Tailwind #11 – Sisters

xpect themIf you can’t tell by now, I’m big on intraspection.  Understanding who am as a

Kathy Chris Nose
Were you always nice to your little brother??  Your nose says “No.”

person, and who I am not, is a life-long, on-going process that may be beneficial in the long run but not always comfortable or fun. I award full credit to three people for sending me on this lengthy journey of constant curiosity and self-exploration. Ironically, these same three people would happily cut the odyssey short and save me the trouble of contemplating my place in the world if I would simply pick up the phone and ask their opinion. Not coincidentally, they all share the same title; sister.

 

Sisters are an enigma.  A sister is the first person who will pick you up and put you back together when you need it the most but they will also cut you to the quick when they deem it necessary.  This tipping point is completely arbitrary, at their sole discretion and fluctuates greatly depending on the last thing you did to them or for them. They will go to the grave with your deepest secret but will not hesitate to drop the dime when you are trying to eat food in the living room which was strictly forbidden.  At times they may fight with each other and seem to be at opposite ends of the spectrum.  Don’t be fooled, however, they will spontaneously unite and be more in sync than Joey Fatone and Lance Bass if you intervene.

Despite their ambiguous tendencies, I consider myself lucky to have three older sisters. They are each very different and yet it’s easy to see the common thread.
Kathy - FunnyKathy is the oldest.  She’s a very smart, logical, fun, outgoing person with a strong sense of conviction and humor.  She brutally honest and now that I don’t live with her, I love her for it.

Nancy on horse
Nancy horseback riding on a beach.

Nancy is without a doubt the strongest most determined person I have ever met. She has her challenges but nothing stands in her way.  She was a tough act to follow as a kid. I had no excuses. Watching her overcome obstacle after obstacle shaped the way I view the world.

File May 15, 10 37 59 PMChris is the closest to me in age being 6 years older. I felt so special when she would let me hang out with her “cool friends” only to be crushed when they repeatedly sent me errands and vanished upon my return.  Looking, back this reeks of Lucy pulling the football from Charlie Brown. Despite her therapy inducing hijinx, Chris was always the compassionate one. As the family aged, she emerged as an amazing leader. There is nothing any of us would not do for her because we know she would do the same for us.

Looking back, I undoubtedly fulfilled my role as the baby brother. But I would argue I was equal part tormentor and victim. That being said, this positive review would not have always been the case but age tends to open the eyes and soften the heart. As much as they provided my need for therapy, they also furnished their own brand.  They’ve always been a Tailwind and they always will be.  Well…. except maybe the time Kathy looked me straight in the eyes and said “I don’t like you”.  That stung a little.

 

 

Tailwind #10 – My Big Brother Justin McCarty

I am the youngest of 5 siblings. This junior level status came with a certain amount of drawbacks. A discounted opinion, hand-me-downs from a bygone era, and a confirmed seat at the dinner table only when someone was absent, were just a few off the top of my head.  I will, however, freely admit that for the most part, my positioning had more

Icebreakers
Justin and Kathy’s Childhood

advantages than headwinds.  Those that came before me paved the way and set precedents for what was to be expected from a McCarty child. By the time I came along, my parents had seen it all and were either surprised by nothing or too tired to debate my nonsense. As such, if my childhood was the equivalent of a sailing ship in the Caribbean, I picture my brother Justin’s as the Icebreaker through the Arctic.
Young JustinJustin is the oldest, and we are 12 years apart.  Being the only two boys in the group, he was firmly established as the guy I wanted to be.  He played guitar, didn’t try to make me play with Barbies like my sisters, had cool albums with bands named Black Sabbath, Led Zepplin, and obscure singer-
songwriters like Harry Chapin.  He was a gymnast and took me to see Rocky without our parents’ permission.  At 10 years old, it didn’t get much cooler than that in my opinion.

Justin and Chris
Justin & youngest-older sister Chris

 

When we were younger, he paved the way by breaking in Mom and Dad as parents. I wasn’t around to verify, but rumor has it they weren’t as tolerant of his shenanigans as they were mine.  My response, of course, is it was all about the subtleties in the execution.

Regardless, Justin still sets an example as one of the most generous and

Justin Chris and Jack
Justin, Chis and I at Justing’s son’s wedding.

helpful people I know.  Music tastes may change, I was eventually able to drive myself to see Rocky, but there are some characteristics I will never stop admiring or equal.

 

Happy belated Birthday, Big Brother.  Keep being you and thanks for the lifetime of Tailwinds.Justin - Halloween

 

 

Tailwinds #9 – YouTube DIY Rockstars

In the world of YouTube, they are not truly “stars.”  No one is paying $170 to stand in a room with thousands of other Do It Yourself homeowners to scream when “Mike The Electrician” walks on stage. But, I’d sure as hell give him a firm handshake and maybe even a quick man hug if I met him.

(Side note – If you are not familiar with the Magcon Tour and didn’t understand this reference, consider yourself fortunate. In the event you want to be mad at talentless teenagers, here’s the link www.magcontour.com).
Photo Apr 10, 11 01 23 PM
Would you check out the springs on The Guy!!!

These heroes of the homeowner are VIPs to me. They save me mucho dinero and provide a little education along the way. Last weekend Mr. CrossettBoy (full disclosure – this gentleman has not been a “boy” since he graduated Crossett High in 1958) taught me how to replace broken springs on a garage door. Total estimated savings for Jack – $125!  Side note – although his wife Shirley’s cinematography could be called into question when staging Crossettboy’s DIY videos, homegirl can bust out a mean “Oreo Ice Cream Dessert” which is highlighted in another video on the channel.

This time last week, I was pricing out new laptop computers.  Now, thanks to the

Photo Apr 11, 9 22 46 PM
It did seem sort of like one computer was overseeing the operation of another.  Not quite AI, but it worked for my imagination.

demonstration of my new virtual mentor Justin Murphy, your’s truly knows how to upgrade RAM and a calibrate a new battery.  After the two simple changes I made, the laptop already performs like new. When all is said and done these parts cost me $250.  Estimated savings to Jack by not having to buy a new computer: $1,700!!!

My coup de grâce was replacing the carburetor on the vintage lawn tractor I mentioned in the last post. Thanks to the lessons learned from helpful southern gentlemen with strong accents, I took it apart and put it back together again without causing Gary to miss a single Orioles game.

If it’s to be learned; it’s on YouTube. Go ahead, ask me about my yoga practice, I’ll

Duke
Duke didn’t seem real enthused to be these but he was very relatable.  Again – Duke Fightmaster; awesome name!

send you to Fightmaster Yoga. Leslie doesn’t judge me and even understands my needs. Just yesterday she posted a video entitled “Yoga For My Husband (or anyone who isn’t flexible).” Side note – her husband’s name is Duke Fightmaster which might just be the coolest name I’ve ever heard. Duke does not seem overly excited to be a participant in this video.

Thank you Mr. Crossetboy, Justin Murphy, southern dudes with accents, and Leslie Fightmaster for all of your tutelage.  A special shout out to Duke for playing along and showing me that dudes with cool names have the flexibility of normal dudes.

Tailwinds Update

So I think my goal of doing 30 Tailwind Posts in 30 days was a little ambitious.  Believe it or not, I’m not a full-time writer.  As such, my day job can be a little taxing on my time.

Baby - BlogI am not giving up the Tailwinds theme. There are a few Tailwinds written but not quite ready to publish.  I enjoy writing these posts and have received some great feedback which I really really appreciate.  Please continue to let me know what you think and maybe even pass along a Jack Fact to your network of choice.

My new goal is to continue the quest for recognizing 30 Tailwinds and deliver them on a Running Tailwindsemi-frequent basis.  They just may not appear in your inbox every day.

 

Maybe it’s the positive vibes of the Tailwinds, but I’m digging this project.  I hope you enjoy reading them and notice a few of your own.

Tailwinds Day #8 – Gary Hollenbeck

For those of you following along at home, you are correct, I did not post yesterday.  It’s not that I didn’t notice a tailwind, in fact, my tailwind came to visit and it was very appreciated.

Technically, his formal name is Dr. Gary Hollenbeck.  I’ve always found a bit of irony in the fact that Gary has a prefix of such distinction.  This paradox has nothing to do with Gary’s intelligence.  His brilliance is obvious and unintentionally demonstrated by his quick wit and humor.   To me, it seems uncomfortable to refer to Gary as anything formal because I’ve never met anyone more egalitarian.

Gary - Ellicott City
Gary, Zach, & Kellie Hollenbeck – Good peeps if there ever were some.

During the almost 20 years I’ve known Gary, I’ve become close to his family and welcomed into the extended Hollenback network. Though I consider myself fortunate to be included, I don’t think I’m special.  I think it’s just the Hollenbeck way.  To know them is to be one of them.  Their people are now your people.

We met in August of 1998.  My season tickets Baltimore Ravens were one row in front of his upper deck seats. When the new stadium opened, he bought season tickets on the club level and in the upper deck.  His plan was to use both blocks of seats, determine which he preferred and then sell the other set. When I tell you that eighteen seasons later, I still get to hear Gary behind me sharing wisdom personally directed at John Harbaugh, it might begin to explain what I mean. Who gives up warm club level seats with clean bathrooms to sit in the upper deck with us commoners??? Gary does.

When it seems everyone is focused on the competitive rat race world, where status is interpreted by material possessions or job title, Gary’s managed to hold on to the philosophy that it’s people that matter.  He doesn’t have acquaintances, he has personal relationships.  He seems to know everyone, everyone is important. These relationships run the gamut of socioeconomic status or race.

IMAG0305
Gary’s view during Orioles season.  If you can’t get to the upper deck, I guess it’s not to shabby.

If you visit the concourse section at Oriole Park where he resides during baseball season ask the 92-year-old usher if Gary has arrived yet, he will have an answer for you. His guests at a Ravens game are equally likely to be his kids, former students, employees from his favorite restaurant, friends of his kids, or the wife of our favorite beer vendor.

Photo Apr 09, 6 05 19 PM
Coolest lawn tractor in the neighborhood.

He can expound on the complexities of the pharmaceutical world, but he’s just as comfortable helping build a pinewood derby car for a 9-year boy and his work working challenged father.  He enjoys tinkering with small engines. Having acquired too many, he gave me a lawn tractor and jokingly mentioned a “lifetime” repair warranty.  Eight years

IMG_1943
We didn’t win the Pinewood Derby,  but it wasn’t for lack of effort.

later, he was at my house yesterday, bringing this “vintage” machine back to life.

I know I’m not alone in my respect for Dr. Hollenbeck.  He’s been a tailwind for hundreds of students, ushers, vendors and many others that have been fortunate to cross his path.

He’s not braggadocious in the least bit and as such might not be to keen on this blog post.  But as long as I’m at it; did I tell you that when he showed up at my house on a Saturday to revive the lawn tractor he was wearing an “I just gave” sticker because he came by after donating platelets?  That’s Gary.  He’s even a Tailwind for people that will never meet him.

 

 

 

 

Tailwinds Day #7 – Dogs With Hats

A dog in a hat is funny. I’m not saying I think it’s funny. I’m stating it as a fact. It’s not cute. It’s not adorable. It’s just plain funny.

smartly-dressed-pets-14jpgThere is something about a dog in a hat that plucks even the most calloused and hard to find funny bone.  If you know of someone having a tough time, send them a Dog In A Hat.  You’re an instant tailwind.

A dog in a hat it takes on a personality.  You want to hang out with that dog. You want to have the fashion sense of that dog.  You might not even like dogs, but you like that dog. I
Dark Dog in hatI’m not alone here, there are three forums on Reddit dedicated to our well appointed canine friends. Dogs Wearing Hats, Dogs Wearing Funny Hats,  Dogs In Hats.  Then, of course, there are Samuel Jacksonthose people with specific fetishes; Dog With Cats As Hats and Get Along Little Doggie which specializes in dogs in Cowboy Hats.  Personally, I’m not into that sort of thing, but whatever floats
your boat. These pages have more than combined 20,200 subscribers on Reddit alone.  That’s 20,000 people who clicked a box to say “yes, please send me every picture of a dog in a hat that you’ve got!!!”  I don’t know enough about the DIH culture to

Old Guy - Dog in hat
This is not a passing fad.  This trendsetter, go-getter was setting the tone back in the 30s’

know if there is a rivalry between these factions or what the subtle nuances may be, but I think they all agree on one thing.  Dogs In Hats are awesome.

 

Just to prove that in every crowd there is a vacuum of fun, antagonists created a subreddit called; Pictures Of Dogs Not Wearing Hats.  Their anti movement has only three subscribers. This can be seen as a huge victory for us normal people.

Dog with PipeI have made a point to document these people and I intend to cross-reference them with a list of people who do NOT like Sir Mix A Lot and “Big Butts”.  This site is probably a sham though; those people lie.  

Enjoy the rest of your Friday……..

 

 

Tailwinds #6 – People The Do My Thinking, Talking and Remembering…… Singers, Songwriters, & Poets

“Then one day you find, ten years have got behind you, no one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun.” – Pink Floyd – Time

These words pierced through the clutter in my brain to hit me with the force of a Mike Tyson uppercut.  I was approaching 30 years old and having a having a heck of a lot of fun.  My twenty something years were what the kids now would call “epic.” I was living in the heart of Federal Hill with an awesome apartment, I was out every night, no real responsibility, and knew people wherever I went. On the surface that sounds pretty great. But I deep down I knew there had to be more.  I was just kicking it live until it was time to grow up.  One night, while hanging out in said cool apartment, these lyrics spoke to me as if they were written to send a personal message. Pink Floyd can do that to you. The message was clear.  I was waiting on me.

“If you chose not to decide you still have made a choice.” – Rush

A few days ago, I wrote about running and mentioned how music can provide a boost or take you to another place. I believe I called it a “brain flush.” The essence of that ability to transport you away from your current situation usually lies in the lyrics.

“We learned more from a 3 minute record than we ever learned in school” – Bruce Springsteen – No Surrender

A singer / songwriter / poet, can say things for me and to me that I can’t say myself.  I find this to be inspiring and a tailwind.  They can touch a nerve buried deep inside that brings emotion to the forefront.  They can take you back to a place you had long since forgotten and suddenly it’s like it was yesterday.  They can inspire you to love more, be more and understand others with more clarity.  They are able to summarize how you feel when otherwise your emotions put your vocabulary on lockdown.

 “So Cosmo says you’re fat. Well I ain’t down with that. ‘Cause your waist is small and your curves are kickin’” – Does this really need to be sourced?????

Baby Big ButtsI didn’t say all lyrics are profound. I said the good ones provoke emotion.  If you know
someone who doesn’t smile or lighten up just a little when they hear the masterful stylings of Sir Mix A Lot’s “Baby Got Back?” You can leave them at home when attending my house party.

I’m curious to know, is there a lyric of a song that spoke to you and made an impact on your world?  If so, what is it?

“Even the genius asks questions” – 2 Pak – Me Against the World

Tailwinds Day #5 – People Who “Got You”

I’m in the checkout line buying just a few small items.  When the total on the register
says $2.03, I do the obligatory pocket checking to make sure my pants did not miraculously begin to produce currency. After the search turns up fruitless, I give the cashier $3 with an expression that must have said; “crap”.  The cashier immediately slides one of the dollars back smiles slightly and understatedly says “I got you.”  Just like that, this guy bought my happiness and provided a tailwind for $.03!  I walked out of the store feeling the warmth of human connection and determined to pass it along.

This “I got you” gesture is symbolic for any small act of kindness.  It might be metalhead-dont-worry-i-got-youcommunicated through a knowing nod by the driver next to you at a stoplight after you perform that apologetic little sliding hand gesture to signify that you need to cut in front of them because you are in the wrong lane. Or it could be giving an accepting understanding smile to an exasperated parent with a misbehaving child to let them know “We’ve all been there; I got you.”

“I got you” is a way of saying “we are all in this together.” It’s cheap, it’s easy, provides a nice Tailwind, and is almost always paid forward.