What will it take for someone to invite me to give a commencement speech? Commencement speeches are the best. I make a valiant effort to impart life’s wisdom on the public in this column each week. Surely after years of my toiling, there is a school out there that can use my kind of inspiration. I fear that by the time I get that elusive invite, I will have run out of useful things to say. This week's column is being written on location in Oregon. I am here for my niece’s college graduation. She obviously doesn't need a special occasion to ...

I finished a series of projects this week, as did a number of my friends. We all work in the Indiana Statehouse in varying roles, and the legislative session just concluded. The Statehouse is a unique place during the session, especially at the end. The interested parties in negotiations for the final versions of legislation can often make the rooms crowded. They include legislators, lobbyists, advocates, agencies, media, and occasionally even a member of the public or two. It is important to note that every single person in these crowded rooms defines success differently. I believe this means that the winners are ...

Oh Me! Oh Life! is one of Walt Whitman’s classic poems about one of life’s most commonly recurring questions: why are we here? Public officials often ask themselves this question in a more limited scope, and often out of exhaustion or frustration. Public service can be a draining experience and is not always as rewarding as the servants often wish. An accomplishment in public service that can be labeled a “legacy” however, usually makes the service worthwhile. Legacies are historic. They matter. They proudly answer Whitman’s question and often with eternal tones. My wife and I were in California last month and were ...

Who among us does not have some experience, in some way, with addiction? For the few Americans who can raise their hand to that question, my best advice is to count your blessings today and to not bet on that winning streak continuing tomorrow. I bought an important book last year, then actively avoided reading it. I didn't want to read it. I knew the ending already and I knew it was sad. But much like life, the journey itself is what makes this book remarkable. Dreamland is a book written by journalist and award winning author, Sam Quinones. If any story ...

It's the beginning of Spring. It's a golfer’s New Year. It's Masters week. As we end one of our nation’s most popular and prestigious sporting events with the Final Four, we begin another one that also is “a tradition like no other.” The Masters is a strange event. And Augusta National Golf Club is a strange place. The list of stories connected to them seems infinite. Like anyone raised as a golfer, by a golfer, I have a few of my own. My dad loved The Masters like no other sporting event. He was an athlete as a young man, a four sport ...

During WWII, Winston Churchill was asked to cut funding for the arts. He replied, “then what are we fighting for?” Our president has proposed his first budget that features many things worthy of attack. In fact, his first proposed budget almost seems like a wartime suggestion in that it invests only in military and homeland security related items while cutting or eliminating everything else. If we didn't know better, the interpretation of this budget could be that Trump has no constituency at all. He could not have successfully campaigned on this proposal in a rational America. But there I go again, thinking ...

This column is not about cats. I promise you. I will never write a column about cats. I am a dog person. However, I am fascinated with the old saying: “curiosity killed the cat.” I can recall my grandma saying those words to me long ago. Judging by our cat population, either cats aren't curious, or grandma was just wrong. As a grown up, I have found that my general curiosity about things is my greatest source of fuel. It motivates me to learn and understand things. Conquering my own confusion or ignorance is soothing. And it is also a path that ...

I didn't know AOL was still in business. If I got an email from someone  with an AOL account, I intuitively would delete it because I would assume it is a virus, a scam, or some version of bad news. This is just smart email caution on my part. But it turns out Mike and Karen Pence are AOL customers. Even after then-Gov. Pence had his AOL account hacked last June, the Pence's just deleted their accounts and opened two new ones. That's serious brand loyalty to a brand that is now the equivalent of the flip phone. "You've Got Mail" is a ...

Last Thursday was surreal. After several last ditch efforts to convince the Indiana Senate that it should debate and vote on the issue of bias, or hate crimes, I was forced to accept that it isn't going to happen. Not this year. Maybe not ever. Nationally, the number of hate crimes is skyrocketing. Even Vice President Pence made a surprise visit to a historic Jewish cemetery in Missouri to condemn the recent vandalism that had occurred there. Meanwhile, his home state of Indiana is one of only five states left in America that is silent on the issue. But if Pence ...

For the first time here, I am agreeing with Donald Trump. Let that sink in for a moment. A few days ago, our president used a couple of words to describe retail giant Nordstrom that seemed a little awkward. He claimed the chain had treated his daughter Ivanka “unfairly” and that it was “terrible.” And the store had not just behaved in a standard unfairly manner, but “so unfairly,” which is several layers worse of course. Now this may come as a surprise to some of you, but I am no expert on department stores. Given my lack of sophistication on matters ...