A landmark, the only one left of its kind, stands upright and proud near the town of Deadwood, Texas, on what is now the Texas-Louisiana border. It is all that remains of what was once the boundary between the United States of America and the Republic of Texas.
It stands, more than 150 years after it was erected, for three reasons: it is made of solid granite; it reaches six feet beneath ground level; and it has been deliberately preserved by people who value their heritage.
Consider this. Then ask yourselves, “How important is my heritage of faith?” Read More
I hope Dr. Naumann, my childhood dentist, is reading this somewhere. For the first time … ever, probably, I purchased dental floss. And I am actually using it. On my teeth. I’m not consistent, but I do it. In fact, I have fibers of mango wedged between my lower incisors right now, and I can’t wait to get home and dig for them. Read More
The great Henry Ford once said, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said a faster horse.” That concept is difficult for us to understand in a world that has never not known automobiles. But we read about a world (there may even be a few souls left who remember one) in which the quality of your horse or horses determined the quality of your journey. Knowing a better way now, it seems silly to yearn for yesteryear. Read More
Doing something is not always the right choice. Sometimes it is better to do nothing. Nothing at all. It’s a concept the Dutch call niksen. It encourages people to deliberately take time every day — especially the busiest days — to sit motionless, gaze out a window at nothing in particular, whatever it takes to disengage your mind and body.
American workers, always with the go-go-go mentality, tend to view this approach with disdain. It’s lazy. It’s wasteful. The only proper way to work is full throttle, full time. On a related note, American workers suffer greatly from depression, stress, high blood pressure, and divorce. A connection, perhaps? Read More
More from The Corporate Coach. (It’s amazing what you learn when you read books instead of watching TV. Just saying.) James Miller actually encourages his sales people to not only go on late afternoon sales calls (traditionally labeled “waste of time” by management), but to pray for rain. He says that when total strangers on your doorstep, soaking wet, looking for someone to talk to about their product, the strangers frequently get warm receptions, hot coffee, and big deals. Read More
Last week a video emerged from 2015 (the internet is forever — remember that, kids, the next time you Instagram a photo of yourself in a state and location you might regret later) of former Vice President Joe Biden commenting on his relationship with former Vice President Dick Cheney. He called him a “decent man.” “I actually like Dick Cheney, for real,” he said. “I get on with him.” Cheney, of course, has borne the brunt of the wrath of the opposition (and a fair portion of his own base) for the war in Iraq that his boss perpetrated.
I don’t care what you think about Biden, Cheney, Iraq, or any other particular element of this conversation. I share this story merely to tell you about the light bulb that went off in my head upon reading some of the vitriol spewed forth against Mr. Biden from some of the people who, until five minutes ago, may have been looking at his 2020 presidential candidacy with an eye toward supporting it. Read More
I have given up complaining about cashiers asking me for a “good” phone number or e-mail address. First of all, I’m flattered, but I’m happily married. Second, even if I concede that you actually need my data, why specify that it must be “good”? Are they the type of people who ask for information in other contexts (the club, the gym, wherever else undesirable people are making overtures)? Anyway, the editor in my cringes when I hear that. Unnecessary words make me sad.
That said, I encountered a barista recently who was asking for “a good name” to call out when the patron’s coffee was ready. “A good name.” OK, that’s a bridge too far. I must comment on that. Read More
A preacher was visiting a congregation one Sunday — they as unknown to him as he was to them. “This is a bit uncomfortable for all of us, I suppose,” he said to open. “You’re out there wondering if I’m a good preacher. I’m up here wondering if you know what good preaching is.”
That is not a story from my future autobiography, I assure you. Read More
In The Corporate Coach by James B. Miller, a book on my shelf that is left over from a long-abandoned career in sales management, James Miller discusses the role of “the twitch in your elbow” while interviewing job applicants. Gut instinct, we might say. And a big part of that, he says, is the commitment the applicant shows toward other activities. If he’s a scratch golfer, he didn’t get there just with 18 holes on Saturday. Maybe he’ll cut out of work early some days. If he’s out on his boat every weekend, who’s to say he won’t miss a few Monday mornings?
Commitment is a character trait not everyone has. It is to be admired. Read More
Rabbits and eggs are in great abundance this time of year. And anyone who knows anything about the history of Easter knows why. They are symbols of fertility. The spring equinox has always been celebrated as the time that the earth is in full recovery from winter. The earth has come back from the dead, as it were. The pagans, who saw the earth as an entity to be worshiped, turned the equinox into an opportunity for revelry — and, typically, debauchery. (Children, if you don’t know what “fertility” and “debauchery” mean, ask your parents.) The Catholic church incorporated local pagan worship traditions as it spread throughout Europe many centuries ago. Thus, the celebration of the rebirth of the earth became the celebration of the risen Lord. (The Greek word in Acts 12:4 rendered “Easter” by the King James Version translators is the same word rendered “Passover” every other time it occurs.)
Personally, I like rabbits. And I absolutely love eggs. Read More
I cut my front lawn in long strips, one to the immediate left of the other. If you cut yours left to right, I have no issue with that. Agree to disagree.
Anyway, I say that because I have noticed a distinct tendency for my rows to drift to the left just as I am preparing to make the turn and head back in the opposite direction. The amateur psychologist in me thinks it is a tendency to rush through things, that I am eager to start the next stage — and therefore move closer to the finish line — before I have actually finished the current project. Read More
Well, spring has sprung. And that means a host of new articles in this space about Hal’s lawn maintenance. Those who have been reading this column for a while have gotten used to this, I suspect.
The early signs are good this season. Read More
Facts are stubborn things, said John Adams. But being stubborn does not always win you an argument. We have all been in “discussions” in which we were correct and the simpleton on the other side of the table was not. We laid out the facts as plainly as anyone could. And they remained unconvinced.
Maybe they found comfort in character assassination, or muddied the waters with irrelevant information. Maybe they just threw up their hands and left the room. Maybe they even took a swing at you. What they didn’t do, though, is change their mind. Facts had nothing to do with their position, either before or after the discussion. Read More
All hipsters look alike. This was the assertion recently written in one of those magazines that publishes those sort of articles. Hipsters, as it turns out, don’t like to be pigeonholed like that any more than lawyers, ethnic minorities, or SEC football fans. One actually wrote a threatening letter, accusing the magazine of using a photograph of him without his permission and disparaging him personally.
Turns out, it wasn’t him in the picture after all. He just looked like the hipster in question. Ah, irony. Read More
Hospitals across the country are retheming after a recent study unearthed a startling fact. Of 250 children surveyed, exactly 250 of them expressed an aversion or out-and-out fear of clowns. I suppose a generation of administrators raised on Bozo and Ronald McDonald were slow to realize that garishly painted faces were just about the last thing children wanted to see when they were already scared out of their minds. Read More
I was recently injured while making popcorn. True story. A stray kernel decided to pop within the fluffy confines of the bowl instead of in the popper — hardly unusual. But this one sent a piece of hot bran straight into my right eyelid. If I had that eye wide open at the time, it could have done serious damage. As it was, I only had nagging pain for a couple of days — a small price to pay for a good story, I say. Read More
Last week in this space I encouraged the “one-talent” Christians out there to not lose heart, but rather to rejoice in the “small things” they may be able to do in service to God and to the church. I thought I would follow up today with some specifics.
Again, these are things that virtually any Christian can do. Read More
Some people have five talents. They have all the skill, all the charisma, all the opportunities. It seems as though service in Jesus’ kingdom comes naturally to them. We are not surprised to hear when they have done great things in His name. We expect it out of five-talent people
Some people have two talents. They are not as privileged as the five-talent people, obviously. But we still admire them. They get the most out of what they have. They do not envy the five-talent people for their success and the glory that comes with success. They just do their job and do it well. Sometimes they even wake up to find they have become five-talent people themselves. And good for them. Good for us. And then there are those with only one talent. Read More
I have some unsolicited advice for my social media friends who like to pass along photos, memes, links, and various other items that might fall under the heading of “atrocity of the day.”
Don’t. Read More
You may have seen the reports about actresses Lori Laughlin (“Full House”) and Felicity Huffman (“Desperate Housewives”) being caught up in a standardized test scandal. At the time of this writing, Huffman had actually been arrested. It seems (and as much as I criticize those who leap to conclusions in this space, I hasten to add — innocent until proven guilty) some people were paying for special consideration so their children could get good grades on their ACT or SAT. Read More