Meaning behind TV commercial

You've seen that (name brand acetaminophen product) commercial, haven't you? You know the one where all the caring, compassionate people who manufacture (Name Brand) talk about how they do it with such integrity and love? The message is: "We don't make drugstore medicine. We make (Name Brand)."

Call me cynical, but the true meaning is: Generic sales of acetaminophen are cutting into our bottom line so we need to get people to buy (Name Brand) rather than the much cheaper generic so let's say that (Name Brand) is better because it's made with love by caring people.

Am I the only one who thinks this is patronizing and insulting?


Someone emailed me about yesterday's blog. She was not familiar with Coolidge's quotation on persistence. So you'll find it below, but, first, I want to tell you something about our 30th President of the United States, John Calvin Coolidge who was born in 1872 and died in 1933.

Coolidge was a Vermont lawyer who as President earned the nickname Silent Cal because he sat through most meetings without making a comment. In a way, he was the most distant of Presidents but also was the most accessible in making himself available to the various delegations that visited the White House. After the corruption of the Harding presidency, he was credited with returning integrity to the White House.

Coolidge served as Governor of Massachusetts from 1919 to 1921 when he became Vice President of the United States under Warren G. Harding. In 1923, when Harding died, Coolidge who was visiting his father was sworn in by the senior Coolidge, a notary public, as President. In 1924, he was elected in his own right and served until Herbert Hoover took office in 1929.

Coolidge knew something about persistence. His young son Calvin Jr. died while during the Presidential campaign of 1924. President Coolidge said: "...the glory left the presidency after his son's death." Bereaved, he pressed on, fulfilling his responsibilities.

Many condemned him and his presidency as being one of the architects of the Great Depression that hit the country with the stock market crash of 1929, but history has lent a kinder interpretation of his part in those events. Democrat Alfred E. Smith said about Coolidge: "(He was)...distinguished for character more than for heroic achievement."

Though I spent two hours in Internet research prior to writing this, I could not find the occasion upon which he uttered his most memorable advice about persistence. It's times like this that I miss being able to pop into the reference section of a library. There are still some things you can find easily in a good library than you can on the Internet.

I can only conclude that his words on persistence went unremarked at the time. Perhaps they were spoken on an occasion not deemed important. Maybe they were only part of a conversation between him and another person.

The persistence quotation was spoken at Coolidge's memorial service, and from that event they were immortalized by the Oxford Book of Quotations which attributed them to Coolidge.

How odd that the source of the words that have meant so much to so many cannot be found. Or at least easily found by a writer determined to know.

Coolidge was an honest man who dealt honestly with his responsibilities and with the people in his life. In today's world, that's becoming more of a rarity with each passing decaded. I suppose you could say, though life was difficult for Coolidge, he lived his life according to the words that have somehow become his memorial:

"Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan 'Press On' has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race."

How do you persist?

Lots of people talk about persistence. Motivational speakers urge everyone to persist. Lots of writers quote Calvin Coolidge's famous quotation which begins: "Nothing takes the place of persistence."

Judging by everything we see and hear, the road to achievement must be paved with stones of persistence. So why aren't more people successful? Why aren't more people living the life they want to live? Doing the things they want to do?

Maybe, for many people, persistence is merely a noun. Maybe, they haven't discovered yet that persistence is a PROCESS, a process that requires ACTION.

If someone's trying to achieve something difficult, how do they persist? What action is required from them? This combines goal setting and acting over a period of time to achieve the goal.

Persistence = action.

1. Know clearly and specifically what you want.

Not some pie-in-the-sky thing like happiness. You have to know that you want a book contract by next year this time. Or maybe you want a job promotion by the end of the fourth quarter. Or maybe you just want a weed-free yard by the end of summer. Whatever it is. Know exactly what you want.

2. Once you know what you want, ask yourself: what are the steps between here and there.

Identify all the steps. For a book contract, you have to write the book. So what's required for that? How much background work of plotting and characterization? How many pages a day do you write to obtain a finished manuscript by a certain date? How much time to revise and edit? What's the submission process? For a job promotion, you identify who is responsible for promoting you. What do you have to do to make yourself a candidate for the promotion? For a weed-free yard, you figure out how many hours a day you must weed to get the darn things gone. Then how much mulch do you use to make sure they don't come back.

3. Once you know what the steps are, figure out what stands in the way of each step.

With writing, it might be lack of research or insecurity. With a job promotion, it might be lack of experience or time on the job. With the yard, it might be the weather, lack of time, or allergies to weeds.

4. When you know what your obstacles are, figure out how to get rid of the obstacles.

In writing, if the obstacle is your own lack of confidence, then write and study and hone your skills. If it's emotional, work on unloading and throwing away your internal baggage. If it's a job, then the same advice applies. It it's a weed-choked flower bed and you're allergic, then take allergy meds and wear gloves. The bottom line is you have to be like the Marines: adapt, overcome, improvise.

5. Take action. Do what's next.

Nothing changes unless action is taken. You can sit 24/7 and think about what you want, fantasize about it, and dream about how great life would be when you reach your goal. Unless you take action -- take the steps, one by one, that you have identified -- then nothing will change. A year from now, ten years from now, you'll still be sitting and dreaming about being a published author or being the vice president or having yard of the month.

Take action, and keep on taking action, one step at a time. That is PERSISTENCE.

Killer Fiction online

If you like your suspense with a heavy dose of humor and romance, visit Killer Fiction, a new website/blog that includes my friend Christie Craig. Be sure and check out Christie's newest book while you're at it.

That's it for today. I'm typing as fast as possible to finish a set of articles in case the tropical storm headed toward Corpus Christi decides to veer north and pay the Houston area a visit.

Best lawyer quotation ever

One of my daughter's friends just graduated from law school. I wondered if I should include my favorite lawyer quotation in her card?

"There are 3 reasons why lawyers are replacing rats as lab research animals. One is that they're plentiful, another is that lab assistants don't get attached to them, and the third is that there are some things rats just won't do."

Now you know why I don't work at Hallmark.

Guess I'll go with a simple, "Congratulations."

Becoming Jane

Ah, another movie I want to see that's showing at a theater NOT near to me. Sadly, the conglomerate multi-plex theaters near me show none of the really interesting movies.

Now, there's nothing wrong with Transformers (seen it--great summer flick) or Bourne Ultimatum (seen it--fabulous though I nearly got motion sick from all the running, jumping, camera-in-hand shots). BUT, I'd love to see the movies that, I think, take a bit of thought.

I like the effort Becoming Jane makes to put a human face on Jane Austen though I was disconcerted by the Houston Chronicle reviewer who described her attending a dance as: "looking for a hot hunk." I won't name the person because perhaps he/she was trying to put her attendance in terms the modern generation could relate to.

Funny, how much thought I've put into that short description. After hooting with laughter, I wondered how old the reviewer was. Then I wondered why that phrase was chosen. To appeal to young people who might not even know who Jane Austen was? To sound young when perhaps the reviewer was on the down side of forty? To express what the reviewer saw the event as in his or her own familiar terms because the reviewer is too young, journalistically inexperienced, and historically challenged?

I still haven't seen the movie. Unfortunately, since the nearest theater with it on the marquee is comparable to a safari trek for me, I probably won't see it until the DVD hits the shelves.

When I finally check it out, maybe I'll discover it really does portray Jane as looking for a hot hunk. Guess I'll have to write an apology blog then.

Texas Council on Family Violence

Got a few bucks to spare? Here's my pick this month for where to send some money. The Texas Council on Family Violence helps battered people - that's children, wives, some husbands too.

Since the tragic murder last month of my friend's sister, I've learned more than I want to know about violence perpetrated by family members and hidden from the world by the walls of the family home.

Battered family members need safe harbor so donate to shelters. Everyone deserves to lay their weary head on a pillow without fear they'll be murdered as they sleep.

Bluetooth keyboard is toothless

I needed a new keyboard. I write so much that I go through keyboards the way long distance runners go through running shoes. So I opted for the super expensive wireless Bluetooth keyboard from Miscrosoft.

Agh! I wasted my entire Sunday afternoon trying to connect the nifty new keyboard with onboard mouse controls. Love what the keyboard was supposed to do, but I never could get it to work properly. The Bluetooth thingee just wasn't reliable.

Never could get the laser mouse that came with it to work, but the keyboard worked great. That is, it worked great when it worked. The transceiver could not maintain the signal, I guess. I'd be typing along and the application would just shut down.

After troubleshooting everything and spending countless hours on the darn thing, I gave up. Back to Office Depot I go first thing in the morning. I guess I just saved myself a lot of money.

Now, I've hooked up an old keyboard just to get operational again. Technology, ahh, frustration is thy nickname.

Movie day: Bourne Ultimatum

Yes, after office hours today, I'm escaping to The Bourne Ultimatum. I've seen all the Bourne flicks even the first one made long ago starring Richard Chamberlain as Jason Bourne (believe it!) and Jaclyn Smith as Marie.

The first movie followed the book closely, but the remake with Matt Damon, though taking considerable creative license, was better executed.

I love a good thriller. I discovered Robert Ludlum with The Scarlatti Inheritance and followed his parnoia through all of his books. I don't think I ever read one of his books where I placed a bookmark in and closed the book. I read through whatever else was going on, unable to pry my eyes from the page.

After he died, the mantle for his kind of thriller passed to another of my favorite authors Eric Van Lustbader who continues the exploits of Jason Bourne. Plenty of fodder for more movies.

I can't even remember how many times I've read Lustbader's book The Ninja. It's so tattered that I really need a new copy.

So I'm looking forward to my guilty pleasure this afternoon. Jason Bourne stands a good chance of becoming archetypal, just as Bond - James Bond - has.

Cancer-Cure Radio Frequency Machine (John Kanzius)

Got this from a friend. If you haven't seen it, click. My main question is: Where do I buy stock in this?

Wouldn't it be wonderful if this worked? Cured cancer and provider cheap energy for the planet.

Sling Words out -- and dreaming of the possibilities.

Vagaries of Fate & Eliza Dushku

Every now and then, I muse upon the vagaries of Fate. This is a popular subject of mine for musing. I've done it every time I've seen a stage production at the theater because of the talented men and women in road companies of productions that trek from theater to theater. Maybe I should add a Vagaries of Fate label? Nah. Too much work. Miscellany works just fine for musings.

I've been watching the repeats of Tru Calling starring Eliza Dushku on SciFi.

Tru Calling had a great premise, great story lines, solid characters with growth arcs, and a story arc that was never completed because the series was cancelled. In watching it again, I wondered why Ms. Dushku, who you may know from her role as Arnold's daughter in True Lies or from her role as vampire slayer Faith on Buffy, just hasn't made it big.

She's a fabulous actor, actress if you prefer. She's had good roles. She was in a great vehicle that had all the right elements. She's got Presence, that indefinable something that sets one apart from others.

The only answer? Vagaries of fate. More musings to come.