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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Friday, October 25, 2013


I have a feeling there are just enough obsessed teenage Taylor Swift fans, if any of them were to google deep enough into her name that she'll come across this, that I feel obliged to pass along this story from a friend, who is also a Friend, for those most devoted fans, who might actually be interested in this, unlike my 4-5 regular readers, not including the dozen or so who've visited from the Russian Federation, according to the Live Traffic Feed down the right hand side of my page.

I had heard from my F/friend Howard that a mutual friend had lived across the street from Taylor Swift when she lived up in the Wyomissing area. I'll only identify him as Taylor L., both because that is his name and because that is relevant to the rest of this story.

Actually, I'll let Wikipedia tell some background to the story, edited down somewhat:

Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her father, Scott Swift, is a Merrill Lynch financial adviser.  Her mother, Andrea (nΓ©e Finlay), is a homemaker who previously worked as a mutual fund marketing executive. She spent the early years of her life on an eleven-acre Christmas tree farm in Cumru Township, Pennsylvania. When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to a rented house in the suburban town of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

Swift's family owned several Quarter horses and a Shetland pony and her first hobby was English horse riding. Her mother first put her in a saddle when she was nine months old and she later competed in horse shows. At the age of nine, Swift became interested in musical theatre. She performed in many Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. Swift then turned her attention to country music.

At the age of twelve, Swift was shown by a computer repairman how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You", and now began to focus on songwriting.
When Swift was fourteen, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch and the family relocated to a lakefront house in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Swift later described this as "an incredible sacrifice" for her family to make.

Taylor Swift sits and leans over her oak guitar while picking a string
Swift performing at age 17 in 2006

Not being a close friend of Taylor L's, I  had never approached him directly about his story, but when we started emailing about something else having to do with Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin, I decided to ask him if the story about his young neighbor was true.

Here is our exchange:

From: Jamie
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 4:26 PM
To: Taylor L.
Subject:

Thanks for that, Taylor. I’m more impressed however, by the rumor that Taylor Swift grew up across the street from you? Now THAT’s historically significant! (kidding, but still cool if true.)
 
---------------
From: Taylor L.
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 5:46 PM
To: Jamie McVickar
Subject:

Jamie,

It is not a rumor, Scott Swift bought the small truck farm across the road from us and later the small farm adjacent to us on our side of the road. Some years later he married Andrea, then Taylor and her younger brother were born. Scott was under privileged in that he did not grow up on a farm so I taught how to do a lot of things around his farm and helped him with the care of a part of the orchard.

The Swifts had horses and built a riding and jump rink. Taylor learned horses at an early age and seemed quite good with them. Other than the horses and a monster swing set Scott built for her, she was not an out-doors girl. Some years ago a TV program featured Taylor correctly explaining pictures of her on the horse farm on which she lived as a child. The announcer then thanked Taylor for describing her horse farm in Wyomissing. (Those living in the 1/2 to 30 million dollar close together houses in Wyomissing make sure there are no horse farms in Wyomissing.)

The Swifts sold the farm and moved to a rented house with one of the best addresses in Wyomissing when Taylor was about 10 years of age. Her publicity says she is a Wyomissing native. She is a Cumru Township, Freemansville Road, native and only lived in Wyomissing about four yeas before moving to Nashville, TN. Scott and Andrea were good level headed people, it is not surprising that Taylor seems to be the same.

--------------------
 
From: Jamie
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 11:37 AM
To: Taylor L.
Subject:

Wow, this is a great story, Taylor, thanks. I saw a recent story, in the Inquirer maybe, or NY Times about the family who bought their house and is now selling it. The article gave the address and just for fun, I googled it and it was more McMansion than farm, so I wondered about the farm references until I read your email which better explains things. I am a fan of her music and her approach to her celebrity status, which as too many young women (Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus) have shown, is not an easy road to navigate.

Obviously her parents showed their appreciation for your help on their farm by naming their first born child after you. J
-------------------

From: Taylor L.
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:16 PM
To: Jamie McVickar
Subject:

Jamie,

Your saying "naming their first born child after you" may be an overstatement.  When she was born, Scott came over to announce the birth and her name, he said that one of the names Andrea considered was Taylor (Taylor was becoming a popular girl's name at this time) and Scott said I was a pretty good fellow and thus he had no objection to the name Taylor.

---------------------
So now you know the rest of the story. Kinda cool.

Friday, October 18, 2013


This is no great revelation, but I think that whether or not you like a movie has a lot to do with the mood or mental space you are in when you see it. I once saw a movie called Far Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman that I absolutely loved, but it didn't get good reviews, and in retrospect probably wasn't as great as I thought it was at the time. But I saw it with a girl I was really into at the time and it was a beautiful spring evening and we had a really fun time that night.

Similarly with Saturday Night Fever, as Mike Rellahan continues to torment me about. I think I saw that movie 3 times when it came out and it was at the right time in my life. I can remember trying, even successfully to some extent, to copy some of the dance moves, OK maybe just one in particular, from that movie in parties I went to at Earlham that spring, my senior year. (If I tried the same move now, I would permanently rip most of the ligaments and cartilage in both knees.)

So, all that is prelude to explaining my reaction to this 9+ minute video:


It is a TED Talk and deals primarily with the importance of making the most of every day we live. Well, we can't really do that in the way we think we should. I can't go out everyday and do whatever my heart desires. We all, most of us, gotta earn a living, gotta take care of our families, gotta write our blog posts (more often than some of us actually do).

But I'm thinking more of the days when I don't have those responsibilities, primarily on weekends. My favorite time of every day is when my car pulls in at the top of our driveway coming home from work and I start the 10-yard walk up to our amazing house which always seems so full of all kinds of love and joy and energy.

As I said about 12 years ago when Cheryl, Ev and Liss moved in, that walking into our house each night was like when Dorothy stepped out of her black and white house into full-color munchkin land, not knowing what excitement was heading her way. For me it was true on a daily basis but also in the even bigger picture, where my life up until then had been black and white and now, with Cheryl and the kids coming into it, made it so full of color and excitement.

But getting back to the video and my weekends, as I say, my favorite time of every day is coming home from work, but my favorite time of every week is the first 2-3 hours after I wake up Saturday morning, when I go out and get the Philadelphia Daily News, bring it back, usually with a donut, tho since I started this diet I've been on for 45 days now, no donut, but still a big cup of coffee and I lie on my bed and read the paper, do the 5-star hard sudoku and just do plenty o nuthin. Then I slowly rev up to go out and do 2-4 hours of yard work, which I also enjoy way more than I ever thought I would.

But so the point is that I wonder if I'm being too selfish with my Saturdays, especially with two growing children in the house. Am I making the most of that time? I've practically lost the window with Trev who would rather spend all day on Minecraft, but once we boot him off, he'd probably still do something with me if it were interesting enough. And Emma would love to do just about anything outside the house, I think.

Last Sunday at 1:00, another of my great selfish joys came along: watching an Eagles game on a Sunday afternoon, which has gotten harder and harder to do since I started this awesome family. I was all set, ready to watch, had made a nice lunch for myself, had cleaned up the kitchen, done an hour or so of cleanup outside, when Emma came up to me and asked if I'd go down in the yard and play soccer with her. I sighed and said No Freakin Way! The Birds game is on!

Just kidding, I went down and kicked the ball around and played on the swingswith her and walked around the property a little and then came back and watched the game. Now I have to admit, the decision was made easier by my being able to DVR the game to watch later, but having watched that video above, at least it had a short term impact on me.

My goal now is to make it a long term change as well. Ask me about it sometime down the road to see if I kept to it, please. Oh, and give yourself a gift of taking 10 minutes to watch that video, please.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Spending time with two of my favorite women in a bar last night (sounds like a country song is about to git writ), my wife and also my sister, Laurie, we came to a little bit of a revelation.

There was a big campaign a year or so back called the It Gets Better Project (http://www.itgetsbetter.org/), intended "...to communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better."

Here's the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgFml9ZHtE4&feature=player_embedded

And I think it goes without saying that that message is equally applicable to anyone in those tough teen years, especially, when you question where you fit in and wonder if you're doing "it" right...doing everything right...doing anything right.

And to anyone under the age of about 30 who is going through a bad stretch, it's a great message to tell them that It Gets Better.

What Laurie, Cheryl and I realized last night is that past a certain age, when one is going through a bad stretch, particularly with family or health problems, the way to feel better about your current situation?

It Only Gets Worse.

So, remind yourself: These are the good old days!