Input and Output

It was a cold, bitterly cold, November morning in 2002.  After many months of training, I sat, shivering, at Fort Wadsworth in Staten Island awaiting the start of the New York City Marathon – my first such race.  The feeling of anticipation and excitement was palpable.  I was eager, and deathly afraid, to begin.  I had never run 26.2 miles – not even in my training.  I didn’t know what would happen to me on the streets of New York…

In short, what happened was that my life was changed.  Radically and forever.  It was on those streets of New York that I became a marathon runner.  I became a champion.  I became a warrior. I became something I hadn’t ever been before.

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Radio Star (The Impact of Our Words)

I was a sophomore in high school, I believe.  I had just alerted my parents that I needed to head back to the school that night to broadcast the school’s JV and Varsity basketball games on TV that night.  I remember my mother, shocked, almost to speechlessness, uttering, “You’re going to do what?

“I’m going to announce the basketball games on live TV,” I responded.

My mother had no doubt that I would be able to announce a game.  She had listened to me announcing baseball games, real and imaginary, since I first started following the game.  My voice was the voice of my childhood.

When I played my imaginary baseball games in the basement by throwing the ball against the wall, I also served as the play-by-play announcer.

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Favorite Books 2017

I love to read.  

Each year I keep track of all of the books that I read.  My minimum goal is to read 24 books each year – or two per month.  I was pleased that in 2017, I was able to exceed that goal by reading a grand total of 34 books.  For a guy as active and busy as I am, that’s pretty good.  I also don’t count my own books in that total.  Any writer can share that they read their own drafts countless times as they write, revise, edit, again and again.

Now that 2017 is coming to a close, I’ll share the books I enjoyed the most this year with a quick note about each.  This isn’t the complete list of the books I read, but the ones that struck me, for varied reasons, as the ones I enjoyed the most.

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Schulz and Success

I just finished reading,  Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography (by David Michaelis) an excellent book that provided an in-depth look at Charles Schulz, the creator of the Peanuts comic strip and franchise.  Schulz’s life was fascinating.  He was successful beyond his wildest dreams.  His characters became household names.  His sayings have been quotes by millions.  In many ways, Charlie Brown, Lucy, Schroeder, Linus, Sally, and Snoopy defined America in the second half of the 20th Century.

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Insignificant?

I think, in a way, we are very spoiled.  The world is at our fingertips.  We can see amazing things whenever we want.  Some of the amazing things we see are real, some of them might even be staged (“reality TV”), but, nonetheless, in the moment at least, what we are watching seems real, amazing, other worldly, and significant. 

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Day #1

 I have run a countless number of races in my life.  Yes, this includes 20 marathons.  (I always keep an accurate count of my marathons.)

I love to run.

I have often stated that the marathon defines me. 

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Sometimes You Can’t?

Sometimes we can’t accomplish what we set our minds to do.

Sometimes impossible isn’t an illusion… it is real.  Or, at least it seems real.  We strive, we reach, we try – and we fall short, we stumble, we fall.  We reach and try again.  And fall and fail.  We fall and fail and fail again.  Or so it seems…

Sometimes the goal, whatever it is, seems too hard, too distant, too impossible.  We say, “I can’t.”  We say, “It’ll never happen.”  

What then?

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Limits

Often times we say, “I can’t do that” or “I’m not good at that.”  (I am as guilty of this as anyone.  There’s a lot I sometimes believe I can’t do.)

When we say the words, “I can’t,” we are limiting ourselves.  As a result, I believe that some of the most damaging words in our language are “I can’t.” 

When we say we can’t, we make our own lives poorer – not richer.  When we say we can’t, we eliminate the possibilities and the learning that comes with and from new experiences.  When we say we can’t, our world becomes smaller, our interests become fewer, and we deprive ourselves of the opportunity to learn more about ourselves.

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The Houston Astros and You!

(The following is a modified (slightly shortened and less school specific) version of the message I sent to my teaching staff as we begin to prepare for the opening of the 2017-18 school year in a few weeks.  The message applies to all individuals in all walks of life and all professions.)

When I was a child growing up in the late 1970’s, the Houston Astros had very cool uniforms. 

I was a Yankees fan (that is deep-seated in my blood), but there were times when I wished the Yankees could at least be a little more colorful.  I, of course, love the Yankees’ midnight blue pinstripes and the interlocking NY, but for a kid, that Astros rainbow uniform was a lot more eye-catching!

The Astros also were also a pretty unique team.  They played in the only domed stadium (The Astrodome), they played on fake grass (Astroturf), they had exciting players like Nolan Ryan, J.R. Richard, and Cesar Cedeno (pictured above).  The Astros were even featured in one of the Bad News Bears movies!

None of that influenced me enough to be an Astros fan, but it is undeniable that there was a certain appeal to rooting for the Houston Astros. 

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