July 2010


Tony Hayward (BP CEO) is finally stepping down after his handling of the busted well was almost as disastrous as the spill itself.  Several of his insidious comments and actions over the past few months underscored the gap that exists between the super-wealthy and the working-class family. 

It was obvious throughout the last three months of his finger-pointing, selfish reign that he was looking out for himself.  Back in May, he described the spill as “relatively tiny” to keep the dogs at bay.  During the congressional hearing (which I actually recorded and watched), his most common answer was something to effect of, “I wasn’t a part of that decision.”  Come on, you’re the CEO and ultimately responsible for every decision the company makes.  Your company made a huge mistake so man up and take responsibility.

Probably his biggest gaffe was during an apology in June when he stated, “I’m sorry, we’re sorry… I’d like my life back.”  Are you kidding me?  This guy is making an apology to the people of the Gulf Coast who just recovered from losing everything to Hurricane Katrina.  Many of those people are now experiencing a complete loss of their livelihoods for the second time in five years and will suffer the repercussions of this disaster for the unforeseeable future.  While speaking to the people who now have nothing Hayward whines that he “wants his life back”!  That’s right, he wants “his life” of making obscene amounts of money (he made $4.7 million in 2009), watching his yachts race (which he did immediately after the Congressional hearings), and a standard of living that is unimaginable to those whose lives were ruined by his company.

It is as if he regards those hard-working people on the Gulf as not being worthy of making a decent living while his life of luxury and opulence is owed to him.  His resignation package includes another $1.6 million and a pension of $928,000 per year from a pension fund valued at $17 million.  The guy is already filthy rich.  Think about the difference that money could make in the lives of people whose futures were devastated by his company under his tenure.

Unfortunately for Mr. Hayward, this will be his legacy.  I’m sure he did a lot of good things while he was BP’s CEO, but he will go down in history as the man in charge when the worst oil spill in the history of the United States destroyed livelihoods and the environment.  That’s just the way it works.  You can spend your life building things up, but you will be remembered for what you did when they fell down. 

So, what are we to do?  Should we run around like Chicken Little constantly fearing destruction?  Of course not!   While Mr. Hayward may not have been personally responsible for the spill, he was personally responsible for his reaction to it.  Our character is tested during times of crises.  Even though circumstances beyond our control can threaten to destroy our legacy, the way behave under those same circumstances can strengthen it.

Mr. Hayward is young and has the opportunity to change his legacy, but it won’t be easy.  Now that BP is bringing in new leadership, at least the company has successfully stopped the flow from one of its toxin-gushing wells.

Advertisements

My wife and I are planning a trip to Estes Park, Colorado in a few weeks.  We love to hike and will have unlimited opportunities to do so in this beautiful part of the Rocky Mountains.  There is one slight problem.  What she calls hiking seems to me more like a leisurely stroll designed to give one an excuse for knocking out a pint of Ben & Jerry’s later. What I call hiking, she calls painful and terrifying.

Here’s a case in point.  A few years back, we went to Glacier National Park.  On a hike up a mountain to see Grinnell Glacier, she decided that it was time to turn back less than a mile from the glacier.  I thought we should push on.  I was wrong.

After we made it back to the trailhead and got a burger at a nearby restaurant (post-hike food is incredible, no matter what it is), I gave her enough grief over turning back that she agreed to do the Highline Trail.  I didn’t tell her this was a fourteen mile hike… that started at an altitude of over 6,500 feet… and we would need to hit the trail around 6 am.

Anyway, I’m planning on doing some big hikes and she’s planning on getting a massage at the chalet.  There will be some sort of compromise in which I’ll back off on my Lewis and Clark enthusiasm and she’ll put in more miles than she would care to.  Since I work out regularly and am too stubborn to admit that I am tired during a hike, I should be good to go for the hikes.  When it comes to workouts, I am definitely in the “no pain, no gain” camp.  While Sara does work out, most of her “workouts” consist of sitting on a recumbent bike and occasionally moving the pedal in a circular motion while watching teenage vampire movies.

We agreed that if she were to hike with me in a few weeks, we would need to get a little more serious about her workouts.   I went through a simple body-weight leg workout designed to strengthen her legs and improve her lung and heart capacity.  The introductory workout consisted of speed squats, lunges, jump lunges, and jump squats.  Just three sets of each exercise.

During the workout, she kept calling me a drill sergeant.  I can’t tell you what she called me after the workout.  She was so sore the next day she wobbled around like a penguin with hemorrhoids.  She was unable to stand up, sit down, or look in my direction without letting out a pain-induced moan.  I don’t know what she does at work when she sits on that little doctor’s stool with the seat about eighteen inches above the ground.  My guess is once she sits on it, there’s no getting up and she just wheels around the office like R2-D2.

I keep telling her that the preparation will be worth the pain because she will get more out of the hikes while we’re in Colorado.  She keeps telling me I’m a lunatic.

***INTERRUPTION***

True story – as I am writing this, I went to check on Sara because she was supposed to have already left for a meeting.  I found her sitting on the edge of the bathtub straining to buckle her shoes but unable to do.  The look on her face said it all.  I had to buckle her shoes for her and encouraged her by letting her know that worst soreness actually comes two days after the workout.  I’ll let you know how this turns out.

Yesterday was trash day.  Since our driveway is about an eighth of a mile long, I have to load all the garbage and recyclables up in the back of my truck and haul them to the curb.  Usually, it is either raining or we have thirty mile an hour winds when I do this.  I despise trash day.

I went through my typical routine of emptying all the trashcans, gathering the recyclables, and changing the diaper genie.  If you don’t know what a diaper genie is, let’s just say it certainly doesn’t grant any wishes. 

The diaper genie is a receptacle where you put all the really dirty diapers that you don’t want smelling up the house for week.  I once cut up my expired credit card and put it in there along with the diapers thinking no one would steal it from there.  They did.  I got a call a few days later letting me know that someone tried to use the expired card.  I almost wanted to tell the guy from the credit card company to go ahead and let the charges go through because whoever pieced the card together to get the number earned it.

Let’s get back to my story.  I loaded everything up and drove it down to the curb where I began unloading.  After setting the trashcan and the recycling bin on the curb and handling mounds of trash and dirty diapers, a peanut butter jar rolled out onto the curb.  I picked it up (getting a little peanut butter on my thumb), tossed it into the recycling bin, and… licked my thumb – the same thumb that had been handling trash and dirty diapers.  On top of that, I let my dog lick the peanut butter jar before taking out the trash.

I realized my error immediately and started gagging and spitting out whatever peanut butter was in my mouth.  The neighbors probably thought I was crazy. 

How did I get into this?  I was doing something mundane, I smelled something good (I love peanut butter), and I followed my urge to taste what I smelled.  As a result, I essentially went dumpster diving in dirty diapers and dog leftovers.  Had I been thinking about what I was doing, I never would have licked my thumb.

I wonder how much of our day is spent doing things without really thinking about what we’re doing.  Who knows what we do every day while we’re mentally checked out.  Of course, if we’re not present in mind, we’ll never know.

I just realized that today is Tuesday, not Monday.  I didn’t write anything last night because the holiday weekend threw my schedule off.  I’ll get back on track next week.