A heartwarming story

Meet Kevin Carrico.

Actually that’s Doctor Kevin Carrico to you and me.

I work with Kevin’s older brother, Michael (a.k.a. “Rico”… but he’s not suave) and Kevin’s sister-in-law Ashley. And although I’ve never met Dr. Kevin, I know he’s a good dude. How so? Well, when Kevin was a teenager, he overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and was so inspired by the healthcare professionals who helped him beat cancer that he made it his life’s goal to help other kids who had cancer. He went to med school at the University of Louisville, with the goal of becoming a pediatric oncologist. His peers celebrated his persistent positive attitude by choosing him to receive an award which recognizes a senior student who reflects the characteristics of a good physician: competence, ethical behavior, leadership, compassion, and humor. Kevin was awarded his M.D. in 2020. How friggin’ kind, caring and cool is that?

The real ending isn’t quite that neat and tidy. You see, while he was in med school, Kevin was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma. Yep, more cancer, but this time a more aggressive and fatal form. Life gave Kevin lemons when he was a teenager, and he made lemonade. But then life gave Kevin a truckload of rotten lemons. It’s both cruel and unusual… and no one was less deserving of such punishment.

Kevin fought bravely, but eventually succumbed and passed away in June of 2019. He was awarded his M.D. posthumously, leaving behind a grieving family and fiancée.

I know I promised you a heartwarming story, and this one is heartbreaking instead. Worst bait-and-switch ever!

Well, the story’s not over yet. Kevin’s family has somehow been able to look beyond their own inconceivable grief at Kevin’s incomprehensible fate, and they’ve started a memorial scholarship fund in Kevin’s name through the National Collegiate Cancer Foundation (NCCF).

NCCF is committed to providing need-based financial support to young adult survivors who are pursuing higher education throughout their treatment and beyond. Furthermore, the Foundation promotes awareness and prevention of cancer within the young adult community.

From the NCCF website

Basically the NCCF supports hundreds of other young adults just like Kevin. Fighters. Brave souls. Kids with courageous hearts. And maybe one of them will become a pediatric oncologist, and will help your kid or grandkid beat cancer. That’d be pretty heartwarming, wouldn’t it?

YOU can help write a happy ending. And all you have to do is donate right here.

How friggin’ kind, caring and cool is that?

(Thanks for reading. Thanks for donating.)

Just another day at the non-office

I’ve been working from home (mostly) for the past 18 months. When we first were sent packing by the pandemic, back in March of 2020, I couldn’t wait to get back to the normalcy of an office, and the collegiality of a shared space.

Now I’m a bit more ambivalent. It’s kinda nice to be able to walk 10 steps and take 30 seconds to start another load of laundry. It’s great to be able to start dinner a bit sooner, instead of feeling like I’m participating in a “Chopped” TV show “quick fire” challenge. The hour-plus I used to spend on the bus is an hour I can spend in the comfort of my own home. And now I can listen to music all day without having to wear headphones.

Yes, I miss my work pals. And Zoom is a poor substitute for face-to-face. But the work-from-home genie is out of the bottle, and companies need to realize that, instead of clinging to the old ways.

My bonnie lies over the ocean

Last week I dropped my only daughter off at college… in Scotland!

She’s studying psychology at the University of Glasgow. One of the “four ancients” in Scotland.

Parts of campus feel like Hogwarts.

Leah’s staying in a flat (don’t call it a dorm!) about 10 minutes from campus, with 11 other kids.

In hers, the WCs and showers are at either end, not in the middle.

Her building has 9 flats, and the student “village” has nearly a dozen buildings. So there are probably 1,000 kids (all students at the University of Glasgow) in her area. They hail from all over the globe, which can be a bit daunting, but also is pretty darn cool. It’s like a mini-United Nations.

Leah took no time at all to get into college mode. It was “freshers” week so there were a lot of planned activities for the incoming students.

She’d much rather hang out with her new friends than with her old man, and that’s as it should be for an 18-year-old. But it didn’t make any easier on her dear old “da” (as they say in Scotland). I wasn’t expecting the shift to be so swift. In theory, I’m all for the wee lassie leaving the nest… but in reality, it was really tough to let go.

I can vaguely remember my college days (too many years + too many beers) but I know the friends I met there are my besties for life. I really hope Leah has the same sort of experience.

In my heart, I know this is where she’s meant to be. But there’s also a big hole in my heart now. How many days until Christmas break?

Keep reaching for the stars

I grew up in the Space Race era, when going to the moon was cool.

I also grew up listening to American Top 40 every weekend, and Casey Kasem always told me to keep reaching for the stars.

At the risk of turning into “Old Man Yells at Cloud” I’ll say that kids these days don’t seem to have the same fascination with outer space.

Perhaps that’s because the Space Race has turned into a Billionaires Ego Trip.

But the Cincinnati Public Library is trying to get kids’ heads in the clouds again. Check out this excerpt from an article by Emily DeLetter in the Cincinnati Enquirer:

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County have partnered with Dean Regas, an astronomer with the Cincinnati Observatory, to offer telescopes for free to library patrons. 

The library has five Orion StarBlast 4.5-inch astronomical telescopes available for checkout at branches around the city. Each telescope can be reserved for 21 days, and comes with two eye pieces, an Orion EZ Finder II Reflex Sight, a star chart and two of  Regas’ books—”100 Things to See in the Night Sky” and “Facts from Space!”— to guide viewers through their star-viewing experience.

I think it’s really cool that the library is doing this. Most kids — and adults — spend way too much time with their heads down, staring at their phones. Looking up can reveal whole new worlds – literally and figuratively.

Speaking of telescopes, one plays a prominent role in an excellent short story by John Young, who lives in Cincinnati.

From John Young’s “A Membrook Man”

The story appears in his book Fire in the Field and Other Stories, which is a collection of 16 of his short stories, all of which are thoroughly engaging. Highly recommended – check it out… and maybe check out a telescope while you’re at it.

Rocky Mountain High

Mrs. Dubbatrubba and I recently returned from a six-day trip to Colorado.

Getting old is no fun, but it’s nice to have kids old enough to fend for themselves while we’re gone.

We rocked the Rockies pretty hard:

  • Colorado Springs: Garden of the Gods and Pike’s Peak.
  • Two concerts at Red Rocks.
  • Estes Park – my wife ran a half-marathon, I volunteered at the finish line, handing out granola bars, chocolate milk and bananas. (“There’s always money in the banana stand.”)
  • A full day in Rocky Mountain National Park
  • More hiking in Colorado Springs… and some breweries too!
  • Denver for a Rockies game.

The thin air is tough on your lungs, but being up in the mountains also can elevate your spirits. Even if you don’t participate in the legalized recreational activities.

Those of us not named Bezos or Branson can’t take our own rocket to space, but being atop a mountain can give you a great sense of perspective on your place in this world. Feeling insignificant is significant, because you realize we’re all connected… and that life is a series of peaks and valleys.

As the World Turns… and burns

The West Coast is on fire… after suffering through a “heat dome.” Lake Mead — which supplies water to multiple states — is drying up. What’s going to happen when places like Phoenix are uninhabitable? Where will the people go when there’s no water left?

We thought The Twilight Zone episode called “The Midnight Sun” was just a fever dream… but it’s coming true.

The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is ‘doomed,’ because the people you’ve just seen have been handed a death sentence. One month ago, the Earth suddenly changed its elliptical orbit and in doing so began to follow a path which gradually, moment by moment, day by day, took it closer to the sun. And all of man’s little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries—they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival.

Rod Serling’s intro to the episode

We thought Ray Bradbury’s short story “The Aqueduct” was merely science fiction. But when people are desperate for water, bloodshed could follow.

We take our daily conveniences for granted – cranking up the AC, taking long showers, watering the lawn. But the clock is ticking, and the world is burning.

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