Archive for November, 2011

Being Thankful

I am thankful for many things … especially my faith, my family and friends, my continued employment and health.   Having my grandkids with me for Thanksgiving will make it especially enjoyable.  Having seen my Grandma a couple times in the last few months, I’m also reminded of past stories of Thanksgiving.

I’m also thankful for the Extravagant Generosity that I’ve seen in the just-completed United Way campaign and the start of our campaign at Avondale United Methodist Church.

While I could go on, I feel a few others have already done a better job with this topic so to make my blog a bit more meaningful, I’ve included a few items from others that have improved my Thanksgiving this year and I thought you might appreciate as well:

Finally a couple items for entertainment purposes:

  • for a good laugh, one of the best TV episodes of all time:  WKRP in Cincinnati and “Turkeys Away
  • a Thanksgiving classic, Arlo Guthrie’s “Alice’s Restaurant

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mark Whitaker

Categories: Church, Family, United Way


For years, I’ve said that “42” was my favorite number and that I was going to have a mid-life crisis not @ 40 or 50 but when I was 42 years old … well, November 3rd is my 42nd birthday so look out world.

I know what you’re saying … why 42?  Well, a couple reasons and both take some explanation. 

Half way through Middle School, I read a book.  Actually, it was a triology (well, it had 4 books but they called it a trilogy … that was the type of humor involved) called The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.   Spoiler alert here but the Earth is a giant computer whose purpose is to find the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything.  In one of the books, they find out the answer is “42” and when they respond by asking “So, what’s the question?” they get the response “What … is … 6 … times … 9?”  The 7th grade version of Mark (who loved math) thought this was the greatest thing and “42” has been my favorite # ever since. 

Similar math skills would follow me later on in life as I was a Math & Stats tutor for the Athletics department at Ohio State shortly after they added an 11th school to the Big 10; I used this as logic to explain why athletes needed help with understanding #’s.  Of course, this off-season there were 12 teams in the Big 10 as well as 12 teams in the Pac 10 while there were 10 teams in the Big 12.  I’ve been out of town for a couple days, so I have no idea how many teams are now in the Big 12 since Mizzou has been threatening to leave (following Texas A&M to the SEC which is supposed to stand for the South East Conference) and West Virginia is supposed to join the Big 10 while Idaho State goes to the Big East.  I think the next trend in tutoring athletes needs to be the subject of geography.  [Note: this side note has nothing to do with 42.]

“42” being a favorite # due to humor is also related to another of my favorite jokes … A group of prisoners had been together so long that they no longer told jokes; instead, they made a list and just said the #.  So, someone would say “17” and everyone laughed; another guy mentioned “63” and they rolled on the floor while “3” had them holding their sides as they laughed so hard.  But when the new guy said “42” he got no reaction and asked why.  The wise man replied, “It’s all in how you tell a joke.”

My favorite professor in college (at what was then known as Southwest Missouri State University) was Dr. Steve Parker.  He was my professor for a couple classes plus he also took over as my advisor partway through my college career.  I’d decided that I wanted to major in Marketing Research when I was a Senior in High School (that’s a story in itself) and was enrolled in the Honors College at SMSU.   Initially, I had a different person as my advisor but due to reasons I don’t remember, she told me she couldn’t be my advisor anymore.  Which was fine with me; I was trying to figure out if there was a way to politely ask if I could switch to R. Stephen Parker, DBA.   When he spoke, everything about Marketing and Research just made perfect sense and his advise sounded like it was meant for me.  In fact, when I later decided to pursue an MBA, he advised me of a few good programs to consider, including Ohio State where I would end up going and be fortunate enough to study under Greg Allenby, another great Marketing Research mind.   Back to Steve … I’ve always been a believer in having work/life balance and part of that was his doing.  He used to glow about his beautiful daughter and, in my mind, he had life all together.  So, when I got to be his age, I better have it altogether.  Oh yeah, he was 42.

So, as I prepared to turn 42, I visited my Grandmother who is getting ready to turn 97, a # which is a tad more impressive.  However, when I told her I was about to turn 42, she informed me that I was old.  She also pointed out to my parents that they both had white hair.  However, another favorite moment of the visit was when I showed her a picture of my grandson (who turns 1 in a couple weeks) in his Halloween costume.  Her face lit up with a smile.  She truly understands what is important.   Coming home today, it was great to see my grandson as well as joining my 3-year-old granddaughter to watch The Little Mermaid (along with the parents, aunt & uncles, and Liz … my beautiful bride) to bring a smile to my face.

I’m on a much-needed vacation this week from my job (although I’ve been staying in touch by reading email on my Sprint htc Evo Shift smart phone … this plug was not paid for but I’d gladly take free product as a thank you) but while I’m often stressed and sometimes complain, I really LOVE what I do for a living.  In fact, I’ve been doing Marketing and Market Research for 20 years and really don’t want to make a change.  I work for a media company that keeps people informed about what’s going on in the community and has an important voice for change through its editorials.   Through my job, I’m able to Help People Find the Information that they Need to make an informed decision.  That’s a key part of what Marketing Research is all about but it’s also an important part of the role of media to inform the community as we provide news and information to consumers and businesses.

Plus, I’ve been given the opportunity to work with non-profit organizations like United Way that give me opportunities to make a difference in the community.   The Star once again partners with KCTV5 to collect coats and blankets through Project Warmth (info @ this weekend.  Plus, there’s the Harvesters Challenge during the Christmas season and Greater Kansas City Day when the Royals have their home opener.   Truly, I’ve got a great job.

Plus, I also work with youth and young adults at my church and I’m on the Advisory Board for youTheology, a great organization that is “Developing Faithful Leaders for a Diverse Church and World, Now and In the Future.”  We just had a meet and great for people interested in volunteering and I also am serving on a Think Tank looking for how to keep this organization strong and growing into the future.  If you’re interested in learning more about youTheology, please visit  or (my blog appears the first Friday of each month) or follow the organization through social media at!/youTheology or by watching videos at

So, anyway, while I still look back and think that Steve Parker was (and is) a great guy that had life figured out, I’m not too worried about having a mid-life crisis.  I love my God, my wife & family, both my jobs and my charitable efforts.

Sorry if anyone is disappointed but I’m afraid that my mid-life crisis is going to have to be put on hold for just a tad bit longer.  Of course, if you really want to give me a shiny red sports car, I wouldn’t want to stand in your way.  However, that won’t change my level of happiness one way or the other.