Yes, I Was Wearing Pants

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I admit it. I’ve been itching to write this column for more than two months. But other things needed to be said first.

There’s a time to be serious. There’s a time to be funny. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, much like the sudden nature of the coronavirus crisis, everything shut down abruptly. Serious people took over doing serious things. It offered a calming confidence.

Then, one day – one night actually – the time for non-stop seriousness ended. On Saturday night, September 29, 2001, nearly three weeks after the September 11th terrorist attacks, Reese Witherspoon stepped onto the stage at NBC Studios in New York City’s GE Building for the airing of the season’s first episode of Saturday Night Live.

Only she wasn’t the first one on the stage. In lieu of the standard cold opening, Mayor Rudy Giuliani appears on stage with members of the New York City Fire Department, the New York City Police Department, and the Port Authority Police Department. In a quiet and Continue Reading “Yes, I Was Wearing Pants”

No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail

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Do you know the same tactic used by Democrat candidates to oust several long-time Republican Congressmen in 2018 was also used successfully by a North Carolina Republican to win his congressional election that same year?

It’s called “ballot harvesting” or “ballot collecting.” In a nutshell, it allows campaigns to organize staff who then gather mail-in ballots from legitimate voters and submit them on behalf of those voters.

Sounds efficient, right?

It is. Both for the voter and for the campaign.

The voter avoids the long lines on election day. The campaign gets to target constituencies more likely to vote for their candidate. In effect, it cuts out the “O” in GOTV (“Get Out The Vote”) strategies by transforming it simply to a GTV (“Get The Vote”) effort.

Here’s the odd thing, though. Ballot harvesting (or collecting) is legal in some states (like California) and illegal in other states (like North Carolina).

The winning California Democrats went on to serve in Congress. The winning Republican’s election was invalidated and he opted against running in the subsequent election re-do. All used some form of ballot harvesting/collecting to gain their electoral victories.

The inequity of this treatment has caused quite a debate. While it may seem like a partisan Continue Reading “No, Freedom Doesn’t Come In The Mail”

To The Class of 2020

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You live in strange times.

You dream of greatness, of achievement, of success. Others have captured their dreams. You’re no different from them. You can earn your desires. You either have a plan or you know you can make a plan, by yourself or through the aid of helpful allies.

But now, at this very moment, your life has been disturbed, uprooted by forces you cannot control. Your carefully crafted plans, your jubilant expectations, your equitable share, all have been stripped from you. Together, they represent a loss you can never regain.

You are not alone.

Why do bad things happen to good people? This is a question long asked by theologians, pondered by philosophers, and analyzed by psychiatrists. Yet, for all the mental, physical, Continue Reading “To The Class of 2020”

You’ll Turn to Stone Once You Realize Your Sales Pitch Inadvertently Contains this Common Mistake

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You’re always selling. You may not consider it as “selling,” but you’re always trying to convince someone to do something.

It doesn’t have to be about trying to get someone to buy something from you or your company. It could be anything. Maybe it’s what to have for dinner. Maybe it’s what movie to watch? Maybe it’s swaying your boss to give you a raise.

Do you find your pitch is less persuasive than you hoped for? You could be making a common mistake without knowing it. What is that common mistake and how can you avoid it? Perhaps we should start with a metaphor.

Have you ever been to the Petrified Forest?

No, I’m not referring to the 1936 movie The Petrified Forest, starring Leslie Howard and Bette Davis, which also featured Humphrey Bogart when he was still cutting his chops playing the villain. Such was Bogey’s performance on the undercard that the American Film Continue Reading “You’ll Turn to Stone Once You Realize Your Sales Pitch Inadvertently Contains this Common Mistake”

A Bothersome Burden Has Just Been Lifted From My Shoulders, Did You Just Get the Same Feeling?

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A terrible bothersome burden has just been removed from my shoulders. Did you just get the same feeling?

The last time I felt this weighed down was, well, maybe a half century ago. For those of you who think “half century ago” must refer to ancient times, do the math. I’m talking about the late 1960s and early 1970s.

It’s a very uncomfortable feeling. It’s a drag. And I don’t mean “drag” in the sense that was used in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but “drag” in the sense of physics, specifically as engineers use it in automotive design and aeronautics. It a gnawing downward pressure that prevents you from moving faster or soaring higher.

Like so many others, I am free of that burden now. I didn’t do it alone. I have Hal to thank. Continue Reading “A Bothersome Burden Has Just Been Lifted From My Shoulders, Did You Just Get the Same Feeling?”

Home, Sweet Home: The Joy of Our Return to Space

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I sat fixed in front of what seemed a massive TV screen, my eyes glued to the shreds of white steam shooting from the rocket’s body.

My own body remained tense. “Would the mission be scrubbed at that last minute?” “Would there be an in-flight ‘anomaly’?” “Is there any Tang left?”

What year is it?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

1968? It was a terribly bad year.

1969? It was a joyful year of ascending achievement.

Today? Well that’s an interesting idea.

Let’s return to the beginning. If you’re a member of the “space age” generation (like me), you’ll enjoy (and reflect) on this brief trip down memory lane. If you’re too young to remember the 1960s, you’ll appreciate the eerie similarities that might have you question Continue Reading “Home, Sweet Home: The Joy of Our Return to Space”

The Torch Is Passed

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Like a bright beacon, Jack Leckie stood as a steady torch light, forever illuminating our lives, our community, our very essence. In his remarkably demur way, he reminded us of where we came from, why it was important to embrace that past, and how those previous travels help guide our future.

I was the new kid on the block when I first met Jack. Literally. I had just moved to Mendon (well, technically, it was a permanent return after an earlier short residence at my parents’ new home). I was also a “kid.” I was only 26 years old when I moved into my home.

You get the picture. Definitely the new kid on the block.

So you could understand why I might have been nervous when, shortly after moving in, Jack invited me to his home on Boughton Hill Road. Imagine my thoughts. There was me – a newbie – and Jack – the Town Supervisor.

I was in awe. I was unworthy. I was a mere peon of youth compared to this big man of Continue Reading “The Torch Is Passed”

Ready. Fire! Aim.

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Ask any entrepreneurial wannabe what’s holding them back and they’ll say, “I’m just not sure if I have everything I need.”

Ask any successful entrepreneur to name the key to their success and they’ll say, “Moving forward without having everything I needed.”

There are two immutable laws when it comes to starting a business or any new venture. The first neatly packages a box for comfortable perfection. The second… well, let’s talk about the first law first.

The First Immutable Law of Every Successful Entrepreneur: “Never proceed without a Continue Reading “Ready. Fire! Aim.”

Are You a Consumer or a Creator?

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Truth be told, you’re both. We’re all both. And that’s a good thing. It’s called “comparative advantage.” It’s what makes the world go ‘round.

But that’s not why I ask the question. Whether you’re disposed to behave like a consumer or like a creator certainly depends on the specific situation.

Here’s the important question: Do you more often find yourself in situations where you’re more comfortable taking the role of consumer or of creator? And how might this impact the depth of your overall happiness?

Here’s the twist. It’s why you really need to know the response to this question. If you own a business, if you operate a business, if you work in a business, this answer does Continue Reading “Are You a Consumer or a Creator?”

This True Story Reveals The Meeting That Gave THE SENTINEL Its Name and Why It Got That Name

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Yes, you’ve heard part of this story. In fact, you probably think you know this story. Or, do you only think you know this story?

Bits and pieces have appeared throughout the years. Some of these have been true, others mere rumors meant to delight and excite the mind of the reader.

But this – this column – will for the first time reveal what really happened that dark winter night in January of 1989. Here it is, for the first time ever told by the one who was there at that meeting.

First, here’s the part that’s true. You already know this part. Or you may not. Here it is.

The Honeoye Falls Weekly Times began publishing during the era of hometown newspapers in 1882. “Independently Devoted to the Best Interests of Honeoye Falls and Vicinity” and running a dense seven columns over four pages, it was published and edited by William O’Brien and Wilson A. Gillette.

The fledging media entrepreneurs admitted in their inaugural op-ed (Thursday, August 31, 1882): “This is the first number of the Honeoye Falls Weekly Times. As to whether it is a readable paper for a first issue, remains for our readers to decide.”

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle offered a less than charitable opinion of the effort. Its edition of Friday, September 8, 1882 bluntly stated: “Honeoye Falls has four newspapers Continue Reading “This True Story Reveals The Meeting That Gave THE SENTINEL Its Name and Why It Got That Name”