rip french flag


Back in the early ’80s religious extremists demanded that Proctor and Gamble remove their Satanic logo off all of its products. The religious righteous proclaimed that all the elements that went into the logo were deliberately chosen to promote devil worship.

It took years to put out the firestorm created by a bunch of whack-a-doodles, but even then P&G had to change the logo and eventually replace it with the simple letter logo we see today.

And now we’ve run a-muck again because a coffee company has thrown the snowman into the fire for a red cup that I can see college students using to play beer pong.

red cup onered cup four

When are we going to admit it that Christmas is for many
(a) religious observation (b) a secular time for good cheer to all men (c) both

If someone’s religious beliefs are threatened by secularism they have a right to voice their opinion. But, when we sanctify things like snowmen, snow flakes, stockings, candy canes, Christmas/Holiday/Evergreen trees, etc. we have crossed over to la-la-looney land.

Unless I’m wrong, none of the Gospel writers wrote that a snowman appeared in Bethlehem and offered Mary and Joseph a cup of Joe in a red cup. (Hmmm, maybe there’s something to this…Joseph? Joe?

In short, whether you honor this season by attending religious services or not, why not be inspired to be more loving, more giving, more caring, more peaceful…and then vow to keep that spirit alive ALL year long.


To say that in my lifetime that we’ve come a long way regarding race, gender, religious beliefs and age does not really add up to much when you consider the news today. Having had an “a ha” moment when some of my neighbors looked askance at me when as a seventh grader I brought an African-American friend home after school, I was made aware of prejudice and racism.

We, I believe, have made baby steps when it comes to becoming a human race where it’s not “the color of your skin that matters but the content of your character.”  And it’s not just skin color, it’s our penchant for believing “our” God is the true God and “our” religion is the only true religion. It’s also our steadfast belief that gender has rules that can’t be broken. And that aging is a weakness.

I’m sure that there was signs of discord between the different people who called the land of Oz home, but it’s here on the third planet from the sun that we have to deal with our inability to put race, religion, etc. behind.

But…as I’ve aged, I’ve come to realize that we’re going backwards. And while we would like to point a finger of blame on a very narrow demographic, we’re never going to make any progress unless we all do some intensive soul-searching and take a long, hard look in the mirror.

The problem, as I see it, is level-headed people can’t join the discussion because “we,” and I’m going out on a limb and calling myself level-headed…because we are afraid to speak up. Why? Because as much as we hate the ignorance that fuels racism, we also fear anger fed by entitlement.

Ignorance that erupts as racism can never be tolerated, and the feeling of entitlement that erupts in violence should never be condoned.

That one group of people in our society has a long list of legitimate concerns that need to be addressed should be obvious. But, it appears that those who are leaders in the struggle for justice are being sabotaged by those “few” who seize the moment to run wild, especially since many of those who are running wild are as ignorant as the people who keep them down.

I believe its time for us to have a time out.  Real leaders of both races… whose only agenda should be to reach a peaceful resolution to racism… need to emerge. Real leaders need to speak openly and honestly to “their” people. They have to put their foot down…hard…and say “no more.”  No more mis-use of the rights we all cherish. No more getting a pass for bad behavior because bad behavior is bad behavior, black or white. And bad behavior needs to be addressed.

Once we work on our bad behavior, we can begin to challenge the wrongs that befall us and use the proper power to demand our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

ruby slipper with pebble

Although author Frank L. Baum never mentioned a pesky pebble getting stuck in Dorothy’s slippers, I can’t imagine her walking all that way from Munchkin Land to the Emerald City without it happening.  It happens to all of us and usually at the worst time. (Is there ever a good time to get a pebble stuck in your shoe? I don’t think so.)

In life, unless you enjoy pain and suffering, you would stop as soon as possible and remove the pebble. However, on the YBR, a pebble is not a literal pebble, it’s a pesky metaphorical pebble…and as we all know, it is much harder to shake a metaphorical pebble from your shoe.

It doesn’t take a genius to understand the meaning behind this metaphorical pebble. It’s whatever it is in our lives that distracts us. It’s that little thing that takes our mind off the more important things in our lives.  A good synonym for pebble might be a worry, primarily because it’s the worries in our lives that often cause us to get distracted.

It makes perfect sense to empty our shoes of real and metaphorical pebbles.

But this being the YBR where metaphors often masquerade for something other than what you think, there is another way to consider the pebble. I’ll explain by telling a story.

When I was a kid of seven or eight, I’ll never forget the pained look on my mother’s face when my father would arrive home after bending his elbow a bit too much at a bar. She didn’t have to say anything. I could see the map of sorry all over her face. Seeing that painful look on my mother’s face whenever my father came home inebriated, became a pebble, not in my shoe, but in my heart.

That pebble still resides in my heart even though my mother has been gone close to 30 years. It was a pebble that taught me to be aware of other people’s feelings. It taught me to be aware of looks of pain and sorrow that might appear on another person’s face no matter how hard they try to conceal it

On Dorothy’s journey on the YBR she was continually alert to signs of pain and sadness on the faces of her traveling companions. It made her who she was.

While I heartily endorse the idea of ridding our shoes of distracting pebbles, I think we become a little stronger when there might be a pebble or two in our hearts.  It brings out the Tin Man in us.

no matter how small, is ever wasted. – Aesop

kindness kids

Whenever these cherubs get together, without any prompting, they give hugs to each other.

There must have been something in the air today because as I was driving home from my early morning college class, I was thinking about kindness only to learn that today (October 5, 2015) was anti-bullying day. While bullying  is as old as time, we have finally become smart enough to know that bullying in any fashion is wrong and should not be tolerated for a nanosecond.

Dorothy could well be a spokesperson for an anti-bullying campaign. She might not have been literally been bullied on her Kansas farm, but all that changed once she dropped in on Oz. She was bullied by the Wicked Witch who seemed to take delight in poking Dorothy along the yellow brick road. I don’t know  how she did it, but Dorothy used kindness to counteract the Witch’s bullying. It wasn’t until the end when Dorothy could not allow the Witch to bully her friends.  That’s when she took action.

Unfortunately here on planet earth when someone who has been bullied to the extreme too often either takes their own life or strikes out in rage.

Having circled the sun some 24,445 times I have learned a thing or two. I learned that bullying come in different forms. There is blatant bullying where the bully either openly taunts and teases his/her prey or resorts to the more subtle use of social media.  We are all familiar with this form of bullying.

But there is another form that gets little press.  It’s bullying by deliberately ignoring the victim.  Instead of teasing, taunting and making horrible FB posts, this bully resorts to passive/aggressive tactics. Instead of pushing a kid up against a locker in the hall, this kind of bully has a knack for making the victim feel invisible by not-including them in anything. Shutting someone out might not seem to be bullying, but when it is done deliberately, it is as mean and vindictive as open and blatant bullying.

It takes  a sixth sense to realize when someone is a victim of this form of bullying. Oddly enough it only takes an act of kindness to “include” this person rather than exclude them. A smile, some kind words, and sharing a cookie can make all the difference in the life of someone who is a victim of silent bullying.

We need to take action to end blatant bullying. We need to spread a little kindness to stop silent bullying.


For a moment forget about the wonderful Wizard of Oz movie. As good as it is, Hollywood failed to understand some of the finer nuisances that can only be found in the book.  There were no farm hands, no Elvira Gulch, and no Professor Marvel. What was left?  Aunt Em, Uncle Henry, Dorothy…and Toto, too.

Who can forget Dorothy running away from home to find happiness over the rainbow only to abandon her plan to return home where a cyclone propelled her on her fantastic  journey.

It’s different in the book. It took only 600 words to set the story to send Dorothy up, up and away. Author L. Frank Baum used the word “gray” ten times in those 600 words. He not only described Dorothy’s home and landscapes as gray, but he used the same word to paint a picture of Em and Henry.

In the book Dorothy had no reason to run away. She was not a misunderstood little girl. But she did have a longing for a place over the rainbow.

“It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her surroundings.”

And therein we learn why Dorothy was longing for something to happen. She was deathly afraid of turning gray like Em and Henry. Deep down inside she understood how easy it was to lose your color and turn grey.

overwhelmed by what her future was going to be like, a cyclone struck…and nothing was ever going to be the same.

We don’t have to wait for a cyclone to help us avoid or escape becoming gray. We have options. We have opportunities. But many of us prefer to stay grey because it’s so safe.

Having had the opportunity to teach college students for more than a dozen years I have observed, first hand, the future. The close to 1000+ students I have had in my classes were all solidly nice “kids.”  But they were in danger of becoming gray, and not because they wanted to become gray, but because many of them didn’t know they had a choice.

By and large they were all good students in high school. And by good I don’t only mean they had good grades, they were well-behaved, polite, and focused on the role they would play in the greater marketplace. From early on in their education they either knew or their parents knew, what they needed to do to “succeed.” They learned that it was far better to play it according to the rules than to take risks. When they colored, they stayed inside the lines.  And over time they only had one colored crayon.

gray crayons

What do these students need? A cyclone. They need something to send them on a journey. They need to step out of their comfort zone. They can do this by choosing to study abroad, by taking a lead role in a campus activity, by being selfless and going out into the community and volunteering, by shedding old prejudices and embracing people not like them, by being exposed to new ideas, and by standing up for what is right.

We don’t need to go to Oz, because in the book Dorothy was glad to be home, and home is where can not only bring color into our own lives, we can bring color into the lives of others.



curtain call

After a brief hiatus, I’m back. That opening remark prompts me to pose a question: Who cares? No one missed my blog. Trains did not stop running. Governments did not collapse. Donald Trump’s polls did not take a dive. And while prices might have tumbled on the stock market, the fact that I wasn’t blogging played no part in it…at all.

Then why resume posting on the YBR? Do I actually expect blog views to go through the ceiling? Despite the fact that I would like to see my daily views increase super exponentially and even though it would be nice to become one of Ellen DeGeneres’ cause celebres or one of the guests on Jimmy Fallon, Steven Colbert or even Bill O’Reilly, it really does not matter when you take a look at the world stage.

Let’s be honest. I am not depriving the world of any life-altering words or blogs of amazement. For the most part. But…I would trade having a million followers who can’t wait for my next cat video for just making a difference in the life of one person, because in the end it really doesn’t matter how famous you are, how rich you are, or how many times your name appears in print.

We all have a limited time as passengers on the planet earth. When you’re in your twenties, thirties, forties and even in your fifties, you aren’t always conscious of your life span. Then one day it hits you. You look stage right and you see a new cast of characters waiting in the wings. You look stage left and you notice a stage hand reach for the rope that raises and lowers the curtain.

So, before the curtain rings down, I will continue to blog on the Yellow Brick Road…even if it is for an audience of one.


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