Saturday, June 24, 2017

It COULD Happen to You!

It COULD Happen to YOU!
I Hope NOT!
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, June 24, 2017

Background.  I tell this story not to seek sympathy but to give credence to this Nugget based upon actual experience. Until March 2016 I had experienced 5 left knee surgeries with the 5th being a total left knee replacement in 1998.  The knee was so bad that I was permanently retired from the U. S. Coast Guard in 1985 because of it.  Then in March 2016 the knee replacement just quit working properly – it had totally worn out (doctor’s words).  The knee was replaced again in March 2016.

All went well for about 6 months.  Then I noticed that the knee felt like it was giving way; not often, but often enough to cause me to constantly be aware of it.  Then in March 2017 I met with my surgeon and demonstrated how much the knee was giving way and how I could make it “click” in and out of its proper position.  The diagnosis – it needed a larger spacer inserted between the two major replacement parts of the knee.  The surgery was done in March 2017.

As always, I signed all the documents put in front of me without reading them because I pretty much knew what they said and I also knew I needed the surgery.  If I elected NOT to sign the documents, I would NOT have the surgery and the knee would gradually become worse and eventually adversely affect my qualify of life far worse than it already had.  I signed the documents one of which laid out all the various possibilities that could go wrong with the surgery including having the surgical site becoming infected.

To me, having surgery was similar in results to driving a car, flying in a plane, bungie jumping, sky diving, etc.  Accidents always happened to other people, surely they would not happen to me.  (I did not bungie jump or sky dive.)  Signing the papers was a mere formality to achieve a certain result; a better knee.

I had the surgery to insert the larger spacer and at first all seemed to have gone well.  The first indication that something wasn’t quite right was that the incision would not stop bleeding.  At first it was obviously blood but as the leakage continued, the discharge turned pink then clear and would not stop.  The surgeon became very concerned and re-admitted me for a second surgery, this one to “wash” out the left knee and that was done.  But while in the wound area the surgeon took cultures and they came back positive for infection.

Back into surgery I went for a third time in about 3 weeks.  This time the surgeon removed the enlarged spacer and inserted a spacer that contained antibiotics to fight the infection PLUS a new procedure where he literally packed the knee cavity with “beads” that contained antibiotics.  He later told me that it took special approval by the hospital because it was a very new and expensive procedure. 

I was then seen by an Infectious Disease Doctor.  Just the title, Infectious Disease Doctor, is discomforting.  She said she was putting me on a daily drip of antibiotics for the next 6 weeks.  I could not imagine having an IV inserted every day for 6 weeks and that is when I was introduced to a PICC Line.  Instead of explaining it, here is how the Internet describes it:

A PICC line is a thin, soft, long catheter (tube) that is inserted into a vein in the patient’s arm, leg or neck. The tip of the catheter is positioned in a large vein that carries blood into the heart. The PICC line is used for long-term intravenous (IV) antibiotics, nutrition or medications, and for blood draws.

The PICC Line was inserted into my left bicep and has two protruding extensions that hang from my arm.  While I am constantly aware they exist, they really present no problem other than the nuisance factor – plus I could NOT get them wet meaning no showers for six weeks.  Every day I would go to the Infusion Center at the hospital and sit while an antibiotic drip was downloaded into my body.  When the PICC Line is removed next week, I will go on a very strong oral antibiotic medication taken twice a day for 3 to 6 months.  During that time I will also be giving blood samples from which they can monitor the infection or in my case, I hope the lack of infection.

How did all this infection happen?  No one knows for certain.  The surgeon explained that he took extra precautions for all his surgeries including taping the door to the operating room to prevent contaminated air from entering the room.

What I discovered is that the number of patients acquiring infections after surgeries is not all that uncommon.  The remedies for contracting an infection is time consuming, costly and some have adverse reactions to the strong antibiotics given to fight the infections.


First, take the warnings given prior to surgery very seriously.  Weigh the adverse possibilities against the need for the surgical procedure.  For example, I see people having surgeries to improve their looks.  Is that a procedure that is needed or one that is simply desired; there is a significant difference.  All surgeries no matter how slight or how severe all carry the same adverse possibilities.  Just be aware of these possibilities and choose wisely.

Second, I was surprised when I entered the Infusion Center for my daily antibiotic drip.  The area was huge with several rows of recliner type chairs and on any given day at least 12 or more nurses who specialize in drips of all kinds.  I say all kinds because this is the area where people with cancers receive their chemo therapy drips.  Some of those drips take hours to administer.  In my case the antibiotic drip last only 30 minutes at each daily sitting.  Think about this for a moment.  This is more about gratitude and giving thanks for what you have.  As I see the patients of all ages receiving their “drips”, I could not help but think of my own ignorance as to the number of people who are experiencing health issues EVERY DAY and how serious those issues actually are including my own knee infection.  An infection of any kind can prove to be devastating if not properly taken care of.  In my case, the infection can actually eat away at the metal parts of my knee replacement and that would or could result in having another total knee replacement (#3) done on the same knee.  Then you open yourself up to the same serious issues including infections you expose yourself to with any surgery.

The town where I live is a small town by most standards; less than 30,000 living within its city limits.  There may be 60,000 within a 25 mile radius.  When you see the number of people having procedures done just within the Infusion Center, it is shocking, at least to me.  Remember, I was there only 30 minutes a day.  The Center is open 8 hours a day 5 days a week (the hospital does the work on weekends).  I have seen as many as 25 people waiting to be seen at the Center.


Be grateful for your health and take steps to do your best to insure you keep your health.  In that regard I am very saddened when I see the number of people being treated at the Infusion Center and while I did not specifically ask the question, I am certain that a lot of those patients were smokers.  The dangers of smoking are well known and well advertised yet people still smoke.  Now in addition to smoking cigarettes we have more and more people smoking pot and the results of either or both types of smoking will most assuredly lead to those smokers experiencing the treatment at Centers like the one I frequented for a knee infection.

Here is the most important fact of this Nugget.  I witnessed many healthcare professionals and they all showed that they deeply cared about not only my condition and treatment but the care and treatment for everyone in the Center.  For the most part these professionals go about their daily work with little praise or even recognition.  The next time you see a nurse, doctor, or medical technician, express your gratitude by appreciating what they do and how well they do it.

Suggestion.  Whenever a friend or family member is admitted inpatient to a hospital the natural tendency is to go to the hospital to see them and wish them well.  Given my story about the infected knee, think about what you are doing.  While I was inpatient, there were numerous nurses, doctors, technicians, food service people, janitorial service people, and people from local churches who wanted to say a prayer for or with me.  Then there are your family members and friends who come to visit.  Every one of these people have the ability to bring bacteria into your hospital room; everyone!  Granted some of these people take extra efforts to properly clean their hands each time they enter your room.  But what do family and friends do to insure they do not bring the unwanted bacteria guest into your hospital room?  Plus they naturally want to give you a hug, shake your hand and/or kiss you.  I cannot speak for you but these are the thoughts of someone sitting in an Infusion Center watching the slow drip of an antibiotic into my body and the same for the numerous other patients receiving drips as I sat there.  It is definitely something to think about is it not?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Hospital Care and Buying a Home

Hospital Care and Buying a Home
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, June 20, 2017

What is so similar between receiving Hospital Care and Buying a Home?  So glad you asked.

Based upon my over 30 years in the real estate business, I can assure you that most, probably in the 99% range, of home buyers sit at the closing table and simply sign their name to the volumes of paperwork that the closing attorney puts in front of them.  In fact in all those years, I had only one buyer ever take the time to actually read the documents.  The result of that?  The closing, which usually takes less than 1 hour, took over 6 hours to complete.  Now for the rest of that story.

In sales you are suppose to create relationships that hopefully will help you with future sales regarding their friends and family.  After that one closing I swore I would not keep in touch with the buyers as I never wanted to see them again.  Then about 2 years later I get a call from the wife and she said the home across the street from their home was up for sale and that her husband, who read all the forms, said he would never do a real estate transaction without me.  Go figure.  I must have done something right.

One closing attorney put it best to the home buyers:  “You will be asked to sign a lot of paperwork.  If any of the terms and conditions turn out to be in your favor, you can consider that a mistake.  If you want the home, signature on the paperwork is required and there are rarely if any alternatives to signing all of the paperwork.  Do you want the home?”

Can’t get any more clear than that.  If you want the home, sign the papers!  And the attorney was absolutely correct.  Rarely if ever are any of the terms and conditions going to be in the home buyer’s best interest, it just does not happen.  Again, if you want the home, you sign the papers.

I have recently had some issues that required surgery, 3 surgeries in about 3 weeks to be exact.  It involved a knee replacement I had done in March 2016 that needed adjustment.  The adjustment became infected and two more surgeries were required plus 6 weeks of antibiotic daily drips plus a visit to the Wound Doctor because the incision was not healing properly. 

Before any doctor and even some nurses would see me and/or work on me, they would ask me to sign documents, lots of documents; sound familiar?  Was I actually going to read all the documents I signed?  The question is also the same as buying a home, do you want the treatment or not.  If you do, sign the papers.  If you do not, thank you very much, NEXT!

The papers that were presented to me before each surgery had all types of conditions and concerns.  One such paper was a warning of all the things that could go wrong during or immediately after surgery.  One of which was that the area of the surgery, my left knee, could become infected; infections happen and they happen more than anyone is probably willing to tell you.  So when a friend asked if I was going to sue anyone because of the infection, I responded, what good would it do?  I signed a paper acknowledging that an infection at the site was quite possible.  The surgeon explained all the precautions he took including taping the door to the surgery room to prevent outside air from contaminating the area.

At the end of the day (I hate that phrase but it fits) if you want the home or if you want the surgical procedure whatever that may be, you must sign the papers.  Should you read them all?  Probably.  Will you, absolutely not!  In buying a home you probably do have a choice like buying it or walking away from the deal when you don’t like the terms and conditions provided your Agreement to Purchase permits that to happen.  But when it comes to your health, what options do you really have?  You either have the procedure and hopefully get better or you learn to live with whatever the problem is.  It truly comes down to sign the papers or not; receive the procedure or not.  Buying a home, having a procedure, it is your call, choose wisely.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Mother's Day May 2017

On this Mother's Day 2017, I thought it very fitting to post a chapter from Orison Swett Marden's book, Pushing to the Front where he wrote on the importance of mothers.  Additional words are simply not necessary except that keep in mind this was written in the late 1890s, early 1900s and the reference to "man" is gender neutral as it was in language and writing of that period in our history.

Pushing to the Front
Orison Swett Marden

"All that I am or hope to be," said Lincoln, after he had become President, "I owe to my angel mother." "My mother was the making of me," said Thomas Edison, recently. "She was so true, so sure of me; and I felt that I had someone to live for; someone I must not disappoint." "All that I have ever accomplished in life," declared Dwight L. Moody, the great evangelist, "I owe to my mother." "To the man who has had a good mother, all women are sacred for her sake," said Jean Paul Richter.

The testimony of great men in acknowledgment of the boundless debt they owe to their mothers would make a record stretching from the dawn of history to today. Few men, indeed, become great who do not owe their greatness to a mother's love and inspiration. How often we hear people in every walk of life say, "I never could have done this thing but for my mother. She believed in me, encouraged me when others saw nothing in me." "A kiss from my mother made me a painter," said Benjamin West. A distinguished man of today says: "I never could have reached my present position had I not known that my mother expected me to reach it. From a child she made me feel that this was the position she expected me to fill; and her faith spurred me on and gave me the power to attain it."

Everything that a man has and is he owes to his mother. From her he gets health, brain, encouragement, moral character, and all his chances of success. "In the shadow of every great man's fame walks his mother," says Dorothy Dix. "She has paid the price of his success. She went down into the Valley of the Shadow to give him life, and every day for years and years thereafter she toiled incessantly to push him on toward his goal. "She gave the labor of her hands for his support; she poured into him ambition when he grew discouraged; she supplemented his weakness with her strength; she filled him with her hope and faith when his own failed. "At last he did the Big Thing, and people praised him, and acclaimed him, and nobody thought of the quiet, insignificant little woman in the background, who had been the real power behind the throne. Sometimes even the king himself forgets who was the kingmaker."

Many a man is enjoying a fame which is really due to a self-effacing, sacrificing mother. People hurrah for the governor, or mayor, or congressman, but the real secret of his success is often tucked away in that little unknown, unappreciated, unheralded mother. His education and his chance to rise may have been due to her sacrifices. It is a strange fact that our mothers, the molders of the world, should get so little credit and should be so seldom mentioned among the world's achievers. The world sees only the successful son; the mother is but a round in the ladder upon which he has climbed. Her name or face is seldom seen in the papers; only her son is lauded and held up to our admiration. Yet it was that sweet, pathetic figure in the background that made his success possible. The woman who merits the greatest fame is the woman who gives a brilliant mind to the world. The mothers of great men and women deserve just as much honor as the great men and women themselves, and they will receive it from the better understanding of the coming days. "A wife may do much toward polishing up a man and boosting him up the ladder, but unless his mother first gave him the intellect to scintillate and the muscles to climb with, the wife labors in vain," continues Dorothy Dix, in the Evening Journal. "You cannot make a clod shine. You cannot make a mollusk aspire. You must have the material to work with, to produce results.

"By the time a man is married his character is formed, and he changes very little. His mother has made him; and no matter how hard she tries, there is very little that his wife can do toward altering him. "It is not the philosophies, the theories, the code of ethics that a man acquires in his older years that really influence him. It is the things that he learned at his mother's knee, the principles that she instilled in him in his very cradle, the taste and habits that she formed, the strength and courage that she breathed into him. "It is the childish impressions that count. It is the memory of whispered prayers, of bedtime stories, of old ideals held unfalteringly before a boy's gaze; it is half-forgotten songs, and dim visions of heroes that a mother taught her child to worship, that make the very warp and woof of the soul. "It is the pennies, that a mother teaches a boy to save and the self-denial that she inculcates in doing it, that form the real foundation of the fortune of the millionaire. "It is the mother that loves books, and who gives her sons her love of learning, who bestows the great scholars, the writers, and orators, on the world. "It is the mother that worships science, who turns the eyes of the child upon her breast up to the wonder of the stars, and who teaches the little toddler at her side to observe the marvel of beast, and bird, and flower, and all created things, whose sons become the great astronomers and naturalists, and biologists."

The very atmosphere that radiates from and surrounds the mother is the inspiration and constitutes the holy of holies of family life. "In my mother's presence," said a prominent man, "I become for the time transformed into another person." How many of us have felt the truth of this statement! How ashamed we feel when we meet her eyes, that we have ever harbored an unholy thought, or dishonorable suggestion! It seems impossible to do wrong while under that magic influence. What revengeful plans, what thoughts of hatred and jealousy, have been scattered to the four winds while in the mother's presence! Her children go out from communion with her resolved to be better men, nobler women, truer citizens. "How many of us have stood and watched with admiration the returning victor of some petty battle, cheering until we were hoarse, exhausting ourselves with the vehemence of our enthusiasm," says a writer, "when right beside us, possibly touching our hand, was one greater than he? One whose battle has not been petty—whose conflict has not been of short duration, but has for us fought many a severe fight. "When we had the scarlet fever or diphtheria and not one would come near us, who held the cup of cold water to our fever-parched lips? Who bent over us day and night and fought away with almost supernatural strength the greatest of all enemies—death? The world's greatest heroine—Mother! Who is it that each Sunday dinner-time chose the neck of the chicken that we might have the juicy wing or breast or leg? Who is it stays home from the concert, the social, the play, that we may go with the others and not be stinted for small change? Who is it crucifies her love of pretty clothes, her desire for good things, her longing for pleasure that we may have all these? Who is it? Mother!"

The greatest heroine in the world is the mother. No one else makes such sacrifices, or endures anything like the suffering that she uncomplainingly endures for her children. What is the giving of one's life in battle or in a wreck at sea to save another, in comparison with the perpetual sacrifice of many mothers of a living death lasting for half a century or more? How the world's heroes dwindle in comparison with the mother heroine! There is no one in the average family, the value of whose services begins to compare with those of the mother, and yet there is no one who is more generally neglected or taken advantage of. She must remain at home evenings, and look after the children, when the others are out having a good time. Her cares never cease. She is responsible for the housework, for the preparation of meals; she has the children's clothes to make or mend, there is company to be entertained, darning to be done, and a score of little duties which must often be attended to at odd moments, snatched from her busy days, and she is often up working at night, long after everyone else in the house is asleep. No matter how loving or thoughtful the father may be, the heavier burdens, the greater anxieties, the weightier responsibilities of the home, of the children, usually fall on the mother. Indeed, the very virtues of the good mother are a constant temptation to the other members of the family, especially the selfish ones, to take advantage of her. They seem to take it for granted that they can put all their burdens on the patient, uncomplaining mother; that she will always do anything to help out, and to enable the children to have a good time; and in many homes, sad to say, the mother, just because of her goodness, is shamefully imposed upon and neglected. "Oh, mother won't mind, mother will stay at home." How often we hear remarks like this from thoughtless children! It is always the poor mother on whom the burden falls; and the pathetic thing is that she rarely gets much credit or praise. Many mothers in the poor and working classes practically sacrifice all that most people hold dearest in life for their children. They deliberately impair their health, wear themselves out, make all sorts of sacrifices, to send a worthless boy to college. They take in washing, go out house-cleaning, do the hardest and most menial work, in order to give their boys and girls an education and the benefit of priceless opportunities that they never had; yet, how often, they are rewarded only with total indifference and neglect!

Some time ago I heard of a young girl, beautiful, gay, full of spirit and vigor, who married and had four children. Her husband died penniless, and the mother made the most heroic efforts to educate the children. By dint of unremitting toil and unheard of sacrifices and privations she succeeded in sending the boys to college and the girls to a boarding-school. When they came home, pretty, refined girls and strong young men, abreast with all the new ideas and tastes of their times, she was a worn-out, commonplace old woman. They had their own pursuits and companions. She lingered unappreciated among them for two or three years, and then died, of some sudden failure of the brain. The shock of her fatal illness woke them to consciousness of the truth. They hung over her, as she lay prostrate, in an agony of grief. The oldest son, as he held her in his arms, cried: "You have been a good mother to us!" Her face brightened, her eyes kindled into a smile, and she whispered: "You never said so before, John." Then the light died out, and she was gone.

Many men spend more money on expensive caskets, flowers, and emblems of mourning than they ever spent on their poor, loving, self-sacrificing mothers for many years while alive. Men who, perhaps, never thought of carrying flowers to their mothers in life, pile them high on their coffins. Who can ever depict the tragedies that have been enacted in the hearts of American mothers, who have suffered untold tortures from neglect, indifference, and lack of appreciation? What a pathetic story of neglect many a mother's letters from her grown-up children could tell! A few scraggy lines, a few sentences now and then, hurriedly written and mailed—often to ease a troubled conscience—mere apologies for letters, which chill the mother heart.

I know men who owe their success in life to their mother; who have become prosperous and influential, because of the splendid training of the self-sacrificing mother, and whose education was secured at an inestimable cost to her, and yet they seldom think of carrying to her flowers, confectionery, or little delicacies, or of taking her to a place of amusement, or of giving her a vacation or bestowing upon her any of the little attentions and favors so dear to a woman's heart. They seem to think she is past the age for these things, that she no longer cares for them, that about all she expects is enough to eat and drink, and the simplest kind of raiment. These men do not know the feminine heart which never changes in these respects, except to grow more appreciative of the little attentions, the little considerations, and thoughtful acts which meant so much to them in their younger days.

Not long ago I heard a mother, whose sufferings and sacrifices for her children during a long and trying struggle with poverty should have given her a monument, say, that she guessed she'd better go to an old ladies' home and end her days there. What a picture that was! An aged woman with white hair and a sweet, beautiful face; with a wonderful light in her eye; calm, serene, and patient, yet dignified, whose children, all of whom are married and successful, made her feel as if she were a burden! They live in luxurious homes, but have never offered to provide a home for the poor, old rheumatic mother, who for so many years slaved for them. They put their own homes, stocks, and other property in their wives' names, and while they pay the rent of their mother's meagerly furnished rooms and provide for her actual needs, they apparently never think what joy it would give her to own her own home, and to possess some pretty furnishings, and a few pictures.

In many cases men through thoughtlessness do not provide generously for their mothers even when well able to. They seem to think that a mother can live most anywhere, and most anyway; that if she has enough to supply her necessities she is satisfied. Just think, you prosperous business men, how you would feel if the conditions were reversed, if you were obliged to take the dependent, humiliating position of your mother! Whatever else you are obliged to neglect, take no chances of giving your mother pain by neglecting her, and of thus making yourself miserable in the future. The time may come when you will stand by her bedside, in her last sickness, or by her coffin, and wish that you had exchanged a little of your money for more visits and more attentions and more little presents to your mother; when you will wish that you had cultivated her more, even at the cost of making a little less money.
There is no one else in this world who can take your mother's place in your life. And there is no remorse like that which comes from the remembrance of ill-treating, abusing, or being unkind to one's mother. These things stand out with awful vividness and terrible clearness when the mother is gone forever from sight, and you have time to contrast your treatment with her long suffering, tenderness, and love, and her years of sacrifice for you.

One of the most painful things I have ever witnessed was the anguish of a son who had become wealthy and in his prosperity neglected the mother, whose sacrifices alone had made his success possible. He did not take the time to write to her more than twice a year, and then only brief letters. He was too busy to send a good long letter to the poor old lonely mother back in the country, who had risked her life and toiled and sacrificed for years for him! Finally, when he was summoned to her bedside in the country, in her last sickness, and realized that his mother had been for years without the ordinary comforts of life, while he had been living in luxury, he broke down completely. And while he did everything possible to alleviate her suffering, in the few last days that remained to her on earth, and gave her an imposing burial, what torture he must have suffered, at this pitiful picture of his mother who had sacrificed everything for him! "The regrets for thoughtless acts and indifference to admonitions now felt and expressed by many living sons of dead mothers will, in time, be felt and expressed by the living sons of living mothers," says Richard L. Metcalfe, in the "Commoner." "The boys of to-day who do not understand the value of the mother's companionship will yet sing—with those who already know—this song of tribute and regret: "'The hours I spent with thee, dear heart, Are as a string of pearls to me; I count them over, every one apart, My rosary. "'Each hour a pearl, each pearl a prayer, To still a heart in absence wrung; I tell each bead unto the end, and there A cross is hung. "'O memories that bless—and burn! Oh mighty gain and bitter loss! I kiss each bead and strive at last to learn To kiss the cross, Sweet heart, To kiss the cross.'"

No man worthy of the name ever neglects or forgets his mother. I have an acquaintance, of very poor parentage, who had a hard struggle to get a start in the world; but when he became prosperous and built his beautiful home, he finished a suite of rooms in it especially for his mother, furnished them with all conveniences and comforts possible, and insisted upon keeping a maid specially for her. Although she lives with her son's family, she is made to feel that this part of the great home is her own, and that she is as independent as though she lived in her own house. Every son should be ambitious to see his mother as well provided for as his wife. Really great men have always reverenced and cared tenderly for their mothers. President McKinley provided in his will that, first of all, his mother should be made comfortable for life. The first act of Garfield, after he was inaugurated President, was to kiss his aged mother, who sat near him, and who said this was the proudest and happiest moment of her life. Ex-President Loubet of France, even after his elevation to the presidency, took great pride in visiting his mother, who was a humble market gardener in a little French village. A writer on one occasion, describing a meeting between this mother and her son, says: "Her noted son awaited her in the market-place, as she drove up in her little cart loaded with vegetables. Assisting his mother to alight, the French President gave her his arm and escorted her to her accustomed seat. Then holding over her a large umbrella, to shield her from the threatening weather, he seated himself at her side, and mother and son enjoyed a long talk together."

I once saw a splendid young college graduate introduce his poor, plainly dressed old mother to his classmates with as much pride and dignity as though she was a queen. Her form was bent, her hands were calloused, she was prematurely old, and much of this deterioration was caused by all sorts of drudgery to help her boy to pay his college expenses. I have seen other college men whose mothers had made similar sacrifices, and who were ashamed to have them attend their graduating exercises, ashamed to introduce them to their classmates. Think of the humiliation and suffering of the slave mother, who has given all the best of her life to a large family, battling with poverty in her efforts to dignify her little home, and to give her children an education, when she realizes that she is losing ground intellectually, yet has no time or strength for reading, or self-culture, no opportunity for broadening her mental outlook by traveling or mingling with the world! But this is nothing compared to the anguish she endures, when, after the flower of her youth is gone and there is nothing left of her but the ashes of a burned-out existence, the shreds of a former superb womanhood, she awakes to the consciousness that her children are ashamed of her ignorance and desire to keep her in the background.

From babyhood children should be taught to look up to, not down on their mother. For that reason she should never appear before them in slovenly raiment, nor conduct herself in any way that would lessen their respect. She should keep up her intellectual culture that they may not advance beyond her understanding and sympathies. No matter how callous or ungrateful a son may be, no matter how low he may sink in vice or crime, he is always sure of his mother's love, always sure of one who will follow him even to his grave, if she is alive and can get there; of one who will cling to him when all others have fled.

It is forever true, as Kipling poignantly expresses it in his beautiful verses on "Mother Love":

"If I were hanged on highest hill,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
I know whose love would follow still,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
If I were drowned in the deepest sea,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
If I were cursed of body and soul,
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!
I know whose prayer's would make me whole!
Mother o' mine, O mother o' mine!"

One of the saddest sights I have ever seen was that of a poor, old, broken-down mother, whose life had been poured into her children, making a long journey to the penitentiary to visit her boy, who had been abandoned by everybody but herself. Poor old mother! It did not matter that he was a criminal, that he had disgraced his family, that everybody else had forsaken him, that he had been unkind to her—the mother's heart went out to him just the same. She did not see the hideous human wreck that crime had made. She saw only her darling boy, the child that God had given her, pure and innocent as in his childhood. Oh, there is no other human love like this, which follows the child from the cradle to the grave, never once abandons, never once forsakes him, no matter how unfortunate or degenerate he may become.

"So your best girl is dead," sneeringly said a New York magistrate to a young man who was arrested for attempting suicide. "Who was she?" Without raising his eyes, the unfortunate victim burst into tears and replied, "She was my mother!" The smile vanished from the magistrate's face and, with tears in his eyes, he said, "Young man, go and try to be a good man, for your mother's sake." How little we realize what tragedy may be going on in the hearts of those whom we sneeringly condemn!

What movement set on foot in recent years, deserves heartier support than that for the establishment of a national Mothers' Day? The day set apart as Mothers' Day by those who have inaugurated this movement is the second Sunday in May. Let us unite in doing all we can to make it a real Mothers' Day, by especially honoring our mothers; in the flesh, those of us who are so fortunate as to have our mothers with us; in the spirit, those who are not so fortunate. If away from her, write a good, loving letter, or telephone or telegraph to the best mother who ever lived—your mother. Send her some flowers, an appropriate present; go and spend the day with her, or in some other way make her heart glad. Show her that you appreciate her, and that you give her credit for a large part of your success. Let us do all we can to make up for past neglect of the little-known, half-appreciated, unheralded mothers who have had so little credit in the past, and are so seldom mentioned among the world's achievers, by openly, and especially in our hearts, paying our own mothers every tribute of honor, respect, devotion, and gratitude that love and a sense of duty can suggest. Let us acknowledge to the world the great debt we owe them by wearing, every one of us, boy and girl, man and woman, on Mothers' Day, a white carnation—the flower chosen as the symbol and emblem of motherhood. Happily chosen emblem! What could more fittingly represent motherhood with its whiteness symbolizing purity; its lasting qualities, faithfulness; its fragrance, love; its wide field of growth, charity; its form, beauty! What an impressive and beautiful tribute to motherhood it would be for a whole nation to unite one day in wearing its chosen emblem, and in song and speech, and other appropriate exercises, to honor its mothers!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Have You Ever Tried Flapping Your Wings?

Have You Ever Tried Flapping Your Wings?
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 17, 2017
(Anything in Blue is a link to a web site)

Are you familiar with the term “the butterfly effect?”  Andy Andrews has written a wonderful book on the subject, The Butterfly Effect. Technically it means, the phenomenon whereby a minute localized change in a complex system can have large effects elsewhere (according to the Internet).  In English it means that a Butterfly, flapping its wings in New York City would cause the air to move around its body and then eventually create by a chain reaction causing heavy winds in California.

Therefore, when I ask the question “can you make a difference?, I am asking, is there one thing you could do that would or could create a chain reaction thus making a difference in someone’s life or it could even change the world?  If you want to see a visual demonstration of what Andy Andrews means, watch the videos where he talks about one action taken by Joshua Chamberlain whose actions during the American Civil War has had continuing ramifications through to today; it IS the Butterfly Effect in real life.  Andrews’ presentation is amazing and unforgettable; I sincerely hope you watch it here:  Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 (totally running time for all three is about 19 minutes but it will be 19 minutes you will NEVER forget).

I have been writing Nuggets for the Noggin for over 25 years but have only been posting them to the Internet on since 2008.  Whenever you write something that is original, you have no idea how it will be perceived or if it will be read at all.  Over these years, I have had very few responses, good or bad, still when I get the urge or inspiration, I continue to write and post the Nuggets.  Yes it would be nice if they were critiqued; not so much on the grammer or typos but rather on their content.  For example, I wrote a Nugget on the Heart By-Pass Surgery I had and several people wrote to me telling me that they read the Nugget and immediately took one of their relatives to the doctors.  Unbelievably they too had heart surgery to fix a problem that they did not know they had.  That to me was a sign that the Nuggets DID make a difference at least in a couple of people’s lives.

This past week I posted another Nugget regarding the sugar content in the foods we eat and drink.  Has anyone read it?  According to the counter embeded on the web page, about 30 people thus far have read it since it was posted.  Did they like it?  I have no idea; there were no comments.  Very few of the several thousand views to the site ever indicate their like or dislike at the bottom of the page by leaving messages.  You just don’t know and that is okay.  Yet, if just one person’s life is affected by something you and I write, you must admit that it would be a good day.  If more than one has been positively affected, that would be a great day! 

When you write and post Nuggets as I have been writing, or you post your comments on something someone had posted on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, or one of the many sites where you can post and respond, you are quite possibly “flapping your wings.” You have no idea of the affect that “flapping” may have had all across America or even the world.  For example, imagine if just one person who in their 30s were to read the Nugget regarding high sugar content in our foods and drinks and then made the decision to reduce his or her sugar intake.  Then imagine that as a result of that decision, he or she DID NOT develop Diabetes in their lifetime.  That would be an example of making a difference in at least one person’s life and that difference would ultimately make a differenece in that person’s family lives as well.  Now imagine if TEN people made a conscious decision to reduce their sugar intake; or ONE HUNDRED people?  You can see where this is going?

What could you do today that if you did it, would make a positive difference in someone’s life or possibly a difference that could change the world like Joshua Chamberlain did?   Have you ever heard of Tammy Baruhovich?   She has been quietly making a difference on Facebook by posting her comments on her Facebook Page Positive News (check it out).  Tammy is “flapping” her wings and making a difference!  We can all complain about something and I can do it as well as anyone.  Complaining is easy but complaints rarely change another person’s opinion or beliefs.  Posting positive information such as the Nugget on sugar content is different – you are sharing information that can change attitudes or lives on a daily basis whether you realize you are doing it or not. I took Tammy’s lead and started flapping my wings by posting daily Mental Snacks on my Facebook page.  The posts contain excerpts from books I have read.  I hope the posts affect those who read them in a positive way and then they share them with their Facebook friends.

How can you flap your wings – today?
Or, better still…

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Would You Knowingly Feed This To Your Children

Would You Knowingly 
Feed This To Your Children

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 17, 2017

This Nugget is about ingestion of Sugar; it took me over 70 years to understand it.  Do not be misled by that statement because I did not study Sugar for all those years, I just ate my way into becoming a Diabetic instead.  Think about that for a moment.   The following is one definition of Sugar as found on the Internet:

Definition of sugar

1a :  a sweet crystallizable material that consists wholly or essentially of sucrose, is colorless or white when pure tending to brown when less refined, is obtained commercially from sugarcane or sugar beet and less extensively from sorghum, maples, and palms, and is important as a source of dietary carbohydrate and as a sweetener and preservative of other foods  b :  any of various water-soluble compounds that vary widely in sweetness, include the monosaccharides and oligosaccharides, and typically are optically active

Here is a link to an easily understand description of how sugars enter the body:

The following is a definition of converting grams into teaspoons from the Internet:  “This important bit of information is your key to converting grams into teaspoons. Four grams of sugar is equal to one teaspoon. To be precise, 4.2 grams equals a teaspoon, but the nutrition facts rounds this number up to four grams.”  Actually it rounds it DOWN to 4 grams, not up to 4 grams. 

What does this mean to someone like me a non-scientist and someone who has not done a lot of research on the subject.  I had some time to kill at a supermarket near the checkout counter.   There were several coolers near the counter containing all sorts of soft drinks.  I looked at the newest bottle of Coke with the Green label and the word “Life” on it suggesting that somehow this Coke might be better for you than the regular bottle of Coke.  The Life Coke listed 45 grams of sugar according to the label.  The “regular” bottle contained 65 grams of sugar.  The bottles were 20 ounce bottles and were meant or designed that one person would drink from the bottle as compared to a 2 liter bottle that typically is dispensed by the glass.  Here is a photo of the label:

Sugars, 65 Grams!  Using the definition from above, 4 grams of sugar equals 1 teaspoon, I did the math for you, 65 grams of sugars (plural) equates to 15.47 teaspoons of sugars.  I was shocked to discover these numbers because frankly, I grew up learning about ounces and gallons, not grams and liters.  Labels like this previously did not exist as I was growing up.  To me, 65 grams was no big deal primarily because I did not have a reference point for what a gram actually represented.  But when I saw the equivalence of 65 grams of sugar meant eating over 15 teaspoons of sugar, it sickened me.  I looked further.  3 teaspoons equals 1 tablespoon which most of us are even more familiar with.  Back to the math.  15.47 teaspoons of sugar is the same as eating 5.15 tablespoons of sugars.  Would you intentionally do that if you knew what you were about to do?

The question:  Would you knowingly feed 3 tablespoons of sugar to your children?

I am not picking on Coke products, I am trying to make a point.  I love Snicker Bars, who doesn’t. But how many sugars are there in a Snickers Bar?  Look for yourself:

May be difficult to read; it says 30 grams.  This label comes from a Snickers Bar that weighs 2 ounces or 58.7 grams (there is that word again).  Back to the math.  30 grams of sugars equals 7.14 teaspoons of sugar or 2.38 tablespoons of sugar.  Would you feed your children 2.3 tablespoons of sugar?

On behalf of the people my age who probably did not grow up learning about grams and liters, I wish these companies would speak in English or at least the English I can understand.  Would you drink a coke if it said this is equivalent to eating 5.14 tablespoons of sugar?  Or a Snickers Bar if you knew you would be eating  2.3 tablespoons of sugar.  I think not!

So why do all the nutritional labels use grams and liters?  Is it to intentionally make it impossible to understand the contents of the product?  Or is it just 2017 and while the world understands grams and liters, only the  younger American generation might, with the emphasis on the word might, understand the contents of the product.

Here is the solution!  Whenever you see any product that you are about to buy, look at the Nutritional Label and more specifically look at the sugars indicated and MULTIPLY THAT NUMBER BY 4 and then think of TEASPOONS OF RAW SUGAR.  Knowing that ingestion of a lot of sugar is probably not in your best interest, would you intentionally put that much raw sugar into your mouth?  Probably not, but in the case of the product you are considering purchasing, the raw sugars are disguised as good tasting Coke or a fabulous tasting Snickers Bar meaning the Nutritional Label is probably ignored as I did for years and years.

Disclaimer:  I am not a doctor nor pretend to be one.  Before you make changes to your diet, check with a doctor who should know about these things.

Having said that, you do the math, especially when you consider your children – 4 grams of sugars EQUAL 1 teaspoon of sugars.  12 grams of sugars EQUALS 1 tablespoon of sugar.  Would you intentionally give your children that many teaspoons or that many tablespoons of raw sugar to eat.  If not, why would you give them products that do?  Asked he who is now a Diabetic and takes insulin daily.

Friday, April 14, 2017

The Little End of the Horn

The Little End of the Horn

By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, May 14, 2017

“A young man (or woman) starting out in life, anxious to succeed, must not say to himself, “I would like to succeed, but I do not believe I am really fitted for the part I have assumed. My profession or my vocation is so crowded, there are so many who cannot get a decent living in this field, so many people out of employment, that I believe I have made a mistake; but I will work away the best I can. Perhaps I will come out somewhere.” The young man (or woman) who talks so, thinks so, does so, will come out somewhere. It will be at the “little end of the horn,” out of pocket, out at the elbow, and out of a job.”

The above passage is from the Orison Swett Marden book, The Miracle of Right Thought, published in 1910. Fast forward to 2017.  I remember in recent years interviewing applicants looking to begin a career in real estate as a licensed sales agent; hundreds of them.  Most were very nice people who one could take an immediate liking to.  Where they people who already had the aptitude of becoming a successful real estate agent?  Possibly but probably not.  I heard so many of them say they wanted to be a real estate agent because:
 They liked people
  • They like selling
  • They like real estate; more specifically they liked looking at beautiful homes
  • They were always interested in real estate
  • They liked helping people

Of these and many more responses, the last was probably the best but still did not suggest to me that they would become a successful real estate sales agent.

Who came to apply with me?  People from all walks of life with varying levels of education, such as:
  • High School Graduates
  • Some College educations
  • Some with College Degrees
  • Some from Community Colleges
  • Some with Community College Degrees
  • Firemen
  • Police Officers
  • Former military members, one was even a retired General of the Army who failed miserably in real estate
  • Bar tenders
  • Teachers
  • Nurses
  • Housewives
  • Single Women
  • Married Women
  • Single Men
  • Married Men
  • Applicants with no children
  • Applicants with children 

In other words, just about every type of person interviewed with me and wanted to become a real estate agent.  How can you tell who would make the best of the best in the real estate sales field?  What in each of these applicants triggered a belief that they among all the others would do well in the sales profession?

Of all the individuals listed, two stuck out with me – teachers and nurses.  Why?  For two reasons.  First they have dealt with people but more importantly they have already demonstrated an ability of paying attention to details where a mistake could actually cost someone their life.  You can’t get more attentive than that!  Why did the General fail so miserably?  Most of his military career he had people around him who did all the necessary “grunt work.”  He did not have this posse around him in real estate and he simply did not want to do or see the need to do all the “grunt work” necessary to be successful in real estate – sales did not just happen – you had to work to make them happen and he did not want to do the work necessary.

If you were to look specifically at real estate sales, The Association of Real Estate License Law Officials (ARELLO) estimates that there are about 2 million active real estate licensees in the United States. According to the 2012 Economic Census there are 86,004 real estate brokerage firms operating in the United States.  The “brokerage firms” number can be misleading because a license real estate broker could be just one individual (often referred to as a Mom & Pop brokerage) as compared to an office of licensed real estate agents working under one licensed broker. 

I know you cannot divide 2,000,000 active real estate agents by our 50 states but let’s do it just for the purpose of this Nugget.  That would mean there are 40,000 licensed agents in each of the 50 states.  Referring to what Marden wrote when he said “My profession or my vocation is so crowded, there are so many who cannot get a decent living in this field, so many people out of employment, that I believe I have made a mistake”, he was right IF the applicant did ONLY what everyone else was doing.  

If you have not heard of the 80/20 Rule, it is simple.  In the case of real estate agents, 20% of the agents are doing 80% of the sales.  That means of the 40,000 agents in your state (not an accurate number), 32,000 of them fall in to the category of not being able to make a decent living.  20%, or 8,000 do make a decent living.  The 80/20 Rule also would suggest that even within the 20% or 8,000 agents, the 80/20 Rule still applies meaning of the 8,000 agents, 20% or 1600 are making a really good living; and then, of the 1,600, 320 are making a FANTASTIC LIVING.  So what are the odds that you, when considering there are 40,000 other agents in your state, that YOU will become one of the 320 who are doing FANTASTICALLY WELL at making a decent living?  I would not want to bet on your chances. the list of people applying for a real estate sales position above.  My guess is that NONE of them ever took a course on ATTITUDE.  Few would have been trained on GOAL SETTING and in fact they would consider the word GOAL being classified as a “four letter word” since so many people shy away from it.  Most if any have never heard or been trained in establishing a LIFE MISSION STATEMENT.  If the studies you read are correct, less than 5% read more than one book A YEAR and it is doubtful if they intended to read any more than that.

Given that bleak outlook, I believe there is one characteristic that would suggest that an applicant might be one of the future 320 “fantastic successes” and that could be determined by asking them just two questions.  First, what was the last non-fiction book they VOLUNTARILY read and what did they learn from it?  Secondly, how many non-fiction books did they VOLUNTARILY read since they turned 18 years of age?  I only selected 18 because that would be the average age of your typical high school graduate.  I indicated non-fiction because these are the types of books you learn something from. Even those people who had already established a career or profession, rarely voluntarily read any books that would further those careers or professions.  Their answer to both of these questions would indicate if they were learning based individuals or not.

If you were hiring someone for a position, no matter what position that may be, why would you ever intentionally hire anyone who is NOT a learning based individual.  Learning based means, at least to me, someone who desires to continue their learning beyond what they would normally been required to learn  For example.  Most real estate agents take the courses required to become a licensed real estate agent then continue their education ONLY by taking the minimum required classes each year.  How many create a Self-Education Plan that includes courses or books on developing their Attitude, Sales Techniques, Relationships, Goal Setting, and identifying their Life’s Mission Statement/Goal?  I can guarantee you that those who do, will be in the 320 who create a fantastic life because of their real estate career.

What is a Life’s Mission Statement?  What will your life look like when it is finished?  What are you doing every day that when done would lead you to achieve what you want to achieve in your life?  Are you doing those things that matter?  Using myself as an example; my Life’s Mission Statement has always been, “To help people to do what they do to do it better!”  Writing this Nugget could have that affect therefore, yes, I am doing something that will eventually lead to achieving my Life’s Mission Statement.  How do you want your life to have mattered?

Wallace D. Wattles wrote in the early 1900s several books one of which is The Science of Success, The Secret to Getting What You Want.  It is a trilogy of three of his best writings.  The Science of Getting Rich.  The Science of Being Well.  The Science of Being Great.  Of these three, The Science of Being Well may be the most important because if you do not maintain your health, nothing else of importance really matters.  Wattles uses the phrase, “thinking in a certain way” throughout all of his writings.  By that he means you CAN achieve whatever you desire PROVIDED you THINK IN A CERTAIN WAY.  It is doubtful that the “certain way” will mysteriously just come to you – you have to learn it.  You learn it by reading and taking courses. 

Here is YOUR key to success.  Do not read just anything or take just any course just so you can say you read books or your take courses.  Read those books and take those courses that will help make you a better person and those that advance your ability to perform in the careers or professions YOU have decided to pursue.

Personally I can think of no better place to start than to read the books of Orison Swett Marden and Wallace D. Wattles.  Surprisingly they both wrote their books in the early 1900s and when you read them you will see as I saw that a lot of books written much, much later by some of the more prominent names you may be aware of contain the same or similar information of these two geniuses (my determination).  Just think about what Wallace wrote about.  If you truly want something, how are you going to get if you don’t “think in a certain way?”

Let’s look at real estate.  If you want to become a successful real estate agent, you MUST think AND act like a successful real estate agent.  If you want to eventually become financially independent, you MUST think AND act like a financially independent person would think and act.  Success and financial independence didn’t “just happen” for these folks, it was created by “thinking in a certain way” and that way was through self-education.  While a college degree is important and worthy of having, what you learn through self-education AFTER your formal education is what will make you great at what you do and keep you from wallowing in the “little end of the horn” of plenty.