Running for Your Life: Profiles in Kindness

In the offseason, hockey doesn’t make the headlines. But dig a little and you’ll find some stories. Just not the kind that show millionaire athletes behaving badly that seem to predominate during the offseason of other professional sports.

Take Nick Foligno, the captain of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Foligno is from Sudbury, the hub of the Ontario Northland. In about a month, he’ll be back at it, playing pre-season games in preparation for another long, exciting NHL hockey campaign.

Now, he’s captain of another team. Here’s the scoop (an excerpt from news coverage …)

In October 2013, [Foligno’s] daughter Milana was born with a rare congenital heart defect. After her condition was diagnosed at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, she received lifesaving surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital when she was just three weeks old. Three year later, as a way to honor Milana and recognize the tremendous work at both institutions, Nick and his wife, Janelle, donated $1 million to the two hospitals.

Since 2015, Foligno has served as honorary chair of the NEO Kids Foundation, a hub for specialized children's medical care in northeastern Ontario, the benefactor of the second annual Docs vs. NHL hockey game that happened last week.

About 700 folks came out in support of the cause in Sudbury, to see world-class players suit up with physicians from the city’s Health Science North. This year Foligno was joined by others on his Columbus team: Boone Jenner, Zach Werenski, Josh Anderson, Scott Harrington, and former Jacket and current New Jersey Devil, Dalton Prout.

Hockey players don’t make money on the scale that football, basketball and baseball players do. But they do make millions in an average career – and more often than not they donate time and some of that money to social causes, frequently involving the most innocent of human beings, sick kids.

No, they don’t make headlines. But, man, their display of selfless character as a group is enough to keep me digging during the offseason to find out more about their stories.

Be a fan of the game, but also of the individuals who play it. Profiles of courage are one thing; profiles of kindness, that’s something we can all emulate.

Next: Running for Your Life: Why I’m Not ‘Treading’ These Days

Running for Your Life: Total Eclipse America

M and I are going to go to see the total eclipse of the sun.

To a place I’ve never been to before: Columbia, Missouri, where the brainiacs are saying, under ideal conditions, folks in the city and region will fall into a pitch black at 1:20 p.m. that will last about 2 minutes, 40 seconds.  On Monday, Aug. 21.

Man, does this country need a colossal distraction, or what? That’s part of why we’re going. I may be mad to even suggest this, given how loud and vicious the socio-political discourse has been in my adopted land for months, and how hellacious it’s been since the events of Virginia last weekend (Aug. 11-13).

Recently, I saw the movie “Dunkirk” by director Christopher Nolan. I didn't love it but I admired it greatly.

What is germane to this argument is that the actions are divided in time segments, very eclipse-y, like the kids say: You got your boys on the beach (one week), old fella, shell-shocked sailor and boys on a civvy boat (one day), and Spitfire pilots en route to Dunkirk (one hour).

With the eclipse, folks will be carving out the time across the country, what will be your partial eclipse minutes, and the thoroughly awesome minutes for those in that narrow total solar eclipse band across the country, where the forecast calls for 40, count ’em 40, Woodstock-like events.

Here’s a crazy thought. “Dunkirk” is a three-time segment movie that recounts stirring narratives that helped to spur a nation to action, that literally brought people together to fight for what was seen to be the common good.

Wow! How’s about it, eclipse? You up for the job?

Next: Running for Your Life: Why I’m Not ‘Treading’ These Days

Running for Your Life: Picasso Meets Chillest Triathlon Ever

Eighty years after the unveiling of Picasso’s “Guernica,” Brooklyn hosts the chilliest triathlon ever.

“Guernica,” honored the bombing of the Basque town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War.

Picasso saw in Guernica a theme. From “The Women of ‘Guernica’” by Anne Wagner, in the Aug. 17, London Review of Books:

“What did he mean [by a theme]? Not simply an idea or a topic, but a human universal to be expressed symbolically: death as skull, Picasso said, not a car crash. What he considered themes (I quote) were “birth, pregnancy, suffering, murder, the couple, death, rebellion, and, perhaps, the kiss.”

Flash forward to Brooklyn’s chilliest triathlon, eighty years after “Guernica.”

Wanderlust 108, as it’s called, takes place on Sept. 10th in Prospect Park, The Nethermead … Here at the highlights:

People Dancing Through the Entirety of a 5K Run: (Protip: Doing your best Beyonce impression usually helps)

Intense Feeling That Comes with Silent Meditation in a Crowd of Thousands

Emphasis on Fun and Mindfulness Over Competition (Keep time if you want, but the main focus here is togetherness and crossing the finish line . . . no matter how long it takes or how you get there.)

Twirling Through the Air on a Sling

 Meditative Walking, Which Is Indeed a Thing

“Guernica” vs. Chillest triathlon ever. Wonder lust meets Wanderlust.    

Next: Running for Your Life: Total Eclipse America

Running for Your Life: Boomtown Rats

There’s a trend line here that needs ’splaining.

Take the building of the Erie Canal. This book, “Heaven’s Ditch: God, Gold and Murder on the Erie Canal,” by Jack Kelly, goes to some length to show how corrupt politics are inextricably linked to boomtown economic gain. The American way, baby. Woof, the Masons history, the disappearance and presumed murder of William Morgan, author, of “Masonic Secrets Reveal,” will curl your hair.

Then there’s the silver and gold mining of the American West. How personal greed drives all machine inventions, ruins land in 24-hour, 7-day extraction mania, devastates ancient communities.

Unleash the entrepreneur, Mr. President, and you will guarantee your election, oh, and your re-election. America, after all, is the land of opportunity. So get digging, fella.

How’s about the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890 … One President Benjamin Harrison sent in the army at a time when there was no perceived threat of a native uprising but “Republican control of the US Senate hung by a thread. A South Dakota seat was being contested in an upcoming election and its loss might tip the balance against the president’s agenda in Congress. Sending in the army would be popular with settlers because large numbers of soldiers meant profits for local merchants and military contractors. ” (From, “God’s Red Son: The Ghost Dance Religion and the Making of Modern America,” by Louis S. Warren)

And the Dow marches ever higher in 2017, Amazon, Tesla, Facebook … CNBC is running a feature called “Made in America: The Manufacturing Revival” …

These are the stories, the presidential legacies, the dominant political-business-social trends that have shaped Warren’s Modern America … Chasing boomtowns is the American dream.

Next: Running for Your Life: “Chillest” Triathlon Eve

Running for Your Life: The Letter Campaign

So, I’m off to a slow start. No, this isn’t a political gesture. It’s personal.

Letters to friends. You know, written-down-on paper expressions of feelings and half-constructed beliefs that mark your time on Earth better than any other mode of activity. So much so that those letters received from a person on that particular path – that is, reaching out in an unselfish, giving way, being open and vulnerable and funny and doubt-ridden – are kept as intimate treasures.

I’ve got the bug. And the tool, or at least the most important one: the pen that writes for eternity. (See prior blogpost called On Writing – Letters, That Is.)

This weekend (Aug. 4-6) I’ll get the rest of the gear: colored paper (my pen leaves pencil-like impressions so the letter will be much easier to read if I write on bright orange stock, or maroon, if I can find it.) Maroon and gray (the pencil color) –  team colors of the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees – will make for a nice effect. Not my alma mater (I went to rival Carleton), but I did prefer the look of their sports uniforms.

And stamps. Some for my Canadian correspondents and some for my American ones. I’ve my eye on a pal in Paris, too. The guy I have in mind strikes me as someone who would like the idea of this.

I will not keep a copy of what I write, though. You’d think I would but no. I write not for posterity. To think that my letters will survive me. Rather, I’m charmed by the thought that these letters are my own personal Tibetan sand drawings. Once they leave my desk and go off in the post, they are gone. It will be enough to  feel the sense of them in the replies, the ones I hope to find in my mailbox. And those, I can assure you, I will keep.

One day, perhaps, I will visit one of my “lettermates” and we will bring with us our mutual cache of written treasures to a neutral meeting place and exchange the physical objects for a day. Maybe even agree to exchange our letters for a time. Say a month, or a year, and see how that feels.

Afterward, we will restore the letters to their rightful owner. As we continue to build more.

Next: Running for Your Life: “Chillest” Triathlon Ever