About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

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Monday, April 05, 2010

A Minefield Disguised as a Store*

*Somerset, PA Daily American  April 23, 2010
as "What's Your Weakness?"

For everyone, there is that one place where we know we shouldn't go; that one store that robs us of every ounce of self control. For some, that place may be a boutique that "sells the cutest clothes!" (I'm assuming that would be a female-only crowd) Guys, being...well...guys tend towards more technical places. The hardware and tools department of Sears was the minefield for one of my friends. He simply couldn’t go there without buying something. It got so bad that his wife, at one point, demanded he surrender his wallet before going. For other men, auto parts stores are supremely seductive spaces. Computer stores, new car showrooms number among some of those favorite places. I enjoy motorcycle shops, but since the cheapest thing there generally runs about 10 large, it's hard to just "pick something up."

Some time ago, big book stores began popping up across the landscape, the most iconic being Barnes & Noble. I've always loved books. To me they were the door left ajar to an author's heart and mind. Within those covers lies secrets from history, forecasts about the future, and the recounting of lives that changed history. Many have become old friends, going back to them for another visit from time to time. I always take a book with me wherever I go. I even stuffed a paperback in my back pocket when we went to Disneyland to while away the hours spent standing in line.

The first time I walked into a Barnes & Noble, I knew I was a goner. I stood in the doorway, transfixed. I was sure I had died and gone to Heaven. There, displayed before me was at least 3 acres of books. (Anyway, it looked that big.) For the next three hours, I was lost to the known world. I simply had never been in a place like this before. I wandered around, browsing through shelf after shelf. Neatly organized by subject and genre, I was treated to a parade of knowledge and wisdom.

I did resurrect a modicum of self-control, going to the checkout with "only” $53 of books. But since then, I've been the easiest buy for Christmas and birthdays: Just give me a B&N gift card.

Times are changing. With the advent of new technology, such as the iPad, Kindle, and other similar devices, the entire paradigm of reading is shifting. Intellectually, I acknowledge how cool it would be to "carry" 50 or 60 books around on a lightweight pad. It's far more convenient, takes up less space, and with the Internet, you don't even have to go to the store.

However, I'm still torn.

I'm still a traditionalist. There's something magical about that moment when I pick up a book for the first time. The artistry of the cover, the fresh smell of new paper when it's opened, and that exciting moment of anticipation, exploration and curiosity as my fingers riffle through the pages. And then the greatest moment, when I sink into the cushions, open the cover, and make the world go away. Like a motorcycle, a book is a place I can go; a whole new world to explore.

A place where I can find myself
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