Showing posts from December, 2011


It’s thirty minutes till 2012 here in the Eastern Standard Time zone. I am counting the minutes to the new year, a ritual I have observed for as long as I can remember. New Year’s Eve used to be a lot of fun for me and I remember many of them. Sadly, the last fun one for me was the beginning of Y2K. I had a small party and brought in the new year and century with a few select friends.

I had a pretty good year but fell short of many goals. I am very optimistic about 2012 … it will be ‘my year’ on many levels.

I just re-read my post from the end of last year in which I explained my “process” and declared my keyword for the year. Three years ago it was “play,” two years ago “simplify” and this past year was supposed to be “focus.” Funny how the process post I wrote a few days ago declared “focus” as my word for the coming year. I definitely need it and so I’ll stick with that because I did not do a very good job of it in 2011. I have, however, done well with “play” for the past few years…


I'm in a writing and chatting mood today, like I often am on New Year's Eve.  I'll probably post more later and will likely text several friends tonight as midnight draws near. Meanwhile, here is something I saw on facebook today. Don’t let someone who gave up on their dreams talk you out of going after yours.

A Religious Thing

Religion is a personal matter in my opinion and that is why I moved away from most organized religions. I did, however, help start a Unitarian Universalist congregation fifteen years ago. I am no longer a member of that particular group but I still identify with the general principles of the UU denomination. It is a very open faith that explores wisdom from many faiths. Services are often inspired by those of other religions and cultures and some of my favorites draw from Native American beliefs.

A few nights ago I was reading a section I had marked years ago in a book called “The Wisdom of the Native Americans,” a collection of Indian oration edited by Kent Nerburn, a religion and art expert from Minnesota. This part is very much in sync with my beliefs.

The worship of the Great Mystery is silent, solitary, free from all self-seeking. … It is solitary because we believe that God is nearer to us in solitude and there are no priests authorized to come between us and our Maker. … Our fai…


Everything in life involves some kind of risk. We risk our lives just driving to work every day. Travelling by plane, opening the front door, falling in love all involve some element of risk. I am not known as a risk-taker but I have certainly taken my share. I am usually more subtle about it and I tend to favor calculated risks. I want to fully weigh the odds before deciding to risk anything.

This is on my mind tonight because a few hours ago I had my final pre-op doctor visit before eye surgery. The guy who is doing the surgery has a very calm nature and inspires confidence. He also outlines in excruciating detail the risks involved in cataract surgery. I think I heard him say “the risks are very small” at least five times. I asked him if I was turning green. He said no. That kind of surgery is almost routine for most people but I happen to have another eye issue that increases some of the risks for me. Most people have good outcomes with this surgery and most patients are older tha…

Today Was Better

My first day back at work after the December Road Trip was much better than yesterday.  Things are too busy, as usual, but the work is fun.

I'm tired, so that's all I have to say for now.

Thanks for visiting.

Today Sucked

Warning: this post is entirely negative except for the very last part. I apologize in advance. I’ll be better tomorrow.

Today was crappy.

It rained all day.

I miscalculated today’s trek from Birmingham to Roanoke by 90 minutes, then encountered another 90 minutes of delays due to three traffic jams near Chattanooga and two more near Knoxville.

I respect truckers but I hate that I have to share the road with them.

Two of the afore-mentioned traffic delays involved accidents in which 18-wheelers were on their sides.

Some drivers are just plain stupid. Many others are bullies.

I was in a great mood when I started out this morning but that changed 30 minutes into my drive.

In the midst of a miserable drive I started thinking about how busy it’ll be at work when I return there tomorrow.

Blah, blah, blah, whine, whine, whine. You know I’m usually positive, so maybe I’ve earned this departure from the norm.

There is a positive.  Except for today, this December road trip equaled last year’s,…

The Process Returns

It’s that time of year again, my faithful readers, where I begin my annual “process,” a month long look back and look forward evaluation of where my life is and where it is going. I start around New Year’s and continue through my birthday near the end of January. I have been writing about it since this blog began and have been utilizing this technique for much longer. Some years it serves as great goal-setting and other years it makes for a nice blog post but is ignored starting the next day.

This past year seems like the latter, partly because I don’t remember what I said last year (I’ll look it up before completing this post) and partly because action on one very important personal matter is still stuck in neutral. I know, however, that I spent more time with people who are important to me, which included some travel to Virginia Beach, Asheville and New Orleans. I saw plenty of live music, including concerts by U2, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw, Keith Urban and Duran Duran. I connected wi…

Home and Home

Well, time for the homeward part of the road trip. This is always the hardest part. I am very much connected to New Orleans and feel at home here but this hasn't been my home for a long time. My home is definitely Maryland but sometimes I don't feel a deep connection there. Even if I could make a good living in New Orleans, which I can't, I would probably still choose Maryland. 

People who move away from their home town or state often develop personalities and lives that are different from siblings or friends who stay behind. When they visit home, they are still connected but feel a bit disconnected. That's my story. I think I retained some of the positives of growing up here and discarded what I believe are the negatives. 

Visiting here and spending time with friends and family from the past help me appreciate them and the uniqueness of New Orleans. At the same time I appreciate the directions my life has taken. I am lucky to have the best of both worlds.

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas from my New Orleans road trip.

I Know I Know

Men can be sensitive and emotional without having to surrender their man card. I am totally secure in that part of my own personality. I am just as much 'cave man' as the next guy but it's usually subtle. I choose to show more of the sensitive side.  Maybe that's a mistake. Tough shit.

All that is prelude to this:  Sometimes I get emotional when I visit New Orleans during the holidays. I was pretty cocky when I left this place decades ago. I knew there was so much more world to see, experiences to live, people to meet and things to learn. I was right. People here can be so narrow-minded and isolated from the real world.

Something I have learned since, however, is that people here instinctively know things others from elsewhere don't know. For example, having a good time is just part of the local DNA. Dancing to music in the street while holding a drink you walked out of a bar with. (bad grammar is part of life here too, by the way).

Acceptance is another one. Peopl…

Ghost of Christmas Future

Wow, a five-hour gab fest with the cousins. This is the third time in three years my sister threw a small party for me and the cousins on Dad's side of the family. It is always fun to see what paths they have taken over the years and this time we just couldn't shut up. It was great. 

These cousins are all older than me so maybe I'm seeing into the future when I spend time with them. Some of the conversation is about our youth, some relates to our present, some is sharing various 'family secret' items we've picked up along the way. And I got to hear enough about medical stuff to last a lifetime  We all look like our parents did at our present ages, which is kind of amusing too. 

I'm happy to see I'm not the only one without children and some of us do not live in houses we've paid off. Three of us have not retired and two of us probably never will. 

Except for time in the military nobody in the room last night has lived outside of southeast Louisiana …

An Interesting Lesson

When some people think about New Orleans in the six years since Hurricane Katrina nearly destroyed the town they think residents are crazy for sticking around and rebuilding. My take is different. I see a lesson in survival. 

I'm writing this while sitting on my sister's front porch in the Lakeview neighborhood, a part of town that sat in eight feet of flood waters for three weeks after the storm.      When I lived in this house as a kid this porch was three feet above the lawn. Now it's eight feet up. Damn flood ain't gonna mess with this house again. 

The street I'm looking at has better blacktop than before Katrina, the sidewalk is now smooth and level, unlike pre-K days when it buckled from uneven settling ground and the grass is green. I still clearly remember this scene six weeks after the hurricane. The street was torn up, the ground was brown with caked dirt leftover from the receding cesspool flood waters and there were abandoned cars in the median, parked…

More Road Trip Randomness

Today is the first day of winter and I'm wearing a t-shirt.  I woke up in Birmingham, Alabama, where it is 67 degrees at 8am.  Every now and then I miss living in the south.  After a week I come to my senses. 

The fitness room in this hotel actually had more stuff than just a treadmill.  Real weights.  Three mornings in a row of success in my new fitness plan. 

I'll be in New Orleans for the next few days, staying in my sister's guest room which was my room when were kids growing up in that house.  It is an interesting experience because after extensive post-Katrina renovation, the house isn't really the same as it was.  Yet in many ways it is.

I am stubborn yet flexible, cold and hot, emotional and lacking emotion, giving and taking, secure with dots of insecurity, logical yet artistic and all of that comes out during a road trip to my hometown.  Why?

I spent two and a half days in Asheville and did not take one picture with a real camera.  Kind of odd.  Being that …

December 2011 Road Trip Randomness

Well, I’m on the road again, eating and drinking my way through the south. Here is the first round of random thoughts.

- I totally love Asheville NC. It feels like home. Have now visited six times. Would live there if I could make a living there, but that’s just not in the cards.

- Part of what I like there is a very awesome friend. We are just friends but feel free to use us as proof that straight men and women can actually be friends without any drama.

- Saw the David Sedaris-written one-man play called Santa Land Diaries. Awesome fun.

- Two doctors I saw last week suggested I lose weight and exercise five times a week instead of just two or three. That’s a challenge on a road trip, but so far so good. Most of my breakfasts so far have been yogurt and cereal; most other meals were salad-oriented. Wine and a couple of beers – well, this IS a vacation. But I have used hotel fitness rooms two mornings in a row and will do the same again tomorrow.

- This is my first paperless vacation. N…

Another One

And so I’m offering this simple phrase to kids from 1 to 92, although it’s been said many, times many ways …..

((Sorry about the commercial))

Naughty or Nice

So what is more fun, naughty or nice?

Most people think I am a nice guy. My own take on me is that I am a nice guy with a naughty streak. That’s funny to me because most people in my current circle of friends and acquaintances can’t picture the naughty side unless they’ve actually been around me during those moments. Those from my past who know what I’m talking about aren’t telling. Hmm, I wonder if Santa knows.

The up side to nice is that it is reliable, dependable and desirable over the long run. Honesty and trust are good qualities. And they’re boring, which is the down side. Naughty is a lot more fun. Or is it? Being nice has cost me jobs and girlfriends. My naughty side has led to the occasional slap in the face or embarrassing conversations. My naughty streaks were often fun, sometimes odd and definitely memorable. I can’t really talk about most of it. Sorry.

Naughty might be more fun but if given the choice, I’ll pick nice every time. Well, almost every time.

The correlation be…

Back Roads

I'm going to see this guy and six other country music singers tonight, partly for work and partly for pleasure.  As I was watching this video a few minutes ago I was thinking about the two-lane backroad I live near.  Mine is a fairly well-developed state highway but it is only two lanes, it runs througn several small towns (the largest has a population of 3500) and sometimes there are large, slow-moving tractors slowing the pace a bit and reminding us that this county was and to some degree still is filled with farmland.  I sort of like the relaxed life of living here but I can't actually make a living in these towns, so I take two Interstate highways filled with traffic jams to my work place more than 40 miles away.  The commute is killing me.  I will be moving, hopefully early in the new year.  I'll miss the two-lane backroads but I will not miss the commute or the sense of isoloation or the ridiculous distance between where I live and where my real life lives.

Anyway, w…

Good Point

The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.

-A. Einstein

Stand Up and Focus

That pesky holiday depression keeps sneaking up on me. Actually it’s more like regular depression. I think the real cause is that there is just too much on my plate and not enough time to get it done. I’m a bit of a control freak and big chunks of my life are not within my control this month. Way too much to do and way too little time to get it done.

Over the past twenty years I have read at least five self-help books and countless self-help articles, interviewed three different psychologists on my radio shows and even took one of the recorded Tony Robbins courses. All of that advice is pretty much the same and can be summarized in two thoughts: 1) you get what you focus on and 2) every time you fall, stand up.

We can choose to focus on the negatives in our lives and if we do, we will usually find more negatives. Conversely, we can choose to focus on the positives and, well, we will find more positives. That is the advice I give others and usually follow myself. I am self-aware enough…


If your native language is American English, you might think it is a fairly easy language to learn. Remember, however, that you’ve had a lifetime to learn the nuances. But try to find logic in some of our language and you might understand why it is so difficult for immigrants to learn it.

Here are a few examples, starting with one inspired by my early morning hunger pains today.

Break fast and breakfast. I believe the terms are related, but the words with identical spellings have different pronunciations. When you eat for the first time after fasting for awhile, you break your fast. Break is pronounced like brayk, with a long a, and the a in fast rhymes with ass. But the 1st meal of the day, when you break the fast of not eating since dinner last night, is pronounced breck, rhyming with wreck, and fast said more like fust … shouldn’t it be spelled breckfust?

Here’s a threesome: Signature, nature and natural. In signature, the nature part is pronounced nah-tur. Actually the t is said li…

Bucket List 3.0

The ‘bucket list’ concept has appealed to me ever since I first heard the term used more than ten years ago. I have been a list-maker as long as I can remember and it seems natural to list things I want to do before I “kick the bucket.” It is a logical form of goal-setting. Making lists for my career has helped me hit many goals, such as working in several big cities, hosting a radio show heard in multiple time zones, hitting certain income levels; list-making for personal goals, no matter how out of reach they might seem, makes perfect sense to me and is a great first step toward hitting the mark.

I have started bucket lists a couple of times in the past few years but was inspired to share this list this week by a recent blog post from my friend Eliz in Asheville. Here are some of the items I am willing to admit out loud.

- Hike the Bright Angel Trail into the Grand Canyon

- Visit the Tuscany region of Italy

- Learn to speak Italian

- Learn to play an instrument well enough to play …

Words To Live By

Jimmy Valvano was a famous basketball coach, most notably during his years at NC State in the 1980s. Being the occasionally clueless guy that I am when it comes to college basketball, I never heard of him … till today. He was also a broadcaster and motivational speaker during his relatively short life. A friend posted a partial quote on Facebook and I made light of it. She responded diplomatically and posted a link to the speech she was quoting.

It is well worth your time to watch this 10-minute video, even if you have seen it before. He died of bone cancer at the young age of 47, less than a year after the diagnosis, and this speech was delivered as he accepted the first Arthur Ashe Courage and Humanitarian Award about a month before his death. He apparently was an inspiration to the teams he coached but the things he said in this speech are an inspiration to me and others now. These things reinforce some beliefs I hold and often talk about. He sums it up better than I can.

Watch th…

Sunday TV, Campaigns and Football

My usual Sunday morning rituals include a big breakfast, plenty of coffee and watching parts of TV talk shows. I only watch a few minutes of those programs because they don’t really accomplish anything beyond giving political pundits air time to spew their carefully-crafted talking points.

Case in point: the CBS show this morning hosted by Bob Schieffer. He has been a journalist for more than fifty years, much of it on TV. He is smart, well-prepared and has pretty much seen it all; but like many of his colleagues, fails to dig deep enough. The segment I watched featured a strategist or executive representing each of the two major political parties. Schieffer asked the Republican guest about significant inconsistencies relating to Gingrich and Romney, the current leading contenders for a Presidential candidacy. His response repeatedly avoided answering the questions and re-stated the talking points, which basically is that their strategy is to make Obama a one-term President.


Sharing a Song

This is one of my favorite songs on Coldplay's new CD.  Enjoy.

Ho Ho Ho and Bah Humb….

Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to admit having the problem. So rather than trying to ignore it, I’ll just come right out and say that I’m struggling with holiday depression. I go through this every year, so I’m used to it. Fortunately it comes in waves, usually just a few days or hours at a time, and not the months-long emotional adventure it used to be.

I’ve studied it, read about it and interviewed experts on my radio shows. I know plenty about holiday depression. In my case, part of it is a lingering set of mismatched expectations. I grew up in a stable, predictable family environment in which each holiday season was pretty much like the previous one. Mostly it was good, enjoyable and pleasant. Things changed in my adulthood, as it does for most people. My life is generally good but I’ve had periods of instability, unpredictability and dysfunctional family and personal situations. Those emotional and situational extremes fight with each other.

I don’t really expect th…