One Reason I Teach

Recently, a UNCC film producer contacted me by email to share that a former student had mentioned me in comments and to ask if I’d be willing to let them film in my classroom for 10 minutes. I was flattered and agreed and wrote my former student to thank him for his words. I remember Chris well.

There are many reasons I teach, and this is a big one: I’m grateful for whenever a former student suggests they learned something in my classroom. This video played at UNCC’s big annual gala to celebrate teaching. For members of the UNCC community, you may enjoy the entire video and see people you know. To cut to the quick of it, you can pick up at the 3-minute mark, which is where my student begins.

The Bank of America Award for Teaching Excellence – 50 Years
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Fifty Smacks Me Upside the Head

In a post published in April 2017, “O’Yonder,” and in previous posts, I shared that I’ve been thinking quite a bit about time and age lately. Explicit or not in earlier blog entries, hopeful belief that I’m still young underlies my time-oriented thoughts. I am fifty years four months and maybe a week or so old. I want to believe I’m 25. Even as I aged and tallied up seven orthopedic surgeries, I always recovered and found my way back to the things I loved to do. In short, I’d go hard, fall down, get hurt, get back up, recover and start out again. And it was no problem.

An early view of Alaska, June 2017

Recently, our family traveled to Alaska, a first for the five of us. We had a day in Anchorage before our lodge picked us up, so we rented bikes to ride Anchorage’s Knowles Coastal Trail. The paved trail connects  downtown Anchorage with Kincard Park, 11 miles away, as it winds along the coast, beneath the flight path of the airport’s runway, and through dense forests. (We saw a baby moose right off the path, munching on leaves, and it’s wary mother nearby.) The path’s rating is “Easy.”

Calf we rode right past

The trail is indeed easy, except for a short, semi-steep and curved section inside Kincaid Park. After lunch, we set back to explore the city. My 18-year-old and 16-year-old took off like greyhounds down the trail. At 25, I was up to the challenge. Screaming along, I passed both boys, looked ahead, saw a curve I couldn’t make, so off the trail I went, braking hard. Happens all the time mountain biking, so why would this be any different? I planned to approach a stop and then ride back onto the trail.

The log

A stump had another idea. It stopped my front wheel dead and catapulted me at 20-mph over the handlebars and onto a nearby log. Depending upon how you look at it, my experience was an “epic fail,” something worthy of YouTube (according to my sons), or it was what I choose to accept as a wake-up call: 50, not 25. “Fifty, not 25,” will be on my lips moving forward for every mountain bike ride, ski run, or high-mileage hike. I have a good friend whose mantra has become, “I ride to ride another day.” I get that.

Five weeks later, I’m still recovering. I fractured two ribs, broke the collarbone, and cracked the humerus. (That word is too close to hubris for my comfort.) My wife snapped a picture of the log, and I marvel at it. Had I flown a few inches lower, I wouldn’t be here. It’s definitely good to be here.

So thanks, 50,  and to an anonymous log in Kincaid Park, for smacking me upside the head. You knocked some sense into me.


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Do not fear

“Here is the world.

Beautiful and terrible things will happen.

Don’t be afraid.”

Frederick Buechner (1926 – present): writer, philosopher, theologian

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More Pictures

So, my two oldest returned safely from their Outward Bound mountaineering trip to the Maroon Bells in Colorado. I think some of these pictures are cool. Enjoy.







The Maroon Bells, CO

McLean below freezing temps

El in tropical weather

River Crossing

Rushing River Falls

Base Camp


The Summit

The Summiteers

Returning to Camp

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A Travelogue via Pictures

Denver: Boys on the eve of an Outward Bound mountaineering expedition to the Maroon Bells

Golden, CO: Chimney Gulch Trail to Lookout Mountain, four miles up/four miles down.

Views from Lookout Mountain

View from loft’s living room of Coors Field

View down Market Street from the living room.

Downtown Denver




16th Street Mall

Colorado Rockies in the distance

North Carolina Appalachians


Not stressful

VA: Appalachians – Boy Scout Camp Powhatan

Happy camper.

A place I’d like to visit.

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My brother and me

Duncan and I used to fight, a lot. It was mostly my fault, undergoing the rigors of adolescence and taking it out on him. Yet — in spite of the fisticuffs and thrown objects and attempted fratricides — something shifted in high school.

L-R: Elliott (16); William (12); McLean (18)

Duncan and I became close friends. It’s that way to this day, and I’m grateful for his sharp mind, sense of humor, and outstanding counsel.

What I wish for my sons is that they’ll stick together, always look out for each other. I see promising signs that this will happen, and nothing makes this father more pleased.

In spite of Lauren and my preaching the Gospel of Brothers are Brothers for Life, nothing shows them what such a lifetime friendship can mean more than watching Duncan and me as we continue to grow closer with time.

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The Buddha Visits the Lowcountry

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