Saturday morning cartoons

I stumbled across this gem on Twitter yesterday… I’m sure every dog owner can relate.

That Twitter user, Dick King-Smith (@DickKingSmith) is the author of the book that was adapted into the movie Babe, and he has a bunch of fun animal videos. Good for a chuckle. Not that any of us need to waste any more time on the Interwebs on cat, dog, squirrel, emu, rabbit and seal videos.

Thankful all year long

Seth Godin just plain gets it. First of all, the dude writes a blog post every day. Yes, that’s right. Every. Single. Day. Neither rain, nor snow, nor authoring books nor hosting workshops nor speaking at conferences, will keep Mr. Godin from his appointed rounds — sharing pearls of wisdom with folks like you… and fanboys like me.

Here’s Seth’s post from earlier this week:

If every day were Thanksgiving

It’s my favorite holiday for a good reason: It doesn’t matter what country, what culture or what background you come from…

Gratitude works.

Gratitude scales.

Gratitude creates a positive cycle of more gratitude.

When in doubt, default to gratitude.

Brief and brilliant. Words to live by. Not just today. Every. Single. Day!

[I’m extremely grateful for Seth’s “write a blog post a day for a week” challenge a few years ago — it kickstarted my blogging habit. I’m also grateful for you — thanks for reading!]

What’s wrong with this picture?

Photo: Patrick Semansky

That’s Dwayne Haskins, the rookie quarterback for the Washington Redskins. The dude with the $14 million contract. He’s celebrating his first win as a starter by taking a selfie with fans. Actually, in the photo above, he’s celebrating his first presumed win. There were still two ticks left on the clock. The Redskins had just intercepted the ball. All they had to do was take a knee… but Haskins was too busy taking a selfie to trot out onto the field for the final play.

The Redskins interim coach (yes, it’s been a bad season) couldn’t track down Haskins. (Maybe he should’ve checked Instagram.) So he had to scramble and send the backup QB onto the field to seal the victory.

After the game, Haskins admitted that he thought the clock ran out on the interception. So maybe we should just chalk it up to the exuberance of youth. But seriously, it was only a three-point game at the time. Keep your head in the game until the game is officially over.

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Maybe I’m overthinking it. After all, with just a few seconds left, what could possibly go wrong?

To me, Haskins sideline antics are a symptom of a larger problem in the selfish/selfie world. Instead of being on the field with his teammates to celebrate his first ever win as an NFL starter, Haskins was hamming it up for the camera… “pics or it didn’t happen.”

I see it all the time at concerts too – people (of all ages, this isn’t an “OK Boomer” rant) whipping out their cell phones to capture video of a band’s biggest hit. Here’s an idea: keep your damn phone in your pants and experience that moment with your own eyeballs! Those memories will be much better than some shaky video footage with distorted audio.

But don’t just take it from me, take it from an expert on living life to the fullest:

A bunch of baloney

Here’s a headline that caught my eye yesterday.

The full story is here. Key quote is below:

We can’t have bologna made out of real pork in the U.S. The USDA requires that it be made only with the freshest cow hooves and turkey beaks.

But even legit bologna can be dangerous:

People who smuggle drugs are called “drug mules” so would this smuggler be a “baloney pony”?

Maybe the border wall should be made out of Wonder Bread instead of concrete.

Now if only they could confiscate all those Oscar-Meyer Lunchables, this country would finally be safe.

Scrolling through the Twitter comments about this heinous crime is well worth the time.

Step it up. And down.

A couple of Saturdays ago, Mrs. Dubbatrubba and I went on a two hour urban hike. We started just north of downtown, went to Washington Park, then north to Findlay Market… then up (and later down) several sets of steps that took us to Mt. Auburn, Pendleton and Liberty Hill.

During our 11,000 steps, I saw streets I never would’ve found otherwise, many of them with homes from the 1800s. I’ve lived in Cincinnati for 30+ years, yet on that Saturday hike, I walked through parks I never knew existed, and enjoyed views of the city that I’d never experienced previously.

View from Jackson Park in Mt. Auburn

We went past old breweries, down original cobblestone streets, through an alley filled with street art… and up really long sets of steps.

Photo: Scott Beseler

Cincinnati lays claim to being a “City of Seven Hills” (although no one can agree on which seven are the official ones). Back in the day, these steps were part of the daily commute for the folks working in the breweries and meat-packing plants of “Porkopolis.”

Liberty Steps. Photo: Scott Beseler

This Soapbox Media article from 2016 has great information about the steps that help connect the city, and its residents. Here’s an excerpt:

At the height of their use in the 19th Century, over 30 miles of hillside steps once connected the neighborhoods of Cincinnati to each other. The first were installed by Mt. Auburn residents in the 1830s in order to gain easier access to Findlay Market in Over-the-Rhine. These days, some are more travelled than others and many have been closed; some are in decent condition, but others are trashed and overgrown.

As a reward for the climb, the ascending pedestrian is greeted at the top with scenic vistas of downtown, the Ohio River and beyond. Not just for recreation, however, the hillside steps are also an integral part of our city’s transportation system and provide a pedestrian-friendly connection to some remote areas of the city.

“What separates Cincinnati from other major cities are the steps, and they are essential.  San Francisco has beautiful hills, but most access points are on private property. You never get a really good perspective of the hills, valleys and views unless you are in an expensive hotel or restaurant.”

Carl B. Westmoreland Jr., as quoted in John Clubbe’s exhaustive and learned Cincinnati Observed guide to the city – from the Soapbox article linked above

Kudos to Derek Scacchetti for organizing and leading these walks, through his Urban Rangers group.

“As Urban Rangers, we bring people together to make a habit of purposeful walking, to explore the urban environment, and to be advocates for pedestrianism and our city’s public spaces.”

(Check out the Urban Rangers Instagram for some great tour shots.)

And a shout-out to Spring in Our Steps for helping to clean up, preserve and mark many long-neglected public alleys and stairways. An interactive map of more than 300 sets of steps in Cincinnati is here.

From the Community Walk website.

There’s a lot to be said for being a tourist in your own town. You don’t always have to go across the country or around the world to enjoy new sights and make new friends. Sometimes adventure awaits a lot closer to home.

Not all heroes wear capes. Not all champions get trophies.

Morgan Hentz is an all-universe volleyball player. Two-time All-American, and two-time NCAA champion with Stanford.

I worked with Morgan’s dad Mike at an ad agency eons ago. We still get together for the occasional happy hour, but those are few and far between, for reasons that will become patently obvious when you read this wonderful article about Morgan and the Hentz family on the Stanford Athletics website.

Morgan’s younger brother Louie had a cancerous brain tumor at age one. Louie and his mom, Kerin, spent a year at St. Jude’s in Memphis… yes, a full year… while Mike mostly stayed home with Morgan and her sister. Wrap your head around that for a moment: a mom separated from her young daughters, a father 500 miles away while his infant son was fighting for his life.

Then the other shoe dropped: at age 3, Louie was diagnosed with autism.

Louie does not interact through spoken language – other than simple wants and needs. He’s 16 and weighs 300 pounds because of his meds, and can be difficult to control physically. His life has been one of appointments and therapists. His development has been slow — hopeful on a good day. He is repeating some lines from familiar movies and videos, creating some optimism about brain development. But there’s no way to know.

Morgan is a superstar, but so is the rest of her family.

photo from GoStanford.com article. ISIPhotos

Long ago, Kerin and Mike learned to sacrifice things that other couples take for granted – nights and weekends away, dinners out, and even time with their other children. Instead, they’ve learned to roll with whatever happens and be prepared for whatever comes next.

Every day is a new challenge. Mike and Kerin have been playing at the highest level for 16 years. They’re world champs in the game that matters most.

“I feel like I would never wish what Louie had on anyone, but I think that because of my family and being able to make the most of the situation, I’ve learned a lot from him and my parents. They are the biggest role models in my life — the sacrifices they have made for our family. They have always put us kids first.”

photo from GoStanford.com article

Please read the article by David Kiefer. It’s a beautiful profile of a beautiful family.

Rictile unleashed

About a month ago, my old radio pal Ric “The Rictile” Cengeri was unceremoniously dumped from his Vermont Public Radio gig, after 12 years of faithful service.

Full story is here.

I worked with Ric for three years at 97X. We were roommates for much of that time, and morning show co-hosts for a year. So we spent a ton of time together. You won’t find a nicer guy, or one more passionate about creating great radio programs.

His energy was off the charts. His sense of humor was keen. His joie de vivre was contagious. His ability to remember listeners’ names was Rain Man-like. The way he mentored our college co-ops was admirable.

You could drop Rictile onto an uncharted desert isle (not Gilligan’s Island) and come back in three weeks to find a full blown party with hundreds of people. (He earned his Dirty Mayor nickname from his local pub, where he made so many fast friends that they called him “the Mayor.” He even has a cider named in his honor.)

After such a shock, Ric could’ve chosen to wallow in self-pity. But that’s not the Way of the Rictile. Instead, he’s doing what he’s always done. Going to concerts, to museums, to sporting events, to restaurants, to the symphony, to poetry readings, to the pub, to farmer’s markets, and volunteering in the community… The Man stole his livelihood, but he’s not going to mess up his life.

The Facebook post below from a former co-worker — and Ric’s reply — speak volumes about the kind of person he is.

Ric’s VPR job ended on a sour note, but the Dirty Mayor’s life is a thing of beauty. I can’t wait to hear about his next adventure.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year

I’m not talking about the “holiday season” (I’m a USDA Certified, Grade A Grinch about that nonsense).

I’m talkin’ ’bout the college basketball season. And in particular Xavier University basketball. As an alum, as a 25+ year season ticket holder, I love it — it gives me something to look forward to during the dreary days of winter. Even the cheesy hype videos give me goose bumps.

I used to just have a single season ticket, sitting with a few friends. But last year, I added another season ticket, so each game is also a chance to spend some quality time with one of my kids, or my wife, or a friend. The games have created some fantastic memories over the years…

Here’s to many more magical moments. Let’s go X!

California is fired

Last Thursday morning, my lovely bride and I boarded a plane bound for San Francisco. We were supposed to run in a 12-person Ragnar relay race covering 200+ miles from San Francisco to Napa. One of my co-workers organized the team, just as he had done in 2017. That year, raging wildfires caused the cancellation of the race about a week in advance.

Shortly after we arrived, it was, as Yogi Berra would say “Deja vu all over again.” We received notice that this year’s race also was cancelled due to raging wildfires in Sonoma.

It was a bummer, dude, but we managed to make some lemonade out of the lemons we were given. The entire team met at the starting line at Golden Gate Park on Friday morning, when the race was supposed to begin, and we ran to (and across) the Golden Gate Bridge.

Then we had lunch on the bay in Sausalito. Then Muir Woods. And sunset back at Golden Gate Park’s beach. And we still did the winery tours that we had scheduled for Sunday. So don’t cry for us.

Nice shirt…

But do cry for California, which has been devastated by wildfires over the past few years. It’s a beautiful piece of the globe, but idyllic has turned dystopian. Infernos are the new normal.

Source: CBS News 11/1/19 at 9 a.m.

And cry for the residents who have lost their loved ones, their homes, their businesses, their power… their way of life. (Check out this NPR article for more.)

Photo credit: Lesley McClurg/KQED from this NPR article

The Golden State has lost its luster. Climate change is real. Now it’s up to us to change.

Sedaris. Rhymes with hilarious.

I attended a performance by author David Sedaris last night. You may think it’s a bit of a stretch to call it a “performance” when he was merely reading his stories, followed by an audience Q&A. But that means you’ve never seen David Sedaris live. And I was in that group prior to last night.

I’ve read most of his books, and love them. I knew he’d be funny, insightful, witty, [insert other adjective for a writer of humorous, satirical essays here]. But I didn’t expect it to be bust-a-gut, rolling in the aisles, laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying funny. Yet it was. I haven’t laughed that much, or that hard, in ages. He’s not just a masterful writer, but also a powerful performer.

The promo blurb for the show was spot-on:

If you love David Sedaris’s cheerfully misanthropic stories, you might think that you know what you’re getting into at his live readings.  You’d be wrong.  To see him read his own work on stage allows his autobiographical narrative to reveal a uniquely personal narrative that will keep you laughing throughout the evening.  

Best of all for a hack like me was the fact that the laughs were powered by David’s written words. No props, no fog machines, no show business shtick. Just short essays read by a 62-year-old man standing at a podium on an otherwise bare stage. Observant. Trenchant. Moving. And Hilarious.

David’s tour continues in the U.S. through early December. If he’s performing anywhere near you, you simply must go.

[David also used a bit of his stage time to promote another writer’s latest book. He raved about Ann Patchett’s new novel The Dutch House. I’ll have to check that one out.]

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