Fleas, monkeys, and the box

fleas, monkeys and the box

Zig Ziglar told the story of how to train a flea. If you put a bunch of fleas in a glass jar with a lid on it, Zig said, the little critters will jump as high as they can, which usually involves banging against the lid.

Naturally banging against the lid is not a pleasant experience, so the fleas eventually will jump only as high as they can without slamming the ceiling. After a while you can remove the lid but the fleas will not escape the jar, because they have learned from experience not to jump as high as they can. Continue reading Fleas, monkeys, and the box

Our incredible shrinking electronics

dreamstime_xl_9150573 box vert

I used to talk about all of the incredible improvements in technology my dad had seen since he was a boy. And this was in the 1970s, when he was in his fifties. Now that he’s in his nineties, and I’m in my sixties, I marvel at what I’ve seen myself.

What a marvelous invention is the smartphone, for example. When I first broke into the real world and became a radio news guy, I was commissioned a cassette tape recorder that weighed about 10 pounds that I slung over my shoulder and plugged a microphone into – and that had replaced a reel-to-reel tape recorder that earlier news guys used and probably weighed 35 pounds. Continue reading Our incredible shrinking electronics

First-quarter report to the readers

Author and Atomic Duck

A few days after the first of the year, I posted “My 5 goals for 2017.” How’s that going for me, three months into this latest 12-month adventure? Continue reading First-quarter report to the readers

Every one of us has all we need


As you may suspect if you are aware of my life circumstances (and I have not kept it secret), there are moments when I feel a tad out of my comfort zone. I felt one of those moments coming on as I walked out into an unusually not-cold morning.

I poked a button or two to call up some random music, and as often happens, the very first words I heard were what I needed to hear.

Every one of us has all we need:

Sky of blue, sea of green …

Never mind the next line (and if you are not familiar with the song, all the better). This is wisdom. When life tosses you a curve ball, remember that you have been equipped with all you need to knock it out of the park.

You have all you need. Take inventory, decide what you want to do, and go do it.

It really is that simple: Every one of us has all we need.

My 5 goals for 2017

One thing holding up my writing career is the obstacle course I must negotiate to get into my home office.

Exactly one year ago today, I pledged to deliver a trilogy of novels about a huge beast from the sea, with the first one due May 11. I was later forced by my wiser nature to walk that beast back to the sea whence it came. I wish I could say “I didn’t say May 11 of what year,” but you can see I plainly intended to deliver the whole trilogy by July 1, 2016.

Wiser men than I have spoken of SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and within a certain Time line. The goal of writing a novel by May 11, 2016, and two more by July 1 was clearly SMT but not so AR. Continue reading My 5 goals for 2017

Wait By The Shore

A short story


Once upon a time in a place not far from here, but not close either, a man sat by the water. It was not a large lake – he could see the land on the other side – but it was not a small lake either – the land on the other side, he knew by consulting a map, was about 15 miles away.

“Slay the dragon,” he whispered to himself. He knew this dragon was worse than any mythical fire-breathing monster, and it was no myth. “Slay it good and dead.”

He pulled the flask out of his pocket, unscrewed the cap, and sniffed deeply so he could feel the aroma coursing through his body, tense with desire. Then, with a pit in his stomach, he turned the flask over and watched the golden nectar flow into the lake, every fiber of his being wanting to stop, to poke his tongue into the golden stream and pull in one last draught, knowing he couldn’t, not if he wanted the dragon to die.

“Die, you bastard,” he said to the dragon. “I need you, but I don’t want you no more.”

He screwed the cap back on and held the flask in his hand as if seeing it for the first and last time.

“Yep,” he said, “I don’t want you around no more.”

He set the flask down on a flat rock and drew himself up, forcing his breaths to come slow and calm. The day was cool and breezy. The waves licked rather than crashed, but it was what the old-timers called a crisp day. Autumn had reared its red and orange head and was now settling into a dreary brown, and it wouldn’t be long before it all turned into an even drearier blend of gray and white.

“Helluva time to give up your one and only pleasure, I suppose,” he mumbled to himself – of course it was to himself, who else was there?

Wait. Who else was there? Continue reading Wait By The Shore

How to think outside a box that isn’t there

box that isn't there

The only way to think outside the box is to pretend there is no box. But if you begin by saying “We’re going to pretend the box does not exist,” you are implicitly conceding that there is a box.

This box, however, is of your own construct. The world in general does not care about you; everyone is too busy living their own lives to spend any time thinking about you, let alone setting limits on you. The universe doesn’t care what’s in your box. It doesn’t care what’s outside your box. The only box is the one you invented to limit your possibilities.

No one cares like you do. So do what you know has to be done to reach your goals. The only limits are the ones you set with your imagination. So imagine bigger. There is no box.

OK, you still think you’re in a box. Let’s play make believe, then. Make believe there is no box. What would you do if the box wasn’t there?

Push against the sides of the box, or hop out of it. Whatever you need to do to escape the box, do it.

Now, look around and pick an answer.

Next, try that answer out for size. Take a tiny step in that direction.

I all but guarantee you, eventually you will discover the box never existed.