The Big Fire

One evening in mid-town Manhattan, a professional photographer in his third-floor apartment was hunched over a light table editing some pictures. A fire truck went by with siren blaring. Because sirens are usual in New York, he barely noticed. Within two minutes, however, another raced by his window, then a third, and a fourth.

Each time, he noticed the sirens didn’t drift away but, instead, stopped suddenly a few seconds after they had passed. Instinctively, he grabbed his jacket and camera, stuffed film into his pockets, and took to the stairway two steps at a time. Once on the sidewalk, … Read the rest “The Big Fire”

Night War

It was happening again. I’m deep in sleep when the words begin coming into my brain from somewhere, an account, a news story, with names, places, and events. Yet, I later find no evidence that any of it is true. Even more puzzling, nothing seems to have caused it.

Eventually, it wakes me up, yet the words keep coming. Not until they stop do I get up and write what’s been revealed:

Colonel Frank Young, a U.S. Air Force officer stationed in Kabul, Afghanistan, had just picked up his staff vehicle from the repair depot. He was driving through the … Read the rest “Night War”

The Art of Piddling

Yes, my friends, today we talk about piddling. First, though, we must settle a couple of issues.

Namely, Webster has it all wrong in saying to piddle is to “waste time and dawdle” and that piddling is “trifling and negligible.” To the contrary, piddling is a valuable component in today’s living mix. That brings up the second issue.

We are on a treadmill and the techies keep increasing the speed — go fast, set alarms, cut corners, expedite, increase efficiency, accelerate, streamline, cram it in, toss it out, make a new to-do list, do it faster, run, shove, push, do … Read the rest “The Art of Piddling”

A Matter of Class

What do you mean when you say another person has class or is a class act? Is it a matter of wealth or fame? Or is it how they act toward you or others?

As a journalist, I’ve met and interviewed thousands of people. Of those, five struck me as being a class act. Even now, as long as fifty years afterward, I not only remember them and what they did and said, but also the surroundings in which I visited with them.

Three were farmers, Ben near Houlton, Maine, Marion near Elizabeth City, North Carolina, and Paul near Caliente, … Read the rest “A Matter of Class”

Two Bits of Smarts

Want to become rich and famous? For a price, hundreds of thousands of books, videos, lectures, and motivational speakers will tell you how.

The magic, however, may lie in forgotten, ignored, or unknown strategies so plain and simple they come for free, so powerful you may never forget them.

Here’s the first one.

Sometimes, someone who seems to be low in self esteem will ask me for help. They’re unable to see, much less imagine, how much talent they have to offer the world. Rather than me doing the heavy lifting, I challenge them to discover that for themselves.

I … Read the rest “Two Bits of Smarts”