Ike, the plan, and how it applies to me

“Dwight D. Eisenhower…once opined that plans aren’t worth a damn, but planning is essential.”


Did you ever take those standardized career tests that ask, “What will you be doing in five years?” I have, several times. Looking back, there has never been a correlation between what the projection and the reality looked like.

Heck, lately, even planning ahead a few days hasn’t worked out.

When our library staff planned our presentation for staff training, the highlight was supposed to be the premiere of this video our intern Sam put together of the librarians. It was working fine in the dry run. But the day of the presentation, the disc simply would not work. After about five minutes of futile fussing, our director said, “Hey, we can’t get this to work. So we’ll start the rest of the presentation; Roger will start.” Bam! I’m on! That was disconcerting.

At the end of the month, I have a much more extensive presentation at a conference. I was going to work on it earlier this week. But then my wife injured her foot Monday morning; while it turned out not to be as serious as we feared, the initial amount of blood made the bathroom look like a crime scene. I took a half-day, going with her to urgent care.

Then Tuesday, the Daughter was having a moderate asthma attack and I took her to the emergency room, which took most of the morning. The funniest part of the day is, though I gave them her name, the system defaulted to Baby Girl Green, her name eight years earlier when she was born there; they had to fix the record before they could proceed with services, and this was after we’d been there over an hour. I stayed home with her in the afternoon. I was going to get check some e-mail while she rested, except that somehow, I touched the F2 button on my Dell laptop and disconnected the wireless function, and it took me a precious while to figure out the problem.

By the time I get to work on Wednesday, I’m buried with more immediate work to do. Oy.

I was struck, though, by this story about newspaper writer Julia Keller discussing her award-winning reporting about a tornado. Her essay, “Lessons Learned”, seems to apply to much of life:

Allow me to quote that well-known prose stylist Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once opined that plans aren’t worth a damn, but planning is essential.

Much of the information gathered for a long series won’t ever be used. Many of our most treasured insights will be revised, then revised again, and finally abandoned. The majority of our felicitous phrases — the kind that makes us pause just after we come up with them and smile secretly to ourselves — will be relegated to the writer’s version of the cutting-room floor: the “delete” key…

Then, when it came time to actually write the damn thing, I had frustration — because, despite the story’s length, a great deal of my reporting had to go.

Yet I could not have produced the series without having first produced the pile of material that wasn’t ultimately used. My plans may have been shot to hell, but the act of planning was crucial.

Eisenhower’s aphorism, then, is terribly apt — or at least it was for me — as I worked for seven months on this three-part series…

So, even though the plan doesn’t always work out, the process of making the plan still has value. I believe this has been applicable in my life, even when those five-year plans have no apparent validity.
Are lots of folks I know of dying this month or am I just getting old? (Rhetorical question: DO NOT ANSWER.)

Donald “Duck” Dunn died May 13. Though best known as the bassist for the group Booker T. & the MG’s, or probably, for a certain demographic, the Blues Brothers band, he played on lots of songs for Stax and Atlantic artists such as Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, the Staples Singers, and Sam & Dave, plus many more. Here is Booker T. & the MG’s-Time Is Tight.

An ex-girlfriend bought me Donna Summer’s Live and More for my 27th birthday. Didn’t think it was my thing, but I ended up playing it constantly, especially Side 4, that 18-minute MacArthur Park suite that, I just discovered, is missing from the CD re-release – here’s a live, 6-minute version of the song. Arthur and Jaquandor have interesting takes on her passing this week.

Presidents Day

“Other than Ronald Reagan, who is your political hero?”

It’s Presidents Day, so I post oddball factoids about the guys that have held the office that I’ve come across in the past couple of months.

But first, a recent Final JEOPARDY! answer: Of the 20 presidents elected to a second term, 2 of the 3 who failed to complete that term. (Question at the end.)

#1- George Washington
He Came
During the American Revolutionary War, George Washington was riding on his horse one day when he passed by a group of soldiers who were busily engaged in raising a beam to the top of some military works. It was a difficult task, and the voice of the corporal in charge of the men could often be heard shouting, “Now you have it!”
“All ready! Pull!”
Unrecognized by the corporal and the other soldiers, Washington asked the corporal why he didn’t help his men.
“Sir,” replied the angered officer “do you not realize that I AM the CORPORAL?!?”
Washington politely raised his hat, saying, “I did not realize it. Beg your pardon… Mr. Corporal.”
Washington dismounted his horse and went to work helping the men until the beam was raised.
Before leaving, he turned to the corporal, and, wiping the perspiration from his face, said, “If ever you need assistance like this again, call upon Washington, your commander-in-chief, and I will come!” *

*Adapted from “An Anecdote of Washington” by Mara Pratt in American History Stories You Never Read in School But Should Have as qtd. by Jason Jackson in Stronger Than Ever (Christian Courier Publications; Stockton, CA; 2008.)

#3- Thomas Jefferson

#10- John Tyler
Jaquandor found this fascinating information about Old Tippecanoe’s Veep and longevity.

#16 Abraham Lincoln
Interview with Ronald C. White, Jr., author of A. Lincoln: A Biography

The ALA Public Programs Office, in partnership with the National Constitution Center (NCC) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), is pleased to announce a large-scale tour for the traveling exhibition “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War.” Funding for the exhibition and tour is provided by a major grant from NEH’s We the People initiative.
Two hundred sites will be selected to host the 1,000 square foot exhibition for a period of six weeks each from September 2011 through May 2015. All showings of the exhibition will be free and open to the public.
Using the U.S. Constitution as its cohesive thread, “Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War” offers a fresh and innovative perspective on the Civil War that brings into focus the constitutional crises at the heart of this great conflict. The exhibition identifies these crises—the secession of the Southern states, slavery, and wartime civil liberties—and explores how Lincoln sought to meet these political and constitutional challenges.

But the big Lincoln news is that an altered Lincoln document is at the National Archives, where someone changed the date on a pardon from April 14, 1864, to April 14, 1865, the day Lincoln was shot. Worse, the comments, especially in the New York Times piece seem to desire to refight the Civil War.

#17- Andrew Johnson
The Presidential dollar coming out this month is of the first U.S. President ever to be impeached. Impeached means indicted by the House of Representatives; the Senate tries the case, and Johnson missed being convicted by a single vote.

Incidentally, I recently discovered that the mint mark (P for Philadelphia, D for Denver) is not on the face of the coin, but on the edge.

#18- Ulysses S. GrantA Great Bronze Tarnished by Neglect.
The most artistically accomplished memorial in Washington, D.C.—as well as the most overlooked—is that of Gen. Ulysses S. Grant. It celebrates not just its namesake but the brave men who carried out his orders in the face of danger and death. Shorn of the allegory and sentiment common to so much commemorative art, it vividly and unsparingly depicts what Kathryn Allamong Jacob calls, in “Testament to Union: Civil War Monuments in Washington, D.C.,” “the harsh face of war in the awful beauty of richly detailed men and horses rushing to battle.”

#34- Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight Was Right about the military-industrial complex, says Michael Moore

#35- John F. Kennedy
In honor of the 50th anniversary of the John F. Kennedy inauguration, the JFK Library unveiled a large digital archive. Interesting story on CBS NEWS Sunday Morning about the anniversary.

However, the History Channel has decided to yank its miniseries on the Kennedys, citing its lack of historical accuracy.

10 Speeches and News Conferences by JFK Now Available on iTunes via U. of North Dakota

#37- Richard M. Nixon
I had decided to create a new narrative about Dick, noting his accomplishments with the environment, et al. But then, information came out about ethnic slurs and other unsavory comments. Sigh. Same old Nixon.

#39- Jimmy Carter
Carter appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, promoting his book, White House Diary.

#40- Ronald Reagan
Reagan exhibited signs of Alzheimer’s while still in White House his son Ron claimed in his book, titled “My Father at 100,” was to mark what would have been President Reagan’s 100th birthday on Feb. 6, 2011. President Reagan died in June 2004. Ron’s half-brother Michael, who has a book of his own, hotly denies that claim.

The Republican National Committee picked a new chair last month. But what I thought was telling was one of the questions to each of the candidates, which was something like, “Other than Ronald Reagan, who is your political hero?” Reagan was listed as a given.

A Reagan Litmus Test for 2012 GOP Hopefuls

American Dad – Oliver North song, which I saw when I experienced insomnia this month.

#41- George H. W. Bush
Medal of Freedom Recipients​: George H.W. Bush, Bill Russell, Yo-Yo Ma, and Others

#43- George W. Bush
Description of W’s book from Human Events: “Decision Points is no conventional political autobiography. In gripping, never-before-heard detail, President Bush gracefully brings readers inside the Texas Governor’s Mansion on the night of the hotly contested 2000 election; aboard Air Force One on 9/11, in the hours after America’s most devastating attack since Pearl Harbor; at the head of the table in the Situation Room in the moments before launching the war in Iraq, and behind the Oval Office desk for his historic and controversial decisions on the financial crisis, Hurricane Katrina, Afghanistan, Iran, and other major events that have shaped the first decade of the 21st century.”

JEOPARDY! question: Who were Lincoln, McKinley, Nixon? (any two) Both my wife (Lincoln, McKinley) and I (McKinley, Nixon) got it right; NONE of the contestants did.


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