When technology even makes Santa look bad.

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UPS – Utterly Pathetic Santa?

The past month and a half the country has been at odds over the failure of the Obamacare website and government. It has been a joke amongst many especially late night talk show hosts. Quite frankly a whole new site with first time users will have its hiccups. I haven’t used the site, so I can’t comment, but I suspect that people expect a little more out of technology than it really can provide.

Now UPS, er…Santa, has not been able to get gifts to all the good boys and girls out there. UPS made an announcement yesterday and today about the issues. Quite frankly I have been on part of the receiving end of this problem and exchanged many emails and tweets with UPS. The people running social media and the customer service center had nothing but excuses to provide when people just wanted solutions. Earlier this month I was notified that some chairs I ordered were going to arrive the next day and they didn’t come until 6 days later. Two weeks later it was a desk that came 3 days later than I was notified. It only got to me faster because I hailed down my UPS driver in the street.

How does this happen? Well when a package gets delivered to your local distribution hub, it gets scanned and an estimated delivery time is made based upon their belief it will shortly put on a local delivery truck. the problem is that at Christmas, the trucks are full and your package, especially a big one, might not get on a truck for quite some time. Worst, if you sign up for their premium status you will get notified of these changes which appear to be real-time, but are often many hours delayed. Lets follow the strong of emails I have received regarding a package from Amazon. I assume someone is sending a gift to my kids as we have yet to receive the package:

Monday Dec. 23rd at 6:09am
Email received saying a package from Amazon and a package from LLBean will arrive Tuesday the 24th between 9am and 1pm

Monday Dec. 23rd at 6:09am
Email received saying a package from Amazon and a package from LLBean will arrive Thursday the 26th between 9am and 12:45pm

Later that evening around 8pm a knock is heard at the door and it is a package from LL Bean

Tuesday Dec. 24rd at 6:02am
Email received saying a package from Amazon will arrive Tuesday the 24th between 9am and 1pm

Tuesday Dec. 24th at 12:39pm
Email received saying a package from Amazon will arrive Thurssday the 26th between 9am and 12:45pm

Tuesday Dec. 24rd at 1:20pm
Email received saying a package from Amazon will arrive Tuesday the 24th between 9am and 1pm

WAIT….the package is already 20 minutes late! Where is it?

So Christmas Day is here.  Somebody paid for standard business next day air delivery back on the 21st from what I can tell.  I assume I’ll get a package tomorrow.  I have not seen any additional messages from UPS.  I went on to the website and laugh.  Okay, the status says the package will arrive sometime tomorrow by 3pm.

So I scroll down a little further.  This poor package.  I think it went on a wilder ride than an Auburn football player trying to score on a 109 yard run between Alabama defenders.

Location Date Local Time Activity
San Francisco, CA, United States 12/24/2013 11:26 A.M. Destination Scan
Oakland, CA, United States 12/24/2013 9:23 A.M. Arrival Scan
Ontario, CA, United States 12/24/2013 8:13 A.M. Departure Scan
12/24/2013 6:42 A.M. Arrival Scan
Los Angeles, CA, United States 12/24/2013 6:00 A.M. Departure Scan
12/24/2013 4:32 A.M. Arrival Scan
Louisville, KY, United States 12/24/2013 3:24 A.M. Departure Scan
Louisville, KY, United States 12/23/2013 3:49 P.M. Arrival Scan
Ontario, CA, United States 12/23/2013 9:13 A.M. Departure Scan
12/23/2013 2:36 A.M. Origin Scan
United States 12/22/2013 3:31 A.M. Order Processed: Ready for UPS

Southern California to Northern California by way of Kentucky?  That sure is some modern logistics for you!  At least the Cable Guy comes on the same day he says he’ll be there.

 

A Bittersweet Farewell to Candlestick: Faithful won’t Follow

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IMG_0198“We always said homefield advantage wasn’t about the field, we knew it was about the fans,” – Joe Montana

As of this writing we don’t know if there will ever be another game at “The Stick”.  An emotional victory last night let the emotions pour out.

I tried not to be bitter watch Jed York try to convince the fans that we were just “moving down the road to a castle” by symbolically lifting some turf that will be put in the new stadium or taking the last game ball and passing the torch.  You didn’t capture it on TV, but the chorus of boos from the fans was heard. #16 won’t be throwing TDs at Levi’s Stadium, the Beatles won’t be performing their last concert there, The “Say Hey” kid won’t be knocking em out of the park there, the greatest WR that ever played won’t be doing the cabbage patch there, and most importantly many of the longtime Faithful won’t be there.  Finally, my memories of my father won’t be there.

The 49er fans have always been called the Faithful.  Partly because it sat through decades without a championship and also because it dealt with a stadium was a bit of a Frankenstein (built in a windy part of town with an open end for baseball and then closed when the 49ers were brought to stadium).  The Stick never pretended to be more than she was and she gave us all that she had, even cracking but not breaking during the 1989 earthquake.

Alas, the people who love state of the art over nostalgia could not hold out and the 49ers will be moving south some 35 miles.  Contrary to what the team might have people believe, the passion that is football will not move with them.  Yes, some will follow, but true passion comes from many years.

I had a great night sitting next to Brent Jones, the famous TE from 4 Super Bowls as well as the generations of families.  These tickets have been in my family and those around us for almost 50 years.  This was my Sunday family.  When the 49ers were home I would spend my Sundays sitting here with my dad, hearing my first cuss words from the old military guy next to me, getting my first taste of bourbon from the old ladies behind me, and learning about the birds and the bees from the law enforcement people who sat on the other side of us.  These were family and memories created.  The 49ers asked us for $40K-$80K per seat to move south with them.  They even asked us for almost $1K to have the faded seat complete with gum and seagull poop.  The same seats that made me think of my dad; imagine having to pay $1K just to keep memories that belong to you.  Whenever I showed up on Sundays, I’d feel my dad’s presence next to me. Only one person in our section renewed.

So when the 49ers eventually go through consecutive bad seasons in the new stadium and fans don’t show up, remember the Faithful.  They showed up for 2-14 seasons.  They watched Jim Druckenmiller, they watched an old OJ, they watched Mike Singletary fall apart, they sat in darkness through blackouts and they still came out in those frigid temperatures which were much overblown.  For the most part, those fans at Levi’s will resemble more the disinterested emotionless wine-sippers opponents always complained about, but remember they aren’t the true Faithful.  Those people will be at home watching on TV.

IMG_0194That last victory was very sweet and it was a little bitter.

Candlestick was old, she was not that attractive, she was not user friendly, she was not tech savvy, but she was ours and that is all we wanted.

She gave us 5 Super Bowl Champions, she gave us the Bay Bridge World Series,  she gave us the Croix de Candlestick, and she enriched our lives.

Her detractors might slam her, but her fans really will miss her and the memories she created.  Thank you old girl, your magic was beautiful tonight.  In case you wonder if you were loved, you were truly respected.  Respect is more important than being loved.  Hopefully we will get one last chance to fill her aisles in the post-season.

Note: I’m a loyalist.  I always believe you dance with the girl that brought you to the dance.  I wrote this entry to justify my belief that the 49ers are making a mistake chasing corporate dollars at the expense of long-term community building. Did the 49ers need a new stadium? Yes.  but I think relocating so far away from their base shows a lack of knowledge and accurate forecasting. When the 49ers do suffer a downturn and I look back on this entry when the 49ers attendance dwindles, I will be watching closely.  Mostly I want to look the 25 year old 49er AE from Oklahoma who told me I was not a true 49er Faithful for not spending $160K to follow the team to the new stadium.

Joy or Giving Thanks – Tis the Season to Enjoy the Moment

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“Yesterday is not ours to recover, but tomorrow is ours to win or lose.”
―  Lyndon B. Johnson

My parents always told me to say thank you and be thankful for all the things that are given to you.  Often times this requires time for reflection of those things that have been given to you, but yet in business we are always told to be forward looking and to put things behind you.  Old habits are hard to break.  I’ve always been sentimental looking back at better days, but I think maybe its just about living in the now, not in the past or in the future.  If you truly want to enjoy life, you have to live in the moment as it comes to you.

Today as I left my job of 3 years I tried to think ahead to the exciting new job I will be taking on in 2014.  That said, I could not help, but turn my thoughts to 2 childhood friends who lost their children through horrific accidents this last week.  When I asked the grandfather of one of the kids about how he was doing, he just told me to smell the roses and hold your children close.   I watched the families of both of the deceased and was really moved by how each of these families could be so strong.  In both cases the family asked friends to donate to the cause of others who were suffering.

It was such an unselfish move.  I am sure they are all grieving privately, but from what I can tell both families enjoyed their children and celebrated the people they were and not what could have been or what they had been.

All of this reminds of the holiday season we are in.  We must give thanks and then go forward to enjoy what we have.  For those who wonder if having children is worth it? Yes, raising children is difficult, but there is nothing greater than the joy they provide on a daily basis.   Sometimes the moments are simple.  Other times they are inspirational, and other times they make you laugh so hard they are better than a movie…….

Get Bieber Fever

Over the weekend my family went out on a movie night and as we went shopping before the movie, my 11 year old daughter remarked that her 14 year old brother had not showered after basketball practice and smelled.  So when her brother wasn’t watching, while we were at Target, she sprayed him with the perfume tester of Justin Bieber’s, “Girlfriend”. before he realized what was going on.  My daughter was beside herself with the ingenuity she displayed.  My son, on the other hand, was not impressed with how beautiful he smelled.

As we sat eating popcorn during the previews in a half empty theater and attractive  20 something young lady entered the theater.  I think every guy turned their head.  The next thing you know she looks my son’s way, smiles, and not only decides to sit in our row, but picks the seat right next to him.  Stunned, my son, daughter and I shrugged.  The next thing I look at my phone.  My daughter texted me, “She must have Bieber Fever”.

I did not stop laughing for 2 hours.  I hardly remember the movie.  The smile on my daughter’s face and he giggle was so priceless and a joyful noise that I cherished for the beautiful moment it was.

 

 

Feeling Thankful

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“When life kicks you, let it kick you forward” – Anonymous Brest Cancer Survivor

Thanksgiving always kicks me and reminds me about how thankful I am that the 2 most important women in my life survived breast cancer and more importantly inspire me every day.

Breast Cancer Awareness month (October) came and went again for my family last month.  Between my mother and wife it is the 9th consecutive year that it has directly hit me (although indirectly through others as well).  Last month was actually the magical 5 year cancerversary for my wife.  It is a fictional celebration point in the timeline for a breast cancer patient.  The chances are high that you’ve kicked the disease if you haven’t had a relapse.  The journey has been so long, we almost forgot it.  In fact when we went for my wife’s quarterly check with her medication, it didn’t even dawn on us.  Cancer is like part of the family.

Going to visit the Diller Cancer Center is an eye opener and a reminder of our journey.  As we walked through the Infusion Area where most people are getting their chemo, you just get grounded when you see all the drawn and tired faces.  If I have to say one thing, if you ever have the chance to keep a friend or relative company when getting their infusion, please do.  It is the hardest and loneliest part and no matter what they say, having you there is only a plus.  I can only recall a handful husbands or dads ever sitting there with the woman getting her infusion in all the times I’ve been there.  When I talk to other husbands, I always tell them to be there 3 times as much as you ever have been.  You will never have that chance to show your love and how thankful you are for their being a part of your life.  When life gives you hurdles, you just need to jump higher!

After the visit last month, I told my wife that sometimes I feel guilty that we’ve put the cancer behind us.  She admitted she felt guilty for not celebrating the 5 year milestone.  I told her maybe we haven’t forgotten but choose to push forward.  That day we saw Dr. Deb Cohan.  Deb chose to have the same surgery as my wife.  They both are daughters of 2-time breast cancer survivors and thus were very pragmatic about their situations.

The video above is of Deb holding a little flash mob before her surgery at the Center. Ironically for me it is the first time I’d seen the exact surgery room where my wife had her surgery. What spirit.  We all fight through our fears and challenges in different ways.  Deb got some flack for her celebration, but I think she chose to show her spirit externally to let people know what kind of fight she needed to put up.  It is a great reminder to me of the fight and spirit my mother and wife have shown and continue to show me and my children every day.

Life is a battle no matter how you look at it.  Approach it with zest and spirit even when facing your biggest fears.

Friday Afternoons with Mom

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Last Friday I was driving home early from a downtown meeting when I decided to take a slight detour to visit my mom.  It was her birthday after all and I had yet to wish her a Happy Birthday.  There was a risk though.  She might not be home.  My mother is not your ordinary mid-70s grandmother widow who sits at home in front of the television knitting sweaters for her grandchildren or even baking cookies for her neighbors.  Catching my mother at home is like finding a gambler in his room in Vegas.

I was lucky. And she let me know it.  I caught her on her iPad (I don’t even own one) checking out movie times and booking dinner reservations.  “I’m going to dinner with Pat and Ford, then we’re going to see Oz, the Great Wizard, and then play cards.  Want to come along?”  Oh no I couldn’t burden my mother and drag down all her fun!  The idea of dropping in on my “elderly mother” so she wouldn’t be lonely was preposterous.  I was the lonely one looking for the comfort of knowing that she is perfectly fine.

“Thanks for the birthday wishes.  What are you doing here?” she asked.  I guess it was not obvious.  My mom is so hip she would rather get a Facebook birthday post on her wall.  She wouldn’t want me to waste paper or spend money on stamps.

We finally settled down as she showed me some of her new projects and she handed me some old papers that belonged to my dad.  She became a little somber at the thought of my dad who has been gone for over 7 years now. “I miss James”, she said unprompted.  I do too, but somehow I feel she’s moved on a little better than me and my siblings.  My dad was the ultimate provider.  I remember him visiting his 90-year-old mother in Chinatown after leaving his dental office downtown every day.  He’d check in with her and she’d give him some strange Chinese medicine or dish to give to his family. A mother of 8 children who basically raised them herself in a small 1-bedroom apartment, she still looked after her own despite her son trying to take care of her.  My dad married a similar woman.

My mom, after her brief, moment of reflection pulled out a map.  “So when am I taking you guys to China?”  My mom wants to introduce my wife and kids to their (kids, not wife) Asian ancestry.  There is no other one better to do this.  My parents used to leave us kids home and venture off to China where my dad would lead tours for a month at a time and come back with the very first Walkman ( you remember the one that you clipped to your belt and pull down your pants because it was so heavy?).  I would have loved to have traveled with my grandfather to China, so giving my children the opportunity to do this with their only living Asian grandparent would be a real treat.  Then she said continued, “Don’t worry your dad and I will pay.” Darn, there she goes trying to take care of me again when I am supposed to take care of her.  Of course she had to bring in my departed dad into the picture.  Yes, the great provider is still taking care of us from the heavens and she invoked his spirit knowing I would protest otherwise.

I told her we’d discuss money later, but she continued, “Your dad left me a nice pension, it’s okay, he worked 6 days a week for you kids, not for me. I’ll go to Disney with your sister and her family.  Stop worrying about me.”

Worry?  This is a 70-year-old lady world traveler who readily tells people her zodiac sign before she tells you her name.  She’s a 10 year survivor of breast cancer, a widow, a grandmother of four, a sister to seven brothers, and avid sports fan.  She then hands me a slip of paper. It is a list of chores (pick up the paper and water the flowers) “Don’t forget my itinerary.  I leave for Burma on Friday.”

“What?”  Okay, how many have people have a mom like my mom at her age saying that she is off to Burma?

“Remember Shelley?  I’m going with her mom.  She lost her husband last year and wants to go.  It will be good for her.  Did you know that Burma is one of the last countries to adopt the internet?  In fact the Chairman of Google is going there as well to help explain to them.”  There goes my mother telling me more about the internet than I already know.  Needless to day, she will be the person I call when I have wireless router issues in my own home.

I remind her that Burma is a 3rd World country despite all the pictures of the great food that she will be eating.  She shoves photo after photo in front of me as I tell her to watch herself.  She’s not listening.  I tell her that she doesn’t need her iPhone, but she tells me how she is going to load up the new Justin Timberlake album so she can listen to it on her trip.  Suddenly I am 10 years old again and I’m getting a lecture from my father.  Only this time it is my mom.  She has taken over his role.  She is the great provider.

“Erik, you have to stop worrying about me.  I’ve survived cancer.  I have a second chance.  I’m not going to die without taking care of those around me.  I have a second chance to give everyone my attention.  I’m paying for your trip because I don’t want you and your wife to worry about the money. You have wonderful kids. You can’t be so thrifty that you don’t give your kids a great experience.  I’m helping your uncle because he needs my help (her 60-year-old younger brother needs support and my mother checks on him weekly and gives him a small weekly allowance).  Your dad (there she goes again invoking the spirit of the great provider) and I wanted you to have more than we had and now we want to help you give your kids more than you had.”

Damn, my mother is so right.  I laugh at her strength.  Her willpower and zest for life is amazing.  She is the patron saint of positive attitude.  Sometimes I think she is so naive.  I think she thinks her eldest son is too jaded.  She knows I’m going to worry about her on her trip, but reads my mind, “Don’t worry, will you stop? The worst thing that will happen to your mother on this trip is that I will burn my mouth on all those spicy foods.”

She gives me a big hug and we go on to talk about me, my kids, my family, her family, my friends, her friends, and what seems like her expected travel itinerary for the next decade.  Maybe she should join Dennis Rodman on his next trip to North Korea.  Two hours go by and I’m now late for dinner with my family, but I suddenly feel like my dad and his mother as she gives me a bag full of cookies and teas, and other assorted refrigerated products to bring home, “I don’t want these to be sitting around while I’m gone.”

The next evening we go out to dinner to celebrate her birthday and my daughter’s birthday.  Like the way she will suddenly disappear and travel to the other side of the world, my brother-in-law notices she is trying to pay for her own birthday dinner.  She is frustrated when her intercepts and stops her.  When she gets back to the table, she’s not happy.  I smile at her and she tells me that we are all like our father.  I smile back and tell her that she is like him too.  The great provider.

The real reason why the 49ers will win!

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Okay, quick post before the Super Bowl goes on.  I’ve read all the media hype.  I’ve listened to all the experts.  I read the scouting reports.  2 weeks of all the overanalysis.  Ringaling

There are numerologists.  There are pyschics.  There are astrologists.  There are those who say the little brother (Jim Harbaugh) can never overcome the shadow of the older  brother, etc.

SO here it is….I am taking off my wedding ring.  18 years ago the 49ers went to their last Super Bowl.  I was so happy that I finally married my girlfriend of 8 years….and then life took a dramatic change.  We never got back to the big game.  Well now that has all changed!  OFF with the ring for the day!!  Superstition and loyalty to my 49ers has taken over and possessed me!

And thus for the first time in 18 years, the ring is off as the 49ers go for their quest for their 6th ring.

2013 – The Year of Faith, Dreams & Desire

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Rudy“You must take action to reach the thing you desire” – Rudy Ruettiger

Okay its 2013 and I had better make my first blog entry before the first month is over.  As usual the year has begun with a furious pace.  Annually I attend the Affiliate Summit, a marketing convention primarily for online entrepreneurs.  More importantly the 4 day venture to Las Vegas is filled with pats on the back for a job well done and celebrating with friends.  For me I use it to catch up but to start executing the plan for the coming year.  I also use it to find inspiration.  Inspiration for work and for life.  The convention has had a great track record for me when it comes to inspiration and motivation.  Last year there was Eric Thomas, the hip hop preacher who found inspiration and desire to motivate others to stand up and make a difference.  This year it was Rudy Ruettiger, the real life story of a nobody with a dream, a lot of heart, and a strong belief in himself.  These Rocky-esque stories remind me of my own dreams, my own desires, and my own passions.  Don’t give up on them, don’t forget them, and finally don’t forget to act on them when you have the chance.  Although I had seen the movie version of Rudy’s story many times, I was still moved.  Some might think it cornball, but he is where he is and we were paying to listen to him.  Afterwards I told Rudy thanks for reminding us all to dream.  He grabbed my hand and said, “ Dream BIG, but more importantly dreams can’t come true if you don’t do something to make them happen”.

SONY DSCWell it has been a couple weeks and my promise to keep writing has been nagging at me.  I have all this content and haven’t made the time and effort to start putting the fingers to the keypad.  Part of it is my work which has been so overwhelming that 5 hours of sleep each night almost seems like too much.  Things have to change and I will need to set some time aside, find personal inspiration, and make it work.

So here I am on a plane from Seattle to San Francisco with a crying baby screaming in my ear over my ipod as I am writing my first entry of the year.  Why now?  Why not work on a work plan that I need for work?  Well as I sat in the airport with my colleague at the airport for a dinner, I found myself seated to another inspirational figure in my life, Dave Dravecky.  Here is a guy who had a great gift, a God-given gift, and then it was taken away from him by cancer.  My son never saw the left-handed pitcher of the San Francisco pitch before he lost his arm, but I’ve told him the story of that day I watched Dave’s arm snap as he threw his last pitch ever.  My son is a left-handed pitcher in San Francisco’s little league and despite having about 50 bobbleheads on his shelf, the one that sits right there on his desk is Dave Dravecky’s.  As he cradled his iphone in his right hand talking to his grandchild his wife glanced over at me and I we started talking and I told her how I thought she was married to a great man.  Today Dave is employed by the San Francisco Giants marketing team and was in Seattle to help give the Hutch Award from the Hutchinson Cancer Research Center to Barry Zito for his year where he “exemplified fighting spirit and competitive desire”.

dave_cardThe Giants organization is a leader in online sports and community marketing and their work with Dave and the community is such a great example of people who have gone beyond their excellence on the field and used it as a platform for making the world a better place.  Dave got off the phone and reached over to shake my hand and talked to my colleague.  I told Dave how much he has touched people and in different ways.  When my wife was recovering from Breast Cancer, I told her Dave’s story.  Dave has never used his loss of his arm as an excuse.  He has never sounded bitter in public about the bump in the road life gave him.  He has said it is an opportunity and a message to everyone to have faith.

Dave was also a past winner of the Hutch Award.

Dreams. Faith. Action.  And this is how my story begins in 2013.

P.S. 80 minutes into this flight and the kid is still screaming up a storm.

A Team For Everyone – San Francisco Giants World Champions 2012

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2012 World Champions

“get in here, everyone get in here..look into each other eyes..now! look into each others eyes, I want one more day with you, it’s the most fun, the best team I have ever been on …. and no matter what happens we must not give in, we owe it to each other, play for each other, I need one more day with you guys, I need to see what Theriot (Ryan) will wear tomorrow, I want to play defense behind Vogelsong because he’s never been to the playoffs..play for each other not yourself, win each moment, win each inning, it’s all we have left” – Hunter Pence

Those who follow the San Francisco Giants know the speech given by Hunter Pence, the fiery left fielder  who delivered a sermon when the eventual World Champions were down 2 games to none in a best of 5 playoff series to the Cincinnati Reds.   Emotional leadership, teamwork, sacrifice, karma, and heart are the words people are using to describe this year’s world champions of baseball.The team is another improbable bunch of players that nobody gave a chance!  Nobody gave them a chance when the best hitter in the National League was suspended.  Nobody gave them a chance when their bitter rivals made a blockbuster trade to try and beat them.  Nobody gave them a chance when then were down 2 games to the Reds.  Nobody gave them a chance when they were down 2 games to the Cardinals.  Nobody gave them a chance when they were pitted against the Yankee slayers, the fearsome Detroit Tigers with the best pitcher and hitter in baseball.  Even the baseball pundits said they had no chanceNobody but the 25 guys in that clubhouse and their 42,000+ fans who packed their stadium every night.  Why?  Why didn’t anyone believe?  Didn’t this team just win the championship just two years before? Well gone was the World Series MVP and the NLCS MVP (Renteria and Ross).  Also gone was their starting 2nd baseman and their spiritual leader to season ending injuries (Sanchez and Wilson).  The first baseman was barely serviceable (Huff) , their 3rd baseman ran off to the rival Dodgers and their young catcher was coming off a serious injury (Posey).  Their young catcher was the only everyday player on both teams.

So why?  How?  Many around San Francisco call this the ultimate team.  It was unselfish teamwork.  They played for each other.  And those who believe in the spiritual call it “The Particles”.  Like “The Force” in Star Wars, the particles are the energy that surrounds this team.  Some people swear they can feel them.  Some say they can even taste them and that they are really sweet.  This was a team of destiny.  Facing 6 potential games of elimination, they hit their stride and fought back with fierce determination with a made for movie script.  They say that baseball is a metaphor for life.  Well the lesson that this season’s World Champions taught was to never give up.

Before Game 2 with my son

As I wrote back in 2010, that team was a “team of Misfits”.  It was a team that represented the frustration of generations of Giants fans who suffered 52 years without a Championship.  It was a cleansing.  This team represented everyone else.  It was so easy to relate to this team.  The slogan of 2010 was “There’s Magic Inside”. In 2012 the slogan was “Together We’re Giant” .  Everyone felt that they could relate to this team and the Giants made sure to include all of their fans.

I for one was able to share in the flag carrying ceremony before one of the NLCS games with my son.  It was a memory for a lifetime.  It didn’t hurt that the Giants were on their way to winning 7 straight games and a second World Series Championship.  In that way, I was able to appreciate this for me, and not for my father who suffered through all those years of disappointment.

Yes, this was also a team of misfits. But let let me give a few points as to why people can relate to this team.  Why this team represents the dreams and desires of the common fan  and gives everyone a lesson in redemption.  The team was led by two men who were suffering in 2010 that they were basically given bench roles (Zito and Sandoval).  They were led by a dimunitive mariachi-inspiring, photo-bombing closer (Romo) at 150 lbs who was the protege of the fire breathing bearded closer in 2010 (Brian Wilson).  The were led by a journeyman castoff pitcher who was cut by a couple minor league teams and had gone to Japan to find himself.  And they added to their merry band, two hard-working and inspiring veterans (Pence and Scutaro) who reminded them what it means to play for one another and to believe in their ability as a team. Who in their right mind could not relate to that story.  This was a blue collar team that nobody gave a chance.  This was a team that would never give up.  They were the Rocky of baseball.  They ran up those proverbial stairs and behind them was a huge wave of Orange fans screaming and shouting!

This team never gave up and never quit.  They showed the heart that sometimes overcomes the obstacles put before us.  In a physical game, this team lacked the 100 mile an hour fastball and the 250 lb monster power hitter, but the team showed us why David beat Goliath and why we love the underdog.  Because we all believe the underdog is us (unless you are in Detroit), whether you are a Giants fan or not, you can’t help but appreciate what the San Francisco Giants accomplished.

Thank you Giants for showing us that teamwork does work and that sometimes the underdog does get the meaty bone.  Giants fans will savor this one.  I know I will savor this one.  It isn’t better than the first time.  It isn’t sweeter than the first time.  We saw in 2011 that it isn’t easy to do it again, and that is why we appreciate an effort that is one for the record books.

Cancerversary, Orange Hair, Best Round Ever and Opening Week

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9/9/2012

I can choose to let it define me, confine me, refine me, outshine me, or I can choose to move on and leave it behind me. – Suzanne Summers, Cancer Survivor

 

                       

Cancer Survivor Race For a Cure

One of the biggest questions in life is not about whether you should put the past behind you, but WHEN you should put your past behind you.  We sometimes hold on to things too long and miss the opportunity to enjoy new things for fear of not showing support or thoughts for those events and people that have marked your life forever.

 

Today was just one of those sobering days. The fact that it is two days before the 11th anniversary of 9/11 as well as the 13th birthday of our son only made it slightly more complicated for my family. Most importantly for us, 9/9 marked the four year anniversary of my wife’s battle with cancer. Cancerversary is a name given to the day of your surgery to remove cancer from your body. While five years is the true date to really start to believe you are in remission, we have truly chosen to move on from cancer in our life. We dwelled on the battle for the last few years, but once my wife started being removed from a few drugs this year we felt like moving on and getting on with our lives would be the best.

 

Ironically, just a few weeks ago we ran into my wife’s oncologist at my cousin’s wedding (my cousin works for her). I realized that even she (the oncologist) tries to stay away from the personal side of cancer when she’s out of the clinic. It was the first time our children met her and I noticed how she just tried to keep her distance. I’m sure she’s seen so many happy stories go bad that the pain can get personal and interfere with her ability to stay even-keeled.  Well I just don’t think we can ever run from cancer. It is all around us. Coincidentally for my wife, the Komen Race for the Cure run fell on this day. My wife and daughter ran. It is such a sisterhood. As each survivor runs across the finish line, you notice the applause is so heartwarming for people you don’t even know.

 

Seeing my wife after the race, her face was glowing. I think we realized that we can’t walk away from cancer. We can move on, but it will always be a part of our lives. Unbeknownst to my wife, my daughter, son and I had a nice little chat about how special the day is and how lucky we are that their mother is still with us. We talked about not making it a big deal, but I could see how special that day was for my kids.  Later on my daughter pulled me aside and said that she was glad to be running alongside her mom.  I’m sure my wife was just as happy for the same reason.

 

For me, I played on the par 3 course I grew up on. I’ve played it 100s of times in my life and finally broke a milestone score!

 

My son and I also celebrated Orange weekend….watching the Giants stretch their lead over the rival Dodgers.

 

And finally we watched my daughter and her team launch their soccer season with a fierce 3-0 shutout.

Golden Gate Park Golf

Beat LA!

Yes, life moves on.

What Did Your Kid Do This Summer?

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Every once in a while your kids surprises you.  I am currently two weeks away from becoming the parent of a teenager.  Like every other parent we spend a lot of time trying to prevent our kids from sleeping in and watching television all summer long. At the same time, camps and other activities are costly.  My kids?  They set up achievement goals with major objectives and a plan for achievement.  They were a mixture of academics and athletics.

Unbeknownst to us, my son had a golf improvement goal that also required him to write a 500 word essay to renew his Northern California Junior Golf Membership card (You have to love a sport that requires your kids to work on his writing skills).  The essay asked him to write about his experience with golf, why he enjoyed the sport, and how life skills from the sport and the NCGA translate into other parts of his life.  He chose to write about perseverance and sportsmanship.  Needless to say, when he gave it to me and my wife to proof, we were moved.

Sometimes teenage boys don’t tell you everything, but it was good to hear what is going on in the back of his mind and that the game of golf has helped him to put life in perspective.  Below is his essay (nope, I didn’t get his approval to publish!).

Sportsmanship & Perseverance  – My name is Nicholas and I am a 12 year old entering seventh grade this Fall.  Golf is one of my favorite sports (I also play basketball and baseball).  During the summer, my dad and I go out to the golf course almost every weekend to play Golden Gate Park or Jack Fleming in San Francisco. We have been doing this since I entered Kindergarten and it will be one of the things I remember most about my childhood and father when I grow up.  I think golf is special because it is different than all the other sports as it is the only sport I know of where you can go out by yourself and just play a game. With other sports you have to gather a team, and that can be hard.  I live just down the hill from The Presidio Golf Course and this summer I have been able to go three or four times a week to the driving range and putting greens.  This has been really fun for me because it teaches me that hard work and diligence can make oneself better, even if you have to work through bad weather or blisters.  Golf is also a very social game as I can go out with friends to a course and just have a good time and encourage and complement each other; this has been fun because in the classroom all we see is everybody studying and working, but out there, it is different, in a good way.

One thing that I have learned playing golf is perseverance. Perseverance has helped me on and off the golf course.  In baseball for instance, I wanted to hit a home run, which I had never done before, and after a lot of practice, it paid off and I hit one towards the end of the year.  In basketball, we had a great team, and after close victories, and bad calls, we won the championship.  Another thing that I have learned is sportsmanship.  In golf we don’t say ‘Don’t make it’, or ‘That was a bad shot.’ We say ‘Good shot’, or ‘Nice putt.’  In baseball, I have seen some bad sportsmanship, kids yelling at each other about who made the team lose, or saying when someone strikes out, ‘That will be the first of many.’  It doesn’t help to be a bad sport; it takes all the fun out of playing.  So if you are friendly and supporting to others then you will enjoy yourself better and friendships will grow both on and off the course.

Recently we had a school tournament out at Fleming to qualify for an inter-school event to be held at Harding.  I shot a 44, which was a personal best for me, but I didn’t make the team of four.  This got me motivated.  This summer I set a goal to lower my score so that I can make a score that will qualify. I recently reached my goal shooting a 39 and beating my score by five strokes.  It took a while to complete it but through patience, perseverance, and constant visits to the driving range up at the Presidio, I succeeded.  Now I will keep trying to improve that because I know that other kids have gotten better too.

I have come to realize that you can think of a golf course as similar to the path of life.  We go shot-by-shot, stroke-by-stroke, and patiently through life’s thick roughs and deep bunkers, through life’s open fairways and tap-in putts.  Only I can change my path, and only I can take my path.  Only I can say how much honesty and truth is put into my life and my game. Only I know if I have done the best that I can do.  It is the true test of one’s integrity.  Life and golf both have something alike, it’s important that you have fun, but you also must be serious about some things and respect that.  Overall, I have really enjoyed golf and I will continue to enjoy it for a long time.

Golf has been a part of my life ever since I started playing courses at age 5.  Being a member of the NCGA Youth On Course Foundation has allowed me to play more often with my dad and with friends. Just like playing catch with my dad, playing golf with my dad is always something we get to do together and I enjoy the quality time together.  For the past 7 years we even play as a team in the Northern California Family Golf Tournament held at Golden Gate Park.  It is the same tournament that my dad played in with his father when he was my age.  I am proud to carry on the tradition.

I started the First Tee at about age 8 at Harding Park; at first it was a little tough because all I wanted to do was hit balls, but I eventually learned that it was more than just a game.    I want to keep playing golf, because I feel that it is a game I can play as I get older.  I feel that through the NCGA, Youth on Course and the First Tee organizations I have learned to appreciate the game of golf and the life skills that it offers.

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