My Blogging Queue


Once again, I owe a debt of gratitude to a fellow #writeandrun31 member, this time, EJ Runyon. In a brief exchange of comments with EJ, I noted how impressed I was with her ability to write 50,000 words in one month. And not just once, but many times.

I told her that I struggle to get 500 words per day, and that my writing process for this 31 day challenge has been to just sit in front of the computer and stare at a blank screen, and hope that something to write about magically comes to me. I’ve survived in this manner for the first seven days, but I also realize that some days the writing is not very good or very profound. I know this approach is not a viable long-term solution if I want to write something meaningful every day, and EJ suggested that I think of some topics and take notes about them before I sit down to write my blog.

So I’ve been trying to do this for the past couple of days, and I thought I would share some of the topics I’ve been thinking about, and a brief blurb about each one. Hopefully you will see each of these turn into a well-written, thought-provoking blog post, but for now, I’ll just be happy getting 500 words out of each of them.

My Greatest Fears

1. All reptiles – snakes, lizards, alligators, crocodiles (I really don’t care what the difference is, either one would scare me to death), etc. The fear has gotten to the point that I’ve ruled out what seems to be in many respects a possibly wonderful place to retire – Hilton Head – because there seems to be way too many alligators, or is it crocodiles?
2. Singing solo in public.
3. Doing a a 5-minute stand-up routine.
4. Calling on a student in class by the wrong name.

I’m sure there’s many more that I can come up with, but I think writing about my fears will be helpful.

My Vision Board

I created a vision board a few years ago, almost because I had to. So not only does it need to be updated, but I need to invest more of myself in the process. I already ask my students to create their own vision board, and after all what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

My Faith Journey

From devout Catholic to atheist to agnostic to? I believe there is something bigger than us, but what that is I don’t know, but I’m always searching. This would be a tough one to write about, but doing so may help bring me some clarity.

My Suggested Headlines for The Onion

The Onion has the funniest writing on the web, and the headlines alone are often enough to get me laughing out loud. I frequently think of my own headlines that I think are Onion-worthy, so I am going to try and come up with enough to make a blog post out of them.

My Bucket List

While the movie didn’t do much for me, I’ve come across some great bucket lists in my readings, and I thought it would be quite motivating to create my own.

What I’ve Learned from Being a Vegan for Eight Years

I read John Robbins’ Food Revolution, and I went from a typical American diet to vegan the day I finished the book. That was eight years ago, and I’m more committed than ever to the vegan lifestyle. It may be helpful to share why  and what I’ve learned over the past several years.

Why I Didn’t Upgrade to the iPhone 6

I love everything about Apple. Ask any of my students; by the end of the semester I know they are tired of all the times I use Apple as an example of a company that does so many things the right way. Steve Jobs was probably the person I most wanted to meet someday (scratch that off my bucket list). Over the past 10 years our family has probably bought over 30 Apple products. So why didn’t I upgrade to what appears to be the best smartphone out there? I plan to share my reasons in a future post.

How Did We Get Directions before Google Maps?

A few years ago one of my sons asked me how we figured out how to get from Point A to Point B, before Google Maps came along. For a generation that grew up always using such apps, it must be a baffling thought. And I must admit it did cause me to pause and think about how I used to get directions. It would be fun to write about how dependent we have all become on technology, including myself.  By the way, I consider Google Maps the greatest app that has ever been developed.

Why Do We Pass Up Opportunities That Are Good for Us?

When presented with the opportunity to save money or to make money or to live a healthier life, why do so many people, myself included, ignore such opportunities. The one that always gets me is the opportunity to join Planet Fitness. $10 a month, $30 annual renewal fee. Total cost, $150 per year. My company’s health insurance plan will reimburse up to $150 per year in gym membership fees to anyone who joins a gym and makes at least 120 visits per year. So that makes my Planet Fitness membership FREE! Plus, it’s a great incentive to get at least 120 workouts in per year. However, most people I tell about this, don’t do anything about it. And this is just one of many examples. I think it may be worth exploring why that is.

So there you have it, nine possible blog posts in the queue. Plus, I got to write about the queue itself, this post was like a bonus! My only concern is that once again I see no consistent theme among the possible blog posts. Not sure if there needs to be, but I think it would be easier to come up with ideas if the blog was focused on one BIG IDEA. Maybe there’s another blog post there…

Thank you again EJ!



I Wonder What It Would Be Like to Be…


Once again, I need to give credit to one of Christine Frazier‘s prompts – this time her suggestion of writing about a recurring daydream you may have, for the idea behind this post.

While I don’t really have any recurring daydreams, I do often wonder what it would be like to be someone else, what it would be like to spend a typical day in someone else’s shoes.

So here are some people I think it would be fascinating to be for just a short while:

Brandon Flowers, lead singer of the Killers – every time I watch this video, which is way too often, I think ‘Man, that has to be the greatest feeling in the world,  singing in front of 5,000 screaming fans.’ I’ve got soul, but I’m not a soldier…

Bruce Springsteen – I assume every 50-something year old man has fantasized about being the Boss. Whether it is seeing him perform live or watching an online video, the passion and joy for what he does comes through loud and clear. And he’s been doing it this way for over 40 years! By the way, I consider “Thunder Road” to be the greatest song of all time…

President of the U.S. – really, how cool would it be that you get the opportunity to possibly change the course of the world, or to pardon a turkey…

Bill Gates – one of my tech heroes, and much like Jimmy Carter and his work with Habitat for Humanity, I think Bill’s “second career” as a philanthropist will be the one he is most remembered for. But I just can’t imagine (but it doesn’t stop me from trying), what it would be like to wake up and realize you are the wealthiest person in the world (as measured in good old dollars at least). I’d love to just spend a day with him and see what his life is like.

Ellen DeGeneres – I’ll admit it, I love watching the Ellen Show. And I often think how great it must be to make people so happy by surprising guests with checks for $10,000 or giving everyone in the audience a big screen TV. Many of these occasions bring tears to my eyes. Plus, she’s vegan! If I had a giveaway, it would be an all expenses paid trip to Hawaii for every member of the audience, along with their immediate family. I also realize being Ellen for a day would require some significant transformations…

Cain Velasquez – the current UFC heavyweight champ. Imagine walking down the street, just about any street, and having the confidence to handle yourself in virtually any physical altercation. I get scared walking into Planet Fitness…

Steven Spielberg – many times when I watch a movie or a play I often wonder what it must take to bring all of that together; the actors, the script, the scenery, the locations, the special effects, the editing, etc. It’s mind boggling, and few people, if any, do it as well as Mr. Spielberg. I still remember watching a movie a long, long time ago on TV called “The Duel“, and thinking at the time what a great movie it was. It wasn’t until much later that I found out that it was one of Spielberg’s earliest directorships. Highly recommended…

While we’re at the movies, how awesome would it be to be Robert Downey, Jr. Imagine getting to be Iron Man for a day, and then later watching yourself on a  70 foot IMAX screen. Or how about the opportunity to play the male lead opposite Anna Kendrick in a movie – as her dad of course. (I think my wife reads this blog…)

I also often wonder what it would be like to be a gifted elementary school teacher at a low income school, and sparking a love of math or reading or art in a young child.

And if I were to imagine what it would be like to be someone from the past, I would add Steve Jobs giving his graduation speech at Stanford, Jimmy Cagney dancing down the White House steps in Yankee Doodle Dandy, and Leonardo da Vinci having one amazing idea after another to the list.

When I try to look for what all these people have in common, what do I find fascinating about them, I guess it’s that they are all people who are among the best at what they do. They found something they love, and worked hard to excel at that. And that’s something everyone cannot only imagine, but make a reality.

And for any of you who may have wondered, or perhaps even fantasized, what it’s like to be a college professor, well here’s a day in my life: watching students fall asleep right in front of (2 minutes into the start of class), receiving emails from students asking if they missed anything important, getting an obituary from a student showing that his grandmother had died (photocopied from a Korean language newspaper), having students ask for extra credit (for just asking for extra credit), and observing students “secretly” checking their phone several times during class. Sound appealing? Then by all means, the job is all you’ve ever fantasized about.

P.S. I really do love my job; I’m blessed to be at a wonderful University surrounded by great colleagues and great students. There aren’t many things better in life than watching a struggling student succeed after putting in some hard work, or having a former student come back to class as a guest speaker and marvel at the transformation that has taken place. It’s the great circle of life.

Great Customer Service vs. Personal Responsibility


This post is based on one of Christine Frazier‘s writing prompts, in which she suggests writing about the most common question you get in some aspect of your life.

As a college teacher, one of the most common questions I get occurs when a student misses a class and he or she will send me an email asking “Could you tell me what I missed?”, or its more annoying variant “Did I miss anything important?”

It has become even more frustrating in the past few years to get such an email. I have all of my classes video-recorded so that after class students can bring up any class on their computer and watch it at their convenience.  All the students are aware of this option, yet they still send emails asking what they missed.

I’ve often been tempted to either not reply to the email or to respond with some sarcastic comment, but I bite my tongue and send a reply that lets the student know what was covered in class and reminds them about the availability of the video recordings.

One of the the reasons for responding this way is because of all the books and blogs I read that stress the importance of providing great customer service. If I view my students as customers, then it seems reasonable to assume that it is my responsibility to provide them with great customer service. That’s why I have all my classes video-recorded, that’s why I get their tests back to them the next class, that’s why I answer such emails in a polite way.

But at what point does providing great customer service interfere with the idea of personal responsibility? At what point does wanting to do everything for your child interfere with the child learning to be independent?

I struggle with such questions. When I read the words of Seth Godin, I get pumped up about providing extraordinary customer service. But then I’ll watch a Larry Winget video and it’s all about taking personal responsibility, which I am also a big believer in.

So what do I say to a student who stops by my office and tells me he missed the previous class and wants to review a problem we had gone in over in detail during that class?

The Seth Godin side of me wants to do everything I can to help the student, the Larry Winget side of me wants to tell the student to go figure it out yourself.

I see potential merit in the idea that telling the student to figure out the solution on his own is perhaps the best form of customer service I could provide in the long run. However, to me it still begs the question at what point does telling someone to take personal responsibility replace the need to provide great customer service.

What’s the best way to teach someone to swim; do you just tell someone to jump in the water and figure it out on his own, or do you offer some basic lessons beforehand?

Or what do you do if you are a waiter and you serve a customer his meal and then a minute later he tells you he did not realize  that his cheeseburger came with pickles on it. Do you simply apologize and tell the customer that you will get him a new burger with no pickles right away, or do you tell the customer that the menu clearly states what is on every burger, and he is going to have to live with that decision?

I think many of us would answer that of course you would provide someone with swimming lessons as part of helping that person learn how to swim and that you would replace a customer’s burger if there was a problem with it, even though it was not the restaurant’s fault.

But is there some magical line that gets crossed at some point and we say that customer service ends here, you’re on your own now?

Any insights would be appreciated – or is this something I have to figure out by myself?

X plus 7


Don’t panic, this is not a post about algebra!

Instead, what it represents is the formula I use for determining my driving speed. In the formula, X represents the posted speed limit. So if I am on a highway where the posted speed limit is 55 mph, then the maximum speed I will go, and what I set my cruise control at, is 62 mph. If the speed limit is 35 mph, I keep my speed at or below 42 mph.

This approach has several benefits, such as: I never really worry about getting a speeding ticket (I’ve heard that cops don’t start giving tickets until a driver is at least 10 mph above the speed limit); it’s one less thing to think about when driving, since I know exactly what speed I will be driving at on any particular highway; and since I use cruise control whenever I can, I think my gas mileage is better than if I were constantly speeding up and slowing down.

There are a couple of downsides to this approach. First, if I go to pass someone on a four-lane highway, and while I am in the midst of doing so a car comes up behind me, I am not going to speed up just to get out of their way. This often leads to the person behind me getting quite annoyed (as I can tell from the looks and gestures I get when that person eventually passes me).

Second, it has created, and I am willing to admit this, an almost holier-than-thou approach to my driving. While I am driving, I often think if you were to ask people at the end of any given day if they broke the law that day, virtually no one would admit to having done so. But in reality, judging by how many people pass me while I am driving (and how few people I pass), then most people are breaking the law. And from my perspective, driving above the speed limit is a much more serious crime than possession of an ounce of marijuana. Driving at such high rates of speed puts many innocent people at risk, having an ounce of pot *may* be harmful to the individual who smokes it. (I certainly am against the combination of smoking and driving, in any amount, at any speed).

I’ve often wondered how people can justify going so much faster than the speed limit. It can’t be that everyone has an emergency; why is everyone always in such a hurry?

Some of you may say I am being hypocritical, since I am driving above the speed limit as well. I’m OK with that. I think my approach is consistent with the belief that the occasional beer or helping of fries isn’t too bad for you, but having several beers per day or french fries on a regular basis is not good for your health. So I think there is a big difference between going 62 mph versus 75-80 mph in a 55 mph zone.

I’ve had someone tell me that when he goes well above the speed limit, it’s not really a crime. I then asked him if he slows down to the speed limit if he sees a cop on the side of the road, and he replied that of course he does. To me, that’s a clear sign that he knows he was doing something wrong. On the other hand, I never feel the need to slow down when I see a cop, and I think that makes for a much more relaxed and enjoyable driving experience.

You may argue that there are certain situations when you need to drive excessively fast, and of course there are. But running late is not a legitimate excuse – get up earlier or plan your day better!

I would be in full support if there were highway sensors that could automatically ticket anyone who goes more than (X + 7). I think such a system would eventually create a strong incentive for most people to drive at a more appropriate, and legal speed.

I am also looking forward to the advent of self-driving cars, for many reasons, but certainly one of them is the hope that such cars will have their speeds automatically controlled to maximize throughput and safety, all within the confines of the posted speed limit.

Who know, maybe I can start a movement with the hashtag #X+7.

Safe driving everyone. I can now get off my soapbox.

I’m in Tears, Again

I just watched a beautiful tribute to Scott Stuart, a longtime ESPN anchor who died this morning from cancer at the age of 49. The video makes it clear that Stuart was a remarkable man. Not only for the impact that he had at ESPN for his trademark style, but also for the diversity that he brought to the network and to broadcast journalism in general. He became a role model for many. It is also quite fitting that the video is narrated by Robin Roberts, a cancer survivor and also a role model for many.

But while he certainly made his reputation as an ESPN anchor, I think his most significant contribution, and what will be his legacy, is as a father. The love he had for his two daughters is apparent, and even President Obama alludes to that love in the video.

As I was watching the tribute, the tears were running down my cheeks. I’ve noticed that this happens more and more often, and it is often the result of a variety of emotions. Whether it is listening to Stuart’s fellow colleagues talk of him with such high praise, watching Nicholas Cage singing to his wife (Tea Leoni) in The Family Man, going to a Broadway play such as Wicked and closing my eyes and just listening to the beautiful voices on stage, the riff-off scene from Pitch Perfect,  watching Anna Kendrick singing the Cup Song (yea, I have an Anna Kendrick thing :), this amazing scene from the movie “Begin Again” (probably my favorite four-minute scene in any movie), or Harry Chapin singing “Story of a Life” or “Flowers Are Red“, there are many things that trigger the release of water from my eyes.

As you can tell from the list above, many times it is music that brings on the emotion. I guess there’s just something about someone with a beautiful voice sharing that talent with the world that brings me to tears. Sometimes it’s just a voice itself that does it; many times, as with the songs from Harry Chapin, it’s the words that do it; sometimes it is something profound, like the passing of a loved one.

I’m not really sure what the tears mean, if anything. All I know is that I am no longer embarrassed by it (even less now that I am writing this post to share with the world), and I’ve noticed that my favorite movies and songs are usually the ones that bring out such an emotion. So I’ll continue to listen to Harry Chapin songs and watch clips of Anna Kendrick, and just keep the tissues nearby.

RIP Stuart Scott, Boo-Yah.

Another Challenge for the Year

I’ve enjoyed the 31 day running and writing challenge so far, particularly the writing aspect (although it’s only day 3!). I’ve often thought about starting a daily blog. I’ve always enjoyed reading Seth Godin’s blog,  impressed with the fact that he posts to it every day and at this point has over 5,000 posts, and thought “I should do that.” But for a variety of reasons I’ve never done anything about it.

But I guess there was just something about this #writeandrun31 challenge that appealed to me; perhaps the fact that it was exercise-based, had the daily writing challenge, and was started by a vegan hit all the right buttons.

Anyway, while I am excited by this 30-day challenge, another 2015 challenge captured my interest, and I have signed on for that as well.

Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fame has started “A Year of Books” challenge in which you read and discuss a new book every two weeks. While I love to read, this will be a daunting task, since I am sure there won’t be any Calvin and Hobbes books among Mark’s biweekly choices, unfortunately. As one data point to support this view, the first book is “The End of Power” by Moises Naim.

It will be interesting to keep track of what happens to the books that Mark selects; Naim’s book is already the number 2 selling book in its category on Amazon, despite having only 54 reviews. I am guessing the impact will be similar to what happened to the books chosen for Oprah’s book club. I am also curious to see if there will be any works of fiction among the chosen books.

All of this talk of books has helped me to recall some of my favorite books of the past few years, all of which I can highly recommend, and some of which may be a little off the beaten path:

The Icarus Deception by Seth Godin; mentioned in yesterday’s blog as well.
Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts; a beautifully written, mostly autobiographical novel.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas; OK, so I was way behind in getting to this one, but it was well worth the wait.
Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes; again, just getting caught up on some of the classics.
The Rosie Project: A Novel by Graeme Simsion; this was highly recommended by Bill Gates, who called it “one of the most profound novels” he had read in a long time.

I’m still hoping that at some point these daily blog posts become less about me (who I am thankful for, the search for my passion, or my 2015 challenges) and more about providing my thoughts on issues that I care about, but for now I am happy that I am just writing something every day.



Finding My Passion

I would have thought by now, at the age of 57, that I would have found my life’s passion. But if I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I still don’t know what my purpose in life is, what I am meant to do.

I’ve read lots of great books, followed several inspirational blogs, and watched some motivational videos on personal development and finding your passion (see the list below), but I feel that I am no closer to figuring out my purpose in life despite the powerful messages contained in these books, blogs, and videos.

When I come upon the often-cited challenge of “what would you do if money were no object”, I have no answer.

And I am not resistant to change;  I left corporate America in my mid-20s after I realized I didn’t want to spend the next 40 years of my life doing such work, and decided to pursue a career in academia instead. Several years later, in part motivated by many of the books listed below, I decided to start my own business, and ran it for close to four years (as noted in yesterday’s blog, an unprofitable, but valuable learning experience), but I realized that such a venture was not quite what I was looking for.

So where does that leave me? While I believe my work as a teacher has meaning and enjoy such work, I still do not think it is my “calling” in life. When I look at the work my wife does as a teacher, it is clear to me that she has found her calling, her purpose in life, and her young students benefit tremendously from the passion and love she brings to her job. I just do not feel the same way. When I listen to Steve Jobs speech in which he says that if you wake up too many days in a row and answer no to the question, “is what you are about to do what you want to do for the rest of your life”, then it is time to change. I often answer no to such a question; the problem is – what do I do instead?

And please don’t get me wrong. I am quite happy with my life, and consider myself one of the most optimistic people I know. Sometimes I think that maybe reading these types of books and blogs, and watching motivational videos, is part of the problem. That ignorance is bliss, and that perhaps there is not something else out there that I should be doing.

But then I think that maybe it is the search for meaning that is important, and that perhaps that is my purpose in life, to keep looking for my passion.

As I get closer to my planned retirement from teaching (only about 8 years away), I find myself thinking more and more what I would like to do with the next stage of my life. Some ideas I have flirted with include becoming a nurse, a paramedic, a math tutor/teacher, a swim coach, starting an online business, or working in customer service at a hotel/resort. Having several years before I will begin such pursuits gives me the opportunity to develop the skills needed for any of these positions. One thing I do know is that whatever path I choose, there will be a significant service component to it. For example, teaching math at a low-income elementary school seems quite appealing to me since I believe that such work has meaning and makes a difference.

In the meantime, using the closing words from Steve Jobs’s speech, I’ll continue to “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”.

Thanks for reading, and below is a list of some of my favorite inspirational books, blogs, and videos, along with helpful links to each item on the list (NOT Amazon links!).

Books I’ve read:

Strengths Finder 2.0
What Color Is Your Parachute?
The Element: How Finding your Passion Changes Everything
Man’s Search for Meaning
The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People
Awaken the Giant Within
A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose
The Power of Less
Start Something That Matters
The Four Agreements
Way of the Peaceful Warrior
The Icarus Deception (the best book I’ve read in decades!)
The Happiness Project: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun.

There’s also a few books I look forward to reading this year:

The Start-up of You
How Will You Measure Your Life?
The Happiness of Pursuit

There’s also a few web sites I’ve read over the years that often focus on personal development, passion, and happiness:

Seth Godin
Steve Pavlina
Zen Habits

Finally, here’s a few videos that I have found quite inspiring:

Steve Jobs’s graduation speech at Stanford
Neil Gaiman’s graduation speech at University of the Arts
Gary Vaynerchuk’s speech from the Web 2.0 expo in 2008.

Thank you!

I think a perfect way to start my 30-day blogging challenge is to express my gratitude to those who have been such an important part of my life.

The easiest way for me to do this will be in chronological order, so here goes!

Thank you to my parents for their unconditional love and support and instilling in me the importance of family, kindness, education, and hard work.

Thank you to my two older sisters who not only helped make my childhood such an enjoyable experience, but have been there for all the key moments of my life.

Thank you to all my relatives (grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews) for giving me a strong sense of family and connection.

Thank you to all my classmates and teachers from St. Augustine elementary school; you provided me with my first taste of friendship, my first awkward attempts at romance, and provided a great foundation for what would become a lifelong love of learning.

Thank you to my neighbors on Ivy Lane where I grew up.  You provided me with a sense of community and I fondly remember the games of kickball, jacks, knuckles, wiffle ball, football and many others too numerous to mention.  Such games helped teach me how to handle winning and losing.

Thank you to all my classmates and teachers from Archbishop John Carroll High School. I was a poster child for “those awkward teenage years”, but you helped me to survive and offered some great role models for being a teacher.

Thank you to all those people I met at East Stroudsburg University. In many ways, a complete 180 from my high school experience. From my roommates and dormmates, to my fellow swimmers, to the friends I made, to the woman who would become my wife, to the teachers who inspired me, you made this time a great four years. You gave me the chance to explore a variety of interests and begin pursuing those that caught my passion.

Thank you to all my swim coaches (Todd, Mack, Bill, Chris, Frank, and Paul) and my fellow swimmers. This sport has been such an important part of my life and I consider many among you as my best friends.

Thank you to all the people I met while getting my MBA at Carnegie-Mellon University. You helped me to see the power of knowledge and ambition.

Thank you to my wife Mary, who gave me one of the happiest days of my life when she said “yes”, and has been my best friend for the past 36 years and given me a lifetime of happy days. You have also been my role model for what it takes to be a great teacher and have helped me to become the best person I can be.

Thank you my wife’s family. Mary’s Mom and her sister made me feel like part of their family from day one, and it has been great to continue to feel like a part of her sister’s family.

Thank you to my co-workers at Prudential Insurance Company for offering my first full-time, professional job. I learned how business worked (or so I thought!), and what it took to succeed in such an environment.

Thank you to our first son, James. The day you were born will be something I will never forget, and you helped teach me how to be a Dad. It has been a joy watching you pursue your passion for writing and proving that it is possible to successfully meet challenges head-on.

Thank you to our “Lamaze” friends. You were the first friends we made as “grown-ups” 32 years ago and it is a testament to the power of that friendship that we continue to see each other today.

Thank you to my classmates and teachers at Drexel University. You provided the academic support network necessary to complete my degree and help me land the job I have been at for the past 28 years.

Thank you to our second son, Joey. It has been a joy watching you pursue the variety of passions you have had over the years – BMX, construction, music, filming. You are a true Renaissance Man, and you have inspired me to find and pursue my passions. Thank you also for the opportunity to coach you in baseball and basketball.

Thank you to my colleagues and students at Villanova University. You have provided an environment that has enabled me to become the best teacher I can be. It has been a pleasure watching my students grow from being unsure 18-22 year-olds to successful business people, spouses, and parents.

Thank you to my son Patrick for being such a positive, happy, kind, and funny young man who has been one of my true inspirations in life. It has been amazing to watch you accomplish things we were never quite sure about, from riding a bike to doing double-black diamonds. Spending time with you is one of my favorite things to do.

Thank you to my neighbors in Conestoga Village. The block parties, progressive dinners, Santa on a fire engine, impromptu street gatherings, and kids everywhere have made it the ideal place to raise our family. I appreciate the many friendships I have made along the way, and the support you have provided over the years.

Thank you to my classmates and teachers at Montgomery County Community College You enabled me to rekindle my passion for learning and the science of fitness. I was exposed to some of the best teachers I have ever had, which enabled me to become a better teacher.

Thank you to those I have met through Fitness Together. This was my first experience running a business, and while I made a lot of mistakes and lost money along the way, it was still one of the best learning experiences I have had.

Thank you to all the creative people and their works of art, which have brought joy, insight, and inspiration to my life:
from music:  Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, John Denver, Jimmy Buffett, the Eagles, Tim Moore, Cat Stevens;
from the movies: anything by Woody Allen, the people behind Chariots of Fire, Begin Again, Napoleon Dynamite, and Family Man;
from books: Herman Wouk, Harper Lee, Seth Godin, Miguel de Cervantes, Alexandre Dumas, Michael Lewis, Tony Robbins, Zig Ziglar, Steven Covey, Steve Pavlina, Malcolm Gladwell;
from technology: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk.

Thank you to all those who have helped me in my vegan journey: my son Joey and his girlfriend Megan, Arnold Kauffman, John Robbins, the Esselstyn family, Dr. John McDougall, Dr. Neil Barnard, Dr. Joel Fuhrman, Rich Roll, Colin Campbell, Brendan Brazier, Robert Cheeke, Scott Jurek, Matt Frazier, Kathy Freston, Ellen Degeneres, Jeff Novick, Char Nolan, Brian Wendel, Tim van Orden.

The above list is not even one-percent of the people who are owed my thanks. I could go on and on: school bus drivers, school cafeteria workers, police and fire fighters, our elected officials, health-care workers, my children’s teachers, the newpaper guy, the mailman, the trash collectors, librarians, restaurant personnel, etc.

But I hope my message is clear: I am grateful for all the help, support, and love I have received over the years, and that the best way to thank everyone is to offer my help, support, and love to others who need it.