I wonder if they've ever run out of flowers in England before. Apparently, the florists did when Princess Diana died. No one could have ever predicted the massive public outpouring of love and grief that came from the British people in the week following her death. Remember that sea of flowers that enveloped the front of Buckingham Palace? And Diana's personal residence at Kensington Palace? You couldn't get anywhere near the gates - the flowers seemed to stretch out and around endlessly! Someone who had been close to the Princess said, "Diana had no idea she was loved like this." That's sad. But not unique.
Moving day. Good news, bad news. The process of moving is horrendous - the result - once you find everything you packed - is wonderful. My Administrative Assistant Gayle recently got to experience all that good news and bad news. But actually, the bad news turned out to be not so bad. It could have been bad. Gayle is one woman with some heavy stuff to move - refrigerator, stove, piano. Plus lots of smaller things, of course. I was out of town when Gayle moved - good planning, huh? But I talked to her a few days after the big migration. And all she could talk about was the difference her friends had made. The guys pitched in on the especially exciting things - like the piano. The women carried some of the other items. And even her little nephews joined the team - they carried the little nephew sized stuff. Each person carried what he or she could. Gayle said, "Now when I look at each piece of furniture in my apartment, I think of a person - the one who helped carry that particular burden." The burdens turned out to have a lot of blessing in them - because of friends who helped her carry what she could never carry alone.
What do you call it when your dog has eight puppies? Octuplets? Ocpuplets? If you ask our Radio Production Manager, Curtis, he'd probably say you call it a handful. His dog Sister - no, she's not a relative - had eight puppies recently. And Curtis got to look after them until he could find homes for them. Eight can be a challenge. He told me about one day when he was just trying to get them back into their pen. He said, "I was doing all I could to push those puppies back in. I'd get two or three in - then while I was reaching for another one, one or two would wiggle back out." Well, after a lot of pushing and shoving, he finally gave up for a while. Curtis said, "Here's the funny part" - actually I though the picture of him losing to those puppies was the funny part - anyway, he said that within ten minutes, guess where those rambunctious puppies were - all of them were inside by the pen, without any pushing from him! They chose to do what he couldn't force them to do!
What mental picture comes to your mind when you hear these words, "They keep going and going and going." Do you see this rabbit with sunglasses? Do you hear the drumbeat from the bass drum he's beating on as he moves across your TV screen? Then the people who created those Energizer battery ads have succeeded! Actually, batteries are a pretty boring thing to advertise. But most of us have watched with amusement as this particular brand of batteries keeps that crazy bunny going and going and going.
If you've got a house, you may complain every once in a while about the constant upkeep. It seems like as soon as you get one thing cared for, something else needs attention, the windows, the roof, the yard, the plumbing, the paint. Well, be glad you're not in charge of the maintenance of the Golden Gate Bridge. Not long ago I was standing by San Francisco Bay, admiring the impressive beauty of that great bridge, when someone told me what it takes to keep it impressive. Like 35 painters! Every day! That's all they do! The trucks roll out early every morning with another load of that distinctive orange paint and for eight hours a day those 35 painters are somewhere on that bridge, keeping it in good shape. Things deteriorate so fast, it takes constant effort to maintain the beauty.
I'm a tornado and hurricane kind of guy. I mean I don't like them but, I've lived where you learn about those things. I'm not an earthquake kind of guy, I've never lived where those mattered much. But when I was in San Francisco recently, I was where earthquakes are a big deal! Most people there still have dramatic stories to tell about what happened during that big quake in 1989, the one that interrupted the third game of the World Series. Some of the heaviest damage and injury was in the Marina District of San Francisco. We went there to tape part of a radio program, in fact, we were right on the corner of Beach Street and Divisadero where several buildings collapsed or burned, including one that had been totally consumed by fire. One of the neighbors described the scene for us, one very different from this quiet neighborhood with beautiful rebuilt homes. The night of the quake it was total chaos. This neighbor described that awful fire with the unbearable heat that had destroyed the building on the other corner. He said, "The fire started out with a gas leak - it was very small. If I could have gotten over there, I literally could have put it out with a bucket of water. But then it started to spread and pretty soon there was no way to stop it."
Spring is nice - it means flowers! Spring is not nice - it also can mean floods! One North Dakota town saw it coming - the floods, not the flowers. And they decided they weren't just going to sit there an float away. Because of a winter that had produced mountains of snow, they knew where that snow would go when it melted - right into their homes and businesses. So, while the snow was still deep, they started to make an island out of their town. Everyone pitched in to literally build an earthen dike around the town. Yes, they would be an island - yes, they would be surrounded by a flood - but they made a wall so they would be safe in the middle of it!
One of the more lovable men on TV these days is a weatherman named Al Roker. You may have seen him on the "Today" show in the morning or hosting coverage of some special events or even on his own show. A recent article in Parade Magazine that quotes Al as saying that he weighed in at over 300 pounds - at only 5'8". Notice I said weighed in - that was past tense. After carrying around all those pounds for a while, he suddenly went out to a gym one day and asked them to put him on a diet and exercise program that would radically reduce his size. As of the writing of this article, he had lost 55 pounds! And what was it that suddenly got him wanting to do something about weight he had carried around for a long time? His young daughter came up to him one day when he had his shirt off and made a blunt, off-the-cuff observation about how he looked - the kind only a child can make in all innocence and get away with. That was it. Hello, gymnasium - goodbye, fat.
When I check my suitcase at the airport - and then I see it disappear as the conveyor belt carries it beyond the curtain into the black hole called - the luggage-zone. I sometimes wonder how my bag is going to be handled. I don't know exactly what baggage handlers do, but I do know that Bertha - I've named my bag since we spend so much time together - she may get tossed, buried, squished. That's why I ask for a special sticker when I'm checking a bag that has something breakable in it - like my last trip, for example. There were a lot of plastic items in my bag that could have been shattered if the handlers got rowdy. So I simply asked for the protection of that bright red sticker with the picture of a fine drinking glass on it - the symbol of breakable. And I hope that somewhere in the luggage-zone that one seven-letter word will make a difference in how my things are handled - the word - fragile.
My friend Billy knew where his parents hid the Christmas gifts. Well, he's an adult now but he still remembers the year he that he acted on knowing where the gifts were. His parents were gone and he sneaked downstairs. He went into the closet and nothing was wrapped yet, opened up the shopping bags and there they were. He folded up the bag and went back upstairs. His parents never knew. Now it was Christmas morning and you have to know that Billy had the reputation for being Mr. Christmas in his family. He never needed an alarm clock on Christmas morning. His parents told me all you have to do is have him get you up about 5 a.m. He's set to go off on Christmas morning. But this particular Christmas everybody was downstairs. They were beginning to open their presents and they suddenly realized, "Whoa, Whoa Billy is not here." Well Dad went and got him and he said, "It's Christmas son. Are you coming?" "Yeah," and he came shuffling downstairs, opened his presents, expressed his appreciation but somehow he was just not into it like everybody else was. His dad called him aside and he said, "Hey, Billy are you sick or something? You're like Mr. Christmas here." Billy said, "Dad, I really blew it." He said, "I opened my gift early and I ruined Christmas." A lot of people have ruined what could have been an unforgettable celebration.