When I grow up

avatar-3127928_640The little kid stood back from the small table in the corner of the dentist office, where he’d been playing with a couple of toy die-cast cars, and told his mom that he wanted to become a veterinarian when he grows up so that he could help his friend Petey’s dog. He told his mom that the dog, named Shadow, needed to have surgery on its back leg.

His mom patted him on the shoulder and told him that was nice to have a goal. He went back to playing and she went back to reading messages on her phone. A few minutes later, he told her that he changed his mind. He instead wanted to become a racecar driver so that he could drive fast. He would drive her everywhere they needed to go.

“And I would drive really, really, really fast Mommy,” he said, pronouncing “really” so that it sounded more like “weally.”

She again patted him on the back.


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The battle over the Oxford comma!

The English language is a frustrating friend.

She’ll wow you with great writing that reaches across the page and touches your soul. She’ll string together stunning phrase after stunning phrase that turns the mundane into something out-of-this-world and leaves you breathless.

And then you sit down to write and she’ll trick you into using “there” when you should use “they’re” or is it “their.” Another day, you’ll spend countless minutes going back and forth figuring out whether to use affect or effect, confusing you to the point where you decide to just choose another word. You go with “impact,” knowing that without “forcible contact” in the meaning, you’re using the word incorrectly. A third day, you write down “imminent” when you mean “eminent.”


English grammar and punctuation are a puzzle and I’ve been fooled too many times to count, falling in love with commas when I should be using semicolons; misspelling words that would be simple enough to spell if I just looked them up in the dictionary; and forgetting the simple rules that we learned as pint-sized elementary school kids.

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My wish for the future

I walked to my car searching for the right words to describe the celebration. My coworker couldn’t have been happier. He had a smile that spread from one side of his face to the other. I couldn’t blame him for beaming. After more than twenty-some years with my company, he was retiring. A large group of his friends and coworkers had gotten together to wish him well.

Two weeks later, I attended a second retirement celebration for another friend. We had worked together at another company a number of years ago. We had lost track of each of other when I had moved on, but had reconnected in recent years. The celebration this time around was a more intimate lunch to match his personality. The common denominator for both retirees: their smiles.

They couldn’t have been more content and relaxed. They both looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off their shoulders.


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Fighting writer’s block

The words and ideas come fast and furious. I can’t get them down on the laptop screen fast enough. They spill out of me bucket after bucket, more defined than the one before. I string two phrases together and two more replace them around the bend. I finish with one blog and before I know it I’m stockpiled with two more.

When this happens, life is good. I can’t help but smile. I mean really smile from the inside out. When I’m in this zone, little can get me off the track. A horrendously long commute home in the snow, no problem. A higher-than-normal heating bill, “hey that’s the way it goes sometimes.” I’m laid back and I feel good about life.


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Help me Magic 8-Ball!

I got the miniature Magic 8-Ball when my daughter gave it to me after she attended a friend’s birthday party. She handed me the 8-Ball happily and told me that it was for me since her friend didn’t give out any parting presents for the parents.

img_7338.jpg“You came too. They should give party favors to the mommies and daddies too.” She was so earnest and concerned about me, I couldn’t dare to say no. I took the cheap plastic Magic 8-Ball into my office and sat it next to computer monitor. In the many years since, when I’ve been twitchy with nervous excitement or simply looking for a moment of inspiration, I’ve picked up the 8-Ball and shaken it. I can’t say it’s brought on any divine inspiration or gotten me out of any jams, but it’s still been a fun break.

Should I go to lunch with my friend Steve? Ask again later. Will the technical review and client acceptance testing process be completed on time? It is certain. The water has leaked out of the ball, making the advice hard to make out now, and it’s been pushed aside to a far corner of my desk, but there it still sat today until I decided that it’s usefulness had come and gone.

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Thinking like a millennial

I’m jealous of the millennial generation.

I’m not jealous of their thirst for technology, freedom, or age. Oh it would be fun to be 21, 25 or 30 for a day, to take another spin or two around the clock, but I’m comfortable in my own skin, approaching middle age.


With more than 92 million of them, millennials rank as the largest in U.S. history and have come of age during a time of extreme global, technological, and economic change. Thanks to that change, they have a unique set of experiences and expectations different than any other generation.

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Searching for opportunities

I’m quitting my job.

Yup, it’s official, I’m quitting. You’re the first to know. I haven’t told anyone else, not my wife, my boss, coworkers, no one. I’m sure my wife will be shocked, maybe even a little worried, but when she hears my plan, she’ll love it.  

I’m quitting and moving to Florida. I’ve got everything covered. I’m quitting so that I can get a job at the Happiest Place on Earth. Yes, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

I’ll take any job, but I have my heart set on one job in particular: driving the Disney Monorail. (The park’s monorail system built in 1971 is one of the most heavily used monorail systems in the world with more than 150,000 daily riders, surpassed only by the Tokyo Monorail in Tokyo, Japan, with 300,000 daily riders and the Chongqing Rail Transit in China, which has over 900,000 daily riders.)


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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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Making a fool of myself!

I walked out of my meeting with a huge grin. I had been worried about the meeting for weeks. I had practiced my sales pitch on my commute home and spent hours fine-tuning the presentation.

In the end, the meeting had been a major success. I won approval from a key senior leader in my company and we came out of the meeting with an agreed-upon roadmap for the future.


As I walked out of the conference room and through the building lobby, I considered raising my arms in victory. A victory lap of sorts. I thought better of it when I looked up to see a uniformed security guard at his desk and a fellow coworker waiting by the revolving door for his ride home. I didn’t raise my arms, I kept them close to my side, but I still must have had a funny look on my face, because they both looked at me strangely, like I had two heads or at the very least like I had spinach sticking out of my teeth.

I didn’t care. Let them stare. In my mind at least, I swear I could hear the famous University of Michigan fight song, “hail to the victors valiant! Hail to the conquering heroes!” ringing through the lobby. And I hate Michigan.

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Reminders of an Amish road not taken

A short Amish woman, wearing a brownish-gray dress and white prayer cap or covering, was camped outside of my busy work cafeteria in the Philadelphia suburbs on Wednesday selling various jams; large oversized oatmeal cookies; raisin bread smothered in white icing; thick, gooey cinnamon rolls, and, of course, whoopee pies. As soon as the woman had all of her baked goods laid out in the proper order, a large group of my coworkers started lining up at her table to see what she had for sale. More than a few had their wallets already out and ready for action.

I couldn’t help but laugh at the strange site of the plain-dressed, simple-talking Amish woman smack dab in the middle of blue oxford shirt, tan pant, and brown loafer-wearing Corporate America. I’m used to seeing my coworkers rush into the cafeteria to grab a quick coffee or muffin before the next meeting, not running in to buy baked goods, made from scratch, from a Lancaster area Amish woman.


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