Cool Uncles

29 05 2013

FesterApologies in advance for my liberal, Fonzie-esque usage of the word “cool” in this post.

Cool Uncles are a universal truth. There are more Uncles than parents, and lots more nephews and nieces than sons and daughters. My second favorite alias is “Uncle John”. First is “Dad”, but that is too large a subject for a measly blog post. My point is – I’ve had them, I am one… deal wit dat!

I love all my nieces and nephews. They currently range from 16 to 32 years old. They live as close to me as a few miles, and as far as 700 miles away.

All the relationships are good ones, some tighter than others. Measurable stuff these days as we are Facebook and/or Twitter connections, and I have all their cell phone numbers… “Hey bitches!” I’m sure that with them I get a coolness bump that I don’t have with my boys. And I’m also sure that my boys think their Uncles are pretty cool.

Joe Langan, my Dad and grand philosopher, used to say… “Aaahh, family. That’s what it’s all about.” Like my boys, the nieces and nephews are all hitting the various high points in life… graduations, prom, first cars, new jobs, boyfriends and girlfriends… all great stuff. I’m sure there is drama in their lives too, but that’s not my problem – another cool Uncle thing. My nephew David just got engaged, which is very cool! I’m sure that in no time I will be the coolest Great-Uncle ever!!! The thuds you just heard were my sisters fainting…

Looking back, I thought my Uncles were cool as well…

  • Uncle Mickey was a rebel, like his namesake, Michael Collins. He spent time in prison in Belfast, then had a long career in the US Army. A good, good man, full of stories, energy, and love of family. He lost his son, my cousin Michael when we were kids. There are five of my cousins in Ireland somewhere… I wish we were all still in touch.
  • Uncle Ed was a tall, quiet man… always present at our house on holidays. His car was left to me when he passed… a white 1965 Plymouth Satellite with red leather interior. Still my favorite car.
  • Uncle James was always smiling and laughing… he told the best jokes! I could write a completely giddy blog about the O’Hagan family… our dearest friends from my childhood.
  • Uncle Frank was great… Outwardly a little cantankerous, but I saw his heart of gold. I was fortunate to spend a summer in Colorado with the Falsettos when I was in high school… the best time. Forever glad that I got to have some quality time with him and Auntie Anne before they left us.

My only Uncle today is Tom Langan, my Dad’s brother. Perhaps the coolest of them all. My Dad passed in 2009 after a series of strokes left him unable to do much. While his body was willing, his mind wasn’t. Right now his brother Tom is going through the exact opposite thing. He is still the same sharp, intelligent, funny man… but his octogenarian body is letting him down a bit these days. While he is the only remaining link to that generation of Langans, I don’t think he is going anywhere soon!

Très cool Tom Langan is resolute that he wants to live his way. I admire that so much, maybe because my Dad didn’t get the opportunity. His daughters worry, because they want him to be safe… I do too. But what makes Uncle Tom so very cool is that his determination isn’t wrapped in anger. Because he’s such a good man, he is taking things in thoughtful stride. Granted I am not there all the time, and maybe my cousins would tell a slightly different story. But at 85 he’s earned the right to be a little stubborn. It’s that wonderful stubbornness that I hope to emulate, when the time comes. The thuds you just heard were my sons fainting…

I’m way too loud to ever be associated with quiet strength and dignity. I think my Dad had it, as does his brother. Although they were very different men and traveled on very separate roads, those Langan boys will always be two of the coolest cats I know.

I hope to keep visiting my Uncle as much as possible. Not sure if he gets anything out of it, but I sure do. I like to bend his ear about the family and my Dad. Because family is what it’s all about.

Be cool.

Bulleit_Rye_ManhattanMy Uncle Tom passed away on July 8th.  On his terms, in his home in Ocean City, NJ.  I got to visit with him a few times since I wrote this post, as recently as a couple of weeks ago.  As usual, we had a great talk.

Manhattans all around, on me…


Carving A Good Stone

24 05 2013

librarpstesdfsdfsdfAccording to the website Dangerous Minds… “This headstone, located in the Goldfield Pioneer Cemetery in Goldfield, Nevada is apparently real. There are some doubts on the Internet as the red paint appears to be in mighty fine shape for being over 100 years old. Perhaps someone maintains the grave since it’s so unusual?”

Even if it’s not real, it’s pretty damn funny.

I’ve noticed when visiting my parent’s grave that there aren’t really any funny epitaphs. While beautiful and scenic, it is a somber place. Messages on the headstones are standard. Very poetic. Very tame. Very boring. I suppose that better content for this blog would be found in a non-Catholic cemetery…

I’m hoping I’ll have something extremely profound on my stone for future generations, or random people walking by. Something that will make a statement about my life and accomplishments. Or funny, like Rodney Dangerfield’s “There Goes The Neighborhood!” inscription.

At this point I haven’t accomplished anything headstone worthy, so it looks I’ll have to go with funny. But as I don’t plan on exiting this world anytime soon, I still have time to make a mark – in life and marble!

It could happen like this…

  • As a social media maven – “Founder of the LanganSpace Holographic Social Network”.
  • I know a little bit about soccer… “USA World Cup Winning Coach”. Or team bus driver?
  • Will one of my children give me the boost I need? “Here Lies John Langan, Father of the First Man on Mars”. Of course, if this happened I would want one of those cool Spock photon torpedo funerals!
  • Perhaps I will have an interesting death… “Centenarian, Died In Kiln Explosion”. I was making someone a pot…

I hope I don’t have to think about this anytime soon, but pondering is always good exercise for the brain. And I’m not sure if a cemetery plot is for me anyway. Stay tuned for a blog called “Creative Ash Scattering”.

If you have any suggestions for an appropriate epitaph, please comment below. It doesn’t have to be appropriate, either… best suggestion wins a much sought after “legs end” pall bearer position at my funeral services.

This weekend and everyday, lets not forget and be thankful for all of the people who have served our country, and whose epitaphs credit them for the freedom we enjoy.

God Bless America.

Social, My Way

19 05 2013

franksinatraI unabashedly love Social Media.  Not just for business, but my personal life too.  I’m so appreciative of rekindled relationships that I had thought were gone forever.  And that Social Media love is not unrequited, either.  Social loves me too.

And what’s not to love?  Social has made the already incredible world wide web that much more incredible.  It has torn down governments, companies, and people… most who actually deserved it.  Social reports news faster, and sometimes more accurately.

Social Media will continue to change and evolve as more platforms are created.  But it will always be about people sharing and conversing.  It is the greatest equalizer, giving everyone a voice in this mad world.  Good or bad, the people who use Social correctly will be the influencers in the years ahead.

One of my favorite sayings is, “There is a right way and a wrong way to do things.”  I believe this professionally, and personally.  No life lessons today, so you can relax.  Like everything, as Social evolves it must be done the right way.

Let the record show, this is My Way:

  • Be Positive!  I recently saw a post by my local soccer equipment store, linking to the article about the referee who was killed  during a match in Phoenix.  Yep… that’s a mistake.  Always provide content that reflects positively on your company and the industry you serve.  It’s simple, you get nothing from negative.
  • Engage!  Social Media is a giant conversation, so jump in.  Give your audience something to think about.  Your content should be such that your customer wants to respond.  Then you reply, and so on, and so on…  Ask questions and provide answers.    This will inspire trust and more engagement.
  • Don’t Hide!  No business does things 100% right.  Embrace any customers who push back at you, or attack you on SM.  Work to solve their problems publicly and show your commitment to getting things right.
  • Truth Rules!  Simply put, don’t lie.  Make sure you that what you say is correct.  Your customer is not just listening, but they are out there talking about your company, and probably to everyone but you.  They may not agree with what you put out there, but you will do a lot better if it is real and accurate.
  • Push The Envelope!  Don’t be afraid to get  little bit out of your comfort zone.  Be funny.  If you don’t think you are, find someone who can help you.  Don’t push it all the time, just enough to let your audience know that Robby the Robot isn’t creating your content.  So, link to that funny article or post that cartoon… it’s liberating!
  • Share!  Coming up with good content is tough, so don’t be afraid to share relevant content from other sources.  And if you want to really push that aforementioned envelope, share something from a competitor.  Shows confidence, don’t you think?  It will probably freak out your competitor a bit too.  Give them credit, of course…
  • Quality First!  Quantity second.  If you have something relevent to say or share, do it.  If not, keep quiet and listen to the conversation.  Posting for the sake of posting can dilute your message.  No yapping!

Looking at some of the key terms, it’s sort of “old school”… conversations, trust, talking, truth, quality, etc.  Nothing really new or earth shattering here.  Social… it’s new?  Nope, it’s old… and it’s all about people, people!

And I said there would be no life lessons…