Wednesday, March 22, 2006

I Had Fun...Really!

Last Monday I stood before a room full of business owners and talked about my love of words and writing and blogging...and had fun! A few years ago the prospect alone would have sent me huddling in a dark corner with my insides churning. I can still recall the quiver in my knees and quaver in my voice those days when it was my turn to perform in high school Speech Class. So how could I possibly enjoy it now?

The difference is passion. When I care about a subject or a person or a cause, you can't shut me up. Get me talking about flying or cats or certain special people, and you had better find a comfortable chair. Let me start on words, writing, and blogging and you'll want a drink and some snacks while you're at it. Fortunately, the folks on Monday had dinner and dessert to sustain them.

Oh, there were still those moments when I felt that I’d completely lost my train of thought and words would not come, but no one threw anything, so the lapses couldn’t have been very noticeable. I ran on too long and didn’t get to say everything I feel is important about blogging. But, I think I did succeed in getting people to think about this new way of communicating. From the conversations I had afterward, I know some folks who came in asking “What the heck is a blog?” went home thinking “Yeah, that could work for my business.”

And all without a single knee quiver.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Good Night, and Good Luck

"We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another." - Edward R. Murrow

The other night we finally saw Good Night, and Good Luck, the Oscar-nominated film directed by George Clooney. For me, a good movie is one that I am still thinking about the next day or the next week, one that I keep "seeing" snippets of in my head. Good Night, and Good Luck is one of those.

We Americans have a bad habit of forgetting the lessons of history. And so, we are required to relive some nasty episodes. One lesson from half a century ago is that a demagogue with a microphone and a national platform can wreak havoc on society and quickly turn us into creatures cowering in the back of our cave, fearful of each other.

In the 1950's, Senator Joseph McCarthy destroyed blameless lives, drove men to suicide, and rode his brief power to the depths of one of the darkest periods of American history. That he was able to create his own little reign of terror in the middle of the 20th century is a lesson we must not forget.

Hollywood turns out a lot of garbage, but occasionally a gem emerges from the sludge. Good Night, and Good Luck is one of those few films that should be required viewing - and discussion - for every high school and college student. Power-hungry McCarthy wannabes are never far from a microphone. We can't stop them from spewing their poison - free speech is one of our precious rights - but we can arm people with knowledge against this insidious form of divisiveness. McCarthyism has appeared under other names, and will undoubtedly bubble to the surface again some day. Each generation needs to remind the next of the danger; this film is one very good way of doing just that.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

A First...Almost 100 Years Ago

An important date in aviation history passed without notice a few days ago. It was on March 8, 1910, that the first woman to be granted a pilot's license, received her "brevet" from the Federation Aeronautique Internationale. Raymonde de Laroche was one of an enthusiastic group of women pilots who took to the skies almost as soon as there were fixed-wing aircraft to fly. And just a little over a year later, Harriet Quimby became the first American woman to be granted a flying license.

About 50 years after Madame de Laroche's feat, I fell in love with a Caribbean-blue amphibian. I never owned that little beauty, but I did get to fly small planes. And though my only flying these days is by way of Southwest Airlines, the fascination and desire remain, and I cannot resist searching the sky when I hear a small plane overhead.