Monday, February 24, 2014


The word road trip for many of us brings back memories of a certain sort from our younger days – driving around, drinking beers, pulling shenanigans and having a great time!  All these things filled my head Monday morning as we pulled out of the driveway, Debbie, Rebecca, our niece Ruby and me…Wait, did I just hear the sound effect of a needle dragging across a record?  Not the type of road trip you were expecting?  Last major road trip I did like this was with Debbie and Gab, looking at colleges, same as we did this past week.  At 51, there is no longer debauchery going on in road trips!  This was, however, an important trip to uncover a mystery - what type of college does Rebecca want to attend?  As with Gab, we loved the going and visiting schools, but truth be told, between you and me, the best part is spending the time together as a family.

Interestingly enough, during this past weekend, while Bec spent the weekend with Gab at the University of Hartford, Debbie and I took the opportunity to see a movie together.  As a minor part of the movie we saw, the main character, played by Kevin Costner, had been away from his family for a long time and does not know how to be a father to his daughter.  During the movie, I realized that we take for granted our relationships with our children and spouses.  In the movie, he had to ask other people and learn from them how to interact with his child.  Being a family, working together and having a positive experience does not automatically happen, but must be worked at to become a strong family unit.  As parents, we need to take the lead in these actions.  We cannot expect others to make this happen for us, nor hope and pray that it magically coalesces into existence.

During the past week, we drove over 500 hundred miles, in which we saw 5 colleges and ended up with the weekend in Hartford.  We had a chance to see larger universities, city schools and artsy type colleges.  After each stop, we took the time to sit, review and write down what we saw, and came to some conclusions as to what was liked, and what was not.  We did this together as a family, the four of us.  We had time for goofing off (sometimes at my expense), time for swimming, laughing and an overall great experience.  The key word – WE.  As we wrapped up the weekend with Gab, Bec got to have a firsthand experience being on campus and is now ready to finish up her high school career and take the next step.  Argh!!!  Our little girl is growing up and talking about “leaving us at home”.  It is ok; it is the natural order of things.  We have had the time to spend together up until now, and that time is precious.  As we learned with Gab, she may be away at school, but in the end, we still are a family and do things together, including road trips.  For that, we are blessed.

Monday, February 17, 2014

I Come From a Land Down Under

During the 24+ hours I was on a plane back from Melbourne, Australia, I had plenty of time to reflect on the value of the trip.  My mind began to once again remind me how much I enjoy going to Australia, a great country, good people and a place with a general positive vibe.  I experienced tasty food, including yummy meat pies; a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert with a refined crowd that mingled and drank wine beforehand (truly a unique experience coming from the New York area); my first time attending an exciting, high scoring game of Footy (AFL - Australian Rules Football); and, shopping in small boot stores for authentic, Australian made Uggs.  Understand, I was really there on a business trip, where when we were in the office it was all business and long days.  However, after work, it made sense to enjoy the country that I came to visit.

My children have had the opportunity to visit other countries.  In addition, we had the amazing chance to host a German exchange student for two weeks, where we shared our area of the world with her and learned about the area of the world she is from.  I feel blessed that my family has had these experiences and would like to continue visiting other countries in the future.  The outcome is really twofold.  First, we have been able to embrace other cultures and meet various people from where we have been.  Second, it gives us an appreciation of how we are all different, yet in many ways we are the same.  When you travel through some of the countries, it was not unusual to see roadside shacks with people selling fruit, or wander down a street past 3 room small houses.  It gives perspective on what we have compared to other people.  However, once you get past the visual presented by the homes, these family units still strive to put food on the table, have a roof over their heads and want better lives for their children.

When you are at work, like I was last week, you are dealing with business issues, which are, generally speaking, the same no matter what country you are sitting in.  By stepping outside the office environment, one can interact with the part of the world one is in.  While reading books, listening to tales of past trip taken, or watching TV and movies paint a portrait of the different areas of the world, there is nothing like going, doing and sharing in an international adventure with your family. 

Now, where should we visit next?

Monday, February 10, 2014

Our Precious Resources

Do we, as humans, really respect and conserve our precious resources?  I realize that this is an open ended question, as precious resources can relate to human capital, our land and all that swims, crawls or walks.  In fact, we, ourselves, could be included in the list of precious resources, because if we do not treat the vessels we live in well, we have the potential to pollute our bodies and contaminate ourselves.  Ewww, that does not sound good, yet, we all know someone that does this.  We can blame the environment that surrounds as the cause, but in the end it is still our choice.   Still, do WE really respect and conserve our precious resources?

The reason why this seemingly peculiar thought began to rattle around in my brain was due to a recent conversation that I had with one of my bus buddies (story for another time) regarding animals.  He and his wife like to hike and enjoy the outdoors.  Every year he gets excited about the annual Eagle fest that occurs locally, at the beginning of February, and they have gone on vacations that included traveling to locations where they can enjoy the local wildlife.  I had mentioned that a number of years ago, we had taken a family trip to Australia and had visited various zoos / wildlife preserves to enjoy their native wildlife in their natural habitats.  The comment that he made was, “It is always great to see other countries that respect their wildlife.”  The conversation turned to the importance of visiting places like the Galapagos Islands and rain forests before we find a way to potentially destroy these natural resources.

Just like our bodies, we have, as far as we know, only 1 planet earth.  It is great to fantasize about travelling to other planets and the wondrous things that await us.  I firmly believe that we need to dream big and visualize these types of things to make reality.  But, what condition will we be leaving our precious planet in?  Or put in a different way, unlike the Twilight Zone episode where you can select a body to replace your current one, all we personally have are the skin we were born in.  How much junk can we put in it (mentally, physically, and spiritually) before it reaches it cracking point?  Scary thoughts…Yet, we are more aware of our environment than the generations before…

So, do we respect and conserve our precious resources?

Monday, February 3, 2014

My Uncle Ace

I got an interesting call this week regarding an uncle that had passed away 42 years ago.  I remember that my Uncle Ace was the owner of a successful camp in the Poconos, lived in Florida towards the end of his life and drove a Rolls Royce.  I really did not have a lot of information to give to someone on a mission.  The gentleman, whose life had been touched positively by my Uncle, went to Brandeis University and was advised by his family members to call Ace, who also happened to be a distant cousin of his.  My uncle ended up giving him a job at camp and was able to provide a positive impact on this young man’s life.

This short encounter made me wonder how many of us have relatives that have done something extraordinary, but we never had a chance to know about their “feats”.  If a book was not written about them or our family did not pass down their stories, no information can be found about them.   We have become so used to seeing our actions revealed in real time, due to the proliferation of computers and the rise of social media, that it is tough to remember a time when information was not readily available.  Anything we do is easily recorded on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snap Chat, etc., so much so, that we know that these outlets can impact our ability to get hired or provide instant celebrity.

As the story unfolded, the gentleman told me that he went to Brandeis’ Athletic Hall of Fame induction ceremony last year, and on the list of contributors to their programs that have been inducted, my Uncle’s name was missing.  Not only a supporter of their programs, my uncle also helped many young adults from poorer backgrounds achieve their dreams.  As one would expect, there is a whole process to get inducted, including various testimonials.  This step was completed before the call to me to get some biographical information (which my Aunt will provide).  Not knowing this part of my uncle’s life, I was filled with pride to hear what my uncle did with his life and happily offered to help in any way I can.  We learn that giving is something that all people should do, the more that you give, the more that you receive back.  If all goes well, I am planning to attend the induction ceremonies.