Archive for March, 2011


My friend Amy Celec posted a video of soldiers and their surprise homecomings on her Facebook page a couple of days ago, I watched it, I cried, and then I swiped it and shared it on my Facebook page yesterday morning.

Amy grew up in a military family, and she is also a Navy wife; so I’m pretty sure she has lived some of the moments that are captured in this three-minute video montage. I don’t think anybody, military or not, can watch this video and be unmoved. When I saw it for the first time I cried like a…well actually, I cried like a man. If you can watch this little gem and not cry, I’m sad for you. There was no political statement, just men and women who serve their country surprising the people they love, and who love them. In my travels, I’ve been lucky enough to see a few homecomings like the ones in this video. I feel so privileged to be a witness to that uninhibited expression of joy. Things like that are why I write.

Things like that video are why I like Facebook too. I like that my friends – many of whom do not share the same political views or ideals, can share a video of soldiers returning to their loved ones and find some common ground. Because the people behind the curtain at Facebook can do that, it allows me to overlook them sharing my info with marketers, and making me vulnerable to hackers who want to steal my soul. Life is about tradeoffs and compromise.

I don’t love Facebook, but I love looking at pictures of my friend’s grandkids. I am so freaked out by all the hot grandmothers I know, women that I went to high school with, and slow danced with, and kissed, are grandmothers! I would have very little interaction with them if not for Facebook. I think it’s awesome. Maybe I do love Facebook. Maybe I’m just afraid to say that I love Facebook because it’s kind of un-cool to say you love Facebook. I do feel like I have to rationalize why I enjoy it. Why?

Is it because the founder is such a little prick? Is it because it probably isn’t very safe from a cyber-security standpoint? Is it because it can be a bit mundane at times? I don’t know, and maybe none of you fellow Facebookers feel the same way I do.

You will hear me say, “…well, I’m on the road so much, it’s a great way for me to stay in touch with my wife.”* Or, “…well (I start most rationalizations with “well”) it’s social media man – it’s the wave of the future, I need to understand its inner workings because my kids will be playing here, and I don’t want my kids being involved in something I don’t understand.”**

*Rationale # 1: My wife and her circle of friends are hilarious…and stalking my wife and her Facebook friends actually does make it seem like I’m not so far from home.

**Rationale # 2: I’ve actually used the second one a couple of times, and that’s a big ol’ crock of bullshit because my kids are involved in algebra too – I never spend any time finding the value of y, but I spend a butt-load  of time on Facebook.

I don’t know why I feel the need to defend it. Facebook is fun.

I find it fun, and there is no reason I shouldn’t find it fun. It’s social media, and I’m a social guy. So being a social guy, why wouldn’t I like Facebook? For the sake of making my point, I’ll leave the hot grandmothers, my wife, and “understanding inner workings” out of it for a minute. Let’s focus on my non-grandmother friends: I have re-connected with friends that I might have never seen or heard from again. Some might argue; if you haven’t heard from somebody in 30 plus years, they probably aren’t really friends. In some cases this is true, but there are many truths.

For example:

My friend Susan Dorton was in elementary school with me. First grade through fifth, she was in all my classes, and we were friends. I was “James” back then, and she still calls me James. Every time she addresses me as James on Facebook, I’m reminded of her kindness when we were kids.

I don’t know if she will remember this, I’ve never shared it before, but I specifically remember an incident where I was being punished for something, so I couldn’t participate in recess. I just had to sit there and watch the other kids play. I was upset, she saw that I was upset, and asked the teacher if she could sit with me. I was crying, and she made me feel better, for no reason other than she just wanted to make me feel better. It’s a cheesy, silly little thing; but that unselfish act was kind of hidden away in the corridors of my memory for years until we found each other on Facebook. I saw the “Hi James…” note from her, and it all just flooded back. I remembered her looking at me and smiling, holding my hand and patting my back. To reuse a line I’ve used before; I’m not a skilled enough writer to express the sweetness of that act of kindness. I don’t know if that memory could have ever been conjured without the Facebook connection. That alone makes Facebook a cool thing for me.

Susan and I grew up, and sort of evolved into different crowds – we stayed friendly for sure, but we had different friend circles as we got older. We have never exchanged a Christmas card, I don’t know her phone number, she doesn’t have mine – we are on different sides of the political fence, and Susan and I may never even share a meal together…but Susan is my friend, and I am hers. From what I see on her homepage, Susan is still a defender of the meek, and those that need a little cheering up…thank Goodness she still has the heart of that third grade kid.  I’m grateful to Facebook for that connection.

On the other side of the Facebook coin, I don’t really care what anybody is having for dinner tonight, but I also really don’t care that people will share that information. I hear a lot of complaints about stuff like that. When people bag on Facebook, that’s the stuff they make fun of. I get it, but really, who cares? If someone wants to share something, I say share away. I’m turned off by drama that gets posted from time to time – in my mind, family squabbles and boyfriend/girlfriend issues shouldn’t be displayed for all to see. But that’s just me – it’s not a choice I would make.  I’m sure I have friends that wonder why I post a battle between AC/DC and Kiss. What’s the point?

I post the nonsense that I post, because I love music, and I’m interested in what other people think about it. My friend that posts her issues with her kids, is probably just hurting, and doesn’t want to hurt alone, and she might not have a friend as kind as Susan.

I love music most when I feel like the performer is playing, singing, or has written from their heart. When they sing a song about love, or heartache, I have to believe them. I like Facebook most when I see that kind of stuff too. It’s why I loved Amy’s video so much – that was real stuff.

One of my very favorite singer songwriters is Tom Waits. Waits is unique, he can carry a tune, and he’s a great singer, but he doesn’t have a good voice – if that makes any sense. However, that not so great voice sings the truth. James Taylor makes you think of honey and sunshine when you hear his voice, Waits makes you think of whiskey – cheap whiskey, and cigar smoke when you hear his. One of his more famous songs is Jersey Girl, and when he sings, “sha la la la la la la I’m in love with a Jersey girl” you have no doubt that he loves this girl. You believe him. It reminds me of another Facebook friend that makes me smile just about every day…

…I played high school football with Kelly; we were more acquaintances than friends, I think I’m 2 years older than him. As with Susan, before Facebook, we were not in touch. I always liked Kelly, he had that subtle kind of sense of humor that I have always valued, he’s a good dude – I think everybody likes Kelly. A cool memory of him revolves around an epic “pick-up” football game we played after the high school days were over – that’s a story for a beer.

Flash forward 30 years later, and every morning on Facebook, around 4:30 or 5:00, Kelly posts a little personal affirmation, a kind of mini-journal of what he will be on this day. There is always some appreciation for the moment and his blessings, sometimes it’s for the very air that he breathes…sometimes there is forgiveness for those who may have hurt him, and sometimes there is contrition for his own human flaws. It’s a different message every day, and I really miss it when it isn’t there. Some days it can be a little dark (as all our days can be), and some days it can be a little cheesy (we all have those too). But every post is real, his heart is on his sleeve, and it’s on his Facebook page, and it’s a BIG heart. How can you not love that!

Kelly, like Tom Waits, might not have the greatest voice in the world, but when he writes that he is “…smiling and waving and wishing you a day full of love as I pass you by” you believe him. He doesn’t write these things for any kind of Karma so the Universe will reward him – I think we would all see through that. Kelly isn’t expecting anything back, he’s just giving his friends a gift; a little love and goodwill to start their day. How can you not love that?

I love Facebook. 

Thanks for reading…thanks for being my friend.

The Large Man

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I am so f-ing sick of snow. I’m sick of cleaning it off of my car, hearing about it on the news, talking about it with my parents, watching my poor wife shovel it, sarcastically joking about it on Facebook, and hearing all the comments from my coworkers:  “We never had this kinda crazy weather until you moved to town…ha ha ha!”

“Ha ha ha…f#@K YOU!”

It’s not funny to me anymore. Judging by a few recent episodes, I think snow, and the whole winter season is starting to affect my mood. I need to check out some info on this Seasonal Affective Disorder I’ve been reading about.

I am generally of kind nature and gentle spirit. I love to be social. If you have read TLMC with any kind of regularity, you know that the love of my family, an occasional micro-brew, and the company of pretty ladies are pretty much all I need in life. I’m a happy guy. That’s how I roll…in the spring, summer, and the fall.

But it’s winter. My kind nature and my gentle spirit must be residing someplace warm.

Human Resources and I had a discussion last week, I’m sharing with you the correspondence, but I’m changing the names to protect…I don’t know … somebody.


From The Desk of Sherry Painintheass (I think she’s Greek)

Human Resource Department, ACME Enterprises

Dear Mr. Large Man (I’ll go ahead and use my real name because you guys know it’s me)

The HR department is alarmed to have received a third complaint in as many weeks regarding your aggressive behavior towards your fellow employees. We have one complaint of an irrational outburst when you were simply asked if you wanted to join a group for lunch. We have also received a complaint about use of vulgar language and aggressive posture when you were asked about an upcoming trip to Fargo, ND. And finally, it has been reported that on Wednesday January 26th, when you were asked if you wanted to buy some Girl Scout cookies during our 9:00 Coffee Break, your reply was, “How about I just choke you instead.” The woman filed a formal complaint with our department, and feels that she is entitled to compensation as a result of your threat.

The woman you offered to choke is the 77-year-old founder of the Girl Scout troop in this town. She is a widow and has been raising money for the Girl Scouts and other charities for over 60 years.

Can you offer any explanation for these incidents and your aggressive behavior? The HR Department would like you to respond to this correspondence, in writing, and in person by the end of tomorrow’s business day. In other words, bring yourself and a written response to my office tomorrow.


Sherry P.

My Response:

Dear Sherry,

I’m sending this letter in advance of our meeting so that you may have time to digest the reality of what truly occurred. I’m sure once you understand my intentions; we’ll be able to put these issues behind us.

In my defense, I didn’t realize that the Girl Scout cookie woman was in her mid to late seventies. I had her figured for about 64 or 65, had I known her real age, I probably would have handled that situation differently. It needs to be noted however that extreme, high pressure sales tactics were being used on me – at my place of work.  I’m not 100% sure there weren’t even a few laws broken on her part.  But that’s hindsight, I will forgive her, and I’m going to have to learn to forgive myself for that one. We can just call that a “wash”.

As far as the other “Incidents”, as you call them, are concerned…let’s just chalk them up to an aggressive leadership style. You call them “incidents”; I prefer to call them “teaching moments”. I am surprised that I have to come to the HR dungeon to defend what most companies applaud – I was simply helping a few coworkers in their professional journey.

I’ll address each of these teaching moments (or acts of leadership – whichever you choose to call them after you read this) individually.

Incident 1:

On Friday, January 14th, it was snowing at a rate of about 2” per hour, and the outdoor temps were in the single digits. I was cheerfully sending out email, talking with customers on the phone, performing my regular revenue generating duties, when the guys came in and asked me to join them for lunch.

Now let’s be honest; I don’t want to mention names, and I’m certainly no Ken doll myself, but “you know who”, and his “buddy” should probably be bringing salads to work anyway. The starchy, sodium charged, fat laden foods that are available in an “out to lunch” scenario are not helping these guys (or our insurance underwriters for that matter) at all. AND…it was f-ing snowing and 7 F-ING degrees outside. So when I said, “IT’S F-ING SNOWING! YOU FAT Fs! LEAVE ME THE F ALONE!” I was merely concerned for their health and safety. Frankly, I’m a little hurt that I feel like I have to defend this management style. I’m an animated leader. In most corporate cultures, that’s a respected trait. So perhaps you should take a look at yourself on this one.

Incident 2:

On Thursday January 20th, I remember it was heavily snowing that day as well, one of the chronic complainers from Mergers and Acquisitions…or as the rest of the company likes to call them, “the B team”, entered my office (without the customary knock on the door jam I might add) and said while sporting that cheerful smile of his, “Dude, I hear you’re going to Fargo on Monday. You excited?”

Sherry, I realize that this guy is young. I also understand that his cat has been missing for a few days, and his life all around isn’t that great right now; no girlfriend (suddenly), and limited future prospects. These factors are exactly why I reached out to help him. Asking stupid questions never looks good. Do we want him out on the dating scene, or Heaven forbid – in a business environment, asking people if they are “excited” about traveling into the Arctic Circle in January?

Let me explain something: Nobody is excited to go to Fargo in January, even people who live in Fargo…even people who bank in Fargo…even if you just won the Fargo F-ing lottery, and you had to collect it in person and it was 200 million dollars…if you won it in January, you would wait until June to go get it – that’s how much it SUCKS to be in Fargo in January.

Sure, I could have just ignored the kid, smiled and said “Absolutely!”, and sent him on his ignorant little way. But would he have learned anything? I remember being excited about the opportunity to teach and guide this young man, but I don’t really remember exactly what I said. Perhaps if he wrote it down in his communication to you, you could share it with me in our meeting. I may want to save the thought for other opportunities as they arise.

In closing, I guess I have to call a “My bad!” for offering to choke the antagonistic cookie lady. Lesson learned. As far as the other two episodes are concerned, I think this was a clear case of people not understanding my motives, and my desire to help, to lead, and to teach. I realize that none of these people actually report to me, but that’s what made these unselfish gestures so beautiful.

 I will simply offer a sincere, you’re welcome.

I hope this satisfies the points of your letter. Based on this new information, I am fine with canceling this afternoon’s meeting. I hold no ill will toward you, the employees involved, or the HR department.

Kind Regards,

The Large Man

AND…her response to my response:

From The Desk of Sherry Painintheass

Human Resource Department, ACME Enterprises

Dear Mr. Large Man

Our meeting will take place as scheduled.


Sherry P.



Thanks for reading. 

The Large Man

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