What did you give?

Guest Column

By Bryan Golden

Among other things, the holidays are a time of giving and receiving gifts. The question most often asked of people is, "what did you get?" Much less frequently asked is, "what did you give?" Invariably, the inquiries concern material gifts. Purchasing a gift can certainly be thoughtful and a wonderful gesture, especially when it's backed up by your actions.

However, the most valuable presents are those that aren't sold in stores. When you give your love, your time, help someone in need, aid another in solving a problem or overcoming an obstacle, you give something priceless.

The true spirit of the holidays is giving. When you give, you receive. You can get anything in life you want by helping enough others get what they want. But only if you give without expecting anything in return. The impact of giving isn't limited to just the holiday season, it's something that has value all year.

The power of giving is often underestimated. When you give unconditionally, you don't just impact the recipient; you start a chain reaction. By brightening the life of one person you also affect all those who they then touch.

No gesture of giving or kindness is too small. Holding the door open at a store, helping someone carry groceries to their car, letting another car in front of you, saying please and thank you, and saying hello to a stranger you pass on the sidewalk, are some of the many things you can do daily.

For family and friends, your time is one of the most precious gifts you can offer. Are you there for others when they need you? Do you offer a hand without being asked? Do you help out when asked?

Too often, people get caught up in their own desires, thus losing sight of the needs of others. A person who tries to get through life by looking out for himself or herself first is invariably frustrated. Often this person views life as a competition to determine who can accumulate more.

On the other hand, those who are concerned for the well being of others are happier, more content, and more satisfied. By giving without expecting, they in turn receive the things they need.

Giving is a simple concept that works every time it is applied. There will be people who don't appreciate what you do, but it doesn't matter. You are giving without anticipating anything in return. Besides, there will be many more who are thankful for your efforts.

If you don't treat others well, buying a gift won't compensate for your behavior. The recipient might like what you give them but it won't make up for your actions. You can't bribe someone to forgive the way you treat them with a present.

The best gift you can receive is the joy of making someone else happy. Being unselfish is a wonderful way to live. When you give with no ulterior motives, your actions are seen as genuine. Should you expect something in return, your behavior is always suspect. We all know people who do nice things only when they want something in return.

Make giving a daily routine. Don't start and end with the holiday season. Every day is a good day to do something nice. When people feel good due to your actions, you can't help but feel happy yourself. And that is priceless. The most significant action you can take is having a positive impact on the lives of others.

Bryan is the author of "Dare to Live Without Limits." Visit or your bookstore. Bryan is a self-development expert, syndicated columnist, and professor. E-mail Bryan at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . © 2012 Bryan Golden

Bryan Golden is the author of the book "Dare to live Without Limits." He is a self-development and motivational expert, author, professor, syndicated columnist, and is listed in Who's Who in America.

Incivility rages on

Guest Column

Part II of a two-part series

By Don White
Contributing Columnist

A fter Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee took command in the south he made major changes, and many high ranking officers were shifted to other theatres. The army would now be called the Army of Northern Virginia and was organized into two corps. Command of the 1st Corps was given to Gen. Long street and the 2nd Corps was given to Gen. Stonewall Jackson. Special Orders No. 234 VIII issued on Nov. 6, 1862 confirmed these assignments.

T here was a long list of the "Manassa men" who would disappear by death or transfer. It was now without question, Lee's army and would be until the surrender at Appomattox. The cavalry command was given to Gen. Stuart. The artillery organization was not changed as each brigade had its own battery.

J ust as Lee's promotion would change the course of events, so too did Union Gen. Ulysses S. Grant's future take a turn for the better when Halleck was called east to become general-in-chief. Grant, who after Shiloh was ready to leave the Army, now had more freedom to conduct the war in the west his way.

T he two presidents and government officials were kept busy this year as well. In Richmond, Confederate President Jefferson Davis was directing the war effort, all-the-while working to get the Confederacy up and running as a country. Not gaining recognition from Europe was a fatal blow to the cause. The south did get help, with supplies and vessels as well as a Confederate Bond issue secured by cotton with Emile Erlanger and Co., a Parisian banking house. Confederate Commissioner John Slidell negotiated this loan in October 1862 and it was approved by the congress on Jan. 29, 1863. It could have generated as much as $14.55 million but it only was somewhere between $ million and $8 million.

I n Richmond on Feb. 22, 1862, Davis and Vice President Stephens were inaugurated for a second time. The Confederate Constitution and presidency became permanent on this day. On March 1 Davis proclaimed martial law in Richmond, and pro-North sympathizers were arrested.

C abinet members came and went in the Davis administration. On March 13 he moved Secretary Benjamin from War to State, a post he would hold until the war ended. The new Secretary of War was George Randolph, a grandson of Thomas Jefferson. Randolph soon convinced Davis to approve a Conscription Act, which called for all men 18 to 35 to serve in the military for three years.

D uring the year, the Union blockade became more effective. On Aug. 3 the British vessel Columbia, carrying weapons and munitions bound for the Confederacy, was captured near the Bahamas.

D uring the war a number of women served the cause in many ways. Women from the south who became spies included Rose O'Neal Greenhow, Belle Boyd, Lily Mackall, Ellie Poole, Elizabeth Carraway Howland, Laura Ratcliffe, Antonia Ford, Nancy Hart, Mary Overhall, Mollie Tynes, Olivia Floyd and Elizabeth Waring Duckett.

U .S. President Abraham Lincoln was just as busy as his counterpart in the south. Lincoln had trouble with Secretary of War Cameron, and in January convinced him to resign and then named him minister to Russia, which Cameron did not accept. (During the Civil War, Russia was one of the United States' key allies.) Cameron was replaced by Edwin Stanton, who was a true patriot. Although Lincoln and Stanton had their differences, they worked together to preserve the Union.

S adness came to the White House on Feb. 20 when Lincolns' son, William, died of typhoid fever. Willie was his parents' favorite and I don't believe that Mrs. Lincoln ever fully recovered from his death. Mr. Lincoln had to mourn and get back to work. During the war, Gen. George Sherman, Secretary Stanton and Jefferson Davis all lost young sons. It was a time of horrendous sorrow that spared no one.

I n March, Andrew Johnson was appointed military governor of Tennessee with a commission of brigadier general of volunteers. Even though Tennessee seceded from the union, Johnson kept his seat and adhered to the Union. In 1864 he would become vice president of the United States, and in April 1865 he became president.

T he Homestead Act was passed on May 20. It gave any citizen over 21, man or woman, 160 acres of public land. To secure a title, the law required the pioneer to live on the property for five years, make improvements and pay $10 in legal fees. By 1864 over 1 million acres had been claimed.

O ther than the fighting that occurred during the year, Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22 was the most significant moment of the Year for either the north or south. The proclamation, to become effective on Jan. 1, 1863, declared that all slaves in rebellious sections were free. The slaves did not rebel, they just began showing up at Union lines. Almost 200,000 joined the U.S. Army, and most served with distinction. After this, no European nation seriously considered intervening on behalf of the Confederacy.

A s most of the armies went into winter quarters, Christmas came and went, but there was no end in sight for the war.

Don White is a resident of Palos Hills.

Freezing websites not a legitimate form of protest

Inside the First Amendment

By Gene Policinski
First Amendment Center

T he Web-based protest group Anonymous is asking the White House to consider endorsing a kind of website attack as protected by the First Amendment.

T he group claims the cyberattack tactic - which effectively freezes targeted Web pages for a time - should be protected as a new-age form of assembly and protest.

" Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time," says a line in the posted petition on the White House site, "We the People."

E ven so, the tactic more closely resembles the common definition of the "heckler's veto" than any application of the First Amendment's five freedoms. Shouting down a speaker in person, causing a sponsor to cancel a speech for fear of violence, or silencing a point of view electronically from a remote computer all achieve the same thing: preventing the free flow of information, and in particular the views someone opposes.

A ny way you cut it, such a veto is the antithesis of the marketplace of ideas that is at the heart of freedom of expression.

" Distributed Denial of Service" attacks occur when multiple visitors repeatedly refresh a Web page, with the effect of temporarily preventing normal operations.

S upporters of the tactic and the petition note that it's transitory, eventually leaving the targeted site intact and operational. But speakers who are shouted down in person presumably live to speak again another day in another place. And in each case, you and I and an audience are denied information by a self-appointed entity that thinks - supposedly on our behalf - that we ought not to receive it. The First Amendment is in place to keep government from just becoming such a censor.

T he petition was placed Jan. 7 on "We the People," a White House project that now contains more than 246 petitions on various subjects. It must receive 25,000 "signatures" by Feb. 6 just to gain an official review and response. As of Jan. 15, the petition had 4,600 signatures.

A dmittedly, freezing a website for short a time is far less invasive than other kinds of cyberattacks that are becoming more common. A recent target of criticism by Anonymous was the Westboro Baptist Church, a family group from Topeka, Kan., over its threat to appear at funerals of those killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shootings.

A nonymous helped publicize another Web petition to have the church legally recognized as a hate group. But some Westboro opponents have gone further. News reports say the main website for the church and individual Twitter sites associated with the Fred Phelps family - the bulk of the church membership - were damaged or temporarily taken over by critics.

W idely publicized information about the Westboro-Phelps family and its hateful screeds against gays and various religious groups does not appear to have swelled the church's ranks or brought converts to their message in any great numbers. Instead, more news about the group has produced counter-demonstrators and measurable national revulsion against both Westboro's message and its methods.

C ensorship - however fleeting and however it's done - is not proper response to the folks from Westboro.

Gene Policinski is senior vice president and executive director of the First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn. Web: E-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Real power in the psychology of belief

Another Perspective

By Robert Romano

T he National Weather Service called for a moderate snowstorm in the Washington, D.C., area on Jan. 17.

I n the evening leading up to it, I expressed some skepticism as the temperatures were hovering around 45 degrees, and typically for there to be real accumulation on the roadways, there needs to be some subfreezing weather in advance of the snowfall.

H owever, I was assured by friends that it was going to snow, and the drive home would be miserable, because the government said so.

T hursday morning I awoke and noted that at 7 am, it was still 43 degrees, and expressed my skepticism that we were going to have a major snow event. Once again, I was assured that the temperature was going to drop precipitously throughout the day, and we were in for it, because the Weather Service had said so.

A s I was reflecting on the conversation that occurred with someone who is very conservative politically, I was hit between the eyes with a fundamental challenge facing those who fight for limited government.

E ven the most skeptical of big government, believe what the government puts out as data.

I f the government says it is going to snow, it is going to snow, no matter what our objective observation might tell us otherwise.

L ikewise, if the government tells us that unemployment is getting better, it must be getting better, even if the drop in the unemployment rate is wholly due to people dropping out of the workforce.

A nd if the government tells us that we had the warmest year in history in 2012, then it must be true, even when we have reason to question it.

A necdotally, the weather in Washington, D.C. was warm last year, so for people who reside in the puzzle palace that governs our nation, the claim rings true.

But is it? Maybe not.

S ome meteorologists like Brian Sussman, point to changes in how and where data is collected that skew the numbers.

I n his book Climategate, Sussman chronicles how concrete jungles that are our nation's modern cities retain more heat and as a result the temperatures are warmer in those locations than before.

I f your temperature data collection points become more urbanized, of course, they should read warmer. Furthermore, if you disproportionately place your ground temperature sensing stations in more urbanized areas, you can unintentionally create a warming trend.

B ut climate change by nature is not as simple as a ground temperature reading, and fortunately, we also have satellites which measure temperatures free from the surface vagaries. If both the satellite data and the ground data match, then you have a headline.

A s far as the claim that 2012 was the warmest on history in the continental U.S., the satellite data contradicts the ground data.

I n fact, the satellite data shows that the earth's atmospheric temperatures have been stable over the past decade. Something even Dr. James Hansen - who served as an adviser to Al Gore on his controversial documentary The Inconvenient Truth - has had to come out and admit: "The five-year mean global temperature has been flat for the last decade, which we interpret as a combination of natural variability and a slow down in the growth rate of net climate forcing."

B ased upon this discrepancy, the question that a thinking person should ask is which data measurement tool is the most subject to outside variables that impact readings rather than giving true data.

C learly, the ground temperature variables ranging from data collection locations and the surrounding communities increased urbanization as well as the increase in the number of collection locations and the choices for placement of them, provide significant variables making 2012 on ground weather measurements an apples to oranges comparison between the decades of data.

E ven Hansen had to include this gem in his recent analysis: "An update through 2012 of our global analysis reveals 2012 as having practically the same temperature as 2011, significantly lower than the maximum reached in 2010."

W hile most Americans will just accept the headlines created by the federal government's declaration of a 2012 heat wave, and the agenda driven global warming pronouncements that followed, sometimes it is good to look behind the data. Because as Paul Harvey used to say, when you look behind the headlines you learn, "the rest of the story."

Robert Romano is the Senior Editor of Americans for Limited Government.

Skip Lombardo brought sunshine to our days

Guest Column

By Jack Murray
From The Regional News

I had to take a walk to clear my head Monday after the depression lifted.

Bitter cold of the past week melted, replaced by sunshine and a balmy 50-some degrees. Headed down to the newspaper racks outside Lume's to grab a copy of the competition.

From the Regional, I passed by Rini's, and thought of Skip - Michael "Skip" Lombardo, who I first met there when I used to duck out to get a snack, some gum or a pack of smokes. He was always friendly and open to some conversation.

A nicer guy you can hardly find around here. Skip was just a kind, gentle man who had a way with people, especially little kids, his family told me at Van Henkelum funeral home before his funeral Mass last Saturday at St. Alexander Church.

I had had a bad feeling at Mass the Sunday before when Michael Lombardo was among those named in the Prayers of the Faithful for the Sick. I knew Skip had taken a bad fall a few years back that landed him in Palos hospital, and he had never really looked the same since. They told me Saturday that he had taken a bad fall again before Christmas.

It was just a few years back when I'd see Skip out for a walk along Harlem. Maybe he'd be going to work, or home a few blocks away, or head across Harlem to Baumann's Bakery. He liked stopping at the bakery, they told me Saturday.

Palos Heights is a lot like Mayberry, a friendly small town where many people know each other, Alderman Jack Clifford is not alone in making that comparison. And Skip Lombardo was one of those beloved characters that filled the streets of this Mayberry-like community. It was always a joy to run in to him. You just felt better about the day, about the world, about everything. "How's things at The Regional?" he'd almost always ask.

That was the Old Neighborhood in Skip. When people lived in close families, in closeknit communities. He probably picked it up as a youngster working with his dad at Lombard Nut Company, maker of the Mr. Jolly brand of packaged, roasted nuts. They often did business in one of Chicago's open air markets, years back. It was the Water Street Market, a cousin's wife thought, but her son, who somewhat resembles his granddad Vince Rini, remembered differently. They each smiled at the memories.

Later Skip worked for Denemark Cadillac over on Pulaski Road on Chicago's South Side, where he further honed his people skills, first developed in a large, close, extended Italian-American family. Where holidays, like Christmas or Easter, meant two or three days of cooking, and Skip helped his cousin Lou Rini pick out the produce and make other preparations for the family feasts. It was a good life, one in which Skip helped out in any way he could, taking care of his mom as one of her caregivers for as long as his own health allowed.

With Skip's passing, we mourn a part of Palos Heights' history gone to the ages. Lou Rini is now retired as a pharmacist. The family drugstore on Harlem is still vacant, too large for some prospective tenants who are interested in only half the space, but perhaps a good fit for a restaurant, dollar store, or independent grocer. Lou's brother Realtor Frank Rini is the man to call to inquire to buy or lease the space. And we won't see Skip out on Harlem or at Palos Lions Club meetings at Silver Lake Country Club, two Wednesdays a month. Bruce Frazer used to drive him there. It was Palos Lions Club President Jim Lewis who first sent the bad news that Skip had died. Jim was also the guy to let me know that Skip was in Palos, when I went to visit him there after that fall a few years back. I was feeling pretty good at the time, which turned into feeling pretty lousy after seeing him bruised and broken in that bed.

If there is a God in Heaven - and on a sunny day like this Monday afternoon Jan. 28 on which I write this, I have complete Faith there is - Skip Lombardo is back to feeling as good as I did on that day, walking down the street with a spring in his step on an eternally beautiful day, in the best health of his life. God love him and bless him for all time to come. I will miss this sweet, good man.