Frames of Mind

[A repeat from March 18, 2018] Most individuals have varied levels of competence with different skill sets.  I have reasonable eye/hand coordination which allows me to play a passable game of golf.  And perform magic.  I play the guitar, speak Spanish and express myself with some clarity.  But don’t ask me for directions.  And do not ask me about algebra.  I have the mathematical I.Q. of a chipmunk (I’m sure I’m insulting some very nice chipmunks).

Howard Gardner in his classic book Frames of Mind spoke of seven basic intelligences that all people share:  linguistic; musical; logical/mathematical; spatial; bodily/kinesthetic; interpersonal; and intrapersonal.   While everyone has a modicum of each of these seven intelligences, some folks are more heavily endowed with one or more of these capabilities (a la Mozart, Michael Jordan or Einstein).  It thus becomes important for parents to recognize – and nurture – the natural abilities of children rather than skew development with subjective expectation. “My boy will play football” “My daughter will be a lawyer.”  “My child will go to [XYZ] college.”    It’s one thing to encourage a natural athlete to study physics or a math whiz to take speech classes.  But it is quite another to discourage a young person’s natural gifts.  Or skills.  In such cases, it seems that everyone loses . . . . . 

Put Your Head on my Shoulder*

[A repeat from September 19, 2015]  The first time I ever danced with a girl was in my 6th grade classroom. Our teacher, Mrs. Speerschneider, put on some music and drafted Marilyn W. to dance with me.  Poor girl.  To say I had two left feet would be a compliment.  They felt like two left flippers.  I was scared to death. And I remember stepping on Marilyn’s feet in my pathetic effort to “dance.” I’m sure the experience soured poor Marilyn on the male of the species.

By 7th grade, I had danced maybe three or four times.  So I was an old hand.  7th and 8th graders in Mt. Prospect were invited to “Rec” as it was called on Friday nights.  At the park district.  It was a dance. . . .  Few of the guys I knew ever danced. They just stood on the sidelines. Joshing.  Joking. Snorting.  And acting like immature boys. Me too. That is until Sharon E. walked over to me during one “slow” dance and asked me out on the floor. My friends were stunned. They stared.  I was nearly apoplectic inside. But that was only a taste of what was to come. . . .We went out on the dance floor and began dancing.  And Sharon promptly pressed her head against my head.  I remember immediately beginning to perspire.   Heavily.  Notwithstanding her head remained glued to mine.  Sweat dripping down the both of us.  And the music ended and she walked back to the line of girls. And I sheepishly went back to the line of boys feeling like I’d just emerged from a swimming pool.  And got glares. And snickers. And when the slow music began again, I saw her moving in my direction. Uh oh.   And we danced.  Her head pressed against mine.    

I don’t think we exchanged a single word.  Ever.  But after a few times, dancing with Sharon wasn’t so bad . . . . 

*Title of the 1958 song by Paul Anka (check out )


·  A cold seat in a public restroom is unpleasant. A warm seat in a public restroom is worse

·  Apparently an RSVP to a wedding invitation “Maybe next time,” isn’t the correct response.

·  Don’t irritate old people. The older we get, the less “life in prison” is a deterrent.

·  Aliens probably fly by Earth, go home and lock their doors.

·  I really don’t mind getting older, but my body is taking it badly.

·  I miss the 90s when bread was still good for you and no-one knew what kale was.

·  Do you ever get up in the morning, look in the mirror and think “This can’t be right.

·  My wife asked me to take her to one of those restaurants where they make food right in front of you. I took her to Subway.

·  I picked up a hitchhiker. He asked if I wasn’t afraid, he might be a serial killer? I told him the odds of two serial killers being in the same car at the same time were extremely unlikely.

December 31. 1999

[A repeat from December 27, 2018] Do you remember the approach of the new millennium? I’m talking New Year’s Eve 1999.  Do you recall the media warnings that power grids might shut down. Telephone service interrupted. Computers could crash. And the world might come to an end. All because the shift from December 31, 1999, to January 1, 2000, a new millennium, would cause these catastrophic “issues” with computer networks.

Ever the Eagle Scout – with a penchant to “Be Prepared” – in the week prior to this possible cataclysm, I went out and bought a few gallons of bottled water, some cans of Chef Boyardee, Campbell’s soup and tuna and I squirreled away a couple thousand dollars in twenties and fifties. And we had a few bottles of Liberty School cabernet sauvignon — all just in case.  As the clock ticked toward the advent of the New Year, Donna and I hunkered down in bed and watched a movie.  I figured – hey – when ya got no control, ya got no problem. . . . .

So as the nudge from 11:59:59 p.m. to 12:00:01 occurred (in Africa, Europe, New York and Chicago) and the new year went off without a hitch, we turned off the lights and went to sleep.   We ate the canned pasta, consumed the soup over the coming year or so, spent the dollars, and we drank the cab (which was dutifully replenished).  

A few weeks ago, I went down to the basement and in the back of the closet behind some flower pots, there was a dusty gallon bottle of water.  Leftover from that fateful night.  No.  We’re not drinking it.  But it is being used to water plants in the house.   Eighteen year old water. . . . .

Calvin Coolidge

[An oldie from August 22, 2011] Calvin Coolidge – a.k.a. “Silent Cal” – was known for his brevity — and his wisdom.  Coolidge helped restore respect and confidence to the White House after the dreadful scandals of his predecessor, Warren Harding.

For years, I have had a quotation of Calvin Coolidge stapled, pinned or taped (once glued) to the wall of my office.  Each day when I arrive, I sit down, turn on the computer and my eyes drift to his words — to the left of my computer screen.   The saying of Calvin Coolidge – that has served as a constant inspiration (and kick in the caboose) – goes as follows:

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.  Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent.  Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb.  Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts.  Persistence and determination are omnipotent.  The slogan ‘press on’ has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.” 


It began with short wave. My parents had an old console radio and record player combination. In addition, it had a single short wave band. As a latchkey kid, I would come home from school, call my mother (“Mom – I’m alive“) and then start playing with my toy soldiers, trains and other stuff. And I would listen to records on the console. I never did homework.

At some point, I began noodling with the radio dial. And then I hit the short wave access. And it was “wow!” I remember listening to broadcasts from the BBC. And I told my father that I was interested in short wave. After a while, he bought me a Channel Master 6 channel radio. It had AM, FM, long wave (aviation and weather) and three short wave channels. It was a magnificent battery-powered device. There was no phased array or supercharged receiver. But it did have a long aerial. And I would listen to the BBC, Radio Moscow and a host of foreign language transmissions.

Boy Scouts and Morse code got me interested in ham radio (I was a novice) and shortly after getting married I got a newly-popular CB (Citizens Band) radio. I kept the thing in the car and I’d listen to the back and forth with truck drivers – rarely offering anything on my own. Today – no one really needs CB radios though a fair number of truckers still have them for short-range communication and updates. Short wave and ham radio have drifted away. But I remember well the pleasure I derived from my radio days known (to very few) as “KBOU-seven three one niner.”

The Library

[A repeat from May 22, 2016]   In my post of February 10, 2013, I talked about a visit to Boca Grande, Florida. Wonderful. Memorable time.    And I alluded to the Boca Grande Public Library. 

Fast backwards about 32 years. Donna, Lauren and I were in Boca Grande with our dear friends Diane, Dave and Dave Jr.  Dave said “want to go check out the library?”  And we did.  The Johann Fust Community Library.  Nice library.  Lotsa books.  In the back on the far right, there was a cage of sorts.  A fenced area.  And a locked fence door.  I ambled back and peered in.  Oh my socks and shoes

In that cage, on the shelves, I recognized books that were hundreds of years old.  I began to perspire. The librarian Pansy walked over.  “Can I help you?”  “Ummm. . . may I look in there (pointing)?”  “You’re in interested in that?”  Mmmmm. . . sure.   She keyed opened the lock and let me in.  And I drooled. . . . .  Dozens of first editions (e.g. Origin of the Species – 1859) and books dating to the 1500’s.  Without appearing too enthused, I casually asked “what are you going to do with these books?”  Pansy folded her arms, shook her head and said “I just don’t know.”  Now I am not as dumb as I look so I offered – “you . . . ummm . . . want to sell them?”  And she looked at me incredulously “you would want to buy them?”  And I said yes.   And I did.   Suitcases and boxes full of rare books donated years before by Charles Goodspeed of Boston’s famed rare book shop.  All brought home.  And quickly deaccessed.   

It was a memorable “score.”  Like buying the Rock Island Railroad archives (5/15/14) or stumbling upon the mysterious cemetery of books in Lisbon (8/24/14).  I have always liked libraries . . . .   


[A repeat from November 17, 2016] I enjoy playing golf during the summer and in the shoulder seasons. And my preference is to wear shorts.  In the summer, that’s an easy sell.  Looking around the golf course on a hot summer day, most guys are wearing shorts.

However once Labor Day arrives and the temperature begins its inexorable slide down the thermometer, the long pants start coming out.  Even when it’s 60 degrees.   But not me. . . . .

I can’t count the number of times someone has said – as I walk in the locker room on a chilly Saturday morning – “you’re wearing shorts!?!?”  Posed as a question, the answer would be obvious — from my knobby, scarred legs.  Yes.  I am – indeed – wearing shorts.  But when presented as a statement, it might just suggest that I meet someone’s definition of “knucklehead” (see February 13, 2014, for the proper definition of “knucklehead”).  

Hey – I’m comfy in shorts.  But I also figure if a 110 pound cocktail waitress can wear a miniskirt when it’s 10 below zero, I can wear shorts to golf on a day when Andy Avalos says “it’s going to be 59 degrees and sunny.”  Such weather is in my opinion shortsworthy.     

John Wooden

[A repeat from August 31, 2017] Once in a while a person comes along who cuts a wide swath. And makes a significant difference in the lives of many. John Wooden (1910-2010) was one of those special people.  Wooden remains the winningest basketball coach (UCLA) in NCAA history – winning 10 national titles in a 12 year period. Coach Wooden was known for his short, simple inspirational messages which helped players succeed in basketball as well as in life.  

Make each day a masterpiece.

Never cease trying to be the best you can be.  That is in your power.

Young people need role models, not critics.

Never mistake activity for achievement.

Today is the only day.  Yesterday is gone.

Never measure yourself by what you have accomplished – but by what you should have accomplished with your ability.

The main ingredient of stardom is the rest of the team.

You can’t live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you.  

Seek opportunities to show you care.  The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.   

Interestingly, Coach Wooden rarely mentioned “winning” to his players.  He always stressed effort.  Doing one’s best was key. Do that – and good things happen. . . .    

Broken Glass

On July 26, 2022, I posted on how I worked on Saturdays and often Sundays (after Church) in our family business at 137 South Albany in Chicago. The post included a picture of me – age 8 – with my father in the factory. The place was about two blocks from Marshall High School in a poor and predominantly black and Hispanic area. Our small 3 story building had been a stable for Post Office horses – back in the day. Above the third floor outer door was a large beam extended over the alley – with a hook – to rope the hay up to the top floor.

I was usually pretty busy. After work hours and the lights went out, I would shoot the big Norway rats that would emerge on the factory floor. Then carry them outside to the garbage can.

Since the door was always locked, it was often we’d hear a loud knock on the wood panels. Sometimes it was a customer. Sometimes a salesman. And sometimes it would be a few young men from the neighborhood – looking for a handout. Rather than a handout, my father would give each one a paper bag and ask that it be filled with garbage. And broken glass. In exchange, he would give each one a quarter. Now I suspect that some of these bags were filled with glass from bottles broken for that purpose. But that didn’t matter. Each kid walked away richer than before – and learned a small lesson about “work.”