Thursday’s List of 13: Things I’m thankful for……..

I’m a lucky person; lot of good things have happened for me over the years. Here are 13 things I’m grateful for on Thanksgiving Day……..

13) First things first; I’m lucky that I had parents who taught me right from wrong. Its a lot easier to get thru life when you are shown a roadmap on how to do things the right way. I haven’t always followed their roadmap, but I haven’t strayed too far from it, either.

12) Given the state of modern affairs, I’m thankful to whoever invented the mute button. There are so many mouthy, obnoxious people now; you see them, you hit the mute button and their voice goes away.

Younger people may not realize that there was a time when you had to get up and change the channel EVERY TIME you changed channels. Nowadays, our thumbs get a solid workout from working the remote control— I’m also thankful to whoever invented the remote.

11) To whoever invented the Internet, whether it was Al Gore or someone else, thank you!!! There is a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips now that wasn’t there when we were kids. Myself, I spend lot of time on Twitter- there is so much information there. Lot to learn.

10) I’m thankful to live in an area where I’m not too far from NYC, Boston, Philly, Montreal; an underrated thing is taking the train from Albany to Manhattan- what a beehive of activity Penn Station is. If you’ve never visited New York City, do it sometime— very busy place. Best time to visit, for me, would be from now until Christmas— its a lot friendlier around Christmas.

One thing about living in Albany that I’m not thankful for— snow. Hate snow.

9) Having the chance to travel has been a joy; when I was in college, took a trip to Sweden one summer- that was fun. There is so much to see in this country; the beaches in California and Florida, the Alamo in San Antonio and my personal favorite, any casino in Las Vegas.

8) I’m thankful to a man named John Connolly who was my high school principal who hooked me up to be a student manager for our high school basketball team— that started me on a path where I did the same thing in college, going basically for free.

Being manager of a basketball team isn’t glamorous, it wasn’t good for your social standing, but it was great fun and educational—you learned how an organization works from the inside, how it takes doing the little things to make the big things happen.

7) Thank you to whoever invented the cellphone— there was a TV show in the 60’s called Get Smart where special agent Maxwell Smart had a phone in his shoe. Mel Brooks wrote the show and it was genuinely comic genius, really coming up with the cellphone before it existed.

I can remember going to Saratoga racetrack and there were no phones- you were completely off the grid while you were there. Nowadays, probably 90% of people there have phones in their pockets. There weren’t even payphones at the track- they were banned.

6) I’m thankful to my teachers in grade school who taught me that reading/writing/math were all important things. I have no idea what kids learn in school now, but I once got a $10,000 raise at work, all because I could do math in my head without a pen or calculator— seriously.

Then there was Sister Catherine Greene, one of my teachers in 7th grade. I wasn’t paying any attention in a religion class one day and she knew that, so she calls on me, asking “Who is your favorite saint?” I was a quiet kid and it was embarrassing that I had no idea what she had been talking about- she was talking about religion, I had been daydreaming about football.

Now this is maybe 1972 or so, and I’m 12 or 13 and I wasn’t trying to be a wiseass, but I also was not paying attention, so when she asked who my favorite saint was, I just looked her and said:

“Archie Manning”

Sister Catherine was not amused; my classmates were.

5) I’m thankful that someone invented fantasy sports; since free agency doomed the A’s to being a second-tier franchise, being in a fantasy league has kept baseball season consistently fun.

Quick story about being an A’s fan— this was in 1978, I’m lying in bed late at night listening to an A’s-Red Sox game on the radio. When I was a kid, listening to baseball games on the radio was a big thing.

A’s send a pinch-hitter up to the plate, but the guy had just been called up from AAA and didn’t have his name on his jersey. Red Sox announcers had no clue who the guy was and because the low-budget A’s had very little front office help, no one in the press box did, either.

Turns out the guy’s name was Mark Budaska, who wound up playing in only 13 big league games. Nowadays, stuff like that would never, ever happen.

4) In the late 80’s, I found myself writing a daily picks column in the Albany Times-Union; did it for four years,- it was a much smaller version of what we do here every day. Picked games most every day all year round and I had to sink or swim, because it was out there for everyone to see, and I took a good share of grief during the inevitable slumps.

3) I’m very lucky that I wound up as an assistant coach at Schenectady High School in the mid-90’s; my eight years there were filled with fun and laughter, and I made good friends there.

What a learning experience; a suburban guy finds himself coaching at an inner -city high school, where the basketball team was horrible the first year, but four years later, we were state champs. I learned so much about dealing with people and how to get things done.

2) I’m very thankful to all my friends who’ve made my life a lot more fun. We all get caught up in our own lives and don’t stay in contact as much as I’d like to, but we’ve shared experiences that have made life a lot more enjoyable.

1) We’re all very lucky to live in this country, despite the hijinx of the past couple years. Few years from now, we’ll emerge from this mess a stronger/healthier country.