If you want to live longer, you’ll need to do so standing up

imageYou may want to stand up before reading this. That’s because, according to a recent study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, (trust me, I double checked the spelling on that) sitting actually increases your chances of premature death.

And no, I’m not talking about accidentally sitting on a rattlesnake or Christian Bale’s car hood. I’m talking about the normal, everyday kind of sitting we all do — at work, in the car, at the end of a long day, while playing basketball — that a group of Toronto researchers says increases our chance of health “issues” that can lead to death.

I’m no doctor, but even I know death is a pretty serious health issue.  Continue reading

Freedom of the Press, not freedom from responsible journalism

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Freedom of the Press: 

The right of the press to circulate information and opinion without censorship by the government.

 

 

 

 

While watching coverage of this week’s Republican National Convention, I switched between CNN, ABC, FOX-News, CBS and others. I read news articles online and in print, and watched live streaming from different sources online.

And I was struck by how one event could be seen so differently by so many news organizations — nearly all of which had a clear slant, whether for or against.

Our founding fathers made Freedom of the Press part of the Constitution’s First Amendment because, in the words of its principle author James Madison:

“We have no Facebook yet.”

And because I’m a journalist, you can trust me on that.

Continue reading

My kids know I don’t have a clue, geographically speaking

imageDuring my mini book tour to Watsonville, Calif., a few weeks ago, it became apparent that even as a 49-year-old I still have the directional sense of a standard windsock.

If not for the GPS system in the rental car, I would probably be outside of Reno looking for an on-ramp to Sacramento right now.

It’s a disorder many famous historical figures also suffered from, including Christopher Columbus, who discovered America completely by accident while looking for — if memory of sixth-grade history serves me — a faster trade route to WalMart.

I’m the kind of person who must enter and leave somewhere the same exact way in order to keep from getting lost, even if it means walking backwards out of a public facility, such as the men’s room at Safeco Field. I’ve actually had nightmares about being a contestant on The Amazing Race. In it, I am partnered with my friend David, who spent six years in the Marines and therefore still refers to distances as “clicks” — a unit of measure based on kilometers and the use of a special clicking device. Were I trying to find my way out of enemy territory, this device would be about as useful to me as, say…

A Superball.  Continue reading

Please join me for #ourweekofpeace (and I don’t mean the kids are gone)

imageIn early July, when Kendall F. Person first invited me to be a part of the annual #ourweekofpeace, I of course said “Yes” for many reasons, not the least of which was because it’s an opportunity to collaborate with other artists — writers, musicians, poets, singers and photographers — in a week-long tribute to peace in our world. Little did I know how, within just a few days of our conversation, the world would seem to come crashing down in Minnesota, Baton Rouge, Dallas and, most recently, France.

Once again, we have a reason to mourn senseless tragedy.

The importance of expressing our thoughts and the need for peace is crucial right now. I’m humbled to join artists from around the world Aug. 1-7, when The Public Blogger presents its annual Our Week of Peace collaborative, coincidentally during a time when we need it most. I hope you’ll join me, along the dozens of other artists, as each of us presents our own perspective on peace through our art. Here’s a snippet of what it’s all about…  Continue reading

Marketing genius: Here’s a chapter that’s NOT actually in my book

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Available late September, possibly sooner as an eBook. Or even SOONER if you want me to read it to you over the phone…

As some of you may know (and by “some” of you, I mean my publisher) I’ve been working on my manuscript, Pearls of Writing Wisdom: From 16 shucking years as a columnist, for the last few weeks.

I am now on the final chapter, which will be done tomorrow, depending on what time of day I decide to start drinking.

Ha! Ha! Just kidding! There’s no need to pick a time.

Anyway, this book is particularly special to me because, if you are a writer (or fear you might be one), I wrote this book for you. Think of it as the conversation we’d have about writing if we were sharing a cold beer. We’d talk about technique, style, personal experience and hopes. We’d encourage each other and share a few laughs. We might even get a little rowdy and start using air quotation marks.

In the end, we’d feel inspired about our love of writing.  Continue reading

How to survive having a teen driver

image As you may remember (I know State Farm does), it was a year ago this week that our son became the first of our kids to get his driver’s permit.

That leaves two more of our teens who will likely be entering the roadways over the next few years.

I’m really sorry about that.

For those of you who might be facing a similar situation, or who are now reconsidering having children at all, I’d like to offer this short video sharing a few tips with parents on how to survive having a teen driver. It’s less than two minutes but it could save your life.

Especially if you’re driving anywhere near our neighborhood…

My tips for celebrity men on how NOT to excite women

imageWe’ve all seen the images of crazed women grabbing at male celebrities like Ryan Gosling, Justin Bieber and Zac Efron.

We’ve watched the footage of a female fan clawing at Tim McGraw’s pant leg, causing him to shove her hand away in an attempt to avoid being dragged into a sea of crazed women.

As I write this, I silently nod my head in understanding.

Being that my job has kept me in the public eye for more than a decade, I have some advice for the country superstar when it comes to avoiding overzealous women trying to get their hands on you:

Become a humor columnist.

In the last 16 years, the closest I’ve come to having a strange woman grab at me was during a fundraiser dinner, when part of my pulled-pork sandwich went down the wrong way and a nurse in the audience gave me the Heimlich Maneuver.  Continue reading

Only embracing our common thread can keep America from unraveling

imageI generally reserve this place for humor. That’s because I believe in the power of its shared experience, and how that experience brings people together. Good humor transcends color, religion, geography, financial status or political affiliation. It’s devoid of hate and allows us to embrace a common thread woven through our humanity that we all share through laughter.

All living creatures get angry, scared, excited or worried; it’s humor that makes us human.

But there are mornings like this when being funny doesn’t feel right. The events of the past few days have spilled over from a collective cup that has been filling with a bitter brew being served during a time of unprecedented polarization within our country. We are being divided and conquered by fear — of each other, our differences, and a political landscape that inspires the worst in us instead of what defines us at our best.

And we swallow this bitter brew not because it’s what we want, but because it’s all there is.

This week’s shootings in Louisiana, Minnessota and Dallas — like Orlando — are about the kind of fear that breeds mistrust and hatred. It’s also the kind of fear that is fast becoming the oxygen within the current political atmosphere. The more of it we breathe, the more it permeates us, coursing through our life blood and into our hearts until that fear we breathe is what sustains us.  Continue reading

When your quiet morning turns into ‘Top Gun’

imageI’m not much of a flier.

And by “not much of a flier,” I mean whenever there’s the slightest bump on the plane, I start saying the Rosary and sobbing to my wife how much she has meant to me. Once we leave the runway it gets even worse. I’m just one of those people who doesn’t believe man was meant to leave the ground. To be honest, I’m not even sure about trampolines.

So the fact that the air show was in town this weekend completely slipped my mind.

At least until the fly-bys started around 7:45 a.m.

My wife and I are both early risers, so we had just settled in for a quiet morning on the patio. Just us, a lazy stretch of sun, our coffees… and a WWII fighter plane screaming over the house. For the next hour it sounded like we were under attack by a deranged fighter pilot. Possibly “chasing his father’s ghost” in an effort to be better than his old man. In the cockpit, he called upon another ghost — that of his wingman.

“Talk to me Goose.”

Don’t do it, Mav.

I suddenly realized my morning had turned into Top Gun…

 

 

Looking for some fireworks ideas? These won’t help

image Except for those living in Missouri, where the only fireworks restriction is a requirement that all skyrockets exceeding the length of a standard boat trailer be flagged during transport, most Americans have watched their Independence Day fireworks excitement dwindle from first-strike capability through the 1990s, to today’s wimpy sparklers and fountains with spark-spitting action equal to…

Ummm…

…lighting a pencil on fire?

Americans age 30 and older remember having sparklers so bright they could see them through their eyelids. The bravest kids would spin them like propellers, showering crackling embers everywhere and knowing full well their eyebrows would grow back by September. Continue reading