‘Tell me about a time you failed’ – My First Pep Talk


My first pep talk as a manager was a smashing success – until it wasn’t. It was about 30 years ago or so, long before I had any business trying to be a manager, but I did know how to do a pep talk. Continue reading →


5 miracle workers on each hand


These fingers have been with me for almost 64 years. They have written poems and songs and news stories and novels by the thousands.

They have strummed guitars and hammered nails, and stroked hair and plucked ticks out of dogs’ necks.

These fingers have been my conduit to a better place.

One day, of course, they will let me down and fail to accomplish the many tasks I require of them. That makes these fingers no less miraculous, and I am in wonder of them.

Consider what your fingers will do for you today, and be awed.

“Because I am alive”


Quite a few famous people have died in 2016. Quite a few famous people die every year; one of the regular features of the Academy Awards is a review of all the great actors and filmmakers who have passed in the previous year, and it’s always overwhelming how long the list is.

Somehow people seem to be taking it harder this year. The sad and sudden deaths of George Michael and Carrie Fisher in recent days provoked an outpouring of grief not only for those two fine talents but for all of the people who passed this year – David Bowie, Prince, George Martin, Muhammed Ali, Leonard Cohen … Continue reading →

Merry Christmas 2016


Once upon a time there was a little girl growing up in a small country town in Wisconsin. She had a dad and a mom and a big brother.

On Christmas Eve they would leave milk and cookies out for Santa Claus, and then Dad would pack the kids and the dog into the car and they would go for a ride to buy ice cream cones. Yes, somewhere in chilly Wisconsin was a small town where you could buy an ice cream cone on Christmas Eve.

When they all got home, Mom was waiting upstairs, and downstairs Santa had come and eaten the cookies and drunk the milk and left presents for everyone under the Christmas tree. They spent the rest of the night unwrapping the presents and having a great time as a family.

Meanwhile, some 1,000 miles away, a little boy was growing up in a small town in New Jersey. He had a dad and a mom and a big brother and a little brother.

On Christmas Eve Mom would bake magic bars and cookies, and they’d gather around the living room while Dad read from the book of Luke by candlelight. (The boy always thought Quirinius was a funny name.)

After that they’d eat the goodies and go to bed, knowing that sometime in the night Santa would fill their stockings with more goodies and leave presents under the Christmas tree.

Somehow, 40 years or so later, the little girl and the little boy found each other over the miles and lived happily ever after together in a little blue house in the country with sweet but somewhat insane dogs and cats.

And here we are at another Christmas, wishing you love and peace and a pretty darn terrific new year to come.

Stop the car! It’s Christmas

Kris: You see, Mrs. Walker, this is quite an opportunity for me. For the past 50 years or so I’ve been getting more and more worried about Christmas. Seems we’re all so busy trying to beat the other fellow in making things go faster and look shinier and cost less that Christmas and I are sort of getting lost in the shuffle.

Mrs. Walker: Oh, I don’t think so, Christmas is still Christmas.

Kris: Oh, Christmas isn’t just a day, it’s a frame of mind… and that’s what’s been changing. That’s why I’m glad I’m here, maybe I can do something about it.

(Now there’s a sentiment that seems more relevant than ever.

Miracle on 34th Street is an updating of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, as the main character is/characters are in need of a dose of the Christmas spirit. Edmund Gwenn’s performance as Santa Claus is second only (in my humble opinion) to Alistair Sims’ immortal turn as Ebeneezer Scrooge. And Natalie Woods’ job as the Scrooge-like little girl is an all-time tear jerker. I love this final scene. (Do not click if you haven’t seen the film – go see it from the beginning!)

Oh, give me a home …


… where seldom is heard a discouraging word

And the skies are not cloudy all day.

– – –

Life is a basket of blessings, and every so often – actually, no, every day – we need to run our fingers through the basket and remind ourselves of the reasons we have to be joyful, to be grateful, and to be enthusiastic.

(Not that Willow and Dejah are necessarily enthusiastic in today’s illustration, but their presence and comfort fills me with joy and peace, and it gives me a reason to go out and do my thing with enthusiasm.)