Playing for honor

May 27, 2003

I took Anna to the new playground at Carrboro’s Anderson Park this morning, and while she frolicked on the swings and clambered up the climbing wall of the jungle gym, I admired the colorful set of slides, ladders and bars. This particular playground is from GameTime, and from the looks of that company’s website, its ‘play systems’ are impressive. Over the weekend we were in Cleveland visiting Dan & Joanne Shaughnessy, and I walked with Anna to nearby Impitt Park, where the playground is older, dustier and not as fun.

My dad loved to take us boys to parks, forests, trails, lakes, and I imagine he learned to love outdoor activities from his father, Frank the Beachcomber. When I was a kid, I fantasized about being a father who created a unique play area: I wanted to buy a decommissioned submarine and sink it in the backyard, covering it with dirt and grass and leaving only the periscope above ground. The sub was connected to the house of course, and it would be a world of fun for my children. Of course, some days I knew a sub in the backyard was a bit fanciful, so instead I imagined buying an old DC-7 and putting the plane – minus the propeller – in the backyard; it, too, would be seventh heaven for me and my kids.

Now that I am a father, I’m making the most of the area parks and playgrounds. Someday, when Erin and I own a house (our drive home from Cleveland was dominated by discussion about our future jobs, cities of residence and timeline for purchasing real estate), I’ll be on the lookout for a plane or a boat. Maybe Patrick Shaughnessy (he and Patty are expecting their first child in September) can find me an old locomotive, since he sells used locomotives around the world.

Last week, a woman at a birthday party mentioned to me that a hundred years ago, lawyers were considered part of an honorable profession. Today, of course, attorneys aren’t so popular. My father, though, continues to prove that there is honor in the courtroom. These days, journalism is struggling for respect. And all this has me wondering just what are the honorable professions these days. What do you think?

I was pleased to learn this week that Michael Ruhlman has a new book out, called Walk On Water: Inside an Elite Pediatric Surgical Unit. Michael is a talented writer, and I’ve enjoyed his other books. I know him from Northern Ohio Live Magazine, where we worked together for a full two weeks while he was finishing up his time there and I was just beginning mine. Michael once told me that his daily routine is to write 1400 words, no matter how lethargic or distracted he is. His dedication to this routine means he’s pumped out seven books since I first met him in 1994. That’s impressive. That’s honorable.

Anton Zuiker

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