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Saturday, September 21, 2019
  • Friday, June 14, 2019 2:48 AM
    My great-grandmother would be 145 years old this summer.
    I suppose that alone isn’t remarkable. Many of us can trace family members back 145 years. What is remarkable, however, is the fact that Mamaw spent 102 of those years right here on this planet.
    She was born nine years after Robert E. Lee surrendered the Confederate Army to Ulysses S. Grant at Appomattox Courthouse in 1865. She died the year I graduated high school, right before I entered Wabash College.
    I always contend that — in due respect to the advances of other generations — Mamaw witnessed the greatest technological leaps in her lifetime. Oh sure, our computer age is truly amazing. But we’ve had computers since Charles Babbage invented the Analytical Engine in 1871. We can even contend that the first computer was the abacus, or William Oughtred’s slide rule, invented in 1622.
    Mamaw’s life spanned the heart of America’s Industrial Revolution. When she was a child, the most common way to travel the country was by horse. When her death came, Mamaw had lived to see the United States put a man on the moon.
    Think about that! From horse-and-buggy to man-on-the-moon!
    I don’t recall asking Mamaw what she thought about the moon landing in 1969, but I’m sure she responded with something like, “That’s the cat’s meow!” That onomatopoeia was one of her favorites.
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  • Monday, June 10, 2019 12:59 AM
    For all the considerable sensations that new technology adds to our visual and tactile senses, I wonder what it will do for our noses. I mean, computers and the Internet are amazing tools for communicating images and sounds; however, I’m left wondering if new technology will play any role in smells or the memories they conjure.
    It is believed that our sense of smell is linked most directly to memory. That’s why catching a whiff of a lover’s perfume, or the smell of grandmother’s house, can transport us immediately to that place and time.
    However, a computer screen has no aroma, and although we can store thousands of heirloom photos on the “cloud,” smells are left earthbound.
    That idea crossed my mind the other day when I was cleaning out a closet full of keepsakes. I decided that it was past time to get rid of some things — things that really weren’t important to family history, but were nonetheless difficult parting with, simply because memories were attached.
    There’s a big difference, I’ve learned, between living in a museum and a mausoleum. History is great, but you can’t live there. When you do, you run the risk of missing an amazing future when it comes calling.
    It is time to part with things once held sacred.
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  • Monday, June 3, 2019 11:03 AM
    I enjoy creating a story that inspires or entertains readers. I’ve spent an entire hour rewriting a single sentence. I’ve toiled over choosing a single word for the exact meaning I want.
    I know that many of you think what I do looks easy. Let me tell you this …
    It is. 
    Any one of you can do what I do. You may even do it well. Some perhaps even better than I. If social media has taught us one thing, it is that we all have stories to tell. We all have opinions to share. We all can hook a reader, build a cliff-hanger, create compelling characters.
    Hosts of new writers have built careers writing for the Internet. Hundreds have done so without taking a single writing course, and have never joined an English Literature class.
    Honestly, a few may not even know how to read.
    Yet, there are some social media writers that are building billion dollar empires on telling a “story” in 288 characters or less on Twitter™.
    I earn far less than a billion for my writing.
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  • Tuesday, May 28, 2019 5:44 PM

    You'd think that after all these years, I’d be used to it. Once more, The Indianapolis Motor Speedway crammed a year’s worth of edge-of-the-seat action into the thirty-one days allotted to the month of May … and then left us salivating for more.

    The action touched every aspect of human emotion. Sometimes, I don’t think I appreciate how spectacular the ‘Greatest Spectacle in Racing’ really is.

    My favorite moment came on race day itself. It had little to do with Simon Pagenaud winning a thrilling race, but everything to do with speed.

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  • Friday, May 24, 2019 3:09 AM
    I was preparing to pull onto the interstate, earlier this week, and found myself surrounded on three sides by a canyon of gigantic tractor-trailer trucks. It happens frequently, of course, so I wasn’t thinking much about being enveloped by — assuming each rig is hauling legally — what could amount to 240,000 pounds of steel, fuel, and cargo.
    What’s to worry? The rigs could just as easily be hauling marshmallows, feather pillows, and oven light bulbs. Right?
    (As a quick sidebar: Did you ever pass a truck hauling helium, and wonder how he keeps his tires on the road? Ask your kids on your next vacation trip. It will keep their minds busy while waiting for that elusive Idaho license plate to pass by.)
    I was in the rightmost of the two left turn lanes leading to the interstate. Our traffic signal turned green, and we all lurched forward, making the wide bend onto the on-ramp. Everything seemed normal, until halfway through the apex of the curve, when I suddenly realized that the semi on my left was still arching right instead of staying in his lane
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  • Friday, May 17, 2019 2:15 AM
    Bricks and mortar store fronts are dwindling. Motion pictures elude movie theaters favoring our cell phones. Heck, we can even purchase cars from vending machines.
    Can our communities be any more different than what we remember?
    Technology and its expedience — it’s even more convenient shipped-to-our-door deliveries — has made everything attainable with just a simple mouse click.
    I half-jokingly wish that I could return in 100 years, just to look down Main Street. I predict that all I will see will be restaurants, pizza places, a few electric car charging stations, and 30,000 UPS and FedEx trucks scurrying from house to house.
    Technology changes almost every aspect of our society, even how we want to live.
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  • Monday, May 13, 2019 1:52 AM
    Have you ever noticed a curious inconsistency in our U.S. holidays? It’s the apostrophe.
    Valentine’s Day separates the “s” from the singular Valentine. Who sends just one Valentine? Patriot Day — September 11 — has no plural, but we know there were plenty of patriots that day.
    Mother’s Day they have right.
    By placing one little apostrophe where it is, we not only commemorate mothers in general, we are celebrating the mother most meaningful to our existence. Ours.
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  • Friday, May 3, 2019 4:00 AM
    The first time I met Richard G. Lugar he politely — with his trademark broad smile — walked around three sides of my science fair project, and then proclaimed in that mellifluous voice, “That’s some paint job there, young man.”
    That was Lugar at his best, always the diplomat.
    I was proud, but I also had the feeling the then-mayor of Indianapolis was letting me down gently. I’m pretty confident that neither Niels Bohr nor Enrico Fermi had a judge comment on their science fair paint job.
    Lugar was right. I had spent twice the time on the plywood backdrop that I had on the project itself, concluding that Newtonian Law couldn’t match the Humanities, and that the only way I was ever going to get near a petri dish was if it was full of Grape Nuts.
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  • Friday, April 26, 2019 4:00 AM
    Waiting is one of the most frustrating experiences in our lives. We wait on something every single day. We wait for the alarm to go off; we wait for the shower to free up; we wait for the coffee machine to finish brewing our morning starter fluid.
    We wait for all sorts of things. We wait in traffic. We wait in airports. We wait for lunch. We wait in line. We wait in the movie theater. We wait for our prescriptions to be filled.
    We wait, and wait, and wait.
    Waiting determines our mood, and is determined by our mood.
    Whenever I get stuck facing a long wait, I always focus on the acronym PEEL –– Patience, Expectation, Enthusiasm, Location.
    Patience is the heart of waiting. We either display it, or we don’t. People who can bear up to the annoyance of waiting without complaint are said to be patient people. Patient people have a deeper respect for time than those of us who lose our patience, and get angry.
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  • Friday, April 19, 2019 4:00 AM
    I’ve often wondered, if Jesus was God, and God knows all that has happened, is happening, and is about to happen, was Jesus afraid when he was brought before Caiaphas, setting into motion what would ultimately end in his death?
    After years of thought, the answer for me is, “Hell yes, he was afraid!”
    Before we delve too deeply into biblical history, let’s include a prudent disclaimer: I am neither a scholar of ancient history, nor am I a student of the bible. I went to Sunday School, but mostly for the snacks.
    While the other children rushed upstairs to class, I would lag behind with the other youthful backsliders in our church kitchen ‘sampling’ the cookies and juice, until Mrs. Phillips, our Sunday School teacher, would beckon us upward with a stirring rendition of “Jesus Loves Me” in the key of deaf.
    I have read the bible front to back several times, but honestly, it always leaves me with more questions than answers.
    Actually, on any given subject — like the story of Noah’s ark, for instance — I have a flood of questions (every pun intended). I’m still trying to figure out if there were any mosquitos onboard. If there were, and Noah accidentally swatted one of them, did he instantly regret it, or was his utterance of “Got the sucker!” the first in ancient history?
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  • Friday, April 12, 2019 4:00 AM
    For the record, the headline is cause for punishment.
    One of my Mother’s strict rules was that she always be addressed in the formal in public. Using the word “Mom” demonstrated laziness and poor upbringing.
    She was equally perturbed by the words “Momma” and “Mommy,” too.
    I’m not really sure why Mother was so pedantic about the use of the formal name for the female parent, but if there was ever doubt that she was serious about it, the old ping-pong paddle lay in wait in the kitchen cabinet to drive home the point.
    If you are thinking, “My gosh, this guy’s Mother must have been a tyrant,” you couldn’t be more wrong.
    Mother was hilarious, and full of fun. Truly, she was the best. Whether it was the time she killed a six-foot black snake with a toy rake, or the time while lugging two armloads of decorator sample books, she tried to grab hold of her fast food drink by clenching the straw in her teeth, we laughed with our Mother every single day.
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  • Friday, April 5, 2019 4:00 AM
    Just this week, I decided to seek professional help. I’m talking about a professional photographer.
    I take the worst pictures of myself. I take pretty good pictures of other things. Other people, too. But when I’m the subject, something happens every time. I usually end up hating the results for one reason or the other.
    The two best shots of me were my high school and college graduation photos, each while wearing a cap and gown — a big flowing gown, which concealed image issues. In both cases I had no idea the photographer was about to snap the picture.
    That’s the key, I think. Every time I know that camera is about to click, I tense up, freezing a contorted grin into photographic immortality. The results are even worse when I take my picture myself. 
    Need proof? What do you think of the pictures that accompany my columns? Yep, those are mine. In the newest one, I look as if I left my teeth in the glass on my nightstand.
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  • Saturday, March 30, 2019 4:00 AM
    There is nothing in the world more valuable than a good barber.
    Not only does a good barber skillfully reconstitute our dreadlocked mops into something stylish, they do so without using those little plastic guards that snap onto the electric clippers.
    You know what I’m talking about. They look like brightly colored cowcatchers, and attach over the razor sharp blades of those home barber kits that our mothers purchased to give us home haircuts. With them, the manufacturer claimed that anyone could cut hair like a professional.
    As long as the profession is sheep shearing.
    My Mother lined us grade school boys up in kitchen chairs, and — starting with the biggest cowcatcher first, of course — systematically hacked away inches of perfectly good hair, all to the accompaniment of the electric motor, which sounded eerily similar to the garbage disposal.
    Mother would have us hold the mirror as she trimmed counterclockwise, starting with an ear, and then circumnavigating the skull, with Magellan-like accuracy, until the same ear was reached again. If the cut was uneven, she started over, repeating the process until she was satisfied the two sides matched or your were out of hair.
    When you are in grade school, outcomes are not that important. However, there comes a time when boys get serious about how their hair looks — usually about the time that training bras are discovered.
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  • Friday, March 22, 2019 4:00 AM
    Celebrating the arrival of Spring Break is nothing new. The ancient Greeks, for instance, staged elaborate overindulgent celebrations in honor of their god of wine and merriment, Dionysus. The Romans called him Bacchus, which is where we get the term “bacchanalia,” a word meaning “drunken revelry”.
    Yep, that sounds like Spring Break to me.
    According to historians, our modern Spring Break dates back to the 1930’s when Fort Lauderdale, Florida opened its first Olympic-sized swimming pool, luring hundreds of east coast college swim teams and fellow students to the perpetual warmth and sand. At its peak, Fort Lauderdale’s Spring Break population soared to nearly 400,000 visitors, fueled by MGM’s 1960 release of Glendon Swarthout’s coming-of-age movie, “Where the Boys Are”.
    Spring Break is a rite of passage for young people, utilizing adult decision-making skills to seek wild parties, beautiful beaches and elaborate resorts.
    Many years ago, three buddies and I piled our golf clubs and meager travel gear into a beat up Chevy Suburban for the 12-hour drive to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. It was Spring Break during our sophomore year in college, and we kind of broke tradition by doing something other than heading for the Florida beaches.
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  • Friday, March 15, 2019 4:00 AM
    The psychologist Abraham Maslow was a great believer in human potential. In the course of uncovering the reasons that motivate human behavior, he developed five stages of human need — now known as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs — to describe the levels of achievement required to reach our maximum capabilities.
    When federal prosecutors charged dozens of wealthy parents with counts of fraud and bribery to win their underachieving kids a place in the best colleges and universities, Tuesday, it called to mind that climbing Maslow’s pyramid is much harder in real life.
    Maslow’s first two levels include our basic needs —food, water, shelter, clothing, health, safety, and financial security. It is safe to say that the celebrities and well-off have those levels sufficiently covered. From that point on, the alleged schemers really struggled.
    The next two levels of behavior leading to full potential are social needs, which include love and a sense of belonging, plus being accepted and valued by others.
    The college admissions scandal is Maslow 3 and 4 run amok.
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