Stimulus Package Translation

by Tim Couch

I’ve been listening to a lot of news lately. Most of it having to do with the newly passed stimulus package. Now that I’ve had a couple of days to absorb and ponder I think a translation of sorts is in order. I think it’s time that our elected and appointed officials in Washington know what we hear when they talk about this package. So, here is a verbatim translation of a report that I heard earlier today:

“This massive stimulus package yadda, yadda, yadda billion. As well as blah, blah, blah, blah hundred million. Included in the package will be nanner, nanner, nanner millions. Which does not necessarily yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda trillion dollars. Except for wootie, wootie, wootie tax cuts there will be padink, padink, padink hundred billion or more.”

Have you ever listened to an adult trying to explain something to a child when they don’t really understand it themselves, but don’t want the child to know they don’t know what they’re talking about? That’s our government and our media. They can’t explain this stimulus package. No one can. It’s like a stimulus deity. It’s beyond comprehension. But, we’re going to do it anyway because something has to be done, damnit! So, let’s throw money at it.

Wait a minute. If we can just print a whole bunch of new money and throw it at our problems then why do we have problems? If all these ~illions are at our disposal then why is our economy stalled? Because, the problem is not one of cash; it’s one of confidence. The banks have stopped lending not because they don’t have money to lend, but because they are not confident they will get the money back. People have stopped spending because they are not confident there will be more money coming in. Throwing money at a problem of confidence is like tickling a person who’s depressed. It might make them laugh but it’s not going to cure their depression.

I agree that something has to be done. And, I accept that it’s going to be expensive. But, so far all I hear is how much it’s going to cost. I haven’t heard anything yet about the return we can expect from our investment. Where are the details of the back-end of this stimulus plan? How is all this government spending going to restore confidence and get people spending and banks lending again? Is it just a matter of poor communication, or are our officials actually trying to put together a puzzle in the dark?

What would make you feel more confident about our economy?

50 Years and still spinning

I hope your day is a day of pie……………just because.

Today I mark a half century of spinning through space on this tiny rock of a planet. I’m not quite sure how I feel about that yet. On one hand I feel grateful to have had fifty years, while on the other I wonder where has it gone? Fifty years sounds like a long time but it doesn’t feel like a long time. I thought I would have more answers by now, but instead I find I have fewer important questions. I thought I would have accomplished more by now, but instead my definition of accomplishment keeps shifting. I thought I would know more with more certainty, but instead I find I am only more certain of myself.

As you may have guessed I’m in a contemplative mood today, and while I realize I don’t know much here are a few things I think I know. They are, like me, in no particular order.

  • It is possible to be the best at something, but only for about five seconds.
  • Always keep your passport current. You never know.
  • Good things may come to those who wait, but only if they’re using the right bait.
  • The food pyramid is wrong. Fiber should be a group unto itself.
  • Some dreams do have a shelf life. Don’t wait too long to act on them.
  • Don’t allow expired dreams to spoil future dreams. Remove them from the shelf.
  • When in doubt, floss.

As it happens, I also have the honor of sharing today with Brother Robert Burns, beloved Scottish poet and Brother Freemason. He would be two hundred and fifty years old today. So, I wondered what words of wisdom I might glean from his writings and I came across this:

Then fill up a bumper and make it o’erflow,
And honours masonic prepare for to throw;
May ev’ry true Brother of the Compass and Square
Have a big-belly’d bottle when harass’d with care.

That works for me. I believe I will. Cheers!

Until next time Brother may your life contain reason and your reason find life.

Fraternally yours,
Tim Couch

Inauguration Desperation

by Tim Couch

I watched in wonder this morning as our 44th President took the oath to preserve, protect, and defend our Constitution. It was truly a moving site to see that sea of people gathered to witness the peaceful transition of power. But, as I watched and wondered at all those smiling faces and flag-waving hands my mind shifted and I found myself wondering………..

“Why aren’t these people at work?”

Everyone I know who has a job or a business was working. How are we going to rise above our current situation if millions of people all take the day off at the same time? I know, this is an historic event that our grandchildren will some day point to and say, “My Grandpa was there.” Well, in the immortal words of Seinfeld, “yadda, yadda, yadda.”

Hopefully, our grandchildren are going to look upon this event and say, “So what?” This is an historic event for us and for generations past. But, for future generations, and again I say hopefully, a President of African or any other descent will be so universally accepted that they will not understand why we made such a to-do about it.

I understand the desire to celebrate, “The Change We Need” and all that. And, I hope and pray that there is reason for all of us to celebrate soon, I really do. But, what I saw today seemed more a veneer of celebration to conceal desperation. And frankly, desperation makes more sense.

What worries me, and should worry us all, is that so many people seem to think President Obama is simply going to sweep in and make everything good. He’ll wave his magic wand and suddenly our global neighbors will understand that we meant well all along. He’ll smile his winning smile and the Islamic extremists will shrug and put down their weapons. He’ll snap his fingers and we’ll suddenly be energy independent, well educated, and every pot will have a chicken in it. People don’t seem to realize that the work has yet to begin, and we are all going to have to take part in the forming of the future. Government is not the answer. It is a tool that if used properly will assist us in building the future we all want. Government is like a floor buffer. If we the people control it our Country will shine like never before, but if we just turn it loose it will tear up everything in its path.

So, celebrate today. Party hardy! Because tomorrow the real work begins.

Recognizing Miracles

My wish for you today is that you recognize a miracle.

Every now and then something happens that leaves no doubt about the existence of divine intervention. We had a great example of it this past week. An airliner carrying a hundred and fifty-five people is knocked out of the sky by a flock of birds over a city of eight million people, and no one is seriously injured. How can anyone not see the miracle in that?

The news media keeps calling it a “story of luck and heroism.” Certainly, the flight crew are all heroes, but luck? Luck is drawing to a straight flush. Luck is not skirting skyscrapers and threading crowded airspace with a flying brick and then landing it in heavily trafficked waters without hitting anything. That is miraculous.

But then, if the Great Architect were going to intervene why didn’t he simply move the birds out of the way? He could’ve done that, but if he had it would’ve been just another uneventful flight. It would’ve still been a miracle, but we would not have noticed. Miracles happen every day all around us. We just don’t recognize them.

Every time we climb behind the wheel and hurl ourselves down the highway at high speeds but somehow arrive safely at our destination, it’s a miracle. Consider all the people on the road at the same time who have to do the right thing at the right instant in order for nothing to happen. Every time we cross a street, go for a walk, cross a room, turn over a rock, a miracle might have happened. We just don’t recognize it.

Miracles are happening all around us. Perhaps they are the courtesies of angels, and like most courtesies they are more readily given when they are appreciated. So keep an eye out for your miracles because I assure you they are there. Appreciate them. Be grateful. And, recognize that in a world of possibilities angels are doing miraculous things in your behalf.

Best Regards,

Tim Couch

Take a breather

I hope your day is as sweet as honey on a fresh warm biscuit.

Just in case you’ve been in another dimension these past several weeks I thought you should know that these are stressful times. If you’re anything like me you’ve been overdosing on “News” recently just trying to figure out what’s going to happen next and how you can prepare for it. Well, I’m sorry to say I don’t have any answers either but I do have a little bit of advice.

I’ve gotten in the habit lately of having the “News” on almost all the time. When I’m working I put one side of a set of earphones on and the Talking Heads are constantly yammering in my ear. When I’m driving I have Talk Radio on. When I’m not working or driving I’m on the Internet reading “News” stories or blogs. I really hadn’t realized until yesterday afternoon how tense I was getting by listening to all the noise.

I was in my office with the computer screen in front of me and the earphones cocked over my head when my wife called. “What are you doing?” she asked.
For some reason instead of telling her I replied, “Nothing. What would you like to be doing?”
“Let’s go look at some rocks,” she said.

A few minutes later we hopped in the pick-truck and drove a few miles to a place we know where the road is dirt, the traffic is light, and the only noise is the birds and the breeze in the trees. We parked near a spot where the road was cut through a rock outcropping and the runoff from the rains had piled up a considerable amount of gravel. We milled about for a while, poking and digging, but eventually we just sat down in the middle of a rock pile. We probably picked up every rock within arms reach and studied the colors and the shapes and the fossilized critter patterns, and we just talked.

At some point while I sat there like a kid in a sandbox I noticed how tired I was, and how relaxed I was getting, and how at peace I felt. It was like I could feel the earth pulling the tension right out through my butt. Eventually, we noticed the Sun had dropped behind the hill and dusk was coming on, so we helped each other to our feet and started for home.

So, here’s my advice. Stay informed, stay involved, stay plugged in, but every so often pull the plug and reconnect with just being at peace. It doesn’t have to take much time and it doesn’t need to cost any money. Just take a breather.


Tim Couch

May today be a day of tiny regrets

A good friend recently confided that they had behaved in such a way as to hurt someone’s feelings. My friend told me how ashamed they were of their actions, and how ashamed they still are. The thing is, this happened over fifty years ago. My friend has been carrying this shame and guilt around ever since. Naturally, this got me to thinking of my own regrets.

We’ve all got them, those thoughtless things we said or did in our youth that somehow caused pain to someone else. When I was in high school the cafeteria food was not what you’d call delicious. So, someone came up with the bright idea of boycotting lunch. The idea caught on and word quickly spread throughout the school. My problem was that my Grandma worked in the cafeteria and faced with a choice of risking embarrassment among my peers or insulting my Grandma, I made the wrong choice. Of course, as Grandmas do she forgave me but I’ve never completely forgiven myself. However, I have learned to accept my regret for what it is.

Our regrets are working tools given to us by the Supreme Architect to help us sculpt our ashlar into that perfect square. Life is full of working tools and we are who we are and who we will become through the use of these tools. I learned a valuable lesson the day I looked into my Grandma’s eyes and saw the hurt that I had caused, and I did my best never to cause her pain again.

Regrets are an unavoidable part of living. So use your regrets. Accept them for the tool that they are and use them to chip away the gallets and polish out the imperfections. Make amends when you can and know that the penitent heart will be forgiven.

Fraternally yours,

Tim Couch

Blah, blah, Blago

by Tim Couch

With all the hubbub surrounding the appointment of Roland Burris to the U.S. Senate by Illinois Governor ‘Blago’ Blagojevich one question keeps coming to mind. “Why are they making this such a big deal?”

I mean what’s the big news story here, that a politician is corrupt? Of course Blago is corrupt. We all know that. We heard the tapes, but if the Illinois Attorney General has the evidence she should’ve, could’ve and would’ve brought Blago up on charges already. She hasn’t and Blago is still the Governor. So, State law gives him the right to appoint whomever he chooses. Done deal. Get over it. Move on.

Now, if the problem is with Roland Burris then that’s a whole different matter. If any person knows of any reason why Roland Burris is unfit to serve as U.S. Senator then speak now. Otherwise, leave the man alone and let’s all get to work on matters that really matter.

We have a whole world of important issues that we should be discussing and this hullabaloo surrounding Blago and Burris is serving no real purpose but to distract us from those issues. I propose that we subject this and all future newsworthy ado to a simple test.

  • Does this issue affect our National safety and security?
  • Does this issue serve to improve or diminish the American economy?
  • Does this issue serve to improve or damage the environment?
  • Does this issue affect our relations with other nations?
  • Does this issue affect our health and/or wellbeing?

If the answer to at least one of these questions is not ‘yes’ then forget about it. Save all the nonsense for the stage of American Idol. We’re letting our politicians and the media, once again, distract us from genuinely important matters. Why do we do this over, and over, and over again? Perhaps it’s not, “blah, blah, blah.” Perhaps it is “Baaaaah.”