In my post of November 11, 2011, I mentioned an occasion when I was asked by a friend “what is your favorite day?”  Quirky question but I thought – and replied “Thanksgiving.”   It’s a long weekend.  Family time.  Great food (stuffing – my favorite).  Detroit Lions on t.v. (yawn).  Though this year it’s versus the Bears.  And Christmas is on the way.   Christmas??  YIKES!!  So I asked my friend his favorite day.  “December 21st” he responded.  The day of the winter solstice — when the days begin to get longer.  I can relate. . . . .     

Well, it’s another November.   Eight years later.  Wow!  The days are often slow.  And arduous.  But the years go quickly.  Faster it seems every year.    

I hope that Thanksgiving is a favorite day for you.  But Thanksgiving is more than just a day.  It can be an attitude as well.  An every day attitude.  Of gratitude.   My best wishes to you for a wonderful, happy and blessed Thanksgiving weekend.   

Heart Healthy

Donna and I went to a restaurant the other night. The menu was speckled with admonitions like:
 LC – Low Cholestorol
 HH – Heart Healthy
 LS – Low Sodium
 PF – Peanut Free                                                                                                           GF – Gluten Free                                                                                                          And so on

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to see legends like FFF for “Fat Fat Fat” or HS for “Heart Stopper” or LC for “Loaded with Cholesterol” or MSS – “More Salt than Siberia.”  How about CG – “Calories Galore.”  I mean they put warnings on cigarettes (“you will die“) but the warnings on food rarely describe the destructive effects of salt and sugar and the artery-clogging and unbalanced nature of fast foods, red meats and genetically-modified foods.   

Then again . . . . Burger King has a “Rodeo King Burger” (1,480 calories; 2,340 grams of sodium) to which you can add fries and a Coke (another thousand calories).   And – if you can go next door for a Sonic Blast beverage, you  tack on 1,540 calories.  Frankly, when I order a couple of Triple Whoppers, I like them with bacon and cheddar fries.  I finish with a massive piece of cheesecake.  Yum.  I wash it all down with a cup of black coffee with NutraSweet (certainly not sugar).  Now that’s living.   (Yawn)  I think I’ll take a nap.

Make A Difference in the World

I want to make a difference in the world. So do you. But the clock is winding down.   So just what can we do?   I ponder this question.  I often pray about it.  Share it with others.  I recently happened across some quotations – on this very topic.  Let me share a few with you — to consider.  

We rise by lifting others” – Robert Ingersoll

No act of kindness – no matter how small – is ever wasted” – Aesop 

One person can make a difference.  And everyone should try”  – John F. Kennedy

If you cannot feed a hundred people, feed one” – Mother Teresa

We can change the world and make it a better place.  It is in our hands – to make a difference”  — Nelson Mandela

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well”  — Ralph Waldo Emerson

No work is insignificant. All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence” — Martin Luther King

I have one life and one chance to make it count for something… My faith demands that I do whatever I can, wherever I am, whenever I can, for as long as I can with whatever I have to try to make a difference — Jimmy Carter

There is no limit to the amount of good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit” — Ronald Reagan

Let’s make a difference in the world.  As Lao Tzu puts it – “the journey of a thousand miles – begins with that first step.”  Take a step. . . .   

Five Riddles

[A repeat from June 29, 2014]   I remember “what’s black and white and red [phonetic] all over?”  Answer:  a newspaper.  The following are good 🙂

1. A murderer is condemned to death. He has to choose between three rooms. The first is full of raging fires, the second is full of assassins with loaded guns, and the third is full of lions that haven’t eaten in 3 years. Which room is safest for him?

2. A woman shoots her husband. Then she holds him under water for over 5 minutes. Finally, she hangs him. But 5 minutes later they both go out together and enjoy a wonderful dinner together. How can this be?   

3. What is black when you buy it, red when you use it, and gray when you throw it away ? 

4. Can you name three consecutive days without using the words Wednesday, Friday, or Sunday?  

5. This is an unusual paragraph. I’m curious as to just how quickly you can find out what is so unusual about it. It looks so ordinary and plain that you would think nothing was wrong with it. In fact, nothing is wrong with it! It is highly unusual though. Study it and think about it, but you still may not find anything odd. But if you work at it a bit, you might find out. Try to do so without any coaching!


1. The third room. Lions that haven’t eaten in three years are dead.  That one was easy, right?

2. The woman was a photographer. She shot a picture of her husband, developed it, and hung it up to dry (shot; held under water; and hung).

3. Charcoal, as it is used in barbecuing.

4. Sure you can name three consecutive days– yesterday, today, and tomorrow!

5. The letter “e” which is the most common letter used in the English language, does not appear even once in the paragraph.

Why Are You Here?

[While we’re talking about being pulled over – let me offer a repeat from November 5, 2015.  And “No” I don’t have any more stories to share about being stopped by police] 

Some years ago, I was asked to make a presentation to the Mexican Corporate Bar Association – ANADE (Asociacion Nacional de Abogados de Empresa) at their annual meeting in Aguascalientes, Mexico. Donna and I flew in to Mexico City International Airport and rented a car – Budget – for the 270 mile drive. 

We pulled out of the Budget lot over the angled ground spikes and headed out onto the street.  I adjusted the rear view mirror and noticed that a police car had pulled in behind me — about 100 yards back.  Hmmmmm. . . .    I kept driving.  Carefully.  After a mile or so, the police car put on its flashers and pulled me over.  I got out of the car and held up my license.  An officer got out, adjusting his Sam Brown belt and walked up.  “You almost hit a car back there.”  Bull.  After some discussion in Spanish (I suggested contacting the Embassy), he looked at me quizzically and asked “why are you here?”  And I told him I was giving a speech to the Asociacion Nacional de Abogados de Empresa.  He turned, waved and said “just be careful.”  He got in his car and drove away. 

Why are you here?   I think about these words.  In my heart, I believe that each one of us is “here” for some purpose.  I love a quote of Albert Schweitzer – “The purpose of human life is to serve, and to show compassion and the will to help others.”  Then again, there’s the quote of W.H.Auden – “We are all here on earth to help others; what on earth the others are here for, I don’t know.”     

True Confession

(While we’re talking about being pulled over by the police – let me offer a repeat from 8/16/2011 – which still chokes me up)  Shortly after passing the Illinois bar exam, Donna and I flew to Portland, Oregon, to visit my aunt and uncle and their family. One weekend, we rented a car and drove south into the hinterlands of Oregon.

Upon leaving a small town, I saw some birds on the road ahead. I announced to Donna in my best John Wayne voice “watch this” and I stomped on the accelerator. The car sped up 80, 90, 100 . . . Donna is shouting at me to slow down but – hey – I’m 25 and macho. As I approached the birds, they looked up and casually flew off.  I rocketed over the carrion they’d been chewing on (“Guess I showed them“). About that time, I looked in the rear view mirror and was surprised to see a car behind us. A police car. #&X@*!  I pulled over and stopped. And got a ticket. 108 in a 65 zone.  #&X@*!

What was worse was that I was required to appear in court at a time I was to appear before the Character & Fitness Committee of the Illinois Bar (“sorry fellows – I have a court date“). Donna was silent.  Stewing.  At the next town, I stopped. The judge’s name was on the ticket.  So I . . . called the local police station from a pay phone:

Scott: Hello? Officer, I’m trying to reach Judge ____ . Can you call him and ask him to please call me?

Officer: It’s Sunday.

Scott: I know but it’s important (I gave him the pay phone number).

Officer: I’ll see (Click).

I waited for 30 minutes. The sun was setting. Quiet. Birds chirping their evening hymms. Then the pay phone rang.

Scott: This is Scott Petersen (I figured that was better than “hullo”).

Judge:  This is Judge ___ . You wanted me to call (sounds of splashing and children in the background)

Scott: Your Honor, I’m from Chicago. I (explained how I had) just graduated from law school and passed the bar. I was just pulled over by two officers for speeding – 108 in a 65 zone. I am guilty.  But I am supposed to appear in your court and I am also supposed to appear before the Character & Fitness Committee of the Bar at the same time. I was wondering. . . .

Judge: Just a minute (long silence). All right, Mister Petersen. Raise your right hand. Repeat after me. “I promise that I will never speed again.”

Scott: I will never speed again.

Judge: I want you to promise. I want you to swear to me. . .

Scott: (I raised my hand in the phone booth) I swear. . . I swear. . . I will never speed again.

Judge: Send me your ticket. Mark it “personal.” Remember Mister Petersen – you promised me. (Click)  It was a “not guilty” over the phone.  No fine.

The Judge could have said “tough kid – you show up or else.” But he didn’t. The lesson therefore became all the more powerful.  Seriously.  And since then, I have never taken a car much beyond the speed limit. When tempted, I am always tugged back to a fall day in 1972. . . . when I made a promise. . . .

I Can Top That

My cousin Jack is a structural virologist – with a PhD and a laboratory at the Scripps Institute in La Jolla, California.  He began his career as a professor of biology at Purdue.   Jack read my post “Do You Play Golf” and responded beginning with an “I can top that.”  I read his response. And thought – wow – he did – “top” my post.  Up until now, my “posts” have been of my own creation and authorship. But Jack’s response is so special (and “topping”). I thought you would enjoy . . . . .

Okay Scott, I can top that. It is 1993 and I am on sabbatical in La Jolla, CA.  It is May and my son, Aaron, is finishing his third year at Dayton University.  He needs a car.  Mary and I are only using one car in California because I ride my bike to work.  So we need to get a car back to Indiana for Aaron.  However, I am supposed to be in Japan a week later.  I tell anyone who will listen that I can get the car back to West Lafayette in two days and still leave from Chicago to be in Tokyo for my meeting.   

So – I leave La Jolla at 3 a.m. on a Wednesday morning.  The goal is to be in Amarillo, Texas, the first night (1000 miles) and West Lafayette the second (another 1000 miles).  All is on schedule.  I am on Interstate 40 cruising into Amarillo at about 9 p.m.  I am passing a truck at about 70 mph in a 55 mph zone (mind you – this is 1993).  I see a police car in my review mirror with lights flashing.  I stop. 

The officer comes to the window and asks if I know how fast I am going.  I said 70 when I saw his lights.  He observed that my speedometer was working well.  He asked where I came from.  I responded San Diego.  He looked mildly sympathetic.  Then he asked where I was going.  I said tomorrow I was hoping to be in West Lafayette, Indiana.  He asked what I did in West Lafayette and I responded that I was a professor of biology at Purdue University.  He looked at me – paused – and asked “what is the difference between a eukaryotic cell and a prokaryotic cell.”  I asked if he wanted the long answer or the short.  He said the short was fine.  I said a eukaryotic cell has a nucleus and a prokaryotic cell does not. He smiled and said that “I think we will handle this with a warning.” He walked back to his car and drove off.  I got the car to West Lafayette and I made it to my meeting in Tokyo!

[Printed with permission of my cousin Jack]

Do You Play Golf?

[A repeat from March 19, 2017]  Years ago, when I was a States Attorney, I played golf with 7 other guys. Every Saturday morning for several years.  From April to October – we played at Cog Hill. Number 4. Dubsdread. Reserved tee times.  6:30 a.m. or so depending on sunrise.   Second and third foursomes off the tee — usually after Larry Lujack and a group from his radio staff.   

Since I lived in Wilmette, this meant traversing 45 miles to Lemont. Every Saturday morn.  To arrive by 5:45 a.m.  Thus, each Saturday, I was up at 4:00.  Showered, dressed and on the road by 4:30 a.m.

When I left my house, I would not waste time.  If you get my drift.  I gunned the car when I left the driveway and by the time I hit Lake Street, I was doing maybe 50.  In a 30 zone.   Never a soul on the highway.  Except one morning when in the black of night, way back, I saw the flicker of Mars lights moving swiftly in my direction.  #%&X!.  I slowed.  Stopped.  Got out of the car and stood there.  Holding up my license.  A police squadrol ground to a stop and an officer got out.  I was wearing khaki shorts, flip flops and a golf shirt so I didn’t look like much of a threat.  “Do you know how fast you were going?” he asked as he approached.   I handed him my license.  “Yes sir – I do.  I was going too fast.”  And then I offered “Are you a golfer?”  He looked at me.  “Yeah.  Why?”  I responded “I live back there.”  I turned and pointed.  “Every Saturday morning, I play golf at Cog Hill in Lemont.  We tee off in about an hour.  And I confess that I sometimes go faster than I should when I leave my house.”  

The officer looked at me.  Chewing on my comment.   “Well most Saturdays, I’m sitting right back [he turned and pointed] there. Keeping an eye on things.  Do me a favor.  Go the speed limit from now on.”  And he handed me back my license.  “Hit ’em straight” he said.  And walked back to his cruiser.