About Me

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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.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

The Tree of Our Lives

Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey

"Christmas waves a magic wand over this world,
and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful."
--Norman Vincent Peale

During this season, we will see around us the signs and symbols that are so much a part of Christmas.  They are an interesting mix of religious and secular.  The Nativity scenes, the wreaths on the doors, the lights on buildings everywhere...all combine to lift spirits.  Most of these symbols are universal, and thus have lost a bit of their meaning to us personally.  But the one symbol of Christmas that touches in a very personal way is the Christmas Tree.

For our family, it is the centerpiece of the decorations adorning our home, and when the tree goes up and the lights go on, usually on the day after Thanksgiving, it is the Peanuts gang singing to us, "Christmastime is here."

There are several reasons.  First of all, it's just beautiful to behold.  No matter how many times I walk past it, it catches my attention for at least a few seconds.  And those are happy seconds.  When the tree goes up, the boxes of ornaments come out of storage, and the whole family pitches in on the decorating.  Whether old or young, adult or child, it is a happy time to be together.

Monday, November 23, 2015

To Stand in Unity

Paris, 11/13
© 2015 TASS

Copyright © 2015
by Ralph F. Couey
Written content only
except quoted and cited passages.

It was around 7:30 pm on the US east coast when the first reports came in. "Several incidents of gunfire and explosions reported in Paris, France." In a world where reports of violent, bloody terror attacks have become depressingly common, those initial reports raised a good many eyebrows. But it wasn't long before we knew that what was happening in the City of Light was, in fact, a professionally planned and executed attack against the people of Paris. As the details became known, we became glued to television and media sites on the Internet, breathless as new details came in. The death toll started at 13, then 18, 28, and the number kept rising until the count of the victims at the Bataclan Arts Center became known. In all, 130 innocent Parisians, all out for a night on the town, were murdered by gunmen of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (or Levant), otherwise known as ISIS/ISIL.

In most cases, such news is reported as an aftermath. In this case, however, when the news was breaking around the world, the attacks were still on-going in what turned out to be seven different locations.

I was in Paris just this past June. It was a delightful stay, highlighted by the French people who could not have been friendlier or more helpful to a confused Yankee tourist. The police presence was obvious, and was joined by soldiers of the French Army who walked the streets and subways of Paris with automatic weapons, not slung over their shoulders, but carried across their chests, loaded and ready for immediate use; their heads on a swivel, their eyes watchful.

© 2015 by Ralph F. Couey

That ISIS is capable of such violence is old news. Since the group's genesis in 1999, it has grown steadily in numbers and capability. In the last year or so, the group, now an army, has steadily marched through Iraq, leaving a trail of tortured and beheaded civilians -- including women and children -- in their wake. ISIS now has an armed presence in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Algeria, Pakistan, Nigeria and the North Caucasus. It also has members positioned in Morocco, Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, the Indian Sub-Continent, and Turkey. Most disturbing for the United States, ISIS, through a professionally-run social media campaign, has attracted an unsettling number of adherents here.

Tuesday, November 03, 2015

This Moment of Triumph

A journey ended,
a purpose fulfilled,
a dream come true.
© 2015 CNN.com

© 2015 by Ralph F. Couey
Written content and hat picture only.

As dawn broke, I gained consciousness with a smile, unusual for a Monday morning.  The reason for that smile was that my mood was still soaring in the wake of the delirium of joy experienced the night before.

Hours before, the Kansas City Royals had come from behind once again (a mere two runs this time), tying the game in the 9th inning on an insanely risky piece of base running by Eric Hosmer.  It took three extra innings before a 5-run outburst finally put the stubborn Mets down for the count.  Then came the penultimate moment.  The one dreamed of and desperately awaited.  Wade Davis, the stoic Silent Assassin, fired a 1-2 fastball across the inside corner at the knees.  The Umpire emphatically punched the air signalling strike three, but the batter, Wilmer Flores, was already on his way back to the dugout before the gesture was barely begun.  The game, the Series, the season was over and the Royals in New York and their fans in Kansas City simultaneously leapt for joy.

The Kansas City Royals have won the World Series.

It is difficult, if not impossible to overstate the meaning and importance of this triumph.  30 years ago, a similar celebration erupted at the victorious end of a different World Series.  But the bright lights of victory were followed by an inexplicable collapse.  Other than a brief and irrelevant appearance in the playoffs in the strike-shortened season of 1981, 29 years would pass before the Royals once again played meaningful baseball.  For a goodly (or badly) part of that stretch, the Royals were laughing stocks, the butt of a thousand cruel jokes.

In 2000, David Glass brought his cost-cutting talents to the ownership position.  The team promptly embarked on a long string of almost comical ineptitude, but Glass managed to save the team financially, putting them back in the black.  Most importantly, he vowed to keep the team in Kansas City.   In June 2006, Glass hired Dayton Moore, an executive with the highly successful Braves organization, a man with substantial experience in player development.

It proved to be a management team of vision and patience.  Moore and Glass knew they could never compete for free agent glitterati, so they instead began to search out young talent who not only possessed baseball skills, but also the proper mindset.  The Royals mined the Caribbean and struck a motherlode of talent.  A few MLB experts as early as 2011 could detect the nascent glow on the horizon of what had been a very dark sky, heralding the dawn of a new era.  In 2013, the Royals finished with a winning record.  It was only the second finish above .500 in 19 years.  The baseball world took note, but not serious note.  After all, this was the Royals.