Seeking donations

Don’t you love a straightforward title that tells you all you need to know about whether you want to read a post? Against all conventional marketing wisdom, I’ve used one here. The wiser thing to do would be to entice you to read on by using nonsensical and misleading expressions such as “free food”, “sex”, and “make America great again”.

Not my style.

The bottom line is the bottom line: I’m looking for compassionate people to support the fight against multiple sclerosis, a very personal fight for me. Every year I participate in a fundraising bike ride. Rather than bore you with the details here, I’ll point you to the web pages that will bore you with the details. (I’m a lousy salesman, aren’t I?)

Read more about the ride here.

Donate to my ride here.

Donate to my team here.

That’s it. No wasted time, effort, or keystrokes. Thank you for considering this request.

In praise of the sea

[For a while, I was a regular contributor to a blog for a resort on Martha’s Vineyard. In order to save some time – and in the spirit of recycling – please accept this repurposed post from that blog.]

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The ocean is a marvelous place. It is literally a place of marvels. People travel from deep in the interior sections of a continent just to spend a few days in its proximity. As they near it, their hearts – if not their voices – resonate with that of William Clark who cried at his first sight of the Pacific, “Ocian in view! O! The joy!” We are willing to spend a massive premium for the privilege of an ocean vista, disregarding the dangers it poses.

DSCN0194It only takes a few minutes at the beach to realize that there is more to it than sand and water. Peter Kreeft, prolific author and professor of philosophy at Boston College, has caught this vision. He says that by God’s design, “the ocean is a perfect toy: always there, always willing to play with you, just dangerous enough to be exciting, never needing replacement, unbreakable, never boring, and you don’t even have to put it away when you’re finished playing with it. Watch how little kids treat it; they know what it’s for.”

DSCN0192Indeed, no one seems to appreciate the beach like a child. The little girl has no need of a “beach book” or a radio to pass the time. Her younger brother isn’t concerned with making a fashion statement or getting the perfect tan. The sand, shells, waves, sun, and breeze all provide more than enough distraction for the most innocent among us. And if they have the proper tools, who knows what imaginative creations they may construct in the sand?

DSCN0191My preferred portion of coastline is on Martha’s Vineyard. In spite of its often overbearing crowds, South Beach is where I head for my ocean fix. The power of the surf there is humbling, more than once leaving me tumbling in its foamy aftermath. The shoreline goes on almost to the vanishing point in either direction. One can stroll its shifting sands in peace for hours.

DSCN0190You never know what wonder you will encounter along that stretch of shoreline. There is a seemingly endless variety of birds to watch – some skittering in the shallow surf, some repeatedly diving headlong into the waves foraging for a meal. While lacking an abundance of shells, there are yet some prizes to be found for the diligent. Patience and a keen eye may also reward you with a rare seal or dolphin sighting.

DSCN0186Those who lug their laptops, cell phones and iPods to the beach will have their reward, I suppose. I prefer to follow the lead of the little ones. When it comes to the ocean, they know the magic it holds better than “adults”.

Look closely

Whenever the subject of book tours is brought up in the company of writers, they all talk about how much they dread them. The travel, the repetitive questions, the crowds or the absence of them. I can’t imagine why they don’t enjoy the experience. If I had a book tour, believe me, I’d make the most of it. Easy to say since the prospect is slim for me. I can always dream.

If it’s any consolation to those jaded scribes, I enjoy hearing author presentations of any kind. The standard format is to have the authors read excerpts from their work then endure a line of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of autograph hounds. Serious RSI potential.

One of my favorite writers, Mark Helprin, did the signing thing but declined to read from his book, claiming that there were only a few great actors in the world and there was no way he could do his prose justice with his weak performance skills. There’s a lot of truth in what he said. What’s the point in hearing him read his own stuff anyway? Usually, I’ve already read it. If I’m there, I’m probably a fan so he doesn’t have to sell me on the book.

Instead of reading, Helprin described fascinating, often bizarre experiences he’d had. Not surprising, since his books are filled with such occurrences. He concluded his talk by urging his readers to follow his example by keeping our eyes open to the amazing things that happen around us all the time. (That’s heavily paraphrased. My addled memory can’t recall his exact words and my comparatively pathetic prose can’t come anywhere near his lofty standard.)

In the spirit of his admonition, and my unwillingness to devote too much time to this post in the face of deadlines and exhaustion, I present some photos of things I’ve observed in recent months. Since each is worth 1,000 words, this could be my longest post of all.

Enjoy, but then go out and have your own experiences.


I saw these two buses drive off a ferry recently. Which one would you prefer to ride, “Elite” or “Lamers”?

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This is what’s called a “no-brainer”. Who’s the marketing wizard who came up with “Lamers” for a name? It’s almost certainly a person’s name – a person who put his (or her) ego before the company’s best interests.

This guy was giving away ice cream in downtown Boston. I love this town!

This guy was giving away ice cream in downtown Boston. I love this town!

A visitor on the bike path. Is it any wonder I spend as much time on it as possible?

A visitor on the bike path. Is it any wonder I spend as much time there as possible?

What's cooler than the front porch of a general store?

What’s cooler than hanging out on the front porch of a general store? Especially Alley’s. (Martha’s Vineyard)

There’s something inspiring about these two trees seeming to grow out of nothing but rock. (Acadia National Park)