Tuesday, February 28, 2012


Courtesy of Countess Communications, snippets of my first recorded speech (to my knowledge) are available for your viewing pleasure (or mockery) below. This video begins with a conversation about pens, specifically the Pilot G2 vs. uni-ball Signo Gel 207. Are you serious? you ask? Yes.

Special thanks to Countess Communications, as well as The Angel 34 Foundation for the opportunity to speak, and Bella Casa Kitchen & Bath for hosting the event.

Leia Mais…

Monday, February 27, 2012

So Long and Goodbye: My February Cancer Peep

Nicole Sheriff

For the first month following my bone marrow transplant I dreamed about food: fast food I saw on commercials, dishes my mom had previously prepared, breakfast cereal, forbidden grapes from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Everything. This was a consequence of my inability to eat and relentless famishment that ensued.

There was one item I could consume: a cherry ICEE that my mom bought me each morning from the hospital lobby. I don’t know if it was the chill, texture or consistency, but for whatever reason it stayed down. This brought me hope upon waking from my food nightmares, encouragement to begin eating actual grapes, and optimism for a future full of cherry ICEEs and much more.

Five years later I returned to the hospital for one final checkup. On my way out I walked through the hospital lobby, toward the ICEE machine for one last chill, to provide optimism for my future life void of cancer. But the machine was gone, so I kept walking, past the gift shop, through the revolving door and into the radiant sunshine outside, wishing the youngsters upstairs could benefit from ICEEs as I had.

Nicole Sheriff loved ICEEs, too. Ten years ago, at thirteen years old, Nicole was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, the same cancer I had. Unlike mine, her disease had spread: from her spine to her ankle, arm and lung. She received intense treatment, but wouldn’t allow herself to become a victim. She persevered, continuing to play field hockey and basketball, and attend school.

Nicole found ICEEs one of the few things she could consume, and fundraised through her field hockey team to help purchase ICEE machines for pediatric cancer hospitals. Her wish was that every hospital that treats pediatric cancer have a machine, and to financially support families of those patients. Her wish became her legacy with the inception of The Angel 34 Foundation which has now raised over $2.5 million. Nicole’s mission for Angel 34 was for every child to have his or her own angel during the cancer battle.

Nicole lost her battle in 2004, at age 15. I met Nicole’s parents last week when I spoke at the Angel 34 silent auction charity event. Her father, Doug Sheriff, is the President of the non-profit, and receives no payment for his effort. The event was not only a fun party, but also raised over $5,000. Doug and his wife, Linda, were a pleasure to meet, and hearing Nicole’s story was uplifting. Whereas I shunned the cancer world as a patient, Nicole inspired and encouraged so many. Through her foundation, she continues to do so.

Information about The Angel 34 Foundation, including how to make a donation, can be found on the website: http://www.angel34.org/
Cancer patient Nicole Sheriff with Joe Paterno

Leia Mais…

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Supermarkets (SMs)

Last month I visited three supermarkets (SMs) in a row because there are two items that I can only purchase at their respective retailers. I limited the number of return visits by purchasing enough to last nuclear war.

Stacks of organic chicken breast from Costco
Organic chicken breasts at Costco (CC), cheaper and more conveniently-packaged than competitors
Boxes of organic instant oatmeal from Whole Foods
Individually-packaged instant oatmeal at Whole Foods (WF), with rolled oats the only ingredient
Usually I go to Trader Joe's (TJ), which offers the cheapest produce and free samples of coffee. Sometimes I visit Harris Teeter (HT) for the vegetables not offered at TJ, and free cookies (the "kids only" sign means through age ninety-seven, and "please take only one" means six at a time). Throw in CC and WF (see photos above), Walmart (WM) if available (the cheapest of all SMs), and Giant (GT) for $5.50 yard birds on Fridays. WTF, I'm now thinking after reading this paragraph.

I used to mock people for enjoying SMs and spending a lot of time there. Instead, I limited my time investment by parking handicap, and weaving through the human and cart traffic as if I had three hips instead of one.

Until last week I was still a mocker because, despite my behavior, it was all in the name of saving money (though, clearly I need to re-prioritize my time). Then, there was Wegman's (WG).

Last week, in between my two speeches in Lehigh Valley, I brought my computer into WG to kill a few hours. I mock no more: WG is the greatest structure humans have created, not including the pyramids because aliens helped with those. The market cafe offers wifi and ample dumb college girls to laugh at. There are several hot food bars, a produce section the size of TJ, and bulk nuts, dried fruit and candy, which BTW means free samples.

I plan to take my next date to WG (I'll bet you cookies from HT that your date would enjoy it). First, I'll search all the social coupon sites for discounts at the WG hot food bars. Searching all seven of them as well as restaurant.com should only take me…damn, I already forgot about that time prioritization.

Leia Mais…

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

QR, Q&A, Q Me Out

Grab your smartphone, download the Barcode Scanner app, open the app, and point below:

Official book trailer QR code for Twice: How I Became a Cancer-Slaying Super Man Before I Turned 21

That QR code, found on the back of my new business card, directs mobile devices to the Official Twice Book Trailer. I plan to make it rain business cards on Mahjong tables, daycare center floors, and in celebrities’ mailboxes. I wrote that I embrace new ways to reach consumers, and new patrons altogether. The elderly, toddlers, and Keanu Reeves are the best starting points, as they commonly make use of advanced technology.*

Tomorrow I’ll be a guest on a popular podcast, which will be aired at a later date, so stay tuned. I will not be raining business cards via Skype. However, cards will downpour Thursday when I speak at a Rotary Club meeting as well as the charity event, Give A Little childhood cancer fundraiser for Angel 34, in Lehigh Valley. I really look forward to sharing my story and QR code, but remember, as a general rule if nobody asks questions following a speech then the speech sucked. Or their weren't enough Keanu references.

*Disclaimer: mobile phones likely cause brain cancer in these groups. Well, probably not The One, Keanu.

Leia Mais…

Monday, February 13, 2012

El Café

Four months ago I was provided a brief instruction on coffee, with drawings. That sparked my palate. I began consuming cups at work, at my parents’ house, and samples provided at Trader Joe’s: all free. I enjoyed drinking coffee, but couldn’t fathom being a “coffee person,” the official title for anyone who pays for it.

Glass straw from GlassDharma.com to reduce coffee tooth stains
Elegant straw from GlassDharma.com
I bought a glass straw to mitigate dental staining. Stainless steel straws are cheaper, but they could leach iron, the last thing my ornery bone marrow needs. I considered this small fixed cost an investment in my hygiene rather than a coffee expense. I retained my unwillingness to pay for coffee.

Last weekend while out with friends, I ordered cups of French press coffee. But this I reasoned an opportunity cost rather than a coffee payment: it’s cheaper than alcohol, and saved me unnecessary calories as I continue striving toward my fitness goal.

And yesterday I bought Seattle’s Best for $1 at the supermarket kiosk. I was about to study for my two speeches this Thursday, and needed a jolt. That seemed a better option than Coke Zero or sugary foods.

I’m running out of justifications for why I’m still not yet a coffee person. I fear I’m becoming a real adult: buying a house and getting a book published didn't plant me in adulthood, but purchasing coffee would catapult me there. Oh boy, now I need to engage in childish behavior to offset this potential soar in maturity…

Stay tuned for a new bodily function story.

Leia Mais…

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Next Thirty Years

Joe PaternoLast month I met my uncle and his friend, Dan McGinn, at a Georgetown basketball game. My uncle, a pollster, knows many powerful and interesting people, and I was in awe of Dan. Dan modestly touched on his relationship with Joe Paterno, who hired him to be his communications adviser.

Back at home following the game, ESPN displayed breaking news on JoePa: “Over the last few days Joe Paterno has experienced further health complications, according to a family spokesman.” I then remembered having seen Dan write emails on his iPad at the game. I texted JD, “I think I was at the game with the ‘family spokesman’!” Minutes later, another JoePa update, this time with Dan’s full named credited.

At the game, Dan and my uncle shared incredible stories with me, about their business successes, failures, and risks. “I’m not disappointed with how my career turned out,” Dan said. “But I would love to be your age with my whole career in front of me. The next 30 years are going to be amazing—technologically, globally, everything.”

I didn’t understand what Dan meant at the time; I think I have an idea, now…

There are seven billion people, but we are all connected. News first breaks via social media, rare sporting events are uploaded online and viewed instantly, and people across the globe play online games with each other in real time.

Consider my new mobile phone, the Droid Incredible 2, which is just that. It is an injustice to brand this device a “phone”. Every day I use it to listen to music, communicate orally and through text, and read Economist articles on the metro. I use it to “push” information with my silly tweets, and “pull” information with sports scores and alerts. I am a technophile and use my Incredible for most everything, but I’m only marginally tech-savvy. I can’t imagine how useful it is to androit individuals.

The world’s information is infinite—even overwhelming at times—because of the relentless capacity for digital storage, methods of delivery/access, and ingenuity. I read articles on my Incredible from anywhere, books on the love of my life, my Kindle Touch, and stream HBO GO and Netflix on my powerful entertainment system, via a single HDMI computer cable. This is bad news for companies like Blockbuster, where a split-second delay in adaptation can be a death sentence, as more nimble and hungry firms arise. And it is bad news for companies that only make digital audio devices, for example, because my Incredible performs those functions and everything else, perhaps leading to an obsolete .mp3 player industry. Sadly, it can also be bad news for creators of intellectual content (including yours truly): passwords are shared, digital media swapped, and soon enough information and creative works are exchanged freely. Here, too, we must accept this as the new digital world and embrace new techniques to reach consumers. In that sense, free information will lead to evermore new ideas and technological advances.

In this connected world, jurisdictions are blurred. For example, the blueprints for my Incredible may have been developed in India, the components made in China, the hardware sold by a Taiwanese firm, software by an American one, and marketed as nine different products in fifty different countries. If only people let go of the “us vs. them” mentality and embraced this globalized, connected chain, because it is never “Made [strictly] in U.S.A.” any longer. Imagine the creative flow if governments eased restrictions. I foresee a brilliant Libyan woman with an idea that would lead to time travel, but because of her gender and geographic location this idea will never come to be.

If you believe the flow of great ideas is one-way, think again. Months ago my friend, 25 Cent, mentioned wanting to invest in ATM machines. I shared my thoughts on the future of money—mobile payments. This form of payment exploded in Africa, where mobile phones are cheap and plentiful, and I expect to see it everywhere within five years (anyone use the Starbucks mobile payment app?). I am imagining the possibilities of my Incredible—loaded with sensors and scanners that do everything from make payments to monitor my health—and surely I’m only thinking of 1% of all it is capable of. Maybe that same Libyan woman can think of other capabilities.

America is guilty in a different way: the government incentivizes companies to keep less productive and efficient jobs here, and our citizens harbor hatred towards foreigners who take them. But people are people, no matter the skin color or spoken language, and those haters indirectly wish to keep the world’s poor just that, shutting opportunities for them to make a life for themselves and better and cheaper products for everyone. How about embracing global efficiencies, and for the government to provide better services like training and education, that keep America globally competitive? Since when was it the American way to cower in the face of a challenge and adversity? Besides, the “developed” and “developing” worlds are moving towards equilibrium regardless of attempts to slow or prevent it.

Yeah, I think that’s what Dan meant. The world is about to become an even more amazing place. Unless, of course, Facebook’s IPO leads to global economic meltdown and nuclear war and Zuckerberg is revealed as an extraterrestrial here to steal resources and human babies. And steal my Incredible. But if he tries taking my Kindle Touch then his Jewish, alien ass is mine.

Leia Mais…

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

So Long and Goodbye: My January Cancer Peep

Unlike past Cancer Calendars which mostly focused on famous people and poking fun at celebrities, the 2012 Cancer Calendar will be composed of Cancer People who impacted my life in some way, with personal anecdotes and their stories of triumph, or tragedy.

Dan Turk

Saturday, January 15, 2000

My friends and I played tackle football in Zeke’s yard, because PepperoniNip and I would have been incapable of just sitting around. The Washington Redskins’ NFC semifinals game was later that afternoon, following a six-year playoff drought. My excitement could not be bucked. We finished playing by 4:00 p.m., enough time for me to scamper through the woods back home and watch the Redskins play the Buccaneers for a spot in the NFC Championship.

At age sixteen, my heart could handle my weekly Redskins viewings; if I had been sixty then perhaps not. They were usually filled with shrieks of joy, or jumping on my couch and screaming at players or referees, or scolding my viewing partner—my dad—for proclaiming a field goal “good” when it is clearly heading wide right.

The Redskins blew a 13-point lead in the third quarter, but managed a 52-yard field goal attempt with 1:17 left in the game. The snap from Dan Turk was low, and couldn’t be handled by the quarterback, Brad Johnson, who failed trying to convert a pass on the botch. The Redskins lost 14-13.

If the snap was clean then maybe the Redskins would’ve won. The following week, the Bucs lost to the Rams in the NFC Championship, 11-6. Maybe the Redskins would’ve won. The Rams beat the Titans in the Super Bowl, 23-16. Maybe the Redskins would have won. If not for Dan Turk.

I blamed Turk for the loss and felt rage towards him. All he has to do is snap the ball. How hard is that?

The following season the Redskins and Bucs clashed again, on October 1, 2000. I had just finished my first round of chemotherapy to treat the bone cancer that had infested my left hip, leaving me unable to play tackle football ever again. Unable to eat, concentrate, or see the end of that horrifying treatment road ahead of me, I felt depressed. I watched the Redskins game with PepperoniNip, embracing a three-hour reprieve from cancer with one of my best friends. Dan Turk was no longer on the team.

The Redskins blew a lead again, this time ten points. The game went to overtime. Deion Sanders returned a punt 57 yards; the Redskins kicked a field goal, and won, 20-17. PepperoniNip and I went buck wild, my appetite and concentration returned swiftly, depression vanished, and bone cancer eventually vanquished. As I’ve stated before, sometimes sports have value beyond simple athletic competitions.

PepperoniNip and I joked that they’d have lost if Dan Turk was the long snapper. But like me, Turk was competing against not a Buccaneer, but disease—he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer months before. He kept his disease quiet, and received treatment at the University of Indiana medical center. "In the big picture, it's not something people want to hear about,” he had said.

Turk passed away less than three months later, soon after I finished my fifth cycle of chemo. In the big picture, Turk made a single mistake at a bad time. He did not deserve the wrath of me and my fellow Redskins fans. I will never forget that picture he painted for us…or that long-forgiven botched snap.
Testicular cancer survivor and Washington Redskin Dan Turk

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