Wednesday, June 30, 2010

MAN (And not so much ... Wo man)

Mark Twain wrote*:

"Damn these human beings; if I had invented them I would go hide my head in a bag."

"I am only human, although I regret it."

"Such is the human race. Often it does seem such a pity that Noah didn't miss the boat."

(However, MT/SC had some good things to say about women.)

I know Jesus or his writers said it much better ... but I have a lot more respect for most have-nots than I do for most haves.

I wish we would all strive really hard to be "No. 2"!

*From: The Wit and Wisdom of Mark Twain, 1999, Dover Publications.

LAWRENCE: Devine Warhorse, Aggie, Clark Cougar, O'CONNOR PANTHER, ...

These past months I've lost some good friends, Dr. Lanier Byrd, SGM Wallace Goodlow, USA ret., ... my brother Lawrence.

Lawrence's obituary read:

"Lawrence 'Larry' Alton Martin, age 61, went peacefully home to be with his Lord Jesus on January 28, 2010. Lawrence was the second oldest of six children born to Luther Alton and Louise Martin of Devine, Texas on April 22, 1948. He married his high school sweetheart, Barbara Sue Williams, on November 22, 1972. They were blessed with two children: daughter Lisa and son Matthew. Following his graduation from Texas A & M University in 1971, he began his career in education by teaching biology and coaching at Alamo Heights High School for eight years. During that time he obtained his Masters in Education and Administration from UTSA. He then began work at Northside ISD in 1980 as a coach and teacher at Clark High School. He became an administrator in 1982 and continued to serve Northside ISD until he retired due to cancer in November of 2009. During his career, he worked at Clark High School, Stinson Middle School, Zachary Middle School, and completed his career as Principal at O'Connor High School. He was preceded in death by his father Luther Alton Martin, and is survived by his wife, two children, and five grandchildren: daughter Lisa and her husband Michael Louro of Austin, TX and their 3 children: Jody, Hudson and Ruby; and son Matthew and his wife Kate of San Antonio, TX and their two children: Annabelle, and Samuel Lawrence (expected April, 2010). He is also survived by his brothers Paul and wife Betsy of Seguin, John of Dallas, Charlie and wife Kathy of Jasper, TX, Kenneth and wife Linda of Atlanta, GA, and sister Linda and husband Tim Gunn of Devine, TX. Larry loved the Lord. He was a man of sincere faith and remarkable character. He was passionate about caring for others and he loved people well. He was a servant leader and he will be dearly missed."

Lawrence was passionately remembered and eulogized by thousands in varied wonderful ways!

My Memories of Lawrence Alton Martin delivered in the evening service were:

"Barbara, Mom, Lisa, Matt, all of you wonderful folk …

I’m Paul, … also know as Pablo, or Paul Bain—or 'Paulwayne' … as Lawrence used to say it years ago when we ran around with Greg Jasik and Paul Clay Lessing down in Devine. …

I’m next up in line from Lawrence, with the rest of our 4 siblings being younger--and wiser.

We honor Lawrence Alton Martin today! But in doing this, I think he’d be pleased if I mentioned a few of those who helped make him the wonderful and amazing man he became.

My brother Lawrence had--I think--the best balance of traits from Mom Louise and Dad Alton … of all of us 6 kids. He was a critical listener and life-long learner and the good stuff he got from Mom and Dad was enhanced by what he learned in the fields from Tony Cruz & Salame Gallegos, and on the field from Coach Comalander.

And from Coach Marvin Gustafson. … Coach Gus! … It really is fitting that both Lawrence’s and Coach Gus’s funeral services are and were here in this beautiful church. Really appropriate because Coach Gus had such an influence on Lawrence—and of course directly and indirectly he influenced many of us who are here today.

Also, Lawrence learned from Coaches Robbins, Alexander & Padron.

And vo-ag teacher Mr. Henry Moss, … Mrs. Allen, Mr. Sechist and Leo Bohl, the Outlaws of Black Creek, Gary Wilkinson, Frank Dodson, Dunar Kielman, all the Jasiks, Irwins, Penas, Chapas, Pompas, Haasses, Ehlingers, Campseys, Bendeles, Bains, Jungmans, and Haywoods; Lilian Sauter, Matt Williams, Ken Milam, Dr. Debbie Sonnen, and Dennis Ann Strong.

I could go on and on and name many others from whom Lawence learned, … because as I’m trying to stress--Lawrence truly was a great listener and learner!

He was sometimes strongly opinionated. But he was open-minded. And he did learn from all of you who are here today—and lots of others.
Lawrence was quietly humble, loving, compassionate, tolerant, devoted and devout, disciplined, punctual, … unassuming, … but he was also skilled, hard-working, daring, persevering, and relentless. He was a very likeable people-person. … He was real people!

Lawrence was a role model’s role model. … And I stress again, … his character and integrity resulted mostly from humility, discipline, … hard work to hone his talents into skills, … and lots of innate love. … Love. Man does he love his grandkids, kids, wife and parents, and the only grandparent we knew, Grandma Eva Martin.

Moreover, as his son Matt so beautifully put it Wednesday at the Library dedication ceremony for Lawrence, Lawrence truly believed that everyone is very important and he treated them that way always--and each and every day. Moreover, he was 'adamant' in encouraging and demanding that all live up to their potential in life’s journey—no matter how rocky the road.
Lawrence was 15 months younger than I but over the years he taught me a bunch in varying ways. Through the years he gave me:
healthy competition,
some discipline and order,
a place to live,
great roommates,
a beautiful wife, kids and grandkids,
a solid pragmatic socio-political view ...
and of course, so much more.

He was a really good brother!

I could tell 100s of stories about Lawrence. But don’t worry, I won’t stay up here much longer. And Barbara, … I won’t tell any of those stories where you scold me with, 'Oh Paul, quit telling those stories.'

But here’s several Lawrence stories which I think are telling about his character.

1. Our youngest sibling, our only sister, told me this one this last week.

It’s a hot July day at that little non-airconditioned 2-bedroom house in Devine on Texas Highway 173 where Triple C Restaurant is now, where 8 of us slept and ate, and bathed in a tiny bathroom with a tub—and where your right leg burned from the space heater in the winter when you sat on the toilet.

Anyway, Linda, John Russell and Charlie are watching Lawrence cut into a cold Black Diamond watermelon out on the hot sidewalk. Lawrence just shallowly slices out a big chunk of the rind and then quickly plunges in with his hands and pulls out the whole heart, buries his face in it, and then says, “Here, y’all can have the rest.” Sister Linda said she was too young to really understand what was happening, but immediately brothers Charlie and John Russell were not happy campers.

Lawrence could be mischievious!

2. Lawrence was a craftsman—a builder of beautiful things … furniture, Dr. Sonnen’s house, his weight machine (Maybe the weight machine isn’t so beautiful, but it is beautifully functional.). … Let’s go to hot, sand-duned, desert-like Lamesa, Texas just south of Lubbock in the early 60s. A couple of brothers are welding on a pea viner—or big pea sheller--which Uncle Peggy Martin was constructing at Cotton King Gin on the road to Punkin Center.

“Good lord! What the heck is this. That splattering mess will never hold Paul Bain!”
“Wow!! Look at that beautiful bead. Way to go Lawrence!! Great work!!!”

(That was our work supervisor, future Dad-in-Law of Lawrence’s, Matt Williams who checked over our welding work. … And yes Lawrence was a good welder!)

He was a good tractor driver too, and could really effectively run, trouble-shoot and fix the sort of "Rube Goldburg"-bean-harvesters Uncle Peggy purchased and modified in the 1960s.

3. OK, now—another hot day; early summer. Lawrence and I are in a cotton trailer full of pink-eye purple hull peas … out in front of the old icehouse and next to the train docks and tracks in what was then agricultural-Devine … tossing the pea pods with pitch forks into another cotton trailer to keep them cool.

This will be our day’s work, just tossing peas to keep them air-cooled before there are enough coming in from the field for a full semi load to send to Allen Cannery in Siloam Springs, Arkansas.

I’m the big brother and I try to keep up with Lawrence—and because of this, our Uncle Peggy, for whom we were working, is really getting his money’s worth. … But there is no way I can compete with Lawrence. He’s like a machine, quickly filling each fork-load with pea pods and tossing them high without stopping. Like a relentless machine!!

4. Now let’s travel up old Highway 81—this is before President Eisenhower’s Interstates were completed--on a school trip to the old “natural” pool at Landa Park, New Braunfels—the wonderful town where my Mom was raised. There’s a tall tower at one end of the pool which has since been removed because of danger to divers—and I am too scared to go off of this high tower.

But not Lawrence! I watch him all afternoon--along with all the pretty girls around the pool—go off that tower time after time—doing flips and spins and somersaults and twists and tucks… perhaps not so beautifully, but truly amazingly. (He was already 'The Amazing Mr. Martin.') Lawrence’s body was totally cherry red from hitting the water every which way, … but up that tower he’d climb again.
OK, we need some audience participation! … How many of y’all saw Lawrence walk on his hands at some time in the past—maybe in the school reception area up on the bar or at a Pep Rally? …

He could get kind of crazy sometimes.

5. This is the last story, and this time it’s late fall and much cooler. It’s actually a beautiful crispy cold Friday night, a Warhorse playoff game in Devine which I’d come home to from College Station to see. We Warhorses won the toss to play at home and it is an excitingly wonderful game to watch. There’s this little roving monster-man, my tough daredevil of a brother Lawrence, fighting off blockers and stacking 3 or 4 of them up play after play, and still getting tackle after tackle at near the line of scrimmage.

And in 'Double A' Devine you were in shape and went both ways—offense and defense. In addition to all his tackles as linebacker, Lawrence also did his share of great blocking as offensive guard that night.

I could tell other stories, but I think these 5 are illustrative of some of Lawrence’s many good and amazing traits and skills.

I congratulated Lawrence some years back when he received a principal of the year award for work at Zachary Middle School. He sloughed off the congratulations saying, 'They love the heck out of you one minute, and are ready to can you the next!'

Of course that never really was true in the case of Lawrence. And I know y’all will all continue to love him and will honor him by being life-long learners to the good of others, society and the ecology. I know you’ll keep learning from Lawrence Alton Martin.

Discipline, humility, compassion, love for all, tolerance. For Peace … not War. Belief in all humans—and their importance, and expecting the best out of each of you! …

Discipline, humility, compassion, love for all, tolerance. For Peace … not War. Belief in all humans—and their importance, and expecting the best out of each of you! …

Thank you again Matt/all of you for this honor to speak a bit about Lawrence."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Priceless from Citibank

Cancel your credit card
before you die.
Can you believe this?
Be sure and cancel your credit cards before you die!

This is so easy to see happening - customer service being what it is today.

A lady died this past January, and Citibank billed her for February and March for their annual service charges on her credit card, and added late fees and interest on the monthly charge. The balance had been $0.00 when she died, but now somewhere around $60.00. A family member placed a call to Citibank.

Here is the exchange :

Family Member: 'I am calling to tell you she died back in January.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and the late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'Maybe you should turn it over to collections.'

Citibank: 'Since it is two months past due, it already has been.'

Family Member: So, what will they do when they find out she is dead?'

Citibank: 'Either report her account to frauds division or report her to the credit bureau, maybe both!'

Family Member: 'Do you think God will be mad at her?'

Citibank: 'Excuse me?'

Family Member: 'Did you just get what I was telling you - the part about her being dead?'

Citibank: 'Sir, you'll have to speak to my supervisor.'

Supervisor gets on the phone:

Family Member: 'I'm calling to tell you, she died back in January with a $0 balance.'

Citibank: 'The account was never closed and late fees and charges still apply.'

Family Member: 'You mean you want to collect from her estate?'

Citibank: (Stammer) 'Are you her lawyer?'

Family Member: 'No, I'm her great nephew.' (Lawyer info was given)

Citibank: 'Could you fax us a certificate of death?'

Family Member: 'Sure.' (Fax number was given )

After they get the fax :

Citibank: 'Our system just isn't setup for death. I don't know what more I can do to help.'

Family Member: 'Well, if you figure it out, great! If not, you could just keep billing her. She won't care.'

Citibank: 'Well, the late fees and charges will still apply.'

(What is wrong with these people?!?)

Family Member: 'Would you like her new billing address?'

Citibank: 'That might help....'

Family Member: ' Odessa Memorial Cemetery , Highway 129, Plot Number 69.'

Citibank: 'Sir, that's a cemetery!'

Family Member: 'And what do you do with dead people on your planet???'

And you wondered why Citi Bank needed help from the Feds?