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Archive for Life

Oct. 14, 2019 — Finding the right ratio

Over the last few months, we’ve resumed daily video postings on Instagram, in a series we’re calling “Unfiltered.”

And yeah, we don’t use a filter on the video. And sometimes there’s no filter on your Founder.

But I have noticed an odd quirk in judging how to shoot our daily commentaries. Seems whenever the aspect of our video is 1920 pixels high against 1080 pixels wide, Instagram cuts off significant portions of the top and bottom of every video, cutting off part of my head. When it’s 1080 high and 1920 wide (landscape), my head fits perfectly in the frame.

I’m going to be experimenting with settings on my device in order to be able to talk without my forehead being cut off. Hoping to find a good solution soon in order to make a good series of Unfiltered videos for you out in Instagram-land.

Oct. 6, 2019 — A reclamation of sorts

Late last week, it was announced that my old high school, Burlington Doane Academy (N.J.) had purchased two lots of land adjacent to the current campus that had been sold to the city back in the 1950s.

As I had learned from some of the older alumnae from Founders’ Day and graduation weekends, the property was, back in the day, used for field hockey. In the days before the Amateur Sports Act, USFHA selectors visited the field on Blue-White field hockey days to scout not only for playing ability, but having the ability to pay their own way overseas. There are stories of at least one St. Mary’s Hall player having made one of Constance Applebee’s touring teams in the early 1920s.

The school kept on playing field hockey intramurally as well as on the varsity level; there is evidence as far back as 1934 of St. Mary’s Hall playing other high schools on the varsity level. The school dropped field hockey in 1985.

The land acquisition comes at an interesting time in the history of the school. In the last couple of years, the school unveiled a new addition to the middle of the school bridging the two main buildings. The three-story building replaces Doane Hall, which had burned in a 1974 fire, and Nelson Corridor and its annex, which had been condemned and razed about a decade ago.

Doane was a very small school when I attended, with just 14 students in my senior class. But shrewd and risk-taking fundraising has led to an amazing sense of school pride amongst current students that was rarely felt in the 1980s because of school management getting rid of numerous popular teachers.

But with the purchase of the properties — including an elementary school building capable of handling about 100 students, which could mean an increase in enrollment of about 30 percent.

It’s all part of a strategy which has forced a number of its contemporaries to change tactics when it comes to marketing and fundraising. One way, oddly, is through sports. Back in the 1970s and 80s, the school used to play a mish-mosh of small private academies in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.

This year, Doane Academy is now playing in the well-established Burlington County Scholastic League, and are eligible to play for state championships in the NJSIAA — something that was unthinkable for most of us back in the day. That was something unheard of in my day; we were just thankful to play. And we were the kind of school which would not even blink when I missed a varsity basketball game to travel to North Jersey for our quiz team, a version of the old College Bowl.

Last spring, Doane won the NJISAA Class B title for small New Jersey private schools — a tremendous achievement, especially considering your Founder was on a very poor basketball team in the mid-80s that maybe won four games in two seasons.

I guess, with investment in the school, shrewd fundraising, and land acquisition, our school, which was a well-kept secret for decades, is now in the position of being able to take a risk or two. It’s a formula which has worked very well in other private schools in the mid-Atlantic, and I think it will be interesting to see what happens there.

Sept. 11, 2019 — Time and perspective

I haven’t done much in the way of personal reflection in this space the last few Sept. 11ths. You’ll notice the last entries for today have ranged from bulletins to decrying Larry Nasser, rather than focusing on 9-11.

For me, it’s just another day.

Which is what you can’t say for the families of some 4,000 souls lost 18 years ago today, as well as the hundreds of first responders and construction workers who have since died as a result of either PTSD, or having worked at the World Trade Center excavation site.

Sometime around 10:30, at a lectern at the site of the 9-11 Memorial in New York City, they’ll read the name “Edward R. Hennessy, Jr.”

He was a college classmate.

When he died, he left a wife and two children. I had a chance to meet them a few years ago at our 25th Reunion. Rachel, his daughter, spoke eloquently to our memorial gathering in the chapel.

Today’s anniversary is a bit more poignant than most because it has been 18 years. That means there aren’t any high-school students who have lived (much less remembered) a time before the 9-11 attacks.

Today, I think about the sweeping ramifications on foreign and domestic policy, as well as the entry procedures for most government buildings and aircraft. But you should rethink some of our nation’s actions in the aftermath of the disaster, starting a nearly 20-year involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq which seemingly is a war without end.

There’s a movie coming out soon called “Official Secrets” which calls into question the entire rationale for the 2003 Iraq invasion, which is universally labeled as being under false pretenses.

The toppling of the Hussein administration led to the creation of the merciless Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) terror group as well as an enormous refugee wave that even a prosperous and united Europe is seemingly having trouble handling.

In other words, contrary to a certain banner tied to an overhang on a military ship during a photo opportunity in 2003, the mission is certainly not accomplished.

Which is why we should remember this day.

July 21, 2019 — A hard self-reflection

PARENTAL ADVISORY: If you’re a teenager reading this, you may want to have a parent or guardian with you.


A friend of mine, a jazz singer from California, posted an interesting question on social media, in response to the arrest and denial of bail this week of Jeffrey Epstein, a financier who is being charged with sex trafficking.

My friend quoted journalist Sarah Kendzior, who said this on a podcast last December:

Donald Trump is friends with at least five pedophiles, most of whom were involved in sex trafficking or blackmail schemes. There’s (Jeffrey) Epstein, (John) Casablancas, (Tevfik) Arif, (George) Nader, (Roy) Cohn. Who the hell is friends with five pedophiles?

I thought for a second. To nobody in particular when I was reading the post, I said aloud, “Three.”

Part of what this site is about is reporting news and accomplishments in field hockey, lacrosse, and women’s sports in general. But a highly regrettable part of my reporting over the last two decades has been chronicling the arrests and convictions of people in the field hockey and lacrosse communities for various morals charges.

And of the dozen or so people who have been arrested, fired, or outright banned from their field hockey or lacrosse positions because of their actions, I can say that I knew three of them.

Well, let’s be clear: I thought I knew them.

When you’re a writer, in any beat, you get to know a lot of people, from the powerful to the pauper. You talk to coaches, parents, and some outliers — private coaches, trainers, alumni/ae, and athletic administrators.

In athletic competitions, I get to see two stories. One is the coach trying to get a group of 20 players to buy into a competitive vision. The other story is the parent ceding control of the child for a few weeks.

It’s the latter story that has, regrettably, led to many of the dozens of stories of teachers and coaches having sexual relations with students over the years. At one point, there was an average of more than one arrest per day being reported in newspapers around the country. It got to the point where Bob Reno, the editor of BadJocks.com, stopped counting (and, eventually, stopped publishing the site).

Given what I have seen, I ask myself all the time what I could have done to alter or prevent some of this behavior. Then again, even if I had influenced one person or another to not engage with an undercover FBI agent to trade child porn, or to not have sex with his students, or to not interfere with a police investigation, there would be many others.

Our nation, I think, is a sexual cesspool when it comes to adults and minors. The regrettable thing is that it’s taken the lurid tales surrounding the Larry Nassar trial and conviction to bring this to the fore.

Our President’s associates, and their predilections, are just another symptom. Nothing more to see here.

July 4, 2019 — What today is really about

There were no tanks, no helicopters, no fighter jets in 1776.

All there was back then were just a set of powerful ideas: self-determination, freedom and independence. They are all encapsulated here.

April 1, 2019 — No fooling today

Usually, this space has been filled on April 1st with humorous or satirical sports story. But if you remember, a year ago your Founder was in the hospital recovering from surgery.

Since that weekend, it’s been three more procedures to treat this same area, the last of which was five weeks ago.

To be sure, this whole ordeal has not been easy. Recovery from these occasional surgeries has curtailed a lot of activities and travel, especially since I need to be in a reclining position in order to allow the bacterial abcess to drain.

But I think this episode has taught two important lessons.

One is that the United States, for all of its flaws, does have a pretty good health care system as long as you know how to navigate it and advocate for yourself.

The other lesson, however, is patience. The last surgery, done by a specialist in Baltimore, seems to be leading to a closure of the bacterial mass, albeit very, very slowly. It’s frustrating, to be sure, but I’m sure that I’m heading to a good place when it comes to my overall health.

March 14, 2019 — And how many more?

You’ll notice that we led off yesterday’s blog entry with two seemingly isolated stories.

This is the one regarding admissions fraud at LSU, and this is the one at the University of Pennsylvania. Taken together with yesterday’s indictment of 50 administrators, coaches and parents, that’s enough to make you think there’s a problem.

But William Singer, the man behind the admissions fraud and broker between parents and universities, has admitted to 761 fraudulent admissions — 20 times what were documented in yesterday’s charging documents.

Now, that’s remarkable enough, the damage that one man has done to the higher education system in the United States.

The question is, how many other self-styled education brokers, go-betweens, and hangers on are there? And we’re not just talking about the cesspool of intercollegiate football and men’s basketball. We know that there are plenty of Sonny Vaccaros, Lonnie Balls, and Curtis Malones out there trading favors for athletic talent.

But how many other side-door deals have there been made over the years? Hundreds? Thousands? Every time a name goes up on a building on one of America’s 5,300 colleges, universities, and trade schools, should you assume that the only reason was that money changed hands?

I’d like to think that certain kinds of naming are as memorials to great people in the past; two of the main buildings at my old high school were named for bishops in the Episcopal Church. The third, however, was named for a wealthy donor who, frankly, saved the school two decades ago.

But now that Harvard Medical School has the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University has the Bloomberg School of Public Health, and the University of Massachusetts-Lowell has the Zuckerberg School of Health Sciences, it’s hard to know where the university ends and the benefactor begins.