Archives for posts with tag: power

Living in Oklahoma is not for sissies. True to the song, that wind does come sweepin’ and sometimes it’s a little strong. The beautiful plains probably handle it better than the cities. In Tulsa, we are in the corner of the state called “Green Country” by the tourist bureau. For those who think this state is flat and dry, you haven’t seen all of Oklahoma. We have gorgeous trees and hills in our lovely city.

This week, we had a blast of 70-80 mph winds that swept over our area, swirling and blowing until a large portion of the city was without power and nature had pruned our urban forest. It would break my heart to see the huge trees upended in yards all over the place, but I’ve been through it before and know that when all is cleaned up, we’ll look much the same around here with a few gaps in the sky. We have an abundance of trees. After our major ice storm a few years ago, the city looked like a war zone, but nature picks up and goes again. I’ve also learned from the National Parks, where they let nature take its course.

Getting around town has been slow as you dodge limbs in the streets and wait to go through intersections one at at time while the street lights are out. Poles are broken and leaning and crews are arriving from other states to help! I saw some poles propped up with a smaller pole bound to it.



If there is anything good about storms like this, it’s the human spirit that shines through. Days without power make us more grateful for what we do have. After writing about Keeping Cool earlier this week, many had to live it in the humid heat following the storm. At least there are places to go with air conditioning and ice. Neighbors and families with power provide meals and cool places to sleep. We know not to open our refrigerators to keep them cold or put perishables in coolers with ice until the stores run out. Most people should have lanterns and flashlights around. Some have generators left over from ice storms.

One of the newest problems is charging all our devices. One of my daughters without power took all of her family’s electronics to her sister who had power to recharge…iPhones, iPads, iPods. We’re kind of an Apple family and need our gadgets to stay in touch.

On the other side, my brother doesn’t have power after three days and needs to be connected for health reasons. I check on him and make sure his phone works so he can get help if needed. I’m sure there are many like him. I have to wind through the back streets to get to him because he’s on a main street blocked by electric company workers trying to get everything going.

Power outages bring out our pioneer spirit, 21st century style. We’re not exactly without resources these days. Neighbors help neighbors move limbs until the hoards of trucks and men with chain saws flood the city. There’s money to be made following a storm.

I’ve been grateful to have power, although I lost my internet and cable for a couple of long periods. Hard to complain. In fact, it makes me laugh to think how deprived we can feel without things that are really luxuries. Reading books is back in style, by lanterns or on tablets, in a storm.

Here’s a sample of some of Tulsa’s damage this week. Multiply this times a bunch and you’ll see what we’re seeing…

Here are two trees uprooted onto the owner’s house…


A tree broken across a fence…


A multi-trunked tree uprooted onto the house and new car…


and debris piled on the curbs for pick up…



One of the major problems is our glorious oaks that die from the inside and look fine on the outside but are vulnerable to the winds…


So, we’re picking up and going again. We survive wind, tornadoes (big wind), ice, heat and cold and floods here in Oklahoma. We’re OK.

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Abraham Lincoln

I watched “American Experience” on PBS the other night, a profile of Henry Ford. He was the classic American story of a farm boy who went to the city and changed the world. He was for the American people, he was one of them, us. He was doing what was right for the masses and not just for the rich, an idealist if there ever was one. But, somewhere along the line, he changed into an example of how power changes men and egos become more important than anything. Power has been a problem for humans…forever!


Ford became more and more convinced that he knew what was right for his workers, for all people. If they would just live the way he knew was right for them, then they would all be happy. He took credit for everything, even his son’s accomplishments, belittling him at the same time. If there was ever a direct cause for cancer, it would be Edsel Ford’s stomach cancer after a lifetime of his father telling him what he was doing wrong, mainly because it wasn’t the way Henry would do it. Ford was a great man in many ways, but his failings as a person are directly linked to his growing power until he became the wealthiest man in America. He criticized the wealthy while living in a 31,000 sq foot gated house on hundreds of acres and never saw the irony. He was an American icon, but he was a greater person when he had nothing.

I was thinking of some of the careers I’ve had in my life. There were two places I worked where I thought I would stay until I retired, both nonprofits, although I’ve worked in the corporate world, too. Both were magnificent organizations, both were nationally known for their work. I was part of a team, a team of friends. We didn’t just work together, we loved each other, took care of each other. We complemented each other, made our goals, made a difference. These were dream jobs, the kind that everybody wants.

Both jobs fell apart and it reminds me of both Lincoln’s quote and Henry Ford. Both were due to the leader of the organization, the paid leader. One was because of the leader’s ineptness. When things at the top didn’t go so well, he took no blame but began to scourge the organization, starting with the most threatening departments, the ones who were too close to each other and too good. It was an insidious process, one that probably broke all kinds of human resource laws as well as being a disgrace to human decency. This man in particular was given too much power with too little ability. He didn’t ask for help, he just flailed away, whittling away at employee morale until what had been heaven as a workplace had become a daily hell. When he left, he, of course, was sent to another city in a higher position, taking with him the power to decimate another city’s chapter. And, it’s taken years for the local organization to finally get back on an even keel, financially and by reputation in the community.

The second time I lived through this, the leader saw himself as the savior of the organization, the only one who could lead us to the future. We all need leaders with vision, but there is something to be said for a vision that includes people. He was all about numbers, hitting goals no matter how it was done. His praise when a goal was met rang false when you listened to him taking credit for every accomplishment. There was a feeling that you were working to build his resume so that he could move higher in his next position. And, as the staff met every goal, his ego grew. Now he alone knew what would work best, what the city needed. He was making decisions in a vacuum or with a select team of yes people around him, not consulting with most of the staff or the board of directors. The tension among the staff was a slow vibration that grew until it was a constant hum in the workplace. A virus was sickening the building, affecting the mental health of those who were smart enough to see what was happening and numbing those who couldn’t afford to get out.

I sound kind of brutal about these things. I’m not naive about business or the reality of even the dream places to work, the models like Google or Pixar or QuikTrip. There are always problems in the workplace, just like families or clubs or religious organizations or any group that is populated by human beings. I wish I had the answers, but none of us is perfect. We need to study the stories of those who were given power and didn’t abuse it, who actually valued people first and took their power to do what was right. Why are those names harder to conjure up without thinking about it?

Someone once told me I had strong character because of the things life has thrown at me. I say I’ve had all the character building experiences I want. Dealing with what life brings you is what we have to do to survive and be as happy as we can with what we have. I can give you a long list of friends I admire who have done that and continue to inspire others with their ability to adapt.

Power is something we all think we would like. We use words like powerless or empowered all the time. Politicians work so hard to get the power to accomplish whatever they went into politics to do and then have to compromise their ideals to keep the power. It’s a vicious circle for them. Good men and women become corrupted by power, sucked in by the rush of that strong urge. I’m not sure there is a way to tell who will fall victim to those seductive perks of power…we’ve all seen good people fall.

Now, I’m rambling on about it, so I’ll quit with nothing resolved. I just don’t like to see people hurt by other people. Ever.