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Last week, I recalled that, during my many visits to the desert (you’ll ask: “metaphorically speaking?” I’ll respond: “does it really matter?”), I met a wise man named Buck O’Neil – a prophet, if you will – and, asked him the secret to a long, successful life.

“Good genes,” was all he said, at first.

Buck left us all behind October 6, 2006 – the day before my birthday, just like Dad. There is a rhythm and pattern to life with that. But, we’ll discuss it some other time.

His hair was white and his face was mahogany, calling pleasantly to mind a pint of Guinness. “I’m ninety-years old,” he continued, then pressed his fingertips to unlined cheeks, which shone like polished apples.

“Good black don’t crack”, he mused (I’m not sure he actually mused, but that word works, here).

With that, I was fully prepared to move on, and thanked him. In fact, I was already rising halfway from my seat, like a bluffing panelist on To Tell the Truth, when he said softly: “There is one other thing.”

So, I settled back, curious, I might add, and he said:

“I never fill my stomach. My mother was a great cook, but my father told me, ‘She’s only filling your stomach so another woman never gets to. She’s just trying to hold on to you.’ Ever since, I can eat more, but I never do.”

Look… The stories around Buck are countless. Many of them will bring a tear to your eye. Others will make you slap your thigh with joy in preparation of laughter. He was a black man, and it never mattered to him, even though it did to everyone else. But, everyone respected and loved Buck (Note: That might be a vital difference between men like Buck and Barack Obama. By the way, did you know that  Obama high-tailed it to Asia, pouting over his loss of the House Tuesday? Other than a vital need to drive home a point, here, I’m loathe to include Buck in the same story as Obama. But, the only real difference Obama will make in our lives is he must now change his plans to stay in power).

Let other, more articulate folks tell those stories. Especially those that lived them alongside Buck. I never had that privilege. But, I try to learn from men like him, every day, and any way.

Part of that is my on-going efforts to live the Authentic Life. And, that includes having a life well-lived, and worth remembering by those I’ve lived amongst.

So… What, then, is the secret to a life well-lived?

Here was another hint. “Don’t hate another human being,” said O’Neil, whose father was the son of a slave. “Hate cancer. Cancer took my mother, took my wife four years ago. Hate what happened on September 11. But don’t hate another human being. God made man.”

…oh wow.

I did, in fact, find myself thinking: But God made men who denied you, at various times, a toilet, a hotel room, an education, a living, your very humanity. And, of course, I voiced those thoughts, because that’s what I do (“oh really?[!]”, you exclaim. “Brian has opinions he foists on people?”).

“My parents always told me most people are good,” continued O’Neil. “Even when I was young, (Note: he lived his early days in Carrabelle, Florida), most people were good. The thing was, good people sometimes let the bad people have their way. But who wrapped their arms around Jackie Robinson in his time of need? Pee Wee Reese of Louisville, Kentucky, did. The commissioner of baseball in 1947 [Happy Chandler] was a man from Kentucky.”

With this, his left hand grabbed my forearm, and his right fist rapped his own breastbone as if it were a door.

“It comes from in here,” said he. “Doing the right thing. It takes somebody to change something. My grandfather was a slave. And God saw it wasn’t right, so he sent Abraham Lincoln. And Abraham Lincoln joined hands with Frederick Douglass, who joined hands with Sojourner Truth, who joined hands with Harriet Tubman – and, so on.”

Apparently, and thusly, human progress, in O’Neil’s view, is a chain of men with virtu (the Greek form, mind you) in their hearts (the word virtu always has me thinking of Dr. Nick Pappas at Radford University), linked at the wrist and leading to you.

O’Neil paused, and I could only sit quietly in wonder through what must be churning through that lovely mind, and then he added:

“This is the greatest country on Earth, but we can be better. That is going to be your job.”

He held my forearm like a bat. “In my day we changed some things. Now it’s your turn to change things. And you’ll do it. I know you will.”

I did pause. And, when I confessed that I struggled, with my generation, challenged to change our channels manually, much less to change the world, he invoked the memory of his grandfather Julius, born into slavery in South Carolina, and owned by a man with the surname, O’Neil.

“Grandpa used to tell me he loved Mr. O’Neil,” he said. “And I would ask him: ‘Grandpa, how could you love a man who kept you as his slave?’ And Grandpa said, ‘He never sold off a mother from her children, he never sold off a husband from his wife.’ And Grandpa, this is before all the doctors and all the medicine we have today, lived to be one-hundred-and-two years old.”

Was this good genes, I wondered, or something greater? I was merely seeking the secret of a life well-lived – how to progress – and, felt I was getting closer. So, I asked about that. And when the old man, once again, took my arm in his hand, I felt physically linked in that chain-of-virtu to all who had gone before me…

“Love,” he half-whispered, as if sharing a confidence. “Love, man. This is the whole thing.”

So… You gotta be a “Love Kat”. It’s been awhile since I invoked that one. It’s timely to be sure.

Peace be to my brothers and sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Many of us run, and daily, to or from, something.

Some of you, from everything.

Others just run.

I’m reasonably fit. And, it’s likely I can outrun, and outfit, just about anyone reading this post.

However, I’ll grudgingly admit that even jumping from airplanes into the Jungles of Brazil, just to see if we can fight our way out is mundane compared to this:

I suppose I should add a warning not to try that without the proper training. On the other hand, it’s trying that makes most points. It’s not little league baseball. It’s okay to win. And, you do that by taking calculated risks.

When I was about ten, Curtis Burton the Third and I lifted his Mom’s new silk sheets and formed a parachute (of sorts). It worked good enough. When I came to, it was under the strain of my own Mothers words to the effect: “If you are okay, baby, I’m going to kill you!”

I always think you have to try. So, does this mean we can run from failure? And, do I fear the result of not giving my best?

Recently, one of my Shockers (soccer) squads had a Mom trying to convince them not to play n a pre-season tournament because they might lose, and confidence would be at risk. I was horrified. …possibly offended. Naturally, from my world view, anyway, we marched upon our opponents with vigor. The girls fought their way into the finals. And, so there you have it.

I always try, maybe that’s the point, here.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Last week – let’s pin this on Monday – Haley Anne was still thirteen. Long legs, almond-eyed, and a fury on the soccer pitch. I’ll add adored by her Daddy, for good measure. But, that’s hardly news to the loyal followers of this Blog.

Haley Anne has always been wired for independence. She was never likely to hurl herself off of a four-story roof top with a home made parachute like I did at ten. But, she has her own mind and the steely resolve to realize it. She’s been a handful lately getting the sense of herself with all the trials-and-tribulations that come with being a teenage girl in the savage hallways of Middle School. All-in-all I’m quite pleased with her. Joanne takes the brunt and the heat of Haley Anne’s hormone-drenched temperament, while I still have more opportunities than not to be the hero. But, I’m navigating dark waters on any given day.

Mondays… They loom over us don’t they? Whereas Tuesdays are best for police raids, it’s Mondays that herald a week full of opportunity. …This includes life’s unexpected lessons.

Last Monday was the first day of the new school year and Haley Anne is now in the eighth grade. Middle school is tough, and the girls that are found in the halls are often colorful enough to put a New York City Vice Squad on edge. Haley Anne arrived safely home (she actually enjoys the bus) and was full of war stories. Most of them are of middling consequence, to me, any way – and, to yourselves, naturally. And, I was probably more focused on the evening’s soccer practice, and being content with the fact that her dress was evidently well regarded, her classes found without adventure, and her lunch crowd cordial.

We’ll step lively forward with this tale, acknowledging only that the above preamble is insufficient to signal the change of life that has forever altered my own world view. …That aforementioned, and unexpected, life lesson.

Dinner was a quick bite of lasagna before we were off to practice. That went swell as usual. Then home to a few quick emails and bed. Sleep comes fast in my head. The pillow and a death-like coma are quick and easy friends, for me.

But… With her uncanny ability to unhinge me from any deep sleep Joanne shoved my shoulder later that evening with a curt:

“you need to read this”.

What I heard in Joanne’s voice was a mixture of bemused angst (its possible, and Joanne, being English has it perfected). I wasn’t expecting a foreclosure notice or ransom note so I was a bit slow to pull myself together for thought leadership.  However glowing in the dark, and hovering in front of my face was Haley Anne’s iPhone (I knew this because mine is an iPhone 4, while Haley Anne’s is a 3G, and emma Jo’s 3G [minus SIMs Card] has a crack in the screen). All this quickly spun out of my head as I was shocked into alertness by the message:

“I LOve You. Let’s get back together”.

I’m not sure if it was adrenalin, fear, anger, numbing shock, or unrepentent outrage that surged through my body like spinach might Pop-eye from the old cartoons. But, I must have read the message ten times before I simply asked Joanne:

“who the hell sent that to Haley Anne?”

The simple response was:

“_____ – the kid from summer”.

So… Here’s the abbreviated background scenario…

Many of Haley Anne’s friends are involved in some form or another with “boyfriends”. In our household, the rule is NO BOYFRIENDS until our daughters are fifteen years of age. None. That’s it. And, that means the stuff that goes along with boyfriends. Any of it. Period. Haley Anne apparently caught the eye of this young fellow last year, and he launched a deluge of texts at her all summer. Joanne had a series of talks with Haley Anne that I won’t burden you with. But, we were satisfied that Haley Anne understood the rules and we have a clear and binding covenant in our family. I trust my daughter. And, I’m developing trust and faith in her judgment. I’m training her to be a leader in both her thinking and actions.

All along the way, I’m also being trained by my daughters, and life, as seen through their eyes, to be more open-minded and open-hearted.

I drove Haley Anne to school the next day. I asked her along the way if she wanted to talk to me about “_____”. She paused before answering barely enough to gather her breath because she’s a quick thinker, and wit, that one.

“he’s only a friend Daddy. I know what I want; and, it’s not a boyfriend. I just like having a lot of great friends.”

That helped me. And, reaffirmed Haley Anne has her wits about me – or, is a brilliant actress. I’ll submit there is all that afoot. But, here is how I’m handling this matter:

“I love you with all my heart, and I’m more proud of you you each and every day. There is a lot of change afoot. And, I need your help. If you ever think you know what love is, or start to have feelings for some lucky lad, I want you to try something… In fact, let’s give it a go this week… Find a poem that you think and feel is about love. You can’t be wrong. Just try. Just like in football (soccer) – give it your best. You can never disappoint me with effort. It’s all about interpretation. All I really care about is your opinion, your thinking, and your feelings. You can write the poem if you want to. The only rule is that it has to be something you would be willing to read and give to a person you think you love. That might be a test that you are ready to share your heart with someone other than me.”

My voice cracked, just a bit. So, she knew where all of this was coming from.

She was quiet. And, looked at me. I got the simple, slow, gentle nod with the far away look behind the eyes.

I love being a Dad. And, I trust my daughter. I’m putting a lot of faith on the line. I feel great. But, I also have the same feeling in the pit of my stomach that I have before a big race or other competition.

Stay tuned.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Rowdy is now fifteen months old, and has added boating with his family on Lake Lanier to his repetoire of great experiences.

Rowdy has made numerous new friends of both the bi-pedal and quad-pedal variety along the beach at Sunset Cove, and many of the islands that dot the lake.

He has special privileges on many a marina and boats that include free-reign to board and greet. It should be noted that all tennis balls are fair game.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

Yesterday, and on the heels of the US Mens soccer teams disappointing World Cup loss to Ghana, we found ourselves gazing in amazement at a rainbow suspended in our backyard.

To be more accurate, the rainbow appeared to end itself magically just beyond the pool, and just off our outdoor kitchen. We could hear neighbors all around us calling one to the other with excitement and delight.

I found myself wondering, briefly, where the legendary “pot-of-gold” might be.

But, then a torrential rainfall ensued. Oddly, there was not a cloud in the sky.

My little Emma Jo without hesitation, kicked off her shoes, and ran euphorically into the downpour, arms held high to the heavens, and squealing with delight.

Later, we impressed one another with our handstands.

And, thusly, no man could find himself any richer.

Peace be to mt Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

So… I grew up in a military family. Ha! It’s painfully and juxtapositionally obvious, but also perplexing to most in my path. My Dad retired from the United States Air Force as a full Colonel. Many of my memories around Dad and his own measure of success – not to mention his influence over me are often detailed in this Blog. By reference, and an apparent favorite: do not miss your Chance to blow it.

However, I cam face-to-face with a relevant application of his example and influence from long ago just yesterday.

Setting the stage…

Early on, living the life of a scion of the Officer’s Club, I was exposed to the cream of the Air Force’s Strategic Air Command, and learned what those gallant men and women meant when they lived and died by the credo: “Peace is our Profession”. without realizing it at the time I came to appreciate experience, expertise and the chain-of-command. I witnessed first-hand, the synergy employed and enjoyed by gray-haird General’s mixing daily with fresh-faced 2nd Lieutenants, all firm in the belief their lives and contributions made a vital difference to one another, and the sanctity of our Constitution.

This means it never occurred to me that age, in-of-itself, was relevant. Only performance; and, all of it driven by courtesy and respect, and the call to action around a shred purpose. None were judged by anything but their ability to command and take commands that resulted, daily, in an efficient process that enabled them all to put their very lives into one another’s hands, without a second thought.

For example, I’ve never looked at an older man and saw weakness or lack of relevance. I saw only the likely potential of wisdom based upon one experience or another.

On the other hand, it’s never occurred to me to look at young people, as relative as that term has to be, and saw a lack of potential or ability.

Mind you… I’ve had my own adventures, hinted to in this Blog as well, but understood by only a few. But, my most recognized contributions have come through my duties as a Dad – and, that of a business man, that others approach for advice, guidance and stewardship.

And, for the first time in my business life, Friday in fact, I came face-to-face with a small team of burgeoning entrepreneurs, still in college, that invaded my offices – with the intention of enforcing accountability.

Background…

I’m in the midst of acquiring another startup that I’m convinced has a product that is a marketing-oriented game-changer. These soon-to-be-graduates are currently customers of the company. They are not pleased with the progress of their unique project. Our people say there is “scope-creep”. The customer says there is poor communication and missed deadlines. I want customer satisfaction and, thusly, affirmation of my investment.

Time will tell all.

But, in any event, at the large table in my board room, I found myself with three hearty and ferocious businessmen that, by age alone, qualified them to be my children. Although their graduation from college is imminent, with less than two months to go, they seemed small to me. And, they were naive, to be sure. But, eager and passionate, more importantly. And, they were irate over what to them was a lack of accountability on the part of the company. That is something that I’m unaccustomed too. My own ventures to date have been the example and hall-marks of accountability and service. So, I started the meeting open-minded. I coach soccer teams that are now at the U14 and U16 age bracket (and, they were all once at the U11 bracket). But, this was different. The first thought was mental arithmetic. I had started my own business at nineteen, also while in college (with the help of my Grandad’s money). I sold that business a week after graduation. So, I could, at many levels, relate to these young men.

But, I was biased. I knew it right away. Not defensive because they were displeased with a company I was involved with. No… I was actually age-biased.

I liked them well enough. I put them into the hands of a Project Manager that I’m mentoring myself, and even bought the entire lot lunch. We committed to deadlines and will work, with intent and a will, to see those critical deadlines met – all based upon collaboration.

But, this is me now. I’ll be fifty in October. I know I’m fitter than most. I’m always being sized-up by representatives of every generation; and, this group was no exception. I could do fifty pull-ups (I have the bar across the doorway of my office) with them hanging onto my back. And, that is how I viewed the entire matter… I’ll sling that crew over my should and see them to success. But, along the way I have to recognize that I’m going to be seeing more people that are younger than me, than older – and, my role in the business community is going to evolve, but possibly in ways I might not have considered before now.

So, every turn creates another opportunity to learn. But, also a challenge to be that example I experienced and have tried to live by daily, sitting at the feet of men that strode like giants around the world and taught me compassion, respect and accountability.

I’ll pause here and admit that I was sorely tested, a few times, to admonish them with a firm: “Stop interrupting each other”, and, “Please stop chewing on my business card”. But, they were, from their own perspective, probably working with an “old dude” with a big reputation for the first time in their emerging professional lives.

My own daughter, Haley Anne’s visage was flashing before my eyes. So to, were the eager faces of the students at Radford University, Georgia State and MIT, where I get to lecture from time-to-time came to mind. I’ll add my plans around “brian’s BEANS” as well. And, so that stage continues to be set, and my experiences are new and levied by other new things – including newer people and opportunities.

And, all these younger people are going to hold me accountable.

I’l have it no other way as they teach me and make me better and fitter to represent and reflect every talent God can squeeze into, and out of, me. This is where the Heterodox finds itself.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

We may, and finally, have a clue as to whom “they” are. “They”, of course, being that shadowy and uncertain collective that is assigned, or assigns, every uncertain dictum.

We know they are part of “the plan”. We don’t know if the plan is managed, if you will, by the “smoking rabbit”, or that damn black dog with a pipe.

We are unclear if they and the plan can be defined under “good” or “evil”. We don’t know if this is the final stage set for the epic battle promised around “good vs. evil”.

We understand it involves a “secret”. And, the secret is also the “key” to, well, “everything” (often referred to by thirteen year olds as the obvious).

But, this is what we’ve uncovered – a (potentially) significant clue that has us all rather excited – and, worked-up:

Featured Article | SCP-055 – (unknown)

“The self-keeping secret. Nobody knows what it is, nobody knows what it does. Anyone who sees it forgets about it entirely in the space of minutes. It may have killed hundreds of people, or it may have been placed by an outside force to invisibly monitor the Foundation or humanity…. and nobody would know.”

Look for the full article, based on our joint research, to be revealed by the end of the week. That is of course, if we can remember to do so. Or, survive what is likely to be an imminent attack from “them”.

NOTE: More about this later, we hope.

Don’t be unnerved. Be aware. Or, perhaps just Beware. It’s what you don’t see that can kill you.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

what’s all this about?

I can’t explain what that damn tree means - or, if it might stand for something.

However, here I do discuss events, people and things in our world - and, my (hardly simplistic, albeit inarticulate) views around them.

So, while I harangue the public in my not so gentle way, you will discover that I am fascinated by all things arcane, curious about those whom appear religious, love music, dabble in politics, loathe the media, value education, still think I am an athlete, and might offer a recipe.

All the while, striving mightily, and daily, to remain a prudent and optimistic gentleman.

brian cork by John Campbell

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"Perhaps victory can be realized best when the heart changes."

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about this particular Theme:

I'll warn you now that Tarski is theme of this blog created by Benedict Eastaugh and Chris Sternal-Johnson. It is named for the logician Alfred Tarski. I'll recommend his papers ‘The Concept of Truth in Formalized Languages’ and ‘On the Concept of Logical Consequence’, both of which can be found in the collection Logic, Semantics, Metamathematics.