Who is this Penny Collector?
And what does he want?
Steve Nazarian is The Penny Collector. A writer, a blogger, a speaker, a husband and a father. Steve created this site to make the world just a little bit better. You can BUY THE BOOK, READ THE BLOG, or just hang out. No matter what you choose, we're glad you're here and we hope you tell your friends.-----
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If you’ve ever watched Monty Python’s Flying Circus, then you know where from the title comes. For more than four years, the pages of this blog have been filled with mostly writing, and a smattering of video. Today I bring you something else entirely, a serial story podcast.
Earlier this year I began doing some performance work with a new creative group called Cartage Theatre which produces live radio plays complete with hands-on sound effects.
This experience led to me being asked to perform on a this serial podcast about a gumshoe detective named Samwell Sift in a zombie apocalypse. We rehearsed and recorded this summer, and now it is available to listen on several platforms (see links below). […]
This is the first of what I hope will be an ongoing series of guest posts. I often see great stories out in the world, and I am going to make an effort to bring as many of them to you as possible.
I met Scott Coene at Harris Hill Elementary School more than four decades ago. He and I were never great friends, but we’ve never had a beef with each other either. It is one of those casual friendships that has literally stood the test of time.
Scott runs a baseball bat company called Powerhouse Bats, out of his garage in Irondequoit, NY. After long days at his “real job,” Scott makes personalized custom wood bats, one at a time, mostly for little league and high school players all over the country. […]
When I started blogging in 2014, the loose theme of my blog was “Creative Problem Solving.” Since then, the topics about which I have written have strayed a bit in several directions, but at my foundation I am a problem solver. Sometimes the problems are human or relationship-centric, but back in the beginning, I used[…]
In June of 2013 I was scheduled to run a trade show booth at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Antonio, Texas. At the time I was working for a small educational software developer, and we were right on the cusp of some pretty dramatic success. This show was to be an important step in that process.
When you work for a small company trade show budgets are very small, forcing you to make do with nothing but a few bucks and your wits. You stay in hotels with free breakfast, you eat inexpensive fast food, you don’t expense adult beverages, and when given the choice of a cab or an invigorating walk… you walk. I flew Southwest, so the entire “booth” was stuffed into my two “free” checked bags. […]
When I was kid, there was this hippie musical mashup thing called Free To Be You And Me. It wasn’t exactly a proper musical, or an album, or a movie. It was this flowery 1960’s collection of sketches, songs, love and a little propaganda. For example, one of the songs was called “William Wants A Doll.” Looking back, it was rather progressive for its time.
My favorite song on Free To Be You And Me was called “It’s Alright to Cry.” It was one of those intentional dichotomies where they chose a huge NFL defensive tackle named Rosie Grier to sing it. I remember the chorus going something like:
It’s alright to cry
Crying gets the sad out of you
Raindrops from your eyes
It might make you feel better!
I found the song to be equal parts fascinating and off-putting. Pretty much in line with my feelings for the whole production. Free To Be You And Me was released in 1972… I was three. Although I didn’t do it often, I always took comfort in knowing if I needed to cry… it was alright; even for giant football players. […]
This coming Monday morning at 6:00am, we are taking our oldest child to college. With fewer than forty-eight hours to go, I am sitting in the silence of our house at 6:30 on Saturday morning. All four of our children are sleeping snug in their beds, all under one roof; an era drawing quickly to a close.
As the first day of college has crept up, I have been asked things like:
- “How are you going to handle it?”
- “Are you ready for this?”
- “Do you think you’ll cry?”
- “How hard is it going to be to drive away from your baby?”
My response to these questions has been little more than a shrug, not because I am a callous, uncaring father… just the opposite in fact. […]
From what I can tell, the term “college radio” is no longer a thing, but it use to be. It was actually so much of a thing that there was an organization called the College Music Journal (CMJ) that held conferences, and put out sampler CDs that were at worst, an inexpensive way to get music, and at best absolutely prescient.
My first exposure to college music was actually in high school. My high school had something called the radio club and they served two critical needs: The morning announcements and (much more importantly), they played music in the Junior/Senior cafeteria every minute of every school day. […]
There is an expression in Las Vegas. Sometimes when a gambler wins a hand, someone (usually the gambler himself) shouts out loud for all to hear, “Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner.” The origins of this idiom are not completely clear, but if you click here you can read about it. Several years ago I was involved in a bet that included dinner, but was I a winner? That, I will let you decide.
My wife Emily is fairly straight-laced. I mean this only in the very best way possible. Her social history consists of: one boyfriend in high school that ended very badly, one boyfriend in college who is now a priest… and me. Of course there is more to each of these stories, but facts are facts, right?
As many of you know, my wife is an Intensive Care Pediatrician, and when you work overnight shifts in a hospital, you often end up in some pretty strange and revealing conversations in the wee hours of the night.
One day after a run of 3 + days in a row, Emily came home and said, “you know that hospital wedding we’re going to next week? Well I made a bet, and we’re gonna get a free dinner out of it, but I need your help.” […]
There’s an old dad joke that goes, “What’s the definition of mixed emotions? Watching your Mother-In-Law drive your new Cadillac off a cliff.” Of course, to be funny, the joke presumes two things:
- You really like Cadillacs
- You really DON’T like your Mother-In-Law
In the case of me personally, even as a self-admitted car guy, I’ve never been a huge fan of GM’s luxury brand.
My Mother-In Law on the other hand… her I liked.
I met Barbara Braunstein just about two decades ago, and without a doubt my life has been the better for it. […]
There is a philosophical concept called “Occam’s Razor.” You can google it to learn all the details, but the concept is this:
When there is more than one explanation for an occurrence, the simplest of the explanations is the most likely.
Put another way, if I come home and find a box of cereal on the floor of the kitchen with the box and bag all torn apart and the cereal gone; it is possible that a wild fox broke into my house and consumed the cereal. Occam’s Razor says it is far more likely my dog went into the pantry, pulled the box from a low shelf and did the damage herself. […]
This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day, which honors all those who died in the service of our nation. For those who made the ultimate sacrifice, there are not enough words to express the debt of gratitude all Americans owe. That said, I’m going to try anyway.
My regular readers know I like to tell stories to make a point, and today is no exception. As you read, you may begin to think I’ve gone off the rails, but soldier on, you won’t be disappointed… I promise. […]
Yesterday my wife and I celebrated our nineteenth wedding anniversary. Nineteen isn’t a round number, nor a significant one, but I will say that other than “not stop breathing” I’ve done nothing else continually for nineteen years.
Depending on which website you believe, my wife and I should have exchanged gifts of either jade or bronze yesterday. That did not happen, but we went out for a nice dinner and decided to give each other deposits into our kids’ 529 accounts.
Whenever anniversaries come around on the calendar, people often ask… “How did you guys meet?” Well, today I’m going to tell the story, how the first date almost didn’t happen, and how I almost completely blew it. […]
Last week the Utah state legislature passed a new law. I don’t know its official name, but in the news it is being referred to as the Free Range Parenting Law. Essentially, this law frees parents to decide for themselves when it is appropriate to let their children do things like: play alone in the yard, walk alone to and from school, wait alone in a car, and (imagine this) play in a public park without direct adult supervision.
What is funny about this new law is that it does not nullify older laws… instead it codifies rights parents have always had. Rights that have been slowly eroded over decades by flawed assumptions, news-fueled hysteria, and flat out paranoia.
In this age of “helicopter parenting” American society has been convinced threats to children are everywhere. Furthermore, anything less than 100% parental monitoring is at worst tantamount to handing your child over to an abductor/abuser/murderer, or at best blatant neglect. […]
Several weeks ago I had an in-person job interview. After successfully navigating a qualifying phone interview with HR, and another phone interview with the hiring manager, I was invited to travel 150 miles to the company HQ to meet with the whole team. This was to be the third of four interviews before they would be making a final decision.
As many of my readers know, my family moved from Western NY, to Charlotte NC late last year for my wife’s work. To do this, I had to leave my job but I wasn’t worried. I’ve always been good at finding jobs commensurate with my skills and value. After spending a few months getting the kids and the house settled I set out to find my next gig, but I ran into something rather unexpected. […]