Chairperson

Chairperson: (n) a chairman or chairwoman (used as a neutral alternative).

Words often foretell the temperament of the people around us and what they are going to demand to appease their sense of self-righteousness.

For instance, if I go to church and hear someone proclaim themselves to be a “sinner saved by grace,” I know for certain they will want me to
confess myself a sinner and to seek the magnificent grace advertised.

Likewise, when I hear someone use the term “chairperson,” I know two things to be true:

  1. They are under the misguided notion that a committee can agree to do anything but produce more red tape.
  2. And since they are using the “neutral” form of the word instead of “chairman,” I can assume they’re going to be pretty pissy.

Red tape and pissy.

That is usually my cue to suddenly remember that I left my keys in the car, find them in my pocket, climb in, start it up and go home.

 

 

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Bell

Bell: (n) a hollow object, typically made of metal, that sounds a clear musical note when struck by means of a clapper inside.

Dictionary B

I was sitting in my car on a hot, summer’s day, becoming more frustrated with each moment of sizzling waiting. I can’t recall what was keeping me from progress, but I was totally disgusted.

All of a sudden, there were bells.

Apparently a church in the middle of town had a ritual of ringing bells at noonday from its belfry.

I was suddenly translated to a simpler mindset.

I had the feeling that I was in the middle of a Normal Rockwell painting, sucking in a bit of Americana through my nostrils and allowing my eyeballs to be transformed to see something other than my aggravation.

The bells did it.

They harkened to a better part of me which remembered, from somewhere in my youth, such clanging–to stimulate a sense of celebration or an inkling of hope.

I don’t know who came up with the idea of putting bells in a church and what committee decided to ring them to inform the community of the presence of a house of worship, but damn…it works.

There’s no doubt about it.

A religious system that is beleaguered by too much tradition and obtuse theology is actually much better represented by the chiming of the bells … than the rhetoric of its ding-dongs.

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Bath

Bath: (n) a process of immersing and washing one’s body in a large container of water.Dictionary B

I grew up in a small, two-bedroom house–one restroom and seven people. It is similar to having three people walk into a phone booth and make a call by committee.

It was many years before I discovered the importance of boundaries. For in my home, growing up, simply possessing the territory of the bathroom did not guarantee you privacy. I would occasionally be sitting on the pot and have one of my older brothers burst through the door, apply Brylcreem to his hair and comb away while I decided whether to continue my stinky endeavor.

Most humiliating was the fact that until I was about thirteen years old, my mother often came in during my bathtime to make sure I was being thorough. Being a kid, I never questioned this practice since I had no point of reference and certainly would not compare notes in the locker room with my friends.

She used these occasions to get chatty, sitting on the nearby toilet. She would discuss her day and even suggest various ways that I might choose to clean my private parts, which, for the time being, had become public domain.

I was uncomfortable with this, but keep in mind–she was my mother. It gave her almost martial law over my space.

Looking back, I realize that this was a bit bizarre.

Matter of fact, early on in my planning for a family, I recommended knocking before entering … and always celebrated the glorious wisdom of locks on doors.

 

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Ballboy

Ballboy: (n) a boy who retrieves balls that go out of play during a game such as tennis or baseballDictionary B

I grew up in a village which was about 20 miles from a big city.

Even though we insisted that we were an autonomous population. we privately knew that we had to go 20 miles to actually be entertained or purchase clothes that were not second-hand.

Every once in a while, the big city would invade our little burg with a possibility. This happened when I was ten years old.

The minor league baseball team which headquartered in the big city decided to bless the neighboring burrows with an opportunity–to let one of the favorite sons be a ballboy for one night at the park.

It was a big deal.

You got to go to the game, put on a uniform and run out and chase balls that went awry, or give bats to the superstars.

So they further made a big deal of it by holding an audition to select the ballboy, which drew a crowd of about 45 kids between the ages of ten and twelve.

I was one of them.

Even though I did not like baseball very well, I was fairly athletic and certainly competitive. So at the end of fielding flies, chasing balls, and even some opportunity to use the bat, the committee selected me to be the ball boy for this game.

I had never won anything in my life expect the privilege of being born.

My skin was tingling, my head was swimming and the rest of me just wanted to pee.

So they took me into a room and pulled out the uniform I was to wear for the game and asked me to try it on.

It didn’t fit. Not even close.

I was chubby, which is what my parents called it, and everybody else knew to be fat.

I tried hard to fit into that uniform. I said that by next week I could lose some weight. But reluctantly, they awarded the opportunity to the boy who came in second place. Even though he had less ability, he also had less blubber.

I was shocked.

I was devastated.

And on top of that, I heard a giggle or two from the gallery, causing me to feel humiliation.

Until I sat down and wrote this essay today, I did not realize that I still had remnants of feelings about the injustice. Here’s an idea–one we might want to use in the future, even when electing our leaders:

Let’s find the best person for the job, and then pick the outfit.

 

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Approval

dictionary with letter A

Approval (n): the action of officially agreeing to something or finding something acceptable

It’s not easy to get approval.

Matter of fact, most human systems are set up to filter out the riff-raff, and in so doing, often discourage those who are not as tenacious as they should be, but still possess value.

This is the problem with the committee.

There are four types of people who populate committees, and are therefore in charge of approval:

1. The individual who has legitimate concern about an issue and wants to make sure good things happen.

2. The person who has an ax to grind and disagrees with most of the decisions made by previous committees and wants to be there to rectify the situation.

3. The person who can’t say no to the job but really has little interest in it, and therefore is swayed back and forth by the majority.

4. That guy or gal who feels it is their duty to say no to most things–otherwise affairs may get out of hand. And simultaneously, they hope to be known as the person who stood against something that turned out to be really bad.

I have spent most of my life trying to avoid seeking approval.

It’s not that I don’t want input and opinions, it’s just that in the pursuit of approval, the wheels of progress grind to a screeching halt and the vehicle which was taking us to our future plans suddenly is parked, looking like it doesn’t run.

Approval is hard to get and because of that, we have a tendency to be stingy in giving it to others. So my feeling on the issue is that I welcome you to have insights on what I do as long as you understand that I’m going to do something.

 

 

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Anthem

dictionary with letter A

Anthem (n.): a rousing or uplifting song identified with a particular group or belief.

I have become convinced that the best way to ruin any experience is to have a committee discuss it or experts share insights on “why it is so complicated.”

Thus the National Anthem.

Yes, the beautiful lyrics written by Francis Scott Key and the saloon song sung by so many Englishmen of the day came together for a rousing rendition of patriotic jubilation.

When I was a kid people sang it without commenting on the complexity of the melody line or trying to lift it an octave at various intervals to stimulate emotional reactions.

It was just beautiful.

Matter of fact, when I got the chance to do a musical arrangement of it for a symphony, I began it with an arpeggio of strings, lending a more pastoral depiction of the first stanza:

Oh say, can you see by the dawn’s early light

What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?

It’s such an intimate statement, really not requiring double brass and pounding drums. It is a progressive work, beginning with a gentle spirit and ending with a victorious shout.

But like so many other things in our country, we’ve turned it into a debatable dilemma–a dastardly debacle.

It’s not that we need a new national anthem.

We just need a people who can be moved by pride in our nation as the anthem is performed.

 

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Adjourn

Words from Dic(tionary)

dictionary with letter A

Adjourn: (v.) to break off a meeting, legal case or game with the intention of resuming it later. e.g. the meeting was adjourned until December 4th.

The key to organization, which by the way, is the breath of successful life, is to get your ducks in a row without making everybody around you go “quackers.”

In other words, be efficient without being a jerk.

This is my problem with Parliamentary procedure. For when I think of the word “adjourn,” I recall all the meetings I have attended, which have basically consisted of children trying to act grown-up by following some archaic procedure of rules and regulations which end up being the conversation of the room instead of working on the topics themselves.

Quite bluntly, in that atmosphere, the person who seconds the motion and whether they have seconded a motion before instead of waiting in line, or whether the vote was taken before discussion, becomes much more important to the committee than whether they pass resolutions.

Thus, Congress.

The thing that upsets me about our form of government is that we’re much more concerned about maintaining the traditions of our system, tipping our hats to old-fashioned methods, than we are about whether progress is being made and we’re actually addressing situations before they slap us in the face.

I usually don’t pontificate on this issue because I don’t have an alternative.

I do understand if we don’t have SOME sort of order while considering options in a meeting place, that chaos can quickly become the ruler of the day. But I am not convinced that following the rules of Parliament (which by the way, isn’t even American) has anything to do with the general welfare or the common good.

What should come out of a meeting?

  1. All ideas expressed within a time limit.
  2. Those who are uncertain of facts should be able to question them.
  3. A vote–up or down.

That’s it. The quickest, easiest, friendliest and most human way to achieve that should be pursued with great passion.

I’m just not sure that all of the rules and regulations that we follow like a herd of sheep is doing anything but fleecing us of possibility.

So for me, I’d like to adjourn Parliamentary procedure.

Can I get a second on that?