Bullets

I have a 76 year old retired airplane pilot friend. Great guy. On his last legs. Anyway, he flew in the Vietnam War and, in fact, one of the planes he flew sits on the 'Enterprise' in the Hudson River today.

Yesterday, he told me the following story; He said he’d heard that during the second World War some big American plane flew over Germany and was attacked by a small German fighter planes, as well as by shots from the ground.

The big plane got hit in the gas tank but, somehow, the bullets didn’t explode and the Americans made it back to friendly ground. During repairs, the mechanics found 12 unexploded identical big bullets in the gas tank.

Based on their entry points, it appeared all 12 came from the ground.

One of the twelve bullets seemed much lighter than the others. So, they took the risk to open it up. Inside, there was a note from the Jewish concentration camp prisoners who had made the bullet.

Feel free to forward this email on to anyone you know who you think might like to read it.

70

NH 1971 edited
The original group back in August, 1971. That's me in the center holding my daughter, Sarah, who is now 45.

I’ll be 70 tomorrow.

Don’t send me birthday wishes.  I know you wish me well.

I admit I have a hard time seeing me as 70.  Wait a second – 16 was yesterday.

And it seems like – in many ways – I’m just getting started.

But I know the runway is getting very short for me.

I like to play with golf with strangers.  The pro’s here hook me up with a threesome who has an opening for a fourth.  When they introduce me before the round, I often think “Look at that old bas**rd.”    Then – we ride and talk around the course – and it turns out the “old bas**rd” is younger than I am!!

Other than having endless aches that come and go – a different one every day – I don’t feel 70.  My mind thinks I’m still in high school.  My body tells me I’m not.

While I’m in-and-out of doctors offices and hospitals a lot, I don’t have anything I know of that’s going to kill me imminently.

I’ve outlived many of my friends,  I don’t know why I’m still alive.  I should’ve been dead long ago.  [You don’t want to know.]  But, for some reason, whoever is upstairs decided to keep me around.

And I’m very glad to be here.

I haven’t really changed that much since I was a kid growing up in Westport.  I still expect the best from people [and am all too frequently disappointed.]  I cherish my friends, love to play sports, and take great joy in the success of others.  LIttle kids – anyone’s little kids – make me smile.  And I still like old people.  Their wisdom and strength in the face of old age impresses me no end.

It’s true I have my share of regrets.  I’m sorry I wasted precious time along the way.  I’m sorry I kept some people in my life far longer than I should have.  I’m sorry I was never able to sustain a decent marriage.  I’m sorry I let some people disappoint me for a second time when the first was more than enough.

I’m sorry I can’t play the piano.  And I’m sorry I can’t draw a portrait.  But I’m working on both.

I’m sorry that when my time comes I won’t be leaving any kind of post-mortem greatness.  It will be a quiet goodbye.  But I do hope I survive in the memories of friends.

I know I spend probably too much time thinking of those who were part of my life, and who are now gone.  I miss a lot of friends.  I miss my parents.  My Aunts and Uncles.  I of course miss my Evan, and I even miss my brother Nicholas.  They were all important to me and I loved them in my simplistic, self-absorbed way.

The future looms.  I’m fading.  I know.  I can’t remember too well.  Each morning I wake up and put my eyes on and my ears in.  I once could memorize 100 pages of 18 columns of numbers no problem.  I once could read “The New York Times” and – without advance notice – recite back on request pretty much every article on every page on every column.  For years, I took the Time Magazine annual quiz of events and scored 100.

At lot of phonies, manipulators, con artists, flying monkeys, hypocrites, and just plain mean, nasty people have come in-and-out of my life.

Too many were closest to me.  The tide went out on them and I got to see they were swimming naked.

Fortunately, many more kind, decent, gentle, human beings who continue to amaze me and warm my little heart have also come along and more than compensated for the baddies.  They are the people I look back on and smile.  They enhanced my life.  Without them, the bad guy’s would’ve won.

In ways I’m grateful for the bad guys.  They’ve taught me how to spot them early so I can shuffle away before they do too much damage.

I’ve watched and listened to the pontificators, and I lived long enough to see how wrong they often are.

I run out of energy quickly.  Have about three good hours every morning.  If I would allow myself, I’d fall asleep in my chair every afternoon.  That said, there’s never enough time in the day for me.  The days fly by, and I’m pissed when they’re over.  I never did, and still don’t, want to go to bed.  There’s so much more I want to do.

I’m hoping my health holds out for at least another 10 years [but I might need a little help on the mental side.]

I know where I’m headed.

But I’m planning on making my 70’s the best years of my life.  Despite all of my decaying, I still feel very alive and engaged.  I enjoy watching ‘the younguns’ immensely as they struggle with the same things I once struggled with.   If they only knew ...

I don’t see getting old as a depressing decline of mental and physical capacities.  [Although I guess it’s part.]   I see my age as giving me perspective, as freedom from nonsense of all kinds, and a time to do whatever I want.   I’m in no hurry.  Not stressed by unnecessary ridiculous drama.   I’ll leave the drama outside the gates.

I see my 70’s as the time to savor life.   To relish all the great things I’ve seen, experienced, and still have – my health, my daughter, my many great friends, my home, my freedom, and so on.

So tomorrow’s not going to be a bummer day for me.  I’m looking forward to being 70.

And 80.

You need remorse.

“Regret is where you admit wrongdoing and say, ‘It won’t happen again’ and then say, ‘Can’t we just move on?’

Remorse is where you look deeply into the eyes of the person you beat up, see the damage you did, let them see that you accept responsibility for it, and then say, ‘I did that. I was wrong. I’m sorry.’ No excuses, no explanations, no defenses.”

What month is it?

beach club
I stopped by the beach club this afternoon and there was this guy doing electrical work around the pool.

So, having nothing else to do, I hung around and watched him work for a few minutes.

I don’t think I’ve in totality spent more than 15 minutes at the club but — given the beach club is right on a beautiful beach — I asked him if anybody ever used the pool.

He said they will be starting this weekend.  I replied, “Oh … What’s this weekend?”

He looked at me with a crooked head and said, “It’s Memorial Day weekend.”

And I said to myself, “Oh yeah.  It’s May.  I know because my birthday was last week.”

Trying to get my bearings, I next asked him, “What day of the week is it?”

By then, I could tell he thought I was either pulling his leg or nuts.

But I’m not nuts.  The truth is I really have to concentrate to tell what year it is.

When you are retired — no working — and behind the gates where the outside world never enters — it’s hard to keep track of things.  There’s no real schedule.  All you have to do is keep track of your tee times and tennis times.

And you don’t even have to do that because this reminder thing on your phone tells you when to start getting ready for your tee times.

I don’t know about this retirement stuff.

Paul McNulty and Lynyrd Skynyrd

I grew up — in Westport, CT — with a guy named Paul McNulty.  Was, in fact, best man at his wedding in 1969.

He spent his life coaching and — while now retired — still coaches Lacrosse at our old high school in Westport.

Anyway, he has an interesting connection to the band Lynyrd Skynyrd and the local newspaper reports it today.

You might get amusement out of the article.  You can read the articlenuts hour by clicking here.

My best business advice.

wra-sjp-3-2013

I’ve been asked for my best business advice.

Here it is:

Look around for someone who — for whatever reason — is a genius at business.

I’m now 68, been working since I was 18, and have stumbled upon only 4 people that would qualify.  These people are hard to come by.

Given that, look around for a company that is hot, hot, hot!   Soaring.

Find a way to get a job at that company.

Don’t be picky about what your job will be.  As they say, if you get offered a ride on a rocket ship, you don’t ask what seat you’re getting.  You just get on.

Learn that business inside-and-out.  Especially learn the weaknesses.

Fix those weaknesses and go out and start your own competitive business.

The Lake

2014 lake

When I was 15 or so — 1960 or 61 — I went as a guest to Lake Horace in Weare, NH for a summer week [or maybe it was two].

Anyway, there were about 10 families from Westport [CT] were I grew up who went there every summer. Each family rented their own cabin.

Had a great time.

A friend who was there as well and I later decided to start our own group when we were ‘grown-ups’. In 1971, we did just that. He rented a cabin and invited a high school friend. I did the same and invited another friend. We split up and continued inviting friends.

Over the years, we got married and had kids. And our kids grew up and got married. And they had kids. So, the group has grown considerably.

This year, I did a little video. You can see it by clicking here.

Hope you enjoy it.

Mack Miner

Image

When I finally got up the nerve — on March 1, 1979 — to go out on my own and open Angell & Company it was a scary thing.  I had two kids, and an ex-wife who was chafing at the bit to throw me in jail if I was late with my child support. I sent out an announcement of my madness and the first person to call was the marketing director of a big bank.  His name was Mack Miner.

Mack said he wanted me to do a tracking study for him. Year contract.  He then asked me if was well-funded.  I replied, honestly, that I wasn’t.

So, he then asked me how much of the tracking study money would go to outside vendors and how much would go to me.  And I told him. 

Normally, billing would be spread out for the length of the year long contract. But Mack said to bill him the full amount right then.  He was, in effect, advancing me money and funding me.  I was deeply touched, and I reciprocated by opening a banking account to cover his advance money [so his bank was assured $ if I went toes up.]

That advance money took a lot of heat off me.  It gave the me the security and latitude to become a fabulously successful company.
And I owe much it to Mack’s help.  How do you thank somebody like that?

I just heard that Mack has died.  He was 70.  I was honored to have him as my friend.  Honored.