The Tom Bishop Fan Club – Yes, I’m Serious!

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The Tom Bishop Fan Club on FacebookIf you really, and I mean really have nothing better to do today, please join The Tom Bishop Fan Club on Facebook! I share stuff about hiking with the kids, running, and other things I am doing. You can post stuff there too.

Plus, sign up for the MyLeftOne Newsletter! It’s the new home of fun!

Why Not Be Awesome?

This morning an interesting question was put to me at the gym: “You think that jacket makes you awesome?” The jacket in question; my 2015 Boston Marathon jacket. I considered a bunch of different answers, but in the interest of immediacy, I just went with, “Yeah,” as I headed for the door.

Now, maybe the person asking has several reasons to be awesome himself, but just chose not to wear it this morning. Maybe his car is emblazoned with bumper stickers declaring his membership in country clubs, his awesome grandkids, his service to his country, or his political persuasion, etc. Or maybe his Facebook profile is thick with “Likes” of all sorts of favorite movies, albums, stores, cars, and whatnot. In all likelihood, we can bet he’s got something, somewhere that he shows off on a regular basis.Tom in a whitewater kayak

And why not?

There’s something wrong with a culture that suppresses declarations of awesomeness. If I choose to be awesome, and you choose to be awesome in a different way, why the heck would we begrudge each other the chance to show it off?

Is it our American-ness that causes this? Or is it a global human trait? In this country at least, we’ve been on a depressing lowest-common-denominator cultural spiral for a long time. I mean, let’s face it; our culture has become like a Ford Taurus. Nothing special, does the job, doesn’t cost too much, doesn’t attract attention, or rock the boat.

(I mean, seriously, who thinks America produces a true luxury car?)

We don’t celebrate anything unless we can profit from it. We don’t create anything without a profit motive. We watch television shows about people jumping off rooftops (again, with a profit motive), or cunning political machinations, celebrities getting ‘fired’, entrepreneurs sniveling before loudmouthed capitalists, and even a long-running cable series about guys who write television ads. We don’t sneeze unless we can show a positive P&L.

Here in Boston, you see that with the negative reaction to the proposal for the 2024 Olympics. Remember when we used to celebrate the fact that athletes from every country competed on the field in a metaphorical pursuit of global peace? Remember when we launched fireworks and light shows just because? Now if it doesn’t sell enough Coke, iPhones and Adidas gear, the pencil pusher in all of us runs a spreadsheet to see if the margins are worth it.

We’ve become a nation of boring, no-fun, uninteresting, joyless people with no time to celebrate and no tolerance for those who do. We’re only focused on the financial payoff. “Money makes the world go ‘round.” “Greed… is good.” “Winning isn’t everything; it’s the only thing.” It’s like the 1980s never ended. There’s plenty of wealth, but we’re impoverished in every other aspect of life.

Balance sheets and negativity should be left at the workplace. Wherever your awesomeness comes from, I say wear it, declare it, & share it. I guarantee it won’t be from something where you ran a financial projection before you started.

Historic Boston Traffic Jam Caused By Ducks… Yes, Ducks.

Historic Boston Traffic Jam Caused By Ducks... Yes, Ducks.By TOM BISHOP
Instigative Reporter | 04.01.15 | 6:52 AM

BOSTON – If you were caught up in yesterday’s little traffic tie-up, you were probably wondering if there was a water main break, a Bruins parade, a record snowfall, bridge painting, a train accident, and conventions for both political parties all at the same time. Or maybe it was the Friday of July 4th and you didn’t know it.

But in truth, it came down to none of that. The whole thing was caused by a few ducks.

Ducks.

Around 7:20 in the morning, Storrow Drive’s six lanes were blocked in both directions by a family of ducks making a crossing. This came after the ducks stood on the curb loudly quacking, startling drivers from their iPhones long enough to lay on the horn. Bystanders first reported the commotion near the Hatch Shell, and finally lone beat cop Michael McMinehan took it upon himself to hold traffic for around three minutes while the ducks waddled toward Mt. Vernon Street.

But that, as they say, was just the beginning. The short backup soon extended beyond Leverett Circle and gridlocked the West End, causing traffic on both decks of I-93 to slow to a crawl. This became a parking lot in the tunnels, the Tobin, the Southeast Expressway and of course, the Mass Pike. The citywide congestion calamity lasted well into the evening.

Boston Police Commissioner William B. Evans said at an afternoon press briefing, “Unfortunately, this was a situation nobody could foresee, unless you’ve been driving in Boston at any time in the last, uh, ever. We discovered that the officer habitually fed these ducks, and he is on indefinite unpaid leave while we investigate.”

So that’s one family going without dinner for awhile. What about the ducks? “It looked like a mother and maybe eight ducklings,” said a boating trainer at the Community Boating boathouse. “We try to educate people to give a wide berth to the wildlife here, especially in the spring. But they normally don’t cross Storrow. We thought that was kind of amusing.”

Not everybody was amused, however. Runner Julie Martino said, “The friggin’ things almost tripped me.” A driver, who refused to give his name, said the traffic made him late for an interview at John Hancock, saying, “I shoulda squashed ‘em.”

If you thought the surface roads were safe, think again. As the critters made their way through the city, they continued to interfere with pedestrians, commercial establishments and delivery and construction crews. Boston Police department dispatcher Margaret Clancy was forced to dispatch officers to Beacon Street to block the intersection with Charles, allowing the animals to enter the Public Garden. This caused gridlock throughout the Back Bay that lasted several hours.

“This did real damage to the local economy,” said Boston Mayor Marty Walsh. “We estimate that businesses suffered $10 to 15 Million in lost revenues. And that doesn’t count additional expenses for safety personnel and construction overruns.”

So look for that bill to come later, Bostonians.

The incident even made the national news. On CNN, coverage steered away from a missing radio-controlled plane owned by a ten year old in Minnesota, to the unfolding traffic nightmare in Boston. Wolf Blitzer mused, “Could these ducks be receiving signals, maybe something we can’t hear, from outer space of something, causing them to act this way?” while talking to a dumbfounded representative from the Audubon Society.

Nancy Grace, once of CNN but now on some other cable channel, had a different axe to grind, “I know she’s a duck, but why would a single mom imperil her children like this? Crossing a busy highway? And once again, where was DCF? Where was the father?”

Dr. Phil would also like to know, “If it turns out that for the dad to just run off for a whole week while mom has to herd the kids across a deadly obstacle course is a normal duck thing, I’ll take it back, but this seems like a passive-aggressive form of abuse or worse, maybe even purposeful and murderous.” He is reportedly trying to book the ducks for an upcoming episode.

On Fox News, the situation was cause for national security concerns. “If we find out that ISIS has sent these ducks, and maybe others, to infiltrate our cities, I can’t imagine the fallout for the White House here,” opined Laura Ingraham.

Rush Limbaugh had other culprits in mind, “The tree huggers are just beside themselves with glee, my friends, and I’m telling you, they’re shipping in crates of critters. I call them Animal Qaeda.” PETA was unavailable for comment.

On A&E, producers are already planning a reality series about the ducks to air this fall, to replace the faltering Duck Dynasty.

In a late-evening conference call, President Obama chimed in, “I’ve spoken with Mayor Walsh and city leaders to offer my heartfelt sympathy for the people of Boston. Today is a reminder that we exist in a fragile civilization, which must be protected, supported, and shared with all wildlife.”

Not for nothing, Mr. President, but yesterday was not a day drivers in Boston will remember with sharing in mind. Unless we’re sharing a plate of roast duck.

Tom Bishop can be reached on Twitter at @myleftone

The Christmas Spider – The story of a new holiday tradition

Parents, now you can get rid of that stupid Elf on the Shelf forever. This season, why not terrorize the kids with a SPIDER THE SIZE OF A DOBERMAN?

Trust me, after you read them this, they’ll stay away from your perfectly-decorated tree.

Here We Go Again: It’s Erie Marathon Weekend

Here we go again: The Erie Marathon | MyLeftOne

Now that’s a lotta kale.

So I’m two years into the grand experiment: Let’s run some marathons, eat some kale, and see if we can keep up with the five-year-olds.

So far, so good. I’ve trained smarter, and run more miles than ever. I’ve been eating stuff I never imagined I’d love so much, and regularly see good news on the scale, and on the mile splits.

The kids still wear me out, but breathing is easier, sleeping is easier, and most importantly, waking up is easier than it’s ever been. I don’t get up with the sun; I get up, run several miles, then watch the sun rise, thinking “What kept ya?”

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From Daddy on your First Day of School… Ever

This only happens once. In your lifetime.

Tonight both of you are going to bed after a warm bath, maybe some cookies and a story, and it will seem like just about any other evening. But this one is different; this night is your last one in a world of relative freedom and fun.

As soon as you step across the threshold into kindergarten, your life will change forever. And as the guy lucky enough to be your Daddy, I know I’m supposed to offer a few words of encouragement, maybe look up what Martha Stewart says to tell your kids on this occasion, and go with that.

But I can’t.

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Hey! Let’s Pick Up Dog Poop!

Hey! Let's Pick Up Dog Poop! | MyLeftOne BlogI am not a big fan of dog poop. There, I said it.

I’m sure that puts me squarely in the majority, at least I hope so. I hate seeing the leavings of our canine friends all over the sidewalks and playgrounds, even in those cute little blue bags.

Actually, those bags are just the beginning. It was the behavior of a dog owner I recently encountered at a local park that prompted me to write this.

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Book Review: A Discovery of Boredom (Witches, Sorry)

A Discovery of Boredom | MyLeftOne BlogI finally got through my skimming of Deborah Harkness’ “A Discovery of Witches”. Yes, just a skimming. It’s unreadable.

You may have heard of it. While not exactly Harry Potter, it is among the phalanx of fantasy stories that inevitably must follow such a popular phenomenon.

And by not exactly Harry Potter, I mean that it combines the limp romanticism of Twilight with the ponderous introspection of The Hunger Games to create a book in which nothing at all happens, but the details of every scene are richly described and thought about, even though they hardly change from chapter to chapter.

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