More than a teacher

February 2, 2011 There was a knock on my office door, and I opened it and invited the student in. The student was Yen Lee. Even though I had emailed him about missing class all week, I was still surprised to see him. We were about three quarters of the way through the semester, and I don’t think I had heard him say ten words. But if I was surprised to have him speak to me, I was even more surprised at what he said.“I want talk to you because you my favorite teacher.”

A new view from old seat

February 1, 2011 The historic 1881 chapel at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va. burned down last October, which left an obvious need that can’t be put off for very long. A school for ministers has to have a place for the students to learn how to lead a congregation and where faculty and families can come together to worship. They’ve all been making do with other facilities ever since.

Laughing not to cry

February 1, 2011 How is President Obama doing as he enters the second half of his first term?Late-night comics know better than pundits. Let’s start with some of their earlier jokes:• Jay Leno — “President Obama plans on training 10,000 new math and science teachers. How about teaching math to that economic team of his?”• Jimmy Fallon — “In an interview with Rolling Stone, President Obama said he has Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones on his iPod. Unfortunately, the question was, ‘Do you have a plan to fix the economy?’”

Second place happens

January 31, 2011 I’ve heard stories of married couples getting into knock-down squabbles in public and — when a bystander tries to break things up — the spouses suddenly forming a tag team to beat up on the intruder.

The day the music died

January 31, 2011 If I had the time off, the money and it wasn’t so snowy and icy in Iowa I’d be at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake this week to mark the 52nd anniversary of “the day the music died.”It was Feb. 3, 1959 that the music world lost three of its most talented sons: Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and Jay P. Richardson, otherwise known as the Big Bopper, when the small plane they and the pilot were in crashed outside the city following an evening show at the ballroom.The men were killed instantly.

Connect better with people

January 28, 2011 The real difference between introverts and extroverts isn’t social skills; it’s about how you recharge your batteries.When most people think about extroverts vs. introverts, they often envision the stark contrast between the charismatic guy wowing the room with a rip-roaring joke and the awkward, quiet guy in wrinkled khakis blending into the fake fern in the corner.In reality, many highly skilled communicators are introverts who have learned to manage their energy.

Upholding religious freedom

January 28, 2011 It’s not every day that a school board votes unanimously to ignore legal advice, defy Supreme Court precedent and invite litigation.But that’s exactly what happened earlier this month in Giles County, Va., when members of the board ordered school administrators to hang the Ten Commandments on the walls of the county’s five public schools.

Government workers are the new illegal aliens

January 27, 2011 Did you know the government can’t create jobs? Nearly two years ago on CNN, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele said, “Not in the history of mankind has the government ever created jobs.” And then, “Trust me.”When Steele said those words, he was widely panned. It was dismissed on the right as a gaffe and debunked on the left as grossly inaccurate.It was laughable ... when Steele said it.

State of the Union drinking game

January 27, 2011 NEEDED TO PLAY:•  Four taxpayers of any sex: One rich, white banker- type wearing dark suit with loosened tie. Two ordinary folks wearing jeans; one in a blue or flannel work shirt, the other in a white shirt, sleeves rolled up. One poor, bedraggled person wearing clothes that look like they were retrieved from the bottom of a rodeo Dumpster behind the animal-performer stalls.• One living room with a TV tuned to the State of the Union Address.