Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Writing an obituary.

"Rich Arcuri passed away last weekend from a work related accident on the day before his 50th birthday. He was a good man."

I always sucked at writing so I tried to avoid many (any?) of the writing classes through high school, college, and beyond. By avoiding those classes, I avoided many of the classic writing assignments. One of these classics I avoided was to write an obituary.

I found out last Saturday that Rich Arcuri passed away. I knew Rich through his brother Frank who trains with me from time to time and holds the dubious and distinctive honor of dubbing me "The Rock Star." I've met Rich, the other Arcuri brothers, and many members of their family through Team in Training and many other endurance sports training sessions and races. I consider Frank a friend but only really knew Rich, his younger brother, more as an acquaintance.

My wife and I went to the wake last night. When we got there we saw a line of mourners out the door of the funeral home and wrapped around the perimeter of the parking lot. We joined at the end of the line and, as we waited to go in to pay our respects, we talked with many people from different aspects of our own life that Rich touched. We had no idea how some of them knew Rich and they didn't know how we knew him. Some we talked to were on line waiting to get in, some were exiting, others were in the parking lot just talking in small groups as inside the funeral home was full beyond capacity. My wife and I originally expected to just "stop by" but wound up being there a few hours, most of the time in the parking lot catching up with other mourners. Even so, we weren't able to talk with all the people we wanted to. There just wasn't enough time. There never is for things like this.

Rich was a father. He was a husband. He was a brother. He was an uncle. He was a coach. He was an athlete who finished over 40 marathons. He raised a ton of money for charity. He was a friend. I believe the most important thing about Rich that everyone who knew him knows was that he was loved.When I spoke with Frank he summed up his brother perfectly when he said, "he was a good man."

Sometimes a slant on the traditional obituary writing assignment is not to just write an obituary, but to write your own, or at least what you think your obituary should be. When I read Rich's official obituary in the newspaper, I pondered what mine might say. Writing a hypothetical obituary as part of a writing assignment is very different from writing a real one that celebrates a person's life while at the same time mourns his passing. I hope when mine ultimately gets written I would be considered "a good man" like so many considered Rich. 

Rest in peace.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"We don't aspire to be the low cost alternative."

My daughter Amanda is graduating high school this week with a very impressive high school resume. While her school does not report class rank, we are guessing that she was 7th in her class of just under 400. Her weighted GPA was over 100. Her SAT score was in the top 1%. She earned 13 varsity letters and was a 6 time captain.  She was named to the all New York state string orchestra on violin and was also named to the ASTA National High Honors Orchestra. She has won every music honor awarded by our school district and has been described as debatably the most decorated musician in school history. She has made me and my wife very proud. After a very stressful few months on picking a college, she has decided to continue her studies at Duke University this fall.

Every school determined that we were not going to qualify for need based aid so our only option was merit aid. She found Duke most appealing although other schools offered her much more attractive merit packages with a couple even offering full scholarships. During a recent visit to Duke we scheduled a conversation with the financial aid office. They told us there was no merit options available for her. I explained that Amanda had full ride merit offers and we were still considered those offers. The financial aid officer said "we don't aspire to be the low cost alternative." I guess she had that conversation before with other parents.

Today we got the tuition bill. Luckily we've been saving for a long time and should be able to pay it. I sure hope that Duke will be worth what we are paying. Only time will tell.

Speaking of time, my younger daughter Courtney just completed the 10th grade. She is a very impressive student in her own right. I know I'm not looking forward to paying two college tuition bills in a couple of years. Somehow I'm sure we won't be looking for the "low cost alternative" for Courtney either.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Why blog?

I was in London last week at an off site planning event for work. One of the sessions in this event had to do with the use of an internal social media platform. The theme of this session was that management (aka me and my peers) should take advantage of the capabilities of this platform and blog.

As seemingly always, I had strong opinions on this topic. I felt that I had some experience in this area having written hundreds of blog entries as part of this "world class" triathlon blog.  No one in the event knew of my alternate persona and my mis-adventures in the world of endurance sports. When I explained this many, if not all, were surprised. They were surprised I guess first because of just someone talking about a blog wasn't a traditional topic of conversation but mostly because my physical state does not reflect a typical endurance athlete. Some of my peers tried to find my blog and a few of them were even successful. It was commented that my physical appearance currently vs. my physical appearance in the blog were dramatically different. This difference was not in the positive direction.

I also realized that my blogging has been infrequent at best lately. I thought about this a bit and was wondering if I wasn't blogging because I generally was unmotivated or could blogging more frequently actually translate into increased motivation. Motivation to improve my body composition. Motivation to lose weight. Motivation to get back into shape. Motivation to start somewhere.

I thought of a few decent blog topics to craft so decided I'm going to give this more focus for the summer. There may be less endurance stuff and more life stuff for a while but the mix could change over time. So the answer to "why blog" for me at this time could be "motivation." I know that many of my former followers have changed their social media platform of choice to Instagram or Facebook or Twitter (I'm in many of them too) and not everyone who followed me in the past still are members of the blogosphere. Let's find out who is still there and if this experiment could work.

Game on.