If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?

James Lipton, the executive producer and host of the Bravo television series Inside the Actors Studio has had some of the biggest names in the film industry on his show. The guests have included a who’s who of personalities: Paul Newman, Barbara Streisand, Steven Spielberg, Al Pacino, Kate Winslet, Charlize Theron, Harrison Ford, and a host of other stars.

Lipton interviews his guests one-on-one on their career and inspirations before quizzing them specifically on ten simple questions. The questions are all relatively straightforward. They include: What turns you on? What turns you off? What profession other than your own would you like to attempt? What profession would you not like to do? And a few others.

I haven’t seen all 22 seasons, but of the ones I have seen I’ve always been interested in the response to the last question. “If heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the pearly gates?”

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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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My difficult day: life & death up close

I’m not sure what put me over the edge. My first thought was two sad stories I saw on my local news on a terminally ill teenager and a woman fighting breast cancer.

It could have been the realization that my children are getting older. They’re no longer little kids, running around the house. In a few years, we’re going to have a tougher and tougher time getting everyone together at the same time for the holidays.

In addition, I’ve been putting in a ton of hours in my job. I have a major project coming due in a few months and my work-life balance has certainly been tilted too much in one direction. It could have been the Christmas lights or even the picture a friend of mine sent me of him and his newborn baby.

I had a million thoughts racing through my head, but nothing prepared me for the news I got later in the day.

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Stern parent to trusted mentor

When our daughter was young and regularly wore pink, she would sit at our dining room table, feet not even big enough to touch the ground, and I would sit at my make-believe throne. I would harangue my daughter to eat her breakfast, go to school, do her homework, clean her room, etc., etc.

I would bellow out to do this and do that. I wasn’t trying to be mean, I was just trying to help her and give her the direction she needed. King Brian was in full command. In my mind at least, I wore a crown of jewels and commanded on high.

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Patiently waiting for more patience

I remember the night like it was yesterday. I tossed and turned. My mind raced with questions and outcomes — some good, some bad. I turned on some music to help me fall asleep, but nothing really seemed to work.

I was worried. I had spent the day in a series of panel interviews. I was interviewing for a newspaper reporter position for a mid-sized newspaper in Connecticut. I had put my best foot forward, but I had no idea what the editor and his team thought of me.

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The meaning behind the day

When Corporal Alvin York and his small patrol found themselves behind enemy lines and pinned down by heavy rifle and machine-gun fire in war-torn France late in October 1918, they had few options. They could continue to suffer losses or fight their way out for their own survival.

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How I spent my Saturday night and other horrors

I could have found better things to do with my time.

I could have been out celebrating Halloween with friends. I could have enjoyed the final minutes of an interesting Clemson-Florida State college football game. I could have even caught up on some writing. (Goodness knows my blog needs more than a little attention.)

However, my children, my 20-year-old college sophomore and my 17-year-old high school senior, needed my wife and I fill out and electronically submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

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Things that make me go: Hmm

I’ve written lately about taking a trip back to my happy place and even things that I would change if I were king of the world. Until both of those happen, I’m writing today about a few of the things that confuse the hell out of me.

We all have them, life’s little annoyances, pests, thing that you just can’t figure out for the life of you. Here’s a few of mine:

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A fight over convenience

It’s the throwdown to end all throwdowns.

In one corner, you have the street-smart bruiser, who worked the streets of Philly and surrounding Southeastern Pennsylvania countryside to become a rock-hard behemoth with fists made of steel and punches as powerful as bolts of lightning.

In the other corner, you have the rural up-start who used the hills and mountains of Western Pennsylvania and West Virginia to grow biceps as thick as an ox and a towering one-two punch that leaves others shivering in fright.

Their title fights to date rank right up there with the greatest of all time: Godzilla versus King Kong, Superman versus Batman, the New York Yankees versus the Boston Red Sox, Microsoft versus Apple.

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Oh what am I talking about? A return to prominence by heavyweight boxing, not seen since the glory days of Muhammad Ali or even Mike Tyson? The next Mixed Martial Arts fight of the month?

Of course not, I’m talking about the winner take-all, no-holds barred fight between the Wawa and Sheetz convenience stores for consumers’ everyday spending dollars on gas, coffee, soda, and the small little things we all stop for on our way to-and-from work. Continue reading “A fight over convenience”