Sunday, May 31, 2015

Question: How Old is Computer Dating?

As I approach my (or should I say, "as we approach our") 46th wedding anniversary, I had to laugh this morning at a story on the first dating service in America. That was -- hard to believe -- 50 years ago! And I was a part of it.
A group of guys at Harvard -- at a time when I was at nearby Wellesley College -- came up with the idea. They called it "Operation Match."
"We'll provide the match. You provide the spark," was their pitch.
Recognizing -- even while I was  still in my late teens --that this would be remembered as a seminal moment in history,  I kept a copy of the questionnaire.
The story by one of my favorite reporters, Michael Vitez, would make it appear that the questions were fairly comprehensive.  Actually they were straight forward, pairing couples up largely on the basis of such basic things as location, religion, depth of religious belief, sex -- and height.
One of my Wellesley friends, Susan, was matched with Harvard medical student, Fred. They weren't particularly surprised.  Both were already dating, and both are particularly short for their respective genders. Height probably played a huge part in the match algorhythm. They married. And are still married!!
I was matched with five guys, all living within a couple miles of my dorm. I vaguely remember meeting a couple of them. They must have been forgettable. None stuck.
Mixers were the more typical way of meeting in those days. Then, at least, you could size up the person quickly. (A bit like what one dating service touts today: "It's only lunch." ) Wellesley, an all-women's college (still), needed to lure guys to campus. I remember at one dorm mixer being asked to dance by a very tall guy. He must have been 6-foot-three or four. I'm five-foot-one.
After a song or two, I looked up from somewhere around his armpit and asked him: "What's it like to dance with someone so short?"
"It's great," he said, looking down at the top of my head. "You don't have to talk with them."
I met my husband the old-fashioned way: blind date. His college friend and my college friend decided we would get along. A lot more than getting along, of course, is involved in 46 years of marriage. And, too, more than those Operation Match questions could possibly fathom back in 1965.
There's that thing, though, they did identify but could not quantify or capture:
The spark.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Fulltime or No Time grandparenting?

On Mother's Day, one might wonder who needs a mother most. Your own children and grandchildren or a lot of parentless children in Uganda?
Where would you spend your time?
Mama Arlene had an epiphany in her 70s.

Bored with traveling, she took off to live in Uganda and follow through with her vision. Hers is an inspiring story that few of us will replicate. She's now 84 and still mostly working in Uganda.
On the other hand ---and isn't there always an other hand ? – Melissa Dribben, a long time reporter and columnist has quit her job, no, her career, to be the full time caretaker for her grandchild while her daughter works. Read that story here.
 I respect the commitment that these women have made but their choices stir up other feelings in me.  Questions like-- did I spend enough time with my children when they were little and I was pursuing career.? Is Melissa now generously giving back or making up for what she herself may have missed? On the other hand, I'm shocked that mama Arlene Brown could at this stage of life want to remove herself so entirely from her own  family.Where is the balance? How much do grandkids need you and how much do you need them? And where is that balance?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Shoulberg at 76: Going Just Swimmingly

Dick Shoulberg, master coach -- Phila. Inquirer, Clem Murray

Dick Shoulberg, the renowned Germantown Academy swim coach who hurtfully lost his job in 2013 to a huge national outcry, is doing just fine, thank you.  Hazing had been hinted at, an allegation that many of the youths he had coached even to the Olympics  could not believe, nor did their parents. His age at the time, 74, was another theory. The school backtracked months later and called him back as "coach emeritus," with reduced responsibilities.
Shoulberg, 76,  who finally 'was retired'  from the school earlier this year, has clearly not retired.
As this swim coach extraordinaire says:
"As long as there is water and kids, I'm going to do it as long as the guy upstairs says I can."
He recently traveled to Mumbai to teach young swimmers in India. He's been out to Colorado to help coach the US swim team in advance of the 2016 Olympics in Brazil. He's setting up a local swim camp. He has kids from around the world coming to train with him.
A fine interview by Jessica Parks in the Philadelphia Inquirer catches us up with Shoulberg.   With age has come wisdom and he has plenty of Shoulberg-isms to share, mostly on what young people need. Parents should take heed.
On why to push kids hard:
 "What I've found is, the higher you raise the bar, the higher the kids will reach."
On their need for structure:
"Kids wanted structure in 1958, and they want structure in 2015. They want to know where they stand with you. They want consistency."

To read my previous blogs on Dick Shoulberg:
About his ouster.
Then the outcry that followed.
And his reinstatement.