Working Man’s Ph.D.

cropped-tools.jpgIn 1993 one of the biggest hits was a song called “Working Man’s Ph.D.” sung by Aaron Tippin.  Aaron Tippin has the most colorful biography of all the country-western singers I know, including a commercial airline pilot, pipefitter, truck driver, welder, farmhand, and songwriter and singer.  The lyrics for the song “Working Man’s Ph.D.” form the backbone to the point of this article and as a means of honoring those who have well-earned their working man’s Ph.D.

You get up every morning ‘fore the sun comes up
Toss a lunchbox into a pickup truck
A long, hard day, sure ain’t much fun
But you’ve gotta get it started if you wanna get it done
You set your mind and roll up your sleeves
You’re workin’ on a working man’s Ph.D

Consider the following line especially, “you’ve gotta get it started if you wanna get it done; You set your mind and roll up your sleeves.”  How many times has grit been the only determining factor between starting and finishing a project?  Starters are many, but enders are few.  Those are the two elements for success, and every working man knows the recipe.  Get your mindset and start by rolling up your sleeves.  Preparation is key to finishing strong.20th Maine

Now, cast your mind to those who have never learned how to be a working man.  They have no grit, no ability to make up their minds, and cannot stand up to adversity and spit in adversity’s eyes.  Yet, they talk a good line.  They want you to think they know.  But the lines on their brow and the lack of callouses on their hands tell another story entirely.

Take a moment and consider your first blister.  Do you remember how you earned it?  Do you remember what you were doing the first time you felt that sting?  I do.  My first blister turned into my first and most lasting callous.  I was hoeing a row of peas in a garden; I was six.  I was told that a blister from working is the mark of a man learning how to work.  I earned that blister on a hoe handled that had been wrapped in duct tape to prevent splinters.  After that row of peas, there was a row of corn, potatoes, tomatoes, and lawns to mow.  By the end of the day, I was exhausted and sore, the blister was bloody, and I learned how to treat blisters so you could go to work the next day.Rocks

Let me tell you a secret; I love that blister and callous!  I have burned that callous on many a stove and pan.  I have cut that callous on several knives and received no injury.  I have softened that callous while wrestling sheep in a shearing pen.  I have milked cows and goats to the cows and goats’ misfortune with that callous.  That callous has taught me many a lesson, including how to get a blister under a callous.  In the middle of a cold winter, while splitting wood, that callous kept my hands sticking to the steel of the handle on the splitting maul.  That maul handle had been replaced so many times that my father had taken the splitting maul to work and replaced the wood with ½” steel tubing.  It heaviest splitting maul I ever used, but I never broke that handle off!

With your heart in your hands and the sweat on your brow
You build the things that really make the world go around
If it works, if it runs, if it lasts, for years
You bet your bottom dollar; it was made right here
With pride, honor, and dignity
From a man with a working man’s Ph.D

Consider something with me, think about your hardest task completed; what did you learn about “pride, honor, and dignity” about accomplishing that task?  Hard work taught you a lesson that ease and prosperity could never teach.  Lessons that you cannot pass along to another person except by teaching them the joys and pleasures of task accomplishment and hard work.  Yet, in the world today, so many want to look down on hard work, and this is a thought process that needs reversing.Good Timber

I screwed up.  I admit this freely.  I took some money for raking my neighbor’s lawn and did a poor job.  My neighbor fired me; she was right to do so.  I felt so disgusted with myself for taking money and not delivering a good job, I went over and finished that job over my neighbors’ objections.  I shoveled her snow for free that year.  I did everything I could to discharge the debt I owed to this woman for teaching me that there is no honor, dignity, and pride in a job not done well.

cropped-snow-leopard.jpgMy wife the other day asked me why I don’t quit jobs I have undertaken.  She doesn’t understand the lessons I have learned; I cannot do a poor job.  I cannot commit to doing a job and give less than my full potential and all of my talents, skills, and abilities.  Even when it means I am surrounded by enemies in a hostile environment where my life is constantly threatened.  I have to give it everything I have; I owe this debt to my neighbor that must be serviced.  I have earned a working man’s Ph.D. as well as a couple of master’s degrees from the school of hard knocks; I owe too much to those who have taught me to forget these lessons.

Now there ain’t no shame in a job well done
From driving a nail to driving a truck
As a matter of fact, I’d like to set things straight
A few more people should be pullin’ their weight
If you wanna cram course in reality
You get yourself a working man’s Ph.D

There is a truth in these simple words, I wish to convey in the soberest words possible, “there ain’t no shame in a job well done.”  There is no end of shame to a job poorly done.  Consider the current president; why does the common person, those of us carrying working man Ph.D.’s, scorn the president?  Why did the common person, those carrying working man Ph.D.’s, heap praise on President Trump?  The simple truth and reality in the sentiment, “there ain’t no shame in a job well done,” but there is no end of shame in a job poorly done.  Use any other person you care to name, John Wayne and Kim Kardashian, who gets the stain and who gets the praise of a job well and poorly done?  President Reagan and Nancy Pelosi?  Michael Jackson and Mother Teresa?Leadership Cartoon

The job doesn’t matter, driving nails, driving trucks, nursing babies, keeping a house, accountant, pipefitting, welder, buyer, etc., what matters is how well the job is completed.  Do you take the job and do it well or poorly?  For if you do it poorly, there is nothing but eternal shame, the work itself will always testify of your performance, and people will speak of your incompetence.  Do it well, to the best of your abilities; even if a scoreboard might proclaim you are a loser, you have won victory and honor, pride, and dignity that can never be taken from you.  How you perform the task is the deciding factor, not the job, not the task, not the scores and the statistics, your performance of the task’s duties.

When the quittin’ whistle blows and the dust settles down
There ain’t no trophies or cheering crowds
You’ll face yourself at the end of the day
And be damn proud of whatever you’ve made
Can’t hang it on the wall for the world to see
But you’ve got yourself a working man’s Ph.D

The hardest lesson I learned in the US Army was how to shave without looking at myself in the mirror.  Then I had to learn how to live with my mistakes to shave and look myself in the eye.  Right there and then, I learned the lesson contained in the following lines, “You’ll face yourself at the end of the day; And be damn proud of whatever you’ve made.”  In junior high school, I read Stephen King’s “Pet Sematary,” and the following quote stuck in my mental craw.  It comes out often to teach me more lessons.

The soil of a man’s heart is stony ground. A man grows what he can, and he tends it. ’Cause what you buy, is what you own. And what you own… always comes home.”

Thank you!Hard work teaches hard lessons, but the lessons learned are worth more than gold and diamonds, and I wouldn’t trade a single lesson learned for all the money in the world and all the fame in Hollywood.  Of all the degrees and titles I have acquired in this world, or will acquire, the only one I ever want is that of “Hard worker,” for that single title says it all.  When the chips and markers are counted at the end of life, I want to be found pulling my weight.  I might be disabled, I might be stubborn as a Missouri Mule with a mean streak a mile wide, but I want to be found pulling my weight.

Now there ain’t no shame in a job well done
From driving a nail to driving a truck
As a matter of fact, I’d like to set things straight
A few more people should be pullin’ their weight
If you wanna cram course in reality
You get yourself a working man’s Ph.D

Bobblehead DollMy deepest thanks to Aaron Tippin for his example and his incredible talent as a singer and person.  I have met many military people who sing Aaron Tippin’s praises, and I am very grateful for the talent shared.  May I encourage you to consider how well your studies are progressing on your “Working Man’s Ph.D.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: Literacy and Freedom – Understanding the Connection

Freedom's LightLiteracy is defined as the ability to read and write and is the competence of knowledge in a specific area.  The links between literacy and freedom continue to be hotly debated among scholars, especially those scholars who choose to be revisionist historians.  One of the essential distinctions in scholars is those centered around revisionists.  No matter the flavor of a scholar, revisionist scholars always support a policy of revision or modification, or worse, advocate for the same.  Revisionist scholars are always looking to revise a topic’s history to fit a political bend for personal gain and political profit.

Literay ArtsThe most egregious example of this is found in the revisionist historians who derive from journals or other documents the sexuality of a historical figure, based upon the scholar’s agenda, political flavor, and the understanding of today’s culture.  During the summer of 2020, America saw many revisionists trying to rewrite history where statues and historical reasoning for erecting those statues were concerned was blatantly attacked by ignorant savages!  By changing history, the culture shifts ever so slightly, and it is only a few degrees of separation across time that can eradicate truth and leave myths instead of fact.

All of which is mentioned because currently, literacy and the links to freedom are being revised heavily to reflect less need for literacy as a means of curtailing expectations of freedom.  Kaestle, Damon-Moore, Stedman, Tinsley, and Trollinger (1991) authored “Literacy in the United States: Readers and Reading since 1880, and the first topic in chapter one is discussing the revisers of history and the downplaying of literacy in early (Preliterate) Greece.  While Kaestle et al.’s. (1991) is more of a scholarly work, the point remains that there remains a significant amount of debate on a logically understood topic.

Detective 4The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-Day Saints reveres “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ” as scripture.  In that book, there are two accounts of people who did not have records to teach reading and writing in their respective populations, which, when taught reading and writing, gained economically, financially, and developed new thinking and acting methods.  One of the first points in “The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ” the point is made that without written records, people’s memories cannot be passed down, historical lessons are lost, and art, culture, craft, industry, and so much more stem from the ability to read and write and records are critical to human understanding and growth.  While I am not here to debate religion, the historical underpinnings of needing to read and write as social customs with power are well established.  Consider the Old Testament and the Jewish culture and society, and the same pattern is discovered, when the people know how to read and write, they are different from those who do not know how to read and write.

Hence, from a purely anthropological perception, reading and writing are essential keys in society forming and development from hunter/gatherers to tool-wielding crafting and agrarian societies.  While the scholars will debate causation until everyone is confused, the links between literacy and social development cannot be separated without twisting logic and ruining the historical facts found in ancient writings held by religion.  Causation and the connections between one topic and another remains an area ripe for abuse by the researchers’ personal bias.  I fully admit sufficient peer-reviewed sources are supporting and denying literate societies’ links and freedom to bury an ocean liner in paper.  Mark Twain is quoted as, “I have never let my schooling interfere with my education. Soap and education are not as sudden as a massacre, but they are more deadly in the long run. Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned.”

Reading - A JourneyMark Twain is also quoted as, “The man who does not read has no advantage over the man who cannot read.”  These quotes point to the specific problem facing America.  In every society globally, literacy has been purposefully designed to be worth less to people by conspiring leaders who want and need drones instead of people.  The world is poised on the knife blade’s edge of history, pushed there by those conspirators, and every person is now faced with a choice, stand and learn, or remain ignorant and fall.  If we fall, we will fall an unpitied sacrifice in a contemptible struggle, and our graves will be cursed by those who come after us.

Mark Twain points to the same problem discussed here, “The man who does not read has NO advantage over the man who cannot read. [emphasis mine]”  Knowing how to read does nothing if it is not practiced, knowing how to write does nothing if it is not practiced, and failure to read and write puts us worse off than those who have never been taught to read and write.  Why worse, because we make a conscious choice not to use the tools we have been provided, and the consequences are worse for knowing better and not acting in a manner that honors the tools we have been given.

PenmanshipLet the scholars argue about how to measure literacy in a person and a population, but for us, let us measure literacy by how often we read a full book, paper, or eBook and write.  Not just emails for work, but journals, blogs, our histories, and family histories.  The aim is not to get readers as much as it is to exercise the power of writing.

For example, my wife loves to write letters and cards.  She has a master’s touch on expressing through words her feelings, developed over her entire life of 80-years.  The receivers cherish her letters and cards, and I cannot count how many people write to her and express this sentiment.  I have all the letters she wrote me while I was in the US Army.  Due to my luggage’s theft at a Greyhound Station, I have very few to none of her letters written to me in the US Navy, which remains a great sadness to me.  Never having been professionally taught, my wife writes music, and I cherish the song she wrote for me that I have never heard.  Using experience and constant trial and error, my wife drew pictures for each of the grand kids.  Literacy is the power behind letters, arts, music, and so much more, even if the scholars disagree.

Non Sequitur - DecisionsJim Croce wrote a song asking a simple question, “Which way are you going?”  I know my direction; I am headed to a library, a bookstore, and then a computer to record my thoughts, for I desire more literacy.  Join me and let us make a “Liberty FIRST Culture” where literacy is cherished as the source of our collective mental batteries!

Non Sequitur - Carpe Diem© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.

NO MORE BS: A Powerful Tool – Music

Scared Eyes!I cannot sing!  My inability to sing is not new news to my wife; she is very musically inclined, writes music as a hobby, plays piano, taught herself to play the organ, and has some incredible stories that make no sense to me as I do not know music.  I have often related that one could take everything I know about music, pour it into a thimble, and not moisten its bottom.  But I love music!  I have been asked not to return to three volunteer musical community choirs because of my inabilities to sing, and my enthusiasm for singing is not diminished.  Feel free to explore the links embedded in this article!

To me, the greatest tragedy of COVID Government Mandates has been the blocking of singing as a health risk.  I miss hearing choirs, children choirs, the Tabernacle on Temple Square, the Boys Choir of Harlem, all the different choirs, groups, and musicians playing a tempo and expressing feelings through song.  The silencing is deafening, and this must cease.  I love mall walking and hearing different people singing, playing instruments, and entertaining.

Consider the following:

    • If music be the food of love, play on.” – William Shakespeare
    • Life seems to go on without effort when I am filled with music.” – George Eliot
    • Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.” – Plato
    • After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley
    • Music, once admitted to the soul, becomes a sort of spirit and never dies.” – Edward Bulwer-Lytton
    • When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest of times, and to the latest.” – Henry David Thoreau
    • Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.” – Lao Tzu

These are but a few people’s thoughts who are greater than I, trying to express what music can do, what music means, and why music is essential.  At this critical time in the World, we can use this most potent tool to lighten our loads, strengthen our minds and bodies, improve our environments, and raise our sights; we need to sing!  We need music!  Lots and lots of music!

Image - John Wayne QuoteI was in a meeting with a friend, and traditionally there were some songs to be sung.  After one song, the leader of the meeting stood, walked to the podium, and declared, “We are going to sing that again, with gusto because all I heard was Mr. Salisbury and his friend singing with enthusiasm, and everyone here should be able to drown those two out.”  Not the first time I have been called out for my inability to sing, and it won’t be the last either.

Thus, I offer suggestions for your consideration and application:

      1. When a song you like is playing, sing-along with gusto, enthusiasm, and choose to allow joy to carry your heart away inspired.
      2. Play music wherever you are. Not just with headphones or ear pods, but out loud.  I miss the 1980s boom boxes playing all over the streets.  I discovered some great music by listening to those boom boxes.
      3. Ever hear inspiring choirs or bands playing? I love a brass band, playing tunes that marshal my feet to action.  Share those musical sounds!
      4. Need to be lifted from depression, check out some of the choirs recorded on YouTube. When I get depressed, my go-to spot is the Tabernacle Choir on Temple Square, previously known as “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”  The Choir of Trinity College – Cambridge never ceases to lighten my mental spirit.  The Wells Cathedral Choir is another whose talents and efforts are deeply appreciated.
      5. Mix up or explore music genres—jazz, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Ella Fitzgerald, and so many more. I love pre-1980 R&B; those old sounds leave me excited and often are the prelude to sleep.  I remain faithful to the Big Hair Bands and Southern Rock, showcasing the talents of Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Outlaws, Charlie Daniels, ZZ Top, .38 Special, and so many more, which enthrall my spirit and declare I will not go quietly into that dark night.
      6. I do not care if you are religious or irreligious; there are a LOT of extraordinary musical renditions of soul-stirring songs. I tripped across old Civil War Songs and rejoiced to hear the songs of faith and devotion again, from both sides of that conflict, of soldiers weary from battle or weary from marching to battle.

Regardless, please find joy and create a reason to rejoice through music.  I promise music helps, music inspires, music lifts a weary war-torn soul, motivates people to greatness, and calms the mind and spirit for sleep.  I urge you to relearn a love for music!  Tastes in music may differ; this is both acceptable and expected.  Personally, I am not a big fan of most modern R&B, and I have very little tolerance for Rap.  But, it’s okay!

I almost failed US Army Basic Training.  I knew how to shoot.  I could form a sight picture and was a pretty good shooter before entering the US Army.  I was cocky!  In my third and last attempt to qualify, I was a mental wreck.  Worry, anger, frustration, and fear of being kicked out for not being able to shoot had me a nervous trainee walking onto that final range.  As I settled into my firing point, Def Leppard started playing in my head, then Bon Jovi and some primary songs from my youth soon followed, and suddenly, quite to my surprise, I was qualified.  I was not an expert shooter, but I qualified higher than marksman, and that was a great miracle, all because music relaxed my mind to perform a task.  Music relaxing the mind was not a one-off event in my life.  Often music remembered in my mind is the exact tool I need to accomplish a task.

I come from a long line of blue-collar workers.  As a kid, some bully thought he could insult me by claiming, “Your mother wears combat boots.”  Little did he know, she also could handle a whip, swing chains, and could have been a “biker chick” in Hell’s Angels.  My mother was a truck driver, and I got hooked early on songs like Phantom 309, Teddy Bear, Convoy, East Bound and Down, Six Days on the Road, and Giddy-Up Go, to name a few.  My dad has all the musical talent in the family, give him an instrument, and he can play it very quickly.  From him, I learned about Blue Grass, Banjo’s, Bach, Mozart, Chopin, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra.  From a couple of uncles, I learned how to irritate my father, with Alice in Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Queen, The Rolling Stones, and many more.  Unfortunately, since my parents are also hippies, I have heard and appreciate The Doors, Buffalo Springfield, Moby Grape, Timothy Leary, The Grateful Dead, and Jimi Hendrix, and so many more of the Hippie songs.

Find the music you love to sing, you love to hear, that stirs your soul and lifts your mind, and play those CD’s, spin those 45’s, playlist the greatest, and always be exploring new sounds and wonders.  Scatman’s World is one of my favorite albums, mostly due to the story of Scatman John, a musical genius who left us too early.  Jazzmasters remains highly enjoyable to me.  Country Western as a genre continues to charge my soul and makes me smile!

“Music — what a powerful instrument, what a mighty weapon!” – Maria August von Trapp

In the comments, tell me who and what you like.  Please share your favorites, and let’s improve the World with inspirational music!  I still listen to Rachel Platten’s “Fight Song when I feel defeated as a quick pick me up.

© 2021 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved
The images used herein were obtained in the public domain; this author holds no copyright to the images displayed.