Monthly Archives: September 2009

Remembering a Personal 9-11

I’ve been reading all day about remembrances of September 11, 2001. That got me to doing some reminiscing of my own. Everyone has a story. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing. Here’s mine.

At the time, I was the project manager on a massive government relocation program. We were moving about 1,200 state employees from the GA Dept of Revenue off of Capitol Hill in Atlanta out to an outlying location about 10 miles from the Capitol. Every Tuesday morning at 7 am, we had a project status meeting with the department heads. There were about 20 people in each of these meetings.

I was temporarily housed in the new building and we were having the first of these weekly meetings there. Our IT department had already moved and I was occupying a cubicle on their floor.

The meeting broke up and I returned to my temporary cubicle to answer a call from my wife. Because she was a teacher, and two months pregnant at the time, I was disturbed to receive a call from her at that hour – wondered why she wasn’t at school. The news she had for me was shocking. As I listened to her telling me what was happening, I looked across the way and saw a group of middle eastern programmers watching a video on their computer screen of smoke coming out of the side of the WTC and speaking loudly in a language I obviously couldn’t understand. But it got worse.

I immediately left for the day. Not because of what was happening in NYC, but because the news my wife told me on the phone was much more personal. She was losing our baby.

I imediately raced home (12.8 miles – a short commute by Atlanta standards) and held her as she writhed in pain. Together, we saw the North Tower collapse.

Jean and I had been married for two and a half years by that time. We honeymooned for 10 days in NYC and had visited there again just a few months prior for our “once in a lifetime” experience of standing in 18 degree weather watching Dick Clark from about 60 feet away in Times Square. On that trip, we had shopped in the mall below the WTC, I vividly remember the girl who helped us at the Coach Store. We bought clothes at Century 21 across the street, and toured the little church and cemetery down the block. New York was our adopted vacationland. We had even considered moving there, and I had gone on several interviews there before the job with the State of GA came along.

So, my reminiscence of 9-11 involves some deeply personal stuff. We didn’t lose any loved ones in the attacks that day, but I couldn’t (and still can’t) get it out of my head wondering how many people we had seen on that trip who may have been killed that day. How many of them were instantly disintegrated? How many of those that we said “Hi” to, as crazy southerner tourists? How many were just GONE? 

But we had one of our most intimate experiences as a family that day. We cried a lot and prayed a lot that day and in the days to come. Mercifully, God had a plan for us that we did not understand at that time. We stayed in Atlanta. Our daughter was born almost exactly 10 months later. And we have had so many blessings since that time, I can’t name them all. I will mention that the best news out of that day was that my college roommate’s daughter was born that day. Easy to remember her birthday.

But the horror we felt as we watched all those years ago . . .  is ingrained in our psyche. We still feel it to this day. We will never forget.



Filed under Christianity, Georgia Government, Uncategorized

Thoughts on the Obama Address to Congress

I really don’t want to get engaged in political flashpoint issues on this, but after last night’s heckling of the President by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC), I guess I have to put in my two cents worth.
This afternoon, I got involved in an online “conversation” with several younger people. The originator commented that if she had called her boss a liar in a staff meeting, that she would have been fired. Hmm.
Someone responded with this gem, “His boss is not the President, his boss are the racist republicans that he represent [sic] in his district. To them he is a hero. And of course he is the liar because the plan does not cover illegals. You know that I’m glad to see that you are paying attention…Don’t call your boss a liar LOL!!!” She kind of halfway had that right. His boss is not the President, but his constituents who hired him to represent them.
My response, was this. “I may be missing something, but how can Joe Wilson’s outburst be construed in any way as racist? It was stupid of him to shout it out, but racist? Nope.”
Another response to that was, “To Todd Kelly…Who [sic] do you see on TV when illegals are mentioned and what is the President. [sic] Last but not least who [sic] do you see at the town hall meeting with the same disrepectful mentality of Joe Wilson? That’s how I see it! Yep!” (Notice the clever repeating here. I said “Nope”, she gave the witty rejoinder of “Yep!”)

I understand, of course, what she meant by “what is the President”. I’m not one to prejudge people based on their membership in a demographic group, or based on their ethnicity, ‘cuz I try to live in a post-racial world. I don’t care what the President’s race is – or what anyone’s race is, for that matter. I’m much more concerned about the content of his character. Isn’t that what Dr. King wanted?

What does puzzle me is that many of the same people (of all races and ethnicities) cry the loudest when “their man” (is that sexist?) is heckled. When the past administration was challenged with chants like “Bush Lied, People Died”, where were those people’s protests? When previous legislators were shouted down at war protest rallies and social security town hall meetings, where were these people? Oh wait,  think they the ones doing the shouting.

If it’s respect for the office of President of the United States, you want, then show it equally across the board, no matter the occupant. Otherwise, don’t get upset when “your man” gets challenged. President Obama is as much my president as he is anyone else’s. I respect the office he holds. He’s just really, really wrong on this whole socialized medicine issue.

Bottom line is, in my opinion, it’s a bad plan the way it’s currently proposed. Government control of medicine, the insurance industry, the auto industry, the oil industry, or any other industry simply does not work, because those who are elected soon find that they can use their regulatory power over those industries to control the ballot box. We’… Read Moreve found that already with Social Security, with Medicare and Medicaid, with public education and public transportation. They don’t work – this won’t work either.
I wish it would work. I wish that we could live in a Utopian society, wherein all of our members had universal health care and where everyone simply got along. That’s another blog topic for another day.

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Filed under Government Waste, Tax Issues

Review of Max Lucado’s Fearless

I have just finished reading Max Lucado’s new book Fearless, and I can’t emphasize enough how timely this book is. Lucado reassures the reader that it’s ok to be afraid, and he addresses many things that we fear in terms of how a Christian should look to the scriptures before reacting.

I like the way that Lucado does not preach, but rather, walks along  through the normal fears that haunt our minds and hearts. He addresses common fears like being alone, losing a job, losing loved ones, worries about children, among other fears. You feel like he shares these with you. That he has lived through them. In the book, he describes many times that he did.

What sets Fearless apart, is how Lucado uses familiar scriptures. Some of the chapters really grabbed me, and I felt my uplifted. One example is the story of Jesus calming the storm. While the disciples were afraid for their lives, Jesus slept soundly in the worst part of the boat. When He awoke, He showed them how baseless their fear was, and immediately calmed the storm, like a parent going into a small child’s room at night to prove there are no monsters under the bed. Just as the parent knows there is no monster, Jesus did not fear the storm. We, are like the small child.

Max Lucado’s book Fearless is published by Thomas Nelson Publishers.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Christianity

The Perils of Tweeting (or, It IS Who You Know, Stupid)

First, let me explain that I love Twitter. I’ve even made a little money on Twitter. I manage Twitter accounts of my own and quite a few others for clients. I have one for each of my businesses, Tweettraxx and Taxtraxx, and a personal one PToddKelly. One of my businesses, Tweet Traxx, exists solely to help my clients learn to use Twitter and Facebook as marketing tools to drive traffic into their businesses. But not using a “get 300 Twitter followers” routine.

With my personal account, I only follow friends. That’s not as pretentious as it sounds. In almost every case, anyone I follow on my personal account is someone I actually know, know of, want to hear from, and care what they have to say. This isn’t to say that none of those criteria apply to those I follow with my other accounts. In fact, I do care greatly what my followers and those I follow have to say. Thousands of followers among the many accounts I manage get good information and plenty of benefit from the businesses I represent. And I do it without being a Twitter Spammer – it can be done.

But I’m not here to tout my qualifications, but to caution that you have to be very careful with Twitter, because there really is no place to hide.

My first advice is to be careful who you follow. You need to make this call for yourself; it’s none of my business who you follow. I get that. But as for me, I try to follow only those people or organizations that I would not be embarrassed to have someone find on my “FOLLOWING” list. Be careful, and remember that anyone can go to your profile and see who you are following. Everyone. Anyone.

There are plenty of social media outlets that provide some anonymity. Twiitter is not one of them. Go somewhere else if you have something to hide. I’ll be glad to provide that information in another article; but, if you are a “pillar of the community,” or someone who wants to remain above reproach, or just don’t want your spouse (or partner) to know ALL your business, choose carefully whom to follow.

Hold on, it potentially gets much worse.

We’ve already covered watching who you follow. But, on Twitter, anyone can follow you, unless you block them. Blocking someone requires action on your part. So unless you remain on watch, you can have people following you that you might not want anyone to associate you with.

Here’s why that’s a problem. On Twitter, you can go to anybody’s page and look to see not only who they follow, but who follows THEM. So, by extension, you can see if any unsavory folks are following anyone, like your pastor, your little league coach, your business partner, your spouse. You get where I’m going with this, right?

There are countless robot applications running now that seek to build followers by following every account they can find. Now, some of these actually work, using algorithms to narrow their search by geography, relevant keywords, naming conventions, etc. Some of these perhaps, are not so great. (See my blog post “Midnight Train to Georgia” here about how I inadvertently was sucked onto the Follow-Train and how I was able to unFollow-the-Train.)

Legitimate success can also bite you. You have one successful blog post, or a couple of retweets by someone with hundreds of thousands of followers and suddenly – Whammo!!! I’m not naming names, but have you received followers that you just didn’t understand why they would follow you? Perhaps your thing is collecting Teddy Bears and you suddenly have a follower who sells lace Teddies at an adult website. OK. Fine. Maybe you have been looking for a nice gift for your wife or girlfriend – or yourself – but would you want the children, or your in-laws,or your neighbors, or your co-workers to associate you with these folks? Oh, they will. They will.

Unfortunately, we live in a society where Guilt by Association is rampant. Even if it’s not your fault. Because of this, each of us runs the risk of being found out – even if there’s nothing to find. Don’t let your guard down.

By the way, you’re all welcome to come follow any or all of my accounts. I promise not to try to sell you any underwear, or underwear products.

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Filed under Social Networking, Twitter

Social Media Makes Some Folks Laugh

Have you ever awakened in the middle of the night with a great idea for a blog, a journal entry, an invention, or a new way to do something? That happened to me recently, on August 12th to be exact. What it was inspired the headline for this blog entry, “Social Media Makes Some Folks Laugh.” So, I got up, logged in to WordPress and typed in this headline. I thought it would be a great article, that would inspire millions, and change the way we all look and use Social Media.

The great lesson I learned this time was that I have to remember to write more than just the headline next time I have an inspiring Wake Up Moment, because I completely lost the thought when I went back to write the article. In fact, I completely forgot that I had even written the headline until I was cleaning out my drafts today. Poof.

So, sorry folks. I guess that whatever world changing words would have come from my fingertips have been lost forever – kind of like the great literature of the ancient world.

If I emailed any of you in a state of slumber and told you about it, please let me know.


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Filed under Social Networking, Twitter