The World Of Possibility

Monday, February 24, 2014

Hey kids!

I know, I know… I keep saying I have lots to write about. And I do. Honest!

I have five posts in various stages of completion, and I promised myself that I am going to knock them off one at a time until I have cleared out the queue. So keep those eyes peeled to this space!

It has been absolutely lovely here the past two days - finally. We had bright sunshine and temperatures around 50F (~10.5C) both days. And let me tell you… we earned those days!

We have had over three feet of snow (about 91 cm) here in February so far, with the possibility of more snow tonight, tomorrow and Wednesday. A typical winter is 48 inches (122 cm); we have had well over 70 inches so far where I live, a few miles northwest of Boston.

Boston's official total is around 57 inches so far, but that is deceptive. For some reason they take the official measurement at Logan Airport, which is located on the coast. The relatively warm ocean water  drops the snowfall total, sometimes significantly, from what falls just a few miles inland.

I have always been fascinated by the weather. In fact, when I was growing up I wanted to be a meteorologist. So much so that in junior high I chose to focus on meteorology for my science fair project. I was so interested that I called Dick Albert, a weatherman at one of the local TV stations, after a newscast to ask for his advice.

I was quiet and shy as a child - no doubt being trans played a part in that - so I am amazed that I not only thought of calling one evening while watching the news, but then called as soon as the broadcast ended.

And he could not have possibly have been been nicer. He came to phone moments after I called and spoke with me for nearly 20 minutes (until his on-air colleagues came over and teased him that he was making them all late to dinner again). He promised to send me some materials for my report, told me I was welcome to call him back with any questions, and invited me - unprompted - to visit him at the station sometime.

Sure enough, about a week later I came home from school to see three manila envelopes bulging with satellite photos, maps and various pamphlets from the National Weather Service. (This was the pre-Internet era.) There was also a two-page handwritten letter from the man himself, thanking me for calling him (!), wishing me luck with my project, and encouraging me in my studies, regardless of my future career choice.

As it turned out, my science project was a hit. I won a ribbon for best presentation, and was on the front page of the local newspaper shaking hands with the mayor. (And yes, I checked my pockets afterward - even at that tender age I was already on to what politicians were *really* all about. ;-p)

And yes, I did meet Dick Albert in person. He had recently begun working in Boston, and his popularity skyrocketed as viewers got to know him. As a result, his schedule quickly became so full that a one-on-one visit was no longer possible.

But months later I got a call from the station out of the blue. A staff member told me that Albert and the station's other meteorologists would be spending a day with a group of area students - and that he had asked that I be invited.

I was amazed; this was at least 4-6 months after my project. I told the staffer I would love to attend, and that I could not believe how nice he was to me.

"Well, he told me you sent him two thank-you notes." she replied. "Is that right?"

I said yes, I had; one after receiving the materials and the other after the project did well.

"Well, he couldn't believe how nice you were to him."

The presentation was a great deal of fun, as you can imagine. The entire staff went out of their way to make us feel welcome, and included us in their daily routine, even showing us what was then state-of-the-art satellite technology that had just been installed and was being tested.

They even let us watch while Albert literally drew the maps for that evening's 6:00 PM newscast . (They had beautifully-detailed,  six-foot high maps of Greater Boston, New England, and the nation that he marked up using dry-erase markers. I wish they still had those maps; they were works of art.)

There were about 12-15 students, so one-on-one interaction was limited. But during lunch he made it a point to sit with me for a few minutes, thank me personally for the cards, and encourage me to follow my passion, whether that meant a career in meteorology... or something else. :D

And that is what I remember most about those events. He went out of his way to be kind - repeatedly - to a 12-year-old when he had absolutely nothing to gain by doing so. He did it simply because he loved what he did, and wanted to share that sense of joy and wonder with someone who felt the same way. The fact that I was twenty years younger made no difference whatsoever as far as he was concerned. We were equals.

Dick Albert retired several years ago, but he kept the same boyish enthusiasm right up until his last broadcast. What a lovely way to get to spend your life - living your dream.

I am just beginning to do the same. :c)


Here's a 1982 WCVB-TV promotional spot for Dick Albert:



I started this post just to say hello and then decided to write a bit about the intense weather we have been facing for what seems like forever.

But then, unbidden, memories of those long-ago events popped up out of nowhere.

I have been doing this blog long enough posts now to recognize that there are some posts, like this one, that essentially write themselves. (It has happened several times now, in fact.) When they happen - and I have no idea when they will happen - I do my best to get out of the way and let them happen.

When these posts are written, all I can do is look at the finished product and wonder whatever mysterious force compels these posts into being. It isn't me; all I am is a conduit. I think they arrive when something - the universe, my subconscious, whatever - feels I need to think about something.

In this case, I think it is the sense of wonder that I am slowly beginning to feel as I begin living as myself at long last. I spent the last three years consumed by the process of becoming myself. And now I am beginning the next step in that journey.

There was a wonderful TV show here in the United States about a decade ago called Ed. It centered around a young lawyer who, in a single day, is fired from his high-powered job as a Wall Street attorney after a million-dollar error and discovers his wife has been cheating on him.

He decides to visit his hometown of Stuckeyville OH, to see old friends - and his high school crush, Carol, who is now a teacher at Stuckeyville High School. On a whim, he decides to stay in town to woo Carol; he buys a bowling alley that is for sale and opens an office in the bowling alley to practice law. He quickly becomes known, to his chagrin, as "the Bowling-Alley Lawyer." ("I am a lawyer; I own a bowling alley. Two separate things.")

That setup does not remotely do justice to the weird, wonderful universe the show creates. It had quirky, utterly lovable characters, recurring motifs, and enough in-jokes to rival an episode of The Simpsons.

But most of all, it had heart. Not quite a comedy and not quite a drama, at its frequent best it blended them together to create something that lingered with you long after an episode ended.

I realized this quickly after watching the second episode of the series, called "The World of Possibility." Ed is hired by Stuckeyville Stan, the local magician from the childhood of Ed and his friends.

A rival magician is revealing the secrets of Stuckeyville Stan's act, which is known as… The World of Possibility. Ed tries desperately to find a way to restore Stan's reputation. And he thinks he may have found it, in the most unlikely of places.

I won't give anything about the episode away; you can watch it below if you are so inclined. (And I hope you are!) But if you do, I think you will feel the way I did after watching it for the first time: that you have just watched the start of something that is going to be special.

And it was. Because of issues involved in licensing the music used in the series, it still has not been issued on DVD. But that has not dimmed my memories one bit. I still remember a number of episodes to this day that left me genuinely moved. (If you enjoyed "The World of Possibility," check out "Your Life Is Now," the first season's thoughtful, genuinely moving Christmas episode. It will almost certainly leave you misty-eyed by its conclusion.)

This has turned into a lengthy post! I guess I will end by saying that "The World of Possibility" stayed with me all these years for a reason. It is only now that I finally am able to see that we all live in The World of Possibility. And that those possibilities are endless - if we are willing to seek out and embrace them.

The World of Possibilty:

Your Life Is Now:

Thought I would end with a few pictures taken last Friday at work by my friend R. It has been pointed out to me more than once (believe me) by one reader in particular that my selfie-taking abilities are, well, a bit lackluster.

R, who always looks lovely in her photos, decided to remedy this. Or to try, at least.

In spite of my seemingly infinite - albeit unintentional - ability to to ruin each photo, R managed to get a few shots where I was NOT looking down, off to the side, blinking, or some combination of the above. Instead I was reasonably within the frame, looking more or less at the camera, and without some inexplicable facial contortions happening at the moment of truth.

Judge for yourself:

More pictures to follow, including a new look for yours truly. Stick around! :D


Here is a terrific live version of John Mellencamp's "Your Life Is Now," the song that inspired the episode of Ed:

Such an underrated songwriter. His most recent album, No Better Than This, was one of the best of his career.

Finally, the title track of A Sense of Wonder, Van Morrison's shimmeringly lovely 1985 album.

This was going to be the original title of this post. It is such a lovely song I thought it a shame not to include it.


Becca on February 24, 2014 at 11:59 AM said...

Nice post and lovely pictures :)

Cassidy on February 25, 2014 at 1:40 AM said...

Thank you, hon! I really can't really take credit for either (it belongs to the blogging goddesses and my friend R, respectively)… but I will anyway. :D


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