Friday, February 28, 2014


I think it’s time to talk about courtesy and manners again.

I may be old. OK, I know I’m older, but not old in the sense of adelpated, at least not yet. I admit to being old fashioned, but submit that it is still appropriate when it comes to etiquette.

I know I’m cranky off and on, but aren’t we all from time to time?

I do admit to being a stickler when it comes to courtesy and manners. Here’s what I still do: When waking with a lady on the street, I walk on the outside because that’s what my Dad said a gentlemen should do.

I open doors for a lady. I precede a lady down a staircase. I offer to lift a heavy object. I offer my seat. I hold her chair. I hold her coat. I open her car door and if circumstances provide it, I walk her to her door. These are things I was taught to do as a young man.

When it comes to manners I am also old fashioned. No, not old fashioned, I am right. No elbows on the table, break bread before buttering, forks on the left and knife and spoon on the right with the edge of the knife pointing toward the plate and the spoon on the outside. Don’t smack your lips and don’t start eating until everyone is served and don’t clear the table until everyone is done.

I know to say excuse me when I leave the table. I know to serve from the left and so on.

Here’s what I’ve noticed recently.

Parents not disciplining their children and teaching them to use their inside voices in a quiet public area. 

Loud phone language and behavior in public place. I was in the grocery store. I guy was on his cell phone. He was rudely loud and obviously unaware that his one-sided conversation could be heard by everyone. Why do some people think they have to shout into the phone for the person on the othe side of the conversation to hear them?

Did I mention cell phone rudeness? Good.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Look it up!

One of the great things about the Internet is that instantaneously you can find out information that is in answer to the question asked.

I remember years ago, when asking my Mother, a teacher, how to spell something or where was this or that in geography and she would say go check the dictionary or the encyclopedia.

She was right to encourage me to find the answer on my own and in the process I would learn how to research or use the dictionary proficiently.

Today, I can type in a few words into the Google browser on my computer and in a moment, the answer is either there or technology presents thousands of links for me to search for the appropriate answer.

All of this is wonderful and educational providing one has access to a computer and has the knowledge of how to use it, but in this post I’d like to mention another profound attribute of the Internet. It is the ability for any user to instantly see our world and our universe.

This attribute was not available when my Mother sent me to the encyclopedia. Sure, some photos and articles were there, but not in full color or even recent photos and certainly not videos.

I have been a long time proponent of acknowledging nature as part of us. I believe that nature has a sentient component that links to our psyche and sends us messages that we are the nature we appreciate and too often abuse.

These messages come wrapped in the beauty we find everywhere in the flora and fauna -- if we choose to see it.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

A Dilemma

A friend and fellow journalist posed a question recently. He’s a very successful political analyst, reporter and commentator. His son plans to run for a political seat and my friend was wondering how his audience would perceive it and how he would handle it professionally.

As a Father he is delighted for his son and hopes he wins. As a professional journalist he’s sure he can sustain his neutrality, but perceptions are perceptions.

He solicited some counsel and comments from his friends and colleagues.

I responded.

No mater what you do (on the air) there will always be those who will accuse you of bias. It has nothing to do with your son’s political choice or your ability to be neutral. It has to do with people’s nature. Most viewers, even the ones who like you, half-listen, misinterpret and misconstrue quickly.

As long as you are within the limits of company guidelines and you recuse yourself from commenting on your son’s race, I don’t think you have an issue.

Your reputation is pristine. Your viewers respect you. Most of them will understand your situation. You are human first, a Father second, a journalist third.

In many ways your dilemma is like reporters who find themselves participants in a story rather than witnesses of it.

If in covering a story you find yourself in a situation where you can save a life or rescue someone, do you just observe or do you act for humanity?

The sacred rule is to follow your conscience. The love of and for your son does not conflict with your professional standards. Being human and a loving Father make you a better journalist.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014


I picked this up off of a website that quoted the Forbes’s Internet website. I did cross check it with other sources and to the best of my checking ability it is true.

Rex Tillerson is the CEO of Exxon Mobile.

His company is in the business of procuring and producing fossil fuels and natural gas anywhere it can find them. Personal property, homes and homesteads are often ignored.

In a speech in 2012 Mr. Tillerson criticized the regulations holding back fracking as counter-productive to America’s economic recovery.

He has a ranch in Bartonville, Texas. A local water company has a permit from the town to build a water tower next to the Tillerson ranch to supply water to a near-by fracking site.

Mr. Tillerson and some co-plaintiffs are suing the water company to stop construction alleging the water company promised it wouldn’t build a tower near their properties.

The unsaid ramifications of the lawsuit means we don’t want trucks, a tower, and a disruption of life’s quality and the value of our properties to go down.

It's the old NIMBY protest. Not In My Back Yard.

Apparently Mr. Tillerson has declined to comment.

Monday, February 24, 2014


© 2014 Rolland G. Smith

The silence in a forest white
Belies the space of minds delight
When walking in another’s track
Upon a snow that shrinking back.

There is no sound except the joy
Within my heart that does deploy
Into a smile of prayer and grace
Proclaiming this a sacred place.

I walked with friends on snow new found,
A grounded mist that stays to ground.
It warmed my soul within its cold
As I traversed its beauties fold.

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