Thursday, March 30, 2006

A Grateful Response

The following letter was published in today's (3/30/06) Orlando Sentinel in response to my letter, which was published in Sunday's edition. I welcome this feedback from the Islamic community. It is precisely why I wrote the letter - to open doors of communication that will lead to a better understanding of the world's faiths.

In response to [Marinade Dave's] Sunday letter to the editor, "Religion of peace?":

Throughout time, claimed adherents to a religion have been engaged in actions of violence that not only dwarf the condemning of authors but the atrocities of 9-11.

Across the belt buckle of the infamous Nazi SS was written "Gott mit uns" -- "God is with us." Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf: "I am convinced that I am acting as the agent of our Creator."

Hitler's actions cost the world 60 million people, of whom 37 million were civilians.

In 1811, John Quincy Adams wrote, "The whole continent of North America appears to be destined by Divine Providence to be peopled by one nation, speaking one language, professing one general system of religious and political principles . . . for the common happiness of them all, for their peace and prosperity, I believe it is indispensable that they should be associated in one federal Union."

What followed were 11 million Native Americans killed to fulfill our "manifest destiny."

There are Muslims around the world calling back their brethren to the peaceful way of life, which was revealed as a mercy to mankind, sacrificing their time, money and energy. By continuing to demonize the religion that has raised humankind from the shackles of immorality, brought peace to violence-torn areas and prescribed women's political rights 1,400 years ago based on the actions of those who have fallen from its doctrine, we only make the path toward peace more elusive.

Muslims unconditionally denounce terrorism and invite people of conscience to seek and embrace the truth.




Monday, March 27, 2006

WMD...Words for Much Discussion

Pat Robertson says some pretty stupid things. Many in the Christian community condemn his erroneous "shoot from the hip" statements. Words may incite, but they don't kill. That would take a man.

I wrote a letter to the Orlando Sentinel. It was published yesterday, March 26, 2006, on the opinion page. I didn't write this to voice prejudice against the Islamic faith. My intent here was to point out the lack of condemnation from the general Muslim population for man's inhumanities against man in the name of religion. Where are the voices of Islam?

Religion of peace?

We are told the Muslim religion is one of peace.

When Salman Rushdie's book, The Satanic Verses, was published in 1989, a death sentence was imposed on him by the religious leaders of Iran for irreverence toward Allah.

Women have virtually no rights in many parts of the Islamic world and may be subject to death for even blinking at a man or exposing an ankle.

Some Sunnis and Shiites, among others, blow themselves up for heavenly virgins, taking as many innocent people with them as they can.

Political cartoonists are condemned to death for portraying satirical images of the Prophet Muhammad.

No images of any kind are allowed. Have you ever seen one?

A man is on trial in Afghanistan for converting from the Muslim faith to Christianity. The penalty is death, according to Islamic law.

Anyone of any or no faith other than Muslim is an infidel. The curse of death is upon you.

Western culture must be destroyed by any means available.

Granted, not all Muslims agree with these edicts, but where is the tolerance in this religion? Why aren't detractors vocal in denouncing such actions? Are they afraid for their own lives, as well?

God willing, we will all live in peace one day. Or we will be torn to pieces.

Since the writing and publication of this letter, the case against convert Abdul Rahman has been dropped by the court because he is mentally unfit to stand trial. Italy granted him asylum.

Friday, March 24, 2006

A Sticky Situation

Mr. Higerd was my 7th and 8th grade history and geography teacher back in the 60s at East Amwell Township School in Ringoes, NJ. He was good. He must have been in the Army before he started to teach. He used to say, "At ease, disease - there's a fungus among us." I think that was an old military phrase. Sometimes we'd sit in his classes watching old black & white films on the noisy old projector. They were from the forties and fifties and the sound was always warped and gurgly. It was a lucky day when we got to see one of those newfangled full color ones. A lot of them were old military propaganda films. We were in the midst of a cold war with Russia back then and Red China did not exist. It was grayed out on all school maps. It just wasn't there.

Our history books were meant to last a decade. When we got new ones, we knew they were going to be handed down for a few years to come. One day, Mr. Higerd caught me doing something to the book.

"DAVE!!! Did I just see you writing in that new book?" Defacing books or anything that is school property was punishable by death. It was a mandatory trip to the principal's office and that meant big time trouble. Parents usually got involved. Not a good thing.

"No, Sir. I was not writing in the book."

"I saw you writing in the book."

"No, Sir. I was not writing. I was drawing." Each day, I'd add a new picture to the next page and I had gotten away with it for weeks. He marched back to my desk and abrupty snatched the now closed book out of my hands. Walking back up to the front of the room, he rifled through the pages and saw what I had done. Somewhere in that thick book, I had drawn the first stick figure with one leg forward. The next day, I'd have the legs in a different position, arms flailing away. You fanned it in an upward motion. With each ensuing page, I had created a walking stick man. At one point, he turned around, looked up and became filled with dismay. He turned forward and started to run, picking up the pace. Down came a boulder, bouncing and rolling toward him. He tried to race away, but the giant rock was coming after him at a much higher rate of speed. Finally, it scrunched my poor little man and he was dead. Of course, the boulder kept rolling until it ran off the other end of the pages. The End.

As he flipped through those pages, watching my cartoon in action, Mr. Higerd started to chuckle. "You know, Dave, this is great." He opened the book for the class to see. "If you can't see it from back there, come on up and gather around. This is how cartoons were done originally. They still are. Action figures that change with each drawing..." and on he went for a while.

At the end of each school year, we had to return all of our books. On the inside front cover, there was a stamp or label glued in that each student had to sign, date and state what grade you were in. These were new books and mine was the first name. He told me he was going to follow that book for as long as it remained in use and show it to every one of his classes, to explain the history of cartoons. I was honored. He didn't reprimand me after all. No trip to the principal's office. Instead, he complimented me. These weren't just ordinary stick figures, they were detailed ones that I brought to life in one of his classrooms. I was one of his favorite students after that, until I ruined one of those newfangled color films, but that's another story.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A very nice weekend

What a nice weekend I had. I drove down to Rotonda West, just south of Pt. Charlotte, to visit my best friend Stewart and his wife, An. It's about 175 miles south of where I live, just north of Orlando. After I arrived, we relaxed for a little while and talked about what was going on in our lives. Stewart and I have known each other for nearly 40 years now. They had decided to take me to Boca Grande on Gasparilla Island to watch the sunset on the Gulf of Mexico. What a nice choice that turned out to be. We loaded up the car with drinks and snacks and headed on down the pike. Stewart pointed out some interesting landmarks, like an old Florida hotel, the Gasparilla Inn, a stopping place for the rich and famous from a bygone era. The Florida governor, Jeb Bush and his brother, George W, like to spend time there. The whole island seems to be a bastion for bread as white as it can get. You probably can't buy a house for under a million. Here's An & Stewart.

We took our beach chairs and supplies up to the sandy beach and nestled in to watch the sun go down. It was very relaxing. I told them of a place in Pass-A-Grille, south of St. Pete, I used to go to. There was a nice little bar/restaurant called Hurricanes that served really good grouper sandwiches, not to mention drinks. I used to go over once in a while to go out on my sister, Maggie's and her husband, Bud's sailboat. We'd stop there later to have a few rum drinks, a bite to eat and to watch the sunset. Whenever anyone I knew was going even remotely nearby, I'd tell them to stop at Hurricanes if they had the chance. I told people this for years, even after I hadn't been there in a long time. Then one day, my sister said it wasn't the same. Hadn't been in years. She said, "It's a gay bar now, Dave." Oh. After that, I stopped telling people to go there.

As we watched the sunset, a cool breeze picked up. We decided to head back toward their home and stopped at a restaurant in Rotonda West called Daniel's. It's only been open for a few months, but the food was superb. One of the best renditions of escargot I've ever had. Excellent food. We also enjoyed calamari and entrees of London broil, sea scallops and crab cakes. Why Stew wanted London broil when An was preparing it for dinner the next day, well, I don't know. I highly recommend Daniel's if you are in that neighborhood. The next day, we decided to hang low. We watched 3 rented DVDs, Crash, Walk the Line and Being Julia. I can see why Crash won the Oscar for best picture. It depicted different ethnic and cultural backgrounds living in the harsh realities of urban prejudice, through the interaction of the diverse characters in the film. Walk the Line actually was pretty good. For a pseudo-biographical film, the actors were well rehearsed to play Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. The third movie, Being Julia, was pretty much a decent film, but I would generalize it as the type of movie a guy would not go to see with his buddies. His wife or girlfriend would make him go. It reminded me of the time my girlfriend made me watch Remains of the Day when Clint Eastwood's Unforgiven was playing in the theatre right next door. "Can I go watch that one while you watch this one? Please?"

"NO!" And that was that. I think the only movie that was worse and something a guy wouldn't enjoy was The Great Gatsby. Don't get me started on how that was the most boring movie ever made. And then, my girlfriend at the time bought me a white suit because that's what Robert Redford wore. Oh well, at least I liked the suit.

So, Saturday was a very relaxing, movie-watching day. Then An made dinner. She had been marinating a London broil and it was fabulous. Nice and tender. With it came string beans, sauteed mushrooms and a pesto pasta dish, along with scallion bread. I was living the life, let me tell you. Until I lost at Monopoly. I was doing fine, but I kept landing on Stew's houses and hotels and no one landed on mine. The role of the dice. I don't want to talk about it.

Sunday, we took a water taxi over to Palm Island, in Cape Haze. We walked down the beach for a while and walked back to eat at the island's only restaurant, Rum Bay, which is also the island's only business. Bradley was playing Pitt in the men's NCAA tournament on the bar's TV. We ordered Shark's Tooth drinks, made of light, dark and golden rums, with cranberry, orange and pineapple juices. Pretty tasty. Stewart pointed out, "Look! It's Brad Pitt!" on the TV and everyone laughed. Then the food came. The salad An got and the two burgers Stew and I ordered were really good and the burgers were cooked just the way we asked. Palm Island is very secluded. A car ferry and the water taxi are the only ways to access it. By the time we got back, we were pretty tired. We relaxed and later fixed leftovers. We turned on the TV to watch The Sopranos. I fell asleep about midway through and that was about it for me.

It's amazing how quickly my short jaunt went. When you're really having a very nice time and you're with best friends, it always does. I can't wait to do it again.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

What you see might not be what you get. Read All About It!

A friend of mine, Joe Lampe, has been told by a lot of people that he looks like Don Ameche. I don't necessarily agree with that, but I've heard people tell him that myself. Joe owns a roofing company in the Orlando area called Interstate Roofing Service, Inc. He is engaged to a wonderful woman named Jan. I've known them both for many years. I asked if I could take some pictures of him with my cheap digital camera. I'd like to superimpose your face on an old photo of Don Ameche with other people and say you're Don's brother, Joe, and e-mail Jan the finished product. Kind of a "Hey Jan, look at this old photo I found on the internet. Doesn't that other guy look like Joe?" Of course, he agreed. I've been working with Photoshop since the early nineties and I want to show you how easily it's done. I took 4 photos at different angles, since I didn't know what kind of workable picture of Don Ameche I would end up selecting, based on what was available. Below is the picture of Joe I chose after finding the Ameche one.

Here is the original picture of Don Ameche with Dorothy Lamour and someone whose name wasn't given. It didn't matter, I was going to erase his face anyway.

I had to copy and paste Joe's face in a separate layer on the Ameche picture and crop the background out.

Then, I had to resize it, rotate it a little and place it where it belonged. I used different tools to make it look like it was part of the original photograph.

Voila! See how easy that was? Moral of story? Don't ever trust anything on the internet. It's a veritable International Inquirer out there.

Monday, March 13, 2006


Rick Epstein is the Managing Editor of the Hunterdon County Democrat, a newspaper based in Flemington, New Jersey. We are old friends from the late seventies, when I used to sell advertising there and for the Delaware Valley News, a sister publication. Rick writes a syndicated monthly column published by magazines and newspapers throughout the country. He is the author of two books, “Rookie Dad(Hyperion 1992, '93) and "The Right Number of Kids" (McKenna Publishing Group, 2003).

I think Rick is an excellent writer. He is the father of 3 girls and shows a sharp insight into what it's like to bring up children. Here is one of his columns:

Yes, that was my 13-year-old daughter and her two gal pals in the alley between Seventh and Eighth streets, armed with shovels and surrounded by three state troopers, one town cop and an irate neighbor lady.
It all started three years ago when Rebecca, Simona and our Wendy wrote a letter to the people of the future and put it into a "time capsule" (a cylindrical plastic pretzel container) along with a few small toys they wouldn't miss, plus a snapshot of themselves sticking out their tongues. They buried it beside an abandoned garage as a treat for posterity.

But, about a thousand days later, they wanted to see it. So they went into the alley and began digging exploratory holes. An enraged neighbor, Mrs. Fenske, caught them at it, accused them of vandalism and dialed 911. To be fair to her, the new holes, along with some graffiti on the garage wall, did seem to be part of a downward trend for her viewscape.

Four cop cars converged on the scene. "The police were more interested in calming down the lady," Wendy told us later. "They only pretended to care about the holes."

Soon the state police went off looking for worse crimes and the neighbor withdrew victorious into her bunker, leaving the local cop to supervise the filling of the holes. He kidded the girls about their "buried treasure" and Wendy interviewed him while she and her accomplices worked. "Are we going to be fined?" (No.) "Did you ever shoot anyone?" (No.) "Did you ever pepper-spray anyone?" (Yes.) "Did you ever GET pepper-sprayed?" (Yes, in training.) "Did you cry?" (Uh, yes.) "What's the silliest case you were ever on?" (This one. By far.) ...

This is not the first time the Epstein children's Dark Ops have come to the attention of the authorities. Back when Wendy's big sisters were both in high school, they decided they would walk to school -- 6 miles away. At 5 a.m. a patrolman saw two girls with backpacks hiking in the darkness and asked, "Are you running away?"

"No, we're walking to school," said Marie.

"Do your parents know?" he asked.

"Yes," said Marie. I hate when my kids drag me into it. But in fact I did know, and even approved. Although September 11th has created a mood of zero tolerance for shenanigans, why live in a free country if you can't test it once in a while? When Marie expresses her kookiness in a way that won't hurt anyone, I'm generally for it.

I even bought her a can of taupe spray paint when she wanted to obliterate a neon-orange curse word that someone had sprayed onto a tree trunk in the park. Nothing beats a good deed done in the dark of night with an air of mischief to it. Luckily the police didn't catch her and she was spared the burden of crafting an explanation.

Last summer, home from college, Marie was painting pictures on the ceiling of her '94 Dodge, which was parked in front of our house. As the day got hotter, she changed into something cooler -- in the car. Her act of semi-public, semi-indecency attracted the notice of a passing patrolman. He demanded ID and, once he had assessed the extent of her misconduct, he went away.

I told Marie, "Go ahead and be eccentric, but remember: Police are on the lookout for anything unusual, so don't be doing anything you don't want to have to explain to them." She can rely on the advice because it has been field-tested. Exhaustively. By me. Long ago. My dad would tell me, "You are flirting with disaster. Someday you'll be in the wrong place at the wrong time and Good Intentions will not suffice." He had devoted a lifetime to staying out of trouble. But Safety did not become my own God until I had children, and I still believe a young person should live a little. But just a little.

So what happens now in the Case of the Outlaw Archaeologists? Will posterity's guide to understanding girls' life in 2002 A.D. lie forever in an unmarked grave? "We still want our time capsule," Wendy said.

"Forget it," I said. "Your right to dig holes has clashed with Mrs. Fenske's right to live in a neighborhood that hasn't been strip-mined by teenagers -- and you lost. Besides, that alley is red-hot right now. If you enter the Forbidden Zone, Mrs. Fenske will FEEL it. And when the police come, this time they'll be mad at you -- for defying them and for stirring up Mrs. Fenske."

I told her that if she's so eager to discover a repository of forgotten artifacts, she can just look under her bed. I figure she knows the difference between good advice to absorb and a cheap shot to ignore.

Reprinted with permission of the author. All rights reserved. Please contact me if you'd like more information on Rick or Google his rearend.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

A Portrait of War

Hurrah! High school was finally out that fateful summer of 1968. There was a young woman who lived up the street from me in Ringoes, NJ. She was a year or two older and she remembered me as the artist from grade school and the neighbor who knew how to draw. Living in a small town, everyone kind of knew everyone. Small towns were like that. We were more concerned with what was going on in our own back yards than anything else, but even then, the Vietnam war was lurking in the backs of our minds. I was too young to be overly concerned about what was happening halfway around the world, but the news of it never escaped our thoughts. We saw it on TV and read about it in the daily newspapers. We talked about it at school, in the classrooms and the hallways. When I was in the 8th grade, a classmate was secreted out of the room. Hours later, the principal came on the P.A. system and announced that Van Dyke Manners was killed in action. He was the first person from Hunterdon County, NJ to die. I did not know him personally, but it hit close to home because my friend, Greg Manners, had lost his uncle.

My neighbor was dating a fellow who was about to enter the US Army. She asked me if I would draw a portrait of him. She would be happy to pay me. Wow, this would be my first commissioned job as an artist! I said, of course I will. How much? Oh, how about $15? OK, that's fine. I told her I'd like to meet him to get the feel of what kind of drawing I would do. If you have any photographs, let me see them, too. I met Mike Baldwin a couple of times and got to know him. At 18, he was a man. I was 15 going on 16, but this guy was old to me. He was handsome and just had that air of maturity and manliness we younger guys wished for but didn't have. He shaved. I didn't. With a war going on, I was in no hurry to buy my first razor.

I went to a store in the big town of Flemington to buy materials. I bought 2 poster boards instead of one in the event I messed up. I didn't yet drive and it wasn't every day I got to go shopping if I needed another one. She wanted the portrait as big as I could make it, probably to hang on her bedroom wall while he was gone. I only used one board and wondered what to do with the spare. I'll do a second portrait. Buy one, get one free. I don't know what compelled me to do it, but I did and I'm very glad. Maybe I thought if the relationship didn't work out years later, at least he would have one to share with his family. That must have been the reason. Maybe the death of Van Dyke put apprehension in my heart. You know, one for his mother, just in case.

Mike Baldwin went to Vietnam soon after that. He went because he believed in a cause. We learned of the Domino Effect in school. If one country falls to Communism, so do its neighbors. He was there a very short time before he came home zipped up in a body bag. That was my hideous wake-up call and first real experience with the horrors of war. Someone I knew was dead because of it. It was the senseless death of a man who sensed something more important than his own self. We lost so many and so much. What did we gain from that war? To this day, I still look up to him and I'm 35 years older than he was the day he died. I've gone through a lot of razors since then. Over the years, I've stood in front of the mirror and wondered what if he did come back alive? Would he and my neighbor have married? Perhaps, it's better it didn't happen that way. Maybe, Mike and his wife would be grieving for one of their own today instead. Still, I picture him as very proud, but it's a haunting portrait I now see.

Pfc. Van Dyke William Manners (11/10/1945 - 2/15/1967) KIA - Kontum Province, South Vietnam

Sgt. Michael Richard Baldwin (7/19/1947 - 9/12/1968) KIA - Binh Long Province, South Vietnam, ambushed while on reconnaissance 5 kilometers Northeast of Loc Ninh, along with:
Ssgt. Phillip Kenneth Baker - Detroit, MI
Pfc. Eugene Russell Boyce - Spartanburg, SC
Sp4. Wayne Daniel Jenkins - Bryson City, NC
Pfc. Kenneth Leroy Martin - Los Angeles, CA
Pfc. Marion Luther Oxner - Leesville, SC
Pfc. Dale Arden Palm - Toledo, OH
Pfc. Kurt Francis Ponath - Cudahy, WI
Sp4. J C Williams Jr. - Muncie, IN
Pfc. William Wittman - Binghamton, NY

September 12, 1968, was a long and sad day for Alpha Company, 1st Battalion, 28th Infantry, 1st Infantry Division.

To all our brethren lost in wars, rest in peace.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Fossil fuels, gashouse effects and why the pharmaceutical companies are partially to blame

There has been much in the news of late regarding global warming. A debate has been burning for years over the causes. Some scientists are fired up, blaming man for most of the problems. Others are skeptical, pronouncing it a natural occurrence and only nature is to blame. Whichever side you take, I am proffering a different approach, one that no one has taken, as far as I know. I am blaming the pharmaceutical companies.

This, recently from 60 Minutes:

"The entire planet is out of balance," says Bob Corell, who is among the world's top authorities on climate change. He led 300 scientists from eight nations in the "Arctic Climate Impact Assessment."

Corell believes he has seen the future. "This is a bellwether, a barometer. Some people call it the canary in the mine. The warning that things are coming," he says. "In 10 years here in the arctic, we see what the rest of the planet will see in 25 or 35 years from now."

Over the last few decades, the North Pole has been dramatically reduced in size and Corell says the glaciers there have been receding for the last 50 years.

Corell says all that water will push sea levels three feet higher all around the world in 100 years.

"You and I sit here, another foot. Your children, another foot. Your grandchildren, another foot. And it won't take long for sea level to inundate," says Corell.

"Sea level will be inundating the low lands of virtually every country of the world, ours included," Corell predicts.

According to the U.S. Government, from the National Center for Health Statistics, the life expectancy in the United States was 77.6 years at the start of 2003, up from 49.2 years at the turn of the 20th century. That's over 25 years longer now. I think we all will agree that advances in medicine has played a strong role in increasing life expectancy.

It is an established fact that older people pass more gas than younger ones.
I believe we can credibly qualify this as fossil fuel. Will anyone disagree with this statement? I know a lot of older people and they have all told me this is absolutely a true fact.* I have witnessed it firsthand on many occasions. I have interviewed employees of nursing homes and assisted living facilities. Why do they have this problem? I don't know, but they're the first ones to admit it. It means there are millions more people producing millions more tons of methane gas per year. The statistics overwhelmingly stink. Where does it all go? It stays in our atmosphere, of course, and contributes to global warming, and consequently, the Arctic meltdown. Call it the Farctic meltdown.

Is this a huge conspiracy by the giant pharmaceutical conglomerates to poison our fragile ecosystem? I seriously doubt it, but I propose the federal government "pass" a law that everyone over the age of 65 must take Beano® and/or other fossil fuel reducing agents. It's these giant companies that manufacture the stuff anyway.

*I'm not old yet.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Judge Belvin Perry, Jr. - little black boy

(Don't let the title fool you)

In 1989 I was working for Stonebrook Advertising in Orlando. I did a write-up on my quirky boss, Mr. Stone, in October of last year. One afternoon, he called me into his office. "Dave, come on in here and sit down. This here is Judge Byrd. He's running for re-election and he needs some artwork done."
I recognized the gentleman and graciously said hello and shook his hand. I knew right away that he and Mr. Stone were old friends. They both were from the same 'good ol' boy' mold. Mr. Stone explained to me that he needed flyers printed up, ads for newspapers and bumper stickers for his re-election effort and I was chosen to do the work. Coming from New Jersey, I sort of had minor issues with southern judges and politics in general. Nothing major, really, just a slight amount of apprehension.

We sat there and discussed what kind of strategy would help in his bid to retain his seat. We went over design ideas.
Judge Byrd was running against someone I had never heard of until a few weeks before when Belvin Perry announced his candidacy to unseat Judge Byrd in the Osceola County Circuit Judge race. I don't recall that party affiliation had anything to do with it, but I was immediately rooting for Belvin. I can't say for sure why, but I just didn't particularly care all that much for Judge Byrd. Nothing personal, it probably had more to do with the southern thing.

After going over the plan of attack and some talk of his opponent, Judge Byrd was ready to leave, confident in the knowledge that we would deliver exactly what he needed. As he walked out of Mr. Stone's office, he proudly exclaimed,

"I'm gonna kick that little black boy's ass."

Mr. Stone was all excited. I was flabbergasted. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. I said nothing in return. As a matter of fact, I didn't respond at all. How could a sitting judge display blatant racism like that? All of a sudden, I had a real problem. Personally, I wanted to do everything I could to help Judge Byrd lose the election, but professionally, I had to do everything in my repertoire of artistic talents to get him re-elected or face losing my job. I was very confused. It was a lose/win, win/lose proposition. I didn't want him to win, but I had to do my professional best to design winning ads, bumper stickers and flyers. Why me, dear Lord, why me?

I called an attorney friend of mine and told him I really needed to talk about something. We met after work and I explained my moral and professional dilemma. "My personality is split in half on this, Bill. I don't want to do it, but I don't want to lose my job. Since I'm obligated to do it, I've got to give it my all as a professional. I have to help get the guy re-elected."
He was familiar with the judge and pretty much felt the same way. "Boy, Dave, I've been an attorney a long time now and that's a new one on me. That's a real mess and I don't envy you at all. If you want my professional advice, you have to do it unless you have another job lined up somewhere and I'm sure you don't." He was right, I didn't.

I went to work on a strategy I thought would benefit Judge Byrd. I set up a slate of ads that would run at certain times throughout the campaign. They had to be laid out in different sizes, too, since all newspapers are not alike. I worked on demographics so I could recommend where I felt mailing the flyers would benefit him the most. And the bumper stickers. Oh, yes, those things. They looked nice, but I cringed when I got behind a car that bore one, and I saw quite a few. I wanted to say, "Hey! That's my design. Oh, never mind."

Judge Byrd lost his bid for re-election. It was a bittersweet victory for me, wondering if there was somewhere I went wrong. I'm glad he did and I knew in the end it did not hurt me professionally. There was no blame. Judge Byrd took his loss well. All politicians know one day they will lose an election. Bill asked me how I felt. I told him, very relieved. I wondered if there was something subconscious that held me back from really giving it my all? Oh well, it was over and I was glad.

Judge Belvin Perry has been on the bench since 1989. He has been the Chief Judge of the Ninth Judicial Circuit since 2001 and is well respected in the area. Judge Byrd? I saw him years after that. He remembered me and we had a very nice chat. He went back into private practice. My friend Bill is now a workmen's compensation judge for the state of Florida, appointed by the governor. I always told him what a fine, fine judge he'd make one day and he did.
He's always been a very humble guy.

Fortunately, I was never asked to do anything like that again.