Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Fouls: That's Why Lebron can never be the GOAT

 Lebron has fouled out of NBA games a total of eight times in his sixteen year career. Anyone who watched the recent conference championship against the Denver Nuggets knows that should have been impossible with the way Lebron plays, pushing off and running over any opponent around him. He has done this for years with near impunity. Sir Charles Barkley knows, and he was the only voice on the NBA on TNT team who was willing to call it out.

"That's a charge. Come on, man. That's a charge," Charles pointed out during clips, all to the eye rolls of Shaq. Of course, Shaq was able to push his way around the lane to a Hall of Fame career; so he's not going to accept the complaints. But Kenny and Ernie should have agreed because it's just so blatant. And I am the first one to dismiss anyone who says "the refs cost us the game." I literally don't believe it. But as Charles conceded, in the last two games "the refereeing was terrible."

The fouls are why I just can't ever really cheer for or appreciate or acknowledge Lebron the way he deserves. I just don't really like him as a player. And it's why I'll never concede to him being "the greatest basketball player of all time." No way. And that's a shame. Lebron is better than this kind of behavior. He not only pushes off almost every time down the lane, but he is, pardon me, such a prima donna that he complains all the time about the fouls he didn't get. That's just kind of disappointing. 

Granted, there is ample evidence for the NBA refs' "superstar treatment." We know all the times a star is in the late stages with three or four on him, and a foul happens, and the stripes know to look for the closest non-star to tag with the foul. It's an unwritten rule. Heck, Michael Jordan fouled out only ten times in his career - four of them in his first season. And Luc Longley picked up a lot of fouls that Michael committed. And, really no one will dispute MJ fouled Byron Russell on that iconic last shot of his career. 

But Lebron James? Oh, my. I have never seen it taken to this level. And his being 6 foot 8 and 250 pounds is a, pardon me, big part of it. Lebron is a great basketball player who, in my mind, has tarnished his legacy with really sloppy play that doesn't really require much talent. It just takes size and a reputation as untouchable. 

Just ask Jamal Murray:


Thursday, September 24, 2020

29 and 0!

 “29 and 0!”

The voice came booming through the doorway into the teacher lounge.

“29 and 0!” came the voice again, even louder.

It was early in the fall of my first year teaching high school, and I was sitting with a colleague in the computer area of the English-Social Studies offices during our planning period. The voice came from Tom, a veteran history and government teacher who was also the head baseball coach and a bit of a legend around town for his gruff but engaging presence, as well as his state championships.

When Tom ambled through the door, shifted his eyes toward us and repeated it a third time, my colleague Jane inquired. What was he talking about? It was September, so we were a long way from the high school baseball season, and Tom didn’t coach anything else. And the St. Louis Cardinals were obviously far too deep into the season to have that record.

“Uh, what, Tom?” Jane ventured cautiously. “What are you yelling about? What’s 29 and O?”

Tom, the high school’s lovable curmudgeon, glanced sideways at us with a suspicious scowl that melted into a mischievous grin.

“I’ve been teaching American history for twenty-nine years,” he growled. “I’ve taught the Revolutionary War twenty-nine times.” He paused for effect. “America has never lost! We’re 29 and 0!”

And with a wink and a nod, he strolled on through the lounge toward his desk, as Jane laughed and I marveled. Talk about bringing history to life. That was a lesson I could latch on to.

Tom was the sort of teacher who would mesmerize or more likely scare his students into engagement, or perhaps submission, with a mixture of bluster and rapport. His teaching style was old-school traditional lectures with lots of notes if you could keep up, but it was rarely boring. I’d occasionally walk by his room and glance in on a sea of transfixed faces, all staring intently toward the front of the room where Tom stood leaning against his podium, lecturing on history, or more likely telling ‘Nam stories and putting his own coach’s spin on every issue from the Battle of Bunker Hill to the constitutionality of Medicare.

Now, I won’t say Tom was the greatest educator his students ever had, or that all his ideas about teaching were techniques I’d emulate or recommend. But if engagement is the key to classroom instruction, or at least the lecture model, he certainly had that aspect nailed down. On the other hand, his approach to grading papers probably wasn’t the best way to assess learning. He was notorious for claiming he “graded” their research papers via the stair method. You know, where the teacher stands at the top of the stairs and tosses the whole stack: the papers that make it all the way down get an “A.” The rest are rated progressively lower based on how far up the stairs they landed. 

I never actually believed he assessed students that way; Tom was the inveterate prankster and garrulous spinner of tall tales. But the spirit of “29 and O” remains a vivid moment in my early training as a teacher, and it’s an approach we should all take note of. Teach history like it’s brand new. Teach everything like it’s an amazing discovery waiting to happen. Teach all stories, novels, and plays like the protagonist’s journey and the ending is always uncertain and forever new. Teach every math and science problem like it’s a grand mystery depending upon the young inquiring minds to resolve. Teach like the world is alive.

The coach as history teacher can certainly be a tired stereotype, and I won’t argue the persistent belief that for some teachers, their extracurricular assignment and game plans are always more important than their lesson plans. But I’ve come to appreciate some of the coach’s mantras that guide my classroom the same way they lead players on the field.

“Hey, they need you today,” another coach and long time colleague would often tell me as we passed in the hallway. “Bring your ‘A game. They need your best.” And, just like a good coach always can, he regularly hyped me up before I headed into the classroom. It was game on, and the team was depending on me. 

“Don’t get stale,” I’d tell myself. They need you. Last year, we were 29 and O. This year we’re going for 30.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

The Emmys, Ozark, & Marty Byrde -- When will the awards committees show the respect?

As the 2019 Emmy Awards approached, Marty Byrde and I were anxious. He was wondering just how powerful and cunningly cold his wife Wendy really is after she decides they’re not running and will stay in Missouri as Ozark heads into season three. And, I wondered if viewers and critics would wake up to the brilliance of Jason Bateman’s controlled, calculating portrayal of the anti-hero and the potential for Ozark to break new ground in the act of breaking bad. Batemen’s performance as Marty Byrde in the anti-hero archetype had the potential to move beyond the most memorable predecessors including Tony Soprano, Don Draper, and especially Walter White. Sadly, we only get one more season to learn just how far this unassuming Chicago accountant will go. Alas, back in the Emmy season of 2019 two things were certain: Ozark would be once again overlooked by too many viewers and the awards ceremonies, and the third season would be even more mind blowing than the second. So now that the producers have announced the fourth season as the last for the Byrde clan in southern Missouri, and now that the 2020 Emmy awards have come and gone with little recognition for Ozark, outside of the much deserved Best Actress nod for Julie Garner’s portrayal of Ruth, I want to share a few thoughts on what is so brilliant about this show. 

The comparisons to Breaking Bad are inevitable and appropriate, and Granted, some critics argue Ozark is simply re-treading ground in an uninteresting way. Astute critics would note that Marty Byrde is a superior anti-hero if only because Walter White never really was one. When did Marty break bad? Or has he yet? The brilliance is that after three seasons, we still can’t be certain just who this guy is. Bateman plays the role of Marty Bird with such precision and control that viewers simply never know what he is thinking. It’s a complicated point. In psychological discussions of the banality of evil, the Columbine killers offer an important dichotomy: one was a true sociopath, the other a depressed and vulnerable kid who was manipulated into committing unspeakable evil. While the prison and the shock studies described in the article may have falsely implied that anyone can become evil, the difference is that the participants weren’t inclined toward evil until the situation presented itself … and afterwards they did not pursue the inflicting of pain. But the truly evil would keep doing it regardless. Eric Harris was always going to hurt people; Dylan Klebold may never have had he not met Harris. Thus, in comparing two recent portrayals of criminal anti-heroes, I will assert this: Walter White was always going to hurt people; Marty Bird could just have easily lived a milquetoast life of a suburban accountant. That’s what makes him an anti-hero. However, other viewers are attuned to just how deftly Bateman and the writers have reimagined the anti-hero trope, presenting Marty’s heroic qualities in a twist on the descent into evil. In fact, Marty Byrde is perhaps the purest of the anti-heroes for his actions always seem reactive yet prescient in an accidental way.

In Chuck Klosterman’s book of essays X: a Highly Specific, Defiantly Incomplete History of the 21st Century, he makes an informed argument for the greatness of Bryan Cranston’s portrayal of the anti-hero in Walter White. The conceit of that show and the praise showered upon it was found in the title -- viewers were fascinated by how a seemingly good man, a teacher even, could so incredibly and viciously “break bad.” For Klosterman the brilliance was how the evil resulted from a choice, a point at which he decided to become bad, despite his partner and former student’s contemptuous assurances that “you can’t just break bad.” In reality, over the seasons, we realized Jessie was correct while Chuck Klosterman (and far too many other writers) is wrong. Walter White didn’t break bad because he was always evil, or at least a real ass. And unlike anti-heroes like Tony Soprano, there was simply nothing likeable about him. While Breaking Bad was undoubtedly a compelling show about a man giving in to the dark side that lived within him, Walter White was always more of a villain than an anti-hero. But Marty Byrde? Now, that is an incredibly intriguing and complex character for whom the distinction still isn’t clear. That’s the brilliance of Ozark that takes it far beyond anything Breaking Bad accomplished, other than being a popular and well-produced show.

And, in looking at portrayals of evil and ideas of the anti-hero, I haven’t even begun to unpack the incredibly complex and superbly acted female roles. How easy it is, still, for society to overlook the women. At least for Ozark Julie Garner’s role is valued and acknowledged. And as a character, Ruth is another anti-hero in the way Jesse was on Breaking Bad. Different circumstances create a different situation, and the willingness of Ozark’s writers and producers to try anything is another layer of the show’s brilliance. The hillbillies are a more complex trope than we might imagine or give credit for. It’s worth noting the portrayals of violence and their intentions. Jacob Snell was not truly evil, though he’d do horrible things to survive. His wife Darlene, by contrast, is not only truly evil but also down right batshit crazy.

And, of course, if we’re going to look into female characters as anti-heroes and villains, then we must note how Wendy is a far more compelling character than Skyler, Carmela, or Betty could ever have been in their respective shows. As Ozark seems intent on flipping the narrative in a twisted moment of gender equity, Wendy may be the most sinister of characters, especially now that we know how far she might go to protect the family. Her background as a potential political operative in Chicago indicates a moral vacuousness that an accountant like Marty could never have. The power, cunning, and will of Helen, Wendy, Ruth, and even Darlene are additional layers of complexity that go far beyond so many other shows. Laura Linney’s performance is, like Bateman, sadly under-appreciated, and the writing has given her great vehicle as she has risen to Lady Macbeth status in the role of powerful women -- the question becomes will she fall into madness. Or is she already there? Marty is truly an anti-hero, whereas Wendy may be just downright ruthless. If that’s the case, then future seasons of Ozark may find Marty with an even more serious threat than the FBI, the Snells, or the Cartell. It may be his own wife.

Sadly, we only have one more season to find out. And even after I appreciate the brilliant and sure to be stunning conclusion of the series, I will look forward to the Emmys in 2021 with hope that the show will finally garner the full appreciation it deserves.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Wait on SCOTUS for the sake of the "United" States

 I wish this could have waited a week. Ruth Bader Ginsburg deserved at least that much. On the passing of this iconic American, the better angels of our nature should have allowed us the simple restraint to not talk about and fret about and begin shouting about her replacement on the Supreme Court. The basic virtues of honor, respect, and decency should have led us to mourn and to reflect on the life and legacy of woman who means so much to so many. Alas, we couldn't do that as a nation, and it didn't take long for the Senate Majority Leader to indicate his intention to fill the court vacancy without delay, an action that was disappointing and inconsistent at best. Yet here we are.

All eyes are on Senators Susan Collins (Maine), Chuck Grassley (Iowa), Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Mitt Romney (Utah), Cory Gardner (Colorado) ... and I will throw in there Ben Sasse (Nebraska). It's not worth mentioning the other two pivotal senators who are nothing less than shallowly hypocritical.

And, so here in Colorado, it's important to note that Senator Cory Gardner is correct in that it his right and his responsibility to "advise and consent" to presidential nominees to the courts. While his statement is tainted by his previous position with regard to "the Biden Rule" on the nomination of Merrick Garland by President Obama, he is within his right to do so because, to use Obama's words to Republicans in 2013, "I won. Deal with it." And it's worth noting that this politicization of Supreme Court nominees didn't really start with the Republicans blocking Garland or planning to reverse their principles and install RBG's replacement. It goes back to the nomination of Robert Bork in 1987, a qualified jurist who was unjustly blocked from a position he should have been appointed to because of ideological opposition from a Democratically-controlled Senate. 

Politics and party platforms and ideologies and predictions about how a jurist will rule on some hypothetical court case in the future should not be part of the discussion of a court nomination. The Constitutional guidance is simple:  advise and consent. Robert Bork and Merrick Garland and Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were all qualified jurists who should have been appointed to the Supreme Court. Only two were. And that is the problem I am calling upon Senators Gardner, Sasse, and Grassley to help repair. The political angst and animosity in the country is not good for our union, and it's heading in the wrong direction. Nominating and installing a new Supreme Court justice prior to the inauguration in January would be harmful to our fragile unity. And so, I am asking these men to do what is best for the country, not for their party or their own office. 

Truly, I would like to see a true Constitutional change to the Supreme Court in the ending of lifetime appointments. The country will be better off if we can remove the immense, disproportionate, and unseemly political significance of The Court. It would be better if justices were simply appointed to single ten or fifteen year terms and then done. And whenever the vacancy comes up, the president nominates and the Senate confirms based on one simple criteria: a qualified jurist. De-politicizing the Court would be a way to avoid what will be the obvious and even politically necessary response from the Democrats the next time they control the White House and Senate (which could be in January):  They will end the filibuster and add three or even four additional judges to the Court. 

That would be an outrageous but somewhat understandable response if Senate Republicans force their hand. Optimally, it would be three seats to create a even numbered court; for ties would perhaps lead the court toward greater political neutrality.

Regardless, none of this should happen. For the sake of the country, let the first and foremost conservative value of prudence rule the day. Let's wait, together, until after the election.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

The Burkean-Kirkean Conservative : Why George Will & Rick Tyler are Still Right

Many years ago after I published my first piece of commentary for the Denver Post about why my young children did not watch movies like Shrek, a close friend remarked to his wife, "For a liberal Democrat, that sounds pretty conservative ..." I just shook my head and kept my thoughts to myself, simply glad he read and enjoyed the piece. For in reality, I was neither a progressive (which is what he really meant) nor a Democrat at that time. On the other hand, while my belief system hadn't changed, I also hadn't been a Republican for more than a decade. Living in Colorado, I was like the majority of voters, unaffiliated and independent and regularly voting for members of both political parties. Though I'd grown up in a Republican household, I felt about the GOP (and the Democrats as well) the same way Ronald Reagan did early in his political rise when he left the Democrats, opining "I didn't leave my party; my party left me."

And, in the political and ideological boondoggle that is contemporary America in 2020, I am happy to see the publication of two important books on the belief system of conservatism, works that will hopefully bring people to more fruitful and less decisive discussion of what they believe and why. I recently finished George Will's The Conservative Sensibility and now I am just beginning and truly enjoying Rick Tyler's Still Right: and Immigrant-Loving, Hybrid-Driving, Composting American Makes the Case for Conservatism. These works are about the belief system, not stances on legislation and political positions that build party platforms. And the mistaking of platforms for beliefs is what leads old friends of Facebook to pejoratively throw the term liberal when I opine that mail-in balloting is safe effective and has been in practice in Colorado for years. Again, I'm just left shaking my head wondering where in the writings of Edmund Burke or Russell Kirk is a view on mail ballots at issue. 

Yet, when I mention Burke or talk about how I'm aligned with Kirk's conservative principals, which he outlined in The Conservative Mind, I generally get Hannity talking points in response. It's disheartening, to say the least, but it affirms my belief that these critics are Republican, but not conservative. Kirk was not interested in party agendas - he was interested in cultivation of the mind and spirit. It was not about marginal tax rates but about local communities and schools, traditions and institutions, and the value of culture through literature. These are ideas also discussed by George Will and Rick Tyler, and they are the conversations we should be having. While George Will never mentions Donald Trump in his book, Tyler talks quite directly about the man in the White House because the rise of Trump and his seemingly odd and inappropriate control of the GOP is wrong for the party and truly bad for the country. People like David Frum, David French, Rod Dreher, Ross Douthat, Andrew Sullivan, and David Brooks agree. These strong voices of conservatism know the damage that is being done to our national consciousness, and they are hoping to wake some people up.

Conservatism is the antithesis to the chaos, disruption, and instability that Donald Trump represents and cultivates. Conservatives believe in decorum and the very institutions that ground society and allow individual liberty to thrive. And so many of us are baffled by the support of him, even as we know that the divisiveness and tribalism that rules the day have left many voters feeling they have nowhere else to go. That's why we are "conservative but not Republican."

For some more reading on similar views, check out:

The Bohemian Burkean - NY Sun 

the Burkenstocked Burkean - National Review

The Crunch Conservative - NPR

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Is the National Anthem Political? How About the Flag? What about Military Tributes?

Don't look now, but I think somebody spilled some politics in your sporting events.

As the year 2020 has exacerbated everything else, the issue of political views being represented during pro sporting events has taken a more prominent and visible position as the NBA returned to the courts following the tumultuous year of political protests related to the issues of police violence, race, and the Black Lives Matter movement. And George Brauchler doesn't like it. Brauchler, a prominent Denver-area Republican, is the DA for Arapahoe and surrounding counties of the metro area, and he penned an op-ed for the Denver Post asserting: "There Should be a No-Politics, No-Policy Zone Surrounding America's Stadiums and Arenas." 

Now, I will admit that there is a part of me that sometimes feels like "I just want to watch the game" -- and I've felt that way for nearly twenty years. And it hasn't just been about the politics; it's been every possible addition to the actual game, from the pomp and circumstance of coin flips and first pitches to the community-focused events like welcoming "such-and-such" charitable organization to the game. And, I know that is really crass and pathetic when I am actually anxious to be done listening to a local children's choir or hearing a tribute to truly selfless and life-changing volunteer because I just want to see some (fill in the blank: baseball, hockey, football, basketball, lacrosse, tennis, ... etc.). That conceded, I didn't really care for Brauchler's tone, insinuations, or to be honest, aloof ignorance of his argument. On Twitter, many people weighed in and criticized the argument based on issues of free speech and every extension of that, and Brauchler engaged with and countered all of them, mostly by saying "that's not my point" or "read the article."

But I had a different question: 

I asked whether along with his assertion of "no politics, no policy" zones at pro stadiums and events he was also advocating eliminating the playing of the national anthem, the displaying the American flag, and the staging of any and all events promoting and acknowledging the military and first responders such as police officers. Brauchler had no comment. There was no response and no engagement and no acknowledgment, despite his practice of answering every other comment and thread. So, I followed up a couple times, and even tried to engage other commenters and various local news sources. I'd like to know if he is willing to explain how kneeling during the playing of the national anthem is "political" but the playing of the anthem is not. Truly, I know he doesn't want it to be, and I agree that the entire purpose of the anthem is promoting a sense of unity and national pride and support for the freedoms on which the United States was founded and continues to thrive. That's the way it should be. 

But what if it's not? 

Truly, since early in the 2000s, pro sports organizations have increasingly politicized their events. And as the companies have gladly embraced the marketing of politics, and it has become more prominent and even expected, I've become increasingly uncomfortable with it because it just seems so gratuitous and exploitative. Too often it feels like pro sports organizations are not honoring the country, the flag, the anthem, the soldiers, but instead simply using them for a commercial agenda. It can feel so unseemly to watch organizations promote a sense of community around a national identity at the same time the fans are going to turn around a few seconds later and be quite awful to the opposing team's players and fans. Perhaps it really is just a pause in that rabid fandom to remember our common bonds, but it too often just seems a bunch of empty promises.

The problem for Brauchler, and the reason for his silence, is that my query is a political hand grenade. If he agrees then he risks being portrayed as unpatriotic, a political wasteland for today's Republicans. Yet if he disagrees, then he is nothing short of inconsistent and even hypocritical. But this is a truly interesting and engaging discussion that is a golden opportunity to connect and engage and discuss and hopefully learn to understand opposing views. I would have loved for anyone in the local news to set up a public forum where George Brauchler could sit down with local pro athletes like Von Miller and Justin Simmons of the Denver Broncos, and Jamal Murray of the Denver Nuggets, so they could have thoughtful and productive and perhaps even unifying discourse on an issue that is currently dividing the community. And, of course, this is all purely an academic or intellectual exercise, both for Brauchler's article and my follow-up question. There will no ending of the playing of the anthem, the displaying of the flag, and the staging of events honoring our heroes -- nor should there be. And, there will be no pro sports players accepting the expectation that they just "shut up and dribble." Players will continue to play their sports and speak out while standing up, or kneeling down, for their beliefs and values. 

Brauchler eventually did respond on Twitter. He wrote:  "I disagree."

Hmmmm ....

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Generation Xercise

When I heard Jane Fonda at the age of 82 revived her 1980’s workout video for Tik-Tok, I realized it’s time for Generation X to remember the advice of Olivia Newton John and get physical. Since the pandemic shut us down, many people stuck at home are feeling the effects. I used to get ten thousand steps in a day, walking an 82-acre high school campus, but since March, I’ve been in my home office, stuck in front of Zoom and M-Teams meetings. I felt it immediately - in my back, in my butt, in my neck. And I’m in pretty good shape. Since working daily neighborhood walks into my day, and amping up my home workouts to avoid going stir crazy, I’ve actually lost weight and improved my overall wellness. When it comes to health, wellness, and fitness, those of us heading into our 50s need to take a cue from Jane Fonda. To that end, I’ve written a fun, nostalgic reminder and refresher about fitness for those who can and should be “Generation Xercise,” which I recently published on Medium:

In the early fall of 1981, the kids of Generation X were enticed to get in shape, or just pay attention to fitness, or at least entertain our adolescent selves watching others get sweaty. Oh, sure, we’d had the first two Rocky movies to get us up and moving, and the third film revolutionized the training montage for sports films in 1982. I know I had at least a few weeks of sprinting around the neighborhood and lifting make-shift weights in the basement after Rocky kicked Clubber Lane’s butt. But it was the early days of MTV that first got us going, or at least thinking about going. For that September featured the release of Olivia Newton John’s “Physical,” and both music videos and adolescent boys were never the same.

Now, as we head into our fifties and even approach retirement age, perhaps it’s time to remember that Aussie’s advice. It’s time for Generation X to get physical, to become Generation Xercise. I hate to say it, my friends, but we’ve gotten soft, and fitness is no longer optional. This is mandatory. We’re running out of time, and our waists can’t wait. A recent study out of England on the health of people in their 40s and 50s -- yeah, that’s us Gen X -- found we may live longer than the Boomers in front of us, but our overall health will be poorer. The sixty-plus age group was actually in better shape physically than we are at the same age. That’s not good. Living longer, but living in pain and sickness is a really cruel trick of the contemporary age, and we need to flip the narrative. Remember the dean from Animal House: “Fat, drunk, and stupid is no way to go through life.” Well, overweight, out of shape, lethargic, and generally grumpy is no way to go through retirement.

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Labor Day - New Year's in September

 Today I mowed the lawn for probably the last time of the year, as I sense the late summer southern exposure is sending it dormant. And, I'm in the midst of some concrete repair on the front porch. That came after cutting down and raking up the tiger lilies. And it's just before I start pulling the first of the leaves out of the gutter. All of this is out in front of the winter storm coming on Tuesday, which will drop inches of snow in Denver amidst forecast highs in the low 30s just twenty-four hours after we hit our record-breaking 73rd day above 90 degrees. Yep, fall is coming in this weird year of 2020, and the "fall cleaning" is all part of the alternative off-track New Year's weekend celebration we all know as Labor Day. It's an idea I've sort kicked around and practiced for a few years now, and I've recently seen that feeling popping up in others' written works.

Labor Day weekend is a perfect New Year's Eve/Spring Cleaning sort of transition time, as we've long known it as the time for returning to school, last weekends at the pool, winding down of the free form activities of summer. Granted, we probably all feel a bit cheated this year, the summer that wasn't. But this can still be a time for reflection and preparation for what purports to be a long, dark, cold winter. It will definitely be one of hibernation, so it's time to sweep out the cave and clean out the closets in anticipation of long days inside. What shall we do with this moment and this transition? One other writer/blogger who has thoughts on this is Mike Vardy who has a great post describing "Why Labour Day has Become my New Year's Day." Vardy's piece made me smile because not only do we feel the same way about this weekend, but we also both used to view our New Year's day as actually February 2 in the spirit of the existential re-birth portrayed in the classic Bill Murray movie Groundhog's Day. The idea of re-invention in pursuit of finally getting it right is, in my view, the whole point of living. It's what Longfellow meant when he wrote "Neither joy and not sorrow is our destined end or way, but to act that each tomorrow find us further than today." Getting better is the goal, and we can make a resolution to change and grow that way any day of the year, an idea Vardy developed in his book The Front Nine: How to Start the Year You Want Anytime You Want. 

So, I'm still in pursuit of my goal to live deliberately and live artfully as I head into my fifties and began to carve out what Act III looks like for me. Still learning to play the piano, and I'm actually starting to feel a bit more comfortable. Some day I might actually be a piano player. I have an 80-day streak going on Duolingo with my French Lessons. Health and fitness are good. I actually have a nice piece of writing which will see national publication very soon. And as I continue to meditate every day, I am starting to believe that I may be just a bit less of a neurotic princess and, perhaps, even a kinder gentler Michael than I was last year.

So, as I said last year, "Happy Labor Day. Good luck in becoming who you are ..."