About Me

My photo

Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Monday, February 23, 2009

"The Future...The Undiscovered Country"*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, March 15, 2009
as "At Crossroad, Hopefully City Takes the Right Path"

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

I’ve been intrigued how the concept of “the future” is perceived. For some in Johnstown, it seems that the best future would be a return to the past; when the mills were roaring, downtown was buzzing, and everyone was flush. But the world has changed. Johnstown must change along with it.

In 1970, sociologist and futurist Alvin Toffler published a book entitled “Future Shock.” Toffler discussed how the effect of “too much change in too short of a time” leaves a populace suffering from “shattering stress and disorientation.” Humans are resilient to a point, but when the world turns upside down overnight, even the most prepared find themselves reeling.

Johnstown is suffering from a type of Future Shock. The city is historically a blue-collar town. If you didn’t work iron, steel or coal, then your business income depended on those who did. The collapse of those industries left a gaping wound that to this day has not fully healed. The loss of Johnstown’s signature industry has forced the city and its people to redefine themselves.

Through the efforts of the late Congressman John Murtha, several firms have arrived, bringing much-needed jobs. But, prolific he may be, but immortal he is not. Already there are worried whispers about the fate of the area’s economy now that he is gone. One local man told me, “Losing Mr. Murtha will be worse than losing the steel mills.”

It is time to think seriously about the future. If Johnstown wants to be a magnet for economic development, then it must be able to target those businesses that fit in the economy of the 21st century.

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Battle Won*

*Johnstown Tribune-Democrat, February 25, 2009
as "Rest Assured, the Memory of Heroes Will Never Fade"

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

At long last, the final hurdle remaining for the construction of the permanent memorial to the crew and passengers of United Airlines Flight 93 has been cleared. Agreements have been reached regarding the purchase of the final parcels of land, including the impact site itself, and on Friday, February 20, a public commitment was made to break ground and have the facility completed by the 10th anniversary of the attacks.

Although the announcement was attended by such luminaries as Governor Rendell, and the two United States Senators, the credit for this lies solely and completely with the tireless and dedicated volunteers of the Flight 93 Advisory Commission, the Flight 93 Memorial Task Force, the Families of Flight 93, Joanne Hanley of the National Park Service, and the tough weather-hardened members of the Flight 93 Ambassadors, who have performed magnificently as the faces and voices for the fallen to the hundreds of thousands of visitors to the site.

I have to admit that for awhile, I was worried. The dispute over the land purchase seemed to be hopelessly mired in mutual intransigence. The gap over a fair price per acre remained wide, as neither side budged an inch. Politicians in Washington would toss in a rhetorical bone from time to time, but in their actions seemed to be keeping the issue at an arms length.

Mostly though, I was concerned about the passage of time and the tendency of some Americans toward selective amnesia. Would this thing drag on until public apathy buried the whole idea of a memorial?

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Love Is...

Unknown source from Google Images

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey
Written content only

“Marriage is dead.” Surprised, I looked up from my lunch in response to my acquaintance’s bald statement. “As an institution,” he quickly added.

Swallowing the forkful of salad I had been chewing, I asked, “How so?”

“I think folks realize that for two people who truly love each other, a piece of government paper is worthless. Besides, you know that half of all marriages end in divorce anyway.” He had been going on for some time about the joys of living with his girlfriend and went on to explain how much in love they were and that they were in that somehow magical zone known as a “committed relationship.”

That conversation stayed with me for quite some time. I lost track of them for a few years before meeting again in the aisles of a local Wal-Mart. They were now married, happily so, and I asked them how they were doing. He admitted “it was an adjustment.” Curious, I asked, “How is being married different from living together?”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Kansas City, Tony Gonzalez...And Fairness*

Making a living the hard way. Photo by Julie Jacobson, Associated Press

*Independence, MO Examiner, February 21, 2009
as "A Favorite Player Deserves the Fans Best Wishes"

Copyright © 2009 by Ralph Couey

In the last year, Tony Gonzalez has become a figure of some controversy. For him, it has been an unusual role, to say the least. For his entire career, the Kansas City Chief’s number 88 has been the NFL version of the good soldier; the battlefield hero. He took to the field in 190 NFL games, turning his competitive fire into a blowtorch, leaving behind the smoking ruins of many a defensive secondary. In nearly all that time, his behavior on and off the field has been beyond reproach. There are several dominant receivers in the league, but when you compare the unmatched professionalism of Gonzalez to characters like Terrell Owens, Randy Moss and Ocho Cinco you cannot help but respect the man.

It’s not just the stats he’s put up, although they are considerable. Consider this: