Creating (not finding) Fulfillment in Your Work

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Previous to starting at the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy in student affairs 5 years ago, I served in professional academic advising capacities at Central Michigan University, The University of Tennessee, Duke University, and William Peace University (formerly Peace College).

As an introvert I always enjoyed these 1:1 experiences far greater than being in a crowded room engaging in empty small talk and networking.  I understand its importance and can survive this environment, but it is never an invigorating experience for me.

NOTE: Receptions at professional conferences are my hell on earth.  I just hope for good beer at the reception.

While I do love presenting to crowded rooms, I think I can have the greatest impact in 1:1 advising sessions.  Because students/an audience are all individuals with a different knowledge base or at a different stages of development, a presenter may have to generalize and speak in broad terms to appeal to the greater masses.  This has lower impact than 1:1 interactions.

Working with students 1:1 allows true teaching and mentoring to take place. There is an opportunity to assess where the learner is and take them on a tailored journey toward success.

I am lucky enough to work at the #1 School of Pharmacy in the country with amazing students that push me to be excellent every day.  Sure, graduate (PhD, MS) and professional (PharmD) students are different from the work I have done with undergraduates, but they still have opportunities for significant growth and it is wonderful to witness.

Over the summer, our pre-pharmacy academic advisor working with undergraduate students stepped away from that responsibility.  Hearing of this news, I expressed my interest in serving in this capacity.  Yes, it was something a little “extra” but I had a good feeling it would be good to get back to my “roots” and advise students 1:1 on a more consistent basis.

Yesterday, was my first day serving as pre-pharmacy academic advisor for the campus. It was so energizing and like the old expression goes, ” felt like riding a bike.”  I had 4 student appointments and hence 4 students in different places in their development, with different needs, not to mention different levels of anxiety as they pursue applying to pharmacy school.

Like a doctor (minus all that pesky schooling), it was fun to diagnose a student’s goals and unhatch a plan of action that not only I was excited about, but one which the student could buy into as well (i.e. what actually matters).

I walked away from the academic advising programs building a recharged professional. I already know this experience will be a positive addition to my schedule and enhance my core responsibilities as well.

Taking advantage of opportunities of passion, even if an it’s an addition to your workflow, can provide a positive gain to the overall satisfaction of your professional life.

 

 

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I was Grayson Allen…

 

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I am hoping my wife doesn’t leave me just by reading the title of this blog.  But the truth is, as a young kid and through college, I was Grayson Allen.

No, I didn’t have that silly of a vertical jump.  No, I didn’t attend a private school, nor have the academic preparation to attend and succeed at Duke University.  And no I was never a McDonald’s All-American.  Heck, I wouldn’t even be considered a Bojangles All-American.

I was however emotionally unfit to compete at a younger age.  I played mostly baseball and basketball growing up and dabbled in soccer for a few years.  We could get deep in the weeds that I was the “baby” of my family and stunted emotionally, but I won’t focus too much on that.  I will leave that for my ex-girlfriends.

Anyway…

If we lost..I cried.

If I beaned a batter while pitching…I cried.

If I overthrew home plate from centerfield…I cried.

If I played goalie for the first time and gave up 10 goals in that debut..I cried.
In retrospect, I wish that coach would have pulled me after 6 goals, but maybe he was teaching me some sort of lesson or figured I would stop crying at some point.  I never did and definitely got the “Aaron, I am really disappointed in how you acted out there” speech from my father.  I deserved that.

I could never pull it together.  I was lucky to be a solid athlete and you would be hard-pressed to see someone work as hard as me, but I could never manage my emotions.

Foul me on the playground?  You’re getting a basketball thrown at you. (Sorry Chris Baker).

Pull my shorts down in 8th grade basketball tryouts during the 3-man weave drill? I punch you in the jaw (Sorry Eddie Seames). Note: I made the team. Eddie didn’t. I couldn’t resist.

Playing baseball in the front yard and you try to steal even though there is a “no steal” rule?  I rifle the baseball at you and drill you. (Sorry Jason Matthews). End game.

Oh hey, I am running out a hit and your foot is on half of the bag while receiving the ball as the 1st baseman? I drive my spikes through your ankle. (Sorry Dustin Pettit). Safe!

You’re beating me down the floor on a fast break and I literally look up at the ref then shove you in the back so you fall? (Sorry person I don’t know your name or really even recall what school you played for? North Branch?)

I may have been a total jerk, but I was honest.  One time playing shortstop, I was covering as someone was trying to steal 2nd.  He slides into my glove, dust flies, I drop the ball momentarily, and the ump calls him “Out!.” I actually asked the ump to reverse the call and he obliged and NEWSFLASH:  I cried.

These days I usually just cry during horse movies or that Portuguese marriage proposal scene during Love Actually.  Stop laughing!  You try not to cry during that part you soulless monster!!!

Marriage Proposal

So what changed for me?  I think a big factor was tearing my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in college.  That forced me to observe sports and I hated every second of it (not to mention tearing your ACL really hurts. That was a legit cry). It ended up being a positive experience however.  I focused more on having a career. Once that career led me to academia and in many instances working with college athletes (including Duke basketball players), it mentally put me in a healthier place and my life in its proper perspective. I still love to compete, but it is more subtle and I don’t allow my world to be turned upside down if things don’t go my way. These days I get to hear phrases like, “Do things ever rattle you?/How are you so calm?/I would be off the rails if that happened to me.”  Those are are among the highest compliments I can receive.

Watching sports still gets me riled up and I love to win and root for a winner, but I do focus more on character over wins and losses.  Effort/Sportsmanship/Integrity/Candor/Ethics

Those are the real things that matter. That, and seeing the Detroit Lions win a Super Bowl in my lifetime, but I digress.

Part of my solution was to step away from competition (both by choice and torn ACL) and that may not be Grayson’s choice. This whole basketball thing may be his career. Maybe he grew up in a house without consequences (Dwight Schrute). We don’t know his story.  My Otisville Little League baseball games shockingly were not broadcast on ESPN and we didn’t have social media.  By no means am I defending his actions. I yelled at the TV as loudly as anyone last night. It was another garbage move.  I just can’t make the leap to say he is a garbage human being.  Outside of sitting 1 table away from him at Dos Perros at dinner one night, I haven’t any idea what he is about.

He has to figure this stuff out for himself and find his path to development.  We all do when we have weaknesses.

 

Thank you, Coach….

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June 28, 2016

We all woke up to some very sad news this morning.  We lost an icon.  Pat Summitt passed away at the young age of 64.  There will be countless stories in the coming days from those that met her and those that only knew of her legend; both of equal value.

Here is my story…

In 1997, I was offered an assistantship in housing at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.  This is an offer that would change my life forever.  Yes, I gained valuable work experience and I celebrate and utilize my masters degree in college student personnel each and every day. The real education came from the people I was around and worked with.  One of those people, although always just in passing, was Pat Summitt.

My first year at Tennessee, the Lady Vols won their 3rd consecutive national championship. I attended a few games, attended the championship parade, and was in awe of the passion of Volunteer fans.  I had made a wise choice.

During the summer of 1998, Pat’s basketball camps were in a building where I was working.  You would think Pat would be too “big time” to be around during camp check-in, but there she was.  When Pat walked into a room, her presence was overpowering.  My posture got exponentially better and you could see all the eyes catching a peek at her, but because everyone respected her so much, no one seemed to stare. It was something to behold.

Being an attentive staff member, I stayed nearby  at the ready to put out any fire that arose.  (Picture me in a polo, khaki shorts, and a walkie-talkie holstered to my hip).

All she had to do was look my way. Her Jedi-like power drew me to her side.  There I was with her piercing blue eyes burning a hole through me.  She leans my direction and softly says, “Do you think we can get these bathrooms unlocked down here?”  At that moment, I understood ‘the look.’   “Yes, absolutely. Right away.”

(Why were the restrooms locked, you ask? Well, the campers the week before found them as a safe haven for, well, things teenagers do at camps)

When Pat spoke, you moved!  I darted up the stairs to the front desk. “Quick, Pat Summitt needs the bathrooms unlocked downstairs.”  In hindsight, I could have been more subtle and reworded my request, but to me, this was a dire emergency. I wasn’t going to let Coach Summitt down.  Not today. Not ever! After sprinting across the Presidential Courtyard on the UT campus, I secured a master key and saved the day by unlocking the restrooms.  I gave one of those “we should be all set now, Coach” looks. She nodded her approval and I had my story.

The rest of the camp was more of the same.  Pat was always around, so I rarely slept.  I didn’t want to miss a moment.  This was a time of year many of her best friends would come and help with her camps.  They all called her “Trish.”  Reach for the Summitt (add it to your reading list today) had just come out and here I was hanging out with “characters” in her book. Did they think it was weird that I asked them to sign my copy of the book?  Probably, but they obliged.

Right around this same time, I secured a fall practicum with Lady Vol academics.  The practicum would earn me 3 credits by working ~10 hours/week in the Lady Vol academic center. I would monitor study hall, assist Lady Vol athletes (across all sports) in getting plugged into campus resources and even helped design a program called “Life after Lady Vols” that emphasized career and professional development.  I would wake Semeka Randall in study hall routinely (that girl liked to sleep).  It was a great semester and I always felt like the luckiest guy in the world.

The biggest highlight of the semester actually happened at the very beginning.  On maybe the second day of the practicum my supervisor Kerry Howland invited me to the Lady Vol Athletics staff meeting.  You want a minion like me at this staff meeting? I of course was happy to attend.  Nervous as hell, but happy to attend.

So I wander into a large lounge at Thompson-Boling Arena where couches and chairs are scattered everywhere.  I randomly select a chair and about 5 minutes later that presence has entered the room again.  Coach Summitt picks the chair right in front of me. At this point, I am starting to wonder if I am in some sort of alternate universe.  At the beginning of the meeting, we went around the room and introduced ourselves.  “Pat Summitt, Head Coach, women’s basketball.” I am now wondering if I am the only person in the room thinking “no $h!%…of course you’re Pat Summitt.”  But as many have attested, that was Pat. Humble and great, but not too great to attend a staff meeting and introduce herself just like anyone else.

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Of course I kept the staff meeting agenda

In June of 1999 I returned to work at Central Michigan University (my undergraduate alma mater).  That fall, CMU was opening a Leadership Institute and had just announced their keynote speaker for the occasion. You guessed it: Pat Summitt.  Marcy Weston who was the Associate Athletic Director at the time caught wind of my Tennessee connection and invited me to be Pat’s guide for the day. I jumped at the opportunity.

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Pat would land via UT jet at Mount Pleasant’s municipal airport and Marcy would bring her to campus where I would greet her and get her from place to place. There was a chance of rain, so I was practicing holding an umbrella for someone.  No seriously.  I was practicing this so I got it right. When Pat arrived I was introduced (after she shunned the umbrella) and of course says, “Hi, I’m Pat Summitt.” I replied with something to the effect of, “I’m Aaron, Tennessee, (inaudible), (did I just black out?), welcome”…or something like that.

The next couple of hours were surreal.  Walking Pat to a ribbon cutting ceremony. Walking Pat to a reception. Walking Pat to Warriner (now Plachta) Auditorium. This was as close as I was going to get to feeling like a Secret Service agent.  To top it off, I was able to sit back, relax and enjoy her speech in front of 1,225 others.  No notes. No podium. Just a lavalier microphone and Pat pacing the stage as everyone held on to each and every morsel of knowledge she was giving us on the topic of leadership.

I should have known not to relax! After the talk, throngs of audience members lined up at the front of the stage hoping for Pat to sign her book. Over the speakers, I hear “Aaron, can you help coach up here?” I bolted down the aisle and there I was passing books to Pat as she signed them one by one.  Always coaching, she looks at me (yes, THAT look again) and says, “Can you pass me the books with the covers already open so I can sign them more efficiently?” I became a master book cover opener right away!  She was always teaching.

I was able to say “goodbye” to Pat backstage and thank her (probably nervously and repeatedly) for coming to CMU. I sat outside in the Warriner Mall until I saw what I presume was her jet fly overhead and back to Knoxville.

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“Discipline helps you finish a job, and finishing is what separates excellent work from average work.”

Speaking of back to Knoxville, that is where I returned in 2001 to work in Arts and Sciences academic advising  and eventually work with Lady Vol athletes again as their college advisor. I always enjoyed my interactions with student-athletes.  Returning to Tennessee allowed me to build and renew old relationships in the athletic department.  Kerry Howland (my practicum advisor) from earlier would reach out to me to meet with her athletes for advising before they declared their majors. About 2 years after my return to Tennessee she began asking me to present to her Lady Vol First Year Experience course.  This course was designed to help new student-athletes find campus resources, build community across all sports, and explore opportunities at Tennessee to get the most out of their college experience.

Before the semester started, Kerry sent me her syllabus for the course.  Curious, I was wondering what other topics were being covered in this course.  As my eyes scrolled through each week, I had to pause.  Week 4:  Guest Speaker:  Pat Summitt, Week 5:  Guest Speaker: Aaron Todd.  Wait a minute.  I have to follow that!?!?  You’re darn right I was going to be prepared.  One way I prepared?  I attended the Week 4 lecture.  Kerry allowed me to sit in the back of the room. I again had the opportunity be schooled by the greatest.  After class, I shook her hand, probably mumbled something stupid again, but walked back to my car floating on cloud nine.

A year later, my friend Tracy was looking at graduate MBA programs and was considering UT. During her visit, we ate dinner at a restaurant on the Tennessee River. For some back story, Tracy designates Pat as her hero. At dinner I was facing the elevator and some Lady Vol players stepped off. Suddenly, there she was, walking our way and talking. At first I didn’t say anything to Tracy.  I just kind of let the moment play out.  As she got closer, Tracy turned and looked back at me.  I don’t remember exactly what she mouthed, but I imagine it was something like “OH. MY. GOD!” That was the presence of Pat. Tracy chose to attend UT. I didn’t recruit her. Pat did.  Tracy was able to attend one of Pat’s 1st year class lectures with me the next fall. You realize I went back each year, don’t you? It could be the exact same talk and the inspiration would never wear off.  It still hasn’t.

I could go on and on (and probably already have), but if you’re still reading, I have one last memory. After a few years back at Tennessee, Kerry asked me to be an honorary guest coach for a Lady Vols game. “Really?”  “Yeah, you will arrive early, tour the locker room, be introduced to the team and coaching staff, sit behind the bench during the game, be in the locker room for halftime, and then attend the post game press conference.”

BE IN THE LOCKER ROOM FOR HALFTIME?!?!?!?

Folks, I was able to sit in her classroom at halftime.

After being introduced and nodding at some of my advisees, I watched as Coach covered the game plan, discussed opponent tendencies, and stressed defense and rebounding. The master was at work. There was no rah, rah speech. ALL eyes were on their leader.  The team exited first and I followed them to my seat behind the bench.  I wasn’t the only guest coach. This program was also a nice reward for high dollar donors (unlike myself). I enjoyed my Coke and popcorn and most of all I soaked up Pat being Pat during timeouts.  The eye contact. The focus. The intensity. The legend.

The ladies did NOT have a great first half.  In fact, they trailed.  This made me a little nervous about my halftime locker room experience. I walked into the locker room to find just the players and a dry erase board.  No coaches.  Individually, players would walk up to the board and write things like “box out” “make 22 go left” “spacing” etc., etc.. The teaching was already taking place.  In fact, it never stopped.  This was an exercise of reflection, ownership for the process, and active learning.

The coaching staff walked in.  Free of tension.  Nobody was panicking. The room was not just owned by Coach Summitt.  It was owned by every player and coach.  Class was now in session.

Coach looked up and down the dry erase board and affirmed what the pupils had already known.  You see, education is as much about unlocking thought and potential already possessed within as it is about teaching.  The halftime syllabus was not only designed by a group of coaches huddled in a neighboring room, it was built by the players themselves.

Coach melded each individuals’ contributions into a seamless lesson. It is not hyperbole for me to say this is the greatest class I have ever attended. Every word and every action was intentional.  Over her shoulder was a game clock that was connected to the arena game clock.  She knew exactly when the bell was going to ring.  With about 3 minutes left until halftime expired she finished the lesson with a loud, yet controlled message. “Are you going to let them walk into our house and walk all over us?” “No, coach.” (Of note, there was always call and response to questions.  At no point was there passive learning).  “Well, let’s get out there and defend our floor.”

Tennessee went on to blow out Dayton in the 2nd half.  I attended the post game press conference which was cool, but nothing and I mean nothing will compare to being in that locker room with one of the greatest teachers the world has ever known.

 

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The world thanks you Coach Summitt.

Why millennials will change the world for the better…

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I can hear you sigh as you read the title of this blog post.  I work with millennials on a daily basis and heck, even married one.  I talk millennial trash often and have been known to take shots like “Oh, you did what you were expected to do?  Congrats.  Enjoy this trophy.” or maybe something like “Do you have a different selfie-stick for each day of the week?”  Maybe they are a little fragile and lack some gumption because since birth they have been told how great they are, even when sometimes they were not.  Maybe they can’t solve a problem by themselves and still rely on parental or team input too often.

Millennials are typically categorized as someone born in the ballpark between the early 1980’s and the year 2000.

I have mocked them for many, many reasons. This past year, I have started to look at millennials through a different lens (Yes, I am infusing millennial language here). Really, you can’t read or write in cursive!?

OK. OK. Notably, I love that they care about people.  They genuinely want to make a difference.  Sure, they want to make up flashy titles for themselves then put together a Snapchat story about it, but they do want to change the world.  Yes, they bore easily and job hop like it’s their, well, job, but they do care.

They grew up in a generation of constant distraction and the attention of a….wait, where was I?  Their faces have been buried in computer screens and…Look!  A squirrel!…  They pay attention to science.  They pay attention to human rights.  They volunteer like no other generation before it.

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So, why the bad rap? Probably because they were most closely preceded by my generation, Generation X.  You know that jaded, fight the power, I don’t give a flying flip generation. I think it is time for Generation X to embrace these fine youngsters and listen more closely.   Embrace the concept of reverse-mentoring.  Gen X should empower Millennials. They want to want the ball so they can take the final shot to win the game. Allow them to lead and yes, to fail.  Millennials don’t take themselves that seriously.  For them being a nerd is cool and they are more pretentious-proof than most. The two generations can still drop smack talk on each other, but just hug it out in the end. Play nicely together and collectively we can change the world by showcasing our respective strengths and compensating for our respective weaknesses.

Being fully transparent, this blog post was inspired by recent legislation in the State of North Carolina that for all intents and purposes singles out a group of people who live in a free country…you  know, America (Not the beer).  To me, political parties are divisive by nature, so I don’t want to go there.  I just want to not be the laughingstock of the nation and for love of humans to supersede negativity and discrimination.

What I do want is for ye Millennials to register to vote now if you haven’t and to show up on election dayWhat stereotype will win out in November?  That you care about people or that you won’t follow through and show up?  If you turn out, I promise each and every one of you the recognition that you so need…errr deserve. How about one of these?:

.  images    Sorry, no trophies. They’re expensive.

Bucket Listing

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This past week I was able to attend the Waste Management Phoenix Open in Scottsdale, Arizona.  It was a pretty surreal experience and got me thinking about what other experiences would be on my bucket list.  When I think of bucket list items, I usually think of sports and entertainment. I have been lucky enough to visit some cool, bucket list-worthy items during my time on earth.  Take for instance, The U.S. Open, The Masters, a Duke-UNC game, attend a game in Notre Dame Stadium, a game at Hinkle Fieldhouse, an NBA Finals game, etc. So I wanted to do a quick blog to see if I could identify what is left on that list.  Here goes..

  • PGA Championship (2017 at Quail Hollow)
  • An Open Championship (2018 at Carnoustie)
  • Attend a game at Memorial Stadium at Clemson
  • See an Army-Navy game
  • The Kentucky Derby
  • Anything at Madison Square Garden
  • A concert at Red Rocks
  • Attend a Rose Bowl
  • Visit the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY
  • See a game at Fenway Park (tix purchased for July, 2016)
  • Visit/Play St. Andrews
  • See an Auburn-Alabama Iron Bowl (either stadium)
  • Albuquerque balloon festival
  • Camp under the Northern Lights

What’s on your bucket list?

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Music (1974-Present)

Katie and I have been talking a lot about music in recent days.  The conversation was born out of a question posed over an empanada at Calavera Empanada and Tequila Bar, “What are your favorite songs that have been released since you have been born?”  Tough question, right?  (For the record this conversation was not tequila-induced). I even stumped our server with the question while she refilled my water and she “had to think about it.”  (We’re still waiting, Tierra).

I suppose before I rip off a listicle, I should define what creates a favorite  song for me.  This is my criteria:

  • The song survives the test of time (sorry, pop superstars).
  • The song may move me to goosebumps no matter how many times it’s heard.
  • There is meaning in the lyrics whether on the surface or metaphorically.
  • I saw the song played live and I had an “Oh!  I get it now!” moment.
  • Music is art and I just like the darn song.

I started with a goal of whittling the list down to 10, but let’s be real.  That is not going to happen.  I will even list some honorable mentions, including some local favorites.

I was born in 1974 and the number 1 song on the date of my birth (June 23) was Sundown by Gordon Lightfoot.  Having just dabbled in his music, I am confident I would have been a concert-attending fan if born earlier in the 2oth Century.

So, there’s my starting point.  Not a bad start.  It should be noted that I was a VERY late bloomer to music.  I was the teenager that listened to AM talk radio or the voice of Ernie Harwell calling the Detroit Tigers on WJR each evening as I went to bed. Jeez, I can’t imagine why girls didn’t dig me in high school.  Anyway, it wasn’t until college at Central Michigan University that music became part of my routine. It wasn’t really by choice.  Roommates such as Adam Kanouse and Craig Bull from Reed City, Michigan were always listening to music. I am grateful for their immersion and just weeks ago, sitting at Some Random Bar in Seattle, I messaged Craig letting him know that the owners of this business have obviously stolen his college music collection. Thanks, Craig.  Thanks to Adam, too.  Without you I might not know who Eazy E is.

Anyway, let’s get to the list.  I had thoughts of actually ranking  them too, but then I thought, “Does it really matter?”  No, it doesn’t but some of my commentary might reveal where some songs might land in such a ranking. Pro Tip:  Listen to music with headphones. Totally transformational experience.

Landslide, Stevie Nicks

I mentioned that I was a late bloomer to music.  I was even a later bloomer to Stevie Nicks and Fleetwood Mac.  I had a neighbor growing up that was all about the Fleetwood Mac.  I didn’t care. I just wanted to play basketball and hockey at their house.  Music was secondary.  This song in particular was introduced to me in the form of a cover by Tori Amos.  Beautiful song, no matter who is singing it. Even Nickelback could pull this song off.  I might need to rethink that last statement.


Scenes from an Italian Restaurant, Billy Joel

Just try not to love this song. I always liked it because it feels like 3 distinct songs in one and well, it seems based on the years I have been on this earth, there should be a Billy Joel song on this blogpost somewhere.

Fast Car, Tracy Chapman

At Central Michigan University, we were required to complete a general education requirement in the Arts and Humanities.  I enrolled in Music 114:  Listening Experience.  My life was changed forever. In addition to being required to attend on campus musical performances of which I was inspired to attend BY CHOICE the rest of my college career, we would also “break down” music in class.  The class met one night a week for and we spent the entire first class of the class analyzing Fast Car by Tracy Chapman word by word, beat by beat, and layer by layer. It was a fascinating experience that helped me “get” music. I said I wouldn’t rank these, but rest assured this would be near the top.

I Couldn’t Explain Why, Citizen Cope

Citizen Cope is special.  I have seen him on several occasions, sometimes acoustic, but usually with the accompaniment of a band. There are dozens of songs of his that I love, but this is the one that best aligns with the bulleted criteria listed in my introduction. You know that song “Sideways” that has been performed by Santana, Sheryl Crow, and John Mayer?  Yep, that’s a Cope song.


Losing My Religion, REM

REM is another college roommate inspiration. I can’t remotely claim to be a fan or own any albums of REM, but this song (another covered nicely by Tori Amos) is solid.

Precious Things, Tori Amos

You didn’t think I would create a music list that did not include Tori Amos, did you?  You were right.  I could have gone a few different directions with a Tori choice, but the goose bump factor in the live version  probably put Precious Things over.

Stay or Leave, Dave Matthews (Band/Tim Reynolds)

Reviewing the DMB catalog brought back a lot of memories.  They have been at it a while and I would argue  they went from jam band to more lyrically mature and relevant.  This song gives me all the feels, so it makes the cut.

Last Goodbye, Jeff Buckley

This was another song introduced to me by college friends.  I still don’t know much about Jeff Buckley other than he was an amazing talent taken from us too soon. Try not to see the brilliance in this song.

Mad World, Gary Jules Version, (Tears for Fears)
This song deserves a little history lesson.  It was originally the 3rd single off of the first Tears for Fears album. I would argue that version is not good all.  Sorry, 1983.  I will give you “Shout” TfF, but I think Gary Jules brought Mad World to the place it needed to be. It’s a totally different song.  You win, 2001.
Oh No, Andrew Bird
I do like me some Andrew Bird and this was one of the first songs introduced to me.  I gained a great appreciation when I learned of the song’s origin in an Andrew Bird interview.  (The song is)”inspired by the sweet, mournful cry of a four-year-old boy sitting behind me on an airplane. His dread was so utterly complete. I found myself envying his emotional abandon and tracing the musical cadence of his wail as he cried ‘Oh no.’ I suppose we’re talking about repression here. We can’t all behave like four-year-olds but must we be emotionally frozen? So let us lock arms as the harmless sort of sociopath and all sing in together.”
Deep, I know.
Murder in the City, The Avett Brothers

You’ll be hard-pressed to find a better live performance than at a Avett Brothers concert. I had tried to see them for years and always had a scheduling conflict. New Year’s Eve at PNC Arena in Raleigh, North Carolina filled that void. I had already appreciated their craft but sometimes seeing a band perform live allows you to see and hear songs from a different angle.  This song falls soundly into that category.

As previously mentioned, I had to create some Honorable Mention categories.  There have been a lot of great songs since 1974 and I am sure I missed some that would easily find its place in the text above.  There has also been a lot of empty, pop hook, carried-by-a-beat- songs too.  The older I get, the more discerning I get between what is art and what is..what’s the word?….garbage.  (Not the band Garbage.  That would be OK).

Honorable Mention: 

Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town, Pearl Jam, 32 Flavors, Ani Difranco, Rise and Shine, Guster, Ran Away to the Top of the World Today, O.A.R., Wagon Wheel, Old Crow Medicine Show Version, Dust Bowl Dance, Mumford and Sons, White America, Eminem

Local Honorable Mentions:
An Artist’s Song, Lost in the Trees, Go Ahead, The Rosebuds, Manteo, The Love Language, several songs by The Avett Brothers.
Now before you go all “HOW COULD LEAVE X OFF OF THIS LIST!?” …… let’s try a different approach:  What would your list include?

We found Santa….Fe.

This year, Katie and I decided to pursue a destination Christmas.  No gifts. Just the shared experience of a vacation.  We pondered a few locations:  Denver, Colorado?, Caribbean cruise?… In the end, we decided on New Mexico.  New Mexico?!  I had never been and Katie had only driven through the State when she moved to North Carolina 8.5 years ago.  After utilizing the miracle of Google, our research turned up endless opportunities. It seems the Land of Enchantment is loaded with monuments and native history around every bend. By far, Albuquerque was the most affordable airport (Sunport), but for a 5-7 day trip, you really need to commit to Central (ABQ) and northern New Mexico or Central and Southern New Mexico. Through some recommendations we settled on Central and Northern New Mexico.  This put Santa Fe into play and northern sites such as Ojo Caliente and Taos. So, in July of this year we booked the flight, the rental car, and most of our lodging.

5 months and 1223 Google searches later, we were off to New Mexico for the holidays.

Wednesday, December 23

RDU to ABQ via HOU starting with a 5:35am flight. We encountered the most sustained turbulence on a flight ever. It was non-stop “bumpy air” along the route, but we landed in the early afternoon and jumped on the shuttle bus to the rental car center.  Learning that weather gets interesting in New Mexico in the winter, we opted for an all-wheel drive SUV.  The Enterprise staffer greeted us nicely and gave us the  ol’ “let me see what I can find for you.”  He drives up in none other than my current car:  A 2015 Hyundai Tucson.  It gets better.  The car had a Michigan  license plate. This was going to be a great trip.

Katie, as a master Yelper had some food options lined up at each stop along the way.  We made a b-line to Tia Betty Blues, a place known for authentic New Mexican dishes.  We went the tamale platter route and I made sure my dish was ordered “Christmas.”  For those that don’t know, if you want your dish topped with both red and green chiles, you order it “Christmas.”

Our first non-food stop was a visit to Albuquerque’s Old Town.  This area has a good host of shops, churches, and history, but my travel fatigue was kicking in fast.  I had booked a hotel north of the city so we weren’t too far from the Sandia Peak TramWay.  Upon checkin, we called to see if the tram was running since the wind was starting to pick up.  Good thing we did.  The tram had closed for the evening, so we headed toward…you guessed it…a brewery.  Before the brewery though, we went to Albuquerque’s River of Lights.  This was a great start to our trip and put us in the holiday spirit.  As for a brewery stop, we decided upon La Cumbre Brewing because they had a food truck called Supper  on site this evening with a great reputation.  Not only were the food truck tacos on point, but La Cumbre is one of New Mexico’s most decorated breweries in regard to competitive medals. Win. Win.

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River of Lights

Tuesday, December 24

We began our Tuesday morning with coffee and a donut at  Rebel Donuts. We pretty much opened the place and a stream of regulars filled the place from there.

After being properly caffeinated, we charted our course for Petroglyph National Monument.  En route, we had some time to kill before the  Petroglyph visitor center opened so we simply started driving through the desert.  Two coyotes crossed the road (well) in front of us. It was very cool to see, but sad to see the city creeping into their land. At the Petroglyph visitor center, we had 3 hiking trails to choose from and ended up picking out one that was very close to the Inn we had just checked out of. The hike was awesome and included ancient petroglyphs, hot air balloons overhead, large hares, and even some snow flurries.

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Petroglyph National Monument

After the hike and some beverage and snack shopping ,it was time to take the short 75 minute drive north to Santa Fe. We figured it was too early to check into our hotel room and we were right.  Not to worry, we had already purchased tickets to the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum.  Pretty fascinating work; particularly those of the New Mexico landscape and an equally fascinating artist.

Still needing to kill some time, we grabbed lunch and walked in and around downtown Santa Fe in the Historic Plaza area.  After a while, Katie continued to stimulate the economy and I went back to get us checked into our room for the next 2 nights.

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Historic Plaza selfie

After a customary late afternoon nap, it was time to check out the famous Canyon Road Farrolito Walk. Imagine 200+ art galleries, 30,000 people, fire barrels, Christmas Caroling, and thousands of luminarias. Yeah, it was pretty special.

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Canyon Road Farrolitos

Post-farrolitos, we grabbed a drink on the Plaza at Draft Station before enjoying a super Christmas Eve dinner at Fire and Hops. Good fare. Good brews.

Wednesday, December 25

Waking up on Christmas morning in a hotel room is unique, but we had no regrets about our destination Christmas and New Mexico adventure. We hit a mid-morning viewing of The Big Short. Great movie.  However, it is highly depressing that is based on a true story that we all lived through and that shady crooks still exist in our country.

We got a hike in just on the outskirts of downtown and were able to see the Capitol (a round building, as if New Mexico is saying to the other States, “Nice domes, our whole building is round!) and parts of the Guadalupe District near the Railyard area. Dinner was at Thai Vegan and we sincerely hope our server knows how much we appreciate her working on Christmas Day. We also hope she was paid and tipped handsomely.

After some downtime at the hotel, we went on the hunt for an open establishment to provide us a Christmas nightcap. After weaving up and down city streets, we stumbled upon Evangelos Cocktail Lounge. We peeked into the windows and this is what we saw:  townies, “cash only,” no beer taps (but plenty of bottles/cans), and mostly darkness.  For some reason we balked at this dive bar opportunity at first and circled the block only to find ourselves back at Evangelos. We were so happy we did.  We chatted with the owner/bartender/chain smoker for a bit and sat and smiled through our Christmas nightcap experience.  A perfect end to a memorable Christmas Day.

Thursday, December 26

We started this day at the Santa Fe Farmer’s Market.  It was about 19 degrees as well as the day after Christmas, so not too many vendors were out.  The Farmer’s Market is in Railyard Park, which is loaded with even more art galleries and some great parks and opens spaces. We had a great walk and snapped many photos, including the one you see below.

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Railyard Park

Next, we had another 1 hour drive north to Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs and Spa.  We are not fancy people, but decided to have one splurge day that was surrounded by bratty and entitled people.  The staff was so nice, but I saw some really sour interactions from “guests.”  Not our cup of tea, but we were going to make the most of this experience as neither one of us has visited a hot springs. Our introduction to the springs was pretty rough. It was sub-20 degrees and the winds were about 20 MPH. We thought we were being smart by having flip flops and ski caps to wear moving between pools, but they simply froze in the arctic air. Our bodies now relaxed, we really enjoyed some quiet time before checking out some fires pits and fireplaces on the property.

Friday, December 27

Evidently, there is a winter storm called Goliath over the mountain from where we are staying.  We did see some snow and certainly felt the cold, but never encountered any treacherous driving conditions.  Each of our locations skirted the “pink” warning areas on the Winter Storm Alert  maps.

We began our morning with a hike (see a pattern here?) across a land of now fading pueblos. It was cold, but just a beautiful hike and every direction looked like it could either be a painting or a postcard. After the hike we returned to the mineral springs.  This day was awesome.  Not many people tackled the cold so we had many of the pools to ourselves throughout the morning.  (Pool examples:  arsenic, soda, iron, and lithia). There was also a sauna and a (too) intense eucalyptus steam room.  To end our stay, Katie took a yoga class and I read in the resort lobby. Restful bliss.

On the road again. Another 1 hour desert drive brought us to Taos Mesa Brewing after crossing the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge.  Typically, we would have gotten outside at both locations and taken pictures, but it was crazy windy and cold. We were let down by Taos Mesa’s beers, but you would be hard-pressed to find a more unique location surrounded by desert and mountains. DJ Miles Bonny  (and his kids) provided the awesome music and entertainment throughout our time there.

On this day, we began to hit our vacation “wall.” We weren’t motivated to do much of anything. We were staying the night in Taos, but between the cold and being exhausted, we didn’t check out much of the highy-recommended town.  Taos, like Ojo Caliente, was full of those suffering from “affluenza.”  To quote Katie, “Even the dogs are jerks!” (at one point an unaccompanied dog blocked us on a sidewalk and just growled, lost focus, and walked off). Only half-kidding, Taos. We were cold and grumpy this day 🙂

The Taos Ale House  provided some town redemption  with great food and brews, but we had obviously reached our silver spoon, trust fund kid, 1-percenter limit.

Saturday, December 28

Entering our last full day of vacation, we grabbed our customary coffee and took off on the 2.5 hour jaunt back to Albuquerque.  Since it was north of the city, it was time for Sandia Peak Tram redemption. We rolled up to a 45-60 minute wait to get on the tram.  It ended up being well-worth the wait. The views were stunning and no doubt you will eventually see a gazillion photos on a social media site, but it was hella windy and cold.  Even with multiple layers on all parts of our body, we only lasted about 20 minutes and took the next tram 2.7 miles back down to the tram station.

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Over 10K feet and above the clouds at Sandia Peak

By now, we were very hungry.  Katie scoped out another food winner and we checked into our low budget hotel with paper thin doors and walls near the car rental return and airport.

Today was the day that CMU was playing Minnesota in the Quick Lane Bowl.  We watched the first half at our posh La Quinta Inn, but went off to a Bosque Brewing Company Public House to watch the second half.  Before our trip, we had not heard of Bosque, but by the end of it, it was up near the top of our New Mexico craft beer favorites alongside La Cumbre. CMU lost the game, but I was happy to be with my wife, grateful for the week we just experienced, and excited to get home. Dinner was at Bistronomy B2B in the Nob Hill district. This whole area had a really good vibe and is someplace we would definitely explore more should we return to Albuquerque. 4am alarm set.  Off to bed.

Sunday, December 29

4am comes early, even if your body is still slightly on eastern time.  (New Mexico is mountain time). After an easy checkout, I return to the car to hear Katie say, “we need petro.”  Ack!  My plan was to fill up the rental car the night before so I didn’t have to worry about it at 4:15 in the morning.  Luckily we allowed ourselves plenty of time for a 6:05am flight and even more luckily, 7-11 is open 24 hours and came through in the clutch once it was stumbled upon.  My internal Slurpee radar led us there without even firing up the GPS.

Car filled up. Car dropped off. Shuttle to the airport. On time departure ABQ-HOU.  We had a perfect 1 hour layover in Houston.  This was plenty of time to grab coffee and a snack and get to our next gate.  We boarded close to on time only to sit at the gate for 1 hour and 40 minutes with a maintenance issue. The result:  I actually finished a book! Rare feat.

Once in the air, HOU to RDU was smooth and it felt great once we landed, even if it was totally weird to land to 70 degree temps..in December.

Returning home always feels good and we were so pleased in reflection of our New Mexico journey.  I won’t say we will go every Christmas without exchanging gifts, but I can tell you I didn’t miss out on anything by not doing so. If anything I received the gift of a shared experience with my wife and a fond appreciation of many new things:  the kindness and creativity of the residents of New Mexico and the beauty of their historical and enchanting land.  These memories are our priceless gifts. In a word: Go.

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Appreciating Pure Michigan

Yes, I hear Tim Allen’s soothing voice on those Pure Michigan commercials all the way here in North Carolina.  I well up with pride whenever I see them and my wife (Katie) is probably sick of me pausing the commercial via DVR as I call her in to watch another Pure Michigan spot.

I grew up in Michigan and last week took my third trip to there with Katie. I dare say this was the best trip yet.  Previous trips were awesome, but we often found ourselves racing to the next stop.  This time, we planned some time to just stay put for a while during the vacation. This proved to be a really good move on our part.

July 14

After months of planning we departed on a Tuesday afternoon RDU-DTW-GRR.  RDU to DTW was no problem.  The delay machine kicked in once arriving in Detroit. Bad weather in the northeast created cascading delays as we had to wait just over 3 hours later than the original departure time for our plane to arrive from New York before heading on to Grand Rapids. A 9:10 departure became 9:40, which became 9:55, which became 10:30, which became 10:55, which led to the plane door being closed and then opened up later for 5 passengers to jump this last plane of the night between  DTW and GRR.  All the passengers were actually refreshingly empathetic (or too tired to be upset).  We touched down around Midnight and were able to snag our rental car before they closed up.  We journeyed 40 minutes to my brother’s house only to fall asleep shortly thereafter.

The DTW underground tunnel provided some nice time-killing fun during our delay.

The DTW underground tunnel provided some nice time-killing fun during our delay.

July 15

We took a morning drive to Holland to hike around Mt. Pisgah, check out Lake Michigan, and wander through the streets of Holland.  Holland is one of a gazillion charming little towns close to the shore of Lake Michigan. We popped into a few stores and sought out the farmer’s market.  This was the start of consecutive 78 degree, sunny, with a breeze Michigan days. We snagged some Michigan blueberries and proceeded to eat them on the street. Post Holland, we met up with my mom at Tripel Root in Zeeland (Feel the Zeel!).  This was a great, local, and sustainable-centric location brews on site and puts out some great stone breads.

After a ceremonial trip to Meijer Thrifty Acres, we were off to Montague to stay less than a mile from Lake Michigan with our friends Curt and Sara.  They have a great location and just a short golf cart drive away from the Lake.  We ate at Harbor View Grille and then stopped at Fetch Brewing in Whitehall for some of the best beers we had on our entire trip. Fetch is located in an old bank where the old vault serves as a game room and lounge.  They have loft seating and we stumbled upon a great open mic night where we were immediately serenaded with James Taylor and Old Crow Medicine Show.  We were meant to be here on this night.

Fetch Brewing delivered.

Fetch Brewing delivered.

July 16

In the morning, we toured the grounds of Curt and Sara’s property and did a nice dune climb at Meinert Park.  The views of Lake Michigan after a hard climb are even more breathtaking (see what I did there?).  Then it was off to another great west Michigan lake town:  Pentwater.  These towns scream Americana and are loaded with shops and eats and the customary lighthouse.  This was the day I started planning my retirement back to Michigan….during the summers anyway.  From Pentwater, we wandered up the coast to Ludington to reunite with our friends Jim and Annie at The Mitten Bar. We met Jim and Annie almost 2 years ago to the day at…you guessed it…The Mitten Bar.  They are great humans that love the same things we do:  music, beer, the outdoors, and positivity. They graciously hosted us for a night at their farmhouse in Scottville.

Meinert Park Dunes

Meinert Park Dunes

July 17

Next stop:  Sleeping Bear Dunes.  In a previous trip, we were denied seeing Sleeping Bear Dunes due to a torrential downpour.  This was our redemption trip.  We looked at our hiking options and decided on Pyramid Point.  We climbed the trail only to find….extreme cloud cover and no view of the “the most beautiful place in the United States.” Foiled again. To add insult to injury the hike was filled with flies, mosquitos, and gnats that wanted to do harm to us.  C’est la vie. Lunch was at The Redheads Cafe in Lake Leelenau. Absolutely delicious.  Not to be derailed from good times, we ventured up to Leland (aka Fishtown) and wandered around another great town and looked at boats owned by people with much more money than us. At this point, we were ready to find our home for the next 3 nights, Shangri-La Too Farm on the Old Mission Peninsula north of downtown Traverse City.

We really stayed here.  Amazing!

We really stayed here. Amazing!

Our hosts Irene and Lou greeted us kindly and led us to our room where we had a bowl of fresh cherries waiting to be devoured…and they were devoured. Did you know that Traverse City is the Cherry Capital of the World?

After a quick nap, we were off to explore the peninsula.  We drove past farm after farm, winery after winery, roadside stand after roadside stand and could not have been happier.  Our destination:  Chateau Chantal and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.  Our relaxation level:  high.

Chateau Chantal

Chateau Chantal

July 18-19

In the interest of space and time I will try to condense much of our Traverse City time.

We started July 18 with a hike up to the Old Mission Lighthouse.  Pretty nice network of trails.  We cleaned up post-hike to eat lunch at The Filling Station.  Great pizza and decent brews.  Katie and my sister-in-law went shopping and me and my brother went to Right Brain Brewery to split 2 flites.

Right Brain flites = Six 6 oz. pours.

Right Brain flites = Six 6 oz. pours.

After some more roaming, we all grabbed a brew and dinner at a neat location called The Little Fleet.  It is an open air bar that also hosts 5-6 food trucks. The group parted ways again and Katie and I enjoyed the wraparound porch and sunset at the farm.

July 19 was a definite highlight

Coffee and breakfast at Brew

We took a 3 hour kayaking trip on the Boardman River, Boardman Lake, and Lake Michigan!  Why the exclamation point? Well, neither of us had kayaked and didn’t really know what we were getting into.  Our driver to the kayak drop-off point had the quote of the trip, “Michigan women are like salmon.  They might leave the state for a while, but they always come back to spawn.”

After getting on the river, we were instantly euphoric.  The river took us through a peaceful bird sanctuary and the river had a decent current to it.  After about an hour the river spit us into a very large and very calm Boardman Lake.  Dodging ducks and attack swans we worked our way across the lake. My biceps and trapezius muscles are now sculpted.  It was legit and awesome work.  At the end of this long lake, we joined back up with the Boardman River, which wound us through downtown and into Lake Michigan/West Grand Traverse Bay. After thinking Boardman Lake was tough, we discovered even more work was ahead to get back to 231 Outfitters just off the beach.  The wake of nearby boats provided rough waters and rough paddling. We finally made it.  Satisfied, but tired.  Our last downtown trip was Oryana Co-Op to pick up some items for a  picnic. After a pit stop at the farm and not quite hungry yet, we took our host Irene’s recommendation to grab wine at Brys Estate Winery. This was a perfect post-kayaking/pre-dinner stop.  The views from the patio at Brys were second to none. We had exceptional service from a Central Michigan alum named Erin.  When she approached us, her first words were “You two look so relaxed.”  She was right.

Kayaking reward = Superman ice cream!

Kayaking reward = Superman ice cream!

After a few glasses of delicious wine, we packed up our picnic wares and drove to Old Mission Lighthouse Park (located on the 45th parallel).  This was after a failed attempt to find a non-crowded picnic area on the east side of the peninsula. It all worked out in the end.

Old Mission Lighthouse and the 45th Parallel

Old Mission Lighthouse and the 45th Parallel

Last night at the Farm. Sadness ensues.

July 20

We got on the road at 9ish to make the trek back downstate to see family at Brewery Vivant and had some amazing frozen yogurt at Spoonlickers.

July 21

The drive to the airport was full of reflection. We were so pleased with all that Michigan provided us and although it is tough to make a trip there every year, I was already thinking of things I wanted to do on our next journey to the Great Lake State.

Each time I return to Michigan, my pride in where I grew up is renewed. It’s that same pride I feel each and every time I hear those Pure Michigan commercials.

This, my friends, is Pure Michigan.

This, my friends, is Pure Michigan.

9 things that bother me….

I try to be a positive and even keel person, but like any other human, there are things that get on my nerves.

Here are some all-over-the-place hot button topics that resonate with me lately:

1.  If you are ever typing on or looking at your phone  while your car is in motion, you are either ignorant, an addict, or both.  Likely both. I will not entertain any arguments on this subject because there are none to the contrary of what I just typed.

2.  There is no such thing as a “humblebrag.”  “I am so humbled by receiving X honor.”  If you were truly humbled, you wouldn’t feel the need to post or share the information. True humility is internal and silent.

3. Flopping in basketball (or sports in general).  I will think more critically than just pointing fingers at Duke, but they sure are the artisans of flopping.  Total mastery, I tell you.  I have actually shifted my criticism on the subject from the coaches and players to the game officials. For years, Officials have become too anticipatory on this call and I am convinced that they get caught up in crowd energy and have become grand-standers. It is killing some enjoyment of the games. I say let the players look foolish and play on.

Duke-Flop

Ridiculous.

4. Typos and grammatical errors.  This includes my own! “Relax, Aaron. It’s just Facebook.” I disagree.  I think you should take pride where ever you present yourself, whether it is online or in person. So help me, if I see another person who attended any academic institution that I also attended mess up a “they’re/there/their” or “your/you’re” again, I might just lose my mind. Disclaimer:  If any of my content in this blog post contains a typo or grammatical error, please let me know.

5. This whole Bell’s Brewery and Innovation Brewing situation. I will leave it at that.

6. Losing to my wife Katie (@NoYinKatie) 2 years in a row in an NCAA bracket contest.

These happy faces change, come NCAA tournament time.

These happy faces change, come NCAA tournament time.

7. Kids walking through my lawn. I had my first bona fide “Get off my lawn!” moment yesterday.  I am looking at you, the 3 approximately 13-year-old, pipsqueak punks traversing through my backyard on your communication skill-killing cellphones.  No, seriously stay off my lawn!

8.  Mean people.  Pretend like you didn’t read #7 for a moment.

9.  The following overused words/expressions which have since lost all sense of meaning and relevance:

  • Environmental scan
  • I know, right?
  • At the end of the day….
  • Just sayin’
  • Sorry. Not sorry.
  • Not enough bandwidth/A lot on my plate
  • Think outside the box
  • Lots of moving parts (guilty)

Well, sorry for the listicle (soon to be on the list of overused words/expressions).  I will go back to being chipper now, unless of course I see those pesky kids on my lawn again. Rant over.

P.S. Re-read #1

Chiggity Check Yourself (and your luggage)

I like to travel.  I really do. I particularly like flying and not a day goes by that I am not amazed by airplanes. When waiting in the terminal I can watch planes takeoff and land for hours and never cease to be awestruck as if I were still a  3-year old seeing this happen for the first time.

What else do I watch when I travel?  People.  People are interesting.  Air travel brings people from all over onto the same stage and into the frame that lies before me from my cheap, leather (pleather?) airport seat.

From this seat I see first-time flyers, business-types that travel for a living, soccer teams and their soccer moms and dads, retirees fleeing the cold for Phoenix, and a cast of others.

Not only do I people watch like it’s my job in an airport I also, get this, listen to conversations around and an array of gate announcements.  Airlines make many announcements in hopes of having an efficient boarding process.

“We will board 1st class…those that need extra time…zone 1, zone 2, etc.”

“We have a full flight, so we are looking for volunteers to check a carry on–roller bag–FOR FREE!”

The latter statement is an effort for folks to take less time stowing their belongings so they can sit and all flyers can have an on-time departure.  Additionally, airlines know they will run out of overhead compartment space and have to check some bags under the plane anyway—causing more delays, a late departure, and in some cases flyers missing their connections at their next destination.

I heard this same announcement before all 4 flights that took last week (RDU-ATL, ATL-PHX, PHX-ATL, and ATL-RDU). Each time I listened I was naive to expect 15-20 passengers to instantly approach the podium and check a bag for greater gain of the group.

With the exception of my wife checking her carry on that she acquired on the return PHX-ATL trip, I maybe witnessed 6 people (across 4 possible flights!) think beyond themselves to check their bag (did I mention this process was FREE!?) through to their final destination. 80% of passengers waiting at each gate had a roller bag.  I might be low in my estimation here.

Since selfishness ruled each day, the not-so-hard-prediction of a late flight played out. As I grumbled down the jetways and aisles cursing everyone playing out the famous scene from Meet the Parents, all I could was shake my head.

So, here we are..delayed, departing late, arriving late, and hoping we can make our connection home.  All because of controllable factors if we as people simply think beyond ourselves.

As we land at our destination, the following announcements is made, “Hello folks.  Local time here in Atlanta is 8:01pm (same time as our boarding time for our next flight). We have a number of passengers that have to make connections.  If Atlanta is your final destination or you have a lengthy layover, we ask that you remain in your seat so those making connections can deplane and get on their way. Thank you and welcome to Atlanta.”

We sat in approximately row 25.  20 of those rows with 6 seats across and the remaining 5 rows of the first class cabin had 4 seats across.  This was a full flight so we had ~130-140 people sitting in front of us. Can you guess how many passengers remained in their seats that we passed on our way out?/

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4.  4!  4 human beings!  Four!!!  IV

You mean to tell me that they were the only individuals that had Atlanta as their final destination or had a long layover.

I was more sad than angry and made sure to thank all 4! of these fine people.

In some ways I get it  People are excited to get home, see loved ones, blah, blah, blah.

This is symbolic however of human flaws that to me have been magnified in recent years

Selfishness

Entitlement

Lack of Empathy

Failure to listen

(The first letters of each characteristic statement spells “SELF. That’s as clever as I get. Sorry)

Do you put the greater good of a group before your needs?