Origins vs. Traditions: Baseball, Hot Dogs & Apple Pie

Hot dogs didn’t come to America until the 1860’s when a German immigrant began selling them off a cart in New York’s Bowery.

Apple pie came to America courtesy of England – via Geoffrey Chaucer’s recipe.  But apples originated from Asia – which is also where fireworks were created.

Baseball, our national pastime, may actually trace its roots back to Egypt – where the first use of a bat and ball were discovered.…

How open minded are you?

Most people probably consider themselves open-minded.  Especially considering the connotations with being the alternative.
Yet as I learned in reading David Epstein’s book, Range:  Why Generalist Triumph in a Specialized World, open-minded isn’t simply a passive way of being but an active way of thinking. (The book refers to the work of psychologist Jonathan Baron who coined the term “active open-mindedness.”)
When given the choice, our natural inclination is to seek out information that confirms our own beliefs, expertise or intentions – rather than searching out information to that may challenge them.…

I’m Biased. Are You?

I read the New York Times and watch MSNBC because they reinforce my existing beliefs (confirmation bias).

I remember bad things done to me more than good things done for me (negativity bias).

I think that the country will ultimately be ok (optimism bias).

I didn’t think the poll results were accurate leading up to the midterms (pessimism bias).

I believe that if I flip a coin five times and get heads each time, the next flip will be tails (the gambler’s fallacy).…

How To Tell The Truth

My six year old daughter stepped off the bus with a very long face.  “Daddy, you’re going to be so mad at me. I did something awful at school today.”
Embarrassed, upset and ashamed, it took twenty minutes for her to work through her tears and tell me that she got in trouble for talking in gym class. A crime that was punishable by sitting alone on the stage at the front of the gym. A…

See How Where You Live Affects How Long and How Well You Live

In general, people believe that their own actions are more important than the environments in which they live. It’s a belief that’s so powerful its name is Fundamental Attribution Bias.

At the same time, the decision of where to live, work, go to school or raise our kids is among the most important and serious ones we will make in our lives.  

If you’re curious to know how much where you live may impact your life, check out these two tools:

The first from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation uses CDC data to estimate life expectancy down to the census track level.…

The Space Between Hope and Despair

In the film First Reformed, a reverend and environmentalist are experiencing existential crises – each waging a battle between hope and despair. In one exchange, the environmentalist shares his conflicting feelings about being an expectant father yet having to answer for the catastrophic effects climate change will have on the earth his unborn daughter will inherit as an adult.  He asks, “What will I say when she looks at me and asks – ‘You let this happen?’”…

We Are Honored

Want to feel good?  Read the definition of honor.  It can be received, given, and felt deeply. It is about respect, reputation, reverence, and integrity. Most importantly it is about recognition. 

Recognition not in the sense of receiving an award but in making sure we see and acknowledge what is important and good around us. 

Yes we can recognize bravery in combat with the Congressional Medal of Honor but we can also honor our mothers by treating them with the utmost respect and living in a way that would bring honor to them.…

I Was Afraid

We stood eighty-five feet off the ground, walking a hundred feet across a slender 4-inch wide beam. My six-year old daughter inched step for step in front of me until, after what seemed an eternity, we reached the platform that ended our adventure.

This all took place at the world’s tallest indoor ropes challenge course. While we were tethered to a safety harness guaranteed to stop any fall, it did not allay my fears as much as one would think. A…

The Best News In The World

Imagine if the newspaper was only published once every fifty years.  What would the major headlines be?  What stories would we wake up to read?

According to Steven Pinker, author of Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism and Progress, it would be a positively delightful experience.

We would read about how extreme poverty has been halved, diseases such as polio and malaria almost entirely eradicated. It would tell us that we are living in the most peaceful time in the history of mankind and chronicle the incredible progress made in human rights for women, minorities and the LGBTQ community.…

What You Can Learn From 2 Bankers Named George

Two of the most beloved family movies of all-time focus on a banker named George.

I’ll give you a moment to see if you can guess either or both.

The first, George Banks, works for Fidelity Fiduciary Bank in London. His job is securing investments from customers whose money can help build “railways through Africa, dams across the Nile, fleets of ocean greyhounds, majestic, self-amortizing canals, plantations of ripening tea.” …

Think Again

We like to think that our own beliefs and behavior are based on a rationale examination of the facts available to us.

Conversely, it is common to consider those whose beliefs and behaviors are different from ours irrational.  

The reality is that none of us are rationale.  Our mind is wired in such a way that we make decisions or judgments and then find the facts and figures to rationalize our position. Not

Bias In Your Backyard

A white man sees a black man walking quickly towards a woman at a bus stop.  He senses a threat until he realizes the man’s little daughter at the bus stop is the cause for his rush. He feels ashamed of his bias – especially considering he also has a black daughter.

An African-American police officer is frustrated that he has to under go diversity training. …

Can You See Both Sides?

A player takes a knee and is labeled unpatriotic.  A fan burns his team’s jersey in protest and is called a racist. People, who had previously been united by a team, are now divided over an issue.
It is an indictment of our times, our media and our educational institutions that these two sides are pitted against one another, seemingly incapable of seeing, yet alone understanding the point of view of the other.

Don’t Follow This Recipe

“It begun in good faith by decent people out of fateful misunderstandings, American overconfidence and Cold War miscalculations.”

There is a lot to unpack from this statement in Ken Burns and Lynn Novick’s new documentary, The Vietnam War.  

While it was written to summarize the origins of one of the most divisive periods in our country’s history, it could just as easily be applied to other past and future conflicts.

“You’re Older, Not Old.”

This is what my five-year-old daughter cheerfully said to me as we biked together on a quiet road on Cape Cod last week.

My initial reaction was to laugh at this comical “out of the mouths of babes” moment. Then I looked ahead of us both and watched my own mother, now well into her 70’s, also on a bike and thought the exact same thing.

Up until that day, I can’t say I had ever seen my mom on a bike. But…

Who Shapes Your Story?

Growing up, I was told two different versions of who I was and who I could become.  My stepfather instilled in me that I would never amount to anything.  I was a lazy momma’s boy and she wouldn’t be around to protect me forever. He told me that going to college was a waste of money and time. 
Fortunately, my mom offered a powerful counter narrative.

Losing When You Win

Larry Bird and Magic Johnson were the fiercest competitors but always respectful of each other’s talent and drive – whether in victory or defeat. By the end of their playing careers, they had become close friends.

Bill Clinton and George W. Bush have formed one of the most unique political friendships in our history. The foundation of which was laid, according to Bush, with how Clinton was humble after the 1988 election, “choosing not to lord his victory over Dad.”…

Understanding The Differences Between Good And Evil

As I walked to work, I approached a sparrow sitting idly on the sidewalk. Drawing closer, I realized he was lording over a wounded moth, presumably planning breakfast. Upon noticing me, he fluttered a few feet away – more likely out of fear of me not guilt of what he was about to do. As I moved away, he returned to his prey. When I moved closer again, he retreated once more. Eventually,

A Present from Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Bill Belichick

One wears a hoodie and the other a robe. One rules from the bench, the other from the sideline.  But their success, in part, comes from a similar gift.

Recounting the challenges of attending law school as a wife and new mom, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a bold declaration that it was only possible because of her ability to compartmentalize. In the morning before school she was strictly a wife and mom. …

What Does “The Environment” Mean To You?

Several years ago, linguist George Lakoff was asked to do a study of language used to communicate about environmental issues, including what was then called global warming.

In his analysis, he discovered that there was a part of speech that was largely absent…. pronouns.

We say the environment not my environment, the water supply instead of ourwater supply, earth instead of our planet.

The implications were huge.

What To Remember This Memorial Day

In 1943, off the coast of North Africa, my grandfather, Burton Poucher was one of 1,149 U.S. soldiers who were killed aboard the HMT Rohna.

The ship was sunk by a newly designed remote control German glider bomb – a precursor to today’s “smart” missiles. It was the largest single loss of life in the sea during the war.

Prior to shipping off, Burton was stationed in Indiana for training.…

How Do You Compare To Others?

We all like to believe that our self-worth is something we determine on our own. It is after all called self-worth.
Then why do we so often feel compelled to compare ourselves to others? We do it with our looks, our grades, our performance, our income and raises. And we do it between neighbors or friends (e.g. keeping up with the Joneses) and within our families (e.g. will we do better than our parents?)…

Are You Feeling More Restless?

Last week, my five-year old daughter suffered a small fracture in her tibia just below the knee. Ultimately, she will be fine. As they say, we grow stronger in all the broken places. For now, she is laid up with a removable knee brace, unable to walk, go to school, or move freely about on her own.
She has warmed to this new situation. Reminiscent of Hodor and Bram from Game of Thrones, she must be carried everywhere and has an innate power over all of us as we cater to her every desire. The