Giving back

In 1981, wealthy businessman Eugene Lang was asked back to his old elementary school, PS 121 in Harlem to address the graduating sixth grade class. They would be soon going off to middle school and hopefully high school.

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He planned to tell the kids to study and work hard—all the usual stuff. However, on the way to the podium, the principal told him that 75 percent of the class would never graduate high school.

“I suddenly realized that anything I had to say that was ordinary, conventional would be completely out of place, would be completely meaningless,” Lang told reporter Harry Reasoner and a 60 Minutes crew in 1986.

Boy did he go way off script. Continue reading “Giving back”

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Life’s unwritten rules

A couple of weeks ago, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Edubray Ramos threw a 96 mile fastball over the back of the head of New York Mets second baseman Asdrubal Cabrera. The two glared at each other, tempers on both teams temporarily flared, and the Phillies manager got ejected, but the game soon continued.

The Phillies would go onto lose the game 4-3. Ramos claimed the pitch got away from him, but it more than likely was in retaliation for the way Cabrera handled himself after he hit a game-winning three-run home run last September. Cabrera celebrated the home run by tossing his bat and throwing his hands in the air.

While a little out of the norm, because of the close game, baseball has dozens of unwritten rules. If a pitcher hits one of yours, you hit one of theirs. When a pitcher reaches the fourth or fifth inning and has given up no hits or walks, be sure to not mention it, lest you jinx the pitcher. If you’re up by five runs, do not show up the other team by stealing second base. The list goes on and on.

Life is not all that different. It has some of the same type of unwritten rules. We all follow them. Some more diligently than others. Many are just good manners or common sense. Others are a little more complicated. When we follow these rules, everyday life tends to work like clockwork. When we fail to follow them, all hell breaks loose.

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Back to the future: A History lesson

My friend sitting in the desk to my left would first start to blink repeatedly a couple of times in a row. His head would start to sag to the side and he’d shake it in an effort to wake-up, but soon enough he would be fast asleep.

I, on the other hand, would be on the edge of my seat, excited, and focused intently on the teacher’s stories.

Whether it was elementary school or middle school History, I couldn’t get enough. I wanted more.

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When taking-turns becomes a battle

I was mad at myself.

I let myself get sucked into a juvenile battle of egos. I work hard to avoid getting into a battle of wills with other adults over money and family issues. They’re stupid battles and no one ever wins. In this instance, though, I walked right into one.

I ran into an acquaintance I’ve known for a number of years at the grocery store and he started telling me about the lengthy list of colleges that his son has been accepted. I felt happy for him and congratulated him on his son’s success. I’ve been in the same situation and it’s a great spot to be in. You feel a mixture of joy, relief, and parental pride.

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A mother’s pain: The day Christ died

In my December 2015 blog, Taking a walk in Mary’s footsteps, I posted some thoughts on what Mary might have been thinking about as she gave birth to Jesus. Last Easter,  I offered a glimpse of how I imagine Mary suffered, seeing her now-grown son crucified on the cross, and how she came to her faith in the resurrection to come. The Bible (and other writers) have described this story better than I ever could; these are just a few simple thoughts that help me personally to better understand the crucifixion story. With another Easter upon us, I repeat it here.

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I watched my son die today.

His name was Jesus and he died a horrific, unspeakable death for crimes he did not commit. He died for us.

My family and friends are urging me to rest. They’re worried about me. My sister Mary, Mary of Magdala, and John had to carry me from Golgotha, that awful blood-stained hill, just outside the city gates and later to Jesus’ tomb. I understand their concern. I’m exhausted and I know I should rest, but nothing will take away the image of my beaten, bloodied son stretched out and nailed to that cross. My son, the son of God, suffered and died today for our sins. I’m heartbroken. My beautiful, beautiful baby is dead.

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Giving it the college try

I have a complaint.

In the second episode of the fourth season of the TV drama The West Wing, Josh Lyman, White House deputy Chief of Staff, and Toby Ziegler, White House Communications Director, are stuck in a hotel in Indiana  and they come across Matt Kelley, a father, who’s concerned about how he’s going pay for his daughter’s college tuition.

Kelley has just taken the daughter to visit the University of Notre Dame and she’s fallen in love with the school. He says she’s so excited about seeing the school up-close that she’s not going to be able to get to sleep. He nurses his frustration and worry over a beer in the hotel bar.

“It (college) should be hard,” Kelley tells the two White House staff members. “I like that it’s hard. Putting your daughter through college, that’s a man’s job, a man’s accomplishment. But it should be a little easier. Just a little easier, because in that difference is … everything.”

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Tugging at your heart-strings

Prolific Chicago children’s author and TED conference speaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal wrote in The New York Times online Style section in early March of her quest for more time. If she couldn’t beat the dreaded cancer that had stricken her body, then she wanted to make sure that her husband found someone new once she passed away.

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If the headline “You May Want to Marry My Husband” and accompanying essay didn’t wake you up when you saw the column pop-up on your screen, then not much else will. Like many readers, I read Rosenthal’s 1,200-word “mock online dating profile for her husband” and came away emotionally pulled into her life and story.

On one hand, I completely got her sarcasm and wit. She complained about facing a deadline to get husband a new spouse while she still had readers’ attention and, most importantly, a pulse.

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Searching for opportunities

I’m quitting my job.

Yup, it’s official, I’m quitting. You’re the first to know. I haven’t told anyone else, not my wife, my boss, coworkers, no one. I’m sure my wife will be shocked, maybe even a little worried, but when she hears my plan, she’ll love it.  

I’m quitting and moving to Florida. I’ve got everything covered. I’m quitting so that I can get a job at the Happiest Place on Earth. Yes, Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

I’ll take any job, but I have my heart set on one job in particular: driving the Disney Monorail. (The park’s monorail system built in 1971 is one of the most heavily used monorail systems in the world with more than 150,000 daily riders, surpassed only by the Tokyo Monorail in Tokyo, Japan, with 300,000 daily riders and the Chongqing Rail Transit in China, which has over 900,000 daily riders.)

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