Category Archives: college

Of ‘Speed Limits’ and ‘Bullshit’ at commencement

Two themes emerged from the speeches at my son’s college commencement Sunday — Slow down. And don’t take any bullshit. First, the bullshit. The student who was selected to address the undergraduates told of growing up in Zimbabwe, how he was … Continue reading

Posted in college, Irish Investigations, Technology | Tagged , , , , , | 24 Comments

A 67-year-old man in a wheelchair dies, then gets smeared by internet trolls

The recent passing of Syracuse icon Gertis McDowell is instructive for two very different reasons. One, we can all learn from his upbeat attitude and the happiness he spread to strangers even when he was in pain. Two, we can try to … Continue reading

Posted in college, Irish Investigations, language, poverty, Technology, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 31 Comments

Pass it on … random acts of kindness still happen

I’m passing along a story from a recent graduate of Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, NY, where I work. Alex Ashley and a group of his Radiation Therapy program classmates went out to dinner in April to celebrate after a big … Continue reading

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Road trip revelations: A weekend in Happy Valley

Of the many observations I made visiting my son this weekend, one made all the rest possible: he is happy and thriving on the path he has chosen in life. That confirmation allowed me to enjoy the weekend, without any of the common … Continue reading

Posted in Children, college, communication, driving, family, Irish Investigations, role models, running, Travel, writing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

A man with a tin can, a street corner institution in Syracuse

You hear Gertis McDowell before you see him. The steady rhythm of coins shaking in his tin can gives him away before you spot him in his wheelchair on the street corner. Gertis  is an institution in Syracuse, N.Y. He … Continue reading

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A missed chance to ‘err in the direction of kindness’

In a few paragraphs I’m going to get out of the way and let a couple of much wiser men — George Saunders and the late David Foster Wallace — illustrate a lesson in kindness that I forgot the other … Continue reading

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A magical, musical moment among good company

It was 2006, a pivotal year marked by my oldest son going off to college. He had just moved into his dorm, and he and I joined his two younger brothers at a campus lunch joint. Each of us brought … Continue reading

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