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Silent Notes


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich



You show up at a planned meeting with a client, join with your sales rep and open the discussion. Then you turn to your rep to lead the presentation only to discover he isn’t prepared. After an awkward moment you bump into each other trying to cobble together something of a presentation. What happened?

In most cases the result above reveals inadequate agreement, a misunderstanding about which makes the presentation, or the mental murmuring that steals confidence and the discipline in order and positive initiative. In all of the above we are likely to have convinced ourselves that another will satisfy the requirement to close the loop and secure the success in what we have chosen to do. Metaphorically, it’s easier to toss our coat on a wall peg as we enter the house than to hang it in the hall closet. The point: the weight of least resistance can grow heavier than order and positive initiative.

Most have high ideals, including anticipated success at most things. But when it comes, we too frequently fall prey to bad judgment. “To know a man,” said Charles Caleb Colton, “observe how he wins his object, rather than how he loses it; for when we fail, our pride supports us; when we succeed, it betrays us.” The comment suggests a rule of thumb, which is that we must impute predictability to everything we do.

Put differently, there is something under the skin that delivers the fruit of initiative or the resentment of lost opportunity. Some suggest that angels taking “silent notes” inform our next steps. Perhaps, but if God meant to endow us as capable, the road to success is the preparation that joins opportunity to deliver planned outcomes. How we win “our object” reveals the substance in our approach, and often, the hard work that aids capability. In the main, the “substance” or success DNA is the bold move or “go for it” attitude we see in most great achievement. Appropriately, missed opportunity, as portrayed in the method of a life less well lived in the poem below, makes the point. That it is given anonymously may be the irony in the warning.

Opportunities Missed

There was a very cautious man

Who never laughed or played;

He never risked, he never tried,

He never sang or prayed.

And when he one day passed away

His insurance was denied;

For since he never really lived,

They claimed he never died!

— Anonymous


We may be certain of angels’ guardianship, the idea bringing comfort and feeding the initiative in hope, while ensuring the fruits of the faith. We may even find motivation in discipline. But absent the courage to risk all, we are unlikely partners with achievement. “More powerful than the will to win, is the courage to begin.”

Ever sentient, E.B. White of New Yorker fame saw this too. He said of the dilemma in each day,“If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between the desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.”

We are driven by the deepest of notions. The most dynamic of life’s engines is no less the substance of achievement.

May 26, 2017 |

Tips for Baby’s First Foods


To Your Health







(Family Features) There are endless exciting firsts in your baby’s life, from the first smile and laugh, to the first time he or she sits up or speaks. It can be beautiful and exhilarating, but also uncertain and messy.

Introducing solid foods is no different – new and a time for celebration – but you also know that your walls, floors and clothes may never look the same. These suggestions from pediatric health expert Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP can help you decide what foods to introduce to your little one, followed by tips from Clorox on how to remove those inevitable stains that are sure to follow.


Avocados are high in potassium, fiber and healthy monounsaturated fat, which is good for growing brains and hearts of all ages. Don’t worry if your infant doesn’t immediately take to avocado; keep offering it as most children eventually come around.


Dairy products are healthy for children and packed with a powerful punch of nine essential nutrients: calcium, potassium, phosphorus, protein, vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin B12, riboflavin and niacin. Vitamin D is crucial for healthy bones and a strong immune system, and is also linked to a decreased risk of disease later in life. Although babies under 1 year of age should not drink regular cow’s milk, yogurt and cheese can and should be introduced around 6 months of age.

Nut Butters

Nut butters are healthy and convenient options. Nutrient-wise, they offer vegetarian protein, vitamin E and healthy monounsaturated fats. Nut butters make it easy to add protein to any meal, even breakfast.


Blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are high in fiber and contain vitamin C, antioxidants and other minerals your child’s body needs to function normally, stay healthy and protect against disease later in life.


If you do not eat vegetables, your children won’t eat them either. People who eat more veggies are linked to lower disease rates and a healthier weight. Green vegetables in particular contain almost every vitamin and mineral. Orange veggies are also packed with nutrition, and babies can quickly take to their sweet taste and bright color.

The next step is discerning how to remove those inevitable avocado and berry stains that resulted from another first in your baby’s life – a solo food fight. First, scrape away the excess stain and rinse with cool water. Next, apply a stain solution such as Clorox 2 Stain Remover and Color Booster to the stain and rub in. After 10 minutes, wash in hot water using detergent and more stain remover.

Some baby food stains are tough to remove; learn more at about how you can keep cherished baby clothes looking new – perhaps for future hand-me-downs.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

May 24, 2017 |

Staples to Stock Your Pantry


In Good Taste








(Family Features) It’s the time of year when the weather can be unpredictable, making a trip to the grocery store undesirable at best, or even outright dangerous. Keeping your pantry stocked with some basic necessities can help ensure you’re ready to hunker down and keep things cozy and warm in the kitchen.

Baking necessities: There’s nothing like baking to chase away a blustery day, so keep an ample supply of traditional baking needs on hand. Include all-purpose flour and sugar (white, brown and confectioners) along with baking powder, baking soda and common flavorings like vanilla and almond extract. If you enjoy making pastries from scratch, add a tub of shortening and don’t forget the nonstick spray.

Meal makers: A supply of rice, pasta and beans can make it easy to round out a meal no matter what type of protein and other groceries you have available. These can each be used to create an array of hearty soups, stews and noodle-based dishes to warm you from the inside out.

Simple sides: Keeping a well-stocked pantry means you can serve up great-tasting, Sunday dinner-worthy side dishes with every meal. Canned veggies and fruit are a start, but you can take it up a notch by adding savory side dishes such as Idahoan Signature Russets mashed potatoes, which taste as if you peeled, boiled and mashed them yourself. Sold in a convenient re-sealable pouch for freshness, they have a smooth taste like original homemade mashed potatoes with just a hint of butter and cream. They can be made in just 5 minutes using milk and butter, or, if you have to skip that run to the store, just water.

Sauces and condiments: Even the bare basics can take on an appetizing new flair when you add flavor with sauces and condiments. Jarred sauces like marinara and alfredo make it easy to bypass fresh produce and cream when you’re in a pinch, while mayonnaise paired with distinctive flavors like spicy mustard or honey let you build your own creamy sauces. An array of oils and vinegars can serve diverse purposes, from marinades to dressings to dips.

Other dry goods: If you’re uncertain what your spice rack should hold, you’re not alone. Even amateurs can tease amazing flavors out of everyday foods using the right spices and seasonings. For starters, invest in sea salt and pepper grinders. Garlic is another versatile staple; the powder is a good substitute when fresh or minced garlic isn’t available. Then build out the rest of your collection based on the foods you like best. Basil, thyme and oregano are common picks. Add some heat with crushed red or cayenne pepper, and don’t forget another versatile favorite: cinnamon.

Find more staples to help stock your pantry at


(father and daughter in kitchen photo)

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

May 24, 2017 |

Memorial Day — How Much Do You Know About It?

Bits & Pieces Column

Helpful Chitchat







By Evelyn J. Mocbeichel



Throughout the year Americans celebrate a variety of holidays, some religious, some federal and others that are considered more for their merriment content. Then there are holidays that take on a serious side such as Memorial Day. Some people might think of this day as merely the start of the summer season, with a three-day weekend coming. Families with children should try to introduce them to the meaning behind this and other American holidays that some may take for granted. It’s more than a day where stores offer sales. There are certain traditions associated with Memorial Day and one of them revolves around the proper way of raising the American flag on that day. The flag should be “raised briskly to the top of the staff and then solemnly lowered to the half-staff position, where it remains only until noon, then raised to full-staff for the remainder of the day.”

Memorial Day Quiz


  1. Recognition of Memorial Day began after which war?
  2. What was its original name before it was changed to Memorial Day?
  3. What is the difference between Memorial Day and Veterans Day?
  4. What flower is the symbol of Memorial Day that some people wear to commemorate the day?
  5. What is the name of the poem written by Colonel John McCrae about this flower?


  1. The Civil War
  2. Decoration Day — because the graves of deceased soldiers were decorated with flowers and American flags.
  3. Memorial Day is in remembrance of those who died serving their country. Veterans Day celebrates the service of every U.S. military veteran.
  4. The poppy
  5. In Flanders Fields

The poem is deeply moving and so very sad, but a wonderful tribute to all those that gave their lives serving their country.

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae, May 1915

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

May 24, 2017 |

The Girl Playing Varsity Baseball


Slater's Slant







By Chuck Slater



How does the Yonkers Montessori Academy team feel about—in the person of freshman Madison Allen—being the first Section 1 baseball varsity ever to have a girl on its squad? “She has 17 big brothers,” coach Spike DiMartino says with satisfaction.

For Madison, perhaps the hardest step to varsity baseball was convincing her parents to allow it. “They worried I might get hurt,” she said. Indeed, a pitcher’s follow-through leaves her less than 60 feet from what could be a screaming line drive. “We worried about line drives back to her,” admitted James Allen, her father. “But she’s very persistent. It’s hard to say no to her.”

Madison Allen had to win over her parents first. (PHOTO COURTESY OF JAMES ALLEN)

Indeed the daughter, who always favored pitching, favored T-ball as a youngster and baseball always. She shed softball after one season. “I didn’t like the concept of (underhand) softball pitching,” she said. So this spring the father stepped into the batter’s box to test his determined 14-year-old. “It was like, hmm, we might have something here,” he said.

But first they had to give the daughter a battery of tests and even get permission from Albany. But DeMartino was immediately receptive. “I was all for it,” he said. And also protective. His distaff pitcher wears a mask on the mound and since YMA only has a varsity, he picks spots for her carefully. And she has responded brilliantly. In her first two appearances, Madison is 2-0 with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings with the curveball her favorite pitch. She also boasts a walk in her two-at-bats. “She doesn’t throw hard but she does throw strikes,” said the coach.

“In this day and age,” said Madison, a high honor roll student, “there should be no one or nothing to stop you from what you want to pursue.” “I’m more nervous than she is,” said James Allen. “But now I’m pumped when she’s pitching.” And helping has been her true big brother, Tyler, 22, who hopes to continue baseball professionally. Brother and sister work together.

The Eagles, just 7-17 in DiMartino’s first season, are now challenging the .500 mark as “big brothers,” and they have players of interest on merit alone. Righthander Israel Guzman handles the bulk of the pitching and his earned run average is easily below 2.00. Cleanup hitter Juan Peguero is batting well over .400 and freshman shortstop Evan Diaz is close to .500 as the leadoff hitter.

The team even went on a winning streak when Madison was able to join them. “I feel like I did accomplish something; I had to jump through hoops,” she said. And all the attention from being the first girl on varsity baseball in Section 1? “It feels kind of weird,” Madison Allen said.

May 24, 2017 |

Under the Skin


ROI by Frank J. Rich







By Frank J. Rich



An old story by Bill Cosby has me sitting up nights thinking. As the story goes, Bill is in a bar listening to the tiresome bragging of a martial arts newbie. Deciding he’d heard enough, Bill challenged the windbag by suggesting that his feats weren’t so extraordinary, to which the karate student responded, “Oh yeah? Let’s see you do it.” Backed into a corner, Bill swaggered into a nearby alley to demonstrate his skill and will. He prepped his mind, making repeated approaches to the targeted brick perched between two stone columns. He was ready, now puffing and belting out convincing incantations.

The moment of truth arrived as Bill lifted his hand, now contorted as though at once struck with arthritis, and came down in a thunder as it hit the brick. Screaming in pain and hopping around for relief, Bill had broken nearly every bone in his hand. When asked what he was thinking in attempting something he had never done before, Bill was contrite though insightful in his answer. “Ya see, I was thinking Yes I can, but the brick was thinking No you can’t.”

The motivation to accomplish may be fundamental to the human condition, but to grow self- esteem, it must be accompanied by equal performance. Bill wanted to, but didn’t achieve his goal. It wasn’t for lack of desire, and not because he couldn’t. It was because he did not prepare adequately for his goal.

We have all been in shoes that don’t fit, a brother of sorts under the skin. The difference, too often, has been our willingness to prepare for the goal ahead. Achievement is most effectively mind and matter—in Bill’s case, muscle. It is also something else—an ability to recognize that our resources—mental toughness, passion for the task, planning, and patient pathways to success—are at hand or in need of development. If we are all achievers under the skin, are we equally equipped with the mastery of resources necessary to inform achievement?

Growth may be fundamental to humans; indeed we change 5 trillion cells daily in support of it. It is also frightening to those who perceive loss and not gain in its wake. What makes it so? The simple answer is the fear that we might lose something in the process of change. Sadly, it is usually something that has been lost already, though hidden by coping mechanisms that attempt to ease the effect of change. The resistance that follows is the unfortunate reality for most, as it was for Bill’s hand above.

Psychology tells us that we seek rationality and explanations to grow comfort with change and to avoid stress. Ontologizing, adding a physical nature to things; figuration, image creation; and personification, giving personality to abstraction, are the mechanisms of objectification, the process of making things more understandable. The system is well defined in the Hierarchy of Needs. We move cautiously up the ladder of achievement after accomplishing key steps along the way—physical needs, safety, belonging, self-esteem, and fulfillment.

Every day we are asked to perform in support of something we’ve agreed to do. And in each we form a consensus with ourselves to achieve or wait on another day to realize our desires for achievement. But too often the luxury of time is not available to us. Life and work can be insatiable masters. Performance has a common ring, much like the man walking up a narrow stairway in a dark church tower who, when reaching out to get his balance, lays hold of a rope and is startled at the clanging bells. No matter how closely we hold our methodology it is revealed in our performance.

We are all naturally endowed with desire. It’s the self-actualizing energy in each that drives us to achievement. Equally, we have natural talents and gifts. Why then, do so many spend their lives looking for something that is hidden in plain sight? Even teachers, or any that assume the mantle—friend, neighbor, mentor, sage—fail to invest more than the direction common to most, which is to point someone in the path they took to find these jewels. The subject above looked inward to find his own unique qualities, but could only identify desire. As any who have found success in a planned goal will tell you, it’s seldom enough.

May 19, 2017 |
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