Today’s post is about the greatest break up in American history. A relationship that is violent, heart-wrenching, abusive, loving and ultimately ends in independence and eventually mutual respect.

No, I’m not talking about Former President Bush and Former Prime Minister Blair, but the analogy holds for the United States and the United Kingdom.

From 1775 – 1783, the United States and the United Kingdom waged war against one another in one of the most unprecedented victories in world history. A mercantile colony rising up against the world’s strongest power and through pure determination, perseverance and of course the aid of the French and a little less known but equally important contribution by the Dutch (that was your shout-out for today’s world cup game against Uruguay) were able to achieve victory.

American victory was never assured. The United States had to overcome their poor military training, their own internal turmoil, an Oedipal complex with England, and of course their own political views of working together and creating a federal government, but also views on slavery, taxation, and representation, let alone the British military itself.

Yet, here we are 234 years later reflecting upon our independence. Independence that was crafted through the quill of one of America’s greatest philosophers, Thomas Jefferson and edited by the brilliant legal mind of John Adams and the overall genius of Benjamin Franklin. This document which so wonderfully demonstrates our reasons for separation, but it also puts into terms so plain and certain that our independence was to be deemed only natural and accepted by the major global powers of the time.

The Declaration of Independence is not only America’s greatest contribution to our each and every American life, but also to millions of lives across distance and age. For one must remember it is our declaration that acts as the inspiration for so many other rebellions, and free-thinking societies and individuals to emerge (France, Haiti, much of Latin America, etc.)

It’s amazing to think how our society has evolved from a few well placed quill strokes and how those words have grown into so much more. The ideas of Liberty, Independence, Rights, and Freedom written on that parchment lifetimes ago have become a part of the American being that Americans everywhere are still willing to defend those words and ideas as certain as they would defend their own families, for in many minds the two are inseparable.

As this fourth of July fades and the remnants of potato salad, and hot dogs are eaten, while you watch the final explosions of fireworks take a moment to think over the ideals of our founding and drink in the sacrifices of these and countless other individuals have made so that we may enjoy the rights we take for granted.

Miscellaneous Fourth of July Facts:

America celebrates its independence on the wrong day as Congress actually approved independence on July 2nd. John Adams even wrote in his diary that the second of July would be celebrated for ages to come.

Did you know that Thomas Jefferson and John Adams died on the same day… July 4, 1826. The 50th anniversary of the Declaration of Independence. Jefferson who was younger died first. Adams died later that day uttering as his final words Jefferson yet lives.

Did you know they were not the only Presidents to die on the fourth: James Monroe died five years later on July 4, 1831.

Did you know that changes to the American flag may not become official until the fourth of July. This includes the addition of new states as stars on the flag.

Did you know that we are not the only country to celebrate the fourth of July: other countries include Norway, Sweden, and Denmark (is the largest 4th of July celebration outside the US. Danish-Americans gather on land donated by other Danish Americans for the express purpose of celebrating American independence.)

Here are some links to the musical 1776 starring William Daniels also known for his portrayal of Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. Also the voice of KITT from Knight Rider

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Definition of a Man

July 2, 2010

Humphrey Bogart - True Man?

While I was in California, I stumbled upon a fantastic article written in Esquire Magazine. This article which is below is a pithy and brilliant description of the values and morals that the modern man might and probably should possess.

Esquire Magazine Article

Now granted there are a few statements in here that are controversial, and I may not agree completely with the semantics, but the overall message is interesting. I welcome your overall impressions on this article.

Ramblin’ Man

June 29, 2010

The school year has finally come to a close. I have to admit that I was definitely sad to see the year end. This year’s students possessed a great mix of personality, humor, and intelligence. However, the year must end and like the students I end up looking at my summer thinking what am I going to do with myself.
Fortunately, the first few weeks have been a myriad of activity and travel. It began the day after my professional requirements were complete. I boarded a plane with my compatriots Steve and Dan to travel out to Los Angeles, CA for what was a delayed 30th celebration for our dear friend Dave who is a high school friend for Steve and me, but a college friend for the rest of the crew who was to arrive. Our trip began with a scary trip to the airport in which we almost missed our flight. We raced through security and to our gate to find our plane had just begun to board. From there everything was simple connecting flight on time and picked up in LA with no problems. We then toured LA seeing the Great Adventure theme park, going to a Dodgers v Yankees game, the Hollywood sign, the Chinese theater, the walk of fame, Hollywood Forever Cemetery, etc. Just a wonderful trip. I was thrilled to go spend a good deal of time in LA with some great people. It was particularly nice to feel a little recharged and relaxed.
Having left CA, I have found myself back in Florida to visit family. Updates on that to come.

Today, watching ESPN, I came upon the above story about Mandi Schwartz a center for the women’s ice hokcey team at Yale. This young woman is fighting Leukemia and is in desperate need of umbillical cord blood and bone marrow that matches her distinct combination of German, Ukranian, Russian DNA.  The fear is that if she does not receive these treatments within the next month that she will have to undergo a much riskier treatment and transplant.  The risk is that she would take on a transplant from someone that is a less than perfect match. This could ultimately be fatal.

In the meantime, Mandi’s teammates have begun an organization called Become Mandi’s Hero.  The purpose to raise the number of bone marrow donors on the national registry, as well as, to search for a donor for the stricken center. Here’s a link from Yale about the program: Become Mandi’s Hero

This article and push highlights a very important cause for people facing blood diseases as well as cancer based blood diseases.  I believe that many people are unaware of how important their bone marrow can be or are unwilling to donate.  I’m hoping this push will aid the process and potentially save this young woman’s life.  Therefore, in honor of this week’s tribute to father’s wouldn’t this be a great opportunity for those of you to bring life to another person and play the role of DAD for someone else.  I’ve registered. Have you?

Coach John Wooden

Coach John Wooden

” The Wizard of Westwood” also known as Coach John Wooden passed away last night at the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles of natural causes. This legendary individual is best known for his uncanny winning percentage in college basketball, winning over 80% of the games he coached.  His UCLA teams won ten national championships in twelve years, the last one occurring in 1975. As a coach, he is an inspiration, a true leader and a master tactician.

However great John Wooden’s coaching record is and how marvelous his accomplishments are, what I find captivating about this man is his personality and the way he led his life.  This is an individual who truly believed in making men.  This is clearly evident in his pyramid to leadership:

 

 The components that make up this pyramid are life lessons that forge youth into upstanding members of society with a sense of character unmatched among modern society.  It is this method and style of teaching that truly is the mark of John Wooden’s life, because he took his job as coach and morphed into its true intention of mentor, guide, and educator.  His influence is not easily forgotten and will truly live as will his love of the game, of life and probably most importanly to him, his wife, Nellie Riley. 

To read more of his life here are some great articles: 

Los Angeles Times

 CNN

 

For the past few months I have been preparing for my first actual race of some sizeable distance: The Broad Street Run, a 10 mile jaunt down Broad Street, around city hall and ending in the Philadelphia Navy Yard. This race has been a little daunting. I’ve thought about doing the Broad Street Run, multiple times and each time talked myself out of it. However, this year was different a good friend of mine at work, Scott, a man whom I have coached multiple seasons with had cancer strike his extended family. Scott informed me that he was going to run Broad Street. Scott has been such a positive force at my school and coaching that I committed to running in support of Scott and his family. He and I have gone back forth over the last few months discussing our training runs, sending messages back and forth urging each other on to run. In fact there were days that I hated the idea of going to put in a training run, and there was Scott either heading to the gym to run or coming out of the gym from running. It was there that I would ask him, “How far did you go, today?” He would respond with a great distance and I would say internally, “crap, I have to go put that in or a little more.” This continued for a weeks, until we got close to the actual race. 

In preparation, I decided I would run the Gener8tion run in Fairmount Park, a very nice 8k and then follow it up the following week with a 7 1/4 mile run back home on a local high school track. Those two distances were the longest I used to prepare for the Broad Street Run. I was intimidated, the idea of running with 30,000 people, most of which have probably done this race before, or have run this kind of distance on a regular basis. 

Fortunately for me, my friend Adam, a regular of distances this long had returned to our wonderful hometown and acted as my unofficial mentor through the last few days of preparation. He and I hung out on Saturday and drove down to the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, where we found our racing bibs and wandered around the running expo. From there we went over and watched Roy Halladay pitch a complete game shut-out of the rival New York Mets. The day was a complete success. The concern now was what was going to happen the next day.

The morning came early and I was off to pick up Adam and drive down to Citizen’s Bank Park where the race would eventually end (relative proximity.) For me, I think the wave of excitement truly hit me as we piled onto the subway and raced off to the beginning of the race.  Arriving at the beginning, I started to feel the flight of butterflies in my stomach, thinking again, that maybe I have bitten off more than I could chew, but at this point it was too late to turn back. The starting gun was going off and I could see and hear each corral heading off on their arduous journey towards the Philadelphia Navy Yard. Our turn came and we started off. No matter what happened, I was sticking with Adam, figuring that our times sounded close in our discussions of running so I should stay close and we set a great pace, approximately a 9 min mile pace. The issues for me started a mile 2. I felt a sudden twinge of pain in my right calf and I new this was way to early for me to cramp up, but there was little I could do.  The mission became either fight through it and hope that it worked out or simply try to fight through it.  I kept racing on and luckily my calf loosened up.  I pushed on and raced a 46:42 half. I am pretty pleased with that.

 However, my issues were not finished. Mile 7 and 8 were painful and I hated each and every step. I think my issues with drinking water and Gatorade while running finally caught up with me. I haven’t mastered this whole drinking while running. I’m just not good at it, I choke, don’t get enough water into my mouth, spill half of it all over me… who knows, I’m a delinquent when it comes to this. Mile 7 and 8, I lost it… just became increasing drained. I got to the point where I had to walk the water lines because I think I knew I was drained. Then I saw it… mile 8. From here I mentally kicked things into gear… I just kept thinking about it like I do when I practice on the local track: 8 laps… 8 laps…by the time I looked up it was mile 9 and then there was no way in hell I was stopping, walking, I started to pick it up and really run. By the time I had entered the Navy Yard, I was in mid-sprint, just trying to will myself to the end. I crossed at 1:40:04.  I don’t consider this an awful time, for my first major 10 mile run and in the weather that was beating down.  I considered it a challenge and motivation to run the Philadelphia half marathon in September. In fact, there is a half marathon at the end of the month. So we will see. 

For the most part this was a great success (Yes, do your best Borat impression here!) I was very happy with what took place and even happier that I had the opportunity to share the experience with Adam, who eventually did lose me in the race and finished at 1:38:17 a full 1:37 a head of me. And most importantly that I had the opportunity to run in support of a good friend and his family who ultimately, ran in memorium of their loved one. To Scott and his family, you did everyone proud with your efforts and I look forward to running with you again!

Random positive that came up, prior to the race: I was randomly complimented that I could look like Chase Utley or at least his brother…. I will definitely take that compliment!