Every year, I go back to my seventh-grade geography class when I first learned of the horror of that morning. It was son’s first day of school of school and his excitement was dashed when he saw his mother, my wife, standing television set crying as she watched the news unfold that Tuesday morning twenty-two years ago. She comforted him when he asked,
“Why are you crying momma” he asked.
She collected herself and replied,
“It’s just bad news.” She replied.
It was bad news and we have come together and moved forward since that awful day.
I am reminded of the names on this day, some two thousand nine hundred seventy-five men, women, and children who perished that morning.
This summer I stumbled across the 9/11 Memorial of Maryland in downtown Baltimore. Earlier in the day I had visited Fort McHenry and seen a replica of the flag which had flown the night the British bombarded the fort. It had fifteen stripes and fifteen stars. The memorial moved me to create a movie of me reading each the victim’s names.
Todd Beamer, LeRoy Homer, Wanda Anita Greene, and Honor Elizabeth Wayne
It is Monday, the first day of a new week. It’s raining for the first time in weeks, and it is going to be an amazing day. I know it and I. can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, saying their names, so we never forget.
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, August 9, 2023
It is Wednesday, and I am in Baltimore for another baseball trip. This city and ballpark make 25 of 30. I have one last trip before school starts in less than two weeks.
These baseball trips have been more than baseball. Each stop has been an adventure full of curiosity, history, learning and growth, and excitement. Sometimes it is planned, but most times it simply happens.
Yesterday, I arrived my flight from Chicago arrived late morning. I had planned to visit Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine before checking in to my hotel. Fort McHenry guards, or guarded, Baltimore Harbor in 1814 during the War of 1812. The British had planned to invade and take over Baltimore in September 1814. The War of 1812 was started by the fledgling United States who was losing the war to the might British Empire. Only weeks before, in August, the British had routed the Americans in Washington, D. C. and burned the White House.
But the British attack on Baltimore is the unravelling of the British advantage and the strengthening of American resolve. In battle it isn’t always might and strength which decides the outcome of a conflict. Sometimes it’s an idea.
During the British bombardment of Fort McHenry an American, Francis Scott Key, watched the battle from a ship in Baltimore harbor. When morning came, he looked across the harbor to see the fort and he saw the American flag flying through the ‘dawns early light.’ He retreated to his sea cabin and penned a poem which spread like wildfire across the young American nation.
O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
The poem was four stanzas, and we sing only the first. Last night before the baseball game the crowd rose and sang the song proudly.
Today is going to be an amazing day, it just might be a million and six times better than yesterday although Tuesday night’s ballgame was the best baseball game, I’ve seen this season. Who knows? So, I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. Making the days Count, one day at a time, exploring, learning, and being curious.
What adventure are you off to today?
POST PUBLICATION NOTE: I decided to change the post’s name, from O’ say can you see to anthem.
I am not exactly sure how my baseball bucket list adventures began, but I can backtrack the trail to Homer Bailey’s second no hitter on July 2, 2013.
I am sure you are wondering,
“How in the world can he be certain?”
Well, it started with Maribel, my late mother-in-law. She was up at the lake, and she wanted to listen the Cincinnati Reds game. Unfortunately, neither the Reds radio network nor the Reds television broadcast served norther lower Michigan. That area was Detroit Tigers territory. She was a Reds fan and she watched or listened to the Reds ballgames at home in southwestern Ohio.
I signed up for MLB TV and we watched and listened to the ballgame using my computer in her bedroom. That night I signed up three times for MLB TV and I didn’t catch my mistake until my credit card billing statement arrived the following month. Thankfully, MLB TV was understanding and cancelled the two additional accounts. I’ve been renewing the package ever since.
About that time, my favorite team, the Houston Astros began to play better and since, I’ve been paying more attention since. Thank you, Maribel.
Since last summer, I’ve travelled to twelve cities and thirteen new ball parks in addition to the two ballparks in Chicago. I’ve met many people in my travels. I’ve attended all but one of those games by myself and each time I sit down to watch the game, I meet new people.
What I love about baseball is that I realize that it is truly America’s game. By attendance it is the most popular sport, but the baseball season is 162 games long and each team plays half of their games at home and the other half on the road. In 2022, over 64 million people watched a major league baseball game in person, attendance is down almost 10% compared to 2018.
This past year MLB made rule changes to the game to speed up play and make the game more exciting. At first, I was apprehensive, but with four months (and seven games in a ballpark) into the season I agree. The game is more exciting and on average a ballgame is almost thirty minutes shorter this year compared to previous seasons. This season’s average is 2 hours and 39 minutes compared with the 2022 season average game length of 3 hours and 6 minutes. Continue reading What I love about baseball→
W^2 or W squared for Wordless Wednesday, March 29, 2023
For this week’s Wordless Wednesday, I have the old section of the historic Seven Mile Bridge which is the dividing line between the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico in the Strait of Florida. I love how in the evening light the line between the ocean and the sky blend together.
My wife and I are enjoying a spring break vacation in the Florida Keys. Sunrises and sunsets mark our days and are often spectacular. Sadly, after three days in the Keys, this was our first ‘watched’ sunset though I have yet to miss a sunrise.
The bridge was constructed as part of the Overseas Railroad extension from Miami to Key West in the early twentieth century. The railroad operated until 1935 when massive hurricane wiped out a portion of the railroad. The right of way was sold to the state of Florida and the bridges were used to build a highway from Miami to Key West. The railway bridges were replaced in the early 1980s and the old bridges were disabled and left in place. A portion Seven Mile Bridge and several other bridges were set aside for fishermen. Additionally, a two-mile segment of the old Seven Mile Bridge connecting Knights Key with Pigeon Key.
It is always peaceful and calm when we visit. The temperatures have been in the 80s (28-31C) and there has been plenty of sunshine in between sunrise and sunset.
This morning, I watched the sunrise and I know today is gonna be an awesome day, I know it and I can feel it, so I’d better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. And press publish for the first time in a long while. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, always looking, always watching, wondering.
Twenty-one years ago, this morning, I was welcoming my seventh graders into my geography classroom. It was early in the year in the year, and we were building routines and learning. I was learning their names and faces and the lesson for the day was the water cycle.
I don’t remember the first two classes, but I do remember when a counselor came into the classroom towards the end of the second class, about 9:20 AM or so. She waited until the class ended, the third period class had entered, and settled and until after the bell had rung and then she made the announcement that earlier in the morning America had been attacked. Her message was scripted and every classroom in our school go the same message at the same time.
I don’t remember the exact text of the message, but I can close my eyes and go back to room B111 on September 11, 2001 and picture the layout of the room on that morning.
On nine-eleven two thousand one, I was 39 and my students were 12.
This past spring, I began volunteering regularly at Loaves and Fishes on Thursday after school. I had been volunteering on Saturdays since early 2020, but I decided to add a new day. Soon, I had been asked to be the lead volunteer for my part of the operation on Thursday afternoon. Loaves and Fishes is a wonderful place, and I am thankful to be part of an organization that helps people in need, especially when the cost of groceries and gasoline have increased significantly. I have also discovered a community of people who care about others, and I have met several parents of former students who volunteer for the organization. It’s a small world.
It was the last day of school and summer had begun when I walked into the market at Loaves and Fishes for my Thursday afternoon shift.
I saw Michelle and we greeted each other, and she shared a story with me. It went something like this:
Michelle – you teach at Scullen, right? Me – yes, I do. Michelle – Do remember Judy? She was the nurse. Me – Yes, I remember Judy and I remember having her son Joey in class. It’s been a log time. Michelle – I was at a going away party last weekend for Judy. She’s retired and moving to Wisconsin, and I mentioned I had me you at Loaves and Fishes. She remembered you and we were talking, and Allison overheard us and joined our conversation, do remember her? Me – yes, I do. I do remember that name – it was our first year at the school and we were all new. Michelle – well, she remembers you. Me – WOW. Really? I remember her, too. I hadn’t thought about that name since she was in my class. That’s a long time ago. Michelle – yes, it was and she does. She told the two of us that every year on 9/11, she remembers being in your class and being scared and that you were calm and reassured her and the class that everything would be okay. Me – WOW (and at this point I am beginning to tear up) Michelle – Ally’s married and has two kids and lives in the area. Me – We all grow up, thank you for telling me this.
That’s how I remember our conversation and it’s stuck with me since.
This summer I started my baseball trip in New York City. The first game was Sunday at Yankee Stadium and after the game I drove to Washington, D. C. for another game. I returned Tuesday for third game and the possibility of visiting the National 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Unfortunately, the museum was closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the time I was in New York City. But I figured I could at least visit the Memorial before I left for my Philadelphia and game four.
Tuesday night I set alarm for early Wednesday morning, before sunrise. My plan was to walk to the memorial which was less than a mile away from my hotel. It was early morning twilight, and I was surrounded by tall buildings blocking much of the light. New York City was beginning to waken, even though I suspect the city never sleeps, it’s always moving. Cars, buses, and trucks were beginning start the day and few people were walking with me. Some going to work and other heading home.
The sound of rain woke me this morning at 5:35 AM and the thought I’d forgotten to roll up my windows got me out of bed. Any other summer morning, I might have gotten up, gone to the bathroom, and crawled back beneath the covers, but not this morning. I pulled on a pair of shorts, grabbed my car keys, and walked out to my car to confirm that I had forgotten to roll up my windows.
I not sure the term ‘roll up the windows’ applies any longer. The last car I had that had manual windows was the 1971 VW Beetle or it could have been the 1985 Jetta, but it has been a long time since I have rolled up the window with a hand crank. I did remember to bring the key and I had to start the car before I could get the windows closed. I am glad I woke when I did, it continues to gently rain as I begin to write a couple of hours later.
Maybe next time, I’ll remember to close my windows or at least check them, when I know rain is in the forecast. After all, last night we covered the boats, closed the shack door, and put away summer things in anticipation of the rain this morning. It is something we learned under grandpa years ago. It’s summer learning, but it could be said that ‘some’re learning’ which is how ‘some are learning’ sounds if you aren’t listening to the context.
School restarts for me, a week from tomorrow. I am excited to get back to school and try somethings I learned this summer and continue to practice what I’ve learned about teaching kids in the past twenty-three years. The first three days of school are filled with meetings, time to plan, and time to get the room ready for the kids who join us on Thursday, August 18.
A couple of friends joined us this past Wednesday and as always, we enjoyed their visit. They are the same couple who we vacationed with this past spring in the Keys. They are also the same couple we drove home with after BOTH of our flights home were cancelled on Saturday, April 2. All four of us sharing driving time through Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, and southeastern Indiana where their son was able to meet them and take them to their home in southwestern Ohio.
Thursday morning, we decided on a visit to Mackinac. It’s pronounced – mack-in-naw and it is Ojibwa word for ‘turtle’ and refers to the island which dominates the strait between the upper and lower peninsula.
We could not have chosen a better day for our trip; clear blue skies with puffy clouds drifting across the horizon and comfortable temperatures.
Saturday marked the end of my seven game, seven stadium, and ten team baseball trip. I was in Cleveland, Ohio for a baseball game between the New York Yankees and the Cleveland Guardians.
This morning, I will pack up and head home. It has been a fun time. I will glad to be home, even for one night before I drive to our lake house to spend week and the fourth of July with my family.
I have enjoyed the trip and I’ve loved being in the six cities I had never watched baseball in before. This trip increased the number of my baseball cities to 18. There are twelve cities I have not seen a major league baseball game played and I hope to make it to 30 before, well you know.
Along the way I ran into people who were doing the same thing as me – trying to get to all 30 major league baseball stadiums in their lifetimes. It was fun listening to their stories and telling mine.
Wednesday night’s game four of my baseball trip concluded with a pop up out to center field. Twenty- seven outs. It was a good game; the Atlanta Braves bested the Philadelphia Phillies.
Yesterday I arrived in Philadelphia, site of game four but also the site where this great American experiment came to a head some 246 years ago.
Less than a mile from where I sit, the founding fathers discussed, debated, and argued about next steps in 1776. The eventually came up with a statement, a written declaration, of complaints and desires. The Declaration of Independence was intended for King George III, who never read it. But it didn’t matter the world was in motion, as it still is today. Evolving, changing, succeeding, failing.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
Tuesday found me back in New York City for the third game of my seven game baseball trip.
I didn’t plan my drive from DC to NYC very well and I arrived at the peak of rush hour. I was able to make the game on time and I was in my seat with food, beverage, and a scorecard for the first pitch.
The Astros began with a walk to Jose Altuve, their lead off hitter and lightning rod for boos in New York City and most baseball stadiums. The next batter, Jeremy Pena, hit into what should have been a double play, but he beat it out on a manager’s review. It was all downhill for the Mets after that. The Astros sent seven batters to the plate, got four hits and four runs in the first inning. They never looked back.
It is the Saturday morning before Easter and I am up early, before anyone else. Normally, I’d be at Loaves and Fishes volunteering helping families in need of food get the food they need, but Loaves and Fishes is closed for the holiday. I did work Thursday after school as it was the last day that families could get food this week and it was terribly busy.
Yesterday I was reading my devotional, The One Year Uncommon Life Daily Challenge by Tony Dungy. I was reading the entry for July 21st. I know yesterday was April 15th, but I started reading the journal a couple of years ago and I started almost two years ago on April 25, 2020, by starting with the January 1st entry. The intent was to read each day and finish a year later on April 24, 2021, with the December 31st entry, but that didn’t happen. Things happen and life gets in the way of good intentions. But each time I have read an entry; I have felt as though the passage is speaking directly to me. Yesterday’s title was “Discernment instead of Judgement.” As I read the entry, I reflected on its meaning, and I immediately thought of the TV comedy series Ted Lasso. Last week, a colleague and I had been talking about teaching science and the topic of Ted Lasso wisdom had come up. He mentioned a Ted Lasso quote, “Be Curious, not judgmental,” and we chuckled because I encourage my students to be curious and full of wonder in science. Continue reading Be Curious, not Judgmental→