Recent Articles

A Morning Walk with Rozzie

| April 6, 2024 | 0 Comments
Sunrise in Rock Creek Park

Today, I walked with Rozzie in the park. Listened to the Irish novel called Bee Sting. A Luke recommendation. I enjoy Irish novels, mostly due to the brogue on the audiobook. It’s about two teenage girls in Dublin. Both are wealthy, though one, the main character, is on the downslope. The other is a superficial pretty girl. Hijinks ensue.

A Visit to One Vanderbilt Summit

| April 2, 2024 | 0 Comments

One Vanderbilt

As part of our GRE meeting, the Council did a little field trip to a new skyscraper called one Vanderbilt. It is described as an “immersive experience.” When you arrive, you are herded through some lines into a dark tunnel. You watch a loud video on a surround screen that shows the construction of the building. You wait in another line for an elevator and the immersive experience begins.

The Elevator

The elevator has mirrors all around, walls, ceiling and floor. As it ascends,there are loud sounds and flashing lights. The motion of the elevator is barely perceptible, but it must be moving fast since you get to the 91st floor in less than a minute. You exit the elevator on to an observation deck that is all mirrors and stainless steel….and people. The view of New York City is spectacular.

The Observation Deck

You walk around wide-eyed, trying to orient yourself. Your brain has trouble processing what you’re seeing. There are a number of rooms and levels. One room is full of silver balloons that people are batting around. Another exhibit is a huge screen depicting rolling clouds that form into the faces of the people viewing the exhibit. That one’s pretty creepy.

It was a great experience. I found out later that it cost $46 a person. Good as it was, I would never have paid that out of pocket. But it was a good take and I got some pretty good pictures.

Call Me Dancer Movie

| March 25, 2024 | 0 Comments

Jenny Hauge, Steve Berk’s wife, invited us to a documentary at the Silver Theater this evening. It’s called Call Me Dancer and it was great. It’s about a young Indian man who follows his dream to become first a ballet, then a modern, dancer. It was brilliant. A tremendous story told in real time.

The young man overcomes a number of obstacles to achieve a career in dancing. He was under significant pressure to choose a career that would allow him to support his parents. His father was a cab driver. He was forced to compete against another dancer who was more naturally gifted than him. He injured his shoulder in a way that required surgery. The producer/director followed him for five years. So, when all of these challenges occurred, it was not preordained that he would over come them.

There are vivid characters in the story, including the main character, the dancer (whose Indian name i can’t recall). His teacher/mentor was an Israeli who couldn’t find work in Israel and moved to India where there was no real tradition of ballet. His parents and grandparents are also compelling, demanding but loving.

The movie was followed by a panel discussion including the producers and the main character. He was as charismatic in person as he was in the movie. I didn’t know what to expect, which is a great way to see a good movie.

The Best Artist Interview Ever

| March 20, 2024 | 0 Comments

Steven Colbert’s interview of Paul Simon was the best interview of an artist I have ever seen or heard.

I came across an interview that Stephen Colbert did with Paul Simon yesterday that really moved me on a number of levels. It is posted above. It is worth watching in its entirety.

Colbert starts out asking Simon about his artist inspirations. Simon talks about the song that introduced him to Rock and Roll at 12 years old. Then he talks about his effort to educate his father, whose musical tastes were very sophisticated, about early rock and roll through the song Earth Angel.

I love watching Paul Simon. He is clearly a genius, but he has such a humility about him. It’s very touching.

Then Colbert asks him whether, in the process of writing a song, the song goes in a different direction than he intended. At that point, Simon describes the process of writing a song called Darling Lorraine, a song I’ve never heard. It was beyond brilliant. He starts out light and by the end of the story, Colbert’s audience was in stunned silence and i could feel tears welling up in my eyes.

The next high point was when Colbert described an incident when he was 13 and a Paul Simon song gave him a profound insight into his mother’s life based on her reaction to it.

Finally, and appropriately, the interview ends with the most profound question of all, ‘Do you believe in God?’ Simon answers the question as mostly yes, but turns it on Colbert and Colbert gives an answer for the ages.

Just watch it.

Bridget Got the Job!

| March 12, 2024 | 0 Comments

Bridget accepted the job at the Zoma Foundation and I couldn’t be more proud of her. It’s a huge accomplishment for her. She had decided that Soccer Without Borders was not giving her what she needed. It simply could not pay her a “living wage.” So, even though she loved the organization and its mission, she decided she had to leave. And she took the bold step of announcing her departure date before having another job.

Since the departure was three months hence, she did have hope that she would have gotten a job before she left. Unfortunately, that did not happen, so she’s been plagued with self doubt (a hereditary trait) throughout the process. Fortunately, all her decisions and choices have been vindicated, at least based on what we know now. Zoma, a foundation started by an heir to the Walton family fortune, looks like an awesome organization that is new and growing. Focusing on child welfare, it is an innovative nonprofit that is going to teach Bridget a lot. They seem to be on the cutting edge of many new approaches to philanthropy. I’m so proud of her and very happy for her.

Oh, and by the way, she will be almost doubling her compensation. So, there’s that.

Bridget Makes the Final Round

| February 24, 2024 | 0 Comments

Bridget’s been informed that, after many, many interviews with everybody at the Walton Foundation, she’s been invited back to me the “principle,” Ben Walton. We are all excited and nervous. The meeting is Tuesday morning in Denver.

Obviously, there are two possibilities. Either, she’s been chosen and they just need the blessing of a family member. Or the the family member gets two options so that he makes the final decision. No way to know which it is.

I remember my final interview at Fleishman Hillard. After an eight month process, having met about 10 people, I had to meet Rick Sullivan, the outgoing GM of the Washington office. I went in thinking it was just another in a long line of “culture” checks. So, I was pretty relaxed.

At one point during the conversation, I said, “If I were to get the job….”

Rick stopped me there and said, “Wait! You got the job. Didn’t they tell you? This meeting is just a formality.”

I said, “Oh. Thanks.”

I hope that’s what’s in store for Bridget.

Storytelling by David Sedaris

| February 24, 2024 | 0 Comments

I love listening to David Sedaris. To the extent I ever imagined myself to be a writer, I would want to be like him. He tells brilliantly funny stories that are full of self deprecation and insightful commentary.

On a crazy whim, I bought a subscription of MasterClass for Christmas. I justified it to myself by taking advantage of a special deal that got you two subscriptions for the price of one. And I gave one to my daughter, Bridget. She just left her job at Soccer Without Borders and was entering a period of change, self improvement and reflection. I thought she might benefit from classes taught by famous people. It’s only two months into the subscription, but I think I was wrong. I don’t think she’s watched a single one. And I haven’t watched as much as I thought I would.

Tonight, I watch two classes by David Sedaris and I really liked them. He has inspired me to write more to this blog….at least temporarily. I do got through ebbs and flows when it comes to writing. Mostly ebbs. But maybe this time it will be different.

My plan is to write little stories about things that have happened in my life. That should give me some material. And I’ll try to incorporate David’s sensibility. The way he finds the humor in every day experiences.

Maybe I’ll get a rhythm and also post photography.

We’ll see….

A Visit to the Udvar Hazy Air & Space Museum

| February 19, 2024 | 0 Comments

I went on a field trip to the Udvar Hazy Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport yesterday. The main purpose was to expose my grandson, Kieran, to the wonders of human flight. It turned out better than I expected. They have a truly impressive collection of equipment, from the origins of flight on bicycles with wings to the landing on the moon. It is kind of amazing that the time distance from one to the other was about 60 years.

In any event, here’s a gallery of pictures from the visit.

My Friend Samer

| January 3, 2024 | 0 Comments
Recent Photo of Samer (L) with My Co Chair for the Meeting, Jay Footlik

In the late 1990’s soon after the Oslo Accords that provided some hope for peace in the Middle East, I participated in a program designed to teach political communications skills to young political leaders from Israel and the Palestinian areas. We met in Paphos, Cyprus, followed by visits to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. There were eight “delegates” from each side drawn from the Fatah Party for the Palestinians and the governing Likud Party from Israel. It was an extraordinary group of young people who were willing to explore the possibilities that Oslo provided. The whole experience was life changing for me.

The leader of the Palestinian group was Samer Sinijlawi, a truly extraordinary young man in his twenties, wise beyond his years, who showed a zest for life and a world view that was both realistic and optimistic. His leadership skills were very apparent, even at that young age. Let’s just say that the group of Palestinians were very passionate and he had his hands full as their leader. He seemed destined for great things in the new circumstances that Oslo promised. I haven’t seen him in decades, but I’ve often thought of him while watching developments in the Middle East. Frankly, I worried about the safety of him and his family. And I wondered if he had maintained his positive attitude in the face of so many set backs since we’d last met.

Then, last week I read the attached op ed in the New York Times, bravely written by Samer. Like anyone who cares about the people in Israel and the Palestinian areas, I grieve deeply about recent developments. The suffering on both sides is unimaginable. It is a horrific situation that has, I assume, caused many people in the region to simply give up on peace. But apparently not Samer. His extremely well-written and courageous column actually gave me hope. And reminded me of my deep admiration for Samer. He remains a true leader. I hope and pray that his voice is heard by all people of goodwill who can still see the light in these very dark times.

Fuller 70 for 70

| June 20, 2023 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, we rode 80 miles, which gave me the opportunity to do my 70 miles for my 70th birthday. My previous two attempts ended prematurely with unfixable blowouts. The ride was delightful. Strained a bit at the end and was always anxious that a hard bump would generate a flat.

But I made it and it felt good. Even more importantly, I felt like I’m prepared for this week. I don’t usually train for these rides, but this time I did, sort of. Certainly did more riding that I ever have in anticipation of a ride.

Here’s the Moment I Hit 70 Miles