Who Knew

When I put my workout facility membership on hold in March because of the pandemic, I began walking in our neighborhood weekday mornings. Those early efforts lasted about two miles. Slowly I built up the distance and since June am averaging more than five miles, including a few 10Ks and one 7.2 miler thrown in for fun. I’m focused on ‘Don’t break the steak,’ which, as of today is 107 consecutive weekdays and counting.

Since I’m no longer surrounded by the silence of the pool, I have increased my podcast listening. One new program I came upon is “Flashback with Sean Braswell.” It takes moments in history and suggests the unintended consequences – “stories of disastrous turning points, dangerous ideas, crazy coincidences, unsung heroes and forgotten villains” – that occurred because of them.

Some Season 1 examples:

How Henry Ford inspired the Oklahoma City Bombing
How the YMCA helped launch the tobacco black market
How a meth peddling doctor changed the course of WWII
How a baseball strike saved basketball

There are unintended consequences in many things. I’ve been thinking about them in my life. What are some in yours?

Note: Jerry Seinfeld is credited with saying ‘Your only job is to not break the chain’ about writing comedy every single day. He rejects coming up with the approach, which is apropos.: “This is hilarious to me, that somehow I am getting credit for making an X on a calendar with the Seinfeld Productivity Program. It’s the dumbest non-idea that was not mine, but somehow I’m getting credit for it.”


Sun Rises

The final song of Act 1 in the long-running Broadway musical Les Miserables is a choral number with most of the show’s stars: One day more / Another day / Another destiny / This never-ending road to Calvary. Those words came to mind recently when a client said to me that his philosophy the past few months is, “Make it through today.”

Exactly four months ago, 500,000 people were diagnosed with Covid-19 in the world and 23,000 had died. Now, those numbers are 16 million and 650,000. For every piece of potentially good news, there seems to be a correlating, “Yes, but…”

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the lack of certainty in what comes next. Are we close to a vaccine, even though there is a long way to go with testing? Will public schools eventually have children in classrooms nationwide or is a virtual semester ahead? Do the leaders in Washington provide another round of financial support or has the national debt exceeded their willingness to prop up the economy?

The short answer: No one knows.

Thus, ‘Make it through today’ is perhaps the best approach to getting to the other side of this pandemic and whatever the ‘New Now’ turns out to be. It takes patience, discipline, a good bit of affirmation, and a belief that this, too, shall pass.

As the last words of One Day More say: Tomorrow we’ll discover / What our God in heaven has in store / One more dawn / One more day / One day more!


Planning Ahead

Tim McGraw’s ‘My Next 30 Years’ – released 20 years ago today – is a reflection on a life lived on the edge (‘Try to forget about all the crazy things I’ve done’) that the central character hopes is different moving forward (‘Drink a little lemonade and not so many beers’).

After last month’s post on my first 60 years, I started writing down things to focus on during whatever time I have left on this planet. This isn’t so much a Bucket List as a way to ensure I don’t get to the end and think, ‘If only…’

Some items so far? Fund college for our grandkids (who haven’t been born… yet). Take one ‘mega’ trip every five years and smaller journeys in between. Read 50 books – historical fiction, biographies and self-improvement – every year.

While another 30 years might be a stretch – for a long time I’ve said, ‘85 and out’ – I intend to make them, as the country superstar sang, ‘the best years of my life.’


Spectral Assistants

As Walt Disney World reopens today – hopefully, with no major Covid-19 spread – I wonder if the Haunted Mansion will be available for guests to experience. It’s one of the classic attractions at both the Orlando and Anaheim theme parks.

My aunts lived in L.A., so the first time I went to Disneyland was 1972. I don’t remember much about that visit, except the Haunted Mansion. I’ve visited the two Disneys many times since, and always find the path to the house with ‘999 happy haunts.’

A few weeks ago, listening to another ‘Stuff You Missed in History Class’ podcast, I learned Walt envisioned a Haunted Mansion as early as 1951, and made it part of the original plans for Disneyland. The Imagineers, however, struggled to bring it to reality, and Walt vetoed many potential versions, including one of a rundown building. Disneyland opened in 1955, and finally in 1961, it seemed they had things figured out.

However, Walt‘s priorities shifted. Ever ride the PeopleMover in Tomorrowland? That’s straight outta the 1964 New York World’s Fair, where Disney had several exhibits. Focusing on those delayed the Haunted Mansion until 1969. If you visit you’ll notice there are two parts: the first half has knocking doors, tombstones and other scary things, then the Doom Buggies take you through lighthearted fun. Seems Disney folks couldn’t choose which of two final plans to use, so they did both.

Eighteen years passed from Walt’s ‘let’s do this’ idea until it came to fruition. Think about that the next time you’re frustrated your team isn’t executing on your vision. Maybe you should provide a Ghost Host to escort them on the journey.


Close Encounters

Today is my 60th birthday. It’s important to pause and reflect on life experiences when we hit round numbers like these. Here are ‘60 Things’ that stick in my mind as blessings, coincidences and a few not so great moments during six decades…

  1. Winning the KXOL ‘Yard Sign’ contest when I was six years old (Gave the clock to my grandmother who hung it in her kitchen)
  2. Growing up in the country on 35 acres to roam
  3. Meeting my first best friend the first day of first grade
  4. Meeting my next two best friends the first day of second grade at a different school
  5. Burying one of my best friends when we were 22
  6. Being in Arlington Stadium when 18-year-old David Clyde made his MLB debut
  7. Correctly predicting on a local radio show in 1974 that Jeff Burroughs of the Rangers would hit a grand slam that night
  8. Witnessing two of the first 12 perfect games in history, including the last telecast I ever produced for television in 1994
  9. Being named Outstanding Student of my eighth grade class
  10. Not being named Outstanding Student of my high school class
  11. Winning an Amateur Putt-Putt Championship at age 19
  12. Having one of my two best college friends explain racism exists
  13. Having him and my other best friend drag me to a high GPA by studying together every night even though we had different majors
  14. Having University of Texas SID Bill Little tell me that I needed to introduce myself to a new Southwest Conference employee named Kathy Lott
  15. Waiting in line behind Reggie Jackson to check in at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco on our honeymoon
  16. Sitting next to a young (and personable) Randy Travis on a flight
  17. Sitting right behind Muhammad Ali on a prop plane during a snowstorm, having the plane twice pull up after misjudging the runway, and when we finally landed on attempt number three, the Champ turned around and said, “You weren’t scared were you?’ I delivered one of my best-ever replies: “The whole time I was envisioning tomorrow’s headline – Muhammad Ali and 21 others perish in crash”
  18. Spending time with Miss America 1987 (Kellye Cash) and Miss USA 1986 (Christy Fichtner)
  19. Slipping, falling and knocking out my front teeth (November 20, 1988)
  20. Being there for the birth of our two daughters
  21. Not being there for the birth of our son
  22. Eating a hot dog in the press box at Yankee Stadium
  23. My mother being diagnosed with cancer when I was 14
  24. Both my parents and oldest brother dying way too young
  25. Saying ‘I want to be a sportscaster’ when the news director at KDFW-TV asked all 10 summer interns what we wanted to do with our careers. He got up, told everyone, ‘Wait right here,’ walked me over to Dale Hansen and said, ‘Find something for this kid to do for the next 12 weeks’ (June 9, 1981!)
  26. Serving as Best Man in Dale’s wedding to Chris on my 22nd birthday a year later
  27. Standing less than 10 yards from Dwight Clark when he made ‘The Catch’ to beat the Cowboys in the 1982 NFC Championship Game
  28. Introducing myself to Cowboys assistant John Mackovic the day before in the media room at the hotel and – 11 years later – meeting him again as coach at Texas and having him remind me of that moment
  29. Having John Mackovic file a complaint with the Southwest Conference because I took a one-minute commercial break before we interviewed him on the field the next day following the game
  30. Riding around with Cowboys WR Butch Johnson and DFW sports radio personality Chris Arnold in Bill Withers’ Mercedes (Butch’s brother-in-law) in Hollywood during the summer of 1982. Butch stopped the car, pointed forward and said, ‘You know what that is?’ I didn’t. He said, ‘That’s Watts.’ I asked, ‘What’s Watts?’ He enlightened me
  31. Getting the videotapes out of order on the annual AP Best Sportscaster in Texas contest night and having Dale walk off the set in the middle of his segment. Coming in the next day to see if I was fired and having him say, ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about. We have a show to do’
  32. Kathy and I sleeping in a hotel room with Davey O’Brien’s 1938 Heisman Trophy in the bed between us. (We were told to protect it!)
  33. Receiving a backstage pass after a Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band concert in Dallas in 2000. Waiting 30 minutes to be first in line, then turning around and telling my friends, ‘I can’t do it. Meeting him would be a letdown’
  34. Getting hired in 1984 by Raycom Sports to produce live events after the other person being considered failed to show for his interview
  35. Dropping our rental car after a game at KState in 1988 outside the gate at the KC airport and calling the rental car company to come pick it up, then having to explain the $75 charge to my boss: ‘It was cheaper than the announcers, director and me having to get hotel rooms’
  36. Working four MLB All-Star Games and producing college basketball for ESPN and ABC Sports
  37. Having dinner in Las Vegas the night before a telecast in a private room at the Mirage in 1993 with Steve Wynn, John Y. Brown, Brent Musburger and Dick Vitale. After two hours of silence, Dickie V turned to me and said, ‘We’re out of our league tonight, Davey’
  38. Working with Bill Walton at the 1994 Final Four in Charlotte and learning that he drinks scalding hot water
  39. Dreaming ‘How do people get to Notre Dame football games?’ and starting a business with my fourth best friend that grew into an amazing company
  40. Being inducted into my high school’s Hall of Fame
  41. Running five miles in under 40 minutes on my 42nd birthday
  42. Walking 7.1 miles in exactly two hours just a few days ago
  43. Tailgating with Burnt Orange friends at UT football games
  44. Seeing all three of our children graduate from UT
  45. Making a hole in one at age 26
  46. Missing a second hole in one by one inch and three others by less than a foot over the ensuing years
  47. Winning golf tournaments with my son, nephew and brothers as teammates
  48. Attending the Masters in 2014
  49. Seeing Tiger Woods hit a tee shot from a few yards away at the Byron Nelson in 2002
  50. Standing directly under the basket as U.S. Reed hit a buzzer beater from the other side of half-court when Arkansas upset Louisville in the 1981 NCAA Tournament in Austin
  51. Witnessing Nolan Ryan’s 5,000th career strikeout in 1989
  52. Learning how to swim freestyle at age 50
  53. Meeting several CEO’s of Fortune 500 companies
  54. Giving a keynote to more than 300 people in Chicago, nailing it for 58 minutes, then forgetting everything after the first line of the short poem I practiced more than 100 times. I ad-libbed some rambling story for two minutes… and afterward five people came up and said it was one the best endings they’d ever heard
  55. Writing a letter to Bud Hadfield to ask for his book, having him call our house and invite me to come and spend a day with him, getting offered a job on the spot, accepting a few days later and relocating our family from DFW to Tomball
  56. Watching our son hit the game winning free throw with no time on the clock following a technical foul
  57. Watching our oldest win Best Supporting Actress in UIL One Act Play
  58. Watching our youngest edit my first book
  59. Publishing my first book (which, coincidentally, comes out today!)
  60. Having Kathy support all my adventures for 31 years next week!