The Growth and Communication Program

I originally wrote an outline of this story for a Toastmasters speech that I gave on September 28, 2009. It was my fifth speech in a series of ten I have to give to earn my Competent Communicator designation. The purpose of the speech was to use stance, body movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to improve my speech. Toastmasters calls the fifth speech, Project 5, “Your Body Speaks.” I delivered the speech in 6 minutes, 40 seconds. Here is an expanded, more detailed version of the speech.

I’m going to tell you a story about something that I participated in almost thirty years ago.

The Growth & Communication program was for graduates of the Relationshop workshop. (I previously wrote about Relationshop in “Thanks for having the courage to be here” and “Let Your Love Flow and Relationshop.”) The GCP was “an advanced level program focusing on accelerated personal growth and enhanced communicative ability for those who wish to share Relationshop in a very special way as a Relationshop Prospective Leader.” The GCP program took place over a three month period.

We met for several weekends over that time period, usually in a Manhattan apartment in New York City. One weekend was spent reviewing the Relationshop workshop and one weekend was spent assisting at the workshop. The final “graduation” weekend was held at a retreat and study center called Kirkridge, on the top of a mountain in Bangor, Pennsylvania. It is just south of the Pocono mountains.

On Sunday afternoon the eight students in the GCP went into a room in one of the buildings at Kirkridge. On one side of the room there was a blackboard. On the blackboard written in white chalk was a sentence:

No matter what and regardless of the circumstances,

I will live my life out of the context: Being Satisfied

On the other side of the room was a single chair. The far wall was made of sliding glass doors. There were drapes over them to darken the room. In front of the sliding doors there were mats placed on the floor. They were similar to the mats that you would find in a gym class. In the middle of the room several mattresses were stacked up, one on top of the other. They were waist high. There were a couple of rolled up newspapers about the size of a baseball bat on the mattresses. We were going to beat the mattresses with the bats.

The eight of us sat on folding chairs on one side of the room.  Our instructions were to yell, “No matter what and regardless of the circumstances, I will live my life out of the context: Being Satisfied.”

We were supposed to yell this throughout the event, until everyone had their turn to beat the mattress. We started yelling and the first person moved to the empty chair. There was a person standing by the chair whose job it was to get you angry enough to grab the bat and start beating the mattress. I will call her Miss B. After a short while, the person got up from the chair, grabbed the bat and started beating the mattress. There were two people at the mattress to assist the person and make sure no one was injured. When the first person was totally exhausted, Larry, who led the GCP and was supervising the goings on in the room, must have given a signal to the assistants that the mattress beater had had enough and to take them over to the mat and let them recover.

Then, the next person went through the same thing. When it was my turn, I went over to the chair. In a very short while Miss B. (not her real name) made me so angry that I wanted to grab her instead of the bat. Instead, the two assistants muscled me over to the mattress and put the bat in my hands. I beat that damned mattress for all it was worth. I was soon exhausted and they took me over and dropped me on the mat.

I was on my knees and I said something to someone else on the mat. I then took off my shirt, leaving only my undershirt on. I then collapsed on the mattress. A few seconds later, the two assistants were picking me back up. Someone thought that I wasn’t exhausted enough because I had the strength to take off my shirt, I guess. I had to go to the back of the line and do it all over again! I wasn’t too thrilled, but I did it.

I remember that the second time I beat the mattress, my back was killing me. My arms ached and I was sweating profusely. Finally, I was put back on the mat. Later in the evening we were each given a small marble. The marble was supposed to represent something we wanted to get rid of. We then went outside through the sliding doors and threw the marbles into the woods.

It was a pretty intense weekend.

My New Favorite Pentel Pen

I recently found a new Pentel pen that I like very much. If it continues to perform flawlessly for the next month or so, it will become my new favorite pen.

For the last five years my favorite pen has been a Cross Gel Rolling Ball. It’s deep blue with black trim. You have to take the cap off to write with it. It’s not a ball point pen. It takes a 8521 refill. That is blue ink. I prefer the blue ink to the black. I bought it in Staples a long time ago. It wasn’t an expensive Cross pen. I think I paid about $15 for it. I don’t see this pen in stores anymore, but if I did, I would purchase a second one.

I was looking through a case of fountain pens when I saw it. Some of the fountain pens in the case were what I consider very expensive. Spending $50 or $100 for a pen is a lot of money to me. I would hate to lose a pen that was so expensive. It happens though. Pens get lost.

I like the way the ink in the Cross pen glides across the paper. It just feels smooth. I like the way the ink looks on the paper when I’m finished. I write a lot of notes on the computer, but I still like to write on paper. With a nice pen, I like the way it feels. It is hard to describe. If you have a favorite pen, you probably understand what I am trying to explain.

The ink cartridge started to run out of ink last week. The cartridge is made out of metal and you can’t see how much ink is left. When the ink is low, the pen starts to “skip” and it doesn’t feel right anymore. You have to write over what you just wrote. It’s annoying. I use the word write, but what I really mean is print. I print my notes. My penmanship needs a lot of practice. Even I can’t read my hand writing.

I went into Staples to get a new ink refill cartridge. I usually buy them at Staples. Each refill probably lasts me 6 months or so. It was a busy day and the store was crowded with back to school shoppers. They were out of refills. They had refills for all kinds of pens, but they were out of the one I wanted. They didn’t even have a black refill. I would have used one of those temporarily in a pinch until I could get a blue one.

I started looking at the other pens in the aisle. I decided on a pack of Pentel EnerGel pens with a metal tip and blue liquid gel ink. They were $5.29 for 3 pens and the point is 0.7mm, the same size as my Cross pen. They are a nice looking pen, two different shades of blue and silver. The tip retracts just like a ball point pen. They are made in Japan and it says so right on the pen, not just on the package that gets thrown away. You don’t see “Made in Japan” a lot anymore. Almost everything seems to be made in China today.

I walked out of the aisle so that I could check out and lo and behold it was the longest check out line that I had ever seen at this particular Staples. It is the Saratoga Springs, New York Staples. I didn’t want the pens that badly to stand in line for probably 15 or 20 minutes. I put them back on the shelf and walked out of the store.

When I returned home, I started using my Staples Classic Grip pen. It’s a fat pen with a rubber grip that writes rather nicely. It is a ball point type pen and it is refillable, although the refills come in a 3 pack with 2 black cartridges and 1 blue, which is not a good deal for me. They are fairly cheap though. I can’t find the refill on Staples’ website, but I have seen them in the store recently so I know they still sell them.

I went back to Staples the other day. It had been a week since I was last there. I wanted to see if they had restocked the Cross 8521 refill. They had not. I looked through the display rack and the Cross refill that I was looking for was still empty. They didn’t have the black refill (8523) either.

There was a young Staples employee in the aisle who seemed to be taking inventory of what was in the writing department. I explained to him what I was looking for and he tried to help. He had a ladder nearby and checked the overhead area of the pen aisle to see if the refills I wanted were up there. They were not. I told him that I wondered how in this day and age with computerized inventory, that the store didn’t know it was out of this item for a week. He didn’t know either.

I was only in the pen aisle for a few minutes, but it was interesting to note two different people comment on the price of fountain pens. Both young customers were shopping with their mothers and couldn’t understand why someone would pay so much for a pen. The pens were priced from $20 to over $100. The fountain pens are just to the right of the revolving stand that holds the pen refills. In fact, in this store the revolving stand is so close to the shelf that contains the fountain pens, that it gets stuck on one of the brackets every time you try to turn it.

Since the store still didn’t have my Cross refill, I looked again for the Pentel pens that I almost bought the week before. I decided to give them a try and bought them. I guess everyone has their back to school supplies because the checkout line was back to normal. It took me about a minute to check out.

I opened the package of pens as soon as I got home and started to write. As far as I am concerned, the pen is a work of art. It writes beautifully. It feels good in your hand and it is very light and balanced. It looks good too. Can a pen be good looking? Of course. Why not? The ink supply is in a clear plastic tube too so you can see how much ink you have left at anytime. The original ink supply is very generous. This pen should write for a long time.

Until I finally get my Cross gel rolling ball refill, I will continue to use my new Pentel. Even then, I don’t know if my Cross can ever be my #1 again. It had a good five year run though.

Here is a link to the Pentel website. The pen I have is the BL77-C. The pen in the picture looks different than my pen. My pen has a silver colored tip and the finger rest is blue. Maybe I have a new and improved version. The pens are refillable too.

Do yourself a favor and pick up a package of these the next time you are in your favorite office supply store.

Update on January 9, 2019: This is still my favorite pen.

Repaving Schuylerville

The intersection of Routes 29, 4 and 32 in Schuylerville. That is the Cumberland farms store in the picture. It is more commonly called "Cumbys."

A section of Broad Street in Schuylerville.

It’s about time. Broad Street in the village of Schuylerville, New York was finally given a new coat of blacktop this past week. Thousands of drivers who pass through here each day can now roll across a smooth, pothole free surface. Thank you New York State Department of Transportation. The road was resurfaced from the area of Champlain Canal Lock 5, about one mile north of the light where Route 29 turns south, all the way past Byron’s Market to where the Fish Creek goes under Route 4 just before the Schuyler House.

The picture on the left shows the intersection of Routes 29, 4 and 32 in Schuylerville. That is the Cumberland farms store in the picture. It is more commonly called “Cumbys” in upstate New York. I buy all of my gasoline at this station. Double-click on the picture to enlarge it.

Route 29 is a major east west route in this area of New York. Thousands of drivers everyday use it to commute or travel from the Greenwich and Cambridge areas and parts of Vermont to the Adirondack Northway (Route 87), Saratoga Springs and the Wilton Mall area. Except for the Route 4 bridge just north of Schuylerville, which is an older, narrow, steel deck bridge that large trucks can’t use,  you would have to travel 10 miles or so north to Fort Edward or 10 miles or so south to Stillwater to cross the Hudson River.

Route 29 goes east for 12 miles after passing through Saratoga Springs and turns right when it hits Broad Street in Schuylerville.   For a short stretch between the two traffic lights, Broad Street is Route 29, Route 4 and Route 32 at the same time. After a few hundred yards, Route 29 turns left and continues east across the Hudson River. Route 4 and 32 continue south for another two hundred yards or so.

Looking north towards Byron's Market.

Looking north towards Byron's Market.

After passing Byron’s Market and Burgoyne Road, Route 32 branches off to the right while Route 4 continues south. (If you stand on the sidewalk in front of Byron’s you can look up Burgoyne Road and see the Saratoga Battle Monument).

This mile or so of road through Schuylerville was a total disaster and one of the worst roads in the area until the recent paving. It had been dug up and patched for years. Heavy trucks of all kinds turning, starting, and stopping at the two traffic lights while they traveled through the village, took its toll on the road. It was especially dangerous for motorcycles and bicycles. They had to watch out for old trolley tracks, loose bricks, and potholes.

The new blacktop makes the entire village look better. I can’t wait for the Turning Point Parade to march down it on Sunday, August 1, 2010.

Route 29 at the Hudson River in Washington County.

Route 29 at the Hudson River in Washington County.

Route 29 is being repaved just across the river in the town of Easton, in Washington County, too. From the Hudson River bridge to the top of the hill just past where the old Some Place Else restaurant used to be, it is now all new blacktop. The slow vehicle lane is being extended also. The old lane was very short and narrow. Even if a truck or a farm tractor pulled over to let somebody pass, there wasn’t much time. The new lane will be wide enough for a truck or farm tractor to safely use it and long enough for cars to pass the slow moving vehicles.

Here is a link to an article on called, “McAdam Paves the Way.” He was born on September 21, (the day this post was written) in 1756 and did a lot to improve the roads of his day.

The main intersection in the village of Schuylerville. One of the two traffic lights in the village.

The main intersection in the village of Schuylerville. One of the two traffic lights in the village.

Looking north at the Hudson River from the Route 29 bridge linking Saratoga and Washington Counties.

Looking north at the Hudson River from the Route 29 bridge linking Saratoga and Washington Counties.

I would like to hear what you think.

The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches & Joe Karbo

The front cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Joe Karbo

The front cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches by Joe Karbo

I first discovered “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” by Joe Karbo while browsing through the Nottingham Bookstore in Hamilton Square, New Jersey. This was sometime back in the mid-70’s. My father, Howard Tedder,  owned the store. It was a paperback book, 6 inches x 9 inches and 3/8 of an inch thick. In the top right corner of the cover it said: $1000 Not the selling price but guaranteed to be what it is worth to you – at the very least. My father had priced the book at $5.00. (Some used copies today are listed for $25 to $50 on Amazon and Ebay.) I don’t know if he ever read it and I can’t remember if I paid him the $5.00 for it. I probably didn’t. I often took books that I liked home and brought them back after I read them. I “paid” for the books by working at the store fairly frequently, cleaning the store, and moving lots and lots of books around.

I took “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” home and read it and I have kept it all these years. When I am going through the books on my bookshelves to make some space, I never even consider throwing it out.  I have never seen another copy of it for sale in a used book store anywhere and I have been to quite a few used book stores. The book that I have is Copyright 1973 Joe Karbo, 17105 S. Pacific, Sunset Beach, CA 90742. The book was originally sold for $10.00 by mail order through advertisements that Joe Karbo wrote and placed in newspapers and magazines.  It wasn’t sold in stores. At the time, a paperback book sold in a bookstore for around $1.95. “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” was expensive compared to a regular paper back book.

The book is divided into two parts, book one and book two. They each have eight chapters and a question and answer section.  Book one talks about “Dyna/Psyc: the programmed study and practice of achieving success by the planned application of important but little understood natural laws.” It talks about an inadequate self image, fear, making lists, turning lists into goals, daily declarations, affirmations, visualization, and letting your unconscious computer (your mind) solve problems for you.

The back cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches. Double click the image to enlarge.

The back cover of The Lazy Man's Way to Riches. Double click the image to enlarge it.

Book two talks about creativity, turning problems into opportunities and the direct response business (mail order).  Joe goes into quite a bit of detail regarding the mail order business and a lot of the information applies to other types of businesses as well. I think it is an interesting book, well-written, and well worth reading. Joe writes in an easy-going, friendly manner. It is as if he is right there sitting in the room with you explaining everything in person. He gets right to the point of what he wants to say and he packs a lot of good information into the 156 pages of the book. I know there is value in it and I recommend it.

The book sold over 2,700,000 (2 million 700 hundred thousand) copies by the time Joe Karbo died. According to an interesting article on The Lazy Man’s, Joe died in 1980 at age 55 from a heart attack while being interviewed by a TV station news crew. I have not been able (so far) to find a newspaper obituary for Joe Karbo.

The advertisements for the book are as famous as the book itself. Copywriters and advertising people to this day use Joe Karbo’s ad as an example of how to write a great ad. The subtitle for the ad is “Most People Are Too Busy Earning a Living to Make Any Money.” I remember seeing and reading the ads in newspapers and magazines back in the 70’s.

Although I never actually ordered the book by mail, I did try my hand at mail order in the late 80’s by selling a trivia booklet that I wrote and printed.  It was not a success. I can’t recall though, 20 years later, whether or not I was actually inspired to try mail order by reading “The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches” or whether something else triggered my attempt. In any case, I know that I referred to the book and used some of the mail order information in it when I was working on how to market my product.

The Joe Karbo ad that was placed in newspapers and magazines all over the country. Double click on the image to enlarge it

The Joe Karbo ad that was placed in newspapers and magazines all over the country. Double click on the image to enlarge it

Regardless, here is a copy of the actual ad that ran in newspapers and magazines all over the country.

If you have any stories or opinions about Joe Karbo and The Lazy Man’s Way to Riches or this post, I would love to hear your comments.

We Need Healthcare Reform Now

The U.S. Capitol Building

The U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

President Barack Obama’s speech last night to a joint session of Congress was amazing. He is such an eloquent speaker. From the beginning of  his speech to the end, he spoke directly and clearly to Congress and the American people about what was needed to reform health care in America. It’s time for our elected officials to get behind the president and enact health care reform.

All of the other major industrialized countries in the world can’t be wrong. Citizens of the United States shouldn’t have to go bankrupt or lose their home because they get sick. It is time for the Republicans to shut up and do the right thing for their country.

The idea that the Republicans would lie about and fight against health care reform so that they could “defeat” the president is despicable.

In an interview with the Huffington Post last month, Congressman Henry Waxman, a Democrat from California said, “I think they have made a political decision that their best chance to pick up the Congress and to get power again is to be able to run in 2010 and say that Obama didn’t accomplish anything. And they are doing their best to make sure that happens.”

I was going to call Republican Congressman Joe Wilson from South Carolina, who shouted “you lie” at the president at one point during the speech, a “little weasel”, but I’m not. Maybe he is taking Wellbutrin to help him quit smoking and it’s making him a little paranoid. I was trying to quit smoking a few years back and was taking Wellbutrin. It made me paranoid and sometimes I would yell things out. I stopped taking it. As far as I am concerned, it would have been appropriate for the Sergeant-At-Arms to have removed him from the room.  I would have loved to have seen that.  Where was Wilson when Bush was lying to Congress about going to war with Iraq? He is more worked up about health care reform and illegal immigrants than he was about war. From what I have read, we are already giving free medical care to illegal aliens. If you have a medical emergency and show up at a hospital, the doctors have to treat you.

Cell phones and Blackberries should be banned from the room when the president is speaking. Republican Eric Cantor from Virginia could be seen playing with his Blackberry during the president’s speech. How disrespectful.  What could possibly have been on his Blackberry that was more important than what the president was saying? What? He should start paying more attention to what Barack Obama is saying and stop listening to Rush Limbaugh and John Boehner.

John Boehner, a Republican Senator from Ohio, was sitting right next to Cantor. They are the dynamic duo of the Republican party. They just say no to anything the president wants to do.

It wasn’t always so. Republicans were not always obstinate jackasses. Republicans have actually supported some important pieces of legislation in the past. Eighty-one Republicans in the House of Representatives voted for The Social Security Act of 1935. Fifteen voted no and 4 didn’t vote. The Democrats voted 284 yes, 15 no and 20 didn’t vote. The Senate vote was Republicans, 16 yes, 5 no and 4 not voting. Sixty Democrats voted yes, 1 no and 8 didn’t vote.

Many Republicans supported the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The House vote was Republicans 138 yes, 34 no, Democrats 152 yes, 96 no. In the Senate the vote was Republicans 27 yes, 6 no, Democrats 44 yes, 23 no.

It actually is possible for our elected officials to do the right thing and vote their conscience and not their party.

I don’t understand the rabid hatred that some elected officials have for President Obama. How can Republicans like former Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin and Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa spread lies about “death panels?”  It is the same mentality that allowed Bush and Cheney to start the war in Iraq. It’s obvious that lies are being told and that the emperor has no clothes.

The Republican party needs to come to its senses and support meaningful legislation to move this country forward in a positive direction. They can’t just sit back, do their best to thwart the president and hope he fails so that they can reclaim the White House in four years. They supported tax cuts for the rich. That was the first thing Bush did when he got elected. That is one of the reasons the deficit is so big today. They supported starting a war in Iraq that we didn’t have to fight. That was another unfunded, shameful, budget disaster. We can waste a trillion dollars on a needless war, but we can’t provide health care for our citizens. That would be too much like socialism.

Doctors today, with all of the  technology, drugs and knowledge available, can do some amazing things. I know. I have been a beneficiary of  some of that advanced care. I’m glad to still be here. At the time I worked for a great company that provided one of the best health insurance packages in the world. I don’t think I ever had to pay a bill except for small co-pays at the doctors office. I don’t work for that company any more and I buy my own health insurance. It’s not as good as what I had when I worked for the world class company.

If something happened to me again today, I know that I would have to pay out a lot of my own money. Perhaps if the members of Congress had to buy their own insurance and didn’t have a taxpayer paid plan, they would be more interested in reforming health care. Your health care shouldn’t be dependent on where you work or what you do.

Although I remember when they did, doctors don’t make house calls anymore. Health care has changed dramatically since Teddy Roosevelt and the Progressive Party Platform of 1912 mentioned it. Franklin D. Roosevelt wanted to create a national health care system in 1935 when Social Security was started, but couldn’t do it. President Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton tried to get health care reform passed in 1993. They were shouted down by the same mentality that is trying to shout down reform today.

Daniel Gross wrote a great article on Slate called, “The Private Option.” The subtitle is “Employment-based health insurance is in big trouble, but don’t blame Obama.” In it he says that 29% of Americans already get their health insurance directly from the government (people on Medicare, Medicaid and members of the military). That figure doesn’t include teachers, state workers, county workers, city workers, and town and village workers who get their insurance indirectly from the government, but still paid for by taxes.

On September 8, 2009 in the New York Times, Paul Krugman, one of my favorite writers, wrote a column called, “Why the public option matters.” The health care reform bill must contain a public option. Anything less will not be real reform.

It’s absolutely crucial that the reforms that President Obama outlined in his speech last night are implemented. The American public must win this fight over the special interests and lobbyists who want to defeat health care reform. Contact your Congressman and Senators and let them know that you support President Obama.

I support Barack Obama and I commend him for fighting for health care reform. You should too.

Nicholas D. Kristof wrote a column for the New York Times called, “Let Congress Go Without Insurance” on October 7, 2009. Take a few minutes and read what Nicholas Kristof has to say.

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