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The Idle American
Cracks in Foundations
Wednesday, September 28, 2011 • Posted September 28, 2011

Great baseballer Nolan Ryan is the picture of organizational efficiency. He’s the captain of his ship and a bona fide American sports hero with impressive “on-the-mound and off-the-mound” victories for almost 50 years.With a laid-back personality and a Texas drawl that re-defines “folksy,” he projects the “one big happy family” image of OUR Texas Rangers. Multitudes of fans likely think they’re “Ranger kinfolk,” fantasizing about claiming the grandest of prizes. They may dream of special seating, perhaps in an over-stuffed rocker-recliner in an area secured by velvet roping right behind home plate.Such a fantasy is about as likely as Ryan, the Texas Rangers’ President, “flubbing a dub,” the kind most us mere mortals commit on a daily basis. Turns out, though, that on a recent “dollar hot dog night” at the Ballpark, the Hall-of-Famer swung and missed at the concession stands. He may consider his “dub flubbed.”…* * * * *We’ve seen the TV ad with Nolan, apron-adorned and fork in hand, grilling hot dogs at full tilt in the backyard.Wife Ruth asks how many hot dogs he plans to grill. He answers, “Oh, about 35 thousand.” Then, fans get the “invite” to show up at the Ballpark to scarf down the game’s most traditional concession staple.Well, at the most recent promotion, an unexpectedly large crowd downed them faster than Nolan could grill them. They plumb sold out, well before the final out. So, maybe Nolan should get a bigger grill, make another TV ad and answer Ruth’s query with, “Oh, about 70 thousand.”…* * * * *Uncle Mort, my 99-year-old kin down in the thicket, would vote for Ryan in any political race—local, state or national. But, he hopes the Rangers’ president will stay right where he is, taking care of baseball business in an A+ manner. (Except for hot dog preparation, of course.)“I’d call it ‘RyanCare,’ but some folks might get it confused with ‘ObamaCare,’ and I sure wouldn’t want that,” my uncle said.“‘ObamaCare’ has historical precedence,” Mort contends. “The Romans weren’t too wild about ‘CaesarCare,’ Egyptians took an even dimmer view of ‘PharoahCare’ and ‘TutCare’ never got off the ground.”...* * * * *“All that glitters isn’t gold” department: Challenges are foreign to no generation. Seems like there may be extra portions currently, with life-binding obstacles popping up on all of life’s roads.Particularly challenged when economies falter are charitable foundations. Currently, they’re dealing with funding requests in record numbers, and in most cases, are unable to make positive responses.To their credit, though, they typically do respond, even if it is akin to a pink slip in a pay envelope, or a publishing company’s response to a lackluster manuscript….* * * * *My friend Tom, a foundation executive for a decade, coined a clever sentence to “soften” letters informing applicants that their proposals were not funded.It read: “We have given due consideration to your proposal, and have nothing but praise for it.”One young executive opened such a letter as his board convened. He hurriedly made copies for each member, one a crusty veteran who had seen many such letters saying “no” in gentlest terms. He highlighted three words—“nothing but praise”—thus curbing the exec’s excitement….* * * * *Things were tough enough for Tom and his colleagues back then. He wouldn’t think of re-entering the foundation arena in these days, when requests are multiplied and interest returns are low. (Further, tax law changes under consideration could greatly crimp charitable giving.)Tom cherishes the good memories. He claims three truths apply to most foundation officers. Such truths include: 1) They’re never served a bad meal, 2) They never tell an unfunny joke and 3) They never again hear the “unvarnished” truth. (He claims that some of the application forms smelled like Sherwin-Williams.) Maybe there should be a fourth truism: When playing golf with grant applicants, foundation officers have little chance of losing.…* * * * *We are in a season, really, of helping out as often as we can for as many as we can for as long as we can.Two friends, always on the look-out for others in need, vow also to help each other.Each often says, “There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him, and nothing he wouldn’t do for me, so consequently we do nothing for each other.”…* * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker in the Metroplex. Send inquiries/comments to: Phone: 817-447-3872. Web site:

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