Story

A Performance Video (of sorts)

This past weekend I had the honor of sharing the stage with seven very talented storytellers. The stories told ran the gamut from silly, to strange, to deep.

I told a story that has been brewing inside me for the better part of a decade. If you watch the video below you will see why this story was hard for me to write, and even more difficult to perform.

I have now been a public facing storyteller for the better part of five years. If there is one thing I have learned it is this… a well-told story has a far reaching effect on those who hear it, and you will never know who you will touch and in what ways.

So, please invest the nine minutes it will take to watch the video, and pass it along to anyone who you think will appreciate the message.

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Tools

Tools Of The Trade

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. […]

cry

It’s Alright To Cry

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.

cry

A whole lotta hippie in one record

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. […]

Occam's Razor

Sharpening Occam’s Razor

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. […]

fix

Only Mostly Dead

I have written about this subject before, but after an experience a few weeks ago I think another go-round is in order.

As my regular readers are aware, I like to work on cars. Even stronger than my love of turning a wrench (and the inevitable skinned knuckle that comes with the task), is my disdain for unnecessary expenditure of hard earned money. Even for those who know what they’re doing, working on a car and spending money are the closest of friends… splitting a double bottle of wine in 45 minutes kind of friends. […]

Marriage

I’d Do It All Again

Today is the 18th Anniversary of the day my bride walked down the aisle to be by my side. It was a beautiful May day on the eastern shore of Virginia. All of our families and most of our friends were there, and later that day when we headed off to our honeymoon, nearly every detail had unfolded exactly as planned.

Since that day we have, spawned four children, owned three houses, churned through nine different cars, and two dogs. My wife and I have served more meals, wiped more butts, washed more clothes, and driven more miles than either of us could possibly count. […]

problem

First World Problem

As we head into spring I am reminded of a task for which I used to be responsible. For fourteen wonderful years, we owned our home on Hillrise Drive in Penfield, NY and with it the pool in the back yard. Having recently moved to North Carolina, I expect I will be missing my pool any day now. That said, the ownership of a shimmering blue hole in the ground taught me a lesson I use nearly every day.

I recognize that ownership of a swimming pool of any kind is a luxury, unique to our blessed and (to be completely honest) wealthy country. With 780 Million people the world over lacking access to clean water, it seemed almost cruel for me to keep 32,000 gallons of the stuff in my backyard for solely recreational purposes. […]

prefixes

The Battle of the Prefixes

In recent years the term “outsourcing” has become a dirty word. This is of course due to the practice of US companies “outsourcing” jobs to subsidiaries or subcontractors overseas, resulting in the loss of employment here at home.

Despite the bad reputation it has garnered, outsourcing is something we all do every day. In fact, Americans are more adept at outsourcing than they are at just about anything else. […]

Why Legos Matter

When I was a really little kid, Legos were nothing like they are today. Almost all of the pieces in my Lego bin were the same size, the two by four rectangular brick. There were some two by twos, and a few two by ones, but the majority of the pieces were the two by four variety, and only in three colors: red, white and blue.

Don’t get me wrong; we didn’t know any better and as a result we loved to build things with Legos… until. […]

Be Prepared

I am an Eagle Scout. There, I said it, and at 48 years old I’m finally over the feeling that admitting said accomplishment might result in some kind of machismo-rooted mockery, or worse… a wedgie.

As most people know the motto of the Boy Scouts is “Be Prepared.” Certainly the Boy Scouts have no exclusive claim to the idea of preparedness, but I will give them full credit for instilling the idea in me. I wrote about this idea (sort of) in my book The Penny Collector in a chapter called Hoard In Moderation. If you’d like to read that chapter (and you haven’t bought my book – shame on you), comment below and I’ll send you a PDF.

Last week I was reminded of two stories of preparedness constructed and executed by two exceedingly smart and beautiful women… my wife and my mother. […]

To A Mouse

Robert Burns, the eponymous Scottish poet, penned a verse oft quoted in modern times, but few know the origin.

The line to which I refer is from a poem called To A Mouse,

The best laid schemes of mice and men

Go often askew

In colloquial use, the word “schemes” is typically replaced with “plans,” but the result is the same… […]

honeydew

Honeydew Terrorist

I recognize the title is odd, but I assure you the story I am about to tell involves both a honeydew melon and terrorism. Last week I saw an article about the Ozark Mountains Turkey Trot Festival.

This reminded me of (and was no doubt the inspiration for) the very best episode of a 1970s-1980s TV sitcom called WKRP in Cincinnati. The episode to which I refer, originally aired on October 30 (my brother Doug’s birthday) 1978. IMDB.com describes the episode as:

Feeling left out by all the recent changes, Mr. Carlson decides to launch his own Thanksgiving promotion. With the aid of Herb and Les, the Big Guy turns a routine turkey give-away into a comic catastrophe.

What ends up happening is this. In an attempt to make an annual turkey giveaway more exciting, the station owner arranges to drop turkeys from a helicopter flying 2,000 feet above a shopping mall. If you’re not familiar with the show or the episode, the clip is just below. […]

Go

How Pokémon Go Can Win The White House

As I sit and watch the political ping-pong, zing across the inter-webs like so many Sneetches, I have done my level best to stay out of the fray. If the experience of my forty-seven years has taught me anything, it is that another’s point of view has never been swayed by a single pithy comment, image of Willy Wonka or rapier-like jab.

Go

This has never been an effective persuasion tool.

No matter how smart you think you are, and no matter how clever your delivery; odds are at least one-third of the universe thinks you (and your opinions) are equivalent to the hind-end of some slovenly livestock. […]

ties

A Few Things Everyone Should Know About: Ties

Ties, so simple yet so misunderstood.

Welcome to the latest episode of “A Few Things Every Man Should Know About:” Every week this series will cover 3-4 interesting facts on a single topic.

This week we’re talking about ties.

No matter what you think you know – take a few minutes and have a look, you just might learn something. Even if you don’t, you’ll at least confirm that you already know a lot, which is always good for the ego. In the comments section, tell us topics you’d like to see covered. If you have info to add, please share that too.

This series is meant to start conversations, not just be a pile of facts

So, again this week we talk about Ties. Believe it or not, you could look even better than you already do. Watch, listen & learn!

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