1. Back in November, Marcia and I visited Las Vegas to spend Thanksgiving with Katelin and John. We were staying at a hotel with a casino in it (which is a needless distinction when you mention Las Vegas, I guess), and after I got my coffee one morning, I stuck my change in a slot machine and had a nice little $100+ return. Since I prefer to invest ill-gotten gains of that nature into other potential ill-gotten gains, I put some bets down at the Sports Book window. For the NBA, I put four $5.00 bets on each of Phoenix, Miami, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Lakers to win the NBA Title in 2023. None of them were doing particularly well at the time (the Lakers were especially bad), but now: all four of them are in the Final Eight of the NBA Playoffs , none playing each other, so conceivably I could end up with money on all of the Final Four. With the Washington Wizards (my team since their Capital Bullets days) eliminated before the playoffs started, I’m rooting for the Lakers to win the whole thing, as my $5.00 bet on them with pay out $655 with a Finals victory. I’ve also got a bet on the Las Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL, and with the seeming-Team-of-Destiny Boston Bruins shockingly knocked out in the first round of the playoffs, that one’s looking healthier than I thought it might. I’ll have to come up with some really crazy bets as reinvestment if I win these NBA or NHL picks, that’s for sure.
2. I had mentioned here some time back that I was working for TREE Fund again (I had been the organization’s President/CEO from 2015 to 2019) as a consultant, helping them through a period of executive transition. It took a little longer than any of us expected, I think, but I’m pleased to report that the Board has engaged its next President/CEO, per this press release. I’m most pleased that Paul has agreed to become the organization’s leader, and am happy to see that he has already registered for the Tour des Trees, the organization’s per-eminent community engagement event. If you care about the organization, the cause, and the event, you can join me in supporting Paul’s maiden Tour at his fundraising page, here. This year’s Tour is going from Reno, Nevada to Half Moon Bay, California, in what promises to be a spectacular ride with loads of community engagement events already scheduled. So maybe you want to support it by riding with Paul and the rest of the peloton instead? You can do that here. Great cause, great community, and a life-altering adventure for many. Highly recommended!
3. I will be in Charlotte, North Carolina this week at the amazing Bartlett Tree Research Laboratories for TREE Fund’s semi-annual Board Meeting. I’ll have some afternoon down-time after the meeting adjourns, so am planning to make a nostalgia visit to Albemarle, North Carolina, where my Dad grew up, and where I spent loads of time in my pre-college years visiting my grandparents. It’s a dear place to me, and I don’t get there often. Planned highlight: dinner at Whispering Pines BBQ, a legendary local institution (my Dad used to go there when he was in high school) that I consider to be the pinnacle of the Carolina barbecue experience. Mmmmm . . . salivating just thinking about it! Then I’m headed to Minneapolis, where I will meet up with Marcia for some family celebrations around her sister’s 75th Birthday. And from there, I’m flying on alone to Annapolis for a book signing with my co-author, Jim McNeal, of our Side by Side in Eternity: The Lives Behind Adjacent American Military Graves, in conjunction with the epic annual Herndon Climb. If any of my Navy peeps are going to be on the Yard for Herndon, do track me down and say “howdy,” please and thanks, as I’d love to catch up in person. And for those who have read and enjoyed the book, a respectful request (again) to say that Jim and I would be most appreciative if you’re able and willing to review it Amazon, or on your own websites, or anyplace else. Those blurbs are helpful to marketing future projects, so we’re looking to build a nice catalog thereof.
4. Speaking of future book projects, I’ve received the proof print copy of Ubulembu and Other Stories, which won the 2023 Unleash Creatives Book Prize, and am busy doing a detailed re-read to catch any nit typos or errors that I’ve made and missed along the way. It’s very satisfying to hold it in hand, and I love the layout and design that Jen and Chris at Unleash Press have created for the book. It’s already up for pre-order on Amazon Prime and Barnes and Noble, with a target print release date of August 1, and an eBook release on September 1. Very exciting to be so close to having it out!