Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.
Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.
“The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.
Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.
Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.
Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.
"Frontier Airlines will begin direct flights from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport on April 11, the airline announced today. Frontier Airlines will start by offering direct service to Denver, Orlando and Philadelphia from Birmingham. Introductory prices will start at $39."
"At 87, Clint Eastwood is not only trying new things, he’s trying daring new things, and his new film 15:17 to Paris represents one of the most audacious gambits of his career. To dramatize the tale of three Americans who tackled and subdued a heavily armed Islamist terrorist on a train out of Amsterdam in 2015, Eastwood cast the young men, none of whom had professional acting experience, as themselves. It’s a decision with little precedent in the entire history of motion pictures."
The photograph above is what the sky looked like at the beach this morning. It was about 6:15, the water was beautiful, but it was an odd sunrise. At least I’d never seen one like it. Was that a straight cloud coming out of the bigger one? Yep. What the heck?
As the morning grew brighter, the straight line began to take on a pink color, then a deep pink. And suddenly, I could see that the straight line extended above the cloud as well. Very cool, but I still didn’t know what it was.
As I drove back home, I considered what I had seen. To me, it looked as if something big had pierced the cloud. And according to the American Meteor Society, founded in 1911 (thank you, Google), that’s exactly what happened!
In Google’s words:
Several thousand meteors of fireball magnitude occur in the Earth’s atmosphere each day. The vast majority of these, however, occur over the oceans and uninhabited regions, and a good many are masked by daylight. Those that occur at night also stand little chance of being detected due to the relatively low numbers of persons out to notice them.
Occasionally, however, the fireballs develop one of two possible types of trails behind them: trains and smoke trails. Most trains last only a few seconds, but on rare occasions a train may last up to several minutes.
The second type of trail is called a smoke trail and is more often seen in daylight fireballs than at night. Generally occurring below 80 km of altitude, smoke trails are a non-luminous trail of particulate stripped away during the ablation process. These appear similar to contrails left behind by aircraft and can have either a light or dark appearance according to the time of day and amount of sunlight available.
So, wow! Here is the photo I took at 6:25. Notice the smoke trail above, as well as below, the cloud.
AndyAndrews new weekly podcast, “The Professional Noticer” is being broadcast from Orange Beach, Alabama and already has listeners in 63 countries. Subscribe for free on your favorite media platform or at AndyAndrews.com/Podcast.
Yes, he was 94. Still, I am sad about the passing of President George H.W. Bush. What a great and honorable life he lived. And what a smile — in success and failure, despite the death of a child, and living an increasingly public life even after his presidency — this mostly because of two other children in politics.
I was honored to have spent a bit of time with this president. Not that anyone has asked, but my memories of President Bush include eating the “souse” (look it up) he had ordered to be served in The Blue room of The White House. I swear I can still taste it!
I remember once leaving a backstage area with my wife, Polly.
We’d been at The White House that afternoon and the president was in as happy a state of mind as, I suppose, anyone ever gets. The (first) Gulf War had been ended in 100 days—a stunning victory for our country with an unprecedented low number of American casualties.
That evening after speaking, Polly and I waved to a crowd of happy people as we got into a limo for the short ride back to the hotel. The crowd had been effusive with all eyes on the president and standing ovations for his every word or move.
That day, it had been announced that President Bush had an 89 percent approval rating. It was the highest any president had ever scored (FDR had come closest with an 83 percent in 1938).
Headed to the hotel, Polly and I marveled at the evening’s magic and listened to groups of onlookers chant “Bush! Bush!” as we rode by. A thought occurred to me and I spoke it aloud to my wife. I said, “Who will the Democrats even run against him in November? Nobody will accept the nomination. They’ll already know they haven’t a chance to win!”
Polly and I both remember well the words I spoke in that moment. 19 months later, the president lost badly to a previously unknown governor from Arkansas. And I’ve never since had faith in a public opinion poll.
Every year, whoever the president might be, there is an event called The President’s Charity held at Ford’s Theater for the preservation of that historic landmark. Traditionally, the president personally chooses the speaker, artist, entertainer — or all three — for the evening’s celebration.
One particular year, I was the only “spoken word artist” the president had chosen. The line-up included The Oak Ridge Boys, Randy Travis, Alan Jackson, Alabama, Garth Brooks…and me. My seven minutes was situated somewhere in the middle.
Honestly, I don’t remember who performed before me or after. I don’t even remember much of what I did that evening. I do, however, remember what happened as I began my remarks.
Actor John Ritter was the emcee for the event. I waited in the wings, listening as he introduced me. When the polite applause began, I walked on to the stage and realized that it was the first time I had even been in the theater. I saw immediately that there were two balconies. Glancing up and to the left, I spotted the draped box of eight seats where President Abraham Lincoln had been assassinated.
Moving to the center of the stage, I looked down and into the audience. One couldn’t help but notice the President of the United States in the very middle of the front row. He and Barbara were holding hands. To their left sat the Vice-President, Dan Quayle and his wife, Marilyn. To the president’s right, Morgan Freeman was seated.
The applause died away and for a moment, I said nothing. With eyes widened, I simply stared into that area of focus, front row, center seats. “I just have to say that I am really nervous with you here,” I said. No one moved. There was a frozen smile on the president’s face, but a tiny bit of uncertainty began to show.
I wiped my palms on the trouser legs of my tuxedo and took a tentative step forward, continuing to peer into the middle of the first row. The audience was eerily still now, everyone focused on what appeared to be happening, certain they were witnessing a disaster and hoping that for God’s sake, someone would come rescue this terrified young man.
I spoke again. “To think that I am here on this stage tonight, speaking for someone like you. You… conceivably the most powerful person on the planet at this time. And to think that, this evening… you let the president come, too, Mrs. Bush, is just amazing.”
For a long moment, time seemed to stand still, but in reality, there couldn’t have been more than a full second before the audience erupted. President Bush led the applause, laughing and pointing to his wife, The First Lady. She turned a shrugged to the audience as if to express, “What can I say?”
I just stood there, smiling and watching. It might have been the longest laugh I ever got from an audience in my entire career. However, I knew then and still know today, that while the “joke” might have been credited to me, “the moment” was enabled by the president of the United States, his First Lady, the incredible connection they had as a couple, and their sense of humor.
Andy Andrews new weekly podcast, “The Professional Noticer” is being broadcast from Orange Beach, Alabama, and already has listeners in 63 countries. Subscribe for free on your favorite media platform or at AndyAndrews.com/Podcast.
I don’t remember the airline or where the flight was headed. But I will never forget the woman seated next to me.
During the course of our brief conversation, I mentioned that my family lives in Orange Beach, Alabama. Her eyebrows furrowed as she received that fairly innocuous information. Without hesitation, however, she said, “I wouldn’t live there in a million years.”
I was taken aback, but smiled gamely, and asked, “Really? Why’s that?”
“I just couldn’t take the rain,” the woman told me.
I was silent for a beat or two, looking into the woman’s eyes, mentally scrambling to figure out what I had missed. She also continued to look at me, waiting I suppose, for a response. When none tumbled from my lips, she leaned in my direction somewhat aggressively and as if she were talking to an idiot, being forced to explain something obvious and simple, said, “The Rain. Your rain. It rains all the time in Orange Beach. I could never live in a place like that.”
I nodded as if I understood and asked how many times she had been to Orange Beach.
“Twice,” she told me. “Once for three days and another time for a whole week. We never saw the sunshine. It rains constantly in Orange Beach.”
I’ve thought about that woman off and on for years. It was such a ridiculous exchange that I’ve never really decided if it was funny or just stupid.
Obviously, it rained the only two times she ever visited. Now, I don’t study weather patterns, I don’t know Jim Cantore, and I haven’t stayed at a Holiday Inn Express in a long time, but I’m fairly certain that it rains every day somewhere! In a lot of places, I’ll bet it even rains for a week at a time! And who, over the age of six or seven, has not seen it rain during a vacation?
Yeah, I’m sorry, but for a person to single out a week and a half and believe they can accurately extrapolate the cloud and moisture conditions that visitors to Orange Beach can expect for the rest of forever…is nuts. It’s beyond nuts.
Except that you and I virtually do the same thing almost every day.
We allow the media to dictate what we believe is “happening everywhere.” In print, online, and on television, we allow our fears to be stoked and our thoughts to be directed. By consuming “overlarge” portions of what they are serving, we encourage the news media’s overwhelming coverage of All Things Horrible.
Understand, I am not blaming the media for what they do or how they do it. I’m not even suggesting they do anything differently. Would it have any effect if I did? (The correct answer is “no”.)
Neither am I suggesting that racial anger, regional bias, political selfishness, or deranged behavior do not exist. But if you and I begin our day with the news and check in on the news several times during the day, then end our day with the news, it doesn’t take long for us to become convinced that what we see in the news is an accurate portrayal of society. And it’s
Consider the fact that there are 19,519 towns and cities in America today. There are another 16,360 unincorporated townships. We have a population of 326 million people. All those people have access to multiple channels and online entities. They are available to us 24-hours a day. And they use those twenty-four hours every single day to keep us “informed” about exactly what is happening—not just in America, but in the whole world…
So here’s a question: If things are as bad as many of us have begun to believe, what are all those news outlets leaving out?
Shouldn’t there be at least enough bad stuff to fill twenty-four hours without repeating the same things again and again?
But as far as I can tell, when something crazy happens, not only does every channel “break” the same news, they “report” it over and over for days on end.
Look, we do care about what’s happening nationally. You and I care about race relations and politics and schools and statues and prison reform and the Boy Scouts and killer lettuce and whatever the heck that goofy looking psycho in North Korea will do next…
But I have to believe that you and I would rather put more time and constructive thought into our own families and communities. Yet, even those subjects—when they are mentioned at all—are delivered by most of our national media drenched with the overarching message: People who are different from each other in visible ways do not get along.
My point is a simple one. I’m convinced that we get along better than some folks would have us think. I’ve been watching this whole thing for quite a while now. I travel extensively and am through airports, in hotels, visiting cities, their suburbs, and exploring small towns.
I don’t always fly. I drive—sometimes long distances—and stop often to talk with the people I meet. I’ve spoken to and talked with the students on more than 400 college campuses, eaten at great restaurants, not so great restaurants, and locally favorite restaurants in every corner of this nation.
I have spoken to audiences in all fifty states and each of our nation’s territories. I have spoken to convention halls filled with men and arenas with thousands of women. I have spent time with the men and women who serve on military installations around the world.
I have watched people pull together during times of enormous stress. I have witnessed families with nothing to spare, give generously to families with nothing at all.
And after all that, I must say that I’m not sure why the media appears so determined to convince us that we do not get along…(the only possible answer is “ratings”) but assuming their efforts will not stop, we need to recognize the effect it has on us and at least stop bathing in the information.
We understand what drives television ratings. We know what sells newspapers. I wonder however, if we understand the strategy the media employs in order to attract enough viewers to stay on the air?
There is one major rule governing that strategy and it is this: If there is no large and wide-spread amount of anger and outrage to show the public, we will seek out the largest that can be found at the moment. Even if the only anger and outrage we find is a small and contained amount, with proper camera angles and specific wording by the reporter, it can be presented as an example of “what is happening everywhere.”
Except that it’s not.
What is happening almost everywhere? Folks are being polite. They are being considerate.
Yes, especially in the south.
I was checking out of the Bay Minette, Alabama Wal-Mart last week. As the cashier scanned my items, a forty-ish-year-old guy in a ball cap leaned around me, apologized for the interruption and spoke to the cashier. The following, word for word, is exactly what each of them said to the other.
Man: Excuse me, ma’am. When you get a chance, I need some help in the Photo department.
Cashier: Sure. (She turns to speak to a manager several lines away…) Miss Dana! Miss Dana, there’s a gentleman who needs help in Photos.
Man: (walking away) Thank you, ma’am.
Cashier: You’re welcome, sir.
I have to say, I smiled. I was proud of us. Yeah, us. You know…America. The South. Alabama. Baldwin County. Bay
Oh sure, I was proud of the cashier and the man. But they are us. It is, after all, how most of us act. Especially in Orange Beach. Even when it rains.
One more thing about the cashier and the man in the ball cap….Seeing them act with such respect towards each other really made my day. It crossed my mind to hug them. But I didn’t. I didn’t even know their names…
So I just took their picture. For US!
Let’s all do our part this week and continue to “Get Along.”
Perform an act of kindness or “Notice” a good gesture—then let me know about it in the Comments section of my website or on Facebook or Instagram.
I would love to continue to hear about how we are continuing to get along.
Andy Andrews is hailed by New York Times reporter as “someone who has quietly become one of the most influential people in America,” Andy Andrews is the author of multiple international bestsellers including The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer. He is also an in-demand speaker, coach, and consultant for the world’s largest organizations.
When Adam Andrews was born, the attending nurse said, “This boy’s got him some big hands. My people say that means he gon’ be a preacher!”
That was sixteen years ago. Adam still has big hands. Huge, in fact. Offer him a shake of your hand sometime and see for yourself. And while he enjoys church at the Flora-Bama every Sunday with our family—and though our pastor, Dan Stone, is one of Adam’s best friends—I’m not certain Adam will fulfill the nurse’s prophesy.
Will he become a “fisher of men?” Yes, but perhaps not as a professional…A “fisher of fish” however, might be another story.
Adam is our youngest son. Now entering his sixteenth summer, he fishes longer, harder, and with more intensity than anyone I have ever seen. And of course, Adam catches more and bigger fish than anyone I’ve ever seen as well.
Speckled trout, flounder, bass, catfish—it doesn’t matter how muddy the water is or what the moon phase might be, he fishes. Which is why, I suppose, he “catches.” And this was true when he was a little kid.
Check out this 6.5 pound flounder he caught when he was six years old. During the heat of mid-day. In July. On a Saturday with jet-skis buzzing all around…
Oh, and lest you think the big flatfish was an accident, please know that Adam was actually fishing for flounder. In fact, only a few minutes earlier, he had announced he was after “big flounder” as he tied a massive lure I thought more suited for King Mackerel onto his line. Not a half-hour later, my hands trembled as the kid missing his two front teeth expertly guided a bigger flounder than his daddy had ever caught into the landing net.
Or how about this…when he was twelve, Adam caught an Alligator Gar in an aluminum boat. The beast hit a Strike King Red Shad and twenty-five minutes later, Adam landed him using 12-pound test line.
When he was fourteen, he was catching Jack Crevalle from a paddleboard.
And now this… Last week, one night after dark, Adam took a hook the size of his hand and stuck it through a big grouper head. With an easy grin and several calming “there-ain’t-nothing-to-it” type comments to one of his buddies (Michael Thompson), Adam paid him two dollars to paddle the bait a couple of hundred yards off the beach in a kayak.
Adam had official shark tracking tags from NOAA in his pocket.
Some time later, he “hooked up” and despite it being the middle of the night, a crowdgathered to watch this sixteen year old kid—his feet firmly planted in the sand…land, tag, and “release in good shape”—a twelve foot long Tiger Shark.
As reported to NOAA (according to their official “Apex Predator Length-Weight Relationship Chart”) the shark weighed a bit more than 1,000 pounds.
Adam Andrews, my son, is officially my favorite fisherman!
Hailed by a New York Times reporter as “someone who has quietly become one of the most influential people inAmerica,”; Andy Andrews is the author of multiple international best-sellers including The Traveler’s Gift and TheNoticer. He is also an in-demand speaker, coach, and consultant for the world’s largest organizations.
Last night, I couldn’t sleep. This is not an especially unusual situation for me. Sometimes I’ll sleep for an hour, wake up, and that’s it.
Other times, I can’t get to sleep at all. Not that it occurs often, but when it does, my wide-awake-full-ness usually has something to do with a gathering storm of thoughts. On those occasions, it’s as if a connection or important point is swimming just beyond my reach.
That’s how it was last night. Three people were on my mind.
All three are very cool guys, about my age, and despite having known each of them for more than forty years, none of the three have ever met the others.
They are aware of each other, for at one time or another, I have included each of them in at least one of my books. Who are they, you ask? Gene Myers, Kevin Perkins, and Roger Luker.
Yesterday afternoon, with an extra half-hour to spend, I stopped in to say hello to the guys at Paradise Marine in Gulf Shores.
Situated on the corner of Highway 59 and County Road 8, the beautiful business and property are owned by Gene (page 10 in The Noticer) Myers.
It was almost closing time. Gene and I were situated on the high cushioned stools in the accounting alcove—an area near the cash register, directly between the massive showroom and equally huge garage.
Gene is a fairly big fellow. His salt and pepper beard adds to his large presence and even though I’m a guy, I’ll admit that Gene is good looking—in a Kenny Rogers sort of way.
Furthermore, he’s smart and witty which makes him the perfect conversational companion with whom to kill a half-hour. Gene, along with every other person at the dealership—including his sons, Travis and Jarett—are the reason Paradise Marine has been the BEST on the gulf coast for many years.
Anyway, there we were yesterday…Gene and I jabbering about kids or fishing or dogs or whatever it was, when a guy burst through the door and yelled, “I need help!”
There was no, “Excuse me,” or “Hey, how ya doin?” It was just BOOM! And there before us was an anguished man in his mid-thirties, breathing hard, getting right to the point.
Had there been an accident? Was someone badly hurt? Had a child been lost?
We didn’t know.
Gene was off his seat in an instant. “What’s the problem?” he asked.
“Arrrgh!” The man made a seriously strange noise. Clenching his fists, he crossed his arms and hugged himself as if he was in pain.
“Sir?” Gene said and glanced at me. Now, I was off my stool too. “Hey Mister! Sir, what’s wrong?”
What was wrong? Well, it all came boiling out of the man at once. “I’ve been to that #%@#*% marina in Perdido three times today,” he raved. “And my boat battery is STILL not firing!”
There was a moment of silence. A pause, if you will. I glanced to my left and saw Gene’s jaw drop by a fraction as his head raised. Then, his eyes narrowed just the tiniest bit. “Your battery is dead?” Gene asked carefully.
“Yes!” The man replied, literally wringing his hands. “Right. Yes! The battery is dead. My boat won’t start. This is the worst day of my life!”
With that declaration, Gene relaxed. Sinking slowly back against his stool, he looked at me with the corners of his mouth twitching. Despite his attempt to maintain a straight face, a full-on grin was taking shape.
Me? I only raised my eyebrows, but it was enough to prompt a chuckle from Gene. The man appeared confused by Gene’s reaction.
Please understand…Gene was not rude. He never laughed in the guy’s face. It was more of a soft, fatherly, head-shaking, rueful kind of chuckle…the kind that went perfectly with what he said next…
Gene pushed away from his stool and reached out as he closed the few feet separating him from the distressed newcomer. Gene gently grabbed the guy and draped a big arm across the man’s shoulders as he steered him to a mechanic.
Gene laughed a little harder and kind of shook the fellow as they walked toward the garage. Then he said, “Awright. We are gonna get that battery workin’ one way or another. And we’ll do it fast. But I gotta tell you, ‘Dude…if this really is the worst day of your life, everything’s gonna be straight downhill from here!”
I waved goodbye to Gene and walked to my car wondering about the perspective of someone who might consider a weak battery the epitome of a horrific experience.
The worst day of his life? Seriously?
It was just too weird to contemplate, I thought.
So I didn’t.
About an hour later, I heard from Kevin (Baseball, Boys,andBad Words) Perkins. I knew Kev had qualified for the Alabama State Championship in Sporting Clays.
Unfortunately, he had arrived earlier in the day at the shooting center in Mobile to find his 20-gauge unusable.
Despite the case in which it was housed, the Beretta had been bounced in the trunk of his car, shearing a piece from the gun and making it unsafe to shoot. He didn’t have an extra. And Kevin wasonly entered in the 20-gauge competition.
I suppose an occurrence of that sort might have pushed another person over some imaginary edge, ringing alarm bells and alerting everyone within hearing distance that this was “the worst day of his life.” But no.
Kevin simply used another 20-gauge. It belonged to a competitor who had brought an extra one.
And Kevin Perkins won the state championship.
With a borrowed shotgun.
It won’t take long to tell you about Roger (Return To Sawyerton Springs) Luker. Our parents were best friends. Roger and I were born a month apart in May and June of 1959.
During the years, Roger and I have gone through predictable periods of life. There were months when we talked every day and there were years we touched based with a Christmas card. But when we got together—whenever we got together—he was “Roge”, I was “Ange”, and it never seemed like a lot had changed.
That was true when Roger married Carol and it was true a few years later when I married Polly.
When you know someone and love someone, it can seem as if time has stopped.
If I allow my mind to drift—even a little bit—I can see Roge and Ange riding horses or shooting minnows with a BB Gun or having a carnival for the neighborhood kids and charging them a dime to get in.
I remember that not long after my parents died, Carol and Roger came down and stayed with me for several days. With the $2,500 insurance money I had received, I purchased a trailer. This was about a year before I had to sell the trailer to pay bills…about a year before I lived in a tent, then ditched the tent and lived on the beach. In any case, Roger and Carol stayed with me, loving and encouraging me, in that nasty trailer.
Eight years later, I married Polly. Roger and Carol already had two children. By the time Polly and I had kids, they had moved from St. Louis to Atlanta. And they’d had another child.
Roger’s children are now grown. Mine, it seems, are, too. Almost anyway. So, in reality, I suppose, things donotstay the same.
Last night, when I couldn’t sleep, I walked out into the front yard and looked at the stars.
I thought about Polly. She was, I knew, sleeping soundly, unaware that I’d even slipped outside.
I looked at the stars again and Carol came to my mind. It’s been several weeks now since she passed away.
Her ordeal seemed to last so long and end so suddenly.
As I went back inside, I thought about Roger. Polly and I want to firm up a date for him to come down and visit. Maybe, we are hoping, he can bring, Jack, their youngest, who is still in college. They won’t have to stay in a trailer this time…
I turned out the carport light and eased up the stairs. Looking down the hallway to our boy’s bedrooms, I said a quick “thank you” that they were in and safe, then I moved into our bedroom and climbed into bed beside Polly. She never woke up.
Drifting off to sleep, I thought again about my friend. I had talked to Roger earlier that evening and he was, as the saying goes, “doing as well as can be expected.” He had eaten dinner, he told me, and was about to watch a movie. We talked about Carol and both of us cried.
We also laughed.
And you know what? As many times as Roger and I talked…as often as I spoke to Carol…touching base through diagnosis and hospice—through however many days and months it has been since this all started or ended or whatever is really happening…I have not—not a single time—heard my friend or his beautiful wife Carol, refer to any day they had together as “the worst in my life.”
The truth should be obvious:
Every day—every one we have left—is precious.
— Andy Andrews
Hailed by a New York Times reporter as “someone who has quietly become one of the most influential people inAmerica,”; Andy Andrews is the author of multiple international best-sellers including The Traveler’s Gift and TheNoticer. He is also an in-demand speaker, coach, and consultant for the world’s largest organizations.
It is a straightforward, honest assessment of the thinking behind some of today’s most incredible successes. At least the ones in which I can say I have quietly played a small part. Honestly, I wrote this particular book because I am an old dad (57) with young sons (14 and 17). It was about eighteen months ago when I had this thought: If I die today, my sons will never know how these results occurred. If I don’t document this stuff now, they might never be able to harness the power of these principles in their own lives.
During the past few years, some of my clients—corporations, coaches, teams, families, and organizations—have achieved eye-popping results. Financial numbers more than doubled in a year. Winning percentages increased dramatically. Long-standing relationship rifts healed completely.
When I am asked how it has happened so consistently, I often answer, “The secret is in focusing on the little picture.”
The look on a person’s face after processing my reply is usually priceless. It is true, however, that nothing excites me more than a focused search for little things. Little things make big differences. After all, only the smallest essence of a thing can ever reveal its purity and, consequently, the source of its power.
Remember this phrase: “Don’t sweat the small stuff”? You’ve heard it thousands of times and honestly, on the surface, the admonition appears to be entirely logical. Without thinking too deeply about this seemingly innocent saying, we have bought into its meaning wholeheartedly. In fact, our belief in the truth of this statement is so complete that it can now be found by searching the Internet for words like wisdom or proverbs. Millions of us even bought a book with those words as its title.
Unfortunately, as good as it sounds and as tempting as it may be to follow that instruction, there is a big problem with not sweating the small stuff. Simply said, it’s a decidedly unproductive approach to virtually everything in your life you consider important!
If you really expect the results of your life to be any better than the rest of humanity’s average, you’d be smart to understand that sometimes… conventional wisdom is not even the truth.
Or in other words, it’s time to sweat the small stuff.
There are those who claim to be big-picture people. While their descriptions of future results are often grandiose and exciting, sometimes we elevate these people into leadership positions too quickly. For despite their big dreams, they may have no concept of all the little things that must be factored in, delegated, worked out, and completed in order for the big picture to actually come together.
Yes, it is critical to have a vision. But it is foolish to ignore the fact that every big picture ever completed was created by tiny, almost indiscernible movements of a brush and hand.
One of the greatest “big pictures” in history hangs in the Louvre. When Leonardo da Vinci painted the Mona Lisa, he chose to work with the smallest brush he had ever used. The pressure he applied with that brush was so delicate and the movements of its tip so slight that today, even with a magnifying glass, one cannot discern the individual brushstrokes. Yet they were obviously applied one at a time, carefully and with loving attention. Why? Because da Vinci was creating a masterpiece.
Most of us know there is strength and opportunity available in larger numbers. Some even understand the potential in “one.” For a moment, consider not just the power of one, but the power of a fraction of one. When one contemplates financial reward or future opportunities, is there a significant gap in those items between first and second place? Of course there is. But how much of a gap?
The financial difference in the opportunities offered to a gold medalist versus a silver medalist is hard to quantify considering the variety of Olympic sports that are contested. But it is clear that Michael Phelps has more of life’s opportunities, personally and in business, because he won gold medals than if he had “only” won silver.
Decades after winning gold medals, athletes like Mary Lou Retton, Sugar Ray Leonard, Carl Lewis, Peggy Fleming, and Mike Eruzione are all remembered and revered. They also continue to be well compensated. In fact, many gold medalists are paid tens of thousands of dollars merely to stand in front of a group of people and recount their athletic experiences. The silver medalists…not so often.
Okay, you say. This is all very obvious. What’s the point?
Well, the point is very simple, but for some reason it is often missed in our almost constant struggle to understand that ever popular big picture. You see, the point of demonstrating the chasm between first and second place is not to illustrate the financial difference. Or even to show the financial reward produced over time by lasting fame.
No, if you and I are to become extraordinary achievers, we must learn to recognize the little things that actually create the gap—and consequently the difference in opportunities—between one and two. Astonishingly, these little things that most people see as irrelevant sometimes occur days or even weeks in advance of the event.
And know this: the difference really is in little things, because the actual gap between first and second place is most often ridiculously small. In fact, there are multiple Olympic sports in which the difference between first place and tenth place is less than a second.
At the Olympic Games in Beijing, American swimmer Michael Phelps won his seventh gold medal by a hundredth of a second. Think about it. A hundredth of a second is smaller than the amount of time it takes lightning to strike. It takes more than a hundredth of a second for a hummingbird to flap its wing one time. The blink of an eye takes longer than a hundredth of a second.
Here is the truth that average achievers never bother to consider: the advantage in any arena of life is earned far in advance of the moment one is required to perform. The truth about Phelps’s race is that the tiny burst that propelled him to victory had been acquired in an almost imperceptible manner. It might have been one more swallow of coffee that morning. Or one more practice lap the week before. Or five minutes of additional rest here or there.
Or could it have been a thought?
All activity and movement are initiated in the brain. Had Phelps allowed a negative thought during the race, might that momentary doubt have added two-hundredths of a second to his time? Or was a positive thought, quietly whispered to himself on the starting blocks, responsible for the hundredth of a second that made the difference in gold and silver?
For winning that particular race, Phelps’s sponsor, Speedo, presented him with a check for one million dollars (which he promptly gave to charity). So whatever Phelps did and whenever he did it, you can be certain that the difference it made was hugely valuable. And incredibly small.
A hummingbird repeats a tiny action over and over again in order to fly. As Leonardo da Vinci made almost imperceptible movements with his hand, he was creating a masterpiece. What are you trying to do? What are you creating? To what or whom are you paying close attention as you build your life? However your family turns out, whatever happens with your business, your organization, or your team—at the end of it all, whether you produce a disaster or a masterpiece, it will have been created one small brushstroke at a time.
In other words: Sweat the small stuff. Seriously.
Andy Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of The Little Things: Why You Really Should Sweat the Small Stuff, now available online and in stores everywhere! Click here to order your copy today.
Now it can be told. The story you are about to read is absolutely true…detailed exactly as I remember it.
It was exactly five months ago—August 25, 2016. I had checked into the JW Marriot in midtown Indianapolis the evening before and was excited about speaking to a national organization of civil engineers that morning. At approximately 8:30am, I was leaving the concierge lounge with a bowl of granola, blueberries and a glass of milk. My intention was to eat while finishing some computer work, shower, dress, and head downstairs to speak. I was to meet the event coordinator in the hotel lobby at 11.
I never made it.
While waiting for the elevator with my cereal in hand, I paused to admire the view from the thirty-first floor. There had been a game in Lucas Oil Stadium the night before and I could see activity far below as the grounds crew tidied up outside the home of the NFL’s Colts.
I vaguely remember turning just before I felt the blow. The angle was not enough, however, to see my assailant. In the previous instant, I had considered myself completely alone and unobserved. Around the hallway corner and tucked into the elevator alcove, I was no longer able to see the lounge from which I had just exited. Neither was anyone there able to see me.
Apparently, a baseball bat was the attacker’s first weapon of choice for a massive swing connected with my lower back and drove me into the wall. There, attempting to remain upright, I was repeatedly stabbed—again apparently—with a butcher styled carving knife. Though the onslaught was quick and brutal, I remain oddly ashamed to admit that I never even turned to defend myself. Instead, I collapsed helplessly to the floor.
Notice, if you will, that in regard to the weapons used by my attackers, I have now used the modifier “apparently” two separate times. In relating this event as accurately as I am able, “apparently” is the only word that fits the situation. “By all accounts…” won’t work because there weren’t any others. “So I am told…” would be untrue because I wasn’t. Not a single witness came forward.
As a crime scene, the elevator alcove was as free of physical evidence as could have been possible under the circumstances. No weapons were left behind. Neither were there unidentified fingerprints or clothing fibers. DNA—beyond my own—was nonexistent, though the laboratory work-up verifying the event included my own samples of painful vomiting. Or of having vomited painfully. Either way works.
In any case, less than a minute after the attack, I was found on the floor by a horrified mid-western couple who had intended that morning only to enjoy a quiet bit of conversation with some orange juice and wheat toast as they planned their day ahead.
From that point, I remember my own voice alternating between rather loud screams and quietly desperate whimpers. I remember attempting to crawl out of the area as the alcove filled with people, all wishing to help while possessing not a single clue as to how that might be accomplished.
And I remember paramedics, but not much after that.
Within minutes, the ambulance had delivered me to “Methodist” which is how folks in that fine state refer to the Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital. I didn’t know that then, of course. I’d been semi-conscious during a brief exchange between my paramedics and the waiting ambulance crew. All I had heard was, “Get this guy to Methodist. Go! Go!” and frankly, that was fine with me.
Later, as I reflected upon my perceptions at the time, I was reminded of the saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” It’s an assertion I have always believed to be true. I still believe it, of course—the premise seems obvious.
On the other hand, having been raised as a Baptist, any presumption I might have ever made regarding denominational superiority was immediately forgotten. When the paramedic yelled, “Go! Go!” and the ambulance burst into traffic toward “Methodist”, the argument regarding sprinkling versus total emersion never occurred to me.
In the ambulance, I was intubated by an attendant who talked into a keyless microphone, presumably conversing with someone at Methodist. “I am starting morphine,” she said, “in an IV drip.”
“For God’s sake,” I practically yelled at her, “don’t drip it! Just shove the bottle down my throat or something.”
For the barest moment, she appeared to be startled. Then, laughing out loud, she called to the driver. “Did you hear what he said? He said…” But the driver had heard and was laughing as well. Their hearty giggles were a curious response to my suffering, I thought, considering the fact that I was quite obviously dying.
The attendant at my side remarked, “I’ve had this happen to me before. I’ve also had four kids. I know you’re in pain. Frankly, I’d rather have four more kids than another kidney stone.”
The morphine is making me crazy, I thought. Or she skipped me and gave it to herself. After all, I was still blind with pain and she was undoubtedly crazy. Kidney stones? Who was she trying to kid? Somebody had better be looking for nuclear warheads. Clearly, terrorists had used me for a warm-up and were now loose in Indianapolis.
At “Methodist”, a beautiful ER doctor named Julie patiently explained that I would be given a CAT scan. “I’ve never really liked cats,” I told her and she laughed.
“It’s to determine the exact size and location of your kidney stone,” she explained.
“Kidney stone,” I said. “Yeah. Okay. Fine. You know, as long as you keep the morphine IV running on ‘high’, you can look for kidney stones until Jesus comes. Meanwhile, someone needs to call the police. I didn’t see whoever did this, but they should be easy to spot. Tell the officers to look for someone walking the downtown area with a four-foot sword and a thirty-six ounce Louisville Slugger.”
The ambulance attendant was filling out forms nearby and laughed loudly. “He is very funny,” she said to Dr. Miss America and they all laughed some more.
Two days later, I left Methodist with a stent inserted near my left kidney. The stent, mercifully put in place while I was anesthetized, was deemed necessary in order to bypass a stone the medical staff assured me was only .5 centimeters in diameter. I assured them that if there actually was a stone, it was the size of the one French soldiers found in 1799 in Egypt somewhere near Rosetta.
I still wasn’t convinced, but I must confess, the lack of stab wounds on my back was confusing. Also confusing was my obvious lack of a surgical incision. How did they get the stent in? I’m still not entirely sure. If you know, please—please—keep it to yourself. I really don’t want to think about it.
I flew home and into the arms of a new cadre of doctors. Within the week, a lithotripsy was scheduled. A lithotripsy is a treatment—done under anesthesia—by which ultrasound shockwaves are used to break a stone into particles that can then be passed more easily from the body.
The word “lithotripsy” is derived from two Greek words: “litho” meaning stone and “tripsy” meaning crushed. One might wonder why they don’t just call the machine a Stone Crusher, but I suppose one would not need a medical degree in order to operate a Stone Crusher. In any case, it didn’t work. Not on me anyway.
I am evidently one of those exceptions you hear about at the end of pharmaceutical commercials. You know the kind… Though we just made this aspirin sound like it can cure cancer, the occasional side effects include immediate death, prolonged suffering before death, and pain that will make you wish for death…
I was apparently (there’s that word again) the one in a thousand guy. Despite the 3,000 hits of ultrasound shockwave (no exaggeration—that’s the number they told me after the surgery) the lithotripsy did not do what it was supposed to do.
No one knew that at the time, of course, and I was sent home after the outpatient surgery with assurances that all would be well. I was informed that I would experience a day—maybe a couple days—of mild discomfort.
11pm that night…
Discomfort? This is mild discomfort? These were the musings rumbling through my head soon after the guy with the bat and sword (having also left Indianapolis) showed up at my house. It was brutal. When my wife got the doctor on call (not my doctor, but the one on call) at about midnight, she was told, “Just give him four ibuprofen.”
I’m not sure if she thanked him for the advice or not—and she doesn’t remember—but she hung up and did not give me the ibuprofen. This, as it turned out, was a good move. The lithotripsy had not destroyed the stone. Instead, another CAT scan later revealed it had pin-balled the stone back into my kidney and I was hemorrhaging. Think about that one for a minute. I know I have…
Ahh yes. Thank you for your call Mrs. Andrews. Hmm…well, I suppose he could be hemorrhaging internally—you know, that’s what we call it when someone is bleeding to death—so I suggest
you give him four blood thinners.
As I said earlier, Polly did not give me the ibuprofen, but it wasn’t because we had any clue what was happening. She just figured, Heck…he’s had four Percocets… I’m not thinking ibuprofen will help.
At 2am, she called 911. The Orange Beach paramedics showed up quickly and even though there is more to the story, you really don’t want to hear it. I’ll skip the part about not being able to breathe for several days because of the hematoma around my kidney pressing against my left lung.
I’ll also leave out the whining I would like to do about being cold—freezing actually—for a month afterward because I lost so much blood that my hemoglobin was at an all-time low. And I was weak. Really weak.
I’d just like my experience to mean something. Therefore, with your permission, I’ll close with high points from the current info on how you can avoid kidney stones. Sure, you could Google it and find out yourself, but please…if you don’t mind, I’d like to help. So, here are a few facts from the kidney stone experts:
From Livestrong.com, an article titled Grapefruit Juice and Kidney Stones— “…ample amounts of citric acid can help prevent kidney stones from developing in the urine. Despite the fact that grapefruit juice contains citric acid, regular consumption may actually increase your risks of developing kidney stones.”
Perfect. That helps. Thanks.
From Health.Harvard.edu. The piece is Kidney Stones On The Rise— This article reveals that 19% of men 9% of women will endure kidney stones by the time they are seventy. It’s a percentage that is increasing. Under the section titled Why The Rise? we read “Another possibility is climate change…”
Of course. Why not. Climate change is to blame for everything else…
And from MayoClinic.org, the report is listed under Kidney Stones Basics & Causes— Allow me to summarize, but I will do so carefully, using quotation marks in order to signify actual quotes from the article:
There are different kinds of kidney stones. According to the folks at Mayo, knowing what kind of stone you are developing can help you decide a course of action to inhibit their growth. For instance, if you have calcium stones, they state that those are “usually in the form of calcium oxalate. Oxalate is a naturally occurring substance found in food. Some fruits and vegetables, as well as nuts and chocolate, have high oxalate levels. Your liver also produces oxalate.”
Then again, you might have struvite stones. They “form in response to an infection…These stones can grow quickly and become quite large, sometimes with few symptoms or little warning.”
Or you could be dealing with uric acid stones, which “can form in people who don’t drink enough fluids or who lose too much fluid, those who eat a high-protein diet, and those who have gout. Certain genetic factors also may increase your risk of uric acid stones.”
Perhaps you are unlucky enough to have cystine stones, the kind that “form in people with a hereditary disorder that causes the kidneys to excrete too much of certain amino acids.”
Finally, to top it all off and make everything perfectly clear, MayoClinic.org includes the category specific “Other Stones”, noting that “other types of kidney stones also can occur.”
Thank you. Now we know exactly what’s happening inside ourselves. And we know exactly what to do when we eat or don’t, drink this or that, and take less or more. Unless it is all the fault of our parents.
Someone sent me another professional article yesterday detailing the research being done into a new treatment for kidney stones. The jist of it is that (and I am not making this up) roller coasters help people pass the stones. Yeah. I can see me now: Doubled over, screaming in agony and thinking, For the love of God, I’m dying here. Can’t somebody just put me on a roller coaster?!!
Personally, I think I’ll stick with the whole sword/baseball bat thing. At this point, that scenario seems easier to prevent and a whole lot less confusing.
How the decision was made to drop ‘The Bomb’ will change your perspective on Pearl Harbor forever
Computer recreation of the atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. (Photo: History Channel)
Several thousand years ago, King Solomon wrote, “A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Most people remember that adage or at least find it familiar. There is, however, a second sentence the king included in that particular Proverb (15:1). Rarely recalled, it is this: The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly.
I supposed it goes without saying that the opposite is true as well: The tongue of the unwise uses knowledge wrongly. Note that often, when this happens today, the word “unwise” could be replaced by “evil,” just as the word “wrongly” might be exchanged for “maliciously.” Neither substitution would change the reality of what happens when a society becomes unaware of the truth.
I was taught by my parents not to lie at an early age. They also taught me that half the truth is a lie and that one can lie by omitting a part of the truth.
As I grew older, I didn’t always live up to their teaching—or their expectations that I would—but I must say that I cannot recall a time when a lie was productive in the long term. In fact, as I rifle through the years in my mind, the consequences of lies distinguish themselves ten fold or more over the consequences of simply telling the truth—even when telling the truth felt like the last thing I wanted to do.
And so I have come to what most call the “middle age” of my life whereupon I realize just how much I hate lies. Lies are destructive in the same way a tornado is “bad weather.” You can think you have survived both. You can think the danger is safely away only to have them reverse course and roll right over you, destroying everything and everyone you hold dear.
America, as dysfunctional as we sometimes appear to be, is, at its core, a family. At least I’d like to think so. A great family stands together. A great family disciplines its own members. A great family does not tolerate being lied to. And a great family never tolerates being lied about.
Well, tomorrow is December 7, and amid all the ceremony that goes along with remembering the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, there will be an undercurrent of disinformation being doled out to our children and us from segments of the media, lecture halls in high schools and universities—even some of our national leaders will be sure to get into the act.
In case you haven’t noticed, there are those who will not let December 7—“the date that will live in infamy”—pass by without at least a subtle reference designed to demonize America for ending the war Japan started at Pearl Harbor by dropping atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
In May, President Obama delivered a spellbinding speech in Japan. “We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in the not so distant past,” he said with tears in his eyes. “We come to mourn the dead.” The Japanese people, we are told, received the president’s message enthusiastically.
Tomorrow, you’ll hear the media stoically deliver those numbers. First, of course, they’ll give us the Pearl Harbor number: 2,403 dead and 1,178 wounded. Then, as an afterthought, we will hear Hiroshima’s death total: 140,000—this from the immediate blast and long term radiation poisoning—and Nagasaki at 70,000.
The numbers are accurate, but the malevolent subtext has been promoted for years, and as decades unfold, the tongues of the unwise are increasing their volume. And really, why wouldn’t they? When lies and half-truths are presented as fact—unopposed by anyone who might actually know the facts—well, it is the easiest playground these bullies ever took over. But they can say whatever they want and provide the masses with whatever version of history they prefer. We have encouraged them by our ignorance.
Frankly, I don’t know whether they know the truth or not about why President Truman decided to drop the bomb, but I do know that most of us do not. Either that, or you and I are cowards…for our country is being disparaged unceasingly with barely a peep in reply from us.
Personally, I’d rather not think of us as cowards. I prefer to think that at least some responsibility for our silence lies with a few of those who are actually paid to teach history in this country. Not all. Just some. Sadly, results from the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress exam in U.S. History showed that only 12 percent (and that’s not a typo) scored above the base level of “Proficient”. This should not be surprising…
Today, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 87 percent of our nation’s students taking a music course in public school are taught by a teacher who holds a college degree in music and is certified to teach in the field. Meanwhile, only 26 percent of our nation’s students in public school are taught by a teacher with a history degree who has been certified to teach the subject.
So tomorrow, when those who are so sure you’ll remain silent begin to speak (and they’ll be MUCH louder August 6 and 9—the anniversary of when the bombs were dropped) I want you to be prepared with the facts. These are facts one can easily find with a bit of research, but don’t waste time looking through your child’s history textbooks. You won’t find any of this information there.
America was not the aggressor in World War II and, in fact, to the consternation of many at the time, the US government did everything they could possibly do to stay out of any part of it. The point? Hiroshima and Nagasaki could have been totally avoided…by the Japanese!
Consider how completely they destroyed Pearl Harbor. Why? Because it was a surprise attack. The Japanese? No one was even thinking about the Japanese. We were focused on what was happening in Europe (though despite Churchill’s pleas to Roosevelt, we were not involved there either). The Manhattan Project to develop an atomic bomb was a joint venture of the Americans, British, and Canadian military machines. Under the direction of American General Leslie Groves, the Manhattan Project was not even put in place until 1942.
On December 11, four days after Pearl Harbor was attacked, Hitler declared war on America. At that point, our country had no choice but to defend itself to the west and in the east.
After five and one-half years, with American troops closing in on the island nation of Japan, President Truman assigned General George C. Marshall to provide him information concerning an American invasion. How long would it take? What would be our likely casualty rate?
Not long after, Marshall delivered this disturbing news: During the 68 months of our war against Japan, not a single Japanese platoon had ever surrendered. Additionally, the Emperor of Japan had just delivered a speech to his people warning of an invasion and urging them to fight to the last man, woman, and child. Indeed, as American troops captured outer islands, that is exactly what happened until the Japanese civilians were cornered or surrounded. Then, with their own children in tow, the civilians committed mass suicides.
The evidence was clear, if American troops invaded Tokyo Plain, the soldiers would literally have to fight house to house, apartment to apartment, and door to door across the entire country. Marshall told Truman that our troops could expect no less than 250,000 casualties in an invasion.
To drive that number home to you today, check out the next fact…
Within days of Marshall’s report, the president approved the War Department purchase of body bags. Records show they ordered, paid for, and received 250,000 of them.
The War Department also authorized the increased production of Purple Hearts. As you now know, because of the atomic bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, America did not have to invade Japan. Thus, the body bags and Purple Hearts were not needed.
The rubber-sheeted body bags eventually deteriorated and were disposed of. The Purple Hearts, however, are still being used. Throughout Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and all the other more minor conflicts in which America has been involved throughout the world, the War Department has never needed to order another Purple Heart Medal.
It all came down to this…while none but a very few even knew about the existence or possibility of some super bomb, President Truman did. As he made the decision to deploy the device, he recorded this thought. “I am the first president since the beginning of modern warfare to have experienced combat. During the first World War, I would have given anything, paid any price, to end the death and suffering I saw my friends endure. And now, here I sit, the commander in chief with the ability—no, the responsibility—to end this war and bring our boys home.
“Yes, I am scared of this weapon and concerned about what it might mean for the future of this world. However, it must be done. How could any president face the mothers and sons and daughters of these American servicemen if, after the slaughter of an invasion of Japan, it became known that there was within our arsenal a weapon of sufficient force to end the war and it was not used?”
I urge you to read the four facts again. Put yourself in Truman’s place. What would you have done?
And finally, I can’t help but wonder how many of the 250,000 Americans who were not required to give their lives in service to our country were our own grandfathers and great grandfathers. In other words, how many of us would never have existed to defend the truth, if a tough president had not made a tough choice?
Andrews: Trump or Clinton will be President. Here’s how to decide who to vote for.
My name is Andy Andrews. I am a husband and a father. I have written several books, a couple of which have been moderately successful. In a national discussion of celebrity, money, or power, however, I would not be mentioned.
My family and friends love me though, and in Alabama, where I was born, I like to believe there are those who are happy that I still live here. As for my books, they seem to defy conventional literary description and are most often characterized as “stories of common sense.” That’s fine with me. In fact, it’s exactly what I was after all along.
Through the years, for whatever reason, I decided to make “common sense” my personal quest. The most important part of that quest, I determined, would be to somehow develop the ability to harness common sense for the benefit of other people. Specifically, I prayed to learn how to take complicated subjects that were confusing people and explain to them the “bottom line truth” in a simple, understandable fashion. I wanted to be able to do this in order that they might utilize that understanding in ways that would make their lives better—that would prosper them and their families.
That brings me to today, the looming 2016 presidential election, and perhaps the most critically important issue I have ever attempted to explain:
Why You Must Vote
(even if you must hold your nose while doing so. And…)
Why There Are Only Two Candidates from Which to Choose
First, allow me to say that I am not an admirer of either candidate. I never have been. My wife and I have two teenaged sons and, like you, we are aware that manners and good behavior are a reflection of character. That said, it is ironic that many of us now find ourselves in the position of choosing a president of the United States whose conduct we would not tolerate in our own family.
But choose we must, for this is the first election in our lifetimes that has virtually nothing to do with the “personality” who will serve as our president. This election is about the Supreme Court.
This time, forget everything else. Forget crimes that may have been committed. Forget any alleged sexual assault. Forget the possibility of treasonous acts, adultery, fraud, vindictiveness, and mean or childish behavior. Think only of the Supreme Court. For the first time in your life, you really are about to determine what this country will be like for the rest of your life. This is true, also, for the lives of your children and your children’s children.
As a people, we have not had a choice before us with more power to heal or destroy since the civil war. The United States of America is clearly about to move down one of two roads. No rhetoric can disguise either path. And once the Supreme Court is in place, no Congress or Senate can change that path.
This coming Tuesday, November 8, 2016, you and I will choose which of two people will become president. Soon after being inaugurated, that person will begin the process of selecting the person who will fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court—the one who will tip the scales one way or the other. Laws will be upheld or overturned. New laws will be imposed or not. In either case, the way you are allowed to live will soon be determined by the Supreme Court. The court’s majority will be determined by the new president. But one thing is certain: after Tuesday, you will have no more say in the matter.
Lest you think this might be a temporary situation, able to be shifted or redone by the next president, it is critical to understand that whichever of the two major candidates we elect this Tuesday will be the person who will set the Supreme Court in stone for generations. The person we elect this Tuesday will not be making one Supreme Court appointment, but perhaps as many as four!
Considering possible retirements and death, look at the court’s current makeup: The vacant seat is that of Justice Scalia who recently died at the age of 79. Of the eight justices that remain, five—Roberts, Thomas, Alito, Sotomayor, and Kagan—are under the age of 70. The rest are far older. Justice Breyer is 78, Justice Kennedy is 80, and Justice Ginsburg is 83 and has been treated for pancreatic cancer.
Supreme Court appointments are for life. This means that the justices serve until they resign, retire, or die. Therefore, a president able to appoint even one member of the court is able to determine the direction of the country. Especially in the situation that exists at present…
The court has voted 5-4 on crucial decisions for years. The swing vote (Scalia) died. The person we elect as president this Tuesday will appoint Scalia’s replacement—the new swing vote.
Pay Close Attention: During the next four years of the president’s term, he or she will likely appoint a second Supreme Court justice. The votes on crucial decisions will then be decided by a vote of 6-3. The opportunity to appoint a third and even a fourth justice to the court will allow whomever we elect on Tuesday the ability to cement the Supreme Court’s voting—think 7-2 or imagine 8-1—for as long as you live.
So it all comes down to this:
First, be aware that there is no possibility of a third party winning this election. None. Therefore, a vote for a third party candidate is a wasted vote. “But I am voting my conscience,” you say. Fine. Just remember that it will be your body (not your conscience) and your children who will live in the world our Supreme Court is about to create. Forever.
Do you want a say in what that world will be like? I’m sorry, but there are only two choices. Him or her.
Yes, I understand. You are furious at being put in a position to have to choose between the “lesser of two evils.” I do understand. It is infuriating. On the other hand, you must understand that “the lesser of two evils” is the only choice you’ve ever had in any election in which you’ve ever voted in your life! Jesus has never run for office. That leaves only the rest of us—you and me—well-meaning, good-hearted people who, despite our best intentions, have still managed to lie, cheat, and say things out loud for which we remain grateful to this day that no one recorded during what we thought was a private conversation.
It is time to put away our self-righteousness. It is time to wake up and understand that we have no ability—zero—to make either candidate feel our contempt with our vote. Even if we did, they would not care! ONE OF THESE TWO PEOPLE WILL BE THE NEXT PRESIDENT. Neither you nor I will change that fact by voting for someone else or by not voting at all.
The only way you can possibly vote this time and have it matter is to vote for the America in which you wish to live. That America will be defined by the Supreme Court justices chosen by one of the two major candidates.
For once in our lives, whatever “President” we have to watch on television for the next four years doesn’t matter. We have all suffered through four or eight years of one presidential face or another and, this time, we will do it again. That face will not matter. In the long run, that person’s name will not matter. ONLY THE JUSTICES THAT PERSON CHOOSES FOR THE SUPREME COURT MATTERS!
Remember that whoever the president of the United States is…whoever the president might ever be—despite the amount of television time they get, no matter the round office and forget the cool plane—that person’s actual power, his or her ability to truly affect your day-to- day life, is extremely limited. Congress, Senate, the will of the people, the approval of the media…all are very real factors that prey upon a president’s ability to do as he or she wishes.
The Supreme Court, on the other hand, is under no such constraints. Once appointed, there is virtually no oversight or even influence that can be brought to bear. The media? Polls? Voters? There is no quarterly review, no coming election. A Supreme Court justice is appointed for life. His or her word is, quite literally, the law. These are the big laws, the ones that determine your daily life.
And the only chance you have to shape those laws is by electing the person who chooses the members of the court. So hold your nose if you wish, there are only two choices…
Here’s how you decide who to vote for:
Both major candidates have announced exactly the kind of justices they will choose for the Supreme Court if elected. One candidate has even listed the names of the judges from which the choice will be made. Your choice will be plain to see and easy to make. Again, your choice is not about a person. In the most literal sense, your choice is about the America in which you wish to live.
Knowing there are many issues that will be determined by the Supreme Court, let’s quickly examine only a few. From here, you will easily understand the direction you wish to take.
Do you believe that guns are inherently bad? Do you believe that there are too many guns, that gun manufacturers should be held responsible for what individuals do with them, and that the government needs to further restrict the public’s right to own and use guns? If so, you must vote for her. She has publicly promised to appoint judges that will make these beliefs the basis for laws by which we all will live for the rest of our lives.
Or do you believe strongly in the “right to bear arms”? Do you believe that further gun restrictions will only restrict the access honest citizens have to firearms and ammunition? Do you believe that a gun—while dangerous—is a tool like a car and that when used incorrectly, it is the fault of a person, not the fault of the tool? If so, you must vote for him. He has publicly promised to appoint judges that will make laws according to this line of thinking. At that point, we will live with those laws for the rest of our lives.
And this Second Amendment issue will be determined by the Supreme Court.
Do you believe that the fetus inside a pregnant woman is a tissue mass and that a woman should be able to rid her body of that tissue mass at any time during the nine months prior to that tissue mass being born? Do you believe that tissue mass only becomes a human being once it is outside the woman’s body? Do you believe that your tax dollars should be used to allow anyone who chooses, for whatever reason, to rid their body of that tissue mass?
Do you believe that counseling centers, funded by churches, set up for the purpose of encouraging adoption should be forced by law to offer abortion counseling as an alternative? If so, you must vote for her. She has publicly promised to appoint judges that will enforce these beliefs into laws by which you and I must live for the rest of our lives.
Or do you believe that the baby inside a mother is a human being? Do you believe that life has a purpose and that, from the moment of conception, each and every child is unique and valuable?
Do you believe that you should not be forced to fund Planned Parenthood—the largest abortion provider in America—with your tax dollars? Do you believe more than 50 million government-approved abortions in the United States since 1970 are enough? If so, you must vote for him. He has publicly promised to appoint judges that will reduce, restrict, and eventually do away with abortion on demand and what you believe will be made into laws by which you and I will live for the rest of our lives.
And this abortion issue will be determined by the Supreme Court.
Do you believe the United States should move toward a policy of “open borders”? Do you believe undocumented persons in the United States illegally should not only be allowed to stay, but issued driver’s licenses, food stamps, and provided medical care? Do you believe that if someone wishes to enter our country, they have every right to do so without explanation? If so, you must vote for her, for she has publicly promised to appoint judges that will reverse laws currently on the books regarding immigration. These laws will eventually lead to her stated “dream of open borders” and a new way of life for us all.
Or do you believe that America’s borders are her first line of defense? Do you believe that the word “illegal” means just that? Do you believe that only legally recognized citizens of America have a right to her benefits and protection as provided by your tax dollars? Do you believe America has not only the right, but the responsibility to carefully vet those who seek to enter our country? If so, you must vote for him, for he has publicly promised to appoint judges that will make and defend laws in line with those beliefs.
Do you believe the government is more capable of determining how your money should be used? Do you believe the government is better able to determine how your children should be educated? Do you believe the government should determine who can do business where and with whom? Do you believe a person should be given priority because of what they believe, what they are, or what they believe they are? If so, you must vote for her, for she has publicly promised to appoint judges who will open our borders, our bathrooms, and our wallets. She has promised laws to punish those who do not agree.
Or do you believe you can decide what’s best for your family? Do you believe that if you earn a certain amount of money you should be able to keep and reinvest the largest part of it to benefit those things you decide are important? Do you believe the government has been created to serve the people, not the other way around? If so, you must vote for him, for he has publicly promised to appoint judges whose rulings allow prosperity for those who work to deserve it.
These are but a few examples of the two pathways you will choose this Tuesday, November 8, 2016. Religious freedom, taxes and the economy, healthcare…in every category you examine, you’ll find drastic differences in the America that will be shaped by this election. Don’t be fooled—how you vote matters, because the Supreme Court matters.
So what kind of America will we have for the rest of our lives? This time, you actually get to choose.
After losing a child, Burgess had the courage to write a book that will have eternal consequences
Sherri Burgess, author of "Bronner: A Journey to Understand"
As long as books have been printed, there have been memoirs. As long as there have been memoirs, the most compelling of those have dealt with tragedy. As long as there has been tragedy, the very worst has always involved the death of a child. That particular tragedy is of such a devastatingly personal nature that even in print, most of us avert our eyes. We simply do not want to read about the happening or the anguish of the parents whose lives have been changed forever. In short, most books of this type do not fare well in the bookstore.
There are exceptions, of course. Some of the works surrounding the abduction and murder of Adam Walsh in 1981 made best-seller lists all over the world. There is, however, a “movie of the week” quality to the telling of the story in most of those type of books that is regrettable. I do understand the public’s desire to keep their distance, but still, the effect in terms of value is negligible and regrettable. That style allows the reader to avoid becoming too emotionally involved. Yes, there is some degree of value in a tragic tale told in this manner. Unfortunately, the “take-home” for the reader comes mostly in the form of gratefulness that the incident was not visited upon our own children or our families. We are able to read while retaining an emotional detachment.
Perhaps the clearest explanation regarding the massive value contained in this book is described by its simple subtitle: A Journey To Understand. The author was the mother of this child and it is significant to note that the book was written–not all at once or with a book deal in place–but over a period of five long years. The retelling of Bronner’s accidental drowning one summer afternoon is as one might imagine, difficult to read. Incredibly, however, the author related those tragic moments with an emotion that was more matter of fact than shocking or terrifying. Rather than titillate, the narrative seeks to inform. This style brilliantly sets the stage for the revelations of life altering value (for you and me) that have been mined from the questions produced by the heartache of Bronner’s own mother.
True wisdom can be defined as a deep understanding of the principles that govern our world. A deep understanding of any principle takes time. The Christian community, parents whose family futures are still unknown, and the literary world at large owe a great deal to Sherri Burgess. It took guts to write this book. Knowing the publishing world as I do, it also required a financial sacrifice to ignore the opportunity to rush the book into the marketplace. It took wisdom and patience to wait, to learn, to understand. And it took talent and skill to put every thought in its proper order and every word in its proper place in order that we, too, might understand.
In closing, I’d like to point out that BRONNER contains value far beyond the feeling of gratefulness that will surely envelope you as you read. This book relates true wisdom–deep understanding–about the sometimes tragic events that befall us. And it does so in a way that makes a unique difference, even while experiencing the grief produced by losing a loved one. With the proof only principle can provide, the author reveals answers that will banish the emptiness that often overwhelms a family. By revealing truth instead of platitudes or mere speculation, Burgess will have changed the immediate and long term futures of readers all over the word. This book will have eternal consequences.
It is the best of it’s genre. It has no peer.
Hailed by the New York Times as a “modern-day Will Rogers who has quietly become one of the most influential people in America,” Alabama native Andy Andrews is an internationally known speaker and novelist whose combined works have sold millions of copies worldwide.
Sherri Burgess is the wife of Alabama-based, nationally-syndicated talk radio host Rick Burgess of The Rick & Bubba Show. After losing their son, Bronner, in a tragic drowning accident, Sherri penned “Bronner: A Journey to Understand,” which is currently available on Amazon.
Andy Andrews: Dear Alabama, our bubble is shrinking, but all is not lost
(Special to The Yellowhammer News by New York Times bestselling author Andy Andrews)
I have long been proud of my heritage.While unable to trace ancestors to the Mayflower and unaware of any noble blood in my veins, I am from Alabama. Born in Birmingham’s West End Hospital in 1959, I still live in Alabama with my wife, Polly, and our two boys.
I love most everything about this state and suppose I always have—Bear Bryant, Shug Jordan, The Vulcan, Tony Nathan, long deer seasons, Dothan’s Conestoga Steak House, yes sir and no ma’am, the Gulf Coast Zoo in Gulf Shores, my eighth grade English teacher Mrs. McLoyd, church at the Flora-Bama, Winston Groom… I could go on and on.
My wife is originally from Mississippi and even though she cheered a bit too hard for their upstart football teams last year, she “gets it”. She’s a convert to the true center of the universe.Today, after living in Alabama for more than twenty-five years, she can even explain to people from New York or California why our boys refuse to wear orange and blue pajamas. And she can do it without once rolling her eyes.
Alabama, I’ve always believed, was different…better somehow. Of course, for a long time, I believed that about “the south” as well.
Then, without fanfare, the bubble began to shrink. Now understand, bubble shrinkage is like boiling a frog.These things always happen slowly.You recognize the reference, I’m sure.As the story goes, if a frog is dropped in hot water, he’ll jump right out.But if the frog is resting comfortably in water that is to his liking, one has only to slowly turn up the heat and that frog will stay until the water boils and he is dead. The foundation of the frog’s issue is an inability to combine simple awareness with common sense.For surely, with those two attributes, the frog would hop out of the water as it increases in temperature and say, “Wait just a minute here!Any fool can see where this is going!”
Presently, my family and I live in Orange Beach.I’ve called this area home for more than three decades.A little more than a year ago, Polly and I were sitting in our back yard with neighbors, watching the children play.Someone in the group mentioned a friend in the Midwest whose fourth grade daughter had to bring a signed doctor’s permission to school in order for the girl to use hand sanitizer.Jaws dropped all around.
Another mentioned the fact that several cities in states far, far away have now passed laws against texting while walking.One apparently issues an eighty-five dollar fine for a first offense.
We scoffed and threw words like “ridiculous” and “moronic” around before pitching our own stunning examples of a world gone mad into the conversation.There seemed to be no shortage of crazy stories we’d learned about via the news media.Finally, someone commented, “Let me just say this:We live in our own bubble here in Alabama.And thank You Lord for that!”
As everyone laughed, it occurred to me that some years earlier, I’d heard a man speaking to a civic organization in Tennessee who said a version of the very same thing.“We are fortunate to live in the South,” he said.“We live in a culture of our own making here.It’s like living in a beautiful bubble where all the turmoil and stupidity rage away on the outside!”
In June, I spoke in ten American cities on the topic of Proven Parenting.From Orlando to New York, Los Angeles to Seattle, the audiences ranged from 800 to 4,000.Speaking recently to a friend about the tour, I commented on something that had caught my attention in Des Moines.I was amazed at how many stores in the downtown area posted signs proclaiming their establishment a “Gun Free Zone”.
“This is a perfect example of well meaning idiocy,” I told my friend and when he didn’t reply, I continued.“These store owners—nowhere near Disney World—are living in fantasy land.They are declaring publicly that there are no guns in their particular place of business.The manager doesn’t have one and neither does a single employee.The place is “gun free”.There’s not one under the counter, in the closet, or locked in the safe.There are no guns.None.”
Still, my friend was silent.So I took a breath and went on. “Do these people not understand how dangerous an environment that creates for their customers and for the people who work there?Sure, the employees will obey the ban.So will most of the folks who come in to shop.But think with me here,” I said, “does any rational person truly believe that someone intending to rob the store and shoot up the place will change his plans because of a sign?
“You know,” I said, “maybe I’d understand if it were possible to go back in time to rewrite the Constitution.But we don’t get a “do over”. We have to deal with today’s reality.I’m sorry, but it doesn’t matter what kind of world anyone wishes ours had turned out to be, we actually have to live in the one that exists right now.
“Whether you love it or hate it, the fact is that we live in a country where millions of guns are owned by millions of people.Even if the government did ban guns, even if they did order everyone to turn them in—how tough is it to understand that while good people will obey the law, bad people will not?Will our country be safer if bad people have all the guns?
“Nothing puts a smile on a criminal’s face faster than a gun free zone.Think about it…whether officially designated or not, mass shootings happen at places where people traditionally don’t carry guns. Churches, schools, shopping centers, college campuses…Remember Virginia Tech?When that when that psychopath chained the doors before systematically going from one person to the next, wounding seventeen and shooting thirty-two of them dead…?Gun free zone or not, I’ve got to think all those people attempting to hide under their desks that day would have given anything for just one sane person with a gun.
“And so for God’s sake, don’t put up a sign telling lunatics where they’ll have free reign!Good grief!Even crazy people know that if the goal is to shoot everyone, it ain’t happening at Bass Pro Shop.Trust me, at Mark’s Outdoors in Birmingham, a bad guy would be hard pressed to get off a shot.McCoy’s in Mobile?The folks who work there are awesome, nice as they can be, but every one of them is armed, and they all know how to shoot.”
At that point, I was out of steam and my rant ended weakly.“Anyway,” I sighed, “I didn’t mean to talk your ear off.It’s just that all that stuff rolls through my mind when I see those signs in places like Iowa.”
Raising his eyebrows, my friend finally spoke.“It isn’t just happening in Iowa.”Quickly, on his smartphone, my friend went to Google and brought up a photo of one of the signs posted at an Alabama Rest Area.Sure enough, we officially have gun free zones all over Alabama.And apparently, the fact that they are in violation of state law is of no concern to the Alabama Department of Transportation.
Later that evening, I related this information to Polly and she reminded me about Eric, a friend of ours who was robbed at gunpoint several years ago at an Alabama Rest Area.I remembered.Then, she shook her head and said, “Well, I’m glad we live in this part of the state.We’re in our own little bubble here in Orange Beach.And I sure do like our bubble.”
* ** * *
For years, you and I have watched politicians (and others who would lead us) scramble to put Band-Aids on symptoms of society’s problems without ever addressing the foundational causes of those problems.
We’ve seen laws enacted and laws overturned.We’ve paid close attention and sought to understand as complicated, life changing rules and regulations were announced.And we have meekly complied, many times at great expense, only to be forced to deal with the mess created when those same rules were changed or cancelled altogether the following month.We’ve watched signs go up and seen them come down.In fact, after more than a year in use, our own Governor ordered those Gun Free Rest Area signs be removed last week.
So at least the signs are down.For now.But don’t forget that even if the signs are thrown away for good, those signs were not free.They cost actual money to produce.So really, it was “the money” that was thrown away.And it was your money.
There are few instances of pure clarity in this life, but I must say that when my wife mentioned our “bubble in Orange Beach”, a whole bunch of dots connected for me at that moment. Unfortunately, I knew what those dots represented.It was a frightening experience.
You see, a bubble is nothing more than a thin membrane that determines its size.That membrane is held in place by an equal amount of pressure on the inside of the bubble and the outside.If the pressure on the inside becomes greater than the pressure on the outside, the bubble will grow and expand, encompassing more area.Conversely, if the pressure on the outside of the bubble becomes greater than the pressure on the inside, the bubble will shrink.
When there is greater pressure on the inside and the bubble expands, its potential for growth is obviously limitless.However, if the pressure inside the bubble yields to external forces, allowing the pressure on the outside to become greater, and if this happens for an extended period of time…Well, there is an end to that.At some point, a shrinking bubble disappears completely.
If the bubble around your town shrinks to become the bubble around your neighborhood then shrinks even more to become the bubble around your house, there is an end to that, too.At some point, even a society’s bubble, if allowed to shrink relentlessly, will disappear completely; removing the protection once afforded everyone who enjoyed life inside—everyone whose thought processes and hard work built the bubble in the first place.
If you’re looking for a bottom line, try this:All the band-aids in the world won’t reverse the trend of a shrinking bubble if you and I ignore the foundation of our culture.Curiously, that foundation is not “choice” as so many believe.Our culture’s foundation is our “thinking”. For it is our “thinking” that has determined every choice we have ever made in the past and it is our “thinking” that will determine every choice we’ll make in the future.
It seems obvious, but I’ll state it anyway.Bad thinking—flawed premises or deceitful conclusions—yield bad choices that lead to bad results.Good thinking—logical truth and common sense—yield good choices that lead to good results.
Therefore, even if our bubble is shrinking, all is not lost.Not by a long shot.You and I are still able to create pressure inside the bubble.By proclaiming the truth and extolling the virtues of principle and common sense, we can overcome bad thinking by proving the value of good thinking. But we must PROVE that value.
There are many in our society who lack hope.They have become hopeless because they believe themselves powerless.It is for this reason that they essentially cede their vote, their voice, their influence—the power they really do have—to others.In essence, because they have lost hope and feel powerless, they allow others to think for them.
Foundationally, the person who believes himself powerless is merely a victim of his own bad thinking.He is believing a lie. He is not powerless; he only believes that he is.So while he may well be a “victim” of his own bad thinking, the good news is that he is not a helpless victim—for he alone possesses the power to change the way he thinks.
Why is this so?Because he has been given free will.He can choose to do whatever he wishes.Allow me to say it again:He can choose to do whatever he wishes.So the question becomes:What does he choose?How does he turn his life around?How does he shuck the lie of hopelessness?
Simply, he must understand that huge hope resides in the truth of God’s greatest paradox: His thinking determines his choices, but he can choose how he thinks!
In fact, we all choose our thinking. We do it by choosing what we listen to, by choosing what we watch and what we read.We choose our thinking by choosing who we watch and to whom we listen, as well.And perhaps just as important a factor in choosing how we will think is by choosing what we will not listen to, what we will not watch, and what we will not read.
Finally, as you and I endeavor to choose good thinking in our own lives, we must be careful to avoid telling others how they should think.The change in anyone’s thinking—including yours and mine—only occurs when the value of thinking a certain way is proven.So lets prove it now.
Our bubble is shrinking.Time is short.
Andy Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of The Traveler’s Gift and The Noticer. He hosts the weekly podcast, In the Loop with Andy Andrews.
In the Loop is funny, thought provoking, and free.Subscribe on iTunes or at AndyAndrews.com.