My Pain Today

Four miles

Fifty degrees




Muddy nature trail

20 year old, leaky, Goretex

Wrong shoes

Sore legs

George Strait

These were the things that eased my pain today.


Reflecting on the State of Now

Last Monday, I had the pleasure of participating on a panel at Jeff Pulver’s #140 conference in Des Moines. The conference, billed as State of Now, is in its second year.

The format of the conference was 40 or so presentations that each lasted no more than 10 minutes. The 10 minute time limit keeps the program moving at a crisp pace, and requires the presenters to tell a story in a clear, concise manner.

My favorite presentation happened in the afternoon. It was by Rachel Buse. Rachel told us about her passion for houses. Her site,, is a collection of houses she has found by searching online real estate sites. Houses that have one thing in common. They are interesting to Rachel.

At this point in my story, a little self-disclosure is due. You see, they also don’t really have breaks during these conferences and I had to use the restroom and missed the first couple of minutes. That’s beside the point. In the time I watched, what I saw was a level of authenticity, enthusiasm, and humor, that shattered the nervousness on the surface and drew us into the conversation.  I was looking at the site on my phone before she finished, and have been back several times since. That is exactly what was supposed to happen.

Chimes of Freedom

I’ve spent the last couple of days listening to Chimes of Freedom, The Songs of Bob Dylan.  This tribute project benefits Amnesty International as it celebrates it’s 50 year existence.  Coincidentally the amount of time Bob has been putting out great music.  I’m always intrigued by projects like these, but this one has held my attention since it was first announced.  Not only the tracklist, but also the artists involved caught my eye.  The compilation includes 76 tracks by 80 artists.

My first thoughts as I started to listen and look at the track listing was that this was a great way to pull a new group of people into Dylan’s music.  I recently heard my 17 year old son talking about the band Silversun Pickups and how they were one of his new favorites.  When I saw that they covered Not Dark Yet on this album, I immediately gifted the album to him on iTunes.  But then something funny happened.  I listened to the track and it blew me away.  A beautiful, haunting rendition of a song that is intended to be haunting.  I became an instant fan of this band that my son likes.  See how that works, the album pulls people both directions.was announced.  Primarily due to the size of the collection and the artists represented in the work. This collection is huge.  76 songs and 80 artists.  All for under 20 bucks.

There were other big surprises as well.  Blake Mills, who has primarily been a studio session guitarist, is incredible on Heart of Mine.  I’m doubly happy that this track made the list.  One of my favorite songs from Shot of Love.  I didn’t even think anyone listened to Shot of Love but me.  Jennifer Nettles from Sugarland also blew me away with Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You.  Not only does she break away from her country tendencies, but this has an R&B feel reminiscent of Motown in it’s prime.  Finally, I really liked Flogging Molly’s take on The Times They are a Changin’.

In the “true to form” category, I liked Joan Baez on Seven Curses, and Boots of Spanish Leather by The Airborne Toxic Event.  Carly Simon also does a great job with Just Like a Woman.  Just Carly and the piano.  Simple and pure.

There are a few disappointments for me, as well.  I’m not going to say any of the songs is bad.  They are all great in their own right and genre.  Some don’t appeal to my taste, but I know they speak to the fans of that type of music.  My disappointments are around what’s not on the album.  No Bruce Springsteen.  Any album is better if Bruce is involved and he has been known to contribute to this type of project.  No Waifs.  I was introduced to the Waifs when they traveled with Bob a few years ago.  They started as a Dylan cover band and would have done a nice job with any song from the catalog.

Finally, there are the gems of the album.  At the end of nearly 4 hours of listening, you hit the gold mine.  Second to last track is 93 year old Pete Seeger with a chorus of children singing Forever Young.  Followed by Bob himself, with the title track.

Go get it right now!



The Tablart Cy

In September I went to visit my friends Kitty and Cuddy at their home in beautiful Rhinebeck, NY.  It was my first time to that part of New York and the weekend was packed with activity.  College football games, a benefit concert at the Bearsville Theater, and a trip to baseball’s Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

When I “checked in” at Kitty and Cuddy’s house, there was a gift bag waiting for me in my room.  Inside the bag, there were souvenir programs from Iowa State football games, basketball games, and the 1969 Drake Relays.  The note that accompanied the items said that they had belonged to Kitty’s brother.  I was struck by two powerful thoughts as I sat in the room and looked through my new treasure.  1.  I think I would have liked Dan as much as I like Kitty.  2.  Kitty already knew who I was and what made me tick before I ever set foot in their home.

Almost lost in the stack of programs was the gem of the bag.  A Tablart Correspondence Tablet, featuring Cy.  This instantly took me to my grandmother’s house.  There are always things about grandparents that really stick in your memory bank.  I remember a particular radio in her house that was always tuned to WMT while she cleaned or cooked.  I also remember these Tablart tablets.  There was a China hutch that sat in the dining room and if you needed something to draw on, or to make a list of important things to remember, you would open the long drawer just below the glass doors.  Here, you would find these notepads, and a wooden box that used to hold salt cod, but now was home to an assortment of pens and pencils.

According to my research, the Baker Paper Company in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, trademarked the Tablart name in 1954.  That trademark was renewed for 20 years in 1974.  That trademark is now expired and it appears that the Baker Paper Company has suffered the same fate.  This particular pad cost 49 cents when it was purchased.  I think that puts it in the late 60’s to early 70’s range.  When it came home from the Ben Franklin, or wherever it was purchased, it had 50 pages in it.

My Correspondence Tablet has 21 pages remaining between the covers.  I’ve spent a little time thinking about where those other 29 pages went.  Was Dan a letter writer?  Doodles? Diagrams of football plays?  More importantly was this important question.  What will happen to the 21 pages that are still attached?  And then it hit me.  The programs in that bag were great, and they are going to be used in my home.  But this little tablet needs to be used as it was intended.  To correspond with people.

So, here it is.  If, at some point during 2012, you open your mailbox or find an envelope on your desk and there is a note from me on a sheet of paper that has Cy in the upper left hand corner, you will know in an instant that you mean something special to me.  It’s the best way I can think of to share the treasure with others.

Looking Back and Looking Ahead

I’m not really a new year’s resolution type of person, but a good friend passed a link to me that had Woody Guthrie’s list from 1942.  I loved the list as much as I have always admired the man who wrote them.

The whole thing got me to thinking about 2011.  What the year meant to me, and what the new year will bring.  I waited a couple of weeks, just to make sure we were clear of the last year, but here are my thoughts.  My year can be summed up in one word, turmoil.  The year started with so much promise, but quickly turned into one of the most challenging I’ve had in a long while.  I had relationships that changed.  I had people who left my day-to-day life.  In both of those cases, some of the changes were hopefully temporary, and unfortunately, some were permanent.

In hindsight, it wasn’t all bad either.  There were good things that happened.  I was able to reconnect with some old friends I hadn’t seen in a very long time.  I made new friends who were strangers one day, and dear friends the next.  One of our businesses was selected as the third fastest growing company in the corridor for 2010, and I started another business with a close friend.  I’m most proud and happy about that endeavor, because it brings so much joy to the people who use it.

So, looking forward, this is my list of things that I don’t resolve to do, but will try my best to focus on in 2012.

  • Continue to look for and find the good in people
  • Keep working on me.  Mentally, physically, and soulfully.
  • Avoid ATM fees
  • Read
  • Write
  • Stop, be still, and listen to what the world is telling me from time to time
  • Be a better friend, partner, co-worker, and family member
  • Eat my vegetables
  • And to steal from Woody, Keep the hoping machine running!




I often sit and wonder why,

the stars are put up in the sky.

But then I think of a sky without,

and wonder what people would wonder about.

A Visit to West Point

Last weekend I had the opportunity to visit the United States Military Academy at West Point.  The purpose of the trip was a football game.  Army was playing Northwestern.  It was my second trip to West Point.  The first time I was there to see Army play Iowa State, and the game had significance for me.  This trip, the game was secondary.  I was interested in taking in the pageantry.

Prior to the game, while eating lunch before entering the stadium, we had the opportunity to spend a few minutes with one of the cadets.  There was a young man, who was in the same uniform that most cadets were wearing.  Grey slacks, white shirt, and white cap.  This cadet, however, had a purple sash over his belt, and we were curious as to what that meant, so we stopped him to ask.  In a world where we’ve grown accustomed to teenagers and young adults who will ignore you, or give terse answers to questions, this young man stopped to visit with us for a few minutes.  The purple sash indicated that he was a senior.  He was from near Leavenworth, KS.  We learned about his plans when he finished the academy and where he hoped to be stationed.

For me it was a refreshing change.  The night before, we had been at a football game at the University of Connecticut and the unruly fans dampened my spirits somewhat.  After meeting this young man on Saturday, I felt good again.