Tuesday, August 30, 2011

What I Read Today - Tuesday August 30, 2011

From: The New York Times

The Haimish Line


Recently I did a little reporting from Kenya and Tanzania before taking a safari with my family. We stayed in seven camps. Some were relatively simple, without electricity or running water. Some were relatively luxurious, with regular showers and even pools.

The simple camps were friendly, warm and familial. We got to know the other guests at big, communal dinner tables. At one camp we got to play soccer with the staff on a vast field in the Serengeti before an audience of wildebeests. At another camp, we had impromptu spear-throwing and archery competitions with the kitchen staff. Two of the Maasai guides led my youngest son and me on spontaneous mock hunts — stalking our “prey” on foot through ravines and across streams. I can tell you that this is the definition of heaven for a 12-year-old boy, and for someone with the emotional maturity of one.

The more elegant camps felt colder. At one, each family had its own dinner table, so we didn’t get to know the other guests. The tents were spread farther apart. We also didn’t get to know the staff, who served us mostly as waiters, the way they would at a nice hotel.

I know only one word to describe what the simpler camps had and the more luxurious camps lacked: haimish. It’s a Yiddish word that suggests warmth, domesticity and unpretentious conviviality.

It occurred to me that when we moved from a simple camp to a more luxurious camp, we crossed an invisible Haimish Line. The simpler camps had it, the more comfortable ones did not.

This is a generalized phenomenon, which applies to other aspects of life. Often, as we spend more on something, what we gain in privacy and elegance we lose in spontaneous sociability.

I once visited a university that had a large, lavishly financed Hillel House to serve as a Jewish center on campus. But the students told me they preferred the Chabad House nearby, which was run by the orthodox Lubavitchers. At the Chabad house, the sofas were tattered and the rooms cramped, but, the students said, it was more haimish.

Restaurants and bars can exist on either side of the Haimish Line. At some diners and family restaurants, people are more comfortable leaning back, laughing loud, interrupting more and sweeping one another up in a collective euphoria. They talk more to the servers, and even across tables. At nicer restaurants, the food is better, the atmosphere is more refined, but there is a tighter code about what is permissible.

Hotels can exist on either side of the Haimish Line. You’ll find multiple generations at a Comfort Inn breakfast area, and people are likely to exchange pleasantries over the waffle machine. At a four-star hotel’s breakfast dining room, people are quietly answering e-mail on their phones.

Whole neighborhoods can exist on either side of the Haimish Line. Alan Ehrenhalt once wrote a great book called “The Lost City,” about the old densely packed Chicago neighborhoods where kids ran from home to home, where people hung out on their stoops. When the people in those neighborhoods made more money, they moved out to more thinly spaced suburbs with bigger homes where they were much less likely to know their neighbors.

In the 1990s, millions of Americans moved outward so they could have bigger houses and bigger lots, even if it meant long commutes. Research by Robert Frank of Cornell suggests this is usually a bad trade-off.

People are often bad at knowing how to spend their money — I’ve been at least as bad as everybody else in this regard. Lottery winners, for example, barely benefit from their new fortunes. When we get some extra income, we spend it on privacy, space and refinement. This has some obvious benefits: let’s not forget the nights at the Comfort Inn when we were trying to fall asleep while lacrosse teams partied in the hallways and the rooms next door. But suddenly we look around and we’re on the wrong side of the Haimish Line.

We also live in a highly individualistic culture. When we’re shopping for a vacation we’re primarily thinking about Where. The travel companies offer brochures showing private beaches and phenomenal sights. But when you come back from vacation, you primarily treasure the memories of Who — the people you met from faraway places, and the lives you came in contact with.

I can’t resist concluding this column with some kernels of consumption advice accumulated by the prominent scholars Elizabeth W. Dunn, Daniel T. Gilbert and Timothy D. Wilson. Surveying the vast literature of happiness research, they suggest: Buy experiences instead of things; buy many small pleasures instead of a few big ones; pay now for things you can look forward to and enjoy later.

To which I’d only add: Sometimes its best to spend carefully so you can stay south of the Haimish Line.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

What I Read Today - Saturday August 27, 2011

(I actually saw this a few days ago but wanted to add it to my blog)

From: The Batesville Daily Guard via Angelia's Facebook Page.

Music lessons

by Angelia Roberts
on Wednesday, August 24, 2011 at 2:55pm.

My mother was under the illusion that I had some kind of musical talent.
Mothers are like that.
“If you don’t use your God-given talents, they will be taken away from you,” she would say while writing out a check for my weekly singing and piano lessons and reaffirming it with the “use it or lose it” biblical lesson.
I knew the parable of the talents by heart and I didn’t want to lose mine.
So, at the appointed time each weekday I would head over to the Calico Rock elementary classroom (strategically placed at the end of the building) where I would take voice lessons and place my tiny hands on the keyboard while Ms. Bobbie Silvey patiently instructed me on the art of hitting the right notes.
While it wasn’t obvious to my mother, no doubt my music teacher caught on a little quicker, that music was not going to be my forte.
That didn’t stop my mom. No siree.
She knew I had talent and I was not going to lose it on her watch.
Every Sunday at the Dolph Cumberland Presbyterian Church, while my friend Darlis was playing the piano, my cousin Tina and I were expected to sing a special. Revivals were the same song, second verse and again on Decoration Day when we would gather to eat over the dead. More than one hotter-than-hell Sunday afternoon was spent inside the old country church at Hand Cemetery or at the Wayland Arbor while we waited our turn to sing in front of God and everybody.
It was all free practice for when Ms. Silvey would put together the annual “recital” where our parents would gather to see what accomplishments the young protegees had gained as future musicians.
I could fumble through my piano solo, but when it came to what I was going to sing, it was a tug-of-war.
You see, Ms. Silvey made the mistake of saying I could sing whatever I wanted.
That was music to my ears.
When I came in toting my sheet music with “You Ain’t Woman Enough To Take My Man,” the little four-foot-something mini-music instructor nearly had a major stroke.
That would not be proper singing at the Calico Rock Presbyterian Church, she explained. “Pick another.”
I decided on “These Boots Are Made For Walking,” and she nixed that too.
At the last minute, she decided on the proper selection.
I still remember standing there on shaky legs and singing:
Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet,
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.
By the next year, Ms. Silvey had learned her lesson and I would not have the option of embarrassing her in public (other than the fact I couldn’t carry a tune and might hit a few extra notes on the piano), so I would be singing “Que Sera, Sera.”
I’m not sure just how many years Ms. Silvey and I kept up the pretense for my mom that I might someday have some musical talent, but no doubt it was music to her ears when our partnership was over.
FYI: I did have a natural talent of being able to copy (“forge” seems so judicial) my mother’s signature. And, while that came in pretty handy in high school I also managed to duplicate Superintendent T.J. Silvey’s name so well that it would be nearly impossible to tell that he did not sign it. At that time, I would consider that a talent, albeit a lost one. The fact I didn’t pursue it as a career is probably music to my mother’s ears.

Angelia Roberts is the executive director of advertising and editorial for the Batesville Daily Guard. She can be reached at angeliaroberts@hotmail.com or by calling the Guard office at (870) 793-2383

Thursday, August 25, 2011

What I Read Today - Thursday August 25, 2011

From:  The Wall Street Journal

Without Jobs, Are Apple Shares Worth Keeping?

By Jack Hough

Apple (AAPL) shares lost 5% in after-hours trading Wednesday following an announcement that Steve Jobs will resign as chief executive. Jobs will stay on as chairman, but in a letter wrote that he was no longer able to complete his duties as CEO, raising questions about his health and continued contribution.

That leaves shareholders wondering whether to sell. Jobs wasn’t alone in creating Apple’s remarkable success, but he has long been the face of it. He founded Apple with friend Steve Wozniak in 1976, left in 1985 and returned in 1997. Not long after his return, the company ranked among the bottom half of S&P 500 companies by stock market value. Today it is No. 2, behind Exxon Mobil (XOM); it briefly hit No. 1 earlier this month.

As investors adjust to the news in coming days, Apple’s outsized market value could be a drag on stock indexes like the S&P 500, in which giant companies hold disproportional sway, and on the many mutual funds that are based on such indexes. Jobs’ departure has also started to ripple through other tech companies. Shares of Apple rival Research in Motion (RIMM), maker of the Blackberry smart phone, rose more than 1% late Wednesday.

Apple’s rise is well-chronicled: the launch of the iPod and iTunes in 2001; the 2006 switch to Intel (INTC) computer chips, which lured users to Mac computers; the 2007 debut of the iPhone, which has sold 100 million units worldwide; and last year’s introduction of the iPad, which already dominates the market for tablet computers. To the company’s admiring fans and shareholders–its stock has multiplied more than 35 times in price over the past decade–Jobs was the visionary who understood that customers value style and simple functionality over tech specifications and complex customization options.

The company Jobs leaves is anything but struggling. Sales last quarter jumped 82% from a year earlier, growth that would be impressive even for a much smaller company. Operating profit was nearly 33 cents per dollar of sales, more than double the margin of most computer and cell phone companies. Apple sits on cash and securities worth one-fifth of its stock market value.

Shares, however, sell for just 14 times earnings, close to the price of the broad stock market. That’s owed to challenges even Jobs might have struggled with–ones that come with extreme success. No. 1 companies in their sector tend to hold that perch for only about a decade before losing it to competitors, studies show. Above-average profit margins tend to revert to industry averages over long time periods. Success invites mimickers, and Apple has plenty, especially in smart phones, which have become its top seller.

On the other hand, Apple has long made naysayers look foolish. And its modest stock valuation now gives shareholders plenty of reason to hang on, and others–including Apple itself, with all that cash–reason to buy if shares dive.

Two numbers to keep in mind are $81 and $32. The first is Apple’s cash and securities per share. That means if the stock falls to $350, as it might Thursday, it’s really falling to $269, net of what’s sitting in the till (albeit much of it overseas). The second is Apple’s expected profit per share during its next fiscal year, which begins in late September. Divide the first number by the second and the result is a price-to-earnings ratio of eight. That’s the sort of valuation usually reserved for a company that’s badly in need of turning around, not one that has completed the most striking corporate comeback in history.

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What I Read Today - Thursday August 25, 2011

From: The New York Times

Online Enterprises Gain Foothold as Path to a College Degree


Harvard and Ohio State are not going to disappear any time soon. But a host of new online enterprises are making earning a college degree cheaper, faster and flexible enough to take work experience into account. As Wikipedia upended the encyclopedia industry and iTunes changed the music business, these businesses have the potential to change higher education.

Ryan Yoder, 35, a computer programmer who had completed 72 credits at the University of South Florida years ago, signed up with an outfit called Straighterline, paid $216 to take two courses in accounting and one in business communication, and a month later transferred the credits to Thomas Edison State College in New Jersey, which awarded him a bachelor’s degree in June.

Alan Long, 34, a paramedic and fire captain, used another new institution, Learning Counts, to create a portfolio that included his certifications and a narrative spelling out what he had learned on the job. He paid $750 to Learning Counts and came out with seven credits at Ottawa University in Kansas, where he would have had to spend $2,800 to earn them in a traditional classroom.

And Erin Larson, who has four children and works full time at a television station but wanted to become a teacher, paid $3,000 per semester to Western Governors University for as many classes as she could handle — plus a weekly call from a mentor. “Anywhere else, it would have cost three arms and legs,” said Ms. Larson, 40, “and as a certified procrastinator, I found that weekly call very useful.”

For those who have the time and money, the four-year residential campus still offers what is widely considered the best educational experience. Critics worry that the online courses are less rigorous and more vulnerable to cheating, and that their emphasis on providing credentials for specific jobs could undermine the traditional mission of encouraging critical thinking.

But most experts agree that given the exploding technologies, cuts to university budgets and the expanding universe of people expected to earn postsecondary degrees, there is no end in sight for newfangled programs preparing students for careers in high-demand areas like business, computer science, health care and criminal justice.

Chester E. Finn Jr., a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, predicted that all but the top tier of existing universities would “change dramatically” as students regained power in an expanding marketplace.

“Instead of a full entree of four years in college, it’ll be more like grazing or going to tapas bars,” Mr. Finn said, “with people piecing together a postsecondary education from different sources.”

While many students at the nascent institutions offer glowing reviews and success stories, a recent study by Teachers College at Columbia University that tracked 51,000 community college students in Washington State for five years found that those with the most online course credits were the least likely to graduate or transfer to a four-year institution. And traditional professors like Johann Neem, a historian at Western Washington University, see places like Western Governors University as anti-intellectual, noting that its advertising emphasizes how fast students can earn credits, not how much they will learn.

“Taking a course online, by yourself, is not the same as being in a classroom with a professor who can respond to you, present different viewpoints and push you to work a problem,” Professor Neem said. “There’s lots of porn and religion online, but people still have relationships and get married, and go to church and talk to a minister.”

But Anya Kamenetz, whose 2010 book, “DIY U: Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education,” tracks the new wave of Web-based education efforts, says the new institutions will only continue to improve and expand. “For some people, it will mean going from a good education to a great one,” she said. “For others, it will mean getting some kind of education, instead of nothing.”

The emerging menu of new offerings is startlingly varied, as are the institutions. One unaccredited nonprofit startup, University of the People, gives English-speaking high school graduates a chance to study business or computers free, with volunteer teachers. There are also budding joint ventures between brick-and-mortar campuses and online entities, like Ivy Bridge College — a collaboration between Tiffin University, a nonprofit school in Ohio, and Altius Education, a commercial business, offering two-year online degrees transferrable to dozens of partner four-year colleges. And there are grass-roots nonprofits like Peer 2 Peer University, where people start study groups on topics as diverse as JavaScript and Baroque art.

Nationwide, almost three quarters of college students attend public institutions, and commercial career colleges like the University of Phoenix and Kaplan now make up almost as much of the remaining quarter as traditional nonprofit private universities like Stanford or Duke. Many of the emerging models are far cheaper than the publicly traded career colleges, some of which have come under scrutiny over the last year for leaving students with mountains of debt and credentials of little value.

Most are still new and very small, making it hard to locate students who have used them, other than those referred by the businesses themselves.

And it is too soon to know which will take off, or what might come along to overtake them.

“I’m just waiting for a Wikipedia University, with high-quality, online, open-source courses provided by a variety of different people,” said Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economics professor who directs the Center for College Affordability and Productivity. “Or the moment when someone like Bill Gates creates Superstar University, finding the best professors for the 200 courses that a good liberal arts college offers, and paying them $25,000 each to put their classes online.”

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What I Read Today - Wednesday August 24, 2011

From: The New York Times

Obama, Tiger, Golf and Politics


Despite the carping by critics, I’m glad the president went on vacation because one of the most useful things he could do right now is play golf — a lot of golf — but not that friendly foursome thing with his aides that he usually does. No, real golf: Match play, head to head, with real money on the line. Match-play golf is a great teacher. As any good golfer will tell you, the first rule of match play is this: Never play not to lose. Do not wait and hope for your opponent to make a mistake. Always play the course, always play to win and always assume your opponent will do well — will make that long putt — so you have to do better.

For months now, Obama has been playing not to lose, keeping his own plans for a “Grand Bargain” on debt, deficits, taxes, jobs and investment vague, while waiting for the Republicans to say crazier and crazier stuff — like promising the return of $2-a-gallon gasoline, or insisting that climate change was made up by scientists to get research grants (but politicians taking millions from oil companies can be trusted to tell us the truth on this issue), or that Texas has a right to secede. But while the G.O.P. candidates have been obliging the president with their nuttiness, it has not helped Obama’s poll ratings.

Many Americans can see that most of these G.O.P. candidates are closer to professional wrestlers than politicians — with their fake body slams and anti-Obama bluster. All they are missing are the Tarzan outfits. This is the silly season. But I would not assume that Republicans won’t come up with more serious candidates when it counts, or that some of these candidates won’t move to the center. I would definitely assume that they’ll do better.

That’s why the last few months have been so worrying to Obama supporters. Obama surprised everyone by broaching the idea during the debt negotiations of a “Grand Bargain” — roughly $3 trillion in spending cuts over the next decade and $1 trillion in tax increases — as a signal to the markets that we’re getting our fiscal house in order. It was absolutely the right idea — as long as it is coupled with investments in infrastructure, education and research — but House Speaker John Boehner could not deliver his Tea Party-led G.O.P. caucus.

Yet rather than flesh out his Grand Bargain in detail and take it on the road — and let every American everywhere understand and hear every day that he had a plan but the Republicans wouldn’t rise to it — Obama dropped it. Did he ever try to explain the specifics of his Grand Bargain and why it was the only way to go? No.

This left his allies wondering whether he was committed to it — and really did have his own party on board for it. And it left his opponents thrilled and setting the agenda themselves. It is why Obama’s recent bus tour fell flat. People don’t want to cheer just the man anymore. They want to cheer the man and his plan — a real plan, not just generalities and tactics to get him re-elected with 50.0001 percent and no real mandate to do what’s needed to fix the country now.

Without his own Grand Bargain on the table — imprinted on the mind of every American — Obama has been left playing defense, playing to get the least-bad deal, or playing not to lose. That’s what’s producing all the “What happened to Obama?” talk and its silly variants. (He’s a loser; he’s not very bright; he’s Jimmy Carter.)

It’s all nonsense. Obama is smart, decent and tough, with exactly the right instincts about where the country needs to go. He has accomplished a lot more than he’s gotten credit for — with an opposition dedicated to making him fail. But lately he is seriously off his game. He’s not Jimmy Carter. He’s Tiger Woods — a natural who’s lost his swing. He has so many different swing thoughts in his head, so many people whispering in his ear about what the polls say and how he needs to position himself to get re-elected, that he has lost all his natural instincts for the game. He needs to get back to basics.

It’s crazy what’s happening in America today: We’re having an economic crisis and the politicians are having an election — and there is almost no overlap between the two. The president needs to bring them together. But that can only happen if he stops playing not to lose and goes for broke himself. Our problems are not insoluble. We need a Grand Bargain — where each side gives something on spending, taxes and new investments — and we’re on our way out of this.

Run on that, Mr. President: At best you’ll generate enough public pressure (now totally missing) to shame sane Republicans into joining you, and we’ll get a deal, and at worst you can run in 2012 on a platform, which, if you win, will actually give you a mandate for the change the country needs.

Meanwhile, Mr. President, on a rainy day, rent the movie “Tin Cup.” There is a great scene where Dr. Molly Griswold is trying to help Roy “Tin Cup” McAvoy, the golf pro, rediscover his swing — and himself. She finally tells him: “Roy ... don’t try to be cool or smooth or whatever; just be honest and take a risk. And you know what, whatever happens, if you act from the heart, you can’t make a mistake.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What I Read Today - Tuesday August 23, 2011

From:  The New York Times

The Rugged Altruists


Nairobi, Kenya

Many Americans go to the developing world to serve others. A smaller percentage actually end up being useful. Those that do have often climbed a moral ladder. They start out with certain virtues but then develop more tenacious ones.

The first virtue they possess is courage, the willingness to go off to a strange place. For example, Blair Miller was a student at the University of Virginia who decided she wanted to teach abroad. She Googled “teach abroad” and found a woman who had been teaching English in a remote town in South Korea and was looking for a replacement.

Miller soon found herself on a plane and eventually at a small airport in southern South Korea. There was no one there to greet her. Eventually, the airport closed and no one came to pick her up. A monk was the only other person around and eventually he, too, left and Miller was alone.

Finally, a van with two men rolled in and scooped her up. After a few months of struggle, she had a fantastic year at a Korean fishing village, the only Westerner for miles and miles. Now she travels around Kenya, Pakistan and India for the Acumen Fund, a sort of venture capital fund that invests in socially productive enterprises, like affordable housing and ambulance services.

The second virtue they develop is deference, the willingness to listen and learn from the moral and intellectual storehouses of the people you are trying to help.

Rye Barcott was a student at the University of North Carolina who spent a summer sharing a 10-by-10 shack in Kibera, the largest slum in Nairobi, Kenya. One night he awoke with diarrhea and stumbled to the public outhouse. He slid onto the cement floor and vomited as his bare body hit puddles of human waste.

He left his soiled pants outside the hut, but when he went to find them later they were gone. He was directed to another hut where a stick-thin girl, with missing clumps of hair, had the pants, scrubbed and folded, in her lap. Barcott said softly, “I’m grateful,” and asked her why she had cleaned them. “Because I can,” she replied. A week later, she died of AIDS and her body was taken in a wheelbarrow to a communal grave.

Over the next several years, Barcott served as an officer in the Marines in places like Iraq and created an inspiring organization called Carolina for Kibera, which offers health services and serves as a sort of boys and girls club for children in the slum.

The greatest and most essential virtue is thanklessness, the ability to keep serving even when there are no evident rewards — no fame, no admiration, no gratitude.

Stephen Letchford is a doctor working in Kijabe, Kenya. One night, years ago, when he was working at a hospital in Zambia, a man stole a colleague’s computer. Letchford drove the police down the single road leading from town. The police found the man carrying the computer and, in the course of the arrest, shot him in the abdomen.

They put the man in the back of the car and rushed him back to the hospital to save his life. Letchford pressed his wounds to stem the bleeding, using tattered garbage bags as surgical gloves. He had scraped his hands gardening that day and was now covered by the man’s blood.

They saved the thief’s life and discovered he was infected with H.I.V. For several days, Letchford and his family were not sure whether he had been infected by the man who robbed them. Their faith was tested. (They later learned that he was not infected.) When the man recovered, he showed no remorse, no gratitude; he just folded in on himself, cold and uncommunicative.

This final virtue is what makes service in the developing world not just an adventure, a spiritual experience or a cinematic moment. It represents a noncontingent commitment to a specific place and purpose.

As you talk to people involved in the foreign aid business — on the giving and the receiving ends — you are struck by how much disillusionment there is.

Very few nongovernmental organizations or multilateral efforts do good, many Kenyans say. They come and go, spending largely on themselves, creating dependency not growth. The government-to-government aid workers spend time at summit meetings negotiating protocols with each other.

But in odd places, away from the fashionableness, one does find people willing to embrace the perspectives and do the jobs the locals define — in businesses, where Westerners are providing advice about boring things like accounting; in hospitals where doctors, among many aggravations, try to listen to the symptoms the patients describe.

Susan Albright, a nurse working with disabled children in Kijabe, says, “Everything I’ve ever learned I put to use here.” Her husband, Leland Albright, a prominent neurosurgeon, says simply, “This is where God wants us to be.”

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What I Read Today - Wednesday August 17, 2011

NOTE:  I had the previlage of hearing this man speak at a conference yesterday.  What an inspiration.
I found this article via google search.

From: NY Daily News (printed January 28, 2008)

His name is Lt. Col. Greg Gadson and he used to wear No. 98 for the Army football team and was with the Second Battalion and 32nd Field Artillery, on his way back from a memorial service for two soldiers from his brigade when he lost both his legs to a roadside bomb in Bahgdad. It was the night of May 7, 2007, and Lt. Col. Gadson didn't know it at the time because he couldn't possibly have known, but it was the beginning of a journey that brought him to Lambeau Field Sunday night.

He was there as an honorary co-captain of the Giants, there on the sideline at Lambeau because this Giants' season has become his season now and he wasn't going to watch from some box. This is a Giant at the Super Bowl worth knowing about, as much as any of them.

"Me being a part of this team," Gadson was saying Monday night from his home in Virginia, having made it back there from Green Bay, "really starts with the team I played on at West Point."

He played at West Point between 1985 and 1988, and one of his teammates was Mike Sullivan, who played cornerback and some safety and is now one of Tom Coughlin's assistants with the Giants. When Sullivan and so many other of Gadson's teammates found out what had happened on the night of May 7, found that Gadson had first lost his left leg to arterial infections and then his right, it brought that old Army team back together.

"My injury turned out to be a catalyst event," Gadson said. "These were guys who hadn't talked in years, but now were rallying around me, and my family. Some of us had stayed in contact, but not to any great degree. But now an incident in a war reminded us that we were still brothers."

Sullivan visited Gadson at Walter Reed, came back in June, this time with a No. 98 Giants jersey, Gadson's own name on the back, signed by several Giants players. When Sullivan left that day in June, he said to Gadson, "What else can we do?"

Greg Gadson said he'd love to take his family to a Giants game.

It was the Giants-Redskins game, in Washington, third Sunday of the season, Giants 0-2 by then. The tickets were arranged and then the Friday before the game Mike Sullivan called and asked if Gadson would be interested in addressing the team on Saturday night.

Gadson's wife Kim drove him to the Giants' hotel. Lt. Col. Greg Gadson, Second Battalion, 32nd Field Artillery, old outside linebacker from Army, spoke to the Giants. And just as no one knew that the Giants would begin a 10-game road winning streak the next day, just as no one knew this could ever become a Super Bowl season, no one in that room including Gadson himself knew that the soldier in the wheelchair was joining the season that night.

"I just spoke from the heart, as a soldier and as a former football player," he said, "for about 10 or 15 minutes. I talked to them about appreciating the opportunities in their lives, how special and privileged they were, how everybody needs to understand what they truly have. And I talked to them about the power of sports in people's lives, especially soldiers' lives, how many times I'd watched soldiers get up in the middle of the night after a 12-hour shift if there is a chance to watch a game, or how soldiers would do anything to watch a game before they went on that kind of shift.

"I told them that of course after all the exteriors had been stripped away, they played the game for themselves. But that they had to play the game for each other. Then I talked about myself, how my old teammates came to my need, and how I was reminded again the power of a team, the emotional commitment teammates have for each other, that when a team finds a way to do things greater than they thought they could do, that they couldn't have done individually, that a bond is formed that can live forever.

"I told them that truly great teams usually form that bond by going through something together, and how whatever they were going through at that point in the season that no success ever came easy. And finally I reminded them that nothing is promised to anybody in this life, starting with tomorrow."

The Giants won the next day against the Redskins, and began a six-game winning streak, and began that road winning streak that now takes them on the road to Super Bowl XLII. It began Greg Gadson's road to Lambeau, and being wheeled out by his 13-year old son Jaelen as an honorary co-captain of the Giants along with the great Harry Carson.

"I can't even remember the last time I was actually out on the field," he said. "Maybe when I played."

Gadson had been on the sidelines when the Giants won their first playoff game against the Bucs. The team wanted him in Dallas, but he was having more surgery, on what is left of his right leg, and his right arm, which had also been damaged by the IED. But he was well enough to travel to Green Bay, and strong enough to spend the whole game on the sideline with his son, the players calling him what they have all along: Sir.

"I wouldn't say I was warm," he said. "But I was comfortable enough not to be hugging one of those heaters all day."

He watched from the sidelines at Lambeau as the team he met at 0-2 played the way it played against the Packers and played itself to the Super Bowl, watched as the Giants came back from that missed field goal at the end of regulation, finally saw Lawrence Tynes kick it through from 47 yards out.

"When the ball went through, you could feel the elation on our sidelines, and hear the stadium go quiet at the same time," Gadson said. "It was like the air being let out of a whole state's soul. And then the next thing I saw was my son jumping in the air and running on that field."

The boy ran for both of them.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

What I Read Today - Sunday August 14, 2011

From: Mecktimes.com (seen in the Springfield Business Journal )

Is your mission statement just hot air?

by Jeffrey Gitomer

Published: July 22nd, 2011

Can you recite your mission statement?

Come on. You’ve seen it a hundred times, maybe a thousand times.

It’s some drivel about being No. 1, exceeding expectations and building shareholder value that contains other nonsensical words that mean nothing to anyone except the marketing people who dreamed it up one afternoon.

I often wonder if there is anyone actually in charge of implementing the mission statement. I think you could find such a person over at Disney World heading up the Fantasyland department.

Reality: Why is your mission statement always put in terms of you, rather than what you might do for others?

As a customer, or potential customer, I don’t really care about you unless you can do something of perceived value for me.

Which brings me to my prime question of the day, maybe of the decade: Is it a mission or a promise? And in the end, which is more powerful?

Several years ago I created a list of customer promises for my seminar company, my book publishing company and my online training company. The promises revolved around what would be done in favor of our customers. I would ask each of my employees to apply the promises in their daily interactions with customers.

And all of a sudden, I didn’t need a mission statement because the promises, when enacted, automatically created achievement, memorability, “wow” and loyalty.

Jeffrey Gitomer, Buy Gitomer and TrainOne customer promises and commitments:

•We will be friendly.
•We will be professional.
•We will provide the highest-quality products.
•We will provide the highest-quality training.
•We will do what we promise.
•We will keep you informed as we progress.
•We will keep our technology state-of-the-art.
•We will think long term in all our endeavors.
•We will be an expert resource for you.
•We will provide prompt service.
•We will maintain great attitudes toward service.
•We will earn your loyalty with quality and value.
•We will use creativity to differentiate and dominate.
•We will customize and personalize all enterprise training.
•We will increase your sales.
•We will cultivate relationships by paying attention to individual needs and interests.
•We will take as much pride in your business as you do.
•We will maintain our dedication to lifelong learning.
•We will recover memorably when an error occurs.
•We will respond in a heartbeat or faster.
•We will serve with a smile.
•We will serve memorably; service is an opportunity and a priority, not a job function.
•We will make providing you the best service our top priority.
•We will treat all customers the same: like gold.
•We will collaborate with you every step of the way.
•We will become an expert in your business to grow your business and ours.
•We will be your best partner.
•We will not just lead by example.
We will set a standard.
•We will always go the extra mile.
•We will kiss ass.
•We will practice what I preach.

One of the nicest compliments I receive is a single sentence: You walk your talk.

That’s the reaction of customers when they receive what we promise. We don’t tell them what the promises are. No one says, “We are going to be friendly.” Everyone is just genuinely friendly.

It’s taken me years to finally decide that these promises should be made public. The main reason I’m doing it is that service around the world is rapidly declining.

Big picture: All of these promises and commitments favor the customer, our relationship with them and what actions we have to take in order to earn their business, repeat business, loyalty, referrals and testimonials.

Note: None of these promises and commitments are “missions.” They’re all “actions.” They are all about what outcome the customer needs and is hoping for. In other words, what does the customer want after we take an action or they buy a product?

If your mission statement is all about you, get rid of it. Take this list of promises and commitments and revise them to suit your business, your employees and, especially, your customers. When you do, everyone will have a mission, not just the marketing department.

Jeffrey Gitomer is the author of “The Sales Bible” and “The Little Red Book of Selling.” President of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer, he gives seminars, runs sales meetings and conducts Internet training on selling and customer service at www.trainone.com.

Friday, August 12, 2011

What I Read Today - Friday August 12, 2011

From:  The Wall Street Journal

Tablet War Is an Apple Rout


People don't have tablet fever; it seems they simply have a mania for iPads.

The latest evidence: Hewlett-Packard Co. is dropping the price of its TouchPad tablet by 20% little more than a month after it hit stores, as the computer giant tries to goose sales of its answer to Apple Inc.'s iPad.

H-P, Motorola Mobility Holdings Inc. and Research In Motion Ltd. have all jumped into the tablet market this year, trying to close the gap with Apple.

The electronics giant created a multi-billion-dollar business last year when it launched the iPad—and has since seen its profits and market value swell as others have tried to keep pace.

Rivals have been routed so far. Motorola cut the price of its Xoom tablet after its February launch, released a cheaper model and warned shipments will decline this quarter. RIM's PlayBook was delayed until April and still isn't being offered for sale by the two biggest U.S. wireless carriers.

Samsung Electronics Co., which was the quickest to market an iPad rival and has shipped millions of tablets based on Google Inc.'s Android software, is now embroiled in a patent dispute with Apple that threatens sales of its Galaxy Tab in most of Europe.

Apple, meanwhile, says it is having difficulty keeping up with demand and selling every iPad it can manufacture. Five months after its release, its iPad 2 can be hard to find in retail stores. The company said it shipped 9.3 million iPads in the June-ended quarter.

An Apple spokeswoman reiterated an earlier comment from Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer, saying the company is "thrilled" with the iPad's momentum.

The consumer electronics giant has sold 28.7 million iPads since it was first launched in April 2010. Estimates of Apple's share of the tablet market vary but some researchers say it has about two-thirds of shipments, though they acknowledge it could be higher.

One sign of Apple's dominance: Rivals discuss how many tablets they are shipping, but don't disclose how many units are actually being purchased by customers. Motorola says it shipped 690,000 Xoom tablets since its launch in February, and RIM says it has shipped 500,000 PlayBooks between their April launch and the end its first quarter in May. Motorola and RIM declined to comment.

Samsung, which in January said it had shipped two million Galaxy Tabs to wireless carriers and retailers around the world since its release in September, has stopped disclosing shipments all together.

As some industry watchers put it: There are more iPads rival tablets sitting in warehouses and stores than current demand for those products, and that's prompting manufacturers to cut prices to move inventory.

"The numbers that we have reported are probably higher than what have actually been sold to customers, which is why you see companies like H-P trying to lower prices to move what's in the channel," said Tom Mainelli, an analyst at research firm IDC.

On Wednesday, H-P cut the price of its entry-model TouchPad to $399.99, so it now costs roughly $100 less than a comparable iPad. The TouchPad runs the webOS operating system created by smartphone maker Palm, which H-P acquired.

H-P took its time developing the device, and Chief Executive Leo Apotheker promised the TouchPad would be "perfect." Reviewers didn't feel that way. They complained about sub-standard hardware features and glitchy software.

Stephen DiFranco, a senior vice president in H-P's computer business, said in an online message Wednesday that the lower price will allow "both HP and our channel partners to be even more price competitive in the marketplace."

An H-P spokesman declined to say how many TouchPads have been sold, saying the company "continually evaluates pricing for its products."

H-P's price cut also marks a shift in strategy. Samsung tried to outmuscle the iPad with beefy processors but keep prices in line with Apple's machine. Motorola priced its Xoom, the first to run a tablet version of Android, at a premium to Apple's iPad—and was later forced to cut prices. RIM priced the PlayBook like the iPad even though its seven-inch screen is smaller.

Analysts say H-P is now conceding the obvious: consumers won't pay the same price for an imitator, even a well-appointed one, as they will for the original. That has left the market for tablets split in two.

"There's an iPad market," said Tim Bajarin, an analyst at Creative Strategies, "and then there's everyone else."

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

What I Read Today - Wednesday August 10, 2011

From: The New York Times

The Day Our Leaders Got Unstuck


This is a scary economic moment. The response we need is not easy, but it is totally obvious. We need a Grand Bargain between America’s two parties — and we need it right now. Until you read the following news article, we’ll be stuck in a world of hurt.
 Washington (AP) — It was a news conference the likes of which the White House had never seen. President Obama stood in the East Room, flanked by the House speaker, John Boehner; the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell; the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid; and the House minority leader, Nancy Pelosi. The president asked Mr. Boehner to speak first:

“My fellow Americans,” the Ohio Republican began. “We have just concluded a meeting with the president, prompted by this moment of extraordinary economic peril. Our party, as you know, is convinced that the main reason for our economic decline is that we have too much debt, that government has grown too big and that taxes and regulations are choking our dynamism. But I have to acknowledge that, over the years, our party has contributed to this debt burden and government spending binge. We are not innocent, and, therefore, we owe the country a strategy for governing and for fixing a problem that we helped to create — instead of just blocking the president. The G.O.P. is better than that and has more to offer the nation. Therefore, we have informed the president that our legislators are ready to reopen negotiations immediately on a ‘Grand Bargain’ to address all these debt issues once and for all and that everything will be on the table from our side — including tax reform that closes loopholes and eliminates wasteful subsidies, and, if need be, tax increases. To those who voted for us, rest assured that we will bring our conservative values to these negotiations and an emphasis on markets and meritocracies, but also a spirit of compromise and a recognition that both sides will have to bend if we are going to get the kind of comprehensive budget agreement the country needs. To my Tea Party colleagues, I say: thank you. Your passion helped spur the nation to action, but the country cannot be governed, and our future secured, by bowing solely to the passions of any single group — liberal or conservative. I know that the Tea Party activists are true patriots and they will work with us as well. President Obama: Let’s fix the country together and then compete in 2012 over who can best manage a growing pie rather than a shrinking one.”

President Obama warmly embraced Mr. Boehner and then took the podium and said:

“Speaker Boehner and Senator McConnell, thank you for your commitment to act in our nation’s highest interests. Let me say publicly what I committed to you privately: I have asked Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to revive their deficit commission and to use their recommendations for how to cut spending and raise revenues as the starting point for our negotiations. But it will now be called ‘The National Commission for American Renewal.’ Because in addition to the original Bowles-Simpson members, it will include Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid and Congresswoman Pelosi, and its goal will indeed be a comprehensive plan for American renewal. Everything will be on the table — spending cuts, tax reform and increases, a framework for restructuring the debts of Americans whose homes are under water and the investments we need to renew the primary sources of our strength — infrastructure, education and scientific research. Each component will be integrated and timed to minimize pain and maximize job creation — and the entire package will be presented to Congress for an up-or-down vote. I am confident that real tax and entitlement reform will unleash billions of dollars in investments.

“But the most important thing that will be on the table will not just be a plan to make our country solvent. It will be a plan to make America great and guarantee that another generation will enjoy the American dream. Any fair-minded person who looks at all the stimulus investments I’ve made in education, clean energy, research and infrastructure can see that this has been my goal from the start. But I know those investments can’t be sustained without a new long-term budget deal. And I, too, have a confession: I’ve done a poor job integrating my nation-building ideas, including health care, into a single vision so people understood where I was going. I also let tactical political considerations — like abandoning the Bowles-Simpson commission — intervene, so Americans lost sight of my priorities. That will not happen again. No one loves this country more than I and my Democratic colleagues. While we will bring our traditional concerns for social justice and equality to these negotiations, we will not quit until a Grand Bargain to ensure American greatness is enacted into law.”

At that point, all five leaders shook hands and retreated into the Oval Office. It was exactly 9:29 a.m. One minute later, the New York Stock Exchange opened. The Dow was up 1,223 points at the open — an all-time record.

What’s sad is how much this is a fantasy and how easily — with just a little political will — it could be a reality.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What I Read Today - Wednesday August 3, 2011

From: The Wall Street Journal
          The Saturday Essay - July 29, 2011

How to Tax the Rich


If the rich can be taxed at a different rate, why not other differences in how they are taxed?

The president was too polite to mention it during his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, but here's a quick summary of the problem: The U.S. is broke. The hole is too big to plug with cost cutting or economic growth alone. Rich people have money. No one else does. Rich people have enough clout to block higher taxes on themselves, and they will.

Likely outcome: Your next home will be the box that your laser printer came in. I hope that you kept it.

Whenever I feel as if I'm on a path toward certain doom, which happens every time I pay attention to the news, I like to imagine that some lonely genius will come up with a clever solution to save the world. Imagination is a wonderful thing. I don't have much control over the big realities, such as the economy, but I'm an expert at programming my own delusions. I make no apology for that. A well-crafted delusion can be a delicious guilty pleasure. And best of all, it's totally free. As a public service, today I will teach you how to wrap yourself in a warm blanket of imagined solutions for the government's fiscal dilemma.

To begin, assume that as the fiscal meltdown becomes more perilous, everyone will become more flexible and perhaps a bit more open-minded. That seems reasonable enough. A good crisis has a way of changing people. Now imagine that the world needs just one great idea to put things back on the right track. Great ideas have often changed history. It's not hard to imagine it can happen again.

Try to imagine that the idea that saves the country is an entirely new one. It's too much of a stretch to imagine that a stale idea would suddenly become acceptable. In fact, that's the dividing line between imagination and insanity. Only crazy people imagine that bad ideas can suddenly become good if you keep trying them. So let's assume that our imagined solution is a brand new idea. That feels less crazy and more optimistic. Another advantage is that no one has an entrenched view about an idea that has never been heard.

For those of you with healthy egos—and that would be every reader of The Wall Street Journal—you can make this fantasy extra delicious by imagining that you are the person who comes up with the idea that saves the world. I'll show you how to imagine that. I think you'll be surprised at how easy it is.

I spent some time working in the television industry, and I learned a technique that writers use. It's called "the bad version." When you feel that a plot solution exists, but you can't yet imagine it, you describe instead a bad version that has no purpose other than stimulating the other writers to imagine a better version.

For example, if your character is stuck on an island, the bad version of his escape might involve monkeys crafting a helicopter out of palm fronds and coconuts. That story idea is obviously bad, but it might stimulate you to think in terms of other engineering solutions, or other monkey-related solutions. The first step in thinking of an idea that will work is to stop fixating on ideas that won't. The bad version of an idea moves your mind to a new vantage point.

With that technique in mind, I will describe some bad versions of how society might go about the job of convincing the rich to accept higher taxes on themselves. But first I need to address the illusion of fairness.

We like to think that fairness is an objective condition. If you and a friend simultaneously find a dollar on the street, fairness suggests that you split it. But what if your friend is a billionaire and you are starving? Is it still fair to split the dollar? And what if you and your friend noticed the dollar at the same time but your friend was quicker to pick it up? Does that count for anything?

In reality, fairness is not so much about the actual distribution of loot as it is about the psychology of how you feel about it. That's important to understand because the rich won't give up their cash unless they feel they are getting something in return. And so far, saving the country doesn't seem to be enough of a payoff.

If we accept that the rich can be taxed at a different rate than everyone else, we can also imagine that there could be other differences in how the rich are taxed. That's the part we can tinker with, and that's where the bad version comes in. In a minute, I'll float some bad ideas about how the rich can feel good while the rest of society is rifling through their pockets.

I can think of five benefits that the country could offer to the rich in return for higher taxes: time, gratitude, incentives, shared pain and power.

Time. It's useful to keep in mind how the rich are different. When you are poor, you are willing to trade your time to earn money. When you are rich, you trade your money to get more time. For example, the rich hire people to clean their homes, and they don't waste time shopping for bargains. In business school I learned that when people have different preferences, you can usually find a way to engineer a deal.

Suppose we change the tax code so that in return for higher taxes on the rich, we figure out a way to give the rich some form of extra time. The bad version is that anyone who pays taxes at a rate above some set amount gets to use the car pool lane without a passenger. Or perhaps the rich are allowed to park in handicapped-only spaces.

Ridiculous, you cry! Remember, this is the bad version. And if the rich are only a tiny percentage of the population, they would have almost no impact on the traffic in car pool lanes or the availability of parking spaces for the handicapped. You wouldn't even notice the difference.

You could imagine a host of ways the government could trade time for money. Suppose all government agencies had a mandate to handle the affairs of the rich before everyone else. You wouldn't even notice that your wait at the Department of Motor Vehicles was 2% longer.

As a bonus, what happens to the economy when the people who are most skilled at making money suddenly have extra time? My bet is that they stimulate the economy by spending more or by earning more.

Gratitude. Imagine that the government arranges to provide genuine person-to-person gratitude to the rich in exchange for higher tax rates. Suppose (bad idea alert) the government makes it a condition that anyone applying for social services has to write a personal thank-you note to a nearby rich person who, according to a central database, hasn't lately received one. Gratitude goes a long way. It's easy to hate the generic overspending of the government. It's harder to begrudge medical care to someone who thanks you personally. It's a bad idea, I know. Don't judge it. Just let it nudge your imagination to someplace better.

Incentives. Another approach, also a bad idea, might be to treat the rich more like venture capitalists than sources of free money. Suppose the tax code is redesigned so that the rich only pay taxes to fund social services, such as health care and social security. This gives the rich an incentive to find ways to reduce the need for those services, which would in turn keep their taxes under control. Perhaps you'd see an explosion of private investment in technologies that make it less expensive to provide health care. You might see rapid advances in bringing down the cost of housing for seniors.

Meanwhile, the middle class would be in charge of funding the military. That feels right. The country generally doesn't go to war unless the middle-class majority is on board.

Shared Pain. Happiness is a relative thing. That's how humans are wired. And we're just screwed up enough to feel comfort when our pain is shared. So how can we make the overtaxed rich feel as if the rest of society is feeling a little extra pain?

I doubt that the rich will agree to higher taxes until some serious budget cutting is happening at the same time. That makes the sacrifice seem shared. The rich will feel unfairly singled out unless everyone is taking a hit. And budget cuts make the government seem better managed. That matters.

The bad idea here is to change the debate from arguing about which programs and how much to cut, and instead to do what the private sector has been doing for decades: Pull a random yet round number out of your ear, let's say a 10% cut, just for argument's sake, and apply it across the board. No exceptions. Everything from the military to welfare to federal pensions to government salaries would take the same hit. Managers in the private sector have been handling budget cuts this way for years. They know that their subordinates are all professional liars, so there is no reliable information for making cuts in a more reasoned way. They also know that any project can get by with 10% less money if there is no alternative.

Power. Everyone loves power. I'm guessing that the rich like it more than most people, on average. Another bad idea is to give the rich two votes apiece in any election. That's double the power of other citizens. But don't worry that it will distort election results. There aren't that many rich people, and they are somewhat divided in their opinions, just like the rest of the world. And realistically, is the candidate who gets 51% of the vote always better than the one who gets only 49%? That's a risk I'll take.

I think I've given you enough bad ideas to prime your imagination. Now it's your turn. If you think that solving the nation's fiscal problems is the job of elected officials, you have to ask yourself how that's working so far. The solution, if it exists, won't be anything that looks like normal business. The rich have the money, and they aren't going to give it up for nothing. I know because I am one, and yes, we do hold meetings.

The way our political system is designed, politicians are not free to float bad ideas. Doing so is a sure way to lose an election. Politicians aren't even free to support good ideas if they are too far from the norm. But as citizens, we're free to speculate all we want. And if some new and better idea gains popularity at the grassroots level, our elected leaders would then be able to embrace it. In other words, it's literally your job to fix the budget problem because your government isn't equipped to handle it. The ideas I've mentioned here are bad by design. But if a few million people start brainstorming their own ideas for solving the debt problem, someone might come up with a winner. And if that idea gains popular support on the Internet, it frees politicians to consider it. I have no problem imagining that something along those lines can happen, and the thought feels delightful.

—Mr. Adams is the creator of "Dilbert."

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

What I Read Today - Tuesday August 2, 2011

From: The Wall Street Journal - Tuesday August 2, 2011

Oshkosh, Wis.

With so many historic planes on display, from the Curtiss Jenny to the Predator drone, the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force is perhaps the best aircraft museum in the world. But if you want to see many of these machines actually fly, you have to come to this small town an hour's drive north of Milwaukee during the last week of July. That's when the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) hosts its annual AirVenture, which draws some 500,000 spectators from 60 countries, about 10,000 of whom fly their own planes here and pitch tents next to them for the week. Between the daily air show, flight demonstrations and other fly-ins, tiny Wittman Regional Airport becomes the busiest air space in the world, and the top air-traffic controllers vie to come here and direct the traffic that's constantly overhead—from run-of-the-mill Cessnas to World War II bombers. As one longtime attendee remarked: "This is Disney World for airplane junkies."

Indeed, imagine your state fairgrounds turned over to airplane enthusiasts for a week. Instead of rides and games of chance, the midways and exhibition halls teem with anything and everything you could ever want for your airplane. Need spare parts for your World War I-era biplane, or the newest navigation equipment for your ultralight? It's all here. There are also bulletin boards throughout the grounds covered with "for sale" and "wanted" signs—for new and used avionics, do-it-yourself kits, fly-in fishing lodges and, of course, airplanes.

The key word in the EAA's name is "experimental"—much of the show is dedicated to the latest and greatest innovations and designs—and one big theme this year was the push for more fuel-efficient and environmentally friendly aircraft.

HondaJet is a new plane from the Japanese auto manufacturer that has, among other things, a radical new over-the-wing engine-mount design and an all-composite fuselage. German engine-maker Centurion displayed its line of diesel aircraft engines, which perform as well as traditional aviation gas and jet engines but give off fewer emissions and have better fuel economy. And Pipistrel, a Slovenian aircraft manufacturer, turned heads with its line of Light Sport Aircraft, the market for which is relatively new but rapidly growing. LSAs are smaller, lighter planes that require less-extensive certification to fly. Many here see LSAs as the next big opportunity to make flying more widespread and affordable for a larger audience.

As at the Indy 500 and the Kentucky Derby, many of the manufacturers here had white-tablecloth private hospitality tents set up along the flight line to catch the main attraction, in this case the daily 3 p.m. air show. The mood was especially ebullient during this year's events, which were part of the Centennial of Naval Aviation—a yearlong celebration of the January 1911 flight by Eugene Ely, who took off and landed aboard the cruiser USS Pennsylvania in San Francisco Bay. While there are commemorative events across the country marking this important anniversary, none quite compare to Oshkosh: Museums may have replicas of the Curtiss-Ely Pusher that landed on the USS Pennsylvania, but here you could actually see one fly.

Other historic naval aircraft on hand this year included the only flying SB2C Helldiver Navy dive bomber in the world; one of two airworthy PV-2 Harpoons; an OY1/L-5B Marine Corps Observation aircraft that saw combat during the Battle of Iwo Jima; a TBM Navy torpedo bomber in the same paint scheme of the aircraft flown by President George H.W. Bush; and a squad of F4U Corsairs, one of the most revered carrier-based fighter-bombers of World War II.

Spectators got to stand 30 feet away as a Corsair prepared for the day's air show. You may have heard these planes start their engines in countless movies, but nothing compares to standing right there, actually feeling the ground shake and the air move as the pilot cranks up the 2,000-horsepower, 18-cylinder Pratt & Whitney Double Wasp radial engine. When the plane made the 180-degree turn to head toward the runway, hats blew off and small children fell to the ground. Everyone loved it.

The audience lined the runway for the air show, sitting in folding chairs or on blankets with picnic lunches, watching the planes make multiple passes in front of them. An emcee provided running commentary with pertinent facts and specific histories of the planes and the men flying them. As the first of the naval aircraft went by, a trumpeter played the "Navy Hymn," followed by a recording of "The Star Spangled Banner." Shortly afterward, an F/A-18, a modern Navy jet fighter, flew low at one end of the runway, punched its afterburners and treated the crowd to a thunderous sonic boom as it passed.

Most impressive, though, was a formation of four World War II-era Corsairs, some 500 feet in the air. They banked in unison on the far side of the runway and flew directly toward the crowd. It was a magnificent sight, one that you'll likely never tire of, and will keep you coming back for more.

Mr. Yost is a writer in Chicago.

Copyright 2011 Dow Jones & Company, Inc. All Rights Reserved