Category Archives: success

Not Only Once in a Lifetime (Hopefully!)

this halloween is shaping up to be a big one and not because of a costume party or trick-or-treating or anything relating to halloween per se, but because of temple owls college football. ok, i heard you groan right then, but stick with me.

c graduated from temple university school of pharmacy and two of our three kids also graduated from temple, but from boyer college of music. our oldest was in the band while she was at temple as well as drum major for two years, which served as a reason to buy season tickets to temple football. truth to tell, ten years ago, the band was the only reason to go to a football game. our youngest was also in the band while he was in school so we held onto the tickets, and also because they are prime club level tickets on the fifty yard line at the philadelphia eagle’s stadium. truthfully, we didn’t go to a lot of games and when we did, we only stayed until after the band had performed, because temple was usually losing or embarrassingly losing.

now i’ll admit that i have not always been a football fan. my dad played football in college, so football was often on in the house during the season, and mom would occasionally watch college ball after dad died. but for a big chunk of my life i ignored football. after i met c, i started to learn more about the game just by watching with him, since he had played in high school and briefly in college. now i think i’m pretty knowledgeable about the game, although i’m also smart enough to keep my mouth shut most of the time when it comes to commenting on the game. (there’s little worse than sitting next to a person who complains constantly during the game but doesn’t even know what is really going on down on the field).

the plan was to stop buying season tickets after our youngest graduated. and then something kind of wonderful happened: the temple football team started to win. over the years they have had a few marquis players who made it into the nfl, but you could count them on one hand. a couple of years ago there were more than just a couple of talented kids and last year there were even more talented kids on the team, and most of them were freshman. this year the majority of the talented kids are sophomores and juniors and temple is at 7 and 0 for the season so far. more importantly, they beat perpetual powerhouse penn state for the first time in 74 years!

so this year, temple plays notre dame at home on halloween night. and the game is the college game of the week on abc network. and the show “college game day” will be broadcasting from independence hall on saturday morning. whew! i’ll tell you that philadelphians are not used to such positive attention and temple football fans especially are not used to positive attention. ok, so maybe notre dame has something to do with it… but hey, we’ll take it.

now those of you who are used to be affiliated with schools who have big winning teams are yawning at our excitement and you’re certainly entitled to your cynicism, but you know yourself how fun it is to have a winning team. we just keep pinching ourselves to remember to savor the moment, because, well… this could be the one time or this could be the beginning of something.

let’s hope this halloween is filled with nothing but treats for the city of philadelphia and their temple owls!!


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Filed under college, Fall, family, football, friends, history, school, success, tradition

What We Value

whew! i just survived one of the most over-hyped awards show seasons in history! you too? yep, i’m pretty sure that we were all subjected to the never ending cycle of self-aggrandizement, self-adoration and selfishness that attacks the nation during the winter months.

january begins with wall street bonus season. the bonuses are voted on by the board of directors for each firm based on nothing at all and meted out in an obscene fashion that rewards both “success” and failure. recently these bonuses were even paid out using taxpayer money. the fashion is not the best and the red carpet is the red line though the returns in your investments as these firms skim off their share of your investment earnings.

sometime later in january are the golden globes. these are awards voted on by the “hollywood foreign press”, basically a group of less than 100 journalists and photographers who cover entertainment. here’s the definition of the actual requirement: requirements for active membership include primary residence in southern california and a minimum of four published articles per year. in golden globe voting there is no rule or regulation about interested parties in the entertainment industry paying bribes to these voters. kind of like congress. actually, the best part of these awards is that someone like ricky gervais or tiny fey and amy poehler have been tapped to host and their humor is directly to the point about the self-aggrandizing nature of the entire affair.

in early february the grammys show up. although, there doesn’t seem to be any timeliness to the nominations for the grammys. often music that was released years ago is nominated alongside taylor swift music that was timed to be released and make piles of money just before voting begins. the performances during the show end up being more important than the show itself and once-in-awhile a performer actually sings live and drives home the point that only 99% of music is auto-tuned. this crowd doesn’t seem to take themselves as seriously as actors, or take the awards as seriously, except for kanye west who, as we all know, is the only voter whose opinion counts.

finally, there is the award show to beat all awards shows: the academy awards. this show is hyped for months beforehand but in the days before the show there are nightly specials highlighting everything about the actors and the show and fashion and the never ending list of satellite industries that leech off of the oscars. the odd thing is that the oscars were designed to get us out of the house and into the movie theatre but oddly, the nominated movies aren’t usually in the theatres around the time they are being hyped for the oscars. need any more evidence that the academy awards are about self-aggrandizement? here’s the best quote about the academy awards from troy cambell, a social scientist at duke university: “the event allows artistic elites to indirectly praise themselves by praising others and the magic of art.”
consider that three of the four best picture winners in the past four years were movies about movies or acting. he goes on to caution that there’s a lesson for all of us in that we tend to only offer praise to those who look, act and think like us.

well, what’s wrong with offering praise to those who are like us? shouldn’t we praise the teachers, police officers, fire fighters, moms and dads, aunts and uncles, grandparents, neighbors, friends, temporary workers, truck drivers, doctors, nurses, pharmacists, office workers… you get my drift.

i want the real hero worship to be about everyday people who create, build, run, teach, inform and advance themselves, their families and us all by what they do every single day. we all don’t get awards, but we certainly all deserve them.

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Filed under Heroes, image, movies, music, success, work

how kaavya viswanathan got lies, got harvard, and got a prestigious clerkship anyway… (and she’s not alone)

used to be that you were embroiled in a scandal and that was it for your reputation and your future.  now, you’re rewarded.  maybe the real world has become the distortion reality of ‘reality’ tv.

if you’ve never heard of kaavya viswanathan, you should look her up.  she engineered a book titled, how opal mehta got kissed, got wild and got a life and she’s the poster child of what’s wrong with, oh, a whole lot of our society today.

this kid, offspring of two physicians, got a half million dollar book contract, got into harvard and became the toast of the town.

so, the next part of the story is that another harvard kid read kaavya’s book (which apparently a whole lot of other people involved in actually publishing it did not) and accused her of plagiarizing megan mccafferty’s books.  then a whole lot of other people piled on as they read through the book.  turns out, being the model of overachievement that she is, kaavya plagiarized (cut and pasted as one blogger referred to it) from not one, but four authors (megan mccafferty, sophie kinsella, meg cabot and salman rushdie).  ripping off themes, characters, whole passages and even dialogue.

how did this happen?  she says she has a photographic memory and unconsciously lifted…  bla, bla, bla.    bullshit.  there was nothing accidental (or original) about her writing or her story.

so here’ what i think went down here: (i only know parts of this to be true, the rest is speculation)

kaavya was identified as some kind of writing prodigy by ivywise, the firm her parents paid a boatload of money ($30,000) to make sure she got into an ivy league college… which kind of begs the conclusion that they had to conjur up some kind of prodigious ability for this kid in order to justify their pricetag.  ivywise consultant (btw, they have descriptions of their specialties: “students seeking admission to highly selective schools and under-represented minorities” and my favorite, bragging that they can get your kid admission into “pre-kindergarten programs, kindergarten, elementary, middle, secondary and boarding schools…

so, ivywise’s overpaid consultant has a connection with a ‘packaging’ firm who took the outline of the book (it wasn’t even a manuscript) and pimped it out to publishers and hollywood studios.  they all bit.  kid got a book deal and admission into harvard.  ivywise consultant got big pay.

here’s where it got really interesting.  another kid at harvard wrote an article in the the harvard crimson defending kaavya on the grounds that “rappers sample from other music artists all the time and no one calls it stealing.”   ah, yep, they do call it stealing if the rapper doesn’t pay royalties for the material that’s been sampled, snotnose kid.  so, if kaavya had just cited and quoted the sections she stole, she would have been okay?  not so fast, speaks a douchebag from u of penn, ‘cuz kaavya only stole just enough material to qualify as ‘fair usage’ and isn’t guilty of plagiarizing at all.

in the immortal words of chris rock, “just ‘cuz you can do it doesn’t mean it’s to be done.”

so kaavy was not drummed out of harvard for her offense, went on to graduate, and got into georgetown law school, which in a lot of ways makes a whole lot of sense.  after that, she scores a prestigious clerkship.

does anyone else think there’s something very wrong with this story?  so, we don’t believe in forgiveness of people who came into this country illegally decades ago, or for criminals who have served their time, but this liarthief?  not a problem.

probably the most disturbing part is that there were people lined up to defend kaavya, even if it was using the idiotic “everyone else is doing it” defense.  yeesh.

mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be liarthiefs*. people, please raise up kids with integrity even when you see that distortion reality pays off.

*reference to the song, “mama’s don’t let your babies grow up to be cowboys” by ed and patsy bruce.

p.s.  there’s a p.s. to this story.  both of kaavya’s parents were killed last summer when the small plane that her father was piloting crashed.  kaavya is an only child.

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Filed under college, crimes, lies, success

your mom goes to college

we had the proud pleasure of watching our daughter graduate from college this past weekend.   (the second of our three children who’s off into the world with a college diploma in hand)  there are few pleasures more satisfying for a parent.   

i vividly remember how it was after our first one graduated from college and how much she had changed in four short years.  growing up is exponential it seems.  (even though) i still refer to our kids as kids (because they are our kids), that doesn’t translate into treating them like a kids.  each one is clearly their own person.  competent, smart, funny, skilled, thoughtful and interesting.  how cool is that?   

they also eat a lot more stuff.  picky eaters at home turn into more adventurous eaters when they get out on their own in the world.  maybe they just needed to get hungry enough?

e is off to color guard for phantom regiment drum corps (if you don’t know drum corps, you gotta see what these kids do  that’s just a taste) she’ll be back in august to start pounding the pavement for a job.  i’m not too worried, she’s resourceful. 

so, we just finished year 8 of college tuition payments.  for the past two years we had two tuition payments at the same time, now we’re back down to one.  it feels like a vacation.  it will mean a vacation for c and i in the fall.  

kudos to any parent who says that shouldering college tuition payments (and we didn’t shoulder it all) is easy.  that’s a parent who either inherited money, didn’t help their kids at all, or is (some kind of wonder of genetics) someone who saved enough in advance instead of signing up for the ‘pay as you go’ plan.  for all three of ours, we used (are using) a hybrid of saved, inherited, pay as you go and student loans they are responsible for.    

i didn’t have student loans to pay after i graduated from college.  i went to a public college (ucsd) and at the time there was no tuition, only fees.  my father died when i was a sophomore in high school and my mom struggled.  i never asked her for money, never even thought about it.

i went to college because of one of those (now resented) entitlement programs (social security) and a series of unfortunate jobs. 

of course, times have changed.  i remember writing checks for around $735 per quarter for fees.  (the university of california system had no tuition in those days) books were about $100 – 200 a year. personal computers hadn’t been invented yet.  ditto for cell phones.  (we all shared a hard wired phone and someone (usually the person who used the phone the most) always stiffed the rest of us on the bill.)  i scored a victory because i hung out with the tech guys who rigged up a line for long distance calling.  calls were free.  they were also public.  i had to sit on the hallway floor in the computer building to call home.  

my two bedroom furnished apartment (i shared with a roommate) was $100 a month.  it was a dump. i remember spending $20 – $25 a week for groceries.  gas was expensive (for the time) but i didn’t drive much.   

furnished apartments came with black and white tvs.  there were no dvrs, no cable, no internet, no cd players/recorders.  i had a sick stereo system (all separate components) and three big milk crates full of albums.  the speakers didn’t have click in connectors like now, i had to wire and unwire the speakers to the receiver every time i moved, strip the plastic off and retwist the wires when they got too frayed.  

i still have most of the albums.  i rebought the good stuff on cd or downloaded it from itunes.  all my music plus a huge amount more doesn’t even fill my three year old ipod.   

i moved back home after college.  my sister made fun of me, years later never let me forget it.  any (all) of ours are welcome to move back in after college until they get on their feet.  (their siblings better not ridicule them)   

i don’t have any great parental wisdom about all this, just reminiscing.  

we’re so proud and we’re looking forward to seeing what comes next. 

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Filed under family, graduation, spring, success


there’ve only been a couple of times when one picture sums up an entire event. 

this week it was the photo of obama and his national security team watching the bin laden operation in real time.  take one look at that photo and you can imagine what each one of those people in the room feels like.  

read somewhere that biden is holding a rosary. 

consider what obama and his team were dealing with as trump was screaming about what he thought was the most important issue facing the united states today. 

i admit i was uncomfortable at watching people celebrate the killing of a guy.   i got over it.  sometimes there are just people in the world who personify evil.  war is one thing. spending the lion’s share of your life plotting to kill innocent civilians is a particular kind of sickness. 

 good riddance.  hopefully the more reasonable voices in the middle east, those brave ones who led pro democracy revolutions, will be the loudest.  

the united states has been at war somewhere in the world for almost half of all the years i’ve been alive.  

lets hope this is another step on the way to a more peaceful world. 

message clear: we never forget.

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Filed under success, terrorism, united states, war