Spring - A New Beginning

The weatherman says it's a balmy 56 degrees outside today. The sun is shining, and I hear tell there's a nice breeze blowing outside. (I knew I should have gone out for lunch.)

Today is also Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent.

I'm struck then by the dichotomy of these two thoughts...

On one hand, it's a beautiful day to enjoy, even relish; to stay outside as long as possible, to take a walk or roll down the window and let the wind blow back your hair as you drive. (Anybody else hear the Boss as they read that line?)

I know 56 isn't all that warm, but who can deny the magic of sunshine?

On the other hand for many today is a day of sacrifice, a day of fasting and remembering the solemnity of the Lenten season in preparation for the joy of Easter.

Discussions today center around what folks are giving up for Lent, or how they might survive forty days without eating meat on Fridays, or even for dinner tonight.

The joy? The sacrifice?

Folks I pick joy!

REALLY Jimmer?!? We thought you were a good Catholic kid?!?!

Yes, really.

I don't think about what I might sacrifice for Lent. I'm not very good at it, and I don't think God wants me to promise and fail.

Oh, the many times I have failed.

I remember once as a kid my friends and I were all going to give up swearing. On the way into church on Ash Wednesday we all spewed out every string of vile curse words one might imagine. The doors closed and we all vowed that was it. We wouldn't swear again for at least the next 40 days.

Guess how long that lasted?

One year I gave up Coca Cola which at the time was a HUGE sacrifice for me. Know what?

It's just as easy to get addicted to Welsh's Grape Soda, which includes some pretty interesting side effects as most of the Moms in the crowd can probably attest.

-Eew, did I really just write that? Hee hee =)

I've had a few successes over the years, but the reality is that most of my stories of Lenten sacrifice end at about 7 days max, sometimes sooner...

Still, I am a good Catholic kid, or at least, (I hope) someone with God in the right place in his heart so I like to try to do something each year.

What I do think about for Lent is how I might change, i.e. what can I do better... and today is a day of spring board for change

With the emphasis on Spring. With the emphasis on Joy!

So then, what to do?

The last two years I've worked harder and harder on True Intent which I've talked about before.

This year though, I've got something else in mind.

*Note* This is where it gets personal today.

This may or may not surprise a few folks in the crowd, but I have a secret.

I haven't been to church in over a year. (What?! Guffaw?!?! Gasp!?!?! or "I knew that.")

It's true. For a number of reasons I'm not going to get into today I haven't been. Some of the reasons are good. Some of the reasons are not so good. Some of the reasons are, well they're just bad.

Now before you get concerned that I'm turning the blog into my bully pulpit, let me reassure you - that is not my usual style. I'm just here to share. I don't often preach. (Did you think I would say I never preach?)

So, I'm sharing that I'll be making every effort to get myself back to the Lord's house this year.

None of my reasons were about Him anyway. He knows that because I still talk to Him all the time.

So today, as I look around, feel the sunshine on my face and the wind in my hair, I'll have a good feeling inside, and I'll enjoy the day and all it brings, all that is to come.

I hope you enjoy it too.

I think He knew just what He was doing when He created today.

What do you think?

The Questionnaire

Well it has been some kinda 10 days or so. I've been fighting a cold that, well that just about won the battle it seemed at times. Coupling my allergy issues with this past Thursday's stormfront I was in bed that day until after 4:00 p.m. Even for me, that is well past sleeping in.

I'm still working on posts about the yellow highlighter shirt, the guru tag, and as always, I have a few other thoughts and ideas so please do stay tuned for those.

Today though - Well today, I'm going to riff off my Twitter colleague Tim Scott , and answer 10 questions I've always wanted to answer.

For the record, I love Inside the Actor's Studio. I think James Lipton asks remarkably insightful questions of some of the greatest stars of theatre and screen. The show is always informative, often revealing and usually quite moving.

I've often thought about how I might answer the list of questions asked of each guest toward the end of the show. They were originated, and / or inspired by French television personality Bernard Pivot.

So since the Oscars are on as I type this - why not put on my actor hat, and give it a try. I'm not tagging anybody for this meme of sorts, but I would love to read your answers should you decide to tackle the exercise. Please give me a heads up if you do.

Okay - here goes...

1. What is your favorite word?

Ponder. As a WOTD provider my list of favorite words is very long. Still this is my very favorite, both because as the Good Lord knows I've done enough of it in my day, and also because my oldest daughter and I have a running gag with this word. For you K. PONDAH!!!!!!!!!

2. What is your least favorite word?

Turd. Jerk runs a close second, but the word turd just sounds vile and disgusting and for me sounds even worse than that which it is supposed to describe.

3. What turns you on?

Heh, heh, How would I answer this? Okay seriously...Passion. I love people who care. No matter what it is, no matter what you do, if you are passionate about it, I respect that and you.

4. What turns you off?

Entitlement. You respect your elders because they are your elders. You do what you're told when you're told because you were told. You earn the right to make decisions for yourself and you earn the respect of others. Nothing is yours just because you think it should be. If you're not willing to earn it for yourself; unless I'm getting paid - I don't have time for you.

5. What is your favorite curse word?

What me? I don't swear. Well okay, yeah I FUCK(ing) do. This word works well in so many situations. It is always an attention getter. There have been times when I said this word and actually made myself pause and reconsider my actions. For someone who works on impulse and wears their heart on their sleeve like I do, having anything make me pause - especially a powerful word I said myself... Well it's kinda remarkable. I owe a lot to the word Fuck. That said -

Kids, swearing is bad. Say dang, or peanut butter or something more constructive.

6. What sound or noise do you love?

All my Lady's Laughing. Listening to the women in my house laugh, guffaw, giggle, and in general crack-up makes me smile my widest smile. As Tim says in his post, if I caused the laughter, even doing something ridiculous and /or embarrassing myself - well then all the better.

7. What sound or noise do you hate?

Children crying, especially if their parents are inattentive. No matter the time, no matter the reason, I think there is almost always something a parent can do to help to calm or quiet a crying child.

8. What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

Writer. There's actually a number of answers for me to this question because I'm very often not sure what my current profession in and of itself entails. But, I'm already a teacher in one sense, and I've done my share of coaching and training, so I'd have to say writer. I'd like to have taken more time to hone that craft and really tried to make a living doing something I love. All that being said - if the Red Wings or Blue Jackets call I'll have my skates on in a heartbeat.

9. What profession would you not like to attempt?

Social Worker. I cannot imagine any job being more thankless, more hopeless, and lower paying than this. True, there are success stories, but it seems like they are all too often few and far between. That kind of defeat on a daily basis just isn't for me. Don't get me wrong, I admire the hell out of those folks. I just don't think I could do what they do.

10. If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?

Michael J. Fox had the best answer to this question I've ever heard. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially he said: "I hope God says Welcome, your Dad's waiting for you with a beer at the bar. There's a hockey game on, and he'd love to talk to you." My Dad is still with us, so I guess my answer goes something like this.

I hope God says: "Welcome Jimmer. You've done the best you could, and made a difference. I am proud. There's a game, (any game) on the t.v. and an ice cold beer on the bar. Your family and friends who have preceded you through those gates can't wait to see you and welcome you home."

20 Years Together. I Love You Netter

Today, I celebrate 20 years together with the woman I love, my wonderful wife Annette.

She won't let me send her flowers or give her a gift, but I wanted to do something. So, I'd like to share this song I wrote with a friend who performed it at our wedding. We will be married 19 years in June. (If I can ever figure out how to change the format for our videos I'll post the actual performance.)

What I see in your eyes
Is something you can't disguise
It's what makes a sweet lullaby so real

It's how you feel
The day I met you
I knew I could never forget you
I knew I could never let you... get away

Each passing day
Our love grows stronger

It's how I feel
So very real

For you will always
Steal my heart.

I love you Netter.

I Don't Want a Million Dollars

One of the tasks I have had to add to my list this week is wading through my Twitter followers and get rid of the "get rich quick guys."

I don't know how I picked them up, but the wealth system builders are hot on my heels.

Unfortunately, even if you don't use Twitter yourself you know who the "get rich quick guys" are, especially if you've ever watched any late night t.v.

"Use my proven system," the sales pitch goes, "and you too could make millions in months." Blah, blah, blah, yap, yap, yap.


Now, I'm not saying there aren't some ways that are quicker than others to garnering wealth. I am saying for the most part, folks get what they deserve and they get it through good old-fashioned hard work.

Besides - I don't want a million dollars.


You can't be serious Jimmer?

I am. I'll tell you why.

1. A million dollars doesn't go nearly as far as it used to.

B. I just believe it's better to have enough rather than too much.

III. I really don't mind life lessons, and working hard.

Here's what I do want though - I'd like to have about $75,000 after taxes.

This would make up for most of the financial mistakes I have made over the years, or at the very least allow me to start fixing some of my screw-ups.

There is so much you never learn about money until you're an adult. Oh sure, in 7th grade we practiced managing a "checkbook." This is not quite the same when you're handling real money now is it?

How do you know things like: How much life insurance do I need? - How much do I need for retirement? - How much should I really save?

How long will it really take me to pay off that those credit card(s)?

What does it really mean to take out a second mortgage?

Etc... and so on.

Most kids get their first jobs and boom, that money is gone almost as quickly as it gets in their hands.

Even my most fiscally responsible friend, one who has worked his entire life to have all the things that he has and the life that he wants, would be remiss if he didn't share the story of how he showed up at my house shortly after he got his first job, wanting me to check out his "sweet ride."

And the money just goes - Poof!

Now most folks rein themselves in in one way or another. Some do better than others. Some go broke. Some get rich. I get that. It's called life. It's called learning. That's cool.

I'd just like to have a chance to truly apply the "If I knew then what I know now" mentality and see how it might work out.

I know. Nothing but a dreamer...

Still - that conversation we all have whenever the lotto gets big and we sit around thinking, "What would I do if I had a million or millions of dollars...?"

Yeah, I don't know how to handle that.

My needs are a whole lot less.

I don't want a million dollars.

Do you?

Deadlinez I needz 'em Howz 'bout youz?

Currently I find myself with a little tiny to-do list that looks exactly like the little tiny to-do list I had last week, and the week before that, and the week before that.

Why - you may ask?

Well, nothing is due. No deadlines. Nada, zip, zilch, zero...

For me this is a huge road block to being productive.

I'm not happy about it, and I'm trying to find a way to fix it.

I've tried a couple of experiments, most recently in the fall.

I told myself that I was not going to play hockey in the fall session until I had gotten some things done in my life, put some things in order so to speak.

As much as I love the game I had to get my house in order as they say. Some things are just more important.

(I guess this is the all cliche all the time blog post. Wow!)

Talk about motivation. I got a whole bunch done, and only missed the first month or so of the season.

I don't have that this session. I pre-determined in December that we were saving the money and I was not playing. Of course then I "found" the money and now I have the itch to play, but I'm waffling for a number of reasons on whether or not I should do that...

Sorry - that's a whole other discussion.

Back to the to-do list and the deadlines.

In school I was always the kid who waited until the last minute. I know we think all kids do that, but I even continued the habit through to college - as an adult. (I was 32 when I graduated.)

Pitiful I know, but I feel like I do my best work up against a deadline.

I'm currently trying to find a way to set some deadlines for myself so I can move on from the "tiny do do list."

I'm wondering if you might help? How do you set deadlines. How do you avoid procrastination?

What drives you?


I had to do it. I had to go. The dreaded place. The one place in the world none of us would want to go. It's dark there. It smells funny. It's hot. It's cramped. They are rude to you. They are mean to you. They make you follow rules that are...well they just seem arbitrary.

You know where I'm talking about... Anyone over the age of 16 knows exactly where I'm talking about.

Today I went to:






I know right?

It couldn't be avoided. We need to get a title, registration, plates and such for our new (to us) van.

So this morning, I dropped my lovely wife off at work and went to visit our friends at the BMV. It was 8:40 a.m. For me, on my day off, I call that "o'dark thirty."

I was ready though, I had some Starbucks. I took my iPod. I had my cell phone to text or maybe even tweet.

My first sign of trouble came when I started to walk from my truck to the building. In HUGE RED LETTERS across the front window: "No Food or Drink."

Sigh! Okay, coffee goes back into the truck. I'm pondering the question of why you can eat or drink at the library where there are hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of computers and books, but you can do neither at the BMV where you might spill on ... on... What? The floor? The line divider? Maybe the hard wooden bench or card table chairs they have for some to sit on?

Walking in the door, I noted that the line didn't seem very long. Wow! That's different. Okay, let me just check my cell - Oh, look at that big sign. NO CELLPHONE USE WHATSOEVER - Okay, never mind.

Not even gonna risk the iPod with the short line.

Shortly it was my turn. "Next" came the shout from "Corky." Now, I'm not judging, but "Corky" is your baseball coach, or your bartender. Do you really expect Corky to be the lady behind the counter at the BMV?

"Hi," I said, "I bought a van and I need to get a title, plates, the whole nine yards."

"We don't do titles here," Corky explained. "To get a title you have to go to 1970 Broad Street, where they do titles. Unless you want us to do it, but it won't be ready for two weeks." Corky then handed me directions to 1970 Broad Street.

I couldn't help but wonder how it could take two weeks to get my title from 1970 Broad Street to where we were in Hilliard. Is that a covered wagon trip? Bicycle courier with a lot of breaks in between? Pony Express?

"I can wait," I said which led to this little exchange.

Corky: Do you have plates?

Jim: We have plates.

Corky: From another car?

Jim: No, there are plates on the car from our friends who sold us the van.

Corky: Those are no good as soon as you buy the vehicle. We can sell you a temporary tag while you wait for your title though.

Jim: How much is a temporary tag? (All the while considering gas costs for the obviously long trip to 1970 Broad Street.)

Corky: $10.50.

Jim: Okay, what do we do next?

Corky set about entering whatever she needed to enter in her "not visible to me" computer? I'm guessing.

A young man came to the counter to be helped by the lady next to me. He was playing football at Ohio State he explained (I didn't recognize him. He'll probably win a Heisman or something) and he needed to get his license switched from Florida to Ohio. The woman at the counter told him that he would need his social security card. "Where is your social security card?" She asked. "Um, in Florida." Poor kid, bet he had to go to 1970 Broad Street too. I didn't hear the rest of the transaction clearly.

Another young man approached. (Corky was taking her time.) "I need to get my i.d." he said handing what looked like a photocopied birth record of some sort to the lady. "OH," she said, "this is a photocopy." She then went on a long rant about how it was obviously a photocopy from a scrapbook, and she really wasn't concerned about how it was all the young man had and all his mother had to give him, and NO she could not accept that. She could see notebook marks on it even.


"What color is the vehicle?" (Corky was ready for me again.)

"Champagne," I said. Hey, that's what Netter called it.

"Point to the chart." Corky said, clearly irritated.

Sure enough, on the counter there was a chart for vehicle color. Our van is not champagne at all. It is number 15, tan.

Alrighty then.

Corky asked a co-worker to figure out my sales tax, told me to write my check to Northwest Kiwanis, (not the BMV?) and $265 later I have a piece of cardboard / temporary tag, a certificate of registration, and a promise that in two weeks I can come back and buy my real license plates.

Just waiting on the covered wagon I guess.

Life "After (Kinda) Golf"

A customer once came into the Karl Road Library, (where I worked from 1988-1995) and asked one of our reference librarians if we had a golf course directory for Central Ohio.

"Yes," she answered "he is up at the Circulation Desk."

That would be me.

I'm thinking about this because a week or so ago I saw a story on ESPN about the Bob Hope Classic. This was the third tournament of the year on the PGA tour, and golf had not even been on my radar.

What the heck?

An obsession gone awry?

Yes, in the long ago and far away - I was a golf nut.

Now don't get me wrong, I still love the game. It's just not at the forefront for me right now and takes a different place in my life.

There's a few reasons for this, but primarily it comes down to two things - time and money.

The money of course is self-explanatory. In a tough economy there are some choices to be made about where your dollar should go.

But believe it or not, (because I know I talk about it all the time) money is not the major player in this equation.

No, the biggest factor is time.

I once had a friend who I played golf with quite a bit. One summer it seemed we were playing about once each week. The next summer not so much, and the next, well, hardly at all.

So I asked him about it:

Me: Hey, what's up? You used to play golf all the time. Now, not so much?

My Buddy: I'm busy with the kids Jim.

Me: I'm busy with the kids too. I still play golf.

My Buddy: It's different. My kids are older. You'll understand one day. I promise.


Flash forward to Jimmer about 4-5 years ago when both girls started playing sports and got involved in more "after school stuff." Suddenly there were games to go to, and activities to attend, and everybody needed a ride...

Holy heck - as another Buddy put it: "Jim, when I do get a day off where I might have played golf before, I just want to take the day off."

Couldn't agree more Bill, and yes Mark I do understand now.

Since 2004 my average number of golf rounds have dropped from 35-40 each summer to somewhere in the neighborhood of 8, maybe 10. In the summer of 2007 I played maybe 5 times as I separated my shoulder playing hockey shortly after our golf tournament in June and wasn't fully healthy, (well, as healthy as I was gonna get) until November. Last summer I had an emergency appendectomy, (Is there ever an appendectomy that isn't an emergency?) and played about 6 rounds total.

Every year from 1989 to 2004 or so, Annette and I attended the Memorial Tournament. It was our annual week-long extravaganza, sitting in the sun or standing in the rain, spending an obscene amount of money on souvenirs (I think they should pay me a royalty fee for all their clothes that I wear), and food and beverages (best Bloody Mary in Columbus that isn't homemade). We always loved walking the course, and after 2000 (I think) talking about how I had parred numbers 11 and 12 when I had played my round there.

Yes, I have played the Muirfield Village Golf Course. It cost me an obscene amount of money. So much that I will not post it here. We took one picture of our foursome that day and Meijers lost it in processing - a crushing blow, and yet another argument for digital cameras. I do still have the scorecard. No, you can't see it. I played like someone grinding it out on a course where I was overmatched. I'd actually love to play it now that I have no expectations of my game. I'd have more fun, and enjoy it more. Still, it was a once in a lifetime experience, and I am grateful I had the opportunity.

One year we decided that though we had the tickets in hand, we would be better served to use that money elsewhere. So we sold them to a friend. The next year we took a one time only chance to opt out of our season ticket holder status. The year after that we decided we really didn't need to keep our place on the waiting list after all. (There is no longer a waiting list by the way.)

Of course I still watched golf regularly, well until about 2006 when my favorite golfer, David Duval's exempt status for the major tournaments ran out. He wasn't playing much at that point anyway and I was too busy to find a new fave. Oh, I like Tiger as much as the next guy, but I wasn't about to jump on his band wagon.

Besides I really just like to see good competitive golf and Tiger has been walking all over everybody for quite some time. When Tiger is not playing I think it can be kinda boring. As you may or may not know, Tiger missed the second half of last season - and so did I.

I actually found myself watching racing more than anything else, which a few years ago would have just seemed wrong.

But it's all I've had time for, and I could turn on a race, work in my office, and look up during pit stops, or for a few important laps and, yes, for wrecks too. I could be interested without being committed. If you try to only look up once in a while during golf - you see nothing but a lot of 2 foot tap-ins. Trust me.

I think golf requires a different commitment, both from a viewing and a playing standpoint.

I think one of my greatest accomplishments, (yes for my whole life) is that in 1998 I made the decision to reduce my golf handicap. I spent one evening each week practicing. I arrived early for almost every round I played so I could warm up properly. I dedicated myself to my golf game for the entire summer. In the end I reduced my handicap by almost 7 full strokes.

This is a pretty significant accomplishment for a golfer at any level. I generally lack the ability to be this disciplined so this was quite an accomplishment for me personally.

Not a lot of things in my life have brought this out in me.

Obviously I love golf "that much."

What happened?