More questions. More help. Introducing Mastering Table Topics Second Edition.

The toughest (and most fun) job in Little League

Picture this: It’s a hot September afternoon in southern California. Field temperature is probably around 90°F (32° C). You strap on a pair of shin guards, put on a metal face mask, and slip your left arm into a protective pad, just as the Spartan warriors held their shields. You grip a plastic device with wheels that count balls, strikes, outs, and innings, and you hope you didn’t lose track. And if that isn’t challenging enough, your son is playing, but you still have to be impartial.

That’s what it’s like to be a Little League umpire. Read more »

Fun with peppers

What better way to spend Labor Day in the United States than to torture yourself for your children’s amusement. While having lunch at In N Out, I told my kids how much my mom loved those hot little yellow peppers. So, they challenged me to eat a bunch of them. Hilarity ensued.

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Lessons learned

When my son decided to return to Little League, he asked, “Dad, you’re not going to obsess about baseball again, are you?” I promised that I wouldn’t. This is because in the time my son was away from baseball, I had the chance to reassess my feelings about children and sports. Read more »

If you hate Barry…

This is a message to all you kids. If you hate Barry Bonds – and most of us outside of San Francisco do – there is something you can do to combat his plundering of Hank Aaron’s home run record: Learn to hit home runs. It seems inevitable that Barry will hit his 756th. The only way to clean his asterisked record from the books is if someone hits 757 or however many it takes. If you can hit 40 home runs over a course of a 20-year Major League career, you can beat Barry’s record. Find a good coach who will teach you the mechanics of a good swing and give you the proper exercises to build your strength. Remember that Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, and Sadaharu Oh didn’t need steroids or other artificial means to become great sluggers. Neither do you.

My mother’s estate

When my mother passed away 15 years ago, she didn’t leave much of monetary value. In fact, she left me with the debt on her mobile home, which we wound up selling for scrap. What she did leave me with has tremendous value, and I shall benefit from it the rest of my life. Here are 15 things she bequeathed to me that have lasting worth: Read more »