Life & Politics Blog

What size should I wear?

Recently, I received an order by FedEx. It was a ‘cashmere’ sweater. Only, it wasn’t cashmere. It wasn’t the right color and it sure wasn’t the right size. I had fallen prey to the… Read More

Where do our dreams go?

I recently had a revelatory experience. We have long desired a place at the beach. But not just any place: Old Florida feel; close to the water; easy access. A pipe dream. We were… Read More

Home is where your heart is

I have been a traveler. Although I have lived in East Tennessee for over thirty years, I am not “from here.” In some respects, I will always be from somewhere else. But where? When… Read More

Why is balance so hard to achieve?

We seek it, yet it often seems elusive: “balance.” A state of equilibrium. Like a law of thermodynamics, it is cancellation of one set of influences by equal opposing forces. Sorry, but life just… Read More

Who will watch the watchers?

The debate about Artificial Intelligence (AI)and how it should be used and allowed to develop came to a head recently when OpenAI (the parent of ChatGPT) cofounder Sam Bankman was fired by the company’s… Read More

Regret and Gratitude-two sides of the same coin

There are many powerful forces at work in the world. Natural drives like gravity and magnetism impact our physical being. Other influences are more subtle. Economic forces (e.g., inflation) drive human conduct. Social imperatives,… Read More

Falling Apart but Falling Forward

Well, it is happening again. Another system failure. The red lights and sirens don’t sound, but the warning signs flare. I have become more aware of my body (and not in a good way).… Read More

Left Behind

Life is full of vagaries, the twists and turns that make life both interesting and difficult. Often these are the result of outside forces that bombard us. However, sometimes they are circumstances of our… Read More

End of a Season

I awoke the other morning to something new (for this summer). It was crisp, a coolness that portended more than just another moderate summer day, one effected by the approach of storm front (we… Read More

Are you a Picker or a Chooser?

Life is nothing if not a series of branches on a “decision tree.” We make thousands of choices in our lifetimes. These decisions can vary in magnitude, ranging from the trivial to the profound.… Read More

Life after Affirmative Action

Since the Johnson Administration in the 1960s, programs that collectively have come to be known as “Affirmative Action” have come into effect. These policies were thought to improve the employment and educational opportunities for… Read More

So, what is “Retirement?”

I just completed another trip around the sun. I am “of that age” (now defined by Medicare and Social Security}. I am also experiencing all the maladies of old age: bad knees, bad shoulder,… Read More

The “R’s” of the New Economy

There has been a significant discontinuity in the economic environment centered on the COVID Pandemic. Its effects took hold in the US in early 2020 and began to fade by mid-2021. However, the lingering… Read More

What is “fair?”

We want a just and fair world.  Whether it is a child who’s sibling got a better toy or an adult who feels that someone cheated them in a transaction, we all seem to… Read More

It’s a Brave New World…again!

My father’s generation witnessed an amazing technological transformation. In his lifetime, the world went from flimsy bi-planes (at barely over 100 mph) to the SR-71 that set a speed record over 2,100 mph. Man… Read More

Walk a Mile in your Shoes

There is much talk about “Woke-ism.” However, there is not even a consensus about what it means. The “popular” notion as defined In the Webster dictionary means being “aware of and actively attentive to… Read More

Second Thoughts and Second Chances

Another New Year. Along with birthdays, rolling over the date is how we keep score.  It is a time to take stock of one’s life. In reality, the 1st of January is no different… Read More

Holiday rituals change, but Faith remains

Christmas has changed dramatically over the years. The wonder and excitement of waiting sleeplessly for Santa is a thing of the past. It is perhaps a child’s saddest moment to find out that Santa… Read More

Family is the Worst…and the Best!

We recently saw a show at the Barter Theater, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” It was funny. It was reflective. It was a story of family. “Sometimes they are related to us… Read More

The loss of a companion

Grief is a complicated emotion. It is triggered by many different types of events, and it does not follow a consistent path. Our ability to express it is wound up in an intricate interplay… Read More

The Day after Veteran’s Day

It seems apropos that I should be writing a column after Veteran’s Day because this is a discussion of the “after” (military service) that many military servicemembers face. To this end, we ought to… Read More

First Grandchild – a world transformed

We all face numerous life-changing experiences in our journey. Some of those events are the result of conscious decisions. At other times, the transition is unexpected. Certain situations seem to spring up of their… Read More

The Forgotten Man

The Forgotten Man   Human history is replete with stories of those who have been left behind. It was not always the case, but today we strive to make life better for the “forgotten… Read More

What happened to our Grace?

In a recent discussion with my wife, the topic of Grace arose. We grant it to people when we first meet them, but over time, our ability to do so seems to fade, particularly… Read More

Life sometimes needs a “reboot”

This morning my computer did it again. Some of the programs went wonky. Between a hung “update” and too much junk in the cache, things slowed down (to the point of absolute frustration) or… Read More

Where is the economy headed?

The litany of risks to the global economy are manyfold: Federal Reserve tightening of the money supply, ongoing supply chain disruptions, persistent inflation, the lingering effects of the pandemic and a war in Ukraine. In… Read More

Can we solve our labor problems?

Can we solve our labor problems? Our region, despite some outward appearances, has some very troubling employment statistics The unemployment rate is modest (2.9%). The number of unfilled positions is relatively high (10,000 openings).… Read More

Who exactly was my First Boss?

Not long ago I was asked, “Who was my first boss?” It felt like a trick question, like when someone asks where I’m from. My flippant response is, “Yes.” I was an Army Brat… Read More

Bringing back the Past

Nostalgia is a funny thing. Originally it was considered a disease, “a morbid homesickness producing derangement of mental and physical functions.” Today, it is more placid, “a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations… Read More

We all need affirmation

Like many Baby Boomer’s, I grew up in the shadow of an imposing father. His was of a very different generation: no-nonsense, tough and distinctly unaffectionate. Or so it seemed at the time. I… Read More

Change makes life worth living

Spring has sprung and with it the change of time. I have to say that I am pretty happy about that. I will miss neither the cold nor the darkness. There is nothing particularly… Read More

Wars and Rumors of Wars

We live in turbulent times. With Russia’s invasion of the Ukraine, Europe is now embroiled in the most significant armed conflict since World War II. It is being fought in Eastern Europe but threatens… Read More

Who says old dogs can’t be taught?

We have an old girl. Barb rescues “Doodles” (a dog breed of just about anything crossed with a poodle). They are beautiful, sweet creatures. She has gotten them from some pretty horrible conditions, including… Read More

Who wrote the Software Running in your Head?

Recently, Tesla founder and often outspoken entrepreneur, Elon Musk ended a Tweet with “Who wrote the software running in your head?” The analogy is prescient and the implications lead to a number of fundamental… Read More

What is the true purpose of our lives?

I recently penned a piece about what it means to “grow up.” It never really got to a fundamental question of life, one that starts early on and is likely never loses its relevance.… Read More

Remembrance Day for our Veterans

Veterans’ Day originally started as a commemoration of the Armistice that ended World War One on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. We have expanded that remembrance… Read More

Don’t leave home without it (a plan)

We all start things with optimism. Our expectation of the future is colored with what we wish things to be, often the “best case” scenario. But life is…well, life. It throws us lots of… Read More

Don’t see the world as it is not

The world seems to be “going to Hell in a handbasket,” a phrase my mom would occasionally use to describe the steady slide into chaos (or worse). The laws of thermodynamics apply: Life moves… Read More

I am a Stranger in a Strange Land

I sometimes feel “lost in space” (and time), a sentiment that seems to assault my being on a more frequent basis every year. Perhaps this is the inevitable consequence of growing old. Now that… Read More

COVID can’t dampen the Human Spirit

We recently celebrated a significant, and joyous, occasion for our family. My daughter graduated from medical school and is off to start the next phase of her life’s great adventure. With the bestowing of… Read More

Where did the employees go?

There is a growing problem in our country. The economy is now recovering from the government-imposed mandates which effectively shut down the national economy. However, employment has not matched that growth. Employers are now… Read More

We can be World Class

It pains me to watch us flog ourselves like some medieval flagellants. Certainly, our region is far from perfect; we suffer from many of the same ills as other rural areas. Yet, despite significant… Read More

Faith without a Strategy is just Hope

Life seems in flux. There are so many forces acting on us these days: the Pandemic; stresses on the economy; and change of administration after a brutal bloody campaign. These produce points of conflict… Read More

Is Anarchy our Future?

A New Year. Time to shed off the old and start anew. But sometimes, the baggage of the past comes back to haunt us. The weight of events gone by seem to overwhelm the… Read More

How many “next times” do we have?

When I was young, the world seemed endless. Youth gives you a type of serenity knowing there was always “next time” (another Spring Break, another football game, or another Christmas to celebrate). When an… Read More

Life in the time of COVID

“May you live in interesting times.” Today seems the epitome of this Chinese curse. Ours is the time of the COVID-19 pandemic. The world we live in is partially like the old days and… Read More

What happened to the “Big Tent?”

I grew of age (politically speaking) in the Reagan era. I watched the economic and social malaise of the 1970s recede before a message of hope and optimism. A renewed American spirit took hold.… Read More

A Weekend to Remember

I sit on the porch and look across the ever-growing grass at the hills beyond. The sun is warming the cool late summer morning. Labor Day has broken. It used to be the last… Read More

Be thankful even in this time of adversity

Our world seems to be coming apart at the seams. A pandemic has swept the globe infecting millions and killing thousands. The government’s response to shut down the economy has created unprecedented personal hardships.… Read More

What are we fighting about?

Our country seems to be at war with itself. Peaceful protests over the specific cases of police abuse have devolved into a broader, more violent protest against government institutions and actions. These issues have… Read More


An entrepreneur’s favorite word is “yes.” We are perpetual optimists. Success is always possible. If you ever stop believing that, shut your operation down immediately and find something else to do that will make… Read More

Who should get the Bailout?

During the financial crisis of 2008, Wall Street banks received massive taxpayer subsidies to stay afloat. They were “too big to fail,” a policy based on the belief that these companies, if they folded,… Read More

Did Bernie Sanders Win the Debate?

At the South Carolina Democratic Presidential Debate, most of the candidates attacked Bernie Sanders, in an attempt to forestall his momentum going into the Super Tuesday primary elections. They appeared to have been successful.… Read More

Our Lives are full of Decisions

There it sits, huge, bright and shining, consuming the landscape like the sun rising over a distant horizon. It glares at me, a decision to be made, one too long deferred. The familiarity of… Read More

Whom shall we mourn?

There was recently a tragic event that took the life of a venerable citizen of our country. Kobe Bryant, a beloved basketball icon and an individual who tried to give back to his community.… Read More

Why ya gotta love (and hate) Trump

Trump is a horrible guy. Arrogant. Narcissistic. Crass. Really, just not much to like about the guy….except, he is what America needed at a particular moment in time and space. Let’s be honest, America… Read More

Musings on a year gone by

I suppose it is inevitable that as a new year approaches, we would undertake a retrospective of the one gone by. However, in reality the difference between January 1st and any other day of… Read More

What are the limits of Free Speech?

There has recently been some controversy in Kingsport, which has centered on the trade-off between good order and safety versus the exercise of free speech and freedom to assemble. One effort has been focused… Read More

New Family Traditions

Our Thanksgivings have been changing. This year was a milestone. My parents are deceased, as are Barb’s. Neither of us is from this area. We have a blended family with five kids. They are… Read More

Will Regionalism Succeed this Time?

Here we go again. There is yet another attempt to pull the Tri-Cities region together. At last there is movement towards the consolidation of the external industrial recruiting programs. We have even re-named ourselves… Read More

Do We have a Mental Health Crisis?

I have recently watched an email thread among my West Point classmates discussing the suicide epidemic among veterans, particularly combat vets.  Why do so many people appear to have mental impairments? Moreover, why do current conditions seem… Read More

What do we do with the Homeless

Several weeks ago, while sitting outside at a local downtown restaurant, we observed a man stumbling down the street. His course veered off towards the benches in the median and with a blood-curdling “thump”… Read More

Stupidity has its own rewards

“Could-a. Should-a. Would-a.” The mantra of someone who just screwed-up. My mantra over the weekend. I could have worn a pair of hiking shorts with deeper pockets. I should have left the other keys… Read More

So similar, yet so very unalike

I have just returned from a trip out west to Rocky Mountain National Park. Like the Smokey Mountains of our region, the vistas are awe-inspiring. Likewise, Estes Park is not dissimilar to Gatlinburg, lots… Read More

Why don’t we use what we have?

Sunday night I attended a concert at the back portico of the MeadowView Conference Center. It was affiliated with the Tennessee Big Shots, the regional World Long Drive golf championships, which was a magnificent… Read More

We Find Happiness in the Simple Things

What is happiness? In definition, it is a state of pleasure or contentment. The former is an active state, the latter passive. Yet, either seems difficult to achieve or, more definitively, to maintain. Life… Read More

Will it make the boat go faster?

I recently read an insightful article about the British rowing team training for the 2000 Sydney Olympics. They developed a very simple approach. Before they did anything, they asked one question: “Will it make… Read More

Will 2024 look like 1984

I have watched the rapid “progress” of our society over the past fifty years and I am concerned. I have witnessed the evil of repressive regimes. I fear that what once seemed to have… Read More

We get the Leadership we deserve

It is appalling to garner information about our national politics from virtually any agency these days. Sources like the New York Times and NPR that I once admired for their in-depth, if left-leaning analysis,… Read More

Don’t let the Old Man in?

I recently read an interesting email exchange between several of my West Point classmates. The topic was aging. We are approaching our fortieth reunion; we are no longer young men. One quoted Clint Eastwood.… Read More

Found, but never lost

Whoosh! As the garage door came up, out they blew in a whirlwind like a Haboob off the Sahara. I knew it was coming. They had been in the pen all day; they needed… Read More

What am I truly thankful for?

Today is Thanksgiving, a day of giving thanks. But what am I truly thankful for? In the grand scheme of things, I must admit that it has been an above average year…in a pretty… Read More

There is not always a tomorrow

I recently had a sad revelation that time slips away faster than we imagine. It is easy to convince yourself that what you didn’t get done today can be done tomorrow. And, there is… Read More

We find happiness when we least expect it

There is growing momentum to rethink the saga of our country. This “Revisionist History” is the reinterpretation of orthodox views on evidence, motivations, and actions surrounding past events. This development has both ardent proponents… Read More

It is hard to live an examined life

Life is never stable. If things went according to plan, in line with our desires, we would rarely feel the need to make New Year’s resolutions. Yet, here it is, the beginning of another… Read More

What has happened to the American Dream?

The American Dream is enshrined in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and… Read More

America’s Social Contract has broken down

Currently, America is marred by deep divisions and political conflict. This is largely the result of the breakdown of the Social Contract between the government and the people. The legitimacy of governmental authority rests… Read More

Give thought to what you give thanks to

Today is Thanksgiving. But, for what are we to be thankful for? And to whom? How should we view the “good” things and people that enter our lives? Are these just random occurrences, the… Read More

Who built modern Kingsport?

Much of Kingsport’s centennial celebration seems to be focused on its founding. Far less emphasis has been placed on the past few decades. This is in part understandable, since much of its character and… Read More

Ten Phrases to Live by

We are faced with twists and turns in life. There are always forks in the road. Some are the easy ones: the most direct route between two points is a straight line. That works… Read More

Father’s Day matters because Fathers matter

This past Sunday was the official Father’s Day, a celebration honoring fatherhood, paternal bonds, and the influence of fathers in society. Father’s Day started as a Catholic tradition as the Feast of Saint Joseph,… Read More

A Tribute to our Veterans

Veterans’ Day originally started as a commemoration of the Armistice that ended World War One on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month in 1918. We have expanded that remembrance… Read More

Has the Media Stolen the Election?

There have been many accusations, particularly by the Trump camp, that the media is biased and stealing the election. I find his commentary ironic in that the media both made and is in the… Read More

The Laws of Physics apply to all of Life

We often think of human interactions, the social and economic systems we establish, as a special. In reality, they operate in much the same way normal things around us do. In fact, the concepts… Read More

The Future Demands a Response

                This time of year is one of celebration and optimism. Last weekend, I attended my daughter, Katie’s graduation from Duke. It is always a bit melancholy to have such a milestone pass. Inevitably,… Read More

Strategy – an idea that works

Strategy: The efficient allocation of Limited Resources to accomplish Prioritized Objectives in a Competitive Environment. Strategy is the process of matching of means (resources) to ends (objectives) in a competitive environment. To do this… Read More