Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Greater New Haven Heart Walk: Why I Walk

Got heart health? Many Americans don't. Heart disease is the number one killer of American men and women and has been been for more than 30 years.

Heart disease is actually a broad term used for a wide variety of diseases of the heart and blood vessels such as coronary artery disease, heart rhythm disorders called arrhythmias and defects of the heart present at birth, also called congenital heart defects

The good news is that we can do something about heart disease. The American Heart Association is diligently working to help all Americans build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. They work to achieve this through advocacy efforts and campaigns in communities throughout the nation.

I'm proud to let you all know that I will be participating in the 2013 Greater New Haven Heart Walk with UIL Holding Corporation's Team West. UIL has a group of team leaders walking to raise awareness and funds for research. A little over a month from today I will be walking with my team and many others at  Savin Rock in West Haven, Connecticut. 

This year's goal for the race is to raise $320,000. The funds will be used to finance cutting-edge scientific research, conduct public and professional educational programs and advocate for public health. My individual fundraising goal is $150. I would greatly appreciate any financial support you can give. Click here to contribute to the effort. The link will take you directly to my page. Feel free to post a comment and share with your network. I would love to surpass my GOAL!! 

Remember we can make a difference, we just have to act! Thank you in advance for your support!!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day!! There is so much going on in the world today, but I'm happy to take a moment out to acknowledge how grateful I am to be living and on this planet. I take a great deal for granted in my life and our planet earth is one of them.

I don't know about you, but I have noticed our changing weather patterns and have heard the reports about sea levels rising. It's got me a little spooked. Even my local weather man is hip to the difference. Some call it global warming others call it climate change and some still believe neither exists, but does that matter at this point? There's a difference in our climate and for better or for worse people are the contributing factors. I don't think most people intentionally seek out to harm the planet, but if you drive a car, have a smart phone, heat your home, or use a microwave (just to name a few), then you are having an impact on planet earth.

Going green has become cliche over the last few years. It's in print, on television and you hear it on the radio too. It is one of the many messages we are inundated with on a daily basis. Despite it being a cliche, there is a sound movement by concerned individuals across the globe that continues to chug along against the odds. These passionate and dedicated group of environmentalists, scientists and everyday people recognize that we need to look at how we contribute to climate change, be accountable for our actions and make changes in our behaviors that can create a global impact.

Earth Day is a great reminder that all is not lost. Everyday we wake up is a day that we can make a change for the better and improve our planet for tomorrow. Today a lot of attention and media attention will be paid to Earth Day. It should be, but everyday should be Earth Day. We should focus on consuming less and becoming more efficient. If you look at your daily routine you can find areas to improve and you and the world will bet better off for. 

Want to get started? Here are 15 Earth Day tips that you can do year round from freelance writer, Kathleen J. King. Read her full list here:

1. Lower your thermostat. Buy a programmable thermostat.

2. Reuse your water bottle. Avoid buying bottled water. In fact, reuse everything at least once, especially plastics.

3. Check out your bathroom. Use low-flow faucets, shower heads, and toilets.

4. Start a compost in your back yard or on your rooftop.

5. Buy foods locally. Check out Eat Local Challengeand FoodRoutes to get started. Buy locally made products and locally produced services.

6. Buy in season.

7. Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. You’ll find more on energy-efficient products and practices at Energy Star.

8. Turn off lights and electronics when you leave the room. Unplug your cell phone charger from the wall when not using it. Turn off energy strips and surge protectors when not in use (especially overnight).

9. Recycle your newspapers.

10. Car pool. Connect with other commuters at eRideShare.

11. Consider a car sharing service like Zipcar.

12. Ride a bike.

13. Walk, jog, or run.

14. Go to your local library instead of buying new books.

15. At holidays and birthdays, give your family and friends the gift of saving the earth. Donate to their favorite environmental group, foundation, or organization.


Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston on My Mind: Where Do We Go From Here?

Yesterday's events in the city of Boston are still very fresh in the news. I purposely didn't watch news coverage of it yesterday. I read some news articles online and listened to NPR, but I didn't want to see the TV coverage or hear the sound bytes of the tragedy being replayed and spun to set a specific agenda. Everyday we are inundated with messages and it is easy to forget the subliminal impact they have on our lives. Unfortunately news isn't always just news.

There are so many questions to be answered and we won't know those answers for some time. Despite this fact, it doesn't stop certain individuals and news outlets from blaming certain groups of people or publishing inaccurate stories. While I understand the need for justice, I don't think it's productive to blame others when so much is unknown or speculated.

I've been encouraged by some of the media coverage I've seen, heard on NPR or watched on television today. There seems to be a focus on the selflessness that people demonstrated as the tragic event unfolded. Even in the worst of circumstances, people still show their best. These stories are the ones that give me hope, but I'm not sure how long they will last.

I'm taking a course on leadership, justice and forgiveness and many of themes of the course have me reflecting on the event and asking myself "where we go from here as a society?" I truly hope we learn from our mistakes and seek restorative justice instead of vengeance. I have an idea of where I go from here as an individual, but can't say the same for our society. Time will tell.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Spotlight on Jim Chernesky, Author of Once a Fan

Author Jim Chernesky
I'm thrilled to feature an author Q&A for this blog post! Recently, I had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing Jim Chernesky for an employee feature in Newsline, our company biweekly employee newsletter. Jim's work on his self published memoir Once a Fan serves as a personal reminder that goals can be achieved through dedication and hard work. Ready to meet Jim?

Jim's bio:
Jim Chernesky is the Process Manager for Electric System Operations. He is originally from Bridgeport Connecticut. His career has spanned 35 years and includes work in training, process and performance management for companies such as Unimation, Westinghouse, PHH Home Equity, Emery Worldwide and Uniroyal Chemical.

Jim is also a professional photographer certified with the New York Institute of Photography and an adjunct faculty member at Post University in Waterbury where he teaches Art History. Jim lives in Oxford, Connecticut with his wife Beth three sons and a granddaughter.

Q: Why did you decide to publish a memoir about sports and the role it played in your life?
A: I started responding to developments, stories and trends in the world of sports that I found particularly disheartening and frustrating based on all my previous great memories of sports when I was growing up. I wanted to provide some frame of reference to a simpler more honest, fun time in watching sports as a fan and playing the games. I wanted to share a time when it was about the sheer joy of playing without  as much emphasis on winning and being number one. I wanted my sons to have that frame of reference even if I didn’t sell one copy outside of our family circle.

Q: How long did it take you to write the book? What was your writing process?
A: I started writing the book in August of 2011 and finished in May of 2012. The book was finally released on the publisher’s website, Barnes and Noble and  on Dec 5, 2012. Since I wasn't exactly Stephen King, It took me a few months to find a publisher and we went through two major edits. Once I captured the facts, stories, memories etc., I gradually began to associate these memories and anecdotes with greater and more applicable life’s lessons. I wrote with the purpose of sharing the past with future athletes, children coaches and parents. I started writing my feelings in a kind of "tongue in cheek" Andy Rooney style of journalism. In short order those stories became what is now Chapter five of the book “Twenty Reasons Why It is So Hard to be a Sports Fan." From there, the book just seemed to write itself. I had no plans to be an author; I have no plans at this point to write another book (although that might change.) My wife reminds me I always have a lot to say about everything.

Q: How did writing this book challenge you?
A: Writing the first draft was like standing under a waterfall with a paper cup trying to catch all the water. I would remember stories and people that seemed to make a point on what I was trying to say. The interesting thing was that it didn't come out in chronological order. I would jump out of bed in the middle of the night with a thought I had to get down on paper. Other days, I would sit down and say, “I think I will write today and I couldn't write one word. Sometimes, I would just remember things, try to capture the detail, and then fit them together later on. The challenge was to arrange the material in an order that followed the purpose of the book so that it wasn't just another collection of personal had a general interest and purpose to anyone who read it. That was difficult but in the end I was very pleased with the result. The publisher also challenged me by providing a hard objective look at what I thought I was saying and what I really wanted to say. The relationship between publisher and author became very eye opening. The initial draft was 102,000 words trimmed down to 82,000 in the final version.

Q: What do you feel are some lessons lost among a new generation of sports fans? Where would you like to see professional and amateur sportsmanship get back to?
A: One of the observations I made in the book is that professional sports, as well as scholastic sports has long since turned into a business. I would like to see a re-emphasis on team unity and fan loyalty, where sports figures aren't moving to a new team for a new deal every year. I would like to see a rule put in place that college basketball players have to earn a college degree before jumping ship to the pros. Somehow, winning has gone from meaning I scored more points that you, to I am a better person than you and my dog is bigger than your dog! I would like to see us return to a more respectful and value based competitive spirit that doesn't include steroids, arbitration or illegal recruiting tactics.

Q: What do you want readers to walk away with after they have read the book?
A: I want readers to experience a renewed sense of respect for sports and life. In sports and in life, you can go from hero to goat, from the top of the heap to the bottom of the barrel in less time than it takes to think you are the greatest!  I want readers (children and adults) to know that it’s ok to lose if you have given it your best and that you will never truly appreciate winning in sports or in life, until you know what it’s like to lose.

Q: How are you promoting your book? Where can people purchase it?
A: I never intended to make the New York Times best seller list. I have been truly blessed to have three of the most incredible sons a father could ever ask for. The book from the very beginning is my legacy to them. My goal was to hand each one of them a hard copy on Christmas Day with a personal message inscribed in each. I actually gave it to them on Thanksgiving Day 2012. The book is available on the IUniverse Publisher’s website. It is also available online with Barnes and NobleIt’s available in paperback and EBook format. I encourage people to also check out Once a Fan's Facebook fan page.