She’s Gone

The biggest disaster of the day happened 15 minutes before the markets closed but had nothing to do with the failed bailout or the stock market. My mom died today.

Mom, or Ma as I usually called her, fought the good fight against long odds. I was there to see her take her last breadth in this world.

It seems even more strange that she left the living just hours before the start of Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year. Given that she held on for eight days after the doctor told us she only had 2-3 left I would have thought that she would usher in the new year. But she was always thinking of others, especially her children, before herself and she probably wanted us to be comforted by friends and congregation, praying without worrying any more about her condition.

She was warm and strong. She raised four kids, worked and dealt with a husband who contracted Alzheimer’s at 56 while she still had an autistic child in the house to care for. She made sure that at all times that child, my sister Sandy, had the best care possible. This woman who spent much of her early married life as a housewife had to learn to deal with state bureaucracy, find appropriate living facilities for her, raise funds, charm the staff/the many CEOs and even the occasional U.S. senator, and stay on top of everything to ensure that her daughter never fell through the cracks in the system and not only lived but thrived.

She always thought that whatever her kids did was great and whatever help we provided was above and beyond the call. Family was very important to her and this meant not just us but to her aunts and uncles and extended lists of cousins from each branch of the family tree. She loved and was loved.

She could annoy in only the ways that a parent could. She loved to give advice. Into my fifties she never failed to suggest that I needed to be wearing a coat any time that she was cold. But then we were always her kids, in the most loving way that those words can be taken.

I will miss her every day.

The Onion Strikes Strikes a Blow For the Privileged

I have not checked out The Onion for quite awhile.  Based on this fantastic satire, Imay need to check out a few past issues. From the Onion website for 9/29/2008, here is the lead-in:

“In what local authorities are calling a “near tragedy,” Charles Wentworth, a 17-year-old Rutgers Preparatory senior and member of the affluent Wentworth family, came perilously close to suffering a consequence resulting from his own wrongdoing Saturday.”

Read the entire article here. Really, you must read it. This is the level of writing I aspire to.

Paul Newman Plays His Final Role

As someone who does not personally know any famous people I have always wondered if you can know an actor through the roles he plays. Not that anyone who plays the role of a killer is necessarily a evil, but how much of the actor’s personality come through on screen.

If you can tell about a person from his/her roles then I wish I had had a chance to hang out with Paul Newman.  It seemed as though strength, goodness, whimsy, rebellion, honesty and a devilish sense of fun shone through . Normally I resent ridiculously handsome men because I am not one of them but not Paul. You had to like Paul.

Who could not like a man who starred in:

Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1958)( opposite Elizabeth Taylor); Exodus (1960), The Hustler (1961), Hud (1963), Harper (1966), Hombre (1967), Cool Hand Luke (1967), Slap Shot (1977) and The Verdict (1982), Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969), The Sting (1973),  The Long, Hot Summer (1958),  The Drowning Pool (1975),  The Glass Menagerie (1987) and Nobody’s Fool (1994). 25 years after “The Hustler”, Newman reprised his role of “Fast” Eddie Felson in the The Color of Money (1986) for which he won the Academy Award for Best Actor. Heck, with that list you can even forgive the few clunckers like The Towering Inferno (1974).

He seemed to be a mench outside of his work as an actor, certainly not the norm today. He showed his daring by racing cars, his moxy and social conscoisness by starting an organic food business and then giving the profits to charity. He was also politically active. He made #19 on Nixon’s enemies list. What’s not to love!

Not that it impacts my life directly but I am sorry that he is gone. Time to get to Borders and begin building my Paul Newman film library. That will keep me busy for a long time.

Friday Night Lites

No deep thinking going on right now. Too much weighing on the brain. So…

Century Riding. While on a bike for almost seven hours what was it that I thought most about you may ask. I kept thinking that I had to pedal. At one point after 70 miles my mind could think of nothing but how I had to send messages to my legs to keep moving. They were not moving on their own. I began to wonder how many revolutions of the pedal does it take to go 107 miles?

Intellectual or Pseudo-Intellectual. I was listening to a review of a locally produced play on public radio. The reviewer compared the experience to that of the Burgermeisters of the 1920s seeing the Three Penny Opera for the first time. I ask you, does that show a deep knowledge of the theatre or was she just showing off? (Be sure to check out the cool website for the TPO).

The Six Pounds I Lost are Now Found. One benefit of riding all day is that you lose a few pounds. Sure some is water weight but you do burn some calories. By Friday they are all back where they live…in my gut.

My Son’s Soccer Team is Not Playing Great But He Is.  He is in his senior year and playing the best soccer of his life. Some scouts from elite teams have come to watch him play. Too bad he wants to play baseball in college.

Happy Birthday Hervey. Hervey Juris, one of my MBA professors, mentors and 30 years ago occasional tennis partner, turned 70 this month. I saw him 3 months ago for the first time in over 8 years. He and his lovely wife Leslie have a beautiful home in Sante Fe. I still need to write about the fabulous night I had visiting. The are two warm, inviting and intelligent people.

The Economist’s Technology Quarterly. Always some of the most interesting reading on emerging technologies. Where else can you find an article on robotics titled “I, Human”? My problem? The new one came out in the September 6th edition and I am still carrying around the last one waiting to find time to read it.

Teach Your Children Well. I have a younger associate that is very bright but thinks narrowly and therefore does not deliver client ready stuff. He has become too used to waiting for me to give him answers so tonight I tried the Socratic method to try and draw out ideas and thought process. He did not understand most of my questions. I am running out of ideas.

About all I can write for now. Later.

100 Miles Redux

The Cubs and I have made history this weekend. For the first time in 100 years the Cubs have made the post-season 2 years in a row. For the first time 52 years I have completed 100 mile rides in consecutive years. The big difference being that they have been trying for each of the past 100 years and I have been doing this for three.

If you read this regularly you know the degree of trepidation I had regarding this ride. The summer had too many other distractions for me to ride as much as last year. I felt physically, mentally and emotionally unprepared. However, if one can say nothing else about me it can be said that I am determined and a plugger. With the support of my wife and encouragement from buddy Frank and others, I could not not try.

When I left this morning the temps were cool but not cold yet it was overcast and looked as if it would rain. At times we rode though fog. And yet my biggest fear on these rides is always the wind on the ride back. The weather gods cooperated in a big way. It stayed pleasently cool, never rained and most or the wind was on the first half of the ride. I almost yelped with joy as we took the first turn south and there was barely a breeze.

Key stats

 107.9 miles (not counting the 5 mile round trip from my house.)

Ride time: 6 hours 53 minutes

Total time with rest stops (4) and stop lights ( a gazillion): 8 hours 27 minutes

Average speed while riding: 16.02 mph

Tomorrow Beckons

Another bad day today. I now know that I have had the last conversation with my mother, ever. She was in such pain the last couple of days they give her enough drugs to keep her out. It was hard sitting with her today.

When I wake up tomorrow I am supposed to ride 100 miles. So much changes in a year. Last year I was pumped. I wanted so badly to conquer this milestone and I did. This year I am mentally and physically drained. But, I will never know if I can unless I try. Feel free to leave encouraging messages on my cell throughout the day. I will check for them at the rest stops.

No matter what happens in life, tomorrow always calls.

The Philosophy Of Desire

“People who want it to be easy are people who haven’t succeeded in life,” he says.

Time out. I need to stop here. You should know that as I find things to write about I often save key ideas as drafts and come back to them when i have time. The workings of, or lack of, a 50+ year old memory demand that. Usually I leave myself enough notes or tag a reference so it if fairly clear what the intention of the post is to be.  I went through the half dozen saved items recently and came across the quote above.

I love this quote. Everyone as a child should adopt this as part of their personal philosophy. The oddity is the last two words of the line…”he says.” Who is He? No link to an article or mention of a name, just a gender. I tries a number of on-line quotation sites to see if I could identify the author. No luck. In the back of my mind I have this vague feeling that it was said by someone I know. But I can’t recall the setting.

OK. Time in. Back to discussing the quote.

We all would like things to be easy once in awhile. I do.  So not the point. The point is that if we face challenges, succeed or fail at first, we can overcome challenges later. Not to mention the huge satisfaction of besting a difficult situation and how little comes from achieving the easy.

As examples,  on several recent occasions I was with young colleagues who were amazed at how I handled difficult situations and turned potential losses into gains. I know that I would likely have not done so well if I had not had the opportunity to face similar situations before. I know that some of those past moments were quite humbling.  

So whether it is overprotective parents trying to make life easy for there kids, praising everything that young people do supposedly to build there self esteem or the new generation of worker that expects to get ahead just because and not because of their achievements. To all I say, “People who want it to be easy are people who haven’t succeeded in life.”

Or rather “he” says.


PS 9-15-08

That know-it-all Pax Romano Googled the quote and found that “he” is the great Irish philosopher Jermaine O’Neil, a basketball player now on the Toronto Raptors.  I do remember reading that article. Mr. O’Neil is recovering from a serious injury and looking to return to All Star form. Hence the quote. I had Googled the quote myself and came up with nothing. Odd.

Death Is Personal

The news we hear every day contains statistics of death. Suicide bombings in Iraq, military bombings in Afghanistan, senseless murders of innocents caught in drive by shootings, people of fame die often at what appears to be too young. This morning  I read an article of the high but declining murder rate in Brazil. The article talked about murders per hundred thousand.

I do not believe that people go when it is “their time”. I believe that the timing is random and senseless. Yet if we had to think about or feel all of these deaths individually,  the people of the world would be overwhelmed by grief and could do nothing else but mourn. That would be too much. One can be empathetic but need the distance that death as a statistic provides.

And yet it is all personal to someone. To the people who know and love the dead or dying.  Every now and again we should pause and remember that as we read about the numbers. Each has a name. Each was a someone.

Death is personal. Trust me, I am becoming one of the millions of experts created each year.

Sunday’s Ride

Better. 60 modestly strong miles. Still far short of 100.

Memories of Boston

I was in Boston today. Like so many business trips, I landed late morning, had meetings and was out by early evening. Other than lunch at Legal Seafood I had no opportunity to do anything Bostonian.

Memories of Boston for me are few and very far between. In addition to today, I spent a weekend there 22 years ago, had another one day business meeting and spent two days at a conference 4 or 5 years ago. I want to come back and spend at least a long weekend here with my wife. And I have got to get into Fenway one day.

Though few, the memories I have are strong. During the weekend long, long ago, I played typical tourist. Spent much of a day hanging out at Faneuil Hall. In addition to walking through the market (I love places like that) I watched a guy making his living juggling. He was quite entertaining. I also walked along Beacon Hill, marveling at the architecture of the homes and wondering how many lifetimes of working I would need to do to buy one. I did part of the freedom walk. And I checked out Harvard. The coolest thing about that day was that Harvard was honoring Corazon Aquino who had recently taken over as President of The Philippines and a long period of dictatorship. I caught a glimpse of her walking out of a building after her lecture. I have picture of all of this, including a shot of Cory. I may have to dig them out of the three boxes of pictures I have waiting to be filed so I can share them on-line. Unfortunately I have a close up of the juggler and only a very distant shot of Ms. Aquino.

The second memory of Boston was one night of the conference I attended. My friends Frank, Sarah and Shelly were there. We met up with a neighbor of Frank’s from Philly who was living in Boston. What started as an ordinary day became one of those semi-magical, serendipitous nights of good friends sharing great conversation. The restaurant was a typical Italian place with lots of character. I can’t remember what we talked about but the feeling of friendship, even with this woman I had never met nor seen since, the humor, wit, passion, and laughter are all there. After dinner we went across the street to this cool, little desert place. As we came out it began to rain and we shared too few umbrellas and jackets each one wanting the other to have one.

Boston offers a fine combination of history, architecture, universities, good food and interesting neighborhoods. A muti-faceted city and you know how much I love facets. Time to go back and create more memories.