you first think Frosty or  snowball fights? The correct answer could earn you big cash…or just some great memories.      

Friday, October 28, 2011

De-nice way to respond to De-lay when we De-ice

            As our plane sat on the runway, awaiting for take-off from Akron-Canton the other day, passengers grumbled about the delay as the pilot requested " de-icing of the wings".


            It was a very cold morning. 


            Tanker trucks appeared out of nowhere and drenched the plane in a greenish grey fluid designed to eliminate ice. 


            More grousing from the cabin.


            "Do we really need to do that?"  complained the woman in front of  me.


            I was immediately transported back to January of 1982. 


            I was in my old 1978 Chevy Impala on my way back from law school at Georgetown University in Washington DC.   The snowfall was pretty heavy.


            I was a half mile from crossing the 14th Street Bridge into Arlington, Virginia when traffic came to a halt.


            We were stuck in a tunnel on the George Washington Parkway so we couldn't see what was ahead.


            After a delay of about an hour and a half, we were rerouted completely away  from the bridge, which I never really got close to.


            Air Florida Flight 90 took off from Washington National Airport at 3:00 p.m. that cold January day in 1982. 


            The pilots noticed ice building up on the wings but  felt  they could power their way through takeoff, expecting that the ice would blow off as they gained air speed.


            They were wrong.


            Flight 90 couldn't achieve the lift needed.  That front edge of the wing is designed to create upward pressure needed for ascent.  Ice on the wing compromises this lifting effect.


            The jet crashed only two miles from the airport, smack into the 14th Street Bridge, killing numerous commuters who, like me, traveled that bridge into Arlington daily.


            The aircraft collapsed into the frozen Potomac River where some passengers were plucked from the icy water by brave rescuers who dove into danger as the fuselage began to sink into the murky waters.


            This river made famous by the father of our country  allegedly tossing a silver dollar over its depths now became famous for another reason more menacing.


            The video of the horror and carnage on the news that night put me on my knees in prayer of thanks that I was spared. 


            Seventy-eight soles were lost in this disaster. 


            I looked at the crabby passenger ahead of me as my mind refocused on the current moment.     


            Calm down, sweetheart.


            De-ice all you want to, baby.  Take a bath in that stuff.


            I would say it's worth the delay, wouldn't you?



David M. Lynch