Monday, May 18, 2020

45 Years Old: 45 Questions Answered (Part II)

In honor of my 45th birthday, I created blog posts where I answer 45 questions asked by friends. The first part is available here, and this is part two. Will there be a part three? We'll see.

11. Who is your all time favorite non-Pittsburgh athlete?

Even my all-time favorite non-Pittsburgh athletes who you wouldn’t associate with Pittsburgh have Pittsburgh ties. The two that stand out for me are Jason Taylor and Larry Fitzgerald. Taylor is from Pittsburgh and played football and basketball for my high school, but most people associate him with the Miami Dolphins. Fitzgerald is Mr. Arizona as a member of the Cardinals, but he attended the University of Pittsburgh and is one of the greatest wide receivers in college history. So that rules them out.

Therefore, my favorite non-Pittsburgh athlete who doesn’t have any association with Pittsburgh is Tony Gwynn. What a player and what a person. I wrote a blog post about Gwynn (of course I did), but I’m happy to write about him again. As a kid, I always knew of Gwynn as a great hitter as he regularly appeared at the top of the batting average standings when I looked through the Sunday newspaper. However, I rarely saw him play since it’s not like the Padres were on TV much and their games started after 10:00 PM. When I moved to San Diego in 1997 near the end of his career, I saw how revered he was out there, and how much he was respected by everyone in baseball. During the 1999 All-Star game, baseball and the Boston Red Sox honored Ted Williams only one of the greatest baseball players of all time. What’s amazing about the video below is how all of the players gather around Williams, and how happy Williams was to see Tony Gwynn (around the 3:50 mark). Williams lived in San Diego and he and Gwynn got together and talked about hitting (and presumably other stuff). How cool would it have been to listen to those conversations?

Gwynn also did so much in the community and received the 1999 Roberto Clemente Man of the Year award. After his playing career ended, he went back to become the head baseball coach at San Diego State, his alma mater. How many Hall of Famers to that?

The two biggest travesties of the 1994 baseball strike was that it cost the Montreal Expos a legitimate chance to win the World Series (which presumably would have kept the team in Montreal) and Gwynn was hitting .394 and had a chance to hit .400.

Gwynn died way too young at the age of 54 in 2014.

12. What do you love about living in Northern Virginia?

Opportunities for fun, free events and diversity. There are so many free concerts and events, particularly for kids and especially during the summer. Plus, we’re right next to DC, so we can visit any of Smithsonian museums for free or attend free events for kids at places like The Kennedy Center and The National Theatre. We don’t take advantage of this stuff nearly as much as we should, but I know people in other parts of the country and world don’t have these opportunities. Still, we attend at least one free show or concert a week each summer. We’re also in a very diverse area with people from so many different countries and cultures. My kids’ elementary school had a family heritage night last fall with student and family-led displays, performances, food tastings, and more. It was such a cool event with so many different nations and nationalities represented.

13. What do you hate about living in Northern Virginia?

Traffic and the cost of living. What should be a 20-minute drive can easily take 45 minutes (or more during rush hour). Even when you think there wouldn’t be traffic like on a random Wednesday morning at 11:00, there could be due to an accident or construction. The cost of living is also frustrating. A friend in the Nashville area recently posted on Facebook a real estate listing for the house next door to her. It’s amazing! So much space with 5 bedrooms and a big yard. The cost is around the same as the value of my home, but we definitely don’t have 5 bedrooms and a yard. We have also spent SO MUCH MONEY on daycare, preschool, and before and after-school care for the kids. It’s a good thing there are free community concerts and museums nearby!

14. What is your favorite place on the Ithaca College campus?

What’s funny is my favorite spot on campus is a place where I spent very little time. The Dillingham Fountains. If you’re at the right place on campus, you can see the fountains and Cayuga Lake. The problem is that the fountains were turned off for most of the school year to make sure that the pipes wouldn’t freeze. In Ithaca, New York, that could be October through April or nearly the entire school year. There were also cool lights to go along with the fountains, but I feel like those only came out during special occasions.

15. For your 45 questions: 1975's top three films were: Jaws; The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Which one would you pick to define 2020?

I really hope that I’m wrong, but I think the answer is going to be "Jaws." In Jaws, the Amity Island mayor decided to keep the beaches open even though there was already a shark attack and seemingly no action taken to ensure that there wouldn’t be future attacks. The beach needed to be open for July 4th! And what happened? More people got attached by sharks. The White House and the Centers for Disease Control created Guidelines for Opening Up America Again. One of these guidelines is that “states should have a “downward trajectory” of cases over a 14-day period before reopening.” What happened? Most, if not all of the states, failed this test before reopening. I also worry that officials will stop counting or under-report COVID-19 cases or deaths in order to make it seem like things are better in their area that it is. This already happened in Nebraska. Or you get Georgia who made it look like cases were going down by putting dates out of order. For example, May 5th was followed by April 25th.

Again, I hope that I’m wrong, but I think there are going to be a lot more shark attacks in 2020.

16. If you could go back in time, would you change anything in your life?

This is a variation of the “what is your greatest regret” question from part one of 45 questions. The only thing I can really think of is that I would have bought stock in Apple, Amazon, or Google or some other company or made big and correct wagers on sporting events. I don’t think I’d be comfortable having Bill Gates or Warren Buffet money, but it would be nice to have been successful in these endeavors so that we’d be comfortable financially. Like really, really comfortable financially. And yes, this answer is basically plot points from the movies Frequency and Back to the Future 2.

17. & 18. If you could time travel, would you go back or forward and what would you be most interested in seeing?

I’m counting this as two questions. It would be cool to go back to game 7 of the 1960 World Series to see Bill Mazeroski of the Pirates hit a 9th inning series winning home run against the Yankees.

Traveling forward, I don’t know if I’d want to go to January 2021 to know the result of the November 2020 election. I mean, if Donald Trump loses, do we think he’s going to handle it well? Will there be a peaceful transition of power? I guess it would be nice to know when there will be a successful COVID-19 vaccine and to see when everything is going to be back to normal.

19. What is your favorite memory of being 23?

In December 1998, I helped organize and create a Kosher Pickle Taste Test at San Diego State University. It was a lot of fun and a huge success and also inadvertently started the tradition of having pickles at Hanukkah. I’m still waiting for this to catch on across the country and the world, and I think this is the year it’s going to happen.

20. What’s the thing you are looking forward to most about being 45?

Since I think I’m going to spend much of being 45 at home, the answer is spending a lot of time with my kids. (This might also be on the list of what I’m not looking forward to being 45.) It will be interesting to see how they grow. I dread doing potty training with Luigi, but it will be so nice not to change diapers anymore. I expect that Pedro Tulo will be reading much more. Maybe The Moose will learn to ride his bike? They’re all going to grow and learn, which should be fun to see.

21. In honor of Michael Jordan and the last dance would you rather be 23 or 45?

I liked being 23. I lived in San Diego, and while I didn’t have much money, I didn’t have many expenses or worries. In normal times, though, I’d still probably go with 45. While my kids can definitely be frustrating and I worry about them, it’s really cool being a dad. However, seeing that I’m probably not going to travel anywhere, eat out at restaurants, or even go the grocery store without wearing a mask for a good part of my 45th year, I’ll go with 23.

22 & 23 What's the age that you liked being the most and the least?

I think 45 is going to be the one I like the least. Again, while it will be exciting seeing my kids grow, I don’t know when I’ll be able to see my mom. Or go out to a concert or sporting event. Or coach my kids’ soccer teams. See a theme here?

The age I liked the most? Probably 25 which is odd to say since I had some tough times then. I couldn’t stand my supervisor at my primary job and often struggled to keep motivated during graduate school. I just wanted to be done. I mentioned “primary” job since I also had at least 2 other jobs at that time. However, as a 25 year old, I went to Israel for 10 days followed immediately (with a 4-hour stop at Newark Airport) by spending the summer in Lancaster, England. I made side trips to Dublin, Edinburgh, Paris, London, and more. Then, after returning to the US, I met friends in Vegas and attended a wedding in Montreal. I also started dating my girlfriend who is now my wife. Just before I turned 26, three friends and I drove from Columbus, Ohio to Buffalo to see the Penguins win game 7 of the Eastern Conference semi-finals (the Darius Kasparaitis overtime goal game) and then immediately back to Columbus. Such a cool experience!

24. Who are your celebrity crushes, then…?

Alyssa Milano and Debbie Gibson. And yes I wrote about both of them here and here.

25. …and now?

This one is much tougher since I don’t know all of the latest stars. I probably would have said Katy Perry a few years ago, but not so much now and it has nothing to do with her dressing up in a Dumbo costume during the recent Disney singalong.

I’ll go with Anna Kendrick who is very talented and also seems to have a great sense of humor. I enjoyed reading her book too. I'm also a fan of fellow Pittsburgh Steelers fan Sofia Vergara.

26. & 27. What do you like/dislike the most about being part of Gen X?

This might be the hardest question on here. I don’t have a good answer. I think it’s nice that us Gen X folks connected to a time with “old” technology (like rotary phones or televisions without remotes) but also know how to use computers. We’re not getting told that we and need to die like Baby Boomers to help the economy, but we’re also not Millennials who are told that we spend too much money on avocado toast. We’re just here doing the best we can trying to help our parents and our kids.

28. What is your favorite blog post?

How can I pick just one out of over 3,000? It’s like picking my favorite child. I mean that answer changes on a minute-to-minute basis. Some of my TMI Thursday posts were fun. I feel like I had some great posts about my kids and being a dad. Interviewing Chris Wright, the former Pittsburgh Spirit and Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager, was a neat experience. Actually, just because of who asked this question, this is my favorite blog post!

29. So what’s been your favorite hockey trip so far?

For over a decade now, a friend and I have taken an annual-ish road trip to see NHL hockey games across the United States and Canada. At this point, we’ve seen nearly 2/3rds of the NHL teams/cities. It’s been a lot of fun, and I’ve tried to chronicle some of our experiences over the years. While it’s hard to pick a favorite trip since they’ve all been fun, I think I’m going with our 2009 trip to Montreal, Ottawa, and Toronto. The negative was that it was freezing in Montreal (temperatures were in the negative teens) and the crowd at the Maple Leafs game was the quietest at any that we’ve attended. Why am I bringing up the negative? I don’t know. The crowds at Montreal and Ottawa were outstanding. We got to see the Hockey Hall of Fame with the Stanley Cup in Toronto, toured Canada’s capital, and ate some really good steak in Montreal. We did so much driving, got stuck re-entering the United States from Toronto, surreally watched the news seeing that Sully landed a plane in the Hudson River, and then I stumbled into people attending Obama inauguration parties when I returned to DC. What a trip!

30. If you could attend any major sporting event regardless of who is in it, what would it be? Super Bowl, World Series, World Cup Final, Masters, Indy 500, Kentucky Derby, Championship fight, etc.?

The “who is in it” is the key here. The Steelers in a Super Bowl or the Penguins or Pirates in a game seven would be at the top of the list. Ithaca College somehow making it to the Division I NCAA Final Four despite being a Division III team would be the dream scenario. Since I don’t have a significant rooting interest in this scenario, I’d pick the World Cup final. Unlike the other examples in the question, this only happens every four years. It has the biggest worldwide television audience of any sporting event, and you’ll have people from all over the world in attendance making it a really unique experience.

31. If you could get tickets to any one Summer Olympic event, what would you go see?

The men’s 100 meter dash but with an asterisk. This might be the most exciting athletic event in all of sports, but I’m also not spending a lot of money on a 10-second race. There needs to be a several hours of qualifying races and/or other track and field events, concluding with this race.

32. If you could get tickets to any one Winter Olympic event, what would you go see?

The women’s hockey gold medal game gets a slight edge over the men’s hockey gold medal game. While I can see many of the men’s players in the NHL, the women’s game is truly the biggest event in the sport. Plus, there’s an excellent chance that the game would feature the American and Canadian teams, and they’ve had quite the rivalry over the years.

33. Your wife tells you that she’s taking the kids out all day and you have the entire day to yourself. What would you do?

To dream, the impossible dream!

Obviously, the answer is before the coronavirus. For most of the day, the answer would be nothing. I would sleep in. Maybe I’d read the newspaper. I’d sit on the couch and watch whatever is on my DVR. At some point, definitely after lunch, I’d probably go out to see a movie since I rarely go to the theater. For the evening, it would go to a trivia night or a sporting event with friends. This sounds like a fantastic day!

So as you can see, I've only answered 33 of 45 questions. I’m still 12 questions short. Will there be a part III? Please ask some questions, so the answer will be yes!

Anna Kendrick photo from her Instagram page.

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