Monthly Archives: August, 2017


Twenty years ago today, Princess Diana was killed in an automobile accident in Paris.


August 30, 1997 – ‘Dodi has a plan.  Two cars will act as decoys leaving from the Ritz front entrance.  He and Diana will leave from the rear in a Mercedes S280.  Henri Paul, 41, the Ritz’s acting head of security, is given the task of driving the couple.  He has been called in while off duty and is seen drinking two measures of Ricard pastis in the bar while he waits.’   the


August 31, 1997 – ‘Diana and Dodi leave the Ritz at 00.18 captured on CCTV waiting for their car.  A last picture shows them in the Mercedes: Paul at the wheel, Dodi’s bodyguard, Trevor Rees-Jones, the sole survivor, in the front, and Diana in the back looking out of the rear windscreen.  As the car, chased by photographers, approaches Pont de l’Alma at speed, Paul clips a white Fiat Uno and looses control.  It hits the 13th pillar.  He has no time to brake.’   the


I recall watching, on television, Diana and Charles wedding on July 29, 1981.  Her beauty was radiant and her personality was mesmerizing.


I seemed to me that Diana gave hope to the many hopeless that often do not have an advocate.


Her care for those with Aids and her spontaneous touching of them and hugging them…was a breath of fresh air in a very polarizing and frightening time.


Look at her eyes…they were lonely and sad.


Yet, her spirit lifted us all!



Note: All photos are from BBC News.




Fun at the Old Ballpark

IMG_5211Last evening we were privileged to see the Southern Illinois Miners play the Grizzlies.  This was a great and relaxing experience and we had some outstanding seats…courtesy of Aaron.

IMG_5216This was the next to the last game of the season.  I heard the announcer state that the Miner’s Manager, Mike Pinto, was in his eleventh season, and so I believe that the Ballpark must have first opened about 2007.

The Miners are the winningest team in their league.

IMG_5224During the first years of the Team…we attended several of their home games.  I was reminded, last night, how relaxing and enjoyable a Miner’s Game can be.


We met Jonathon’s former colleague, Liz, and what a delight she was!  Jonathon spoke to me, almost daily, about how much of an interest that Liz took in him and what a pleasure she was to work with, when he began at SIU Key Control.

IMG_5266Liz took the above picture of the Brooks…and literally made our evening!

I was Wiener Wednesday…or Hot Dogs for $1.  We took advantage of the offer!


All it takes is a night out at the Ballpark…to bring out the Kid in all of us.




A Vision for the Future

‘Resources do not define your vision or define your ultimate goals – they establish a framework for the path that you have to travel.  But they don’t define who we are as an institution,’  Montemagno said.  ‘My vision is that we establish SIUC as a destination institution – that people from across the country and around the world know us and want to come here because of the quality of the educational experience the students get.’   Daily Egyptian


New SIUC Chancellor Montemagno recognizes an opportunity that is currently not being used, that of community involvement.


I like what the New Chancellor says about resources not defining who we are!

Resources, certainly did not define the SIU Normal College that Delyte Morris came to, as the New President, in 1948.

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Dr. Morris grew the small Teacher’s College into an International Carnage II institution that had a satellite campus in Edwardsville, Illinois and a Medical School in Springfield, Illinois and a Law School on the Carbondale Campus.

If…Resources…had frightened President Morris…he would have never come to Southern Illinois.


Indeed, the success of the entire Southern Illinois Region is tied directly to the success of SIUC.

‘Shared governance is power,’  Montemagno said.   Daily Egyptian

Truly, if our Chancellor believes in shared governance…he has discovered the key to the revitalization and renewal of the Jewel of Little Egypt!


Former President, Delyte Morris, was a great proponent of both community involvement and shared governance…and he built a major research university in the midst of farm land and coal fields.


The framework, or bones, of SIUC are in excellent condition.


The fervent desire of the University Community…is to participate in the Renaissance of our world class University.


The Region desperately wants to partner in the strengthening of SIU…and the subsequent educational and economic progress of the most beautiful geography of the Land of Lincoln.IMG_2151 2



Students – The Joy and the Purpose of SIU

Each Fall Semester I take renewed encouragement when I see our wonderful students begin, or return to, their journey on the road of Higher Education.

Indeed Southern Illinois University…awakens from it’s rest and comes alive with the vibrancy and excitement of it’s eager and academically curious students!

IMG_5133I can recall the first University course that my buddy, Steve, and I took, through the old, Adult Education Program housed at Washington Square, entitled Introduction to Computers…in 1980.

I was excited to learn about Eniac, which was a computer that filled a large room, and the Professor encouraged me and gave me an A grade at the conclusion of the semester.

Steve and I went on to take several computer programing courses…which entailed using punch cards that were read by a card reader that constituted the computer program that you were trying to compose.

IMG_5138I remember how enthused that I was to be working at such a wonderful University and also having the opportunity to receive a college education!

IMG_5153SIU is extremely proud of it’s outreach to first generation college students.  This is an elite institution that works and lives where it is planted…and thus has a true outreach to the children of Southern Illinoisans…who might not have had the offer and the gift of a first class higher education.

IMG_5132It was the dream of, former President Delyte Morris, to reach out to the hamlets and villages of Southern Illinois…while at the same time offering a University for the World.

IMG_1533Featured Image -- 1908


‘Harvey, the storm that swept into Texas as a Category 4 hurricane over the weekend, continued its relentless devastation in Houston on Monday as catastrophic flooding forced evacuations and emergency responders asked the public to donate their boats to aid in high-water rescues.’   New York Times


Harvey, has thus far dumped rain on Houston and surrounding areas at unprecedented levels.

‘Through early Monday afternoon, parts of the southeast Texas have received more than 30 inches of rain since Thursday evening.  The top rainfall total is 39.72 inches near Dayton, Texas, which is located well northeast of Houston.’


Harvey has been the cause of what has been referred to as an 800 year flood.  It is forecast that over fifty inches of rain will fall before the conclusion of this terrible event.


‘Here are the latest rainfall totals through 9 a.m. CDT Monday, all in Texas unless otherwise specified:

39.72 inches near Dayton

34.90 inches near Waller

30.32 inches near South Houston

29.17 inches near Richmond

25.66 at Houston Bush Intercontinental Airport

25.16 inches in Sugarland

24.47 at Houston Hobby Airport

21.88 inches in Smithville

13.92 inches in College Station

10.41 inches in Galveston

9.65 inches south-southwest of Lake Charles, Louisiana

9.37 inches near Victoria

7.96 inches at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport

3.82 inches near Corpus Christi’

The Weather Channel


Note: Open access photos.

Thus far, at least eight people are reported dead.

Two thousand people have been rescued and more than thirty thousand people have been displaced from their homes.

Good Samaritan rescues are at very high numbers and the Governor of Texas has called out all twelve thousand of their National Guard.

‘We have not seen an event like this , ‘William Brock Long, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency,

said Monday morning at a news briefing, ‘You could not draw this forecast up.  You could not dream this forecast up.’   Washington

I have a former classmate that lives in Texas.  He has been giving Facebook updates on a regular basis.  So far, he and his family are doing well…and I am so glad to hear it.

But, I wonder…as I have during many natural disasters…are we really prepared for what is coming our way?

We work for a lifetime, accumulating physical treasures and mementos of our life’s journey…that can be obliterated in a moment.

Truly the health and welfare of our fellow travelers on this bumpy road of life…is all that matters.



The Challenges of Career

‘A career is an individual’s journey through learning, work, and other aspects of life.  There are a number of ways to define a career and the term is used in a variety of ways.’   Wikipedia

I was sitting in church this morning and enjoying the sermon, by a visiting minister, when suddenly I thought of the challenges of career.

I often think of those who I know, friends and family, that are in the midst of their work careers.  Many of the hurdles and snares..that they describe…ring so true with my experience when I was working.


I recall, so clearly, as if it was yesterday, my fears regarding my various positions at Southern Illinois University.  Almost from the day that I began, on October 10, 1978, I was cautioned that the administration was seriously considering ‘contracting out’ the housekeeping service at the Campus.


Outsourcing, was a serious concern to me as I had just begun the best job  that I had ever had…and saw that there was room to advance in the department.

Over the 25 years that I was a manager in Building Services I had the goal that the department would not be ‘contracted out’ on my watch!

Being a manager, especially in the beginning years, was a herculean challenge, and many nights I was awake until dawn…worrying over events and ‘traps’ that lay in front of me.

Mary Jane and I spoke with a wonderful Professor friend, this morning, after church. I was so impressed with her sunny and can do attitude and her contribution to the success of SIU.  This fine professional is so indicative of the world class Professors and Staff that the University is blessed with…and who want to be engaged by leadership…to aid in the premier pursuit of the recruitment and retention of our University’s most precious citizens…our students.


I thought of ministers this morning…during the sermon.  I have always had an affinity and been captivated by the calling of persons of the cloth.

Having worked with several ministers, in my life, I known first hand the difficulties and vagaries of serving a congregation.

The old saying, ‘you can not please all of the people all of the time,’ is correct times two…when it comes to ministers.


However, I would say that there is hope in the calm and considered pursuit of a well thought out work career.  My old friend, Joe Cash, told me once that, ‘there is light at the end of the tunnel.’

When I reflect on my work career…it fit together like a well chiseled puzzle.  What seemed trepidatious and frightening at the time…now has been revealed as a lovely plan that was difficult to see when I was in the midst of it.


Career…does not end when you retire.

Over the past, almost seven years, I have developed a second hobbyist career of photography and writing and travel.


When I call these items career choices…I am serious…as I spend considerable time each day pursuing these joyful endeavors.

Also, volunteer work continues to be part of my ‘career plan’ or ‘second chapter.’

The health and success of my beloved University…also…continues to be of my daily interest.


And, I must not forget…walking….which provides me with fresh ideas and initiatives and projects…each day.

Life….is the ultimate…Career!


My Favorite Season

Autumn is on it’s way.  Of all the seasons, autumn, has always been my favorite.


I remember moving to Eldorado, Illinois in the early 1960’s.  It was during the Fall and the leaves were falling on the ground and the smell of neighbors burning them was in the air.  The house that we moved into was directly across the street from Eldorado High School and we could see the football games from our front porch every Friday night.


My cousin, Brenda, who I was very fond of, walked me to Hillcrest School each morning.  She was in the eight grade and I was in first grade.

Dad, who was still with us, made a fire in the fireplace each chilly morning…and it felt so good.

This was Dad's birthday. He was 57. Taken in Tennessee

This was Dad’s birthday. He was 57. Taken in Tennessee

I was born in the Fall.

I loved working at SIU!  Fall Semester, that began around the 20th of August was an exciting time for me…in that, the beginning of the new academic year was happening and many new students were experiencing college life, for the first time, and there was a aura of excitement and opportunity that permeated the atmosphere.


I remember the excitement that I felt the Fall Semester that Chancellor Jo Ann Argersinger began at SIU.  Her openess and welcoming spirit to all that she encountered…breathed an air of new life and expectancy into our Campus Life…from the janitor to faculty.

I am hearing similar good reports regarding new Chancellor Carlo Montemagno!

I like Halloween.  I enjoy all of the classic Monster and Horror movies that are on television.


‘Ancient Origins of Halloween.  Halloween’s origins date back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain (pronounced sow-in).  The Celts, who lived 2,000 years ago in the area that is now known as Ireland, the United Kingdom and northern France, celebrated their new year on November 1.’   History Channel

The popular entertainer and Fundraiser for the Muscular Dystrophy Association held a 21 and 1/2 hour Telethon for 1966 until 2010.  This, to me, was the beginning of Fall.  I had always enjoyed Jerry’s comedy…but his sincere and heartfelt work on the MDA Telethon…endeared me to him.

Thanksgiving is Mary Jane’s favorite Holiday of the year.  We have hosted Thanksgiving for over thirty years.  It is a supreme joy each year!

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After Thanksgiving come Christmas…and the Christmas Season…starts the day after we eat the Turkey!


And, so, Fall… is ultimately Christmas to me.


On Black Friday we go to St. Charles, Missouri and rub elbows with; Scrooge, and Tiny Tim, and Santa Claus and St. Nicholas and Carolers and Chestnuts roasting by, or on, an open fire!

Each Holiday visit to St. Charles reminds me of the excitement of the Fall Season and my favorite time of the year!img_5194

The peace and settled feeling that accompanies Fall…is a tonic.  Nature, preparing to go to sleep…for awhile… and the luxurious smells and cool temperatures and the beautiful rainbow color of the leaves…and the quiet…is resplendent and similar to a down comforter on a cold winter’s morning.



Angels Unawares

Another short fiction writing.


It had been another long day.  I had already worked ten hours and there was no end in sight to the conclusion of my deadlines.

There was the Stadium to check for the 100th time in preparation for the upcoming Total Eclipse.  So many slots to fill with employees that were no longer with the University.  Each person was currently being asked to perform two people’s work…and I needed them to perform twice that much.


All available staff were excited to be a part of such an historic event.  I wondered how they were able to keep their morale so high…with so much expected of them?

It was brutally hot on Eclipse Day.

As the visitors streamed in, I could not help but notice the elderly couples that were eagerly part of the throng…in anticipation of being a part of history.

I was struck with the new University Chancellor’s accessibility and kindness and concern.  He invites all that he meets to address him by his first name.  Now that may not seem extraordinary to you…but it is of note in a hierarchal University setting.



Leading the Housekeeping staff had always been a joy and a challenge, especially during large events…that were expected to come off without a hitch.  As the years had progressed and our department had lost more and more staff due to budget reductions…I had cautioned University Leaders that the day would come that we would not be able to address emergency situations.

When it became clear that the cloud covered sky was going to obstruct the view of our many assembled guests…a homeless woman…who was unkempt and dirty and dressed in rags…asked me for a bottle of water.


At the time of her request I was addressing the concerns of several disgruntled and hot and ill people.  I wondered, what is this poor homeless woman doing here…I am sure that she did not have the money to purchase a ticket…and what else can go wrong!

The woman explained that she was thirsty and that she had traveled a very long way to observe the Eclipse and that the importance of this day, to her, was immeasurable.

I quickly walked over to a bottled water vendor and purchased her two bottles of water, at four dollars apiece, and brought them back to her.

As she drank…I asked her what her name was and she replied, Mary.  She went on to say that this day had importance…on the Great Clock of the Universe…and I just listened.


I told Mary that it seemed that many of our guests would be disappointed because it appeared that the cloud cover would obscure the Totality of the Eclipse…and she smiled.

Mary said that it would be better if the clouds would roll away.


As I looked away from Mary…the sky was suddenly…cloud free.


When I looked back…Mary was gone.

‘Let brotherly love continue.  Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angles unawares.’   Hebrews 13:1   KJV

Featured Image -- 1908




Majestic Maine!

In 2009 and 2010 we journeyed to Maine.


Both years we stayed in Southwest Harbor, Maine.  This is the town that television mini-series, The Storm of the Century written by Stephen King, was filmed.


We stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast, Clark Point Inn, and the Breakfast, ‘were to die for’, as my buddy Ron often says!

I have had the good fortune to visit many states and several European Countries…but Maine has an allure that is unique.


We had lobster almost every day that we were there.

On our first lobster foray, Mary Jane ordered the entire lobster in it’s shell….and the waitress assured her that the lobster was easy to remove from the shell and that she would assist her.

I ordered the Lazy Man’s Lobster…all removed and ready to enjoy.



Southwest, Harbor is near both Bar Harbor, the former vacation spot for the ultra rich and famous, and Arcadia National Park.

The cool, in the Summer, climate and the lovely peaceful people were a delight!

We were astounded on our second visit to Southwest Harbor, the following year, that the owner of a small local restaurant that we had visited the year before not only remembered us but also recalled when we were there previously.

President Obama and his family vacationed in Bar Harbor, the week after we left and ate at the same restaurant that we did.



There is a slower rhythm to life in Maine…and a peaceful harmony that is seductive and compelling.



Photos from Google.

The Surprise!

Below, is a short ficitonal story.


The darkness, and the smell of the hospital room was heavy and foreboding.  Each time the patient dozed…there was the unannounced entrance of another nurse or technician.  The beep…beep…beep of the attached machines made him so conscientious of his erratic heartbeat…that he felt it only made it worse.

The looks of sorrow on his families faces, made him sad.  He thought that he must be close to the end of his life.

There was Mom…talking to him and happy and in her right mind.  She had suffered with Alzheimer Disease for many years.  She spent almost ten years in the Nursing Home…before her death.

How could she be talking with him in his hospital room?

Suddenly, he was at work…at the University.  He was speaking with the Chancellor regarding how to increase enrollment.


Now he was back in the hospital room and the television was playing.  The Sopranos was on…and it was the episode where Tony Soprano was watching himself on a television in his kitchen, and wondering if he was dreaming, or if it was reality?

There was Dad and he was giving him a silver dollar.  He had not seen his Father since the mid 1960’s.  At that last encounter… he had given him a silver dollar.


His Dad told him that he would see him soon…and he wondered how this could be since his Father had died in the 1980’s?

The Doctor said, authoritatively, for all family to clear the room…the nurse opened his hospital gown…and he felt cold metal on his chest.

The patient saw his boys and his wife weeping…and beseeching him to stay with them!

There was a beautiful and brilliant light.  It reminded him of the eclipse that he had observed…so many years ago.


What he saw next was indescribable.  Life in it’s past and present and future…was before him and he wondered how religion…had gotten so many things wrong.


Merry Christmas Dad, his sons said to him, as he opened his presents.


‘Dad, for a moment you seemed to be daydreaming,’ his son said.