The Secret Salve of Sunday Sauce

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It begins with a wild rush, a whirlwind of frenzied activity.

You might not realize it at first. After all, the pace you set as you collect the necessary essentials can be as leisurely as you desire.

But once you make the commitment to start, you’re on the clock. And it’s a fast clock. A very fast clock.

Chopping and dicing. Dicing and chopping. Opening cans. Pouring contents. Mixing water. Adding spices. (In precise amounts). And you have to do these before the concoction reaches its boiling point.

The succession of activities must be quick, lest you burn, overcook, or merely miss the Continue Reading “The Secret Salve of Sunday Sauce”

Do You Have The Wisdom To See What’s Not There and To Not See What Is There?

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I woke up one morning to find this in my text messages: “Hi, Mr. Math Award. I need your opinion on this.”

Not “good morning” but “hi.” It was from my west coast daughter. It was a group text for some reason, so, although the question was directed at me, the whole family was involved.

About the “Mr. Math Award” thing. It’s an inside joke about a speech I once gave to a class of graduating seniors of my old high school. It told the story of my greatest high school disappointment – winning the math award instead of the science award. But, as they say, that is another story.

This story is about one of those rare occasions when my kids actually thought I was funny. Continue Reading “Do You Have The Wisdom To See What’s Not There and To Not See What Is There?”

Given a One-in-a-Million Chance, Always Take the One

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This crisis, like any other crisis, reveals the inner-most souls of many. For some, that means sharing a brightness that exudes hope, honesty, and optimism. For others, it’s a darkness of depressing despair.

It’s a glass-half-empty/glass-half-full sort of thing. People are different. Sometimes it’s easier to hide those differences. Other times it’s not. We were already in one of those times when it’s not before the crisis hit. The crisis only makes it even more difficult to hide the secrets of our souls.

We see this national Rorschach Test being played out in the media – both social and traditional. The two came together recently in a group I belong to. It gave me pause to think. Not about the superficial issue the group was discussing, but about the underlying philosophy it entails.

On the face of it, the post mentioned an article that exposed how journalists and certain Continue Reading “Given a One-in-a-Million Chance, Always Take the One”

Winning The Battle Of Bedford Falls

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“Gower and Uncle Billy sold war bonds. Bert the cop was wounded in North Africa, got the Silver Star. Ernie, the taxi-driver, parachuted into France. Marty helped capture the Remagen Bridge. Harry, Harry Bailey topped them all. A Navy flier, he shot down fifteen planes. Two of them as they were about to crash into a transport full of soldiers.”

“Yes, but George…”

“George? Four-F on account of his ear, George fought the battle of Bedford Falls… Air raid warden… paper drives…scrap drives… rubber drives… Like everybody else, on V-E day he wept and prayed. On V-J day, he wept and prayed again.”

If you’re a red-blooded American you immediately recognize these lines from the move It’s a Wonderful Life.

Good ol’ George Bailey. As honest and sincere a guy as you can come by. He’d give you his Continue Reading “Winning The Battle Of Bedford Falls”

Just Get Past The Peak

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There’s a bridge between here and Toronto. It’s in St. Catherine’s. It’s not high, but it’s high enough.

As you cross the Lewiston Bridge, the 190 turns into Route 405 in Ontario. The 405 quickly merges into the QEW and from there its straight on through to Toronto.

By way of this “high enough” bridge.

It’s called the “Garden City Skyway” and it soars 130 feet above the Welland Canal at its greatest height. Not too high. But high enough.

Nearly a mile long, when approaching from the east (which is what you do when you’re travelling to Toronto) before it crosses the canal, it ascends to a gentle curve. But not gentle enough.

To compound matters, the Canadians built the Garden City Skyway as an open road. There is no high structural steel to cocoon you comfortably within its path.

This, combined with it being as tall as a 13-story building and a curve that hides your ultimate destination leaves you with a feeling of flying unbound, high above the endless horizon of Lake Ontario.

And that’s just enough to give one smitten with a not-so-mild case of acrophobia sweaty palms.

I happen to be that one.

We all have a fear of falling. It’s natural and it’s meant to protect us. Acrophobia – the fear Continue Reading “Just Get Past The Peak”

Never Say Never

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One day, a little boy came home from his first day of school. He was very excited. He couldn’t stop talking about his day. “Teacher says I can do anything I want!” he exclaimed.

His grandfather, listening quietly, became interested, leaned forward and asked “What do you want to do?”

The talkative boy suddenly became quiet and his eyes lit up as he looked outside the kitchen window. Beyond the horizon stood a tall mountain that soared into the clouds. “You see that?” said the boy pointing at the mountain, “I want to climb to the top of that mountain.”

His grandfather leaned back in his chair and laughed knowledgably. “Ha!” he chuckled, “it’s impossible to climb that mountain, it’s too high up!”Continue Reading “Never Say Never”

A Life of Flabby Loneliness

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It was a cold February winter more than 35 years ago. I sat uncomfortably close to a diminutive manually assembled Bush Furniture computer hutch. You remember those things. They looked like the mutant offspring of a too short desk and a flimsy book shelf.

Little did I know I was on the leading edge.

Actually, I did know I was on the leading edge… and loving it.

Hunched over what was then a new Wang PC, I had convinced my employer I needed to Continue Reading “A Life of Flabby Loneliness”

Can You Hear the Music of Mathematics?

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Just about anybody who’s anybody can tell you about the math in music. Between time signatures (three-quarter, four-four, cut-time…), fractional notes (whole, half, quarter, eighth, sixteenth, thirty-second, sixty-fourth…), and the rest of the nomenclature (octaves, measures, counting…), music is nothing without math.

Even if you take out the technical aspects, the popular discussion is rife with numbers. Literally. I mean, how many of you have bought a 45 of your Number 1 hit that you just heard on the top 50* countdown? (*These being the top 50 songs as measured by the Billboard 100.)

Again, anybody can talk about the math in music, but can they talk about the music in math?Continue Reading “Can You Hear the Music of Mathematics?”

Nobody Knew: When “The Miracle” Touched Greater Western New York

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Everyone knows what happened. Forty years ago this past weekend, when Al Michaels asked the world “Do you believe in Miracles?” a new generation discovered the power of belief. It may surprise you, then, what many people didn’t know…

Yale_Hockey_1980_US_Olympics_300In the months leading up to the 1980 Lake Placid Olympics, Team USA hockey coach Herb Brooks scheduled a rigorous sixty-one game exhibition program for his ragtag group. One of those games was played right here in Greater Western New York. The event was held at Buffalo’s Nichols Arena against the Yale hockey team.

Just a couple months earlier, Yale hockey coach Tim Taylor used that game to lure me away from my intention to join the crew team. “Chris, we’ll fly you to Buffalo so you can visit your family,” he said. I took the bait and agreed to serve as manager of the team, (hockey being my second favorite sport and all).

Little did I know that decision fated me to meet history head on.

After all, it was just hockey – at the time an unassuming game played by generally Continue Reading “Nobody Knew: When “The Miracle” Touched Greater Western New York”

Childhood’s End: A Review of Ford vs. Ferrari

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Does this make sense to you?

There was a time when you met your best friend forever in Kindergarten. You went to school together. You graduated together. You were part of each other’s wedding parties. You raised your families together. You went on vacations together. Ultimately, you retired to the same communities together.

At least that’s what we were raised to believe.

My best friend was Angelo. From that day we met as five-year-olds to board that first school bus, we were best friends. Although the only class we ever shared was Kindergarten, from that point on we did everything together. Each day we would walk up Abbott Parkway to the school bus stop together. Every summer day we’d play together.

We talked of our past, present, and future.

We talked about our families, especially my uncle who wanted to design sports cars and his cousin, who frequently laid rubber in the middle of our street with his red hot 1968 Mustang.

We talked about school friends and who liked Ford and who liked Chevy.

We talked about our future wives, how we’d be each other’s best man. Oddly, Angelo Continue Reading “Childhood’s End: A Review of Ford vs. Ferrari