Kind thoughts

I walked into one of my company’s office buildings the other day. I worked in the building several years ago, but it had been a while since I had stepped foot inside. My head was down and I was thinking about what I needed to accomplish in my meeting.  

Thanks to the glare of the overhead lights, I couldn’t really see the security guard far in front of me, but I heard her voice. She asked if I needed directions. I had another meeting in the same building the next day and she asked again, same thing, same bright cheery disposition. By contrast, the rumpled guard in my office building barely grunts hello when you enter the building.

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Party of six, your table is ready

The restaurant has been picked, check. The dinner reservation has been set, check. Next I need to select the five people I’d like to invite to dinner. You know the drill, you’ve probably heard the parlor game: Name the five people, living or dead, who you’d invite to dinner.

The possibilities are endless.

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An unlikely mentor

I keep trying to write something about the current state of politics. I’ll start commenting on one side of the aisle and then the other does something that I find completely ridiculous. In the end, I find myself right back where I started. So, instead of a political blog, I write today about a mentor who saw something in me that no one else had ever seen.


I lifted the ax and took a huge whack out of the log. With each swing, I could feel the anger seep out of my pores. I worked the summer helping a family friend on his small farm. I mowed his fields; helped build a fencepost and clear out a small barn, hauled hay; cut wood and a million other odd jobs.

Every day seemed to wrap into the other.

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Five reasons why I like my dog better than some people

My wife likes to tease me that I would be happier on a deserted island or deep in the woods in a cave since then I wouldn’t have to deal with annoying people. I ponder the question in mock seriousness for a brief minute or two and then ask if I get to bring our dog Nittany, a six-year-old Bichon Frise – Shih Tzu mix.

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The games we play

The running back slid one way and then cut back another, gaining huge chunks of ground with every carry. He was so quick and even if a defender started to tackle him, if you tapped on the “b” button at the right moment, he’d spin out of the tackle and go onto score. He looked unbeatable.

Likewise, the quarterback threw bullets for passes and when the wide receiver caught the winning touchdown he danced in the end zone just like in real life.

In the early 90s, I bought my first gaming system a Sega Genesis. I came home from work one Friday, exhausted from a long week and went out and bought my first system. I figured that I had a job now. I wasn’t in college anymore. I could afford to blow off a little steam. Why not?

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Fatherly advice and the end of an era: Sears and Craftsman

Fathers love to give advice.

Any of these sound familiar? Hard work never killed anyone; look both ways before you cross the street; measure twice, cut once; righty tighty, lefty loosey; do every job like it’s your last, and a million other lessons.

I’ve heard a million lines like that over the years and I find myself repeating the same words to my kids. I open my mouth and they come rushing out without thought or plan. It’s a genetic thing, it’s in our bones.

Choose wisely

I remember my father telling me another bit of advice. One Saturday afternoon my father was working on his car and he asked for an wrench from his toolbox. I ran as quickly as I could to our basement, grabbed the right-sized wrench from the toolbox and went running back outside. He took one look at it and told me to run back and grab another one just like it.

When I returned, out of breath from the errand, he said, “Nothing beats a Craftsman.” I looked down and saw the big silver Craftsman letters on the wrench handle. The two wrenches looked the same. I saw very little difference in the two, but the Craftsman obviously meant something to my father.

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The power of a children’s book

When I was very young starting out in kindergarten and first grade, I hated school. I struggled to make friends and get used to a new routine. When the lessons really started taking off, I found myself falling behind my classmates.

I may have hated school, but I loved sports. I loved, even at that young age, the ups-and-downs of baseball or football. I loved the story-telling nature of the sports world.

So when one day I found a bright yellow hardcover board book with a kid in football gear not much older than me on the cover, I fell in love. The book titled Davy Plays Football told the story of a little boy who had to fight to get a chance to play with the big kids in his neighborhood and in the end catches the winning touchdown.

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Planning my own goodbye party

I run five days a week and regularly work-out in the gym. I try to pass up the fatty sugars and eat healthy. (Ice cream is my downfall.) I even try to maintain work-life stress balance.

In the end, however, I will die.

So will you. We all will.

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An eternal truth 

I know that’s pretty morbid, but it’s a fact of life. There’s no getting around it. I’ve reached the point in my life where I think it’s silly to avoid the obvious.

Yes, I certainly hope death doesn’t come knocking for a long, long time. I’d throw a few more “long, long, long times” in there for emphasis if I could, but it’s a waste of time and energy to run from the truth. Instead, I’ve decided to take a different tact. I can’t control my death. I hope it’s well into the future, but if it happens, it happens. I have limited control on the when, but I can make each day count and to communicate to my family how I want to be ushered out when my time comes. (And even then I don’t have real control, but I can at least offer a few suggestions.)

What’s my request: I want a party.
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The turning of the page

In one picture, my daughter is hamming it up for the camera, all smiles with her cousin. In another shot on another page, my two sons jockey for the best position with our dog, who sits straight and tall like she’s a professional model.

And later on another page, there’s a picture of my wife and I holding hands and walking together on a wooded trail, heads-down deep in thought.

Close to ten years ago I started collecting family pictures for a yearly family calendar. The project started small, but has turned into a monstrosity. I have stacks of each year’s calendar sitting in an old desk drawer.

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In each year’s version, we include pictures of our kids, cousins, grandparents, and close friends. We print the calendars, bind them, and give them out as Christmas presents to the grandparents. Sitting at my desk at work, I love looking up and seeing each month’s montage of pictures and key dates hanging above my computer. And God knows, even in this day of smartphones and Google Calendar, having everyone’s birthday and anniversary in one spot has saved my butt more than a time or two.

I’ve found too that leafing through the old calendars has become a favorite pastime. I love to see how the kids have grown. I even love seeing how much father time has changed me. I’m older. I have less hair and a bigger waste-line. I’ve come to see close-up how time has changed.

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Besides the obvious, I love looking at the calendars for other things too, like how things haven’t changed:

–Family is still family.

My kids can’t all fit in the back seat of the car anymore without one of them getting seriously cramped or even trampled on, but they still hug each other. It could be a good ruse, but they still seem to put up with one another and, at least for my sake, love one another.

–A smile is still a smile.

I’ve gotten more than a few “duh” looks from my kids over the years, but they still have the brightest smiles that light up a room and turn a father’s cold heart to mush.

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–They’ll always need mom and dad (if only for back-up support).

My kids rely more on their smartphones to keep track of things like dentist appoints, test dates, and a million other events that we all have on our calendars, but they still like to see the pictures we have on the calendar. They still want to know that they matter to mom and dad.

I’ll take any of the week, even if it does mean that I’m getting another year older.