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My Thoughts On His Dream

A few years ago I gave a speech about Dr. Martin Luther King. Today seems like a good time to repost it.
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From Dream to Reality
(April 16, 2013 – Rodney M Bliss)

I want to take you back to August 28, 1963. It was a brutally hot summer that year. A summer that seethed not just with the heat of high temperatures, but high tensions. A summer wracked not just with conflicted politics, but with conflicted people.

On this day the national mall in Washington DC is crowded to overflowing. A crowd a quarter million strong, predominately Black, have come to Washington today. Come to hear a speech that will define not just a movement, but a generation.

Come with me for a few minutes to revisit that pivotal day and the remarkable speech that forever defines it.

A young Black preacher steps to the microphone,

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. ”

He speaks for nearly 20 minutes and my poor efforts pale next to his soaring oratory. He shares both his condemning view of our past and his prophetic hopeful vision for our future.

His voice spans the nation, telling us to

“Let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire.”

“Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York.”

“Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania.”

“Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado”

“Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. Not only that, but let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia and Lookout Mountain of Tennessee.”

He tells us

“the Negro will never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and the Negro in New York believe he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

He has no way of knowing about a young Black boy growing up in Honolulu, Hawaii. A little boy who had just celebrated his 2nd birthday. The son of a white mother and a Black father. A boy who would someday not only gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities, but would gain lodging in a house that while less than a mile from the spot where he stood, must have felt as inaccessible to that preacher as the surface of the moon.

Rather than walk the streets of slums, this boy will tread the halls of power. Rather than question for what to vote, he will be the one for whom they vote.

For over 150 years the Black man had waited for the nation to honor the promissory note that all men are created equal. But less than 50 years later, the first Black president would stand on the shoulders of these giants to reach the heights of achievement. Dream indeed.

You are no doubt familiar with the most famous lines from the speech that day,

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.”

Great as this sentiment is, it’s the next paragraph that makes this speech particularly personal, poignant and inspirational for me.

“I have a dream that one day the state of Alabama, whose governor’s lips are presently dripping with the words of interposition and nullification, will be transformed into a situation where little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls and walk together as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.”

Each night as I look at the faces of my children gathered around our dinner table, or kneeling with their heads bowed to pray, I’m grateful that my little Black boys and black girls can join hands with my little white boy and white girls, as well as little Asian boys and Asian girl and walk together as sisters and brothers. Dream indeed.

We still have a long way to go as a nation to recognize and realize Dr. King’s dream. But for me and my family, his dream has become my reality.

Thank you
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A video of my speech is available here.
The full text of Dr King’s remarkable speech can be found here.
The video of his entire speech can be found here.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, blogger and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children, three of whom are white, three of whom are Asian and seven of whom are Black.

Follow him on
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Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
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or contact him at (rbliss at msn dot com)

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G.O.A.T.s At The Airport

I spent the week in Louisville Kentucky. It’s one of my favorite cities. It’s home to the Louisville Slugger Museum (…But Sometimes I Get Lucky.) It’s also home of the Kentucky Derby. And the third star in Louisville’s crown of achievements is the Muhammud Ali Center.

The champ was born and died in this northern Kentucky town. The city is justifiably proud of their native son. While I was in town this time the city made the announcement that the airport will be renamed Louisville Muhammad Ali International airport.

I would imagine they will still shorten it to Louisville, and the designation will no doubt remain SDF. But, I do wish that the change was more widespread. It would be fitting to hear, “Welcome to Muhammad Ali’s airport.” Or to have my luggage show

SLC –> ALI

Regardless, it’s wonderful to see the man continue to be honored. He had his detractors, certainly, but he is one of my American heroes.

I met him once. Ironically, it was at an airport. It was North Bend, Indiana, I think. I was flying back from a trip and was at the airport on a Wednesday. Not a busy travel day.

As I checked in at the Delta counter, the ticket agent was unusually chatty.

Bet you can’t guess who just checked in?

Huh?

Muhammad Ali. He’s over in terminal two.

I had to decide. Did I want to be that guy? Celebrities are people. They don’t want to be bothered in public. I mean really, how many celebreties would I be interested in meeting in person, just to say I’d shaken their hand.

I did the math in my head. I rolled through the TV and movie actors of the day. No.

Political figures? Nope.

Active athelets? Not really.

Retired atheletes? Just one.

Honestly, he was the only person I could think of. And if I passed on the chance would I care in 5 years? Ten? Twenty? Yes, yes I would. I headed for Terminal Two.

He was sitting with a group of four or five. No one else was in the terminal.

Excuse me, I don’t mean to bother you. But, I just wanted to say how much I respect you.

Parkinsons had robbed his speech and age had slowed his responses. But, he was still the consummate professional. He slowly stood and shook my hand. We posed for the obligatory awkward photo.

It was obvious the encounter was complete and he moved to return to his seat.

Thank you. My wife and I recently adopted a sibling group of black children. Some of them want to be athletes. I just want to say that as they grow I hope they attempt to model themselves after you and your daughter Laila.

And at those words he reached out his hand to shake mine a second time. Other people had by now stopped by to shake his hand and get an awkward picture.

It’s been many years, maybe as many as twenty. Do I care that I went up and bothered a celebrity at the airport?

Yes I do.

It isn’t everyday you get a chance to meet the (G)reatest (O)f (A)ll (T)ime.

RIP champ. It will be a pleasure to fly into your airport.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

. . .But Sometimes I Do Get Lucky

I mentioned that I ended up on a shuttle to the airport at 3:45AM this week because Sometimes I’m Not Very Smart.

There’s a second part to that story. Because sometimes I do get lucky. My early morning start this week meant I arrived in Louisville at 3:30 in the afternoon.

And for me, that was very, very lucky.

See, Louisville Kentucky is known for several famous things. For one, it’s the birthplace, and burial place of the great boxer Muhammmud Ali. It’s the home of the greatest horserace in the world, the Kentucky Derby.

But, more importantly it’s one of the holy sites for baseball. Cooperstown, New York is the site of the Baseball Hall of Fame. Seattle is the site of the most beautiful park in baseball, T-Mobile Park (formally more aptly named Safeco Field) and Louisville Kentucky is the site of Hillerich & Bradsby. Of, as it is more commonly known, The Louisville Slugger factory and museum.

This is not my first time to Louisville. It’s also not my first time to the Louisville Slugger museum and factory. If you take the tour, which cost about $15, you get to see where 100% of the wooden Louisville Slugger baseball bats are made. It’s a fascinating mixture of past and present, high tech machinery and natural wood.

And when you are done with the tour, you get a “free” mini-bat that sells in the gift store for about $15.

It’s about 15 minutes from the Louisville airport to the museum. That put me at the museum in downtown Louisville about 4:00. Why lucky? Because it closes at 5:00pm. And while I’m in town for several days, my days are full from morning to late into the evening.

I didn’t take the tour this time. Instead I opted to wander around the museum. As a baseball fan, (really more of a baseball geek) this place is as close to heaven on earth as you can get. This is one of the birthplaces of modern baseball. The very walls are lined with the names of men who down through the years have shaped the very foundation of baseball.

And these men did it swinging bats marked Louisville Slugger.

The museum gives you the option of swinging some of those same Louisville Sluggers. Here I’m holding a game used Ken Griffey Jr bat. Behind me you can see the Silver Slugger awards that are awarded to the player with the highest batting average at each of the eight positions.

Here’s a life-sized replica of The Kid, elsewhere in the museum.

The curator asked if I’d like to hold an Edgar Martinez game used bat. I was still so excited about the Griffey bat, that I didn’t hear him.

No, I’m just interested in Mariner’s players.

. . .

Oh, right. You said Edgar.

Edgar Martinez spent his entire career with the Mariners. I held his bat too.

The great Babe Ruth used Louisville Sluggers. This is one of the bats he used in 1927 on his way to hitting a record setting 60 home runs. This was referred to the “notched bat” because Ruth put a notch in the bat every time he hit a home run. At one point the bat cracked and he sent it back to the factory and asked them to make more like it because, “This one has worked out pretty well for me.”

This is a replica of the uniform worn by the first professional women’s baseball teams.

They don’t call it a “Hall of Heroes” or a “Field of Dreams.” In fact, they don’t call it anything in particular. The middle of the museum is filled with life-sized statues of some of baseball’s greatest players: Ted Williams, Derek Jeter, Babe Ruth, Ken Griffey JR,

And right up front, number 42, Jackie Robinson, the first black man to play in the major leagues in the modern era.

I only ended up in Louisville early enough to visit the museum because I wasn’t very smart about booking my travel.

They say that God watches over babies, drunks and fools. I don’t qualify for the first two, but I can certainly attest to the third one. Just lucky, I guess.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Because I’m Not Very Smart

I used to be smart. At least about travel. I’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles in my life. I consider myself an experienced traveler. I have preset packing list. And yet, when it came down to it,

I’m not very smart.

My trip was on Tuesday. If I travel during the week, I have to arrange for someone to cover for me while I’m on the plane. But, it also means I can take the train to the airport. That’s a $5 charge rather than parking for a week or a taxi.

I approve my travel schedule. I submit a request and when it’s approved by the VP and the SVP, the travel department sends me a proposed schedule. I get to make final approvals.

My trip for this week was no different. Except when the schedule arrived, I got stupid. I glanced at the dates, saw they were correct and said approved.

My flight from Salt Lake City left at 7:00 AM. That’s not normally a problem except that the trains don’t start running until 5:00AM and the trains take 90 minutes to get me to the airport. Thirty minutes before takeoff is too short. Especially given the uncertainty around the TSA schedules.

So, my choice was drive or take a shuttle. My car is still in the middle of a major differential rebuild. So, that left the shuttle. Okay, that’s not a problem.

Except that when you order a shuttle, you tell the shuttle company what time your flight leaves and your address and they calculate your pickup time.

Apparently they are taking that “two hours before your flight during the government shutdown” advice seriously. My pickup time was 3:45. . .AM!

But, that makes sense, right? It’s only a 45 minute drive to the airport, but they probably have to pick up other people, right?

Nope.

I was the only passenger. The shuttle arrived right on time. We arrived at the airport at 4:30. . .AM!

But, that’s okay, right. Security lines are longer than expected.

Nope.

This was the security line.

Fortunately I got upgraded to Delta Comfort+ on the Salt Lake City to Atlanta leg. It’s nicer to sleep in those bigger seats.

At least I was smart about the return trip, right?

Nope. My return flight leaves Louisville on Friday at 6:00. . .AM. I’m not very smart.

Maybe I’ll get smarter on the next trip.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
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LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

Call Me By My Name

Edinburgh
Milan
Louisville

Do you know how to pronounce these names?

Are you sure?

Edinburgh

A friend of mine is a professional comedian. His most recent world tour included the city of Edinburgh Scotland.

How did you say that in your mind?

If you are from the United States you probably pronounced it “ed-in-BURG.” If you are from Scotland, you no doubt pronounced it “ed-in-BURR.” Which is correct?

During his stop in Edinburgh, my friend took questions from the audience. Someone asked him about the name of the city.

Well, sure, I say it like an American. Just because I’m here doesn’t mean I’m going to suddenly pretend that I grew up here.

My friend is from Brooklyn,New York, although he has a fairly typical American accent. It made me think about what the “right” pronounciation is.

Milan

Milan is less controversial than Edinburgh, right? It’s “me-LAWN,” isn’t it?

My middle name is Milan. No, not pronounced like you just read it. It’s pronounced “MY-lan.” Who is pronouncing the name correctly, me or the rest of the world?

I was named for an uncle. He pronounced his name “My-lan” as well. At least that’s what I’m told. He passed away long before I was born. But, it’s a family name, not the name of a city in Italy.

Louisville

I’m spending the week in Louisville. Again, a name that has multiple pronounciations. How do you say it in your head?

LOO-ee-ville?

LOO-is-ville?

Or like the locals.

LOO-vull?

Which is correct? Just one? All of them?

I pronounce it “LOO-vull.” Not because I am trying to convince anyone I’m from here, but because when I work with the people here, I feel it’s important to call them by the name that they choose.

It’s what I want when someone tries to pronounce my middle name.

Oh, my friend also did an Australia tour; in Melbourne. (Mel-BURN to the locals.)

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

I Did 1000 Push-Ups. . .That I Didn’t Have To

It was hard.

It was hard, and I was done.

It was a voluntary activity anyway. No one was going to dock me any grades or points for quiting the team.

Yeah, I was done.

I had only one brief encounter with the United States military. For one semester during college, I joined the Army ROTC at BYU. My brother had completed the BYU Army ROTC course and served in the National Guard, retiring as a captain in the artillary. My daughter recently completed the Army ROTC program at Utah State University and she is finishing up her graduate work in veterinary science.

During my brief sojourn with the men in green those many years ago, I vounteered for the Ranger Challenge Team.

The Ranger Challenge Team is the “sports” portion of ROTC. Teams compete in rope bridge building, weapons assembly, grenade throws, 10K runs with full pack, rifle and boots.

And BYU was one of the best in the country. Like any sports team, we trained hard. Not just physical conditioning, although we did an extra hour of PT every morning, but orienterring, squad work and of course, lots of work with weapons.

The team was open to anyone who wanted to join. There were no scholarships. We all were just a bunch of overeager college kids trying to figure out what we wanted.

There were just two rules on the Ranger Challenge Team, the first was that you had to know the answer to the following question:

Your company is set up in two firing lines that form a “V” shape. Your position is the point of the V. What is the first thing you do?

That was it. If you knew the answer, you passed, if you didn’t know the answer you did pushups. But, there was a “team” penalty. If anyone didn’t know the answer, everyone did pushups. Twenty of them, as I remember. And the Army doesn’t count pushups like you or I do, where you start in the “up” position, when you go down and back up it counts as one. In the Army, at least our little corner of it, you did a 4-count pushup. So, 20 of our pushups were 40 civilian pushups.

It didn’t seem strange at the time.

The second rule was that you could drop out of the team at any time. But, if you missed a day, you had to do 250 pushups. So, if you dropped, you’d better be sure you want out, because the clock keeps rolling.

I joined the team. I was one of the best runners, I was okay on pushup, but I couldn’t do situps to save my life. Anyway, I showed up, I’m on the team.

As the semester went along, things got more stressful. I was taking 18 credits. I was newly married. I was working. Life got hard. And a couple months into the semester I’d decided that Ranger Challenge team was one thing too many.

Maybe I was tired of getting up at 4:30AM to be at the school at 5:00AM for 2 hours of PT. Maybe, I was just tired.

I avoided my teammates the next day. They knew I wasn’t there in the morning. They knew what it meant. No one needed to rub it in. After the second day, I started to think I might have made a mistake. By the third day, I was seriously conflicted. After four days, I realized that I missed it. On the fifth day I showed up again. The major came up to me as if it was the most natural thing in the world.

Bliss, welcome back.

Thank you sir.

You owe me 1000 pushups.

Yes sir.

I didn’t get to skip the normal workout to do pushups. Those were on my own time. I did pushups between Ranger Challenge PT and regular PT. I did them before class. I did them during lulls in our lab class. My arms were like jelly.

No one counted my pushups except me. But, there was no way I was going to shortchange myself. About a week later my 1000 Army pushups were done, and things went back to normal.

I ended up leaving ROTC at the end of the semester for a career in computers instead.

But, I often think about those pushups. How Major Turbyvil had structured our team in such a way that it was easy to get in, easy to get out and hard to get back in. There’s a certain brilliance to that strategy. Especially for a team of men and women who might need to depend on each other for survival at some point.

Oh, and the answer to the earlier question: what is the first thing you do?

You talk to the people on either side of you. After all, they are your teammates and they need to know they can depend on you.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

What Are You Reading. . .And Why? (My Version)

I don’t know if it’s the ADHD, or what, but I tend to read multiple books at the same time. Some for professional development, some just for entertainment.

Current reading list:

The Lissome Gay But Mostly Mr Fox: Vernon Moyse

This one was a recommendation by a Facebook friend: Vernon Moyse, the author. I really want to finish this book. But, I have to admit, I’m about 100 pages in and I have no idea what it’s about. I’ll push my way through it eventually. Maybe I’ll like it eventually. I’ll have to understand it first.

Brain Rules: John Medina

This is another recommendation. This one from my a close friend. I’m about half way through it. It’s interesting, in a clinical, educational way. It’s about how the brain works. How we remember things, and more importantly why we remember things. My friend loved it because he’s in sales. The better he understands how people think, the better he can provide solutions for his customers. I don’t need to know how people think. Sure, it’s somewhat interesting, but I don’t have a practical application. I will definitely finish this one and I’ll enjoy it. I just am not sure how much of it I’ll use.

Crucial Conversations: Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzler

I’m reading this one for the first time. . and the (third? fourth time?) I read the original and loved it. I even have my copy autographed by one of the authors. This copy is the revised edition. So, much of it is similar, but enough is different to make it seem new. Crucial Conversations explains how to talk about hard things. “Tools for talking when stakes are high” is the subtitle. It is one of the greatest business books ever written. It has a place in my top five best business books of all time. VitalSmarts, the company behind Crucial Conversations (and The Power of Habit, and Getting Things Done) provides training based around the content. It’s excellent.

Sahara: Clive Cussler

I own a lot of Clive Cussler books. He has a formula and I enjoy it. He writes fiction centered around the oceans. Ironically, Sahara is actually about the ocean. They made it into a movie that I love. Unfortunately, Clive Cussler hated the movie, and any potential franchise died after a single film. But, the book is fun escapism. I know the ending, of course, but honestly, I know the ending of most of his books. Like I said, it’s a formula. I’m a couple hundred pages in and I pick it up when I don’t want to have to think too much.

The Anthology – Part I: Garth Brooks

I’m a big Garth Brooks fan. The anthology is a coffee table book. Lots of pictures. But, also lots of text. And it’s written by Garth. It’s fun to learn the background to many of my favorite songs. I’ve also learned that Brooks wrote many of his hits, but avoided putting his name on them.

On The Waiting List

Becoming: Michelle Obama

This was a surprise Christmas gift. I had only mentioned in passing that I looked forward to reading it. My daughter bought me a copy. I love biographies. And I’ve always respected Mrs. Obama.

The Power Of Habit: Charles Duhigg

This is another VitalSmarts publication. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve ever read from VitalSmarts. This one also comes highly recommended. VitalSmarts is developing training on this book. I’m excited to see what they come up with.

Getting Things Done: David Allen

Yet another VitalSmarts title. (Yeah, there’s a theme there.) This one already has training created and is very popular. While I’m interested in the content, I’m hoping to gain new skills too.

The Anthology – Part III: Garth Brooks

You might have noticed that there’s a missing Part II to this anthology. Yeah, I missed it too. I’m hoping Part III will be as enjoyable as Part I is. And I hope I find Part II at some point.

What are you reading? Let me know in the comments.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.

Follow him on
Twitter (@rodneymbliss)
Facebook (www.facebook.com/rbliss)
LinkedIn (www.LinkedIn.com/in/rbliss)
or email him at rbliss at msn dot com

(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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