Category Archives: Life (and other baffling things)

Civil discourse has left the building

couple arguingA recent exchange I saw on Facebook exemplifies to me both what is wrong with discourse in this world and what could have been very constructive.

“Person A” quoted part of a comment from “Person B” and then declared that the statement “…tells everything about the heart attitude of the person. Most people who [fill in the blank with your favorite cause] don’t use terms like that…”

Not surprisingly, Person B took offense Continue reading


An open letter to our military brothers and sisters

Thirty years ago, you probably wouldn’t have liked me. I probably wouldn’t have liked you either, which is a bloody shame.

I was a smug, sanctimonious little cuss, which in itself probably isn’t remarkable for a 20-something. But I was an Abbie Hoffman wannabe growing up in the Vietnam War era. I read his book Woodstock Nation and totally bought into it. I had hair crawling down my back and I fancied myself an anti-war peace freak. (God always gets the last laugh – now I have hardly any hair to speak of.) Continue reading

Late bloomers are still bloomers

2nd flowerMark Zuckerberg co-founded Facebook while he was still in college. In 2012 his wealth was estimated to be over $9 billion.

The Beatles were all in their early twenties when they became chart-topping millionaires.

Steve Jobs was 21 when he and Stephen Wozniak founded Apple.

These are the kinds of people who grab headlines, their admirers marveling at their meteoric rise at such tender age. And that’s cool. It’s sexy.

But what about the other 99.9% of us who didn’t do that?

Most folks find their place in the sun the usual way, plotting their careers as twenty-somethings, paying their dues, and finding some level of success as they work through the ranks. But what about the ones in their thirties, forties, and beyond who are still trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up? The ones who worry they will never hit the target? Continue reading

Step out of your comfort zone and grow

“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” ~Brian Tracy

lawn tractor engineI’m not much of a small engine mechanic. So when I did something really dumb with my lawn tractor a couple of weeks ago the thought of having just ruined a perfectly good, albeit old, mower raced through my mind.

it was the beginning of mowing season and I set out one Saturday morning to change the oil, hop on the tractor, and whip my lawn into submission. Continue reading

And sometimes your bracket comes out smelling like a rose

In my previous post Sometimes Your Bracket Just Stinks – a Life Lesson I said you sometimes fail even after proper planning and research. It’s an unfortunate fact of life and you learn and move on, I said.

I wrote that after the first weekend of the 2013 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, my bracket bloodied and battered by upsets and bad picks.

The bracket taught me another lesson last night.

The NCAA Tournament bracket as metaphor for life and career taught me another lesson last night. I’d picked Louisville to win it all – not a stretch as they were the overall #1 seed. But lots of #1 seeds bite the dust early and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance. Indeed, Louisville appeared to be headed home early a few times during the tournament. Here’s what I learned: Continue reading

He would have been 85 today

Walter McCraw

Walter McCraw
April 4, 1928 – June 7, 1981

It’s been almost 32 years since we lost him. Even though I’ve been alive without my dad longer than I was alive with him, his influence is with me every day and he’s practically larger than life in my memory. He was a wise and learned man and we enjoyed deep conversations together. I always knew I was loved and my dad knew I loved him. I will always miss him.

He was a U.S. Army veteran, high school English teacher, community college English professor, community college dean, and then a truck driver. It’s a long story – never let anyone tell you there isn’t corruption and politics in the community college system. Continue reading

Don’t be “that” boss

One of the worst bosses I ever served under had a very critical spirit and could always find a way to turn anything into a negative, even accomplishments.

There were many incidents that I still haven’t forgotten.  One involved my telling her about working on a project she’d assigned to me and running into a roadblock that was keeping me from completing it. Her preferred approach wasn’t working but I’d found a work-around and completed the project.

“So in other words you just gave up,” she said.

“No, Debbie Downer, I clearly didn’t give up. I ditched a tactic that wasn’t working and found a way to get it done,” I said. To myself. Years later when I thought of it.

Your words will be remembered

I don’t even remember what the project was any more, which is one of my points. Continue reading

Sometimes your bracket just stinks: a life lesson

Basketball BracketYou read the so-called experts’ opinions. You read the stats and you checked your gut. Then you made your selections and held your breath. You did your due diligence and things still wound up in the toilet.

Are we talking about basketball brackets? Marketing? Career? Well yes, we are. All of that.

If you’re a college hoops fan you know your tournament bracket could be about as worthless as a comb for a bald guy like me.

You may have heard it said that successful people fail often. (Seth Godin’s take on it here is worth the read.) Continue reading

How to succeed in class even if your science teachers fail

By Robin McCraw

The last time I had instruction in either science or social studies was over twenty years ago, but I still have memories of a few specific assignments.  The most vivid memory I have of a difficult science assignment occurred in seventh grade.

My family was new to Faribault, a thriving small town in central Minnesota. I was shy and uncomfortable in my new school.  It had become painfully obvious that I would no longer be considered the most academically advanced student in 7th grade as I had been  in the poor, rural South Carolina school I attended during 6th grade.  Continue reading

What’s up with the name “Studebaker”?

If you follow me on Twitter, you know my handle is @ChipStudebaker. It’s a pseudonym I’ve used in various settings for nearly 30 years but I’ve rarely explained it.

The question came up again the other day so I guess it’s time to tell the story. I was sitting in the control room of Dark Pines recording studio with Max, the owner, and my old friend Steve.  We were getting ready to add some tracks to a song we’d been working on for Steve, with whom I played in several bands dating back to our late teens. This recording was being done under the name The Studebaker Brothers.

“So I gotta ask,” says Max…

“Where did the name ‘Studebaker’ come from?” Continue reading