Category Archives: Positraction

Interesting way to start the week

POSITRACTION: The Syracuse Chiefs, an explar of Noblesse oblige


Team’s visit to children’s hospital is a big win after a bad loss
Posted on August 12, 2014

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A professional baseball player whose team gets clobbered, yet shows up the next morning at a children’s hospital — I mean really shows up, doesn’t just phone it in — is more than OK in my book.

Ten players from the Syracuse Chiefs, the minor league Class AAA affiliate of the Washington Nationals, did just that Tuesday. They brought a lot of smiles to pediatric patients at Upstate Golisano Children’s Hospital in Syracuse.

The players stayed a good two hours, handing out souvenirs, talking with kids and their parents and signing autographs. Pitcher Matt Grace read a children’s book aloud (“Knuckleball Ned,” by Toronto Blue Jays knuckleballer R.A. Dickey). None of the players seemed to be in any hurry to leave, and the adults in the room were just as happy as the kids about that.

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Noblesse oblige!

I guess — other than explars of bravery, honesty, or charity — exemplars or just examples of Noblesse oblige inspire POSITRACTIONs.

While these fellows are pro baseball players trying to get to the “bigs”, they are fighting for their dreams and their livelihood. To be self-concerned would be “understandable”. But, yet here, they put it all aside to make some sick kids happy. That’s class.

Baseball has some great examples of exemplar behavior — Clamente classy charity, Jeter classy team spirit, Rose for hustle and clay feet, and on and on. These guys demonstrate the best of baseball imho.

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POSITRACTION: One man’s “farewell” email


My Farewell
Posted: 07/28/2014 7:46 am EDT Updated: 07/28/2014 8:59 am EDT

John Donnelly is an 82-year-old retired public relations executive who has held senior positions in industry, government and the non-profit sector. He was diagnosed with liver cancer several months ago and is keeping busy trying to get his affairs in order. He has left instructions that in lieu of flowers, donations in his memory be directed to Smile Train in the hope at least some will remember him with a smile on their face. 

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When I learned I had terminal cancer, I sent an email announcement to virtually everyone I know.

I did not want to slip away unnoticed. When the time comes, my obit in the newspaper will be seen by some. But I wanted my friends, relatives and colleagues in all the places I have lived and worked to know and the only way to do it was through the Internet. I couldn’t just call up people — some I hadn’t seen for years — and say “Guess what? I have cancer!” Email may be impersonal, but it gets you there.

Timing was another factor. One of my doctors hinted I might only have six months or so; others offered no predictions, but I got no encouragement to think long-term. My depleting energy level suggested it would be prudent not to wait too long to say my farewells.

A certain amount of egotism was at play, too. I was, after all, in the PR business all my life, a profession in which modesty is not overly prized. So yes, I wanted to be remembered for some of my accomplishments.

In addition to having been a corporate VP of Fortune 500 companies, I was vice president of the MS Society, where I played a key role in the creation of a major national advocacy organization for medical research (Research!America). And as head of media relations for NASA, I negotiated the public information agreement with the Soviet Union for the Apollo/Soyuz mission. (These I knew would undoubtedly come as some surprise to a lot of those who knew me way back when I was a high school dropout, a teenage sailor, a longshoreman on the West Side piers, driving a cab or working on a beer truck.)

One other thing that prompted me to act was the fact that I discovered too late that I really knew so little about so many deceased friends and colleagues, and only found out about some of their remarkable exploits and achievements when reading their obituaries.

How many times after belatedly learning that a deceased neighbor or co-worker had been a WWII War ace, a former Olympian, a Holocaust survivor or a POW did I exclaim to myself, “God, I wish I had known that while he was living!” Not saying my own relatively humble accomplishments compare, but I thought they might be of interest to some and informative to others who had lost track of me over the years.

When I sent my farewell note, it was to deliver a message, and I had no idea what kind of responses to expect. I still can’t believe what I got — an overwhelming outpouring of warmth and love. I never knew that so many people liked and even loved me. More than a few were testimonials recalling how I had helped them personally or professionally. One even swore I had saved her life. Others praised me as a good boss, a good friend and a benefactor.

What especially heightened my delight and surprise by this heartwarming response was a humbling experience that occurred just a few months earlier (before my own diagnosis). I had attended a funeral on Long Island for a very dear old friend who just happened to be one of the most popular guys ever. His wake was so crowded you could sell tickets to get in. I thought by comparison they’ll have to offer free ice cream just to fill enough seats for a decent turnout at mine.

Not that I ever lacked a favorable opinion of myself. I’m a smart, fairly good-looking guy with a good sense of humor, a strong work ethic and certain other qualities. Unlike my popular friend, however, I have some less endearing traits.

On the other side of my personal balance sheet are some liabilities that offset those on the asset side.

I am too opinionated, too judgmental and too often too quick-tempered. Given these flaws, I never honestly considered myself likely to win a Mr. Nice Guy award. Nor did I actually ever work at achieving popularity the way some people do by trying so hard to be agreeable all the time.

So it was quite a boost to my morale, when I really needed it, to find my mailbox filled with expressions of love, admiration and appreciation from all over the country. I guess I never realized how much I wanted others to care about me. I do now.

I’ll find out soon enough if Somebody Up There Likes Me, but if everyone who has promised to pray for me does, I should at least have the benefit of a good introduction, if not a free pass, when the time comes. In the meantime, it is truly comforting to have the support of so many friends.

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I find it is “positive” if one recognizes one’s own mortality. 

What good works did I DO today to ensure, that if there is a life after, you’re getting the “good” end.

If there’s is NO life after, what good works did I do today and how did that make me feel. (Usually if I do “good”, then I feel “good”.)

I read the obits for our fellow alums and always wished I knew their stories.

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POSITRACTION: Being “Christ-like” to a fellow human


After 31 Wedding Anniversaries at Red Lobster, a Widow Received an Unexpected Surprise When She Went This Year Without Her Husband
Jul. 11, 2014 8:56pm
Oliver Darcy

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For 31 years, a Missouri woman and her husband spent their anniversary at Red Lobster. This year was different.

The unidentified woman’s husband passed away in March, so this year, her daughter volunteered to keep the tradition alive and taker her mother out for an anniversary meal, KSDK-TV reported.

Their meal proceeded as normal, until the waitress asked if they were celebrating anything special. According to the daughter’s brother, who posted the story on Reddit, his sister explained her parents’ tradition.

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I read this and I asked myself if I was being “Christ-like” to my fellow humans who were silently invisibly suffering.

I’ve had a spouse pass. So I can empathize. 

Next time someone is trying to merge in traffic, let them.

Maybe they too are having a bad year.

The S370HSSVs will do it anyway, but maybe this one has an “excuse”.

Dona Nobis Pacem

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POSITRACTION: “Big Data” in medicine to save lives


Posted by samzenpus on Sunday October 13, 2013 @10:32AM
from the checking-the-chart dept.
mattydread23 writes:

“Often, the signs of eventual heart failure are there, but they consist of a lot of weak signals over a long period of time, and doctors are not trained to look for these patterns. IBM and a couple heathcare providers, Sutter Health and Geisinger Health System, just got a $2 million grant from NIH to figure out how better data analysis can help prevent heart attack. But the trick is that doctors will have to use electronic records — it also means a lot more tests. Andy Patrizio writes, ‘What this means is doctors are going to have to expand the tests they do and the amount of data they keep. Otherwise, the data isn’t so Big.'”

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[JR: When I saw IBM’s WATSON perform on Jeopardy, I wonder when this would come to medicine. I now wonder if my wife had lasted another decade, then could WATSON have diagnosed her. Sigh! I know this is what I label “Shoulda, coulda, and woulda!” thinking. But for a Sunday morning thought provoker, I think it’s a good question.]

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A Stranger Knocked on Her Door and, Without Saying a Word, Handed Her a Life-Changing Envelope That Made Her ‘Collapse’
Jul. 16, 2014 8:01pm Jason Howerton

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To put it bluntly, she is dying.

Suffering from systemic scleroderma, a critical autoimmune disease that is causing her skin, arteries, veins, and internal organs to harden, 48-year-old single mother Stephanie Headley, of Ottawa, Canada, is still in dire need of very expensive, potentially life-saving treatment. Her condition has been deteriorating over the last few years.

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What a gift.

That’s really “walking the walk”!

I’m humbled by such charity.

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POSITRACTION: Are we hardwired with instinctive empathy


10 Weird Ways Your Brain Is Tricking You

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#4 Sympathetic Pain

Have you ever heard seen someone slam their foot in the door and winced in pain even though nothing happened to you? Or just heard a story of someone getting hurt and had the same experience? That’s sympathetic pain. The researchers who studied this used MRI machines to test how subjects’ brains reacted when looking at faces with certain expressions, and when making those expressions. What they found is that the brain displays the same activity in either case. The part of the brain responsible for this is called the “mirror area” and scientists believe we have something called “mirror neurons,” which are responsible for creating a sympathetic response. Essentially, humans are hardwired to think we are feeling the same things as other people—essentially a very strong version of instinctive empathy.

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Is this akin to husbands getting morning sickness or cravings?

Could it be that the Creator or the Universe has hardcoded empathy into our DNA?

Perhaps, humanity if free from all the incorrect paradigms and memes that we’ve accumulated over the eons could be amazing. Or have those errors been “bred” into us. Like the learned “weakness” of the huge elephant bound by a slender rope.

What do we really know? And we don’t know what we don’t know even though we think we know.

Too much for this fat old white guy injineer to know.


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POSITRACTION: The babies can be safe


Some stunning news from China.

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China ‘baby hatch’ inundated with abandoned, disabled children
By Connie Young, for CNN
updated 7:56 AM EDT, Mon June 30, 2014

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Jinan, China (CNN) — Along a winding Chinese mountain road dotted with inns and restaurants is Jinan Orphanage, a place of refuge and site for troubled parents to dump unwanted children.

The government-run orphanage in eastern China opened its first baby hatch on June 1, International Children’s Day, as a symbolic step to show the country’s commitment to improving child welfare.

However, it since proved so popular that authorities have had to introduce new rules to limit the number of babies and children being abandoned.

In just 11 days, 106 children, all with disabilities or medical conditions, were dropped off at the Jinan facility, according to local state media. That is more than the 85 orphans the city accepted the entire previous year.

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It’s a positive that the babies can be safe.

It’s a negative in that human life is so little valued.

Sadly, that parents find themselves in such desperate circumstances.

And, sad, that people who want children can’t adopt. 

Yes, the human race has a long way to go.

A side note, a co-worker said that “they should provide free healthcare to parents”. To which I responded: “tanstafl”. We’re going thru “free healthcare” here. Nothing so expensive as free. 

And, if you have a “right”, then someone has a “duty to provide”.

That’s not going to work out so well.

Sadly, humans keep messing up with “social engineering”.

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