Category Archives: Looking at life

Home, Sweet Home!


Dear Frequent Reader:

You may be surprised to find there’s no Holy Cow! History story this week. Let me explain why.

I just completed a 920 mile move from Columbia, South Carolina (where I worked for the past four years) to join my family in the Missouri Ozarks. It’s the first time I’ve lived in my native state for 32 years, and I’m delighted to be back among the people and places that mean the most to me. Continue reading

Mon Dieu! The real story behind Napoleon’s famous pose

Napoleon - Famous image

When you hear the name Napoleon Bonaparte, what comes to mind?

French guy. Funny hat. Josephine. Short. Hand-in-coat.

Napoleon is one of the most iconic figures in the world, right up there with Ronald McDonald and that annoying 1970s Smile face. He was a personality so large, he’s known by one name, like Cher and Madonna (proof you’ve really hit the big time).

Yet despite his continued superstar status almost 200 years after his death, nearly everything we associate with him is wrong. Continue reading

Ding Dong! Seizing your :10 second window of opportunity


Let me tell you about a man you know, but whose name you’ve probably never heard. Because we can all learn an important lesson from Meinhardt Rabbe on this, the 75th anniversary of his Big Moment.

We begin with a confession:  I’m a Wizard of Oz fan. Have been ever since I first saw it on TV as a child in the 60s. CBS ran the movie every spring at Easter, and I eagerly watched it year after year. (Growing up in Missouri, where tornadoes are as common as spring dandelions in the front yard, the storm scene was all too relevant. But I digress.) Continue reading

Be Careful! Your Words Can Come Back to Haunt You.


This Tennessee country boy got the last laugh on big time TV reporter Sam Donaldson … and taught him a lesson we all need to remember, too.

In the late 1980s, I was a young TV reporter working in western Kentucky. The station’s coverage area extended into northwest Tennessee, and I had the good fortune to make the acquaintance of a man who lived there named Ned Ray McWherter. He was a big, burly, friendly guy who physically resembled an old-time politician from the previous century.

That was partly because Ned Ray was a politician. He was elected to the state House in 1968, and was chosen House Speaker in 1973. (He went on to serve as governor from 1989-1997.) I remember the day he told me this story, which carries a lesson for all of us. Continue reading

The Kite that Got Away


My Pirate Kite didn’t look like this one;
but at least this gives you a general idea.
She was a beauty! A kite that special
deserved its freedom.

Spring is in full swing. Seeing families out and about this time of year always puts me in mind of this story.

I was a third grader in the spring of 1970. The Easter Bunny left something extra for me along with the traditional basket of candy that year. It was a kite. And not just any old dime store kite, either. This one was white with a skull and crossbones emblazoned in black in the center: the Jolly Roger, symbol of swashbuckling adventure.

It was a Pirate Kite! At nine years-old, I felt like I had won the lottery. Continue reading

Looking at Life: I Was Irish… for a Week


“I was satisfied I could rightfully claim the Luck of the Irish as my own.”

Few people know this, but I was once briefly Irish.  Very briefly, in fact.

With St. Patrick’s Day upon us, it’s a good time to recall how I was Irish for a week.

I was in the third grade and a Cub Scout.  Or maybe a Webelo.  Details blur with time.  Anyway, I was nine years-old, was some type of pre-Boy Scout and was tasked with investigating my family tree.

The timing was particularly good, because my family was planning a visit the coming weekend to my Richardson grandparents, who lived about 200 miles away. Continue reading