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The BookHere are some of the recent columns you may have missed - or maybe you just want to read them again. Pick a topic from the menu at the left to zero in on a subject, or you can use the "search this site" box above to look for a particular keyword.

A lot of the older columns are no longer available online, but there is good news - you can get them all compiled in a neat little package, throne tested for your bathroom reading pleasure, in the book What I've Learned So Far... Part I: Bikes, Docks & Slush Nuggets. Right now you can get a 15% online discount if you enter the code Y8NYMDN4 in the "Options and Discounts" box when you check out.

The second volume, What I've Learned So Far... Part II: Angels, Chimps & Tater Mitts, will be coming out sometime later this spring.

The column below won the Erma Bombeck Award.

Banjo Picker Blues

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My name is Mike, and I'm a banjo picker.

In my last column I suggested that I intend to exact a particularly fiendish sort of retribution on my son by teaching my beautiful new granddaughter how to play the banjo, just like her "PopPop" does. This is not an idle threat. To a lot of people (most people), turning their child into a banjo player would be considered just slightly worse than helping her start a skunk ranch in the back yard to raise money toward buying her very own Jolly Junior Seal Team Explosives Kit.

What I'm saying here is that banjos are very possibly not the most beloved of all the world's musical instruments.
For one thing, they are not seen as being particularly sophisticated. Ever since 1972, when the movie Deliverance forever linked bluegrass music with the squealing of pig-like creatures, the distant sound of a banjo echoing down the river has made canoeists everywhere paddle faster.

Caelyn

Caelyn & Friend

My new granddaughter was born last night. 

Now, a lot of things can happen to you that are really great; finding a $20 bill in the pocket of a jacket you haven't worn in a couple of years; your $1 lotto ticket hitting for $100; the Detroit Red Wings winning the Stanley Cup (OK, so not this year); pulling off the road with a groan when the police cruiser lights go on, only to watch him speed right past you to haul down that jerk in the black Escalade who cut you off a couple of miles back; Snickers bars.

But a few events come along in a lifetime that stand so far above all that other stuff that they make the coolest fireworks display that ever rumbled your chest and made your heart pound seem like a complete waste of time. Having a grandchild is one of those events.

My son emailed me a picture of himself sitting on the bed, looking down at his new little daughter, who was lying on his lap all swaddled in pink and looking right back up at the biggest, most important man she will ever know. I smiled when I saw it and typed a reply to him:

"OK Pat, NOW you understand!"

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