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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Power of One

OK, so you've heard it before... but one more time, to make a point: Two men were walking on the beach, naturally littered with washed-on-the-shore starfish. Every few steps, one of the men would stop, pick up a starfish and throw it back into the sea. After this had happened about half-dozen times, the other man chided him.

"Why are you doing that? There are thousands of starfish on the beach. You can't really make a difference."

First man flipped the starfish he was holding back into the ocean. "I can to that one."
Interesting thing about The Power of 1... it can be so subtle that you don't even know when or how you affect someone. It often manifests itself without your knowledge or conscious effort... like being a good example, or smiling to a passer-by who needs a smile. It can be overwhelmingly incredible like grabbing hold of a stranger's elbow as he is about to step off the curb into an approaching car. It makes a difference...often an amazing difference.

Their names are Violet and Allen Large of Nova Scotia and you probably never heard of them... but that's the thing about the Power of 1... heroic actions are usually not notable for who, but what and how. Being a hero is often a selfless, quiet action that positively affects others. Though Violet is currently fighting cancer,  the Larges, who won $11 million in a lottery last July, donated the entire amount for various causes including their local fire department, hospitals and organizations that fight cancer, Alzheimer's and diabetes. Said Allen, "The money that we won was nothing. We have each other." 

Hollywood has a neat way of showcasing the Power of 1. Movies (and television, books, etc.) can show the perspective of all the characters and showcase cause and effect actions. How about a seasonal example: It's a Wonderful Life showed the greatness of George Bailey in the way he lived his life of personal character without ever realizing the positive effect he had on those he touched. (I love that movie.)

An organ donor talked about in the news recently, saved a dozen strangers by his donations... and the film clip showed the donor's wife listening to her deceased husband's heart beating in another's chest. Very powerful. (You an organ donor? You should be.)

And this season, how about Santa? Oh yeah! the Power of 1... in hearts and minds.

Most of us celebrate Christmas because of one man born about 2000 years ago. Need a better example of the Power of 1?
May your holidays be blessed and the New Year bring a resolve to unleash your Power of 1 for a richer you.  (PS: Nice going you secret Walmart layaway angels. You make a difference!)

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's Howdy Doody Time!

It may be hard for some to believe, but starting in 1947, one of the best things ever, if you were a kid was The Howdy Doody Show on television. Wow! When Buffalo Bob Smith asked, "Kids... What time is it?" every kid in the Peanut Gallery hollered: "IT'S HOWDY DOODY TIME!" Funny how a puppet show could captivate an audience. We are much more sophisticated today  ; - ) with The Simpsons, Family Guy, The Muppets, etc. but even in its earliest days, television just knew what we liked.

Television was in its infancy and most of America didn't even have a TV set yet. We watched at grandma's house... got our programs from Chicago via a huge, ugly antenna on her roof. When reception was good (i.e. you could make out what was happening through all the 'snow' on the screen) and a call went out to the neighborhood: "Come quick. Television is coming in tonight."

All television was seen in black and white... and there were only three networks--no ESPN, MTV, HBO or anything else... and television went off the air at midnight or 1 a.m., replaced with a "test pattern" Programming was all 'live,' which meant we saw everything as it happened... slips, flubs and all... and we watched anything and everything.
test pattern

The first coaxial cable, which enabled television to be broadcast all over America at the same time, happened just 60 years ago. And it absolutely blew everyone's mind to think that a person could actually see the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans at the very same moment--live!... from anywhere there was a TV set.

Yep. That was technology then. And to place it in time, these were some of the prices:

Car: $1,800
Gasoline: 27 cents/gal
House: $16,000
Bread: 16 cents/loaf
Milk: 92 cents/gal
Postage Stamp: 3 cents
Stock Market: 269
Average Annual Salary: $4,200
Minimum Wage: 75 cents per hour

Garroway with co-host J. Fred Muggs
I Love Lucy was the first sitcom... you've seen reruns... and it was truly good.  Edward R. Murrow had one of the first news shows like the network news of today. Dave Garroway was the first 'Matt Lauer' of the Today Show, all the way back in 1952. His co-host for a time was a monkey--really! The Milton Berle show and The Ed Sullivan Show were the precursors of the variety and entertainment shows of today... and The Sid Caesar Show with Imogene Coca was Saturday Night Live before there was an SNL. If you think I'm kidding, take a look on YouTube.  Everything old is new again. Funny how that works, but does.

Alvin Tolfer, in his 1970 book, Future Shock, said there was so much change in such a short period of time, that if all of man's technological and scientific growth on earth were represented by a two-lane highway, from the first man to 1940 would be from one edge of the road to the middle line. Then 1940 to 1970 would be the other lane of the highway. And that was then! He also said, "The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."

One of the few constants is television programming. Technology has changed--sophistication in production, color and timeliness represents maturity--but we are still the same, simple-minded viewers of programming of the same genre... with hundreds of networks to burn our minds. Will we ever learn?

My... time sure flies when you are having fun.