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I am a deeply (deeply) flawed human bean.

shy, really. and, often socially awkward. It’s not that I could, or should be compared to Howard Hughes, mind you. it’s just that I am always (always) focused. and, driven, of course, with a keen desire to win and prevail – and, with a higher standard.

it sets me apart. and, this can unnerve (most) people.

when I was eleven years old my younger brother, Greg, leveraged a lot of poor judgment and decided to toss some insults at a neighborhood bully named Tony.

I was eleven, Greg was six, and Tony was thirteen.

Tony came from a large (as in both physical stature and head-count) family, that lived up the street, and around the corner from us. for a couple of years I thought his name was actually “Hay Tooney” – you know, like a professional ball player. every time anyone (and, everyone) ever addressed, called for, or was looking at him, they would always (and, loudly) say, “Haay Tooney”!

in any event, he went after Greg. dude did not even hesitate; he was on my little brother like sewage out of the pipe. Greg had his little legs churning up our drive way for all he was worth with a head-start only just good enough that allowed for him to start calling for me. to this day I can’t remember much as I hurled myself out of the TV room, through the garage, and then with ten running steps later, full body into Tony. he already had a piece of fence in his beefy hands that he clearly meant to flail Greg with. instead, he beat me relentlessly with that piece of wood but I kept swinging and pushing. suddenly his resolve melted, possibly with my fury, and then he was on his back with me turning his nose into lasagne.

so… my Mom, the proper Sacramento debutante she was her whole life made me march over to his house the next day and apologize for giving him a beating.

“we are Cork’s. we take the higher road. you’ll understand better as you get older”, is all would say about it.

Tony and his Dad, with a small army behind them, met me at the front door. I extended my hand and simply said, “I apologize”.

…but, I didn’t mean it. not at all. I, in truth, felt like a flat-out liar. I wanted to cry. even howl, maybe.

“okay”, and sullenly, is all he said. his Dad said nothing. he just stared at me with a distant and mildly confused look splayed across his big bland olive-skinned face with a light stubble.

…the high road?

recently, I’ve lost something. and, man, it is, or was, dear to me. but, it’s really gone. and, I feel like it was stolen. now I have people that think I need to take that damn high road again and say things like, “best of luck to you. I offer my fullest support. I know you’ll do great”.

but, my heart isn’t in it. I did my best, and it was really good. the results were evident. now, some how and inexplicably, I’m taking a beating. and, it REALLY hurts. but, I have to go to the people that hurt me and take the high road because it’s, collectively, (maybe) good (maybe) for some of the people I care deeply (deeply) about.

I took a hard run Saturday and I admitted to God (but, He already knew, of course) that I did not want to take the high road. I wanted to be hurt and angry. I wanted to win. prevail. …protect people from the evil that I know is looming.

“come on, God”, said I . you and I both know there won’t be sincerity. and, what about hypocrisy?

I really do want to honor God with my response to this challenge, and the people that I’ve influenced. there’s a broken part of me that’s looking for someone(s) to be mad at. I’d love to exchange that for the patience and grace that He has, and hopefully will continue to show me. but, that’s so hard, right now.

that’s me being authentic.

this is another Kobayashi Maru, isn’t it.

however, as I was cooling down (literally, and miraculously in my heart) I knew that if I just said the words, something like, “it’s okay. I know you all will be great. I support you all”, that would, eventually (eventually) become the reality. it’s what they all expect of me, after all. let’s be very (very) clear. the words would not be sincere. they would ring hollow, in my own ears, in fact.

but, I’ll have said them. and, they might then have a life of their own, and there could be an effect.

my pain is meaningless, really. the people involved mean more to me than, well, me.

so… I wish them all the best (maybe because I want them to be happy and the best they can all be). I’ll have to move on.

…please. please (please), allow them to make me proud. and, remember, there has to be a difference between being pleased and being satisfied.

not because I say so, but because I really mean it.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

sometimes people listen to me (even my fourteen year old daughter Haley Anne). and, when they, that “collective they” do, sometimes they hear me talk about “remembering the face of my father”.

I do use that “device” for both my earthly and heavenly father. but, today, it’s about Dad.

I’m doing so because I’m remembering him. it’s the best way, I think, to honor someone – by recalling something they did that’s worth comment. and, in the case of the description that follows I think this comes in the form of something I believe happened, and ironically, only a few men would have witnessed, but was likely a defining moment for the man most of us can never be.

over the course of a life, and in this case, it was my young life, we pick up on things about the people around us. I was lucky, just enough perhaps, to have Dad in my life for most of twenty five years. in that sophomoric period of my existence my perspective had to be skewed by perception and lack of some information. but, my sense of circumstances leads me to an image of my Dad in a tough spot.

imagine this… or, this is what I picture the sort of man my father was…

Col. Clifford D. Cork USAF

it’s likely 1969 and Dad is serving one of his tours of duty in Viet Nam. eventually he would become one of the youngest Air Force officers of his era to command a Wing of B-52’s (Stratofortress) /1 under the vaunted Strategic Air Command (SAC), but also do it from the navigators chair. the B-52 was capable of altitudes that exceeded 35,000 feet. it’s monsoon season, so his plane has travelled across the storm-tossed sea dropping down through unimaginable weather, hitting turbulence that lifted and dropped the aircraft 3000 feet at a time, turning the crews stomaches from twisted knots to mush. Dad had to take turns puking into a bucket between his boots that are all but frozen to the deck, and fight his own mind-numbing fear to speak calm commands to his pilot through his air mask/ helmet radio. his primary objective (other than to lead under what he taught me was: “being a steely-eyed-missile-man”), was to use a set of simple tools (i.e. rulers, pencils, and maps) and his brilliant mind to form complex calculations that would guide his crew with pin-point accuracy to drop their payload on the right target – and, not innocent civilians.

B-52 Damaged During Turbulence

Dad once told me, something to the effect: “there were times when we were bouncing up and then down so hard and fast that all I could think of through the screaming groans of the tortured wings was that they would shear right off the fuselage”.

I knew my Dad, sort of. I don’t, and sincerely, believe he was a brave man. in fact, I understand there was much in life he feared (i.e. the loss of my Mom, and poverty). however, his courage is unfathomable. he put himself in that situation countless times, and did it better than most men that shared that chair with him (many of the B-52’s built saw service in excess of fifty years).

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

_________________

1/ Dad was one of the few SAC officers that also commanded a Missile Wing (silos). this made him unusual both in his spheres of responsibility, but his incalculatable ability to learn and lead.

by the way…

in January of 1964, a B-52D carrying two nuclear bombs suffered a structural failure in flight that caused a fire to break-out on-board. apparently over the course of emergency maneuvers the tail section sheared off. four crewmen ejected successfully before the aircraft crashed near outside of Lincoln, Nebraska. several crewmen perished. the pilot was unable to eject, and died in the aircraft. both weapons were recovered. this was one of several incidents caused by failure of the vertical stabilizer.

my Dad was part of that crew. so, there is some perspective for you, that my Dad had to carry with him going forward. and, that is another story that’s currently percolating in my head. I remember that day… I was watching television and I saw my Dad’s face appear on the screen just as my Mom took a telephone call from “the wives network”. I recall her hollow: “oooh God, …Cliff”. But, Dad came home. He always smelled good.

we were back from the Atlanta Falcons game seeing them take it down to the wire to beat the San Francisco Forty-Niners with another field goal win.

I took off for a run at North Park. the turf field has become something of a refuge through the agony that represents Joanne, and I put in a solid five miles in good form despite the pizza I choked down at the Georgia Dome only a few hours behind me.

while I was spinning around the field a growing group of multi-nation footballers (soccer) were gathering. and, as I cooled down they had finished with their easy-going warmups and started putting it one to another. the footwork was at once easy and dazzling. the joy from their hearts shown through their smiling and sweat-drenched faces. some were fit, others almost portly. but, they were all agile and quick – evidence of a life-long passion for “the beautiful game”.

that’s it. the sun was streaking through the trees and mottling the field with pieces of light that made the cooling air seem almost magical. actually it was. just a nice moment where the world seemed to spin smoothly upon it’s axis.

I’m thankful for that, today.

peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

brian patrick cork

Last week I found myself driving Haley Anne to summer soccer practice recently and faced with something of a challenge.

We were in my Ford F-150 (also known as the: “big black bad-ass soccer and dog truck”). And, it’s currently my vehicle of choice. Rowdy can sit comfortably in the back, or ride shot-gun. And, there are always soccer balls bouncing around in the back. It’s insight into my life and priorities. It’s cool and formidable, but also practical (it could pull the boat, in a pinch).

We witnessed a yellow Ferrari navigate a corner in good form and amidst a spray of gravel.

Haley Anne turned to me and asked why I didn’t drive a Ferrari (I do drive a Porsche, but she is apparently aware of the difference). “You can afford it can’t you?”, was the secondary question.

I almost told her that I am seriously considering a Volvo Cross Country Station Wagon (and, it’s true, I am).

The question that ended-up dropping out of my face was: “whom do you think has more money, the fellow with a Honda, or the fellow with a Ferrari?”

See… I thought this was a rather sage question. It was certain to set the stage for a ground-breaking dialogue between my beloved daughter and myself that would further establish our bond while I appeared wise, and she my able student.

I’ll pause here and admit that a quick image of Bill Pope popped into my head. I found my heart in my throat (I sure do miss my red-headed-Errol-Flynn-type-friend). I was also quickly thinking this was a good time to get her ready for the news that we are seriously considering a move from the big beautiful house in Milton (Alpharetta) to a more sensible home in the Crabapple area (I’m trying to send a message to my community – more about that later).

It’s still a great question, for obvious reasons. And, it raises so many fascinating ideas around wealth management, good stewardship, and self-image.

But, all that aside, I got a simple shrug with a: “who cares Daddy. Why can’t we have a Ferrari?”

I’m already thinking this is a great challenge (isn’t character always best when challenged?). What steps does this alert me to, and prepare me for, to curb her views around materialism? A defining Authentic Life moment and possibly a Kobayashi Maru.

…sigh. Lift me up, and stay tuned.

Peace be to my 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

Growing up (obviously, still a work-in-progress for me) I witnessed my Grandad and Dad always buy a meal, or cup of coffee (or pie), for anyone in uniform.

Now it’s tradition in my own family.

Haley Anne and Emma Jo see me quietly cover the tab for uniformed personnel and their families whenever we’re out-and-about. And, it’s my habit and pleasure to pay for the coffee if I see a soldier or peace officer at Starbucks.

[digression alert]

On a side-note, I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my life. I grew up in a military household. Each morning I’d awaken to the aroma of coffee and cigarette smoke. To this day I can’t smell coffee without getting a cigarette smoke headache. Coffee shops are agony for me. But, I’ll suffer a SBUX for my Vente Ice Chai. By the way… ANYONE that stands anywhere near a SBUX door and smokes SUCKS.

[end of digression]

…or lunch. I had some of my team visiting with me from Chicago recently. We were at Bagel Boys when I spotted a policeman waiting in-line. I told the crew at the cashier that lunch was on me. The officer was stunned and really grateful.

But, it was me that had the honor of thanking him for his service.

I’m not bragging, mind you. This is something that’s ingrained in my own DNA now. And, it was my Grandad that started the family tradition (and, likely his own father before him).

I stop in at the Bethany SBUX most days in the morning, and they hit me up to cover the cost of shipping LOTS of coffee to units in Afghanistan. That’s easy. I’ll do it every time. But, the overture of simply showing respect and buying a cup of coffee is profound – both for me, and the recipient.

This is only a reminder that you can quietly show your support by covering the cost of a cup of coffee (or pie). Its that common courtesy and it’s foundation that our warriors are defending every day.

Peace be to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

I’ve discussed this in, possibly, more detail with an earlier post: being pleased or being satisfied.

However, along a different track (but in so many ways the same), Friday night Emma Jo and I were at the annual Daddy’s and Daughters Dance at the Intercontinental. Woody Faulk, a Chick-fil-A stalwart, has helped sponsor the event for going on six years now.

We had a terrific time, although I’ll submit that much of the excitement is focused on the weeks leading up to the big event (that dress, and the right shoes, are a really big deal), and the sore feet to prove it. Although Emma Jo was quick to point out that they failed to play any Selena Gomez songs (or, John Mayer, and Daddy sings those tunes really well).

I had the opportunity to lift my head up and observe many of the fathers with their daughters. And, I was struck by many, and many more variable images.

And, this thought:

You can spend your time, waste your time, or invest your time. It’s your choice.

I feel great about mine. Especially how I relate to my girls.

We can’t just show up. This was greatly evident to me as Emma Jo clung happily to me, whirling slowly to the sound of a song that she could care less about.

This morning I’m listening to Fly to Your Heart by Selena Gomez (with Emma Jo working on a project nearby). It happens to be associated with Tinker Bell. And, Heartbreak Warfare by John Mayer.

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.