Following Ben Franklin’s 13 virtues of a good life

Benjamin Franklin lived an astounding life. The founding father in his day was a leading author, printer, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman and diplomat. His resume is so long that I could continue for days.

Franklin’s probably best known today for drafting the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and for his experiments with electricity. The legend though started small.

When Ben Franklin was a young man, he came up with and committed himself to a personal improvement program that consisted of living 13 virtues.


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The State of the Union with a family twist

A new take on a historically political event: President Donald Trump will give his first State of the Union address to a joint session of Congress on Tuesday night. The event will draw the attention from both his supporters and critics.

Article II, Section 3, Clause 1 of the Constitution commands the president to “from time to time give to the Congress information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient.” Past presidents have traditionally brought special guests and used the address as a chance to highlight policy wins and goals for the coming year.

Most state constitutions and many cities now have the same requirement.


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50 Shades of gray

As I get older I find that I’m becoming a contrarian. Well, I suspect I’ve always been one, I’m just becoming even more of one.

When everyone goes left, I go right. Whenever everyone goes right, I go left. It’s that way with big and little decisions

Here’s what I mean:


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Barcelona on my mind

backpack-1482611_640The leather strap first caught my attention. I next noticed the intricate flower design cut into the side of the handbag. We had been walking down Las Ramblas, the tree-lined 1.2 kilometer pedestrian street in Central Barcelona for only a few minutes but I had promised my wife that I would bring her back something special from the trip. Spain is famous for its homemade leather products, including wallets, belts and shoes so the handbag jumped out at me right away.

When I attempted to ask the the woman manning the kiosk about the price of the handbag with the little bit of Spanish I still remembered from high school and college, she gently rolled her eyes, gave me a mischievous smile and told me in the in the best Queen’s English that the handbag would be priceless to the right person.

She went on to compliment me on my exquisite taste and extolled the craftsmanship of the handbag maker. We went back and forth for a minute or two, but I inevitably ended up passing on the bag. I was looking for a different style of bag and her asking price, as I suspected, was too high. However, the woman and I continued to talk for another five minutes with a familiarity that surprised me. She joked with me that I looked like a shorter Harry Connick Jr. — she obviously needed glasses, my wife will get a good laugh at that one — and in a motherly tone, warned me to watch out for the hordes of people and the occasional pickpocket in the street. While relatively safe, Las Ramblas still has its share of pickpockets who feast on the tourists wandering aimlessly up-and-down the street.


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Never give up, great things take time

I like to play Chess with my son. I’m a novice and he’s a much better player than me, but I still like to play him. I like the ebb and flow of the game and how you need to be thinking two or three moves in advance. I find too that it’s a great metaphor for life.

My son will inevitably take the early lead. He’ll take a couple of my pawns and then he’ll get my Bishop or Knight. He’ll get a big devious smile on his face and he’ll start to rub his hands together. He can’t wait to throw his arms in the air and scream out to anyone who’ll listen that he “owns me” or some other boastful claim.

Fortunately for me, I’ve been around the block a time or two. He’s the better player than me no question, but I know a thing or two that he doesn’t. For example, I know that a few early losses doesn’t mean the game is over. I know too to be patient and to see the game through to completion. I’ve won more than my rightful share of games by simply following this strategy.

In short, I’m resilient.


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Back to the future: A History lesson

My friend sitting in the desk to my left would first start to blink repeatedly a couple of times in a row. His head would start to sag to the side and he’d shake it in an effort to wake-up, but soon enough he would be fast asleep.

I, on the other hand, would be on the edge of my seat, excited, and focused intently on the teacher’s stories.

Whether it was elementary school or middle school History, I couldn’t get enough. I wanted more.


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Giving it the college try

I have a complaint.

In the second episode of the fourth season of the TV drama The West Wing, Josh Lyman, White House deputy Chief of Staff, and Toby Ziegler, White House Communications Director, are stuck in a hotel in Indiana  and they come across Matt Kelley, a father, who’s concerned about how he’s going pay for his daughter’s college tuition.

Kelley has just taken the daughter to visit the University of Notre Dame and she’s fallen in love with the school. He says she’s so excited about seeing the school up-close that she’s not going to be able to get to sleep. He nurses his frustration and worry over a beer in the hotel bar.

“It (college) should be hard,” Kelley tells the two White House staff members. “I like that it’s hard. Putting your daughter through college, that’s a man’s job, a man’s accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier, because in that difference is … everything.”


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A prayer for . . . all of us

When I briefly turned off social media last week and put others first, an amazing thing happened.

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When I’m king of the world: Part II

A semi-regular column on things I would change when I’m king of the world.


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They lied to us

The world’s leading doctors and scientists lied to us, blatant, exaggerated lies.

First they told us that a glass of wine a day was good for us, then they said it was bad for us and then back again. You’re not sure what to believe.

Case in point: doctors have long told us that adults shrink as they get older. One study I saw stated that we start shrinking as early as 30. Women can gradually lose about two inches, men an inch between the ages of 30 to 70.

And that would be wrong. Oh I believed the lie like I’m sure you do. However, I have seen the light.

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