100 Things About Me – The List

1 My middle and last name was made up by my grandfather. He ran away from home at age 13 and changed his name so they wouldn’t be able to find him. My last name should have been Bell; no idea where he came up with the middle name (there’s only 3 of us with that name as far as I know).

2 I was reading before age 3. My dad taught me how to read via a combination of Dr. Seuss books and M&M’s. I always told him that I believe he taught me how to read so I’d leave him alone.

3 I’m attracted to women with overbites, and married one. My ex-wife said it was because my first “girlfriend” when I was 2 years old had an overbite.

4 I was born in Fort Worth, TX, on Carswell AFB, which no longer exists.

5 I lived in Tokyo, Japan from the age of 3 until I was almost 7 years old. We lived in American housing, as my dad was in the military, and the buildings were supposedly based on designs by Frank Lloyd Wright to withstand earthquakes, which I don’t remember but my mother said we had them all the time. Where I lived in Japan is also gone.

6 I used to climb up the outside of buildings onto the roofs at that age; my mother didn’t learn that until I was 35 or so.

7 I also used to sneak off the base by climbing over the fence under the barbed wire, and every once in a while just walking through the front gate.

8 I spoke Japanese because we had a Japanese housekeeper. I was little kid proficient, and was the translator for my first two years of school, as Japanese parents sent their kids to our school but most of them didn’t speak any English. I lost it all when I came back to the states.

9 From our living room window we had a great view of Mount Fuji. Once we actually went there, though obviously not to the very top. That was one of the scariest trips I ever took in my life; one way up, one way down, and the roads weren’t wide.

10 I once walked away from my group on a field trip and ended up in the penthouse apartment of a Japanese couple, who fed me, talked to me for a while, then just let me leave. The chaperones went nuts trying to find me, and when they eventually did I was sitting on the bus. They never told my mother.

11 I can’t swim. It started in Japan where my swimming lesson consisted of someone getting me onto a diving board and then pushing me off when I wasn’t expecting it, jumping in to get me, then giving me a badge. There will be more about swimming later.

12 I took judo while in Japan and was good at flipping other kids. I participated in a judo tournament where I flipped a kid. We got back up, he flipped me, then held me down. My teacher hadn’t taught us that we were supposed to do anything after flipping kids. I got to the orange belt but lost in the tournament.

13 I’ve never had a broken bone in my entire life, which I attribute to learning how to fall because I took judo.

14 When we left Japan we moved to North Syracuse, NY, which is close to where I live now. We lived in an apartment off base and 2nd grade was actually the first time I went to school to learn something I didn’t already know.

15 We lived in off base housing for less than a year because one night a little girl in an upstairs apartment started a fire and my parents weren’t home because Dad had left me sleeping to go pick Mom up from work. They came home, I was with the firemen, and two weeks later we moved into base housing at Hancock Field; it’s also no longer there.

16 I had wanderlust there as well. I often rode my bike off the base through a different gate (who said military security was all that strong?) and rode up a very busy street to a place that gave out free popcorn. Mom didn’t learn that until many years later.

17 I bowled for more than 35 years until my knees couldn’t take it anymore. I actually started at age 3, threw my first 170 game at age 5, and my first 200 game at age 8, since my dad worked at the bowling alleys in Texas and on base in North Syracuse. The best league game I had led off with 10 strikes in a row. Then I left a stupid 10-pin and missed the spare; ugh!

18 Where we lived on base, airplanes used to come into landing over an area that most people weren’t allowed to be but us kids on base could get to easily. We used to throw rocks at the planes coming in for a landing; I actually hit one once.

19 The first snowstorm I remember was in October 1969, when we were trying to get to Kansas City. We ended up staying in a motel and I had a great time watching monster movies all day.

20 We lived with my grandmother from October 1969 to December 1970 because Dad went to Vietnam. She lived in what had become a ghetto; trust me, it was scary.

21 The day my dad left for Vietnam was the same day the Jackson Five were on the Ed Sullivan show, which is why that’s my favorite group of all time and Michael Jackson is my favorite entertainer of all time.

22 For an entire year I did nothing in school, but by law I still had to go. They were still doing Dick & Jane books in 5th grade and learning remedial math. Those kids hated me, but the teachers couldn’t take time to teach me anything. They wanted to put me in the high school but Mom said no; thank goodness! My school was all black except for one Mexican kid; they loved him.

23 Even though most of the kids in my grade hated me, the kids in lower grades loved me for some reason, and I was elected the school’s vice president.

24 My year in school resulted in my cataloging and putting the school library in order based on the Dewey Decimal system. I don’t remember why I knew it, but no teacher at that school taught it to me. I spent most of my days alone in the library because teachers didn’t have time to protect me.

25 I won my first science award in Kansas City with an exhibit of the human eye. Actually, that’s the only science award I ever won.

26 I saw the police pull a gun on a guy for the first and only time in my life. It looked like he was aiming it at us in the window, we all jumped back and it made an impression on me that’s lasted to this day.

27 I started playing piano at age 10. My teacher thought I might be a prodigy, but I only got to have 3 months of lessons with her before we left town.

28 My dad came home early from Vietnam because he’d been injured. He was in a half body cast. He went to school with me the next day and I instantly became a school hero by default; tough school kids love you when they think you or a family member has been shot (which turned out to be true, as I found out over 40 years later).

29 The week before we left Kansas City I played basketball for the first time. I turned out to be the best player in school, as I was the only one that scored more than one point in the one game I played; I scored 13.

30 When we left my grandmother’s house (which also doesn’t exist anymore), we drove from Kansas City, Missouri to Houlton, Maine, on our way to Loring AFB in Limestone ME; it’s no longer there either. We had to stop because the car started to slow down for some reason. The next day the car wouldn’t move at all; it was 35 below zero and the car had frozen.

31 I started the second half of 6th grade after the new year had begun, going to my first school on base. At this point in my life I’d only gone to real classes for 3 years of my life and I was 11 years old; I didn’t do so well early on.

32 I also ended up with a piano teacher named Mrs. Maine; ironic, eh? She was horrible, and a horrible woman as well. Any potential I had to be a prodigy was gone. I had her for 2 years until her husband retired and they decided to live in Maine, and she came to where I lived to give me a lesson. My mother heard how she talked to me, finally believed me after I’d been complaining about it, and I never saw her again.

33 My next piano teacher might have been good, but by that time I wasn’t in the mood to play anymore. I had one recital where I not only played the piece I needed to play perfectly, but I don’t remember playing it. I went on a cartoon daydream when I started playing the song and the cartoon in my mind ended at the same time the song did. That was the last time I played piano for the next 3 years.

34 Even though I was a small kid, I got good at every sport I played except soccer. I also developed a bad temper; I didn’t just want to win, I wanted to crush.

35 As good as I thought I was, and my friends thought I was, I never made an all star team. I learned on a fluke 20 years later that the coaches thought that though I was good, anyone could play outfield. So they loaded the team with pitchers and put them in the outfield. Sigh…

36 I won many bowling trophies, and a few times I was listed in national youth bowling magazines, which was really cool.

37 The first bowling tournament I ever went to involved going to a town where the locals had never seen a black person outside of TV. They were all very nice, but they were also curious. Everyone had to shake my hand and they all stood behind me watching me bowl in that tournament. I was slightly unnerved and didn’t do well, but I behaved and they still liked me. That trip was also the first time I’d seen a Pizza Hut.

38 I was also a Boy Scout, but we kept having changes in who was leading the troop because, well, military men get moved a lot.

39 The first Boy Scout camporee (that’s what they called it) I went to was in Fort Kent, Maine. It was winter and the temperatures were around -20F. Turns out most of the 400 kids from the state that came had never met a black person either, so once again I was very popular and had to behave. My troop won 11 of the 14 awards and our leader, knowing a good thing when one was presented, sent me up to accept each award.

40 I also won a chess tournament and two pool tournaments, although friends I had later on, even now, have trouble believing it. When I want to be, and the inspiration is right, I could be good; it just wasn’t always a priority with me.

41 My dad came to watch me play a game of basketball, where I showed my bad temper. He wouldn’t come see me do anything again for 4 years. I learned how to control myself when he was around. My mother never saw me play any sports.

42 Speaking of bad temper, remember when I said I’ve never broken any bones? I meant my bones. I broke a kid’s collarbone, a kid’s arm, another kid’s fingers and one other kid’s teeth (not just one; I shattered his front 8 teeth) playing football and basketball. They were all accidents, but I was an intense player. None of the games were organized, all pick up, but I was known to throw elbows; I hated to lose, and never got used to it as a kid.

43 I got demoted in 7th grade a level (the school system had levels from 1-6; I was dropped to 2) because I had problems keeping up with some of the other kids, even though my grade never fell below an 80 average. I never learned how to study, but eventually realized that if I just read the books I could at least pull a B in every class except math.

44 In 8th grade, I brought home my first C, in history, because I didn’t like the teacher. My parents punished me by saying I couldn’t watch TV for two weeks. I went to my room & turned on the radio and that’s the day I discovered music for real.

45 The real day I learned about sex was so traumatic that I didn’t sleep for a week. When I finally told Mom what was bothering me, because I must have been goofy after not sleeping, my parents bought me a set of encyclopedias about the subject. We never talked about it, but those books were illuminating. lol

46 Even with some of the school issues, I was the only kid in school that scored perfect on the spelling test two years in a row, thus representing the school in the state spelling bee. Why do I hate fruits and vegetables? Possibly because I finished 7th both years, the first year missing “raspberry”, the second year missing “rhubarb”, and I only knew both words from TV shows & commercials.

47 It wasn’t until I was 13 that I realized my dad had more of a special job than he let on, as he didn’t actually work on the base, and thus almost no one else knew what he did either. He never told me what it was he did, but I learned a lot in the 2000’s on the internet. Wow, and that’s all I’m saying; well that and we were sitting on nukes.

48 I also got my biggest lesson about class systems and leadership. At Loring, officers lived on the other side of the base from non-commissioned officers. My dad was a block captain though, so we got some special privileges because of that. I also learned just how much officers seemed to respect my dad, even though he was a master sergeant; major leadership lessons there.

49 I had my first job at 13 bagging groceries at the commissary (grocery store on a military base). We got paid in tips. I liked that job, but got fired for a stupid reason. When I told my dad we went back up there, he talked to the man (who was a staff sergeant), the guy relented and said I could have my job back and Dad said no. It was a lesson on teaching people how to treat you and keeping one’s pride.

50 In 9th grade, when I started high school which was off base, my English teacher was racist. He was the first teacher I sent my dad to school to talk to. My dad said any grade I got in that class that was at least passing he would accept from me. I got a 78 four quarters in a row; yeah, right!

51 The basketball coach wanted me on the school team but Mom wouldn’t allow it. Blizzards came up often and she worried about me because we didn’t have school buses to take us to games; how strange was that?

52 They didn’t close school unless it was colder than 25 below, and often the temperatures were around that; so sad… But they did close for blizzards, which could come at any time between October and June. Yes, I said June, as it snowed once during a baseball game.

53 In high school in Maine, school starts in August so they can shut it down for 3-4 weeks for potato picking season. I decided to try my hand at picking potatoes in 10th grade. I was the only one of all my friends who kept going back every day after the first day. We’d wait out at one of the gates by 4AM, and a truck would drive up to take us… somewhere. I never knew where I was, this was before cellphones, and some of the farms didn’t have phones. We got paid 40 cents a barrel, got to eat lunch at noon (which we had to bring), and they took you back to the base around 4PM because it would get dark. I didn’t make a lot of money but I felt I learned a lesson about dedication and not quitting.

54 We left Maine in June 1975 because Dad had to “unofficially” retire. I pitched my first and only baseball game a few days before we left. I struck out 13 kids, hit 7, and lost the game even though I also hit my one and only home run.

55 Two weeks later, Arthur Ashe won Wimbledon and Dad and I started playing tennis. We beat everyone we played, and then I beat everyone I played until I got to college. I still had a bad temper if I lost even one game.

56 I went from a school of maybe 300 kids in Maine to one with over 3,800 in Liverpool, and if there were 50 black kids at that school I’d be surprised, since there were only 5 in my graduating class of 868. I was initially scared, but also almost got into a fight my first day there.

57 I never played school sports per se, but I played all the intramural sports and some independent sports in my senior year. My teams won every intramural sports championship I played in. I was the school badminton and ping pong champion. And the popular kids hated me, but it was more because I was considered an outsider than anything else.

58 I also became the first kid at that school to ever get a perfect score on the math achievement test. It earned me multiple scholarship letters and a place in Who’s Who.

59 The school I went to was strong in swimming, winning 7 state championships when I got there. I took mandatory swimming as a senior in gym. I almost drowned, and thus I haven’t been in a pool since October 1976, and I’m never getting in one again.

60 I started playing piano again because of Mandy by Barry Manilow, the first true piano song I heard on the radio. I played piano until 1999; more on that later.

61 I was offered 3 scholarships and didn’t go to any of those schools. I only visited one of the schools and didn’t like what I saw. I didn’t like the reason I was offered the other two because I didn’t feel I earned them.

62 I went to State University College at Oswego, about 30 minutes from where I live now and lived then. The city averages around 300 inches of snow a year; I was used to that. I was also the only black person in my dorm my first two years there; I was used to that also.

63 It took a year and a half in college but I gained control of my temper and emotions one night after punching a concrete wall because I didn’t throw a strike. I didn’t hurt myself but I found logic, based on the principles of Star Trek’s Mr. Spock, and I lived that life and philosophy for years. I always fall back on that principle when needed.

64 Every paper I wrote in college I earned a B except one, and I got an A on that paper by only reading the first page, the last page, and the two pages in the middle. Strange, four years, multiple classes, and all B’s isn’t it?

65 I was a music and history major with a concentration in composition and African-American studies. I missed out on the double major because I wouldn’t take a class called The Diaspora of Sub-Saharan Africa… I didn’t even know what that meant (remember, no internet lol).

66 I sang live for the first time at a talent show in 1979 in the college tavern. I did an Elton John song that I knew cold until the day of the performance, when suddenly I couldn’t remember the chorus. So when it was time to sing the chorus I just mumbled the words, thinking I could get away with it. Turns out they were taping it and put it on the college TV station the next week, my secret was out, but at least I played the song perfectly.

67 My voice teacher wanted me to train for opera but I had too many problems with the languages, especially German.

68 I worked in a music store for a year after college. I made little money but met some celebrities and had a good time (I indirectly helped Vanessa Williams win Ms New York; she didn’t know it until 1999 lol).

69 I got into hospital medical billing a year after that and it became the bulk of my career for the next 18 years. I was good at it; after 8 months I was moved into lower management and had leadership positions from that point on until 2001.

70 I sang at my first wedding for a co-worker in 1985. It was the first public singing since that talent show I mentioned. I sang at a lot of weddings; others seemed to value my voice more than I did, as I only wanted to be a songwriter, but it was a lot of fun once I got used to it.

71 I got married in 1997. That same year I was diagnosed as being diabetic and had surgery to remove a lump in my breast that was non-cancerous. They don’t put you to sleep for breast surgery, at least the type I had, so at one point the doctor said to me “I see you used to lift weights”, and I responded “Thanks for noticing.”

72 I’ve had two surprise parties in my life. The first I was 5 years old; the second was for my 40th birthday. Both were a lot of fun.

73 Other than the year I lived with my grandmother, in June 2000 I got my first house. On October 1st, the day we officially moved in, my ex-wife had gone somewhere and I was in the house by myself. All the windows were closed and I just started screaming, finally being able to make more noise than just above a whisper in any place I’d ever lived. It was exhilirating! 🙂

74 I also painted for the first time in my life; that didn’t go quite so well, and I wasn’t allowed to paint in the house anymore. I’m actually not allowed to use tools except a screwdriver either; I mean, break a few drills, punch a hole in one wall with a hammer…

75 I went into business for myself in June 2001 after my entire department was moved to another city and there wasn’t a job available for me. I was only going to be a leadership and diversity trainer, but I ended up branching into many other fields.

76 I played piano the last time in 1999. I played and sang for a friend’s wedding. I did 4 songs, including one I’d written that I hoped would be performed at my own wedding. I’d been singing at wedding for 14 years but it was harder finding time to practice. I got my one and only standing ovation after the last song, which was the one I wrote, knew it would never get better than that, and thus ended my music career.

77 I had my first speaking engagement 4 months into working for myself in Erie PA on leadership in health care.

78 I finished my first book in 2002, dedicating myself to finishing it so that hopefully Dad could read it before he passed away. He made it through the first 60 pages or so and said he liked it.

79 Between 2004 and 2006 I made more money than I’d made total in the previous 20 years; I haven’t come close to that since then.

80 I have spoken in 7 states on either leadership or health care topics. I have given multiple presentations here in the Syracuse area on other topics as well, including social media, blogging and motivation.

81 I’ve been doing some kind of writing since 7th grade. I’ve written poems, lyrics, music, plays, books, blogs, white papers… you name it, I’ve probably written it. The only award I’ve ever gotten was finishing in the top 600 in a song content out of 25,000 entries in 2004.

82 I do own copyrights of music, most of which are in collections since it cost less to do it that way.

83 I incorporated my business in the middle of 2006. I am officially the President and CEO of my corporation, and the president of any companies I create, even though I’m the only shareholder.

84 I started blogging in 2005 for my business and lost all the articles in 2006 when the host’s servers crashed. I was able to recover all my posts one at a time (thank you Internet Database), and that’s when I decided to be a more dedicated and smarter blogger.

85 As a consultant, I have either traveled to or worked with people in at least 11 states. I also worked with someone in the United Arab Emirates on a major health care project, though I got to stay home for that one. Let’s put it this way; there are 5 hospitals in that area that wouldn’t have had a charge capture system without me.

86 On one long term consulting assignment, I helped a hospital earn $730 million more in revenue in 53 weeks than they were when I got there, raising their daily revenue from $1.9 million to $3.9 million a day. How many people do you know who can say that?

87 I am both a Warner Brothers and Muppets fanatic, with my favorites being Kermit the Frog and Bugs Bunny. I’m also a Yoda fan but prefer Star Trek to anything else Star Wars. I’m also deeply into everything Harry Potter, though I refused to pay $50 for a wand in Orlando. And of course there’s Snoopy! 🙂

88 My favorite sports teams are all over the place, based on the factors in play at the time. I’m a Red Sox fan because I lived in northern Maine when I started watching the sport for real, but I’m both a Willie Mays fan because that was Dad’s favorite player and a Roberto Clemente fan because… just because. I used to be a Dallas Cowboys fan because my dad’s favorite football player was Bob Hayes and I was born there, but I’m not anymore because of Jerry Jones. I pull for the Syracuse Orange teams, but I’ll take a look at the New York Jets (I don’t know why lol). I’m a Los Angeles Lakers fan because I was a Wilt Chamberlain fan, and when I started learning about basketball that was his team. And I’m a Kansas City Chiefs fan because I was living there when they won their first Super Bowl. I don’t watch hockey anymore but when I was a kid I loved the Boston Bruins because of Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito (I had both of their hockey sticks). These days I watch very few sports unless one of my teams is playing, but I still read about them all the time.

89 I started writing for other people in 2009. To date I’ve written and gotten paid for 15 other people’s blogs. Including my own blogs and articles I’ve written for myself and others by now I’m up around 6,000 or so articles all told that are online or in magazines.

90 I don’t like bugs, and hate being around much nature because of them. I can’t even stand seeing pictures of them on TV or on the internet, or even on cans of bug spray. To me butterflies are bugs. Lol

91 I don’t have a lot of real friends, but those I have I’ve known a very long time. I’m loyal to my friends to a fault, and they are to me as well. My ethics, in order, are loyalty, trustworthiness, and honesty. Those things take time to build up, and any time I haven’t followed through on that, I’ve been disappointed.

92 I’m a total contradiction sometimes. I’ve never cursed, drank, smoke or taken any drugs. I’ve never been in trouble; I was never spanked by my parents. I also don’t believe in religion, am liberal in my politics but don’t like extremes (if it’s not logical I’m not supporting it). I’ve known lots of gay people, including now, but only one I know of has died from Aids, and I didn’t know him that well. I don’t hate anyone because of nationality, religion, social status, or what they look like. I do hate bigots, racists and people who are just mean for no reason.

93 I’m not close to perfect; thank goodness. I’m not the best patient in the world, almost never change my opinions on things, and hold people to my standards of decorum. I will drop a person and never talk to them again for certain transgressions; I don’t forgive well and I probably need to work on that. But I rarely put myself into a position where someone can violate a trust since I’m normally wary of most people until I know them really well, and as I said that takes time.

94 I give a lot of information away for free; my friends keep telling me to stop that and to start getting paid for more of it. I will, in my own way, but I like to think folks appreciate what I do give away.

95 I love babies and puppies; who doesn’t?

96 I don’t have any children anywhere and have never come close to having any. I’m the only child of an only child (Mom) and thus my legacy ends with me. But there are a couple of young people I love like they’re my own kids and I get to be their “uncle” for the rest of my life; I can live with that.

97 I want to be successful. I want to be rich. I will attain my dream. I am willing to allow others to be successful as well; I’m not greedy or selfish. I really do believe there’s enough for everyone. That’s part of my mantra, which I need to remember to say every day.

98 My favorite color is red. My favorite number is 3. I love chocolate and hamburger and salmon teriyaki and peanut butter. I’m somewhat superstitious on some things, OCD on other things. I’m trying to break down some of my inhibitions and opening my mind to some new experiences here and there; heck, I actually touched a cow once! lol

99 I love my mother and love my friends. I couldn’t say the word “love” outside of music until 2001 and that’s a major shame. I didn’t cry for 33 years until the day my dad passed away. If I needed to learn one major lesson and needed to help promote one major lesson it’s to never be ashamed to tell people you care about how you feel, and that your emotions are your emotions when you need them, whether it’s public or not. What others think the role of a man or a woman should be is their problem; be yourself as you want to be.

100 When all is said and done, I’m really a big kid at heart. There’s nothing wrong with that either.

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