1- I was an oarsman in high school. I rowed for the St. Joseph's Prep crew team on the Schuykill River. While the "sweepers" received a lot of attention, I was a sculler for the late, great crew coach Gus "The Hammer" Ignas. The Hammer was a giant of a man. He cursed like a sailor but loved all of us like his own sons. I wept when he died. Here's Chris O' Brien, recalling The Hammer:
After three hours in the broiling summer sun and 18 miles in an underpowered, overweight boat, he allowed us to go in to the dock but told us to stay in the boat once we pulled up alongside the slip. At this point, Gus hops out of his launch and starts in with, "Now, men, I am very proud of the way you handled this practice. It was tough and you gutted it out. Before you get out, there is one more lesson that I need to pass along to you today. When you are sitting at the dock like this, never lift your oars up off the dock like this." With that, he demonstrated just how high an oar had to go before the old Pocock quad would tip and then laughed hysterically at us as the boat rolled over and dumped us into the muck of the Schuylkill. There were all kinds of people up on the balcony who were absolutely roaring at us as we righted the boat and climbed on to the dock. Then, to top it all off, Gus says, "now get your boat out and put it away" as he turned to go home.
To this day, I still am unsure how we managed to get the boat out of the water without doing permanent damage either to it or ourselves, but we did manage to get it out and put away by ourselves. I wasn't really sure what the lesson in all of this was at the time as I wondered what the hidden message was, but in retrospect, I think that Gus actually wanted us to see that you could tip a boat on the dock and could think of no better way than to demonstrate it to us after an 18 mile row.
He was one of the great characters on Boathouse Row and I have related this story to countless people who knew the man very well who just laughed and said, "that's Gus" with no other explanations offered. For some reason, I just couldn't keep my promise to never get back in a boat again either- once you have felt the bottom of the Schuylkill swallow your legs to mid-thigh, there is no where to go in rowing but up.
2- I lived in Phoenix for twelve years. I moved there when I was 26 and fell in love with what was then, a sleepy desert town. Alas, I missed the ocean and moved to San Diego in 2003.
3- My first teenage job was in Sales at a company called "Associated BankCard Holders". I sold a service akin to Pre-Paid Legal to people over the telephone. That experience was invaluable. At 16, I learned the important salesmanship skills so many in my industry lack.
4- I've been an "information marketer" since I was eleven years old. My neighbor and I created a "tip sheet" to sell, outside of the Garden State Race Track, with our suggestions for the winning picks. Vendors at New Jersey race tracks are generally sanctioned by certain families and we were not granted that sanction. That business lasted about two days.
5- I learned how to surf at the Jersey Shore when I was 14 years old. Waves in the Atlantic are far inferior to the ones in the Pacific Ocean. When I tried to transfer that learned skill to my new home, I failed miserably. Today, I bodyboard: monthly in the off season and thrice weekly during the summer.
6- I coached Little League in Litchfield Park, AZ, about ten years ago.