Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas

mafia

I found an article on mother’s day in the rabbit hole of internet cross-linking. It has a fascinating story of how an undercover FBI agent realized that the mafia basically closed up shop on mother’s day. Reminds me of the line that Ben Wade says from 3:10 to Yuma, “even bad men love their mama’s.” He says this right before killing a man for calling his mom a whore.

I guess it goes like this, “I plan on snuffing you out, but it’s mother’s day…”

“Taking break from homicides

Burke’s [a mafia leader] gesture was no surprise to his fellow hoodlums: Mother’s Day was the most important Sunday on the organized crime calendar, when homicide took a holiday and racketeering gave way to reminiscing — often over a plate of Mom’s pasta and gravy. 

“These guys, they do have a love for their mothers,” said Joe Pistone, the FBI undercover agent who spent six Mother’s Days inside the Bonanno family as jewel thief Donnie Brasco. “They thought nothing of killing. But the respect for their mothers? It was amazing.” 

So amazing, Pistone recalled, that Bonanno member Benjamin “Lefty Guns” Ruggiero once told him that the Mafia — like a suburban Jersey mall shuttered by blue laws — closed for business when Mother’s Day arrived each May.”

Stranger than fiction….

 

Find the article here

The Power of Conscience

Kronk

We all have an inner voice with a moral bent. It talks to us and we talk back, usually in our heads but sometimes out loud. The Bible calls this conscience. Here is an example of this conversation from a bizarre story that is stranger than fiction. It is from a Forbes article documenting how the uber rich do not escape the hardships of life.

“One of the strangest and disturbing tragedies involves a billionaire heir, Robert Durst who was arrested in 2015, after implicating himself in the suspected murders of three people in HBO’s documentary “The Jinx.” Durst, who is a member of the New York real estate family worth $4.4 billion, had long been suspected to have killed his first wife Kathleen, who went missing in 1982. After leaving an on-camera interview for the documentary, his lapel microphone was still on, and Durst said to himself: “What the hell did I do? Killed ’em all, of course.” And humiliated a family that once had the world in their palm.”

Romans 2:14-15 “For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them…”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001. Print.

Source: Aubrey McClendon’s Sad Death And 8 Other Tragic Stories Involving The Super Rich – Forbes

Is It Too Little Butter, or Too Much Bread? Another Brilliant Blog Post From Seth Godin

Seth Godin is the master of the short blog post. And that is refreshing! I follow his blog by email and have read several of his books. He always has a unique angle on things. This post was really enjoyable, and I read it out loud to my wife. I thought I would share it with you here. If you don’t get his stuff, wander over to his site and sign up.

BTW, in addition to his blog he is always working on cool projects. I listened to his entrepreneur “Start UP School” podcast a while ago and was challenged. Find it here:

“Bilbo Baggin’s great quote about being stretched thin (“I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread.”) reveals a profound truth:

Most individuals and organizations complain of not having enough butter. We need more resources, we say, to cover this much territory. We need more (time/money/staff) to get the job done.

What happens if instead of always seeking more butter, we find the discipline to cover less bread?

Spreading our butter too thin is a form of hiding. It helps us be busy, but makes it unlikely we will make an impact.

It turns out that doing a great job with what we’ve got is the single best way to get a chance to do an even better job with more, next time.”

Source: Seth’s Blog: Is it too little butter, or too much bread?

When You Don’t Learn From Your Mistakes

mistakes

I love good stories.

They help to make the abstract stuff of life concrete. Here is a FANTASTIC story about the importance of learning from your mistakes. It comes from the book “Street Smarts” and was reprinted in Inc magazine. I just finished the book and I would highly recommend it.  The writing flows easily. It is clear, and obviously drawn from lots of experience. I am disappointed that he doesn’t have more books available.

Anyway, the author (Norm Brodsky) says that when there is a mistake in your organization you need to do two things, and both are very important.  First, stop the bleeding.  Second, determine the cause of the problem so it doesn’t happen again. This story is a good example of what happens when you forget to do #2.

‘A few months ago, my wife, Elaine, and I were in Dallas for a conference and we decided to go out to dinner at a fancy seafood restaurant near our hotel. The place was crowded, and we had no reservation, but the maitre d’ said he thought he could seat us in 20 minutes or so. While we waited at the bar, Elaine ordered a shrimp cocktail. Before it was served, the maitre d’ came over to tell us he had a table available in the balcony overlooking the main dining room.

“I just ordered a shrimp cocktail,” Elaine said.”No problem,” said the maitre d’.

“I’ll have someone bring it to your table.”

The shrimp cocktail arrived right after we did. Elaine tasted the sauce and found it too spicy. Intending to dilute it a bit, she reached for a bottle of ketchup on the table. As she turned the cap on the bottle, there was a loud pop, and ketchup came shooting out, covering her sweater, her blouse, her skirt, her whole arm.

Elaine sat there stunned, drowning in ketchup. Our waitress came running over. “Oh, I’m so sorry,” she said, handing us napkins. “Let me help you.” She worked feverishly to clean up the mess. “If you bring me your clothes tomorrow, I’ll have them cleaned for you,” she said.

The manager showed up a moment later and also offered his apologies. He wiped ketchup off a chair and sat down with us. “I’m terribly sorry about this,” he said and gave me his card. “Just send the cleaning bill to me. I’ll make sure it’s taken care of.”

Both Elaine and I were suitably impressed. Every business, including ours, has its share of accidental, unavoidable, nightmarish customer screwups. If we’re the customers involved, we mainly want people to act as though they’re sincerely sorry and to do what they can to repair the damage. We would have been quite satisfied if the manager had left it at that. But as he stood up to leave, he said, “In a way, you were lucky.”

“What do you mean?” Elaine asked.

“The last time this happened, the person got ketchup all over her hair. We had to send her to the beauty parlor. At least you just have it on your clothes.”

“You mean this has happened before?” I asked.

“Oh, yeah,” the manager said. “It happens fairly often. This part of the restaurant can get extremely hot during the day. We ask the waitresses to loosen the caps of the ketchup bottles, so the pressure doesn’t build up inside, but sometimes they forget, and the bottle explodes when the guest goes to open it.” With that, he excused himself and walked away.

Elaine and I didn’t know whether to be outraged or to burst out laughing. We were dumbfounded. I could think of all kinds of ways to make sure customers don’t have to endure ketchup bombs: Take the ketchup downstairs every evening; buy a small refrigerator for the balcony and keep the bottles there during the day; put the ketchup in vented containers; serve ketchup only when the customer asks for it. Instead the restaurant had come up with a solution that solved nothing. The bottles kept exploding; the ketchup kept flying; the staff kept cleaning up and apologizing; and the victims kept telling everyone they met about their experience, thereby turning what should have been a one-time embarrassment into an ongoing public relations problem. That’s what can happen when you don’t learn from your mistakes.’

Source: Problems, Problems | Street Smarts by Norm Brodsky | Inc.com

Photo used by permission  Topher McCulloch. Some rights reserved

Prisoners To Our Own Appetites. Now THAT Is A Story

Jail cell

This is an amazing account from Mark Buchanan. It is a strange story that illustrates how we are often prisoners to our own appetites.

“Thomas Costain, in his book The Three Edwards, relates a historical episode from the fourteenth century. Two brothers, Raynald and Edward, fought bitterly. Edward mounted war against Raynald, captured him alive, and imprisoned him in Nieuwkerk Castle.

“But it was no ordinary prison cell. The room was reasonably comfortable. And there was no lock on the door—not a bolt, not a padlock, not a crossbeam. Raynald was free to come or go at will. In fact, it was better than that: Edward promised Raynald full restoration of all rights and titles on a single condition: that he walk out of that room.

“Only Raynald couldn’t. The door was slightly narrower than a typical door. And Raynald was enormously fat. He was swaddled in it. He could not, with all his squeezing and heaving, get himself outside his cell. He might more easily have passed a camel through a needle.

“So in order to walk free and reclaim all he’d lost, he had only to do one thing: lose weight. That would have come easily to most prisoners, with their rations of bread and water.

“It did not come easy to Raynald. Edward had disguised a great cruelty as an act of generosity. Every day, Edward had Raynald served with the richest, sauciest foods, savory and sweet, and ample ale and wine to boot. Raynald ate and ate and grew larger and larger. He spent ten years trapped in an unlocked cell, freed only after Edward’s death. His health was so ruined, he died soon himself.”

Buchanan’s book “The Rest Of God” is delightful and full of great content and excellent writing. It explores something that is oddly missing from many discussions of the Sabbath, the issue of rest.

Buchanan, Mark (2007-03-11). The Rest of God: Restoring Your Soul by Restoring Sabbath (pp. 165-166). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

How Do You Face Cancer When Your Job Is To Make People Laugh?

Best of Times-2

What is it like when your child has cancer? Sad. Confusing. Exhausting. Unbearable.

What is like when your child has cancer, and your job is to make people laugh? How does a comedian cope with tragedy?

This is a very moving story, told by Anthony Griffith the comedian about the time in his life when his career was at his highest, while at the same time coping with his daughter’s cancer.

Very powerful. Some strong language. Makes you think about what is truly important.

It often takes an episode of tragedy or loss to wake us up to what is important. But, the most important things are still right there in front of us when everyone is healthy. A word to the wise…

The camera is shaky for the first minute, but it settles down. A good use of 10 minutes of your life.

Monday Morning Haiku- Friendship

Conversation Haiku

I wrote these after our son unexpected stopped by our home.  He attends a nearby university and we hadn’t seen him in a little while (about a week, I know that is not long, but it still feels long when you enjoy your children). Our conversation volleyed back and forth like a good tennis match. These poems are as much about conversation as friendship. Is there really much of a difference?

Haiku 3.23.15

Together Again

Conversation flows

Between friends after a break

Catching up on life.

-mtroupe 2015

 

Conversation

Words share life and love

Friends speak of things that moved them

While they were apart.

-mtroupe 2015

 

Soul Food

Stories delight us

Nourishing the souls of friends

Bringing joy to life.

-mtroupe 2015

Edited photo used by permission of Kathleen Conklin. Some rights reserved

A Bright Spot At A Nursing Home

Elderly

Earlier today I went to visit my mom. She has lived in a nursing home for more than a year. She was recently admitted to the “regular” hospital for a severe infection in her legs.  The skin is red, and swollen, and hard from just below the knee. It is “cellulitis.” She has had battled this unsuccessfully for years.  The medications fight off the infection, but it always returns with fire. This time it was bad.  The doctor said if it wasn’t treated she could end up loosing her legs. At the hospital, the lab tests revealed it was a drug resistant strain- MRSA.

After several days she was able to return to the nursing home. She will be confined to an isolation room for a while. But she still has her legs, thank God.  Though they still look red and swollen.

After wiggling my large frame into the required yellow gown, and putting on the gloves, I entered her room. My dad was there visiting her, as he does every day.  He is there every day his own health allows him to come.  While I was there a couple of things occurred to me.

First, I am aware of my father’s love for her.  Today she was doing so-so. Not the best, not the worst.  But her mind wasn’t clear. Whether it was the medications or the infection, she was drifting off to sleep.  When she spoke, it made some sense, but something wasn’t right.  She reminded me of the aged Bilbo in the last Lord of the Rings movie. She would fall asleep while sitting in her wheel chair and the sudden bob of her head would startle her awake. Then she would look around embarrassed a little and laugh. We both encouraged her to lay down.  She took a long time to make this short journey. She kept getting distracted and falling back asleep. She rearranged the dishes on her tray.  She rechecked the locks on the wheel chair. She switched some of the pillows. It was frustrating because we were standing there waiting to help her and it was almost like she didn’t realize this.

And my dad was there. I made eye contact with him, both of us realizing that something wasn’t right. That her behavior was awkward. I smiled to him, trying to indicate that it was OK and there was no need for excuses or embarrassment. He smiled back. He is 78, and his own health is not great. He has battled through cancer, a heart attack, and several vascular surguries. But he is a faithful man in the real sense of that word.  And he has kept his vows to love my mother through the long years of sickness. To love her when love isn’t easy. To love her when the doctors don’t have any answers and there isn’t much hope. I was there with them today and this is what stood out to me.  His love. A bright light in a dark cave.  No doubt this is a gift of God’s grace. I am thankful for a dad like this. I want to be like him.

Second, I thought about my own future. This could be me some day. If I have the privilege of growing old, one day my body will give up. I may end up in a nursing home. What would that be like? I know my mom hates it here.  When we talk about this, I usually remind her that this is the best we can do under the circumstances. The nursing home is actually a pretty good one. But still no one wants this. But all things considered, this is where she can get the care she needs. And even with all this, she is still pretty sick. Maybe some day, this will be me. How would I feel about it?

Or maybe I will be the one visiting. Maybe my wife will be the one that is sick and stuck in a tough spot.  Today as I visited my mom, I was aware of the possible future that I would rather not consider.  But, I want to at least think about this. And I want to take it seriously. And I want to behave differently because I thought about it. I don’t want to arrive here at some point in the future and hate myself because I was too proud or too rushed to make such deliberations.

Photo Courtesy of Xavi Talleda. Some rights reserved