It’s the drugs talking.

This is Day Four of my bout with strept throat.  I am taking strong antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, decongestants, and whiskey but recovery is freaking slow. I feel like I have two flaming golf balls in my throat.

I am a reclusive monk when I’m sick.  Not a bad habit, actually.

That was a joke. Monk. Habit.  Oh forget it.  From my bleary-eyed perspective it was funny.

I have only recently come to terms with being a “blogger.” While I undoubtedly “blog” I have always considered myself a writer.  But I’ve kind of given up. OK. I’m a blogger.

Since I started blogging, I have pretty much cut back on most other forms of entertainment. TV – no.  Books – much less. Magazines – maybe in an airplane.

I also used to love to work on my geneaology. But the last thing I want to do now to relax is spend more time on a computer.

I actually have a fascinating family history. My grandmother’s family was among the orginal Dutch settlers in what is now New York.  One relative was named Storm because he was born during a ferocious storm at sea. Another relative was nicknamed The Indian Slayer because he killed 99 Indians to avenge an ambush that wiped out his family. Not sure how I feel about that. I wasn’t there.

I also had a line of vaudeville performers in the family. One danced on roller skates. One charmed snakes. That’s kind of like being working in sales, right?  Shirley Temple was one of my direct relatives.

My vaudeville heritage still manifests itself in me in many ways. Ok, here is something you didn’t know about me. I was a carney. A carnival worker.

There is this huge amusement park in Ohio called Cedar Point. I worked there two summers and my first summer I was a weight guesser. Damn good one too. If you do anything 10 hours a day, six days a week you get good at it. It’s that Malcom Gladwell “Blink” sort of thing.

Here is the greatest achievement of my life. One time I guessed a woman’s weight, age, birth month, home town and name. You might ask how? Or perhaps you’ve stopped reading by now. Like me.

Any way, I called upon my finely-honed spidey senses to easily guess her weight, age and birth month but she still wanted that Cedar Point coffee mug. So I said, OK, I’ll guess your hometown.  “My hometawn!” she said … with an obvious Pittsburgh accent and indeed … that was her home town.

But wait, I said. I’ll guess your name. By now I had a crowd of more than 200 people watching this performance,  She handed over another dollar. Well back in the early 1980s there was a fashion trend where you had a little initial in the bottom-right corner of your over-sized eyeglasses. She had a “B.”  It is a little-known fact that every middle-aged woman from Pittsburgh in that era was named Mary, Betty or Viola. So Betty I guessed … and Betty it was. The crowd went wild.

A weight guessing legend was born that day.

Any way, I find it interesting to learn about your roots. My grandfather, a plumber, could never understand why I liked family history. “Why study dead people? Look to the future.”

My grandfather was awesome.  So was his brother, Leo who was my hero. Never finished high school. Worked with Einstein. Has a comet named after him too.

What will be named after me?  The Mark Schaefer Home for Wayward Bloggers. Or writers as the case may be. Maybe they’ll name that weight-guessing stand after me in Ohio. Hell, that story deserves a plaque of some kind!

OK, I am starting to fade. Now comes the big decision, do I push “publish” on this post?  Nawwwww ……

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  • Dear gawd Mark, the memories you invoke.
    If you know Cedar Point, as I know Cedar Point and the region of PA you might ACTUALLY know where I was raised. Hints: Kraynak’s, Quaker Steak, and Daffin’s.
    Hope you are feeling better!

  • Hope you get better soon Mark.

    That’s a great story! From now on I’m going to think of you as a carny. And yes, you should get a plaque for your weight guessing exploits of summers past.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for sharing this story Mark;-) Hope you feel better soon and take a good break to recover!

  •  Amidst all the great marketing and community advice you are giving this is what I call a refreshing post coming out of the blue and being totally unrelated. 

    Great writing 🙂 Mark! I am sure you will be back to your old strength soon. 🙂

  • A personal glimpse into the mind of an online community builder…. er writer…. no wait, no label required. Keep doing what you’re doing! This post showed the human being behind all the content you create/curate on grow.  Here’s to hoping for a quick recovery!  

  •  If this is what strep throat, antibiotics and whiskey do for you… not that I’d wish falling ill on ANYONE…! I loved reading this, Mark. I meant to check on you via Facebook to see if you tried my tea concoction, so it was good to read this. And where did you find that image?! It is totally creepy. Get well soon, but do keep writing like this. I’ll send some whiskey your way if I have to.

  • Not that I wish you Ill, however a softer side of you has come forward in your writing [dare I say your feminine side]
    Lot’s of Home Cooked Chicken Soup
    Mark Be Well and Take Care
    Michele Smorgon @maxOz:twitter 

  •  Hey Mark, thanks for sharing that story – you made me smile.

    Take it easy – lots of liquids, rest, and try to recover. Can we overnight you some chicken soup?

  •  Throw a hot bath in the mix, Mark. And write more about things totally unrelated to all things social, digital, whatever. It’s good for all of us. Sorry you couldn’t attend TEDx in Bloomington, Indiana. Now that’s some powerful medicine.

  • Love the “monk” “habit”…the carney story…and I think there’s a plaque in your future!

    I’m with @Shonali:disqus when she says “if this is what strep throat, antibiotics and whiskey do for you…”well, I can only aspire to this kind of writing on a good day, never mind when sick.

    As a single-malter, I highly recommend a dram of Scotch: to your health and recovery, Mark! And always push publish:)

  • Now that sounds like a deal!! 

  • My feminine side? I’ll have to make sure THAT NEVER happens again!  I do have a reputation to uphold you know! : )  

  • Laphroig, usually here. : )  

  •  Ooooh, and Lagavulin too: cheers!

  • Wow, this post caught me by surprise! This indeed is a good change away from the businessy side of things. Now we know Mark is not only a great writer, but a weight guesser too!Btw, you should be resting instead! It sounds like a very, very bad condition. Drink more water and do take care.

  • Mark
    I am impressed that you obviously are able not only to write (which to some persons is a challenge even if they are in good health) but also able to think about before.
    I would not be able to do any one of this, if I am ill like you.
    And I like what you wrote. It is always fascinating, what fathers and (even more) grandfathers did done in the past. My grandpa did see the last German emperor (Kaiser Wilhelm II). We today only see unfunky politicians trying to collect votes…
    The past is our path to the present and our present is the foundation of our future.
    Kind Regards from Germany
    PS: I will keep in mind your preference for whiskey. Whats your favorite sort?

  • This is a great piece of sharing something “personal ” about you. I’ve never really been interested too much in my genealogy, however a Great Uncle who had immigrated to NY (the successful designer & manufacturer of Boepple knitwear) returned to Europe to discover his roots……. all we heard after his grand tour was he didn’t really like what he found! In truth he probably told all his friends back in the States that he was distantly related to the house of Hanover.

    My grandfather on the same side was a minister and perhaps one of the very first that had his Sunday sermon broadcast over the radio. He was apparently quite a showman and entertainer and definitely was a forerunner of those we see on TV today!

    I recently wrote about my grandmother on the other side in a post “Remembering Grandmothers” and received lots of personal emails as a result of the post ……. it’s interesting what details stick out in our memory about people we know well, after many years………  I wonder what people will remember about you or me in 25 years or 30 years ? Definitely your “weight guess” will now be immortalized in stone 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Feel better!  And thanks for an awesomely loose post.  And thanks for not titling it “10 ways that being a carnival barker can enhance your social media success.”  🙂

  • Hi Mark,
    first time here. Nice to meet you.  You sound not too deliriously drugged up on antibiotics. Try some rum:)
    I love to dabble in geneology too. Have you tried  I used it to build my family tree. I traced back my french Canadian roots all the way back to 1642 from Poitou France. Over 10 generations of french Canadians on my dads’ side.
    When you are feeling better try this experiment.

    I did this a couple of months ago on I traced my husbands line to see if we had any ancestors in common. Turns out we didn’t But did find some ancestors who lived in the same city in Poitou France during the same years when the French Huguenots were escaping persecution. 10 generations back.. 

    Feel Better and see you around the NET….

  • Anonymous


    With all kindness, I think it is the whiskey talking! 

    Cedar Pointe! How funny, we went there once a summer when we were kids.  Never ceased to amaze me the bad fashion that went down at that place!  Matching shirts or His and Hers t-shirts etc.  Even as a child I knew it was as bad as it gets!

    Your comment on reading books less etc b/c of social media made me think.  I don’t want to get to that point.  Ignoring other things that matter… Have been rethinking how to not go into social media overload and seeing what will work for me which is different for you and everyone else.

    I hear a youngin calling my name!

    Get well soon! 

  • Hilarious!

  • First off I hope you feel better soon. Shonali and I were thinking along the same lines. That picture is creepy, but interesting. Also my grandmother always use to do the hot tea and added the whiskey. Work like a charm!

  • Hi Mark- I’m 3 weeks on in strep throat, think I’m through the curve.  Have started a first thing in the morning, lemon and warm water (no whisky, sorry) and a short walk to help immune system.  A new habit begun from being ill. 
    I think that’s the most exciting writing I’ve seen from you, because there was so much freedom there.  I could actually feel that you let the brakes off, and did not really know if you’d post.  Thanks for posting.

  • Three weeks? Wow. It’s only been four days for me and it has been the sickest I ahve been in 10 years.

    Yeah it was definitely a let it flow kind of thing. Not sure I’m up for that all the time but maybe once in a while? Thanks for the encouragement!

  • Beth DeMauro

    It may be the drugs talking, but it’s your writing … and I love it!  Feel better.  

  •  Hey Mark, I’m on anti-biotics and all I can do is sleep and cough. Feel better soon! 

  • Anonymous

    I will share with the {grow} readers that during the four days you mention you were ill, your vaudevillian heritage took hold of you too. You surely must’ve reasoned “the show must go on!” to have decided to drive to Atlanta to make what was a crowd-pleasing and eye-opening presentation to the agency conference we were hosting. You were a hit with a very tough crowd and to now know how sick you were, I don’t know how you did it. No attendee got sick that I know about. But now I understand why you were wearing that plastic bubble suit, I thought it was some kind of message about the future of social media and augmented reality!

    Everyone that reads and comments on {grow} knows how great Mark writes, but if you ever get the chance to hear him present, don’t miss it. Even at the risk of catching something, it’s well worth it!
    He is absolutely contagious. In a good way.

  •  So kind of you to say Billy. Actually when I was in Atlanta, I didn’t know it was strep.  When I drove home, I went right to the clinic and it was diagnosed. But I was a sick puppy who peaked on Red Bull at the right moment!  Thanks for the opportunity to speak to that talented group!

  •  I am so glad you did publish this blogpost, because I loved it. So nice to know these extra little tidbits about you.

    I LOVE Cedar Point. Used to go there every
    summer growing up. When my husband and I lived in San Francisco, we
    would make the trip all the way from the West Coast to visit Cedar Point. Now that is

    Hope you
    are feeling better by now.

  • Alice W Gold

     I came over from Jeremy Floyd. I wanted to see who this wise man was. Thanks for getting through to the man. He needs to be a blogger. I liked your monk/habit joke and I am not even on drugs. 🙂

    Funny to read this post. I have always dreamed of becoming a writer someday. Being an accomplished writer, and publishing something. I finally started my book the other day and it was a huge struggle. I have found that I prefer the format of a blog so much more. I can write as little or as much as I want. I can write one small piece at a time. I think I may have to X my lifelong dream of being a published writer and realize that I already am.

  • Type your reply…

  • Most excellent! Thank you! I’m glad we’re connected and hope you’ll come by often. Jeremy rocks!

  • I feel really weird knowing you met me and probably could have guessed my weight.

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