I think I can strike another sumpin sumpin off my bucket list. I said I wanted to come up with a cool quote and I just found one in one of my old columns. Writing about the propensity of those in Washington to govern their actions by what the media is saying, I came up with the following:
America may not be a paper tiger, but she is a tiger run by her papers.
Or the variation:
America is not a paper tiger. She is a tiger run by her papers.
Not the best, I admit, but good enough to cross off the list.
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As I put together my bucket list this morning, I got to thinking.
I’ve done a fair bit in and with my life.
Not as much as I’d hoped to by this stage of my life, especially career-wise. Quitting the practice of law and later starting a business that regulators just aren’t going to allow no matter how legal it is — neither were particularly good moves. But I have done and seen a fair bit more than most people who’ve walked the Earth. So in the interest of balance, as well as for my kids’ information in the (hopefully unlikely) event I die before I can share with them my old war stories, I thought I’d put together a “What’s Not On My Bucket List” List. This is it:
Made friends I love like siblings.
Lived in a house with a white picket fence. Still do, actually.
Built a dream house. The bill wasn’t so dreamy and it isn’t quite done, but I think it’s a pretty nice place.
Got a dog. Two, actually. Miss the first every day.
That's our fence in the background.
Accomplishments (or not):
Made a hole in one. Two, both in the late 1990’s.
Graduated Phi Beta Kappa. University of Washington, 1991.
Graduated from a prestigious law school. Georgetown Law, 1994.
Been published in nationally-circulated periodical. Had letters to the editor published in both GQ and Golf World, both about ten years ago.
Been published in a textbook. Allyn & Bacon’s Guide to Writing — still waiting on the royalties from that one.
Been arrested. For one of these I became the first person in the history of planet Earth to be extradited to Louisiana for violating its online gambling law. (More.)
Stood up to The Man. Not smart — see the previous bullet.
Stuff I’ve Done:
Lived in New York City. On 79th and Amsterdam on the Upper West Side, Fall 1988.
Lived in Europe. Well, not so much “lived” as did a summer quarter in Florence, 1992.
Attended Mardi Gras. Twice. 1993-94.
Travelled through Europe. Done this four times — the first time in 1978 with my grandparents, the last time through the United Kingdom with a buddy in 1998.
I lived on the 12th floor of this building in Manhattan during the fall of 1988.
Driven across the United States. In 1991, on my way to law school.
Swam with sharks. Scuba dived under some hammerheads in the Galapagos Islands, 2003.
Attended U.S. Opens. Golf three times (1992, 2000, 2002) and tennis once (2004).
With a newfound friend. Southern Italy, 1992.
Participated in a Civil War reenactment. Have done several in the past few years.
Attended the Ryder Cup. Went to the Ryder Cup in 1997 in central Spain. From there, I came up with Greenspan Cup. The rest is (still) history.
With Carl and friends at the U.S. Open. Summer 2005, Flushing, NY.
Skiied at some of the world’s top ski resorts. Vail (1996) and Whistler (several times, the last in 1998).
Finished triathlons. They were my thing in 1998-99. I carried my bike for about a mile during my first one (Wildflower) after I got a flat.
Visited the Galapagos Islands. 2003, where I swam with hammerheads and some mighty big seals.
Hang glided. The most recent time being about ten years ago. No need to do that again.
Attended the Indianapolis 500. Was overrated. Now it’s not rated at all.
Been to Eiffel Tower. 1994 as I recall.
Jumped off the high dive at Laurelhurst Beach Club. Did that in the summer of ’09. Won’t ever dive, however.
Attended a national political convention. Republican party, New York City 2004. I was there the night Zell Miller gave his famous spit wad speech.
Been in the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea in Israel is literally dying, but I got there in 2005.
This photo was taken in 1997 after a round of golf at a course in central Spain. Wish I remembered the name of the place.
Eaten at Peter Lugar’s in Brooklyn. Good stuff.
Saw the Rolling Stones live.
Saw U2 live. Three times, the third at Madison Square Garden.
Saw Tiger Woods play in person. At the PGA Championship in 1998.
Floating in the Dead Sea, January 2005.
Not Winston Churchill, Oliver Wendell Holmes or Teddy Roosevelt, I’ll grant you. But still not bad.
Here’s hoping this list gets longer in the months and years ahead.
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As I watched virtually every second of last week’s British Open coverage at St. Andrews, I couldn’t escape a singular thought:
Before I die, I want to play the Old Course.
Of course, that got me to thinking about what else I want to do before the Grim Reaper calls — the question at the front end of a bucket list. I’ve never been particularly interested in making one. I’ve done so much in my life already and any list of desired additions could come off as me complaining my life has been wanting, which it certainly has not. I’ve had a family, kids, swam with sharks, lived in a house with a white picket fence (still do). I didn’t get cheated for most of my first four decades. But the more I thought about it and read about the concept of bucket lists (here’s a good read), the more I thought I can use it as a goal/roadmap in and of itself. Whether I cross everything off the list or not is irrelevant. Just having a goal and trying to achieve it makes life all the better, as I’ve learned recently with my commitment to fitness.
As is my wont, I’ve organized my list into three subcategories: (1) macro, big picture things; (2) accomplishments; and (3) things/stuff I want to do. Most bucket lists are largely about (3). If I can do what’s on (1) I won’t be worried much if I die without doing many of (2) and (3). So here it is:
Big Picture Things:
Be a role model to my kids. If as adults my kids say “I wanna be like Dad” then my life will have been a success. The rest of this stuff is just that — stuff. Doesn’t really matter all that much.
Start a successful company. I tried and might have made it but for a few bureaucrats in Olympia. This one is getting less and less likely as the days and weeks and months go by.
Make a difference. I suspect this one’s on just about everyone’s list. No one wants to die thinking their presence on earth mattered to no one.
Accomplishments (in no particular order):
Make another hole in one. I have two, but none since 1997.
Make an eagle. Believe it or not, I have two aces but no eagles. Gotta fix that.
Shoot my age. If I’m even thinking about this someday it means I made it in to old age, a very good thing.
Appear before the United States Supreme Court. This one is probably the most unlikely one on the list, if for no other reason than I’m not currently licensed to practice law. Still, never say never.
Have my house appear in a magazine. This is another one in the “extremely unlikely” category. Would be cool, except you have to have (1) an impeccable house, and (2) connections with big time publishers. Right now I have neither.
Be an extra in a movie. A year or so ago I thought about doing whatever it takes to be an extra on the upcoming 28 Months Later. Then I found out that the extras in the first two movies in that franchise were gymnasts who trained for weeks. I’ll probably have to settle for a different movie.
Get my handicap under 4. I’ve been as low as a 4.3 and am a 7.5 as I write this, mostly the result of horrific putting and an even more horrific chipping game. Being a 3-something would mean I was actually a good player, if only for one handicap cycle.
Have a washboard stomach. Right now my six pack looks like a keg and has since I was about four years old. Still, p90x does wonders. Biggest problem is sticking to it on the diet — not easy.
Play Greenspan Cup with my kids. This would be something close to the thrill of a lifetime. Probably won’t get a shot at it for at least another fifteen years.
Come up with cool quote. You know, one of those things that, had some famous politician said it, would have made one of those great quotes books. I had one once, I swear, but it was so good I forgot it.
Appear in a national magazine. The techie magazine Business 2.0 once did an article about Superbuild.com, the online home improvement retailer for which I served as No. 2 man in 1998. The picture they ran of my partner and I was so bad (at least of me) that I tried to erase it from my memory. I’d like to get another shot at that.
Play the Old Course at St. Andrews. Played the Old Course in June 2012. And shot 74.
Go on an African safari. I cant say this is something I’ve always wanted to do, but I would like to do it at some point. Lion Country Safari was cool when I was a kid, but something tells me it isn’t the same as the real thing.
Play golf in Japan. I’ve done this once before. Had so much fun I want to do it again. (Repeats are allowed on my bucket list.)
At the Swilcan Bridge, June 2012.
Vacation in Nantucket. Another repeat. Done this three times (1998-2000). Enjoyed it so much I want to go back. Wouldn’t even mind living there.
Norman (pictured), Paul and I played golf in Japan in '04. Bathed together naked, too (no photo available).
Play five of the top hundred golf courses in the world. Have a bunch of them now — St. Andrews (Old), Muirfield, Pacific Dunes, Royal Dornoch, Turnberry, Carnoustie, Kingsbarns, Castle Stuart, Bandon Dunes, Los Angeles (North), North Berwick (West), Royal Aberdeen, Old MacDonald, Cruden Bay and Bandon Trails.
Play ten of the top hundred courses in the United States. This is done, too. All four of the Bandon courses plus Los Angeles (North)
Learn to fly fish. Not sure what’s holding me back on this one.
Visit Deadwood. I’m sure it’s nothing like it was during the 1870’s when the HBO series was set, but I feel a need to get there nonetheless. Hoping to see the ghost of Al Swearingen.
Go to Iceland. Wouldn’t mind playing golf there or visiting that ice hotel.
Play Greenspan Cup with one or more of my children. This might be close to the ultimate.
Go to The Masters. I’ve been to lots of big golf tournaments — the 1997 Ryder Cup, the 1998 British Open and PGA Championships, the 1992-, 2000- and 2002 U.S. Opens. The Masters will complete my career grand slam.
Go to Oktoberfest in Munich. Went to Oktoberfest in 1994 and got duped into going to Munich for it again in ’98 only to miss it by a week. Need to get back there again.
Ride a camel in the desert. I rode a camel in ’05 on my visit to Israel, but it was just a ride around a tourist trap and, thus, not a real “ride.”
I picked up this cashmere overcoat in Munich after my buddied duped me into going to Oktoberfest the week after it ended.
In Jerusalem, 2005.
Still want to do the real thing.
Visit Nice, France. I visited the south of France twice in the early 90’s. Strutting down the beach in Nice with U2 blaring on my Walkman is still one of my fondest memories. Gotta do it again.
Visit Siberia. My grandpa’s family’s from Chitah, Siberia. They fled the Bolsheviks for China in 1920.
Visit the Taj Mahal. Really just want to go to India. Would love to see it by train, like in that movie The Darjeeling Limited.
Visit Salzburg, Austria. Again, this is one I’ve already done — twice. But is has such a good vibe that it has to be done again, preferably via EurRail. Last time I was there (1993) I saw a sweater in a store window on my way out of town. Store was closed. Loved the sweater so much I returned the next week to buy it. Still wearing it to this day.
Eat chocolate from Enric Rovira. Ever see that episode of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations when Tony goes to Spain and visits that guy making those really cool chocolate eggs? If you haven’t here’s a link. Anyway, I want one of those eggs. I’d at least like to try some of his chocolate.
Salzburg has my kind of vibe.
I may never get these ...
but some day I oughta be able to get some of these. (They're made by the same chocolatier.
So that’s it. All the things I want to do before I die. Will I do all of them? Very doubtful. Most of them? Pretty unlikely. But I’ve got a good shot at doing at least some of them, starting with a couple of golf-related ones next week at Bandon Dunes.
Next stop: St. Andrews. Not sure when, but someday.
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