My Central Pennsylvania roots call me home

When I was a young boy, my mom let me buy a book in the Scholastic book order and I bought Mickey’s Magnet, a story about a little kid who discovers the power of magnets after he spills a box of his mother’s pins. A cheap little red and gray horseshoe-shaped magnet came with the book and I was hooked. I spent hours in my room fiddling and fooling around with the magnet, seeing what it would pick up, yes to my father’s nails, no to my little green Army men.

I ultimately learned that the little magnet worked great on iron, nickel and steel, not so great on other things like aluminum, copper or even glass. I haven’t played around with that magnet in decades, but I’ve learned in the years since that my hometown has its own magnetic like properties.

It pulls me home.

When I’ve spent too much time overlooking a sea of cubicles and am tired and stressed-out, I feel the Central Pennsylvania community where I grew-up and spent the first years of adulthood, calling me home.

The community names come flying back to my mind in an alphabet soup flurry: Allensville to Belleville; Belltown to Burnham; Greenwood Furnace to Granville, Lewistown to Milroy; Maitland to McVeytown; Reedsville to Siglerville; Strodes Mills to Yeagertown, and a million other little small townships and boroughs. Throw in Centre, Huntingdon, and Juniata Counties and most of the memories I have between birth and my early twenties begin circling in my head.

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Blinded by an eye-for-an-eye

I’ve been thinking about Hollywood’s version of revenge in recent weeks. When I was growing up you had the classic version where Charles Bronson in the 1974 movie Death Wish plays a man who after seeing his wife murdered and is daughter assaulted in a home invasion goes on a vigilante killing spree seeking out revenge on violent criminals.

In more modern times, you have others: pretty much any Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Tom Cruise, Russell Crowe, and Arnold Schwarzeneggar movie. TV reality shows, including Survivor, the Apprentice, the Bachelor, Keeping up with the Kardashians, too get in the act. They all play up the idea of getting one over on the other guy.

In Hollywood’s view, revenge comes quick, wrapped up tightly in a hour or two-hour block, and is oh so sweet.

In real life, however, I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. It’s ugly, it’s mean, and frankly not worth it.

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Little surprises

I walked out of my office building the other day to my car with a million thoughts in my head. I had errands to run and my day was packed. I would have to be quick. I reached into my jacket for my keys and pulled out a $10 bill that I had forgotten that I had put there.

You would have thought I just won the lottery or was getting ready to go on a 10-day Caribbean cruise. My problems disappeared. I had a bounce to my step. I was a new man: all over a silly $10 that I promptly planned to spend on a large cup of coffee.

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Why I’m a Grinch when it comes to Valentine’s Day

I can let out a dirty little secret.

Now that Valentine’s Day 2017 is over, I can say what I really think of the holiday: I hate it. Consumers were expected to spend an average of $136 this year, totaling more than $18.2 billion, on Valentine’s Day gifts for loved ones this year.

I love my wife and my family and I especially appreciate the chance to tell them how much I love them and how much they mean to me. In the same vein, I hate the focus on gift-giving and over-spending; the price gouging; and how it mocks true life-long love.

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Operating on fumes

The minute I step outside the door the crisp air hits me with the force of jackhammer drilling into my sidewalk. It’s hard, it’s with a jolt, and it’s with definitive force and power. I wrap my overcoat tighter around my body and walk briskly to my car.

For the past several weeks, I’ve been rushing into work in the middle of the night to help train my European coworkers via video conference on a new piece of technology. It hasn’t exactly been the middle of the night and I’ve burnt a bigger chunk of the candle in other stages of my life, but the late nights and early morning hours have still taken a toll.  

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Uncharted territory: Taking a leap of faith

A coworker ran up to me in the parking lot in a panic. I’ve been helping her prepare for a job interview for a new position with our company. She wanted my advice on how to approach a sensitive question.

A friend I worked with years ago has been considering a career switch. He’s unhappy in his job and is close to quitting and going into business for himself. Fortunately he’s in the financial position to make the move, but wants to be sure before he makes the jump. Another friend is struggling with what to do with a sick parent, whether a visiting nurse will be enough or if she should consider admitting her to a nursing home.

To top it off, my 17-year-old son and many of his friends are thinking about their options next year. He’s applied and been accepted to several colleges, but also is thinking about serving in the armed forces.

It must be that time of year. I feel like everyone I’ve come across lately is burdened down by a challenging decision related to career, college or the future.

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Uh-oh moments

I’ve had a few moments lately. You know the kind. You hit the send button on a key email and the note you wanted to go to two people goes to twenty. You scramble to recall the note, to pull it back, but you come up with nothing but thin air. It’s too late the note has already been delivered and opened.

Your heart sinks faster than one of the deck chairs on the Titanic to the icy bottom of the North Atlantic. You throw your hands up in frustration and fall back in your chair. We all have these types of uh-oh or “oh shit” moments.

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Selfish play

I’m not much of a betting man. When I was 8, I traded away a 1975 Roberto Clemente baseball card, now valued anywhere from $20 to $700, and I learned the hard way that betting and bartering have consequences.

However, I’ll bet a small fortune that come Sunday in Super Bowl LI one fortunate wide receiver or running back for either the Atlanta Falcons or New England Patriots will run a short corner route and leap up and make the game winning touchdown catch. He’ll thump his chest like he just beat the other team all on his own. He’ll strut and gloat over top of the defensive back on the ground, play some more to the camera, and then finally spike the ball.

It could be a star player or a player you’ve never heard of in your life. It won’t matter.

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