Superman versus Batman? Who ya got?

We jostled each other in line to go back into school from our morning recess. The bell always seemed to ring too soon. I’m not sure who started it, but everyone started chiming in with an opinion on their favorite superhero. One kid cried out Superman. Another yelled Batman.

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When together, comic book publisher DC Comics called them “The World’s Finest” as they worked to fight the Joker and Lex Luthor and all that’s wrong in the world. When against each other, they each brought something different to the fight.

The Man of Steel was “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, able to leap tall buildings in a single bound” and to boot he could shoot lasers out of his eyes. On the other hand, Batman possessed no superpowers; but relied on his genius intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, knowledge of science and technology, vast wealth, and indomitable will.

Hence, my classmates’ fight.

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Learning to let go

vials-1781316_640I should be better at this.

My son is attending a science camp geared for middle school students at a local college this week and has come home with stories about the experiments the class has performed each day and some of the antics of the other kids.

I’ve been encouraged by the experiments, not so much by the other kids. In short, some of the boys have been rude to the teacher and other students; played video games when they should have been listening; and misbehaved. The behavior hasn’t been crazy or even extraordinary, just bothersome.

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The art of the negotiation: The shootout at the O.K. Corral

I look him over coldly, head to toe. I pay close attention to the little beads of sweat forming on his brow and the twitch of his hands. He does the same to me. We’re both trying to read each other, to get a sense of the other guy.

We’re two cold-hearted gunslingers from the American Old West. In another time, we would have been in Dodge City, Kansas, or Tombstone, Arizona, facing off in a real life duel. Instead, we’re two men facing off in, well, a mattress store in suburbia.

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He’s a salesman, looking to add to his weekly sales total and push up his commission. I’m a customer looking to make the best possible deal. If we walked outside right now guns drawn, we’d probably get run over on this hot 90-degree day by a pimply-faced teenager fighting for a parking spot in front of the new frozen yogurt stand or by a soccer mom or dad in a huge tank-like SUV going to the LA Fitness gym. Continue reading “The art of the negotiation: The shootout at the O.K. Corral”

A dog’s life!

When she sees us pull up in our car, she gets on her hind legs and claws at the screen door like she hasn’t seen us in years. She’s absolutely giddy with excitement. I worry that she’s going to slice a hole in the screen, or worse, hurt herself. When the door finally opens, she races down the steps to race around each of our feet and then rolls over for a belly rub.

In return, we can’t wait to see Nittany, our tiny Bichon Frise – Lhasa Apso mixed dog. As we hurried home from our trip, exhausted from our hours-long trip in the car, we reminisced about the day we brought Nittany home and joked about how she’s been for my in-laws, who’ve kept her on this weekend trip. When we pull up, we jump out of the car just as excited to see her.

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Who’s got who wrapped around their heart?

In the short seven years since Nittany has come into our lives, she’s managed to worm her way into her hearts. We’re supposedly the human owners in this relationship, but she pretty much has the run of the place.

Who owns who?

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My own lil’ time machine

A friend of mine recently gave me a unique, one-of-a-kind gift. You can’t find one of these in an Apple store or on Amazon. You can’t even travel across the globe to a quaint little shop in some faraway country to pick up a gift like this.

My friend gave me a mini time machine that allows me to go back to an earlier time in my life. Think H.G Wells Time Machine, Doc Brown’s Delorean from Back to the Future,  the time traveling TARDIS from the Dr. Who TV show, or if you must, the hot tub from the Hot Tub Time Machine from more recent fame.

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Looking for a quick retort

I have the best of intentions.

It could be someone you run into in the convenience store or someone you see on the street, it doesn’t really matter. They say or do something rude and demeaning. I want to comeback with a one-liner or a quick retort that puts the offending party in their place and takes the tension out of the moment. 

Despite my best of intentions, I’m usually the one left grasping for words. I search for the right ones that will make everything right again, but they seem to run away from me. We’ve all faced these types of situations. Lately, I’ve seen to have my share of these experiences. 

When I do have a comeback or a zinger, it feels more like the proverbial equivalent of the neighborhood tattletale crying out in a whiney voice, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. 

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Fair season: For a good cause

My friends and I walked down the festival midway like we were a benevolent king surveying his court. It didn’t matter that our court was small in size, certainly less than a football field. We sauntered up and down each row like we owned the park.

We’d get there early and stay late. We’d walk down the middle of the fairway to volunteer or talk with friends. We’d come prepared for the festival, with a pocketful of pennies and quarters — saved up throughout the year — to try our luck at the various games of chance or to fill our faces with food.

As a kid, I looked forward to summer and the two firemen’s festivals in the community where I grew up. The first one would be held in mid-July and then the second would be held a few weeks later, usually around the first weekend in August at a local park.

The fire companies used the three-day festivals to raise money to help purchase new fire equipment, ambulance supplies, everything they would need throughout the year, and to keep their head above water. The festivals would run large raffles, have a local band for entertainment each night, and have small kiddie rides and games. They would sell barbeque chicken or chicken corn soup and a wide assortment of deserts and ice cream. Just imaging the Amish chicken corn soup makes my stomach rumble with hunger.

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A year’s worth of advice

When my daughter celebrated her first birthday, oh so many years ago, I let out a huge sigh of relief. Despite my clumsiness and failings as a new father, my wife and I and our newborn baby girl had managed to survive. In celebration, I wrote down everything I had learned.

My ramblings fit only a page or two, but they were still hard-earned lessons. I put them in a drawer and forgot about them where they sat for years and years on end until a couple of weeks ago when I stumbled across the worn pages. 

The lessons come across now as dated in spots, but still have the best of intentions. When I think of my daughter I still see her as that precocious one-year-old, even though diapers are a distant memory. In fact, in just a few months, she’ll turn 21. 

In any event, I hope you enjoy. 

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