John Y. Brown, III

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Recovering Politician

THEN: Secretary of State (KY), 1996-2004; Candidate for Lieutenant Governor, 2007 NOW: JYB3 Group (Owner) -public affairs consulting firm; Miller Wells law firm (Of counsel) Full Biography: link

John Y. Brown, III: Thanksgiving Leftovers

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A Citizen’s Morning Weather and Trafffic Report (with a few more observations)

It’s quiet and cold outside. The city seems sleepy but eager (eager for something like a day of rest with a lot of good food — and a side of family time).

I only saw one car accident and it was’t really an accident. Just a flat tire. And a police car stopped to help.

There was a mid-sized car with antlers placed on the backseat windows and two men inside laughing about something that was probably nothing in particular.

A couple, probably in their 70’s, were getting gas. Both were outside the car helping pump gas and clear ice off the windshield. They appeared to be preparing for a long drive and got back on the road without incident.

The manager of the gas station seemed in an especially helpful and pleasant mood. The ATM machine inside worked fine and the pastries are fresh and taste good.

Stores are closed but hearts seem mostly open. People who normally wouldn’t speak to one another are saying hello as they pass. Hitchikers who are genuinely down on their luck are more likely to hitch a ride today.

A man parked at a Starbucks parking lot texted his wife to see if she wanted a coffee and she texted back that she was already in line at another Starbucks and could get him a coffee and meet him at home. He texted her back thanking her and added a capital “L” at the end of his text for “love.” And so did she.

All in all, it is a pretty good morning for a Thanksgiving.

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Thanksgiving is an under-achiever as holidays go.

Halloween has costumes and all the candy you can eat. Easter has a magic bunny who travels the world leaving gift baskets for children. Heck, even Groundhog Day has Punxsutawney Phil who predicts future weather for the country.

Thanksgiving doesn’t offer up a magic turkey with a name like Phil or provide gift baskets with bunny shaped candy. We don’t even get to dress up in funny costumes.

For Thanksgiving we just dress in our nice cloths, spend time with family and give thanks for all the abudance we have in our lives.

That just doesn’t seem like enough. But maybe somehow in a weird way it really is. If we have the right attitude. And a turkey.

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Starbucks new holiday special “Turkey and Gravy Latte” is surprisingly good.

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Thanksgiving Dating Tips

27 years ago this week Rebecca and I had been dating for just over 6 months and Thanksgiving was just around the corner.

We were having dinner at a nice restaurant in Lexington and Rebecca told me one of the things she liked about dating me was going to nicer restaurants. She said with other guys she had dated every meal she ordered came with french fries.

I took that as a compliment and talked about how the Dinner Card I had bought was a good deal and then Rebecca segued into a new topic.

“So, do you have any plans for Thanksgiving?”

I answered reflexively, ” Yeah. Probably just the usual — go to my grandmother’s in Central City on Thursday and my Dad’s in Lexington on Friday. How about you? Any big Thanksgiving plans?”

Rebecca looked down and mumbled, “Nothing big. That’s for sure.” She stabbed hard at her entree before adding, “Just the usual, too, I guess.”

“What’s wrong? Do you not like your dinner?” I asked.

“It’s fine.” Rebecca answered.

“You want some of mine?” I offered. ” You sure something isn’t wrong with your dinner?”

Rebecca paused and explained, “My friends are having Thanksgiving together with their boyfriends.”

“Oh!” I exclaimed. “Are we at a point in our relationship where we are supposed to go to Thanksgiving dinners together? I didn’t know. I have never had a serious girlfriend for this long.”

Rebecca said, “I don’t know. I guess it depends on how serious they are.”

“Well, come on then! Go with me. Or I can go with you. Or whatever or however it is supposed to be done. Was just totally over my head. I didn’t know about the Thanksgiving dating rules but now that I do I want to get it right for sure!”

Rebecca said OK and her dinner seemed to taste a lot better after that.

And I learned a valuable dating lesson and my future wife learned to give an absent-minded boyfriend the benefit of the doubt when you really are convinced your absent-minded boyfriend is a good guy but genuinely clueless.

I am a very lucky man. And I am inviting Rebecca again this year –for the 27th year in a row– to spend Thanksgiving with me. And our family.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Logic and Life

jyb_musingsI nominate “Logic” for a Lifetime Achievement Award. The award for those who come close many times but always seem to fall short of the the main prize.

Logic, it seems, is exalted by all; claimed by many; and referenced as a virtue as a matter of course. But in life’s biggest battles — life’s biggest decisions –how often has logic prevailed?

So let’s give logic its due. As a decision-making tool it has rarely carried off the brass ring –but deserves at least to be in the same category as Susan Lucci.

And besides, what is the logic in a brass ring being life’s greatest prize anyway?

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Sibling Rivalry

jyb_musingsSibling rivalry couldn’t possibly exist after 50, right?

Of course not.

Our mom has been under the weather the past few days but is now, thankfully, fully on the mend.

My sister, Sissy, in Lexington called me yesterday and asked for a progress report. I reassured her that Mom was doing great now and I copied and pasted a text our mom had just sent me.
(With one minor humorous edit I couldn’t resist adding.)

“Sis, Mom wrote this earlier today to me. Here it is …. ‘So happy to be feeling better today! Still tired & not a lot of stamina yet but feeling so much better. By the way, John, I always liked you more than Sandy and Sissy. Love to all Mom'”

Most importantly it got a good laugh out of Mom as well as all three of us.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Obvious Shortcuts

jyb_musingsAm I the only one who thinks of these obvious shortcuts?

In line boarding a flight and listening to a plastic surgeon boast about all his recent cosmetic surgery successes.

Um, OK. That’s great and all.

But wouldn’t it be a lot easier to just make glasses for everyone with lenses that makes everybody else look thin and hot?

Pretty obvious.

There is always an easier fix for those, like me, who are willing to think outside the box. Or see things through a slightly different lens. Sigh.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Flight Attendant Revenge

jyb_musingsI am on a flight right now and not speaking to my flight attendant. She asked me twice to turn off my “mobile device” and then checked to make sure I hadn’t turned it back on as she walked past me a third time before take off. And she said it to me in a really stern and authoritative way that made me feel like I was talking in class in 2nd grade, like the time Ms White at Wilder Elementary pulled me several feet out of my chair by my hair — in front of the whole class.

She doesn’t know I’m not speaking to her. She thinks I didn’t even notice her sassiness and that I was glad to have her remind me to turn off my cell phone before we start taxiing.

I would never want to do anything to endanger any flight I am on. I have volunteered many times to sit by the exit door in case of an emergency. She probably doesn’t even know that.

To get even with her, I am squinting my eyes at her while she isn’t looking. And thinking of the term “Stewardess” instead of “Flight Attendant.” But I know that is probably hitting below the belt, even though I am only saying it in my mind.

Oh brother! Now the guy two seats in front of me —who turned off his mobile device after she asked the first time —is joking around with the flight attendant and she is being all chummy with him. Teachers pet! And it is no accident he is just two seats away from me. She is trying to rub it in.

Here she comes with the beverage cart, I just shook my head “No thanks” when she asked if I wanted a beverage. Even though I am thirsty. I didn’t speak a single word. Silent treatment. I even let her look at my computer screen while I wrote this post. The font was too small to read but I think she knew she had crossed a line earlier with me by the way I gave such a pouty, wounded non-verbal “No thanks” to her free beverage offer.

And just because I am posting this on Facebook doesn’t make me petty. Seriously. I was already petty long before this. I just hope we both learned a useful lesson from this experience. Actually, I really hope only she did.

Put it this way, she’s just lucky they aren’t serving lunch on this flight for me to politely and non-verbally decline. Even though I am really hungry.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Credit Card Fraud

jyb_musingsI was just notified I have been–again–a victim of credit card fraud.

Someone in NY manually charged some product from Nevada that costs 99 cents.

I thought it was kinda pitiful. If I had met the man on the street and he’d told me about the 99 cents and that he was about to commit a major crime for it, I might have given him the money myself. Especially if it would have meant he would have left my credit card alone and I wouldn’t have to go through getting a new one. Heck, that would be worth maybe $1.50 to me. Just to avoid the hassle.

If you are out there and thinking of stealing my credit card information to buy something less than $1.50 (like this last guy), talk to me first. Let’s see if we can’t work something out. If you are interested in more than that, we are going to be negotiating for a while and I am not willing to be shaken down for more than, ohhh, $2. Tops!!

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: The New News Channel — A Proposal

jyb_musingsI am at a point in my life where I want a different kind of news station. One that currently doesn’t exist. One that is neither liberal nor conservative. One that is neither substantive nor opinionated. One that neither reports the real news nor comments on it. One that neither leaves me informed nor angry. One that has anchors and reporters that are neither beautiful nor all that interesting. Nor loud or charming.

I want a new news station that is presented by ordinary looking people who are slightly overweight, middle-aged and have kind yet forgettable facial features. And who don’t read the news but just talk to us the way we talk to each other when we aren’t on the news. Instead of reporting on emergencies or potential military or health crisis, I would prefer the new news channel focuses more on things like recipes and sales at local hardware stores and live coverage of people renovating a room in their house or washing their car (or hair). Maybe something about a couple divorcing in our community and what others are saying about them. Something on calories but not too much emphasis on health and none on beauty beyond stories of how limited cosmetic surgery can sometimes be successful but usually isn’t necessary. A nice regular feature story about some local business or organization that is doing better than expected and doing some good for the community too. Nothing about disease except how cures are progressing–and regular reports about people in our community who are feeling better than they were last week when they thought they were coming down with something. Nothing about war except noting we don’t have any near our neighborhood as of this afternoon. Not much on the weather except noting fair and mild days and maybe a brief comment about how it “could be worse” during a bad weather spell. Not many commercials unless they are really clever and not repeated over and over. You know the ones I am talking about –that are almost like an art form.

Not a lot of culture reporting but enough to be able to keep up in conversations with viewers’ younger bosses to let them know we know about the same cultural current events information that they do and a lot more history. A daily report on trends in meditation practices. Election results can be reported but only after 2am and at least a year after they occurred–and the reports have to have the German Chicken Song theme playing in the background to keep viewers from taking them too seriously and spending hours the next day writing about the elections on Facebook.

I would like for the news to start with someone who reminds us of Walter Cronkite meets Fred Rogers (of Mr Rogers Neighborhood). With about an 80-20 split favoring Rogers. And close with someone reminding us of a likable and sincere version of Martha Stewart (I like her voice) meets Fred Rogers –with a similar 80-20 split favoring Rogers. And in between a long list of nondescript female and male reporters who remind us of Fred Rogers meets Fred Rogers. And maybe opening with a song and partial undressing like in the original Mr Rogers Neighborhood. But nothing racy. Just shoes and a jacket. Just shoes if the guy looks a lot like Cronkite.

As for the close, it doesn’t really matter. The main thing is that it ends with the sense that nothing that happened that day in the news really matters that much—except what each of us did in our own lives. And that that is really the only “news” worth knowing or thinking about today. And pan to a miniature train choo-chooing as the credits roll.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Cancelling a Concert Tour

jyb_musingsI have some idea now what it feels like to cancel a concert tour.

The past week I have been listening to Pearl Jam every morning.

It has become too exhausting for me to tap into my inner Eddie Vedder every morning for an entire week.

This morning I decided I needed to take a break from listening to Pearl Jam due to exhaustion.

I am going to listen to Paul Simon instead. Who is smaller and has a much softer persona to tap into than Eddie Vedder. I am not cancelling the entire Pearl Jam tour, so to speak. I just need a few days of Paul Simon to rest and recuperate.

I may be ready to listen to Pearl Jam again as early as next week — especially if I focus on listening to Simon’s later works, which are akin to eating chicken soup. And may help restore my voice which has become a little scratchy from the Pearl Jam singing this past week.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: First Thoughts

jyb_musingsThey say go with your first thought on things.

I was never sure what that meant until this morning.

On my way to meet someone for an early morning business meeting, I got an email from someone else that he couldn’t make our meeting — a meeting I had set for the exact same time and completely forgotten about –because he had “something unexpected come up at work.”

1) My first thought was, “Oh wow! Thank you, God! That would have been humiliating. I wrote an email response telling him “No problem,” and that we could reschedule.

2) My second thought was I should put a little hint of disappointment in my response email to make him feel guilty for cancelling at the last minute.

3) My third thought was “Wonder who the heck he is meeting with who is so important that he had to cancel a meeting with me” –that I had admittedly forgotten and couldn’t make myself because I was meeting with someone else too.

4) My fourth thought was, “Maybe you should just email the response from your first thought and keep the rest to yourself.”

So, always go with your first thought. And if you can’t do that hold off until the fourth thought. And don’t dwell on the second and third.

A good rule of thumb is that genuine gratitude is always better than false indignation.

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Credit Card Fraud

jyb_musingsI was just notified I have been–again–a victim of credit card fraud.

Someone in NY manually charged some product from Nevada that costs 99 cents.

I thought it was kinda pitiful. If I had met the man on the street and he’d told me about the 99 cents and that he was about to commit a major crime for it, I might have given him the money myself. Especially if it would have meant he would have left my credit card alone and I wouldn’t have to go through getting a new one. Heck, that would be worth maybe $1.50 to me. Just to avoid the hassle.

If you are out there and thinking of stealing my credit card information to buy something less than $1.50 (like this last guy), talk to me first. Let’s see if we can’t work something out. If you are interested in more than that, we are going to be negotiating for a while and I am not willing to be shaken down for more than, ohhh, $2. Tops!!

John Y.’s Video Flashback (1995):

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