Through the magic of social media, I got connected to an old friend from my high school days this week. She is a middle school English teacher in Jasper, Indiana and has been living there for nearly thirty years. Jasper is a small town not far from Vincennes, another small town where my friend and I lived during our illustrious high school careers. People from Jasper love their famously German town. My friend wrote in our exchange that she “couldn't see life anyplace else.” That's quite an endorsement of a small town these days, yet familiar sounding to me from others ...

“The oath of office I take today is an oath of allegiance to all Americans.” This was the most important thing President Trump said on Friday. And it might be the most ambitious as well. That is if he means it literally. The day after the inauguration, women’s marches, rallies and protests went on all over the world. But the ones that went on here are obviously the ones that matter most. These people are President Trump’s new constituents. Few of them voted for him, but that is irrelevant now. Public service is a funny thing. Like it or not, there are those ...

I spent a good part of my youth in a small town in southwest Virginia. And in my neighborhood, many families had dogs, and virtually none of us had fences. So all of the kids grew up with each other's pets. In many ways, the dogs belonged to all of us. It was a sad day when “Bengal” got hit by a car. He technically wasn't my dog, but my yard was part of his chase path whenever someone was driving through. As a grown up, I know that these tragedies happen to dogs who can't stop chasing cars. For a ...

A horrible thing happened in Chicago last week. Many of us saw the video of four young African American people terrorizing a young, white and disabled man. We saw it because these criminals broadcasted it on Facebook Live in real time. They were texting the victim’s family during the assault. It is one of the more disturbing things I have seen. It was a bias crime. What makes it a bias crime is not just that the perpetrators in the incident were of a different race than the victim. It's not just because the victim has a developmental disability. And finally it ...

A new year is upon us. Yawn. Each year, for the last twenty of them at least, has started with the busiest stretch in my work year. Accountants have tax season. Teachers have “back to school.” Lobbyists and legislators have “sessions.” In Indiana, legislative sessions start in January. So here’s to the new year! I am not nostalgic about the new year. I generally sleep through midnight, and if I don't, I'm generally mad about it. However, I do like thinking about making changes. So resolutions fascinate me. I don't make them in conjunction with the calendar, but I love watching others ...

My wife and I are empty nesters. Of all the things I have ever been, this might be the one I love the most.  I highly recommend it. For the first time, I celebrated the holiday season in one of my favorite places, though it's not a place many midwesterners see as synonymous with Christmas. We went on a trip to Marco Island, a quiet little place south of Naples, Florida. My family has been there several times for Thanksgiving, all when my two boys were younger. On this trip, both of my boys came down for a few days as our ...

From the recently wounded Great Smoky Mountains National Park to the storied grounds of Donald Ross’ golf architectural masterpiece at Pinehurst, North Carolina is undoubtedly a special place. And the people, oh the people. From the sister I love who made it her home, to my niece who proudly attends the sinister University of North Carolina, I know there are good people there. The great James Taylor wrote “Carolina In My Mind” and still calls Chapel Hill home, so who am I to judge? Well that's what I do here. Carolina has me worried. I worry for those from there, but also for ...

While having lunch with my wife this weekend I said to her, “I have had a terrible week. It seems like someone has disappointed me every day of it.” She says to me, “sometimes you need to lower your expectations.” She is so right. Although, I think I will substitute the word “lower” in her advice with “change.” I am very excited about a new book by one of my favorite authors whose work I have never read. Huh? Michael Lewis has just released “The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds.” It is a story about two psychologists who started their ...

The Latin phrase literally means “something for something.” The phrase is used broadly these days, but has dramatically different connotations almost every time. In politics, it is usually used with a negative tone, but in business contracts, it is a simple defining characteristic of a negotiated transaction. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a common area where the term is used—which more aptly describes an exchange made under obvious duress. I have found over the years when some deal that has been struck gets labeled a “quid pro quo,” it usually means some party to the deal got the short end ...

Rock and roll will see us through this rough patch we have had. It's the kind of purpose music serves after all: to calm, to comfort, and to inspire those who need it. My wife and I got to see one of our favorite performers a couple of weeks ago.  Amos Lee treated the people at the Murat Theater to a typical show featuring his distinctive vocals and his trademark subject matter of relationships.  He sings about relationships to people and places. He sings about symbolic and otherwise insignificant objects from time to time and then rips into rockers about his ...