Lost and Found: My Perspective

This past week marked the end of another American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) Annual Meeting at McCormick Place in Chicago. For those that don’t know about ASCO, it is the largest cancer meeting in the world and brings more than 35,000 physicians, researchers, patients, advocates, pharmaceutical and biotech companies from across the globe together in one place to discuss the latest data on cancer treatments new and old. The highlights of this year’s meeting were promising treatments for melanoma, cervical and thyroid cancers (http://bit.ly/18QsAdd). Imagine a busy international airport complete with familiar and unfamiliar dialects, those walking shoulder-to-shoulder with purpose to get to their next destination and those looking confused as they attempt to navigate the massive convention center’s 600,000 square feet.

Wedged in the overwhelming mass of humanity are people like me, a public relations professional. For three or four days, I’m camped outside the press room, standing near a gauntlet of other PR people battling to arrange meetings with media with the goal of getting my client’s name , new treatment or spokesperson represented in the news. I like to think of myself as one of those walking with purpose. But even so I’m quickly consumed by the volume of information and people—and the pressure of my job and clients—and lose perspective.

As I’ve previously mentioned in an earlier blog, I’ve been working with pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies, physicians, researchers, advocates and patients in the oncology field for the better part of 13 years.  I’ve seen and been involved with researchers, advocates, patients and friends and family who are fighting battles every day to treat, cure this disease and survive. This meeting and this disease are part of my DNA.

At the 2007 meeting, I had perspective. My father passed away a little more than a month before the meeting. While his death wasn’t directly linked to the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma he had battled for more than a year, there were some residual effects from his treatment that in my opinion ultimately led to his death. It was with a heavy heart and mind that I had to scratch, claw and do my job at an oncology meeting no less. But, I had perspective. I was there doing what I was doing for people like my father who needed good news about a new treatment that might make their battle a little easier.

I don’t miss my father any less. I don’t think about family or friends who I’ve lost to cancer any less. It almost seems impossible that I could lose perspective. But I did.

During Saturday evening at this year’s meeting, I got that perspective back. And it felt like a wave had crashed into me. Veteran journalist Debra Sherman, someone I and many on the Edelman National Health Media Team have worked with at many a medical meeting, introduced her new blog “Cancer in Context” with a courageous and honest post about her stage 4 lung cancer diagnosis (http://reut.rs/10Hk2AQ). Here is an excerpt:

As a Reuters journalist I have been writing about medical technology and healthcare for more than a decade. I’ve covered the major medical meetings, including the big one on cancer. I’ve written stories about new cancer drugs and treatments, about how many more survive the disease (true for breast, colon and some other forms, though not so much for lung cancer), and how a diagnosis can lead to bankruptcy, even for those with health insurance.

I wrote those stories objectively and never imagined any would ever apply to me.

When I read the post, I was immediately transported back eight years when I was told my father had cancer. It was the same punch in the stomach all over again. Just the previous year, I sat across the table from Deb at the “ASCO family dinner” that has become tradition for some close-knit PR people and media. We were all consumed in the moment that night and didn’t really think of anything but having a good time, food and wine. But later I reflected on bonds strengthened with some and forged with others.

In the days following I spoke with colleagues, clients and competitors about Deb’s post. The shock and emotion that I felt was evident in others. But there was also an “aha” look in their eyes that if I had a mirror it would have been the same look in my eyes when I first read the post.  Perspective.

Not surprisingly, even in the midst of news about advances in cancer treatment, Deb’s post quickly became the most retweeted ASCO-related story on Twitter http://bit.ly/19LSgqc and the second most shared link during the meeting. Perspective.

Part of me feels guilty that it took a work-related environment to help me find my perspective again. But, I hear many gain the best perspective through work. It’s just important to take the blinders off and find it.

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Faking Cancer Apparently Still a Money Maker

This past weekend I watched a story on Good Morning America that made my blood boil.  The story was about Martha Nicholas from Virginia, the latest person to be caught for faking (yes faking) cancer to raise “extra cash.”  In this case, Mrs. Nicholas has been faking ovarian cancer for more than 20 years.  Now, apparently her husband and kids were in the dark and I’m assuming we will never know if they were or weren’t in the dark this whole time, but in either scenario if I were a religious man I would probably say something along the lines of may God have mercy on their soul.

Last year, as the Good Morning America story notes, it was a 19-year old who was charged with faking cancer.  She even went as far to shave her head.

What I don’t understand is how these people can live with themselves or think that this is okay?  As far as scamming, cancer should just be off-limits.  I do recognize as did Good Morning America that there is most likely some mental illness involved, but it still makes my blood boil.  By the way, didn’t her husband ever go to the doctor with her? 

People steal money and pull scams (pretending to have ailments or other issues) all of the time and I don’t pay much attention or frankly care that much.   I think the reason that this particular story got to me was because I have lost several family members to cancer…and my aunt to ovarian cancer.   If you’ve been there, from diagnosis to the very end with a family member or close friend, you understand where I’m coming from.  There is no other way to describe it other than saying it sucks. 

Also, as part of my job in public relations, I have been working with pharmaceutical companies, physicians, researchers, advocates and patients in the oncology field for the better part of 12 years.  It has been five decades since President Nixon threw down the “War on Cancer” edict and each day these researchers, advocates, patients and friends and family are fighting battles on different fronts to try to treat and cure this disease.  I have seen it on all fronts and the dedication and determination is unbelievable.

The scam that Mrs. Nicholas pulled is not only unfair to her family, friends and community, but unfair to all of those people who are trying daily to do some good and trying to survive.  I don’t know, maybe there was some good that came out of this.  Is it possible that this scam helped or inspired other people with cancer that Mrs. Nicholas touched to fight harder?  Could be, but I don’t know if that outweighs the harm done with the scam.

To all the advocates, patients, families, physicians and researchers, keep on fighting the good fight.

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The China Pattern – Part Three

As I mentioned in part one, China is undergoing a significant urbanization effort, and set against all of the urbanization is a Chinese history rich in tradition and culture.  Among all of the previously mentioned construction, you are likely to find temples, old city walls, etc.  In some instances (really a majority of cases), city walls and temples have even been torn down to make way for these new buildings.  For example, in Beijing numerous parts of the old city wall were demolished to make way for new highways leading to the Olympic venues.

Now in the United States, we would move mountains to protect historical or cultural buildings/icons so that they won’t get torn down…and we have less history than China.  So why the disregard for history and culture in China?  The short answer (and more so broad generalization from the Chinese people I spoke with) is the younger generation really doesn’t care about history or culture.  And, the stance from the government is to move forward (e.g. building, appearing modern) vs. looking back…history is bad.  There has been an increased movement in the past year to begin protecting historical/cultural buildings, but it has yet to widely catch on.

Overall, China and its people are embroiled in an internal struggle of old vs. new and an unrelenting drive to be “modern” and making everything they build look modern – I will get back to this a little later.

There is a lot of subtext with this old vs. new struggle and the urbanization overall.  In a country that used to be 90 percent farming is now approximately 65 percent farming and in the next 10 years is expected to drop to 50 percent.  With all of the construction I mentioned earlier, particularly the condominium developments, people need to be relocated…ideally from farm land or even older condominiums to one of the newly built condominiums.  There was one story that i heard involving a resident in Shanghai who had been relocated three times.

As far as relocation, most families receive a stipend to move and can do whatever they want with the money e.g. build a home, gamble, etc.  In China, families/individuals own the home/condo, but not the land with a lease term of usually 70 years on residential property.  If the government comes in and says they need to develop the land, the process starts over and the family is compensated to move.  Chicago (and I’m sure other major cities) is undergoing a similar “urbanization” with the removal of the Cabrini-Green housing.  People that lived in those projects are being relocated to newly built homes and condominiums close to their old residences, however, I don’t know about the stipend or if there is one.

So what do the Chinese people have to say about all of this urbanization and modernization?

During the trip I visited two families in Fengdu, a city outside of Chongqing that was directly impacted by the Three Gorges Dam project.  With the Three Gorges project, the families in old Fengdu were relocated to higher ground or the “new city” that was built on the other side of the river bank.  The reason being is that the old city is now under water due to the increase water level related to the dam project.

The first family we visited was a farming family who lived in what we would consider modest home (mud walls) on higher ground and were not relocated during the damn project.  The family farms the land, sells their crops and have a nice life.  I asked the family about their feelings about the new city vs. the old city vs. relocation thinking that there would be some backlash due to people being relocated and the “modernization” movement.  The answer from the matriarch of the family surprised me, but made sense – “why wouldn’t I like the new city, I get to window shop, buy things.”  So, the family that had been farming the land for longer than I have been alive actually liked the idea of modernization.

Disclaimer:  the family we visited is of course “government sponsored” and receives compensation for having tour groups like mine visit.  We were at their home, so I think she was answering honestly without any fear of backlash from the government.  The primary rule in a communist/socialist environment is that any criticism of the government  is “okay” in private.

The second family we visited had been relocated.  The wife was a successful business woman (currently runs a convenient-type store and had previously run a market) and the husband was a construction contractor.  The family was given approximately 170,000 Yuan ($27,000) to relocate.  The husband built the family a nice, but modest home (four bedrooms, two bathrooms) for less than the amount of the stipend and kept the rest either for their savings or to put into the store, which is located on the first floor of the home.

Overall, the wife seemed happy and her family was thriving, which was quite a contrast from the first family.  The same disclaimer applies to this family re: government sponsorship.

Side note:  The juxtaposition of the two families was interesting.  However, one important thing that was conveyed to the group after we visited both families was not to look at their houses or lives, particularly those of the farming family and feel sorry for them…happiness is shown on their face and believe me these people were happy.

So back to the idea of making everything look modern.  In Chongqing, there was a new opera house that rivaled the Sydney Opera house in size, but not in class.  Don’t get me wrong, the all glass, architecturally unique building was beautiful, but what made it less classy was the electronic billboard on the side of the building, which was advertising what was currently playing and the price for tickets.  When I asked our guide why they had the billboard, the reply was, “we (the Chinese) have to make everything look modern” and the billboard was attempting to do exactly that.

However, one interesting thing that came out of the conversation was if Chongqing really needed an opera house.  In a city where the average income is low and they have families to raise, would people spend the money to go to the opera and would they be able to appreciate it?

As someone on my tour noted, why not put the money used to build the opera house toward education, to that the younger generation can understand and appreciate the arts, get educated, make money and in 20 years build a better opera house where more people will attend and be able to appreciate it.

Great point.  For now, I guess they will have to settle for a great, neon billboard.

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The China Pattern – Part Two

As mentioned in part one, there is no doubt that the Chinese are efficient, in fact, I think they are the world leaders in efficiency.  The quality may not always be there, but the efficiency has its perks…imagine if they came together and made something beautiful.  Well they did during the first part of my journey in Hong Kong.

To say that my experience in Hong Kong was efficient would be an understatement…at least the public transportation experience to and from the airport, which is usually the part of a trip that I hope causes the fewest problems.  Now admittedly, part of the efficiency had to do with the hotel selection (thank you to my wife), but nevertheless, it would have been only slightly more complicated from another hotel.

I’ve written in the past about how we (Americans) complicate our lives without reason, but my trip to Hong Kong was the pinnacle of being uncomplicated.  It’s hard to find uncomplicated experiences in a country where you haven’t visited, but I did and it begs the question of why we (Americans) can’t be this efficient in the United States.

As I mentioned before, part of the reason for the trip being so efficient was the hotel selection.  My wife and I stayed at the W Hong Kong (in Kowloon), which had the usual style/atmosphere/quality of the typical W hotel (think rave/loud club in the lobby if you haven’t stayed at a W before).  The W Hong Kong was a beautiful hotel, but the hidden, or not so hidden gem, was the complex that the W was housed in – a complex called the Elements Mall that had everything from Starbucks to a local grocery to Gucci to Brooks Brothers and more.

The Elements Mall complex also included a residential building called Harborview, which appeared to house primarily expatriates from Europe and the United States.  On the third floor of the Elements complex there was a beautiful space with outdoor dining, complete with Italian and Spanish tapas restaurant and even what appeared to be a sports bar.  Now to call this place heaven would be a bit unfair since I haven’t seen/visited heaven and don’t know if it even exists for that matter, but this complex was my kind of place.  I wouldn’t ever have to leave and quickly decided that when my wife and I move to Hong Kong in the future, we are living here…always the optimist.  Now this level of efficiency/quality was exciting, but my efficiency/quality meter was soon to read off the charts.

The glitzy mall and restaurants aside, the true hidden gem within the already mentioned hidden gem, which put the Geoff Curtis stamp of approval on Hong Kong, was the train/subway station on the lower level.  I usually don’t get too excited about train/subway stations, but when they make my life easier, I can barely contain myself.  We had arrived in the Kowloon subway station at about 11 p.m. on our first night following a 24-hour journey (with time zone changes) from Chicago.  I didn’t really notice much about station other than it was immaculate and I could have probably eaten off the floor if so inclined.  And, I have to say, after a 24-hour journey, having a less than 30 minute trip on an equally immaculate train to where you are staying is a win.

It wasn’t until two days later that I found out heaven (again with the same disclaimer) could get better.  As my wife and I made our way down the escalator to the subway station to head to central Hong Kong, there it was…a huge flight board.  Now, I know the same set-up exists in Paddington Station in the UK, but I don’t believe anything like this exists in the United States.  For the road warriors out there, this is possibly the greatest thing since four wheels on luggage.  How can you pass up the opportunity to check in for your flight, check your luggage at the train/subway station and have an enjoyable less-than-30 minute ride to the airport?

My wife and I of course took advantage of this option on the day we left, although we asked how/will the bags get to the airport and were reassured with the look of…yes, you stupid/naive Americans, we’ve done this before.  Regardless of the judgement from the Air China staff, we had the most stress-free trip to the airport we’ve ever had.

Here’s the question…why can’t major cities in the United States do this?  In Chicago, why can’t I walk to the Thompson Center (or if you don’t live in the city, take a reliable/clean train to the Thompson Center), check in for my flight and check my luggage and have a stress-free ride on a clean train?  How can the subway in Hong Kong (or the airport express train) always be on time in Hong Kong and European countries, do they use different clocks?

If public transportation in Chicago was reliable, clean and stress free like Hong Kong, I would probably use it everyday.  Hong Kong has two-times the population of Chicago and other cities in China have three or four or five times the population of Chicago, so it does make sense that they have to be efficient in order to shuttle all of those people around. And, the public transportation in other cities I visited mirrored that in Hong Kong.

If China’s quality can reach the same level as their efficiency as they have with public transportation, the country will be on to something.  Maybe the interest we are paying China on our loans is going to public transportation.


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The China Pattern – Part One

I recently traveled to China and as with most of the trips I take, I brought back some observations and learnings that I wanted to share. This is the first of a four-part post.  Hope you enjoy.

We all know the story of the Three Little Pigs.  The pigs left their family to set out to explore the world.  The first pig built a house out of straw, the second sticks and the third mud.  And, we all know how the story ends.

When my trip my trip started, I thought the itinerary would take me to metropolitan areas as well as “smaller” not so metropolitan areas.  However, as the journey progressed, I found that everywhere we traveled was metropolitan in its own right and of course heavily populated and growing.  After all, coming from the United States, you have to keep reminding yourself that China’s population is 1.3 billion people.  Starting in Beijing with a population of 19 million in the total surrounding area and with every hour to hour and a half flight following to Xi’an (nine million in the total surrounding area) to Chongqing (30 million in the total surrounding area) to Shanghai (23 million in the total surrounding area) I was amazed by the amount of people.

Among the dense and growing population, one thing that continuously stood out was the amount of ongoing construction.  China is undergoing a significant urbanization effort, and set against all of the urbanization is a Chinese history rich in tradition and culture.  The skyline in all of the cities I visited is littered with cranes and bamboo scaffolding for new office complexes, bridges and condominium buildings (in some instances building these things whether or not they need them). China’s goal is to be and look modern and they are attempting to achieve this goal by building and more building.

So where do the Three Little Pigs come in to all of this?  Metaphorically, China, similar to The Three Pigs is venturing out to make a name for themselves and explore the world.  Further, all of this building takes time and with an already large and growing population, time is one thing that China doesn’t have and as a result there are more “straw” and “stick” buildings than “brick.”

The first example is with a majority of the country’s bridges.  Since much of central China is cut through by several rivers, the country obviously has a need for bridges and a lot of them.  In Chongqing (the largest city in China), there were several bridges of varying sizes (this doesn’t mean small to large, but rather large to larger) and varying traffic that were constructed in six or eight months.  How is this possible?  With the typical Chinese construction project consisting of around the clock work (24/7, 365 days a year – usually three shifts of workers to cover this) completing a bridge in this amount of time is definitely possible.  While I’m not a construction expert, I’m sure that securing a foundation in water and allowing time for the concrete to settle should take longer than six or eight months.  When the Trump Hotel was built in Chicago (nestled next to the Chicago River), I believe it took close to two years for the foundation to settle.

Translation – I have more faith in the Trump Hotel than the Chinese bridges I drove over.

The concern/question that I have is how long with the bridge last and is anyone in China concerned about this potential issue?  I will get back to this in a bit.

The second example concerns the unbelievable amount of apartment/condominium construction.  In one of the cities we didn’t visit, there was a condominium complex consisting of four 30+-story buildings that was completed in a short amount of time.  Following the completion of the buildings, the contractors thought it would be a good idea to add a parking structure…underneath the four buildings.  So, digging began and about halfway through, the contractor found out the hard way that the foundation wasn’t secure and as a result the buildings fell like dominoes.  It sounds like a far-fetched story, but this happens more often than not.

So, what did the contractor do?  Rebuilt the buildings from scratch of…including the parking structure of course.

I’m not saying that there aren’t “brick” buildings being built in China because there are some beautiful, safe structures in the cities I visited.  In fact, construction on what will be the world’s tallest building (the current tallest building is the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, which is equivalent to stacking the Trump Hotel in Chicago on top of the Sears Tower), which looks solid and impressive.  However, for every “brick” building built, there are countless examples of “straw” and “stick” manufacturing buildings, bridges, factories and apartment/condominium complexes being built.

The answer to my earlier question about concern for the issue of building things quickly is no, there appears to be no concern.  In talking to various people on my trip, this is China’s modus operandi, if things start to crumble or fall down or get old they tear down and build again.  Because China can build things so quickly and cheaply, it’s part of the accepted process to build and rebuild again and again.

Interestingly, China seems to be both the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf.  They are huffing and puffing and blowing the houses down that they built.



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Is this what retirement is like?

I’m close to completing week my first week of “retirement” (actually week two of a five week sabbatical from work).  Yes, I said sabbatical and no, I’m not a college professor, rabbi or priest and no, I didn’t get fired…at least as far as I know.  One of the cool perks at my company, WCG, is a five week sabbatical after five years of service.  Even better, you don’t have to do anything work-/career-related with the time off….you can do absolutely nothing if you’d like.

Upon leaving work for the last time for five weeks, the workaholic inside of me immediately thought I was going to be bored.  I knew I wasn’t going to be bored the entire time as my wife and I are traveling to China for the last two and a half weeks of my “retirement.”  But, the first week went by rather quickly and this past Sunday I had time to reflect on exactly what I did and what I was going to do. Is this what retirement is like?  Sometimes the days drag and sometimes they go by quickly?  I guess it depends on how busy you make yourself.

I don’t know a lot of retired people, but I have to think they have similar experiences.  My mother recently retired and I don’t know if she’s bored, relieved or excited with not having to work, but I hope it’s the latter two.  Using my mother’s retirement as an example since I’m the most familiar with that situation, her time is spent volunteering, seeing friends, running errands and making home improvements.

Wait a minute.  Looking back at my first week of “retirement,” I took care of some volunteer commitments, caught up with some people I hadn’t seen in awhile, played golf (my mother doesn’t play golf), ran some errands and took care of some things around the house, with some days going by more quickly than others.  Was this what actual retirement was like or was this just an extended vacation where I had more time to plan things?

The primary difference between my “retirement” and vacation is that with vacation you usually don’t spend time volunteering, running errands or making home improvements.  Usually, people are traveling to a warm sunny beach or another exotic place.  Vacation time is limited and frankly, the time shouldn’t be spent doing things that you can easily get done on a normal weekend or extended weekend, right?

So far, I don’t know if I like “retirement” or not.  I know I have a long way to go before actual retirement, but so far, this taste of the retiree life has been nice.  I haven’t been bored and it has been a nice break from work.  Maybe the trip from China will help me make a decision.

The one thing that scares me about “retirement” is that you can only run errands and do things around the house for so long.



All We Need is a Little Patience

Wow, it’s been a while since I last posted…the wheels have been churning, but nothing has been making it to the page.  Thankfully, my short Twitter bio says that I’m a “part-time” blogger, so I don’t feel like I have to live up to any obligation.  Anyway, I recently returned from a trip from London (quickly becoming my second home) and some experiences during this visit really slapped me in the face.  For some reason, these experiences slapped me in the face more so than the year I lived there and the four times I’ve been back since.

These experiences got me thinking about what it was that is really different about the British culture and society and is there anything that Americans can learn.  There is always something Americans can learn, especially those who have never stepped foot out of the country, but this learning is something simple…so simple that 75 percent of Americans can turn on their iPod and find the answer; assuming they are Guns & Roses fans.

I knew Axl Rose (or Izzy Stradlin if we’re getting technical) was a genius when I first heard him, but I never knew that he was so in tune to the differences between British and American culture.  I realize that the 1989 song “Patience,” was about a troubled relationship and not about cultural differences between two cultures that were once the same culture, but listening to the song on the flight back from London made me realize that “patience” was the one thing that stood out as differences between the two cultures.

There were three experiences that stood out during my recent visit that I really hadn’t paid much attention to in the past.

The first was at a frozen yogurt shop called Snog.  Snog is much like Pinkberry or Berry Chill in the States: you order the type of yogurt, the size of cup and the toppings.  The employees behind the counter (for the purposes of this story I will refer to them as “yogurt artists” from this point on) put the pre-prepared toppings on, usually attempting to make the presentation nice by putting each ingredient on its own side of the cup.  I’ve been to both Pinkberry and Berry Chill in the States and as the yogurt artists try to get more precise, the line grows and you can hear the groans and the foot tapping.  The yogurt artists begin to move a little faster and the presentation suffers.

At Snog, their yogurt artists have the same level of attention and detail and dedication to presentation, but there is one difference…patience – the employees have it and the people in line have it.  The person in front of me ordered a medium yogurt with bananas and chocolate chips.  The yogurt artist meticulously placed the pre-prepared chocolate chips on one side and sliced the bananas, yes SLICED the bananas, and the meticulously placed them on the other side of the chocolate chips.  I would say from beginning to end the visit for that customer was from five to seven minutes.  The line wasn’t terribly long, but there were a considerable amount of people in the shop – people who weren’t discussing how long the wait was, but the toppings and size they were about to get.  It appears that the Brits appreciate the level of detail (and I’m sure the taste) that they are willing to wait.

 Keeping the food theme, the second experience(s) was/were at every restaurant I visited.  The restaurant experience in London or anywhere in Europe for that matter is where Americans have a lot to learn.  In the gastro pubs or traditional restaurants, you are allowed and encouraged to enjoy your meal and the company you’re with from dinner through dessert…and you can stay at the restaurant as long as you like without being rushed out because the table needs to be turned.  I experienced this when I lived in London and remember that it drove me crazy.  I truly believe that American restaurant culture (unless you go to a Michelin-rated restaurant) has trained us (or me) to eat within an hour and a half or two hours…get in and get out.  During this visit, I allowed the British restaurant culture to take advantage of me and I enjoyed it.  It was nice for once not to be rushed or feel rushed.  People in London and Europe also have places to go, but they are patient and allow themselves to enjoy a meal…most importantly, the restaurant staff understands this as well.

The third and final experience is going to piss off the American sports fan.  My wife and I attended the Chelsea vs. Norwich City football (soccer) match while we were there.  This was my third Chelsea game and before going to my first, when I thought of English football I thought of drunken idiots fighting in the stands and trampling each other after their team won or lost.  English football fans are still dedicated to their teams just nowadays you are only allowed to drink in the stadium concourse (not in the seats) prior to the game and during halftime.  Interestingly enough, you are allowed to drink water and soda in the stands, but the concession stand “artists” remove and keep the cap so your bottle isn’t used as a projectile.  During this particular game, I looked more closely at the ticket (don’t know why I didn’t notice before) and in big letters it reads “NO EXCESSIVE STANDING.”  My immediate thought was how this would be received in the States…not well at all.  I thought back to the other games I had attended and didn’t remember a whole lot of standing unless Chelsea scored, but this would be the true test since I was now paying attention.  What do you know?  Nobody was standing unless Chelsea scored; there was a close play; or a developing play at the opposite end of the pitch.  After fans stood, they immediately sat back down.  If the referee made a bad call, the fans screamed from their seats.

Now is this being patient? Respectful? An uninspired sports fan?  Definitely not the latter as the Chelsea fans (and all other English Premier League fans) are dedicated.   I truly believe that this is patience at its finest (and respectful)…diehard sports fans, people who bleed the color of the Chelsea jersey (blue for those who don’t know) waiting for game to take its course…and I kind of liked it.  Would this be tolerated in the States?  Hell no.  Should we give it a try?  I think it wouldn’t hurt.  It beats potentially having beer poured or thrown at you at every first down in a losing effort.

Just this week, I saw a segment on the Today Show about why we (Americans) get annoyed and what annoys us, which was the result of book title Annoying: The Science of What Bugs Us.  One thing that was only briefly discussed was being patient (or the fact that annoyances aren’t really animate objects).  For example, a traffic jam, which they did discuss on the segment – the jam itself is an animate object, but we (our minds) make it an annoyance.  The contributors did touch on approaching the situation differently and alluded to being patient (e.g. changing your mindset, having a sense of humor about it, etc.).  If we were more patient, the jam is easily handled and not that big a deal.   One good point that was made was that as we get older we know how to handle situations differently – or being patient.  Can being patient really change our lives that much? 

I’m not naïve enough (or strong enough mentally) to believe that I’m immune to annoyances or being annoyed…I can only try to be more patient and spread the patience gospel to everyone who will listen

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