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Paying $1200 For A Compliment

I was on a live television show when I learned that I have a bald spot.

The show wasn’t about me or my hair. I was on a panel, being interviewed about a serious topic. I remember looking at the monitor at one point and thinking “that shot from behind the panel isn’t helping that guy in the blue jacket.” Then I looked down at my sleeve and remembered I had on a blue jacket.

After the show, I asked several friends why they didn’t tell me I was getting a bald spot on the back of my head. They were all surprised that I didn’t know and wondered how I missed something so obvious.

I learn a lot from unexpected sources, but not everything.

I’m Like A Kindergarten Teacher, But Not

Some of them will always talk like they’re in class. (public domain)

For twenty-four years of my career, my specialty was crisis negotiation.

As you might guess, a critical part of talking to hostage takers and suicidal people is using a very calm voice, no matter what is happening around you. I got good at sounding calm. I can’t say that I was always placid inside, but you’d have been hard pressed to hear it in my voice when I was working.

And the people I negotiated with often said things like “you’re nice to talk to”, “you’re kind of soothing” or, the best compliment I ever got -  “if I didn’t want to kill you, I’d want to have a beer with you.” I became very confident about how my voice fit the job I loved. Read the rest of this entry »

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How To Save A Wet iPhone

Cases protect our iPhones from impact and software helps us find them when they get lost. But there is one enemy that it is nearly impossible to protect our phones from – water. Taking Apple’s masterpiece for a quick dip can turn it from the repository of your life’s information to a very well designed paperweight.

How To Dry Your Phone

There are no life ring apps that keep an iPhone afloat (image by Kalle Id CCbySA3.0)

If your iPhone does go for a swim, all is not lost. You might be able to revive it with some fast action. Remember, seconds count. Panic is your enemy. Every moment you spend mourning your loss is a moment that the evil water spends strangling your phone to death. Because panic will be working against you, let me give you some very simple instructions to remember. Read the rest of this entry »


Yellow Card, Red Card. Life Gets Less Hard

Like so many of us here in the United States, I know so little about soccer. I’m not even sure why our country is the only one which calls the game soccer. Sure, we have a completely different game that we call football, but perhaps we could have compromised on this name thing since all the other cool kids have settled on what to call the sport.

Face it. Most of you don’t really know if he’s got a peg leg or not. (image by jasonwhat ccbysa 2.0)

Despite our indifference to the sport at any other time, the nation becomes obsessed with soccer when the World Cup tournament starts. We really have no idea if cutting Landon Donovan hurt or helped the US team. The truth is that most of us forgot he existed after the last World Cup. For all we know, the man has a pirate style peg leg now and is no longer much of a ummmmm…whatever position he played. But during this period where soccer is in fashion, we’ll debate such matters as if we had the knowledge to do so.

I find myself thinking more about the game, even as I laugh at us for our quadrennial interest in it. I’ve advocated that we adapt soccer’s tradition of exchanging jerseys with an opponent after a match so we can use it in every day life . What better way to let someone know you appreciate their efforts than by giving them your shirt and wearing theirs around?

And that’s not the only idea I’m taking from soccer. Read the rest of this entry »


The World Cup Jersey Swap

I don’t know much about the sport, but this seems a silly thing to do (image by MPF cc by sa 3.0)

For the next month, teams representing thirty-two nations will battle for futbol supremacy in the FIFA World Cup. Whenever the World Cup comes around, people like me become soccer fans for the first time since our kids played in the league down at the rec center.

There is one big difference between kid league soccer and World Cup games. When the kid games end, all the players get a juice box and orange slices.  After a World Cup game, the players take off their jerseys and swap them with players from the other team. This is a really nice gesture of respect and a great way to get a cool jersey as a memento. Read the rest of this entry »


If George Bush Did A Parachute Jump

I don’t think much of politicians. Once you get away from them, I’m really loathe to lump people into a group. But I’m not shy about saying that I don’t think much of people who run for office. I’ve never met a politician who had all the answers. I’ve never known one who didn’t think they were the one who had all the answers.

There are no recorded incidents of George Bush throwing up on the Pope. (image public domain)

That said, the news that former president George H.W.  Bush parachuted from a helicopter to celebrate his ninetieth birthday is the inspiration for me to start planning my own ninetieth birthday stunt. This is the only time I have ever been inspired by a politician.

The choice of a skydive seems a natural choice for the WW II fighter pilot turned president. He’d jumped seven times before, including once when his plane was shot down over the Pacific. I think it would have been funny if he’d celebrated by reprising the 1992 incident where he vomited on the Prime Minister of Japan.

Time To Plan

Ninety years old is a few years away for me, but it’s never too early to start planning. Like Bush, I had a cool career job title. While ex-fighter pilots can fly a private plane or skydive, there is no recreational equivalent for retired hostage negotiators like me. I won’t be able to arrange for a despondent person to take hostages in a convenience store to celebrate my ninetieth birthday.

So I’ve got thirty-seven and a half years to dream up my ninetieth birthday stunt. Read the rest of this entry »


You Remember Uncle Joe. He Was The One Afraid To Cut The Cake.

Music is something that different people experience in different ways.  Some of us enjoy different styles of music. We’re all moved by the lyrics we hear; those lyrics move us to different places.

Uncle Joe. He was afraid to cut this. (image by roozita ccbysa3.0)

Lyrics are subject to being mis-heard. One of the brightest people I will ever know once believed that Jon Bon Jovi was singing “head full of lice” in the chorus of his band’s hit “Dead or Alive”. The words to other songs are confusing. For instance, what was Bob Seger talking about in his song “Fire Lake” when he sang “you remember Uncle Joe; he was the one afraid to cut the cake”?

The Uncle Joe is a mystery to so many, but like I said, people experience music in different ways. I hear “Fire Lake” and the line about Uncle Joe far differently than most of you. You see, I do remember Uncle Joe. There aren’t many left who know about my Uncle’s struggles, not just with cake, but with all baked goods. Read the rest of this entry »


So, You’ve Been Kidnapped By The Taliban.

Twice in recent history we’ve been faced with families who are in a difficult position – they have loved ones who were kidnapped or held by a foreign government while traveling in rather sketchy parts of the world.

In 2009, three American hikers were taken into custody by the government of Iran for accidentally entering that country while they were hiking. Now the headlines tell the tale of a couple who chose to travel through Afghanistan. To the surprise of virtually no one on the planet, this couple was captured by the Taliban and has been in their custody for about twenty months.

We Just Want Our Kids Back

Not the flag of Vacationland. (image, public domain)

I’m not insensitive to the plight of the families these wayward travelers left behind. They want their loved ones back. Who can blame them? . If my son were kidnapped while he was on a casual stroll through Afghanistan, I would be asking my government for help in getting him home just as the families of the 2009 hikers did and the Afghanistan traveling couple are now.

But you will never see me asking for help getting my son home from Afghanistan. Why? Because my son is no fool. And being a fool is at the heart of the mistake that these families make in requesting help.

Read the rest of this entry »


I Am Ordained

I am proud to announce that, through the miracle of the internet, I have become an ordained minister.

This move might surprise some who know me well. Given that I’ve not been an organized religion sort of guy, I can understand why. Let me explain my decision to become a man of the cloth, in the way a man of the cloth like me would explain:

Lo, it has been said that the Lord works in mysterious ways. There’s no way that anything is more mysterious than my decision to become a minister, yet a minister I am. Read the rest of this entry »


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