HEY COACH, SEND ME IN!


879marctheory

Who’s counting?  Everyone…at least every Miami Dolphins football fan should be counting. There have been ten! Ten coaches since Coach God (Don Shula who became iconic over 26 seasons). Ten men have taken the head headset and put it on since Shula retired. Some were simply “iterim” coaches who got their chance between the firing and hiring of others.

Only two of the coaches are names most sports fans would recognize: Jimmy Johnson and Nick Saban. Jimmy burned out, especially after the Jacksonville Jaguars beat the Dophins 62-7.  He retired from coaching.  Saban, meanwhile, left in the middle of the night to return to college ball. Given his success at Alabama, he made the right decision.

So go ahead, list the other head coaches who were handed the ball and failed to score. Hardcore DolFans would probably be able to do it. Skipping interim coaches, here’s the list: Jimmy Johnson (1996-1999), (Dave Wannstedt (2000-2004), Nick Saban (2005-2006), Cam Cameron (2007), Tony Saprano (2008-2011), Joe Philbin (2012-2015) and Adam Gase (2016-present).

coachesbannerNow here is where my theory comes in—note: it’s a hypothetical theory with holes in it and it does not apply to every Dolphins coach. But overall, I think it applies to why the Dolphins have had a tough time returning to the glory days. When you look at these coaches’ names and picture these coaches as they were game day on the sidelines from the vantage point of just an average fan, do any of the following words come to mind:

Dynamic….Exciting…..Emotional.…Vibrant….Forceful.…Memorable.…Passionate

Nope, I don’t think so. I don’t see any of those words applying to Miami’s recent history of coaches. For example, Tony Sparano, my least favorite, never even had the energy to remove his Sunglasses during the post-game press conferences. The current coach, Adam Gase, has the emotional extremes of a sloth.  Even today, after a come-from-behind win against the Jets featuring 3rd string QB Nat Moore, his demeanor was the same as if he had lost the game.

Fact is, all these Dolphins coaches needed coaching. No, not football coaching…management and relationship coaching. They don’t seem to acknowledge that football is a highly emotional game played by mostly hyper, super-emotional people. Maybe if these coaches had been better schooled in some areas in which good managers have invested significant time and effort, the performance of their staff (the players) may have been better. I’m referring to things like motivational techniques, sensitivity training, diversity and just plain old enthusiasm about your people and not being afraid to show it.  So, just maybe, if they practiced good management skills in addition to good coaching, they may have done better. All of them needed to get closer to their players and bring some excitability to the game. Okay, that’s my take on what’s wrong with the Miami Dolpins. They need more excitable, relatable coaches. True you can have a highly successful team with a dull personality leading it—New England Patriots’ Bill Belichick case in point. By contrast, check out Penn State Coach James Franklin.

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If you study successful organizations, both on the field and elsewhere, I am pretty sure you will find the majority are led by not only smart people who know their trade, but in addition, they are dynamic, exciting, emotional, vibrant, forceful, memorable, passionate leaders. If the Dolphins want to score more touchdowns, I suggest they hire more touchy coaches…but I don’t think they’ll really take me seriously.

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SPORTS…THE GREAT ESCAPE!


Sports Equipment

Only recently have I become a serious sports fan.  Mine is a low degree of “serious,” but I have to admit, my team does play a part in my life.

It is no wonder that sports occupies a major role in American culture.  Sports does, indeed, mirror much of the environment and tasks in which we engage on a daily basis.  As such, Americans are very competitive…and combative. Winning, of course, is the ultimate goal, whether it’s on the playing field, at the office, on the highway or even in the family room. We love to win. We love to collect trophies and platitudes, stand on the top tier and wave our over-sized foam fingers declaring we’re #1.  Then we build a highlight reel that shows others how good we are.

What’s cool is that anyone can play in the game of life and even score! But only a few make the cut to play for a professional sports team.  Such individuals are held at high levels and usually exceed all expectations us little folk may have to accurately kick, hit, throw or catch a ball.  Call it envy, hero-worshiping, or just plain admiration.  It’s what fills stadiums and arenas and sells millions of dollars in clothing and memorabilia.

True, some games can be very stressful to watch, but overall, sports is a great escape.  What’s troubling you?  Relationship woes, North Korea, the politics in Washington?  What better time to get lost in a sporting event than now?  If you’re not watching the baseball playoffs, it’s not too late.

I‘m in my third year of being a devoted follower of the Chicago Cubs. I have a Cubs cap and shirt plus all the angst that goes along with a team that has played well…off and on.  This year, getting to, and staying in, the Major League Baseball playoffs has proven a bit more difficult for the Cubs.  It seemed a little easier last year when the team went all the way and won the World Series.  But this isn’t last year’s team despite most of the key players still being accounted for.

Both the hitting and pitching are not at the same level as last year.  The team’s star performers, Anthony Rizzo (1st base) and Kris Bryant (3rd base) aren’t exactly in a hitting slump, but their success at bat is nowhere as exciting as last year.  Others have picked up the slack, like Javier Baez who hit two home runs to help salvage last night’s win-or-go-home contest.  Now, if the Cubs can pull off the miracle of winning the final three games against the Dodgers, they will advance once more to the World Series.  Three games in a row from a team that has manhandled them at will?  Yeah, that’s a stretch…and that’s also what makes the Cubs a little unusual.  They could, maybe, just say’n, on a good day, if the bases line up…do it!  And that’s what makes sports such a great in-the-moment escape.

These are the kinds of events that make sports so compelling to watch, even for a casual fan like me. But hey, it beats watching the news, doing laundry or paying bills.

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TIME FOR ANOTHER UPDATE!


newsanchorWell, it’s update time…time to fess up a little. I’ve sorta taken a time-out regarding my social media presence. Most of you would probably think this is a good thing but didn’t even notice I was gone.  I have some catching up to do, first of which is to thank all those who passed along good wishes as Rosemarie and I celebrated our 50th anniversary last month. We had a nice hotdog dinner, no candlelight. It wasn’t what I had intended. In fact I had booked a surprise trip for my bride.  I had reserved a swanky beachfront condo on Myrtle Beach but it had to be canceled at the  last minute partly because Hurricane Irma shut down the airport and we couldn’t walk that far.

The other part of the “partly” was that I couldn’t have gone anyway because I had just returned home from yet another surprise stay in the hospital and for the next eight weeks I would be tethered to an IV pump at home.  There would be accompanying daily visits from a nurse who changed the bag of goo that dripped into my veins three times a day.  All this in hopes of killing an infection that had invaded the knee replacement I had installed last March and then spread elsewhere throughout my operating system.  See, it all comes together.  Needless to say, I pretty much made a mess of our 50th.  I finally get “untethered” from the IV yesterday and it was fantastic taking a shower without half my body wrapped in Publix umbrella bags.LoisCOVer

Meanwhile I have been busy attempting to launch two book projects I’ve previously disclosed: first, a book that features a selection of writings by my mother. These have been in storage boxes for over 50 years, hence the book’s title, LOIS UNBOXED. Add .com to the title and it will land you on the book’s website which for now features just one page.  I have a few more items to take care of and then the book will be published, probably late October.

FIINGERSCOVSecond is a book titled STORIES MY FINGERS WROTE.  This is kind of a self-serving book that features the “best” of my blog.  Yeah, I  know, many of you are having a good laugh over the relative meaning of “best.”  Regardless,  I pulled from some 500+ postings those which I felt worthy of a second read. I hope a few other folks agree. If not, the book will be just thick enough to shove under the leg of a wobbly table.  If you think this is exciting, I’m also thinking about putting together a collection of my poems.  Robert Frost told me he’d consider coming back just long enough to write the forward.  I’m thinking Bullwinkle the Moose makes more sense.

Some of you have asked how goes my new sleep apnea implant that I’ve discussed several times here on Marc’s Blog.  Well, like Myrtle Beach, this whole project was put on hold while I dealt with the infection thingy.  I have learned that this gadget is so new that most doctors have not heard about  it.  All the new medical types taking care of me right now are fascinated when they discover the lump on my chest.  Meanwhile, I am using it nightly and it has resulted in raising the quality of my sleep, although not the length.  When it’s on, I am a lot less restless while asleep.   My not being restless is petty amazing in itself, awake or asleep.  Extending sleep time is the issue I will be working on when life returns to normal.

So there you have it—my up close and personal update, exclusive of any fake news. Sorry, no film at 11…maybe some ice cream instead.

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HURRICANE LEFTOVERS


chipper spewing out chips

If you think last month’s Hurricane Irma is long gone, think again.  I’ve lived in South Florida long enough to have survived several hurricanes.  One thing about the region’s mindset following a big storm is to hurry up and get the place fixed up, cleaned up and back to normal ASAP.  That’s always been the case.  It seemed within minutes of the all-clear sign people would be outside with rakes, shovels and chain saws.  Before you could say blow me down matey, things were lookin’ good again.

Debris1Now we have Irma…definitely not your father’s hurricane.  As usual, household cleanup crews we’re busy on the scene within moments of Irma’s goodbye. Damaged landscaping, blown trash and what you call your basic hurricane debris were quickly attended to and then stacked up along the front curb of each house where city trucks would drive up and make it all disappear.  That didn’t happen this time and here we are a month past Irma’s wrath and most of it still lines our streets.

Debris3So what’s the story?  Well, as usual it’s a matter of money. Seems, despite contracts many communities had secured with the cleanup trucks to be available immediately following the storm, many of the crews took off for the Keys and Miami-Dade County where the fees for their services were much higher.

Moral of the story….after a big storm if you’re talkin’ trash to a guy with an empty truck, best you up the  ante or your pile of debris will be left blown’ in the wind.

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The Sadness Among Us


Red, white, and blue American flag for Memorial day or Veteran's

Sadness creeps its way among us

Like an ivy it clings and spreads

We mourn once more, more than before.

And with all that we know, we really don’t know.

The politicians debate the issues but to no avail

They say the same things, things grown stale.

And we? We try to heal and carry on as best we can

Knowing full well it’s time to take our country back again.

 

Our leader meanders here and there but always out of step

His mind is unfit for the job he holds, his thoughts inept.

We live in fear of what he will do and what he will say.

He’s already managed to hold the entire world at bay.

How has this happened? What did we do, or not?

Is this picture true, does it really reflect our lot?

And we? We remain puzzled but carry on as best we can

Knowing full well it’s time to take our country back again.

 

What will it take, how much more will we have to endure?

There’s no predictability, no anticipation, it’s all so unsure.

We take what comes each day, not knowing what to expect

But accepting the sadness as we witness our country wrecked.

Is this really where we are, who we are and where we’ll be?

Are we prepared to give up our rights, our freedom and liberty?

Never before have I been so compelled to do whatever I can

Knowing time’s running out if we’re to take our country back again.

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HOW ‘BOUT DEM CUBBIES!


CubsChamps

Three years ago I decided I wanted to follow a baseball team. I never had much of an interest in baseball before. But since I retired there were more chunks of time that I was attempting to fill with things fun and entertaining. I thought learning more about the game of baseball and feeling some sense of allegiance to a team would fit the bill.

I called upon Baseball Ron, one of the best baseball know-it-alls in my small circle of associates. I asked him to suggest a good team for me to follow. I told him I preferred a team on the brink of making it to the playoffs but still up-and-coming enough to keeping things suspenseful. He suggested the Chicago Cubs. See, I told you he knows his stuff.

So year one 2015, the Cubs made the playoffs, but not the World Series. Year two, 2016…well everyone knows what happened last year. And now, my third year following the Cubs, the team has again locked up its division and is playoff-bound.

By getting to the playoffs for a third time in a row, the stat nuts are having a heyday. Stat nuts—my term—are those fans who can quote you any and every statistic having to do with what has happened on the professional baseball field since Jesus played first base. Stat nuts also thrive on challenging anyone within a mile radius with a barrage of baseball trivia questions. So right away the Cubs 3rd-year success story has broken several old stats dealing with the amount of times a team makes it to the playoffs, their chances of going beyond and what color uniform they should wear.   It’s all very baseball and all very meaningful to the hard-core who follow the sport. I am not among them.

I have enjoyed watching the Cubs, especially this year in which extending the season was seriously in doubt at the All-Star break.   I even know the names of most of the players and have grown to appreciate the “holiness” of Wrigley Field. I have learned a lot about the game these past three years, although there are still tons of strategy and positioning elements that soar over my head like a long fly ball. I would suggest, however, that the stat nuts begin tracking the Marc Factor. What’s that? Well, I figure since I’ve been aligned with the team, it has progressed each year. The Cubs seem to be peaking right now—perfect timing! And me? I have transformed into your typical baseball fan. I am an invested fan with emotional ties to “my” team. I am sure the Cub’s success is due to things like how many I’ve watched, whether or not I am wearing my cubs cap or t-shirt, the number of times I run to the fridge between innings and a lot of other stuff like that. Give them time and I know the stat nuts will come up with trivia questions all these factors and more. In the meantime…Go Cubbies!

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THE WORRY TREE


 

plantation21I have some catching up to do following my 9-day wifi outage. One topic that seemed to generate some interest is The Worry Tree. Not to worry, here’s the story…

While sitting at my desk a few weeks before Hurricane Irma even existed, my attention was drawn to a crackling sound outside. I glanced up and looked out the window just in time to watch a large limb on my biggest tree crack off and fall to the ground. Holy Fire Wood! It just fell. No wind, no storm, just sunshine!

Turns out the tree has not been properly trimmed over the years and now some of the weakened areas are beginning to make themselves known…by cracking and falling off. So what to do?

In the city of Plantation where I live, trees are sacred. You cannot take one down without a permit. You are also required to replace the downed tree with a new one. If you violate these regulations you are subject to arrest and then spending time in the big tree house.

To hasten this saga along, the tree was declared dangerous and would have to come down. Wow! This is a huge 3-story structure. Who’s gonna pay for all this? Oh…that would be me.

david3David the arborist is hired for the job (highly recommended: heytreeguy.com). This is not a simple matter of slicing a cut into the trunk down at ground level and yelling “timmmmmm-ber!” Oh no! This tree is a story above the house and within 12 feet from that window I was staring out of. It has to come down in sections. David knows how to do this…with robes and mirrors, magic words and prayers, and lots of saws of all sizes and shapes.

Half the tree is down by the time Irma hits the Florida coast. I am very very nervous that the remaining half may not make it through the storm, meaning my house will have a good 20-30 foot limb embedded in my bedroom. We don’t sleep there while Irma roars outside.

The storm passes. Almost every tree I have is down, but not The Worry Tree! Woo-hoo! A bullet dodged. David returns and, bit by bit, the remaining sections of the tree are transported to a pile on the front lawn along with the rest of the hurricane debris.

treepile

postirmaSo my worries are gone. But then, so too is the tree outside my window which for 20 years has featured all kinds of birds, squirrels and large green Geigo Insurance-type lizards all doing what they do…and none of them realizing I was just a few feet away, two stories up and enjoying their company. I will miss the parade.

 

[Side Note: That round patch of dirt in the foreground is where our Plumeria tree once stood.  It also gave into Irma’s winds…we will miss its beautiful bouquets.]

 

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AT&T BLOWN AWAY!


Monitor

Whether or not you’ve noticed, I have been “away” for almost two weeks. Yep—disappeared, gone, adios, c-yuh.   The only semblance of “being” that I sustained through my hiatus was that of a frustrated, abandoned AT&T customer.

I did not realize it until Hurricane Irma took it away from me for nine straight days, that the Internet has become the most pervasive element in my day-to-day life. I cannot—CANNOT—function in my normal mode without it.

The Internet has become akin to other take-for-granted utilities that make up the infrastructure of my house and my body. I have lost count how many times I have impulsively gone to my computer to resolve an issue or search for information only to have a “duhhh” moment as I regain consciousness and realize there is no wifi in my life.   It’s like when the power is down.,..you still instinctively flick the wall switch because the room is dark.

Since my mobility is curtailed a bit right now thanks to some uninvited medical issues, I could not just hop on over to the nearest Starbucks, park my laptop on one of their tables and use their wifi.

What made it worse was that my service provider, AT&T, was TOTALLY unresponsive to my almost-daily pleas. Yeah, I know there’s been a hurricane and service crews are busy working in your area to restore service as quickly as possible. “But you do not understand,” I tried to explain. Then I’d tell the “representative” how my phone line is completely dead—no house phone, no Internet. And this same thing has happened three times within the past year and every time the problem was found at the location on the side of the house or at the big box just around the corner. They just need to send someone to my house to look at those two areas—it is not going to be resolved by “crews working in my area.” Twice the representative gave in and set up an appointment for a service call to my house…twice AT&T texted me and cancelled it within hours.

Like “Where’s Waldo,” I had the family on the alert to look for AT&T crews working in our area. After three days of driving around the neighborhood pretty thoroughly, nary a vehicle was discovered with the AT&T logo on its side…not one. But I was told crews are working throughout your area to restore service as quickly as possible.

So, as silently as it disappeared just after the last huff of Irma passed over the house, the Internet returned this morning. Crews must have uncovered the problem in my area and fixed it as quickly—nine days?—as possible. Good for them!

What is almost laughable is how each representative dutifully reads the same script and responds to my questions with exactly identical verbiage. There is no wavering. So, while you think you are actually talking to a live human being who will help you, uh-uh…they are all identically programmed robots…each with the same hard-to-understand accent.

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HELLO IRMA!


Irma-300x181

Well, we have had worse hurricanes hit us. I consider we dodged a bullet…a pretty substantial one.

The worst things Irma did were to steal our power for one evening and drop a lot of limbs and trees in our yard. We have some re-gardening/re-landscaping to do and that’s the worst of it, unless I discover anything else that hasn’t shown itself yet. Here are some picture…hey, grab a rake!

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HALF-CENTURY…DONE! NEXT…


AdobeStock_162858567There are certain events in our lives that often leave us for a loss of words.  Our emotions are so hyped that we cannot accurately express exactly how we feel.  Some such events are priceless moments of happiness like the birth of a child or the marriage of one.  Others are quite sad, especially the death of a loved one.  I am not very good at expressing myself when these events come around and I am prone to having to deal with a quivering lip or a swelling of tears.  Today is just this kind of occasion, fortunately not a mournful one.

50 years ago today I married the one and only true love of my life.  We had met almost five years before and from that very day forward we were inseparable. To say the least, Rosemarie and I have faced just about everything—good and bad—that 50 years of commitment have to offer.  Fortunately we have been blessed in that we have not faced, ever, a moment of distrust.  Not every couple can say that.  Trust is a must-have ingredient in a lasting relationship.

It is trust that I have to rely on today to help me communicate to Rosemarie about how much she has meant to me in my life.  I must trust her to know my precise feelings because there is no way and no words that I can use to express them.  Our relationship is beyond words.  We can complete each other’s sentences and usually know what the other is thinking—these are usual traits of a long-lasting marriage.

No relationship is 100% homogenous.  That would probably be boring.  Diversity has merit and learning how to work it into the marriage is what helps things work better.  My mother had a good perspective on this.  She openly admitted that she and my father had entered into a mixed marriage…the mix of one man and one woman.

My marriage, while still presenting challenges at this late date—none of them about the relationship itself—will go on til death do us part.  I, and I know Rosemarie, know that to be true…just as I know that today we are both at a loss of words to express how we feel about the significance of the benchmark we celebrate.  Words are not necessary–we just know.  But if anyone looks closely, they may notice my quivering lip.

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