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The Sign Of A Coward

14 hours ago

It was just another ordinary day. I came home from running errands, found the mail, opened, on the dining room table. I briefly glanced at it and continued with letting the dogs out, hanging up my keys and getting a drink of water, before sitting down.

Somewhere Inside Me, Look For You

Oct 11, 2018


I begin today with the moral of the story:  It’s not all about you. 


Accusations That Really Destroyed Lives

Oct 10, 2018

Several times during Bret Kavanaugh’s path to the Supreme Court, President Trump, Judge Kavanaugh, and others lamented how expressing allegations of sexual misconduct was “tearing down a good man,” a “hit job.” Mr. Trump declared “a man’s life is in tatters,” even though Kavanaugh’s approval was all but sealed.

Celebrating the Real First

Oct 9, 2018


On a recent boat tour aboard Pittsburgh’s Gateway Clipper, our guide told us that about 30 miles down the Ohio River lies what is reportedly the first human settlement in North America, the Meadowcroft Rockshelter. Archaeologists have dated it to some 16,000 years ago.  

The Trials And Joys Of Being A Caregiver

Oct 8, 2018


As life expectancy continues to climb, many of us find ourselves experiencing the struggles and blessings of being caregivers. 

The New Battle For Voter Rights

Oct 5, 2018
flickr user / Vox efx "I Voted" (CC BY 2.0)

It was the early 2000s, and time for me to cast my vote -- something I had done every election year since college. 
So I was startled to learn that my name wasn't on the registration list. Thinking I was at the wrong polling place, I drove to the other location, only to be told the same thing. And it was here that I came to appreciate living in Illinois. 

A Purple Party Majority

Oct 4, 2018


We are once again in the midst of a partisan battle over a Supreme Court nominee. If we are to believe in the two party system, it appears as though there are only two types of nominees available: conservative or liberal; red or blue. 


Who Belongs On The Supreme Court?

Oct 3, 2018

The Supreme Court stands between the citizens and an oppressive government. It is the enforcer of the Bill of Rights. The citizens who drafted the Constitution knew from their experience with King George that they had to spell out the limits of government power.

The present nomination debacle led me to check my vague notion that only Harvard and Yale law grads were appointed to the Supreme Court.

The Willow Had To Go

Oct 2, 2018
Photo used with permission from the Aldo Leopold Foundation /

Poets love willow trees. Johnny Cash “taught the weeping willow how to cry,” and Lorine Niedecker wrote, “I’m not young, and I’m not free, but I’ve a house of my own, by a willow tree.” I love the poetry, but sadly I cannot love a willow tree. 



Broken In The Short Term

Oct 1, 2018

This last June, my wife and I had the chance to get a private tour of the U.S. Capitol from her long-time friend, who is also a long-serving, dedicated, highly capable public servant in the Congressional Budget Office. Over the course of her career, she has testified many times in front of members of Congress and knows the institution well.


Amazing Grace

Sep 28, 2018
Grace Murray Hopper Collection, 1944-1965, Archives Center, National Museum of American History


It's A Worker's Market

Sep 27, 2018

Anyone in our region who is working at a factory paying less than $13 an hour should start looking for a new job now. In the past three years, the number of jobs available along the rural portion of Interstate 88 from DeKalb to Rochelle to Dixon and then to Sterling/Rock Falls has increased significantly. Right now is absolutely a worker's market -- not an employer market. 


Are We Making Good Choices?

Sep 26, 2018

Are we making good choices?

When my son was around three, the teachers at The Growing Place began addressing unwanted behavior with the question:  "Are we making good choices?"  The first time I witnessed this technique, I immediately thought that not only toddlers needed such a reminder.  Many adults, including myself, could use a similar prod to overcome bad habits and be better people.

What Dogs Teach Us

Sep 25, 2018
Susan Stephens / WNIJ

Our President likes to call people “dogs” – meant as an insult, but is really a compliment. I’ll tell you why.

"Humans stay on this earth a long time learning to be good. Dogs stay just a short time as they already are."

The unknown source who penned this was likely a person who not only loved dogs, but also learned from them.

Don't Tell Me To Be Careful

Sep 24, 2018



What's In A Ring?

Sep 21, 2018
Delwin Steven Campbell/Flickr / cc by 2.0

About fifteen years ago I heard a man’s phone ring and it played the William Tell Overture. This wasn’t a phone ring. This was a phone overture. Me, I’m old-fashioned. I set my smart phone ringer to the traditional sounds of, well, a ring.

Drama In The Backyard

Sep 20, 2018


It was a typical summer morning. Sitting on the back porch, I was enjoying the usual sounds of wildlife as I read the paper. Chirps and bursts of songs from the birds. Rustling chipmunks scurrying up the drainpipes. Chattering squirrels chasing each other in circles.


Suddenly, I became aware of an eerie silence. The birds were gone from the feeders. The rabbits, chipmunks, and squirrels had disappeared from view.


People And Nature Carry On

Sep 19, 2018


A Little Act Can Make A Big Statement

Sep 18, 2018


One day, I stopped at the gas station and saw an old friend. She was busy picking up the litter throughout the gas station parking lot. After watching, I realized my friend had been simply walking by the station and had decided to take a moment to clean up. 

Paleoclimatology: What’s Past May Not Be Prologue

Sep 17, 2018


Most people have heard the most famous line from Shakespeare’s The Tempest: “What’s past is prologue”. It’s often used to imply that history determines the future. But the real meaning is made clearer by the line that follows: “What to come, in yours and my discharge”.

What it means in context is that all of the past leads to this moment. And all that will happen depends on what we choose to do right now.

You May Be Inspired, But Do You Share It?

Sep 14, 2018


Synchronizing heart and mind to better ends requires inspiration, which is the stirring toward an elevated plane of feeling or action. Literally to “breathe in,” inspiration breathes life into our aspirations. 


Hugging It Out Is Healing

Sep 13, 2018


If you’re like most people, you experience conflict with your partner on occasion. But if you leave the house on a truly sour note, you might be damaging your health, as well as your relationship. 

No Wall Can Separate Us

Sep 12, 2018


I recently worked in an I Care clinic in rural Mexico.  


Machetes, Mean Speech, And Genocide

Sep 11, 2018

The machete slices through the weeds, the stems bleeding milk, a plant toxic to my horses. When I read about people calling President Trump and his supporters Nazis, I hear the opening credits to Hotel Rwanda -- “The Tutsi rebels, they are cockroaches…we will squash the infestation.”  


Aretha: The Pioneer

Sep 10, 2018

Of course Aretha ‎Franklin deserves the title "Queen of Soul." She was the first female inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She won numerous Grammys. She topped the charts spanning multiple generations. But these well-deserved honors understate her depth as an artist, and they fail to recognize the political and social importance of her career.

Fi‎rst, her artistry. On several occasions she performed opera to standing ovations. Opera singers generally cannot cross over to pop music, but this great artist crossed over beautifully in the opposite direction.

There's A Better Word For How It All Ends

Sep 7, 2018


Conclusion. The end. Resolution. Finale.  



"You're the enemy of the people, and we're going to kill every f---ing one of you,” said Robert Chain, now free on $50,000 bond for making threats against the Boston Globe Newspaper. 



A Curious Encounter -- Part 2

Sep 5, 2018



A Curious Encounter -- Part 1

Sep 4, 2018

Have you ever found yourself struggling with your values? Being an African American social justice educator, I often explore the theme of replacing judgment with curiosity and humanizing others, no matter what. Saying those values is always easier than living them. 

The Last Fox Tale

Sep 3, 2018
Susan Stephens / WNIJ