"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25

"Anxiety in a man's heart weighs him down, but a good word makes him glad." -Proverbs 12:25
Midnight Blue (1963): Jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell featuring Stanley Turrentine on tenor saxophone, Major Holley on double bass, Bill English on drums and Ray Barretto on conga. Midnight Blue is one of Burrell’s best-known works for Blue Note Records. In 2005, NPR included the album in its "Basic Jazz Library", describing it as "one of the great jazzy blues records".

He said, She said...

"You are not designed for everyone to like you - Wise Man Phil

FRAGILE: Sting, Yo Yo Ma, Dominic Miller & Chris Botti

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Fab Five...

One: the first and lowest whole number, being a cardinal number; unity. 

I love lists. There I said it. I have my favorite movies, actors/actresses, destinations, golf courses, and kids...just kidding...I love them all. I must say though Reese Olivia Christine can do no wrong. This little "cupcake" does things to me I can't even explain. I can't wait to see her's unbelievable. Yea, the boys are doing just fine, but did I tell you that Reese is turning over and that she has memorized all the longitude and latitude coordinates for each state capitol.

In a word, she is "Amazing".


...told ya she was a little cupcake.

Anyway, before anyone thinks that this piece has something to do with Michigan's "Fab Five" or the Jackson 5 (that would be close) it doesn't; I like to rate everything and today I going to share with you my top five (actually, top ten) Micheal Jackson songs. My "personal" top five when he was black and my top five when he was white. Also, I can't talk about music without giving you my top five Sting and the Police tunes.

The first top five will be referred to as the "Soul Train" suite for two reasons:
  1. He looked like Don Cornelius.   

Don Cornelius

      2. And because he didn't look like Dick Clark.

Dick Clark

MJ's "Soul Train" suite:

5. Off The Wall
4. Billie Jean
3. Human Nature
2. PYT
1. Rock With You 

The second top five will be referred to as his "American Bandstand" suite for two reasons:
  1. He looked more like Dick Clark.
  2. And because he looked less like Don Cornelius.
  MJ's "American Bandstand" suite:

5. Dangerous 
4. You Rock My World
3.The Way You Make Me Feel 
2. Do You Remember The Time 
1. Man In The Mirror

OK...I'm too tired to give you my "fab five" for Sting and the Police; looking at all those images of Michael has worn me out. It was scary.

...Told ya so. At first I thought this was Liza Minnelli

...much better
August 29, 1958 – June 25, 2009

sbb  26.5.10  (Number One . Pharrell  feat. Kayne West) .  361

Saturday, May 22, 2010


Bitterness: having a harsh, disagreeably acrid taste, like that of aspirin, quinine, wormwood, or aloes. 

"But hushed be every thought that springs from out the bitterness of things"

"The question invariably arises, it has before and it will again: Rubin are you bitter?"  And the answer to that I will say: After all that's been said and done---the fact that the most productive years of my life, between the ages of twenty-nine and fifty, have been stolen; the fact that I was deprived of seeing my children grow up-- wouldn't you think I would have a right to be bitter? In fact, it would be very easy to be bitter. But it has never been my nature, or my lot to do things the easy way. If I learned nothing else in my life, I've learned that bitterness only consumes the vessel that contains it. And for me to permit bitterness to control or infect my life in any way whatsoever would allow those who imprisoned me to take even more than twenty-two years they've already taken. Now, that would make me an accomplice to their crime."  

Those were the words Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, professional middleweight boxer from 1961-1966, spoke upon his release from prison in 1988 for a murder he was wrongly convicted of.

It's amazing how a person can spend twenty-two years in prison for a crime they didn't commit and have such a clear perspective and positive attitude once released. Especially when it's common place to see enraged drivers give people the "finger" for a minor inconvenience, or even worse, when a divorce couple is unable to relinquish their hatred or anger for each other. They hold onto their bitterness like "carry-on" luggage; harming themselves, and more importantly, emotionally and mentally harming their children.

Before anyone picks up the proverbial kitchen sink and throws it at me, I'm not referring to the bitterness that is born out of the violent treatment of a ex-spouse or a child, or any treatment that lead to criminal prosecution and or conviction. In those instances it is understandable to embody those types of feelings; even with that being said, many would agree we become free when we decide not to become bitter.

Even in the most average 'he said; she said' divorce, when parties are unwilling to act decent and forgo their anger, there needs to be a separation of their feelings from their obligation and responsibility of raising their children. For healing to take place, and to raise emotionally healthy and stable children, this is paramount. It is the clarion call unto all parents to raise their children in a way that will aid them in becoming caring and productive human beings. And though divorce is tough on everyone involved, as parents, we have a great opportunity to display and educate our children on the fundamentals on how to behave and treat others when we don't necessarily see eye to eye with them.

Educating our children on the skills that are needed for "conflict resolution" is one of the greatest gifts we can give them. Things will rarely go their way and not everyone is going to like them...they need to learn early how to deal with this reality.

Entertaining bitterness will make this process longer than it needs to be, and in most instances, impossible to resolve any conflicts.

We as parents have a golden opportunity to display to our kids the unbelievable power of civility and decorum in situations when relationships are greatly strained. It is also an opportunity (man, opportunity should be the title of this piece) to display the positive effects of taking the high road and not falling in the trap of constantly bad mouthing the other party or parent.

I often tell my children to take the "high road" because there is less traffic.

The bottom-line is it teaches our children to show class no matter the situation. Before any of this can take place we need to stop verbally jabbing our ex-spouse, or girl/boy friend, in front of our children and stop obsessing how we were wronged. It's over. Nothing will ever change what has already happened to you. 

The unfortunate reality is that we are going to be hurt and disappointed many times in our lives by people, and the worst of it is that we will often be the cause of pain and aggravation in other people's lives. Both instances will often involve people we love and trust the most.

We often give it as good as we get it.

It is important to remember that people can hurt us, but we give them the power to ruin us. That's what bitterness does, it keeps us from being the very best we can be. It robs us of our joy and it clouds our outlook on life. It ruins us. The key is to accept our bitter state and anger, trying never to deny that it exists. Ephesians 4:26 states; "Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger". In another words; acknowledge it, accept it, let go of it, and move on. You will be a better person for it. Psalms 4:4 says; "Don't sin by letting anger gain control over you. Think about it overnight and remain silent". I think that is solid and sound advice.

We must be aware of it without becoming overwhelmed by it. Accept it and move on, nothing will change the past only you have the power to shape the future.

This past weekend I was reminded of how great it can be when two people decide to work with each other instead of against each other; when two people accept their past and move on. As my 1st wife, Tracey, and I watched our son go to his senior prom this past Saturday I realized how great it is that we decided to forge a friendship over the past 18 years, and that our children had a chance to watch our friendship grow and flourish.  

Austin, Noah, & Alex

Audrey & Austin (2010)

Tracey has been a tremendous mother to Logan and Austin over the past 19 years. She has been on the front-line everyday with our boys and the boys and I could never thank her enough for all that she has done. But at the end of the day, Tracey chose to move past any ill feelings she had towards me and do what was right. She forgave. I'm sure there were many times she hated me but she never sabotaged my relationship with our boys. I can never thank her enough for that reality.

Tracey & Reese

Always remember that "bitterness only consumes the vessel that contains it" has very little effect on the person it is targeted towards. That person is most often sleeping very well at night...every night. The truth is that there is so much good out there to experience if we will only free ourselves so we can experience it. Job 21:25 states; "Another man dies in bitterness of soul, never have enjoying anything good." 

Mom, Logan, & Dad

Trust me when I say; "relinquish your bitterness and start to enjoy your life". There is no sense to live out a "life sentence" for yourself that you created. You will be thankful that you made such a powerful decision to let go of all the bitterness that renders you powerless...your kids will be thankful too. I know that I am and I'm pretty sure Rubin "Hurricane" Carter is also.

sbb 22.5.10  


Tuesday, May 18, 2010


Word: a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning.

Those who know me well know that I love to read and I love to write. Ask my kids and they will tell you that their Dad is the one with book in hand, sitting out in left field or in the corner of the himself) at each one of their sporting events. The combination of "parents" and children's "sporting events" are too much for me to stomach on most occasions. There have been teams (mainly soccer teams...I'm a firm believer that soccer is a Communist plot to take over the youth of America) that I didn't say a word or introduce myself to one parent the entire year.  

Parents behave so poorly at many of their "children's" sporting events that I'm much better served simply sitting by myself and reading; without saying a word.

I know, I know...this isn't the greatest attitude from a person that professes to have a deep faith in God. I can hear the comments now; "where is all the love thy neighbor crap?"...God's "Golden Rule" was undoubtedly commissioned before the "soccer parent" was created.

OK, enough said. I digress.

Today my goal, before I went off on my soccer parent rant, was to pay homage to words of yesteryear; words that, at one time, were in the lexicon of the English language. Think of this as my personal "David Letterman's" top ten words from the past.

Here we go:

10.) Shenanigans: mischief; prankishness,deceit; trickery: Halloween shenanigans.

9.)    Hijinks (high jinks): boisterous celebration or merrymaking; unrestrained fun: The city is full of conventioneers indulging in their usual high jinks.

8.)    Poppycock: nonsense; bosh.

7.)    Haberdashery: a haberdasher's shop; the goods sold there. Men's store.

5).    Jazz: Slang. insincere, exaggerated, or pretentious talk: Don't give me any of that jazz about your great job.

4).     Buffoonery: a person who amuses others by tricks, jokes, odd gestures and postures, etc. 

3.)     Ballyhoo: a clamorous and vigorous attempt to win customers or advance any cause; blatant advertising or publicity. 

2.)     Hoodwinked: to deceive or trick.

1.)     Tomfoolery: foolish or silly behavior; tomfoolishness. 

"I think it's pure poppycock the amount of buffoonery and tomfoolery one has to deal with on a daily basis, not the mention the shenanigans and the many futile attempts to be hoodwinked by men who give me so much jazz and display so much ballyhoo and balderdash concerning their haberdashery; it is hijinks as usual.

I know it's a run on sentence and that I have too much time on my with me with me.

...come to think of it, lollygag is a great word too.

sbb 17.5.2010  (Word Up!  .  Cameo)  .  477

Monday, May 17, 2010


Choice: an act or instance of choosing; selection: Her choice of a computer was made after months of research. His parents were not happy with his choice of friends. 

"I shall be telling this with a sigh somewhere ages and ages hence: two roads diverged in a wood, and I - I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference."
"The Road Not Taken"
-Robert Frost

Some years after my first divorce, my "first" mother-in-law (you haven't lived until you have had more than one...just kidding...well, sort of), Karen, asked me a question that I will never forget. I was helping her light candles for their families annual Christmas Eve gathering when she asked me; "What have you learned from the choices you've made in your life?

Before I go any further, I must say that my first wife's family is wonderful and both are families or close to this day. The Swan's have been very loving and caring towards me for as long as I've known them, but when she asked me the question it caught me totally off guard. I was six months into my second divorce (1998) and I could only imagine what was going through Karen's mind. Still she asked the question in the manner a loving mother would ask her child when both knew that there were many wrongs committed.

My answer was less than profound; I said, "Yea, you have to live with them".

It is so easy to make choices and decisions without thinking them through. The main reason for this behavior is that many times we base our decisions on how we feel. If we're not happy we feel that something has to change immediately. We often jump from marriage to marriage, job to job, and from relationship to relationship in search of that quick fix.

The real change often needs to occur in the way we think.

We need to do what is right and let the feelings flow downstream afterward. Charles Stanley, a famous and very wise southern Baptist preacher, likes to say; "Do what is right and leave the consequences to God". When we do what is right we need to have little concern about the consequences. Abraham Lincoln stated; "When I do bad I feel bad and when I do good I feel good". It sounds very simple, but the principle seems to elude all of us.

In the poem "The Road Not Taken" Robert Frost discusses the issue of choice and decision, and how each individual is empowered to choose their own destiny. The poem is one of my personal favorites because it is a reminder to me of one of the greatest gifts God has given us; the gift of "free will". 

The wonderful gift of "free will" enables us to own our decisions daily. 

In Frost's poem he communicates to us the decisions that we make are completely ours and that these decisions make all the difference in the world. Unfortunately, many of us travel down the same road repeatedly, the road that allows us to make choices based on how we feel; often without regard for doing what is right. Show me a person that lives by their feelings and I will show you a very miserable person. 

Feelings are like clouds, some are white and fluffy; others dark and depressive, but both are blown by the winds of circumstance. Circumstances, and thus our feelings, change daily, sometimes they change hourly, and that's why it is so dangerous to let our attitudes and our decisions be dictated by our feelings. Again, show me a person that lives by their feelings and I'll show you a person that is constantly and consistently up and down, and very unhappy. Like Charles Swindoll says; "Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react".

It's all about perspective and attitude.

The decisions that I made for the better part of 14 years were poor. From 1991- 2005 I chose to run down the path of excess. Making decisions based on how I felt and living in the moment was a way of life for me. In its wake are two ex-wives, five children, and plenty of heartache. And at the end of the day, what I have learned is you really do have to live with the decisions you make. I have also learned that with God, and only God, you can recover from any bad decision you make. There will always be consequences for the choices we make, but I found that God can take my bad and make it good. In the book of Joshua, God reveals to us that "He will not leave you nor forsake you". (Joshua 1:5)

Even though I turned my back on Him, based on the decisions I made, He never left me.

I have found, for me personally, that the best decision that I could make for me and my family was to make a decision to give my entire life to Jesus Christ. To claim him as my personal savior and to make choices that reflect the very personal decision I made. 

The psalmist, some 3000 years ago, wrote something similar to what Frost described in his poem concerning the choice we have between taking two different paths.  Psalms 1:1-3 states; "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."    

I wish I could say that the choice was simple for me to choose to have a personal relationship with Christ; the reality is that it wasn't. I fought to have my own way and to live life according to my perceived needs and selfish desires; not living accordingly to what God had planned for me. Jeremiah 20:11 states that God knows the plan he has for me and that they are to give me a "future and a hope" and that they are "plans for good and not for disaster". After reading that I realize the choice is simple...choose Him.

Thanks Karen for caring enough to ask me such a thought provoking and life altering question many years ago. Life really is about the choices we make.

sbb  17.5.2010   (People Get Ready  .  The Impressions)  .  1105

Friday, May 14, 2010

November 30, 1959

Varsity: any first-string team, esp. in sports, that represents a school, college, university, or    the like: He is on the varsity in tennis and in debating. 

Life experienced in all of its simplicity is often the best way to experience life. Last year I had the pleasure to read a letter that my father's high school basketball coach, Dick Snouffer, wrote (typed) to all the young men that made the varsity basketball team that year. 

The letter is simply a treasure.

To read the letter is to go to a time much different than today. It was the middle of the 20th century, in Middle America, and "smack dab" in the middle of the civil rights movement. In 1959 the unemployment rate was 5%; the average salary was $5010.00 and the average cost of a home was $12,400. Families around the country were watching "Bonanza" and "The Twilight Zone" on their TV sets; watching Cary Grant in "North by Northwest" and Charlton Heston in "Ben Hur" on the silver screen. The number one hit on the radio was Bobby Darin's "Mack the Knife".

In many ways it was a better time.

Oh yea, a gallon of gas was 25 cents. Usually, I try to say something clever after delivering a fact like that, but I can't...I'm truly speechless.

Jake Bailey #52
Circleville High School

Below is the letter that was written 51 years ago this November:

Circleville High School  
J. Wray Henry, Principal
Circleville, Ohio

November 30, 1959

Greetings James:

       Congratulations! After two weeks of concentrated practice for all of us, you have been selected as a member of the Circleville High School varsity basketball squad for this year. You have been selected on the basis of what we believe you can potentially contribute to our squad. As a varsity squad member, you are expected to be one of the eleven "most hustling" young men in the classroom and on the basketball court.

You are to keep yourself healthy and "ready to go" at all times for all of our interests and not yours alone. In order to do this, the following are training suggestions for your "self discipline" which is the answer to training.

(1) At least 8-9 hours sleep each night. Be honest, you know how you feel after too little sleep.

(2) Regular meals - cokes, potato chips, and other snacks are hard on digestion if they aren't eaten with meals. Fruit between meals is OK at times.

(3) Regular hours for Study and Relaxation. Get your homework done early before you are too tired.

(4) No habits adverse to body growth and normal health. Tobacco, alcohol, too many greasy foods are "out".

(5) Good emotional balance. "First things first" in your life. Know what is important to you NOW! Your only opportunity for a high school education and athletics is here now.

     Basketball season lasts only four months and you will have the rest of your life to remember it if you did your best. Three copies of "Basketball and You at Circleville High School" are on file in the high school library. You should know the material presented therein "backwards and forwards".

    Attitude, the result of your adjustment to life, is a basic ingredient of any organization, team or otherwise. Four basic factors for a good mental attitude are:

(1) CONFIDENCE - in athletics, it comes with ability, physical condition,good attitude, and experience.

(2) DESIRE - to learn (both in the classroom and on the basketball court), to improve, to excel, to win and to train. This should come from within you and from the heart.

(3) LOYALTY & RESPECT - to self, to parents, teammates, school officials, teachers, and coach. Your coach will make mistakes now and then as you will, but he likes the game and wants to win as much as you do.

(4) RELIGION - Last but not least by far - a player with faith in God is a better player. He has a clearer mind, seems to know what he wants from life, and goes after it in a straight forward manner.

With a 100% effort on the part of each of us, we can look forward to an interesting season. How will you answer the question at the end of the season: "What have I contributed to the success of our squad this year?"

        Best wishes for a very good year.

                                               Richard K. Snouffer

 Imagine if this letter were written today...the ACLU would have a field day. BTW, I bought gas today; seven gallons...$19.59. You do the arithmetic.

sbb 14.5.2010  
(Just My Imagination  .  The Temptations)  



Sunday, May 9, 2010

Thinking of you...

Think: Informal. the act or a period of thinking: I want to sit down and give it a good think. 

For most reading this, today will be a day of celebration as we honor our mothers and thank them for every thing they have done for us. I don't know about you, but my mother was the glue that held our family together when I was growing up. Today things haven't changed that much at all, as my wife, Ryan & Reese's mom, makes our house a home and keeps everything together for us. I'm not exaggerating when I say; "we couldn't make it without my wife, Ronnie".

Addison, Ronnie, & Ryan 
(Mother's day 2008)

For others reading this, today will be a day of reflection and sadness as they remember their mother or grandmother that lost their lives during the past year. The one person that comes to mind for me is Heather Brewster Schaller. Heather, and her sister, lost their mother to cancer this past week. I'm not going to try to describe Heather other than to say she is about as wonderful as a human being can be. She is a devoted wife, a loving mother, a supportive sister, and has always been the type of daughter that has given her parents constant joy and much reason to be proud. Spend ten minutes with her and you will know exactly what I'm talking (typing) about.

Heather and I have been friends since high school, and though we lost contact with each other for several years, Heather remains the same person she was many years ago; wonderful.

Heather and her mother... 

 As my family recognizes all the mothers (my wife, my mom, & my mother-in-law) that make our lives better on a daily basis we will also be thinking of someone very near and dear to all of us; my late grandmother, Jane Byrd

Mom, my sister (Meredith), & Grandma Byrd

My grandmother passed away in the summer of 2005. Below are the words I spoke at her funeral.

Marjorie Jane Harris

1920 started like any other year. It was full of promise and hope; Woodrow Wilson was our country's 28th President  and the summer Olympics were being held in Antwerp, Belgium. It was also a freighting time as Adolph Hitler gave his first public speech. It was the year F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote his first novel "This Side of Paradise", and the inauguration of our country's first airport in Tucson,  Arizona. 1920 also marked the passing of the 19th amendment which granted women the right to vote. 

 And, in that same year year on December the 29th, one Marjorie Jane Harris was welcomed into the world.

One of six children and the recipient of loving parents, Jane learned at a very young age the importance of a family; the value of great parents and the value of being a great parent. In the book "Anna Karenina" Leo Tolstoy wrote that "all happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." My grandmother and her siblings experienced the joy of a happy family. Their parents provided safety, comfort, and happiness in a time when our country made it difficult for a black family to experience safety, comfort, and happiness. 

I know this to be true because all six children (Vernon, Catherine, Mill, Maurice, Jane, & Simmie) passed on that safety, comfort, and happiness to their families.

The Harris Family
 My grandmother is sitting on her mother's lap (1924).

My grandmother showed me by word and deed that people can, and do, make a difference; that the real heroes are people like my grandmother and my late grandfather. They are individuals like my Aunt Nancy, and Uncle Howard, like my mother (Chris) and my father (Jake)...and like many of you sitting in this room. People who work every day and try to make a better life for their family and those around them.

We live in a society that many times applaud the ordinary and forgets about the truly extraordinary. People like the Harris' were extraordinary because they made the most out what they had.

The day I graduated from Wittenberg University my father shook my hand, told me congratulations, and commanded me to give my children more than was given to me. The Harris children gave their children more than was given to them and in turn my parents gave my sister and I more than what was given to them.

"Sweet 16" (1936)
...Jane Harris

Birdie (my grandfather) and Jane truly went the extra mile for their children; giving them every opportunity to be happy and successful. People really do make a difference in others lives. The difference can be negative or it can be positive...the choice is ours. 
My grandmother chose to make a difference in her two children (Nancy & Chris), her four grandchildren (Tim, Tony, Meredith, & myself), and her four great grandchildren's lives (Logan, Austin, Bryce, & Sarah)...that choice has made all the difference to me.

 Now that I've gained insight and knowledge from two different generations, and have been blessed with wonderful role models, I can only hope and pray that I will continue the tradition. The tradition of giving my children more than what was given me and that I will be a positive influence in their lives.

Christine Neilson Williams
(My great grandmother)

Ralph Waldon Emerson wrote, and I quote; "What I must do is all that concerns me, not what the people will always find those who think they know what your duty is better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it easy to in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude". Marjorie Jane Byrd, in the midst of the crowd, maintained the perfect sweetness of independent solitude. She was true to herself, and by doing so, she was true to all of us.

In closing, I know we are all grieving m grandmother's death today, but it would be my hope and prayer that we celebrate her life. When Jack Nicklaus officially retired from golf last Friday at the British Open, someone said; "don't cry because it's over; smile because it happened". My grandmother's life may be over, but I'm so happy it happened and that I was part of it.

Thank you.

sbb 9.5.2010   (Thinking of You  .  Lenny Kravitz)  .  1089