Thursday, January 31, 2008

Hunter's Hope & House of Miracles

On February 9th from 5 PM to 8 PM, do yourself a favor and visit the Hunter's Hope Gala at the Buffalo Bills Fieldhouse.

Every man, woman and child living in Western New York knows the amazing story of Hunter Kelly and his difficult battle with Krabbe Leukodystrophy, the disease that ultimately claimed his life.

Yet there isn't anything that could ever claim Hunter's spirit - and the gala is a tremendous celebration of life.

Last year my boys had a blast - we kicked field goals, I raced Kathy around an obstacle course (I just got rid of the turf burn after falling and losing to her), and we joined in the celebration of children, and the incredible spirit of Hunter Kelly's life.

This year, I will be signing copies of House of Miracles. Jill Kelly provided a brilliant foreword to the book - and I am proudly donating proceeds from the sale of the book to the Hunter's Hope Foundation. My publisher - Sterlinghouse Publisher of Pittsburgh, PA is also donating their proceeds. I will have 100 copies of the book - and my goal is to make a nice donation to a truly unbelievable foundation. I hope to see you there!

What can be better than the celebration of life?

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Forever Young

"May the Good Lord be with you down every road you roam, and may sunshine and happiness follow you when you're far from home."

Those words kind of brought me back today. I was going to write a blog about how it drives me nuts that people go out of their way to try and help you when you don't want any help - but I'll save that one for later. (To my best friend, Pat, I'll get to it).

The above quote from the Rod Stewart song, Forever Young, changed my mood. I was driving five hours and I called home to the report that my boy threw somewhat of a fit as he battled to win a video game. My wife, had to punish him, of course, and I found myself feeling low because I wasn't there to help. About three minutes later Rod Stewart's song came on.

The first verse hit me like a ton of bricks. No matter how much we want to shelter our kids, it is a losing battle. They are going to head down the road of life, with our gentle nudge on their back, but they are going to have to find the right path.

I not only thought of my son - who is banished from video games for a few days, but also of my parents, and the job they did with each of us. It's not easy to surrender control. How will I be able to do that someday?

"Be courageous and be brave, and in my heart you will remain, forever young."

Monday, January 28, 2008

State of the Union

I'm not real enthusiased about the State of the Union Address, and it's not because of who is speaking. Rather, I've always found the speech to be particularly annoying because it doesn't truly matter what is being said...everyone claps every three minutes anyway.

The makeup of the speech is aggravating because of all of the self-congratulatory celebrating. What may I ask are we celebrating right now?

I can imagine having the state of the union at my house, (if I was the leader of my house).

I would say, "Honey, these are difficult times for a lot of us. We are spending more money for gas, more money for food, more money for electricity and oil, and cable bills, and entertainment, but we are strong. We will survive."

At this point, I would wait for the clapping to subside.

"Yes, I know, that we are fighting with the bad, evil men across the world, and that it looks like we're losing, but we're not, and that all of our neighbors think we're asses, but we are going to strengthen our border policies so that we can alienate even those that live in the house to our immediate left and right."

More applause.

"I know that most of you do not approve of the job I'm doing - and frankly never did, but I am the leader and this is the greatest house on the block."

Standing ovation.

"These are times when we need to concentrate on baseball steroids. The gas problem, the terror problem, the poor economy...nothing is quite as important as cleaning up our national pasttime."

The roof of the place is threatening to blow off.

"What I propose is to give you a tax cut, and free healthcare, and as much free gas as your car can hold. I'm going to fight aids, fight terror there so I don't have to fight it here, and I'm going to give every kid a free candy cane. Don't worry about the debt, I'll get the money from China - I love fortune cookies, by the way."

I stop now to shake hands and receive pats on the back. I offer a sheepish, almost half-demented grin, and head back to my well-deserved vacation.

Ah, if I was the leader of the free world - think of all the damage I could undo.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Checking the Obits

My sons have no use for the newspaper. When I was young, it was my sole source of information, and I can't tell you how many times I got yelled at for taking it away from my parents who hadn't had the chance to read it before me. The kids get their information from the internet, and while I must admit that it's great to have all the world's information at the tip of my fingers - I still read at least two newspapers a day.

One of my strange habits is to scan the obits - reading the quick capsules about lives that are now over. I don't do it out of morbid curiosity, it is more out of sheer amazement - how can people live 70, 80, or 90 years and have their entire existence summed up in a couple of paragraphs?

What bothers me even more now, is the fact that I often see people leaving this world at an age younger than me. A shudder of absolute terror shakes me when I read about a 43 year old man dying instantly of a heart attack.

Some more observations - How do they write that someone who is 91 died suddenly. No one saw it coming?

I often think of the old Twilight Zone episode where the man is graced to get tomorrow's news today. He uses the information to make money betting the horses and sporting events. He turns himself into a rich man as he is able to forecast everything. But then, he sees his own obituary. Determined to cheat death, he stays in his room all day, driving himself crazy with the troubling information. Just before the show ends, he jumps out of a window - killing himself - and making his obit ring true.

I checked the obits today - I thought of the lives of the people and those they left behind. I was grateful that they were all strangers to me.

Finally, I remember a conversation that I had with my father as we passed the funeral home in my hometown. I was quite young, and it fascinated me that the curtain was closed whenever someone died. Driving by one evening, I said to my father - "Who died?" He answered - "Some lucky bastard."

It's not funny, but it is, good old dad - always ready with the winning line.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Streetlight Shines Down on Blessing Avenue

It is so easy to forget your blessings, right? Being busy, having endless amounts of work to do, and losing your thoughts in waves of sleep depravation can surely take its toll on your patience and the love that should be in your heart.

I say all of this because one of my boys got a bloody nose last night. It was a real gusher that soaked its way through about a roll of toilet paper. All the while, he was screaming at the sight of his own blood, and I was beside him, talking calmly, telling him it was almost done, and that a bloody nose wasn't a big deal.

In the meantime, I was scared shitless. There may not be any more miserable sight than that of your own child's blood. Every time he screamed, my heart skipped a beat. With every soaked section of toilet paper, I thought of what Iwould do if there was something seriously wrong.

Thank God, it was just a nose-bleed.

Yet, it made me stop what I was doing on the computer and head down to the television to watch the wrestling matches with them. It forced me to put away all of the things that seemed so important, and just hang out with the boys. It had me counting my many blessings, and thanking God that they are healthy.

In the grand scheme of things, all of the work we do, while giving us a purpose, does little for us in the way of blessings.

Tomorrow night is the Royal Rumble wrestling match on pay-per-view - I have a tough week coming up, but I will watch every last match, eat a little pizza, and make the night into the party that my boys want it to be. What would you do? Count your blessings - reality is just a bloody nose away.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Get Some Sleep

I didn't see Brokeback Mountain. I wasn't protesting the film - I rarely get to see a movie until it's been out for a few years, but I certainly knew who Heath Ledger was - we treat our actors like royalty in this country. It seemed to be a great shame to me that his life ended at such a young age, especially with a young child in his life.

Yet, I can't say I understand it. The story seems to be that he was tired and tried to self-medicate, and over did it.

Mariah Cary - a few years ago - ended up in the loony bin for a little while because she was over-tired. Again, I had trouble understanding.

I've dug ditches, wrote to a deadline, stayed up with sick kids, and yes, even partied too long from time-to-time - I feel extremely tired right now after a seventy hour work week, and picking wrestlers names out of a hat (see previous post).

I know the cure - however - I'm going to close my eyes and go to sleep. If I don't feel better tomorrow - I'm going to take it easy and go to sleep again. I will sleep until I feel better.

I certainly don't have a medical degreee, but the cure for exhaustion would seem to be rest - pill-less, psychiatrist-less, rest. It's too bad our royalty doesn't seem to know that much.


When we were growing up, my brothers and I always used to laugh about the fact that my father would save all kinds of items and have us store them in the garage. We used to say - "Here's another thing for the someday pile."

Now, I know why - when there seems to be too little time in the day, and too many tasks to accomplish, the someday pile grows. My sons are all excited about the Pay-Per-View Wrestling match scheduled for Sunday night. There is a royal rumble with 30 wrestlers involved and I had a great idea to choose up the wrestlers and see who the big winner is going to be - my boy, Sam, has asked me at least twenty times to write down the names and pick them from a hat. I haven't had time. I kept telling him that we would get it done on Saturday, in plenty of time for the match - and he said - "Yeah, someday."

I now understand - kind of a Cat's in the Cradle type moment - someday to them feels as if it is a lifetime away. I suppose that when I was a kid, my dad had the same types of thoughts.

Yet, someday isn't a bad thing - I keep waiting for the train to come roaring around the bend - I keep waiting for the ship to show itself on the horizon - but someday is right here. I have thirty names to write down on a piece of paper - I hope I choose the Undertaker - I think he's going to win. Hey Sam! Someday is here.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Sometimes a Great Notion

--- When my wife and I purchased our home, she figured that one of the ways that we could save a few pennies would be to cancel the garbage service and load the car on a weekly basis and bring the garbage to her parents home. The very first week didn't go very well as we had a truckload of garbage that stunk up my vehicle for the entire next week. We quickly decided that this was not her best idea and we called for a weekly pick-up service. I remind her every couple of months of her brain cramp.

---- Back in college a buddy of mine decided that one way we could meet girls was to buy a dozen roses and then hand them out to the pretty girls that we saw walking through the mall. He handed a rose to a girl who simply walked away in complete and utter fear, and I handed a rose to a girl who, unbeknownst to me, was waiting for her linebacker boyfriend to come out of the restroom. About seven minutes later, security was escorting us from the mall. We crushed the other ten roses at our feet, and went home and drank beer, laughing at each other for hours.

It seems that from time-to-time we come up with ideas that seem brilliant, but are really filled with holes. Hopefully, we are able to learn from our mistakes.

--- Several years ago, when our black lab was a young pup, I decided to allow it to get used to our home when no one else was around. I talked my wife into allowing the dog to be loose, and we took a short trip. When we returned home about twenty minutes later we found that the dog had torn apart our brand new couch. The dog and I slept in the same house that night. Just a thousand dollar notion.

--- Earlier this year I went to a Yankee-Met game at Yankee Stadium with five beer-drinking friends. Our plan was to fly in, go to the game and fly out. What we didn't realize was that without our wives around to keep us in control, we would be complete and utter asses. They didn't allow us back on the plane after the game, and it took us an extra ten hours to make it home. What a wonderful hangover that idea was.

--- It seems to me that the war in Iraq turned out to be one of those great notions that ended in unmitigated failure. With the presidential election in full force, the idea of how the war is going has slipped to the back pages, but every now and again, I wonder about the fact that we attacked a country without a clear exit strategy. Year after year has passed, but there still doesn't seem to be a lot of answers.

Kind of like showing up at the mall with a fistful of roses and not much of an action plan. Perhaps security will show us to the door. Sometimes a great notion.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I'll Work For Your Love, Dear

There's an old Paul Simon song where he sings, "To ask someone to love you, it takes a lot of nerve."

I'm not sure why I think of this line so often, but I think it's because deep down, none of us feel worthy of the kind of earth-shattering love that we all seek.

I thought of this yesterday when I ran into an old friend of mine who was continually critical of the fact that I was married with children. This guy wanted to escape the "trap" of being tied-down. He would often ridicule me, asking me if I was allowed to carry my testicles around with me, or if my wife kept them in a jar by the door. He was free to come and go as he pleased with beer, sports, golf and all sorts of beautiful things to occupy his time.

Can't say that I didn't envy him from time to time.

Yet, a funny thing happened to him on the way to his eternal solo act - he fell in love.

His baby is due in July, and his wife is now picking out items to change his home. Of course, I didn't say anything about the new jar in his closet. Yet I definitely turned the tables - I asked him if he liked folding laundry, changing diapers, washing dishes, and skipping golf to attend gatherings with his new wife. He assured me that he was ready to go.

Which reminded me of the fact that I have changed for the love of my wife and kids. I used to really hate doing laundry - when I lived alone, I let it pile up until I was out of clean underwear. When I was down to my last pair, I hauled the filthy clothes to someone who would wash and fold them and give them back to me - I didn't care what it cost.

Now, I empty the baskets every two days - I've mixed and matched enough socks to sink a ship. I've even learned about the positive aspects of fabric softener.

Yes, I've learned to work for the love that I don't feel I truly deserve. We all fall into that trap.

My buddy was smiling ear-to-ear as he envisioned his new life. I called him a "poor, clueless bastard," but I shook his hand and congratulated him on finding his peace of mind. Laundry or not - two hearts are better than one. Good for you, Tim.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

On the Road Again

I am not alone in having to travel, from time to time, to do my job. All of my brothers are on the road on a fairly regular basis. Two of my best friends spend more time in the air then they do on the ground. I'm not sure how they feel about it, but I despise being away. I spend the evenings in the hotel watching TV, unable to write much, just wondering what is going on without me there.

I'm told.... that there is a more relaxed atmosphere at home. The other morning I explained to the boys that I wouldn't be home and one of them actually cheered, then smiled, and said, "We're going to miss you." My other son finished the conversation by saying, "I'll get the balloons and confetti."

There is little doubt as to who misses me the most - Shadow and Melky spend a good half-hour greeting me when I return. They shake their tails, jump on me, and try their best to kiss me. I asked my wife why she didn't offer the greeting I get from the dogs, and she explained that she didn't have that much energy.

So, here I sit, watching another episode of Friends, waiting for the phone to ring so I can spend a few minutes listening to what I'm missing.

When I was young, I heard that you should never wish time away, but tonight, I'm wishing it were tomorrow, and I was yelling for them to settle down.

Maybe I'll get show up at the door with a few balloons and a handful of confetti.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

My Boys

My three sons are so different.... one is structured and gets particulary annoyed when someone changes things up on him.... one is an absolute perfectionist who demands 100 on every test he takes. He recently missed three questions on a test, and he not only cried, he wondered if the teacher screwed it up.... The third son is unbelievably laid back. His idea of working hard is putting his shoes away at the end of the day.

They are all bright, they all have a sense of humor. They are patient, happy, secure, and get along okay. As they are all-boy however, they will get down and get mean with each other from time-to-time.

What really makes me proud, however, is that they all have learned to understand the difference between right and wrong, and they are quick to understand that if they screw up, there will be consequences. Hopefully that is a leson they won't soon forget.

Of course, there is a line in a Springsteen song that brings parenthood to the forefront - in it he says "I hope that your sins are your own."

As my wife and I raise our children, my one hope is that they get to adulthood knowing that I was behind their every effort, and that they do not end up paying for voids in my own mental stability. That's a lot to ask, really, because on a day-to-day basis, I see myself in their actions. Whether it's the temper, the passion, the need to be perfect, or the ability to relax, they all have developed some of my traits.... now if I could get one of them to write a little bit.....

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Movie Love

Wouldn't it be cool if relationships in real life worked as they do in the movies. I'm talking the When Harry Met Sally sort of way where they find friendship, fall a little in love, sleep together, feel ashamed, hate each other and then finally make a long drawn-out pronouncement of eternal bliss. And I absolutely loved that movie - when Billy Crystal says - "when you realize who is the person you want to spend the rest of your life, you want the rest of your life to start right now" - I get a little choked up.

Yet, love isn't like that, is it? It's the excitement of youth, the responsibility and familiarity of middle-age, and the mutual dependance of the golden age.

Look at a couple you know who've been together over forty years - they know each other so well - and despise each other so much - but the love is unbelievable! I know of an old joke where an elderly couple sits down for breakfast and the wife looks across the table and says, "Good morning, what would you like to do today." The old man pours his cereal, smiles back and says, "I'd like to kill you."

My wife and I often talk about how we can avoid the kind of love where we spend our free moments giving one another the finger from behind closed doors. I'm not sure we will avoid the pitfalls. You simply get used to each other, and before long, the stories are old and tired.

The other day I started telling my wife a funny story from my college days, two sentences in she said, "Yeah, I heard that one." I just sort of looked away. "What do you want to do today?" she asked. I didn't answer.

What I'm getting at is that love in the movies is so cool - there is the amazing attraction, the I don't care about anything else in my life other than being with you, and the screen fading to black as we live the happily ever after.

Over 60% of marriages don't have that sort of ending. The one's that last, sometimes are completed in rages of anger, but I think that what we are seeing is the fact that love isn't easy - it is (As President Bush might say) "hard, hard work."

About ten years ago, I was at my parents home for a holiday party. They had some music playing and they were actually hanging out together - I'd seen their marriage from all sorts of different angles, but the Kenny Rogers song - "Through the Years" came on - they didn't know I was watching, but I saw them dance - (which wasn't pretty) - and heard my mother singing the words - (which was a lot like hearing my wife's non-angelic voice) and I couldn't help but get choked up as though I were watching the end of a movie love.

The moments come - it isn't all edited in a formatted version to fit your screen, but love can endure. Despite everything working against it - movie love is out there, it's just disguised as mutual respect.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jimmy Carter

My very first political memory was sitting with my father as Jimmy Carter battled Ronald Reagan for President in 1976. I was just 12 years old at the time, and like my parents, I was rooting hard for the peanut farmer from Georgia. I wasn't sure why - perhaps it was his Southern drawl. Maybe it was the fact that he was a peanut farmer, and I liked peanuts. More than likely, it was because he spoke well, seemed to be brillant, and declared at one point that he didn't intend to lose.

Whatever, the race for electoral votes was exciting- and to this day, I love to watch the states come in and victory ultimately declared. That didn't happen in 2000, when I tried to get my children to watch along, and I won't even begin to tell you my disappointment in that regard.

In any event, I saw a story about Jimmy Carter today. I've even read a few of his books. When I get into political arguments with my friends, his name comes up once in awhile, and I pretend that I'm not offended when someone mentions that he's in the discussion as one of the failed presidents. He couldn't have been that bad - I was 12 - and I liked him!

I have a secret - I still like him. I was right back then - he was a brilliant guy. An engineer in each and every field, a human rights advocate, a friend to the poor, and I still like peanuts, too.

The thing that strikes me most, however, is that I had a truly idealistic view of the world when Jimmy Carter ran for president. I concentrated on him because I thought he was a good man. I didn't know anything about inflation, the high gas prices of that day, or the trouble in the Middle East. I saw him simply as a well-spoken leader who could take charge, and lead this country - the greatest country in the world.

Over thirty years later, I look at the candidates assembled - as noted in an earlier post - I don't feel as though I can trust any of them. Yet, one thing hasn't changed - we need a good, smart, well-spoken leader, who can lead us through a tough economy, high gas prices, and trouble in the Middle East. I almost wondered if Jimmy Carter had a brother- but then remembered Billy Beer!

Oh yeah, a brother who made a beer - another positive in the life of Jimmy Carter.

At the end of the day, I suppose that it is all about remembering a president who got me excited about the democratic process. In the end, it's a little about paying tribute to an American, who after all was said and done, lived a wholesome life. Even his most critical of enemies has to acknowledge that - right?

Friday, January 11, 2008

Here's My Advice!

So, Dr. Phil ran into a little trouble because he gave Britney advice and tried to promote it. Can't say that I'm surprised.

I've never been a real Dr. Phil fan - first off, he looks like that dude who used to be on the Larry Sanders show - secondly, he gives weight loss advice and he's got the same build as me. Thirdly, his advice isn't that great.

I saw him talking to some weight-challenged people and he acknowledged that the best advice he could give is that they eat right and exercise. Really? No, kidding. How about telling them to duct tape that gaping hole under their nose. That would work too.

All of the advice-givers are a little too much for me. They preach respect and communication in a marriage. Awesome - I would have never come up with that on my own.

They tell you that men and women have different needs. Tremendous! How many years of schooling for that gem?

Here is the basic difference of men and women encapsulated, as I see it. I'll come home from work and my wife will say - "How was your day?"

My answer - "If they weren't paying me, I wouldn't go!"

Her deal - I ask, "How was your day?"

She gives me the full eight-hour recap. I nod along and only perk my ears up when she introduces an unknown female into the conversation - my input at that point is limited to asking if the unknown female is hot.

I get the roll of the eyes and we go on.

My advice - certainly respect. Self-respect is usually the hardest to come by and lack of it presents itself in a lot of problems - see over-eating, over-drinking, over chasing women, over compensating in a lot of areas.

Best e-mail I received this year says it all - "Live Simply, Love Generously, Care Deeply, Speak Kindly, and Leave the Rest to God."

I think I'll send that e-mail to Dr. Phil.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

10 Things I Hate

1). I hate when someone says, "I was talking on the phone" and holds a fake phone up to their ear - put your freaking hand down - I know what a phone looks like!

2). I hate cute phrases like Okie-Dokie - when someone wants to end a correspondence with me and they say Okie-Dokie, I vomit in my mouth a little.

3). I hate losing a sock when I do the laundry - I remember Seinfeld doing a bit about this, but I hate it because I want every chore finished to completion and when I can't find that damn sock it infuriates me.

4). I hate when someone says "irregardless" - it isn't a word - regardless as to what you might think.

5). I hate preachers that say that God spoke to them. If God were to speak with most of them idiots, I'm sure He'd tell them to shut the hell up.

6). I hate athletes who are interviewed after a big game who say - "I gave 110 percent out there." There's only 100 percent you moron, where did you get the other 10%?

7). I hate the guys who are in front of me at a convenience store who buy $400 in daily lottery tickets. If you don't buy the tickets and lose - you'll have more money - besides, you're killing me with your cute pronouncements that you picked 2-3-2 becuase you got $2.32 back in change - not everything is an omen - get out of the way and let me buy my newspaper.

8). I hate Snakes - yet, really, who likes them? I mean really likes them? The nuns told me about the snake in the Garden of Eden and I've hated the bastards since.

9). I hate piercings of every kind - what would make you pierce your eye, ear, nose, tongue, or friggen' private parts? I saw a guy the other day who looked like he got caught in a tackle-box explosion - how does he find a decent job?

10). I hate when my kid wears his baseball hat backwards and buys jeans that come with holes already in them - it's all I can do not to whack the hat off his head and rip a bigger hole in his pants.

Just thought I'd get that off my chest.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

What About the Tough Days?

Started the year re-energized by the Holidays. I began it sick, but my spirits were up and I was ready to roll. I headed back to work, convinced I could handle a tremendous workload and I was ready to promote the new books.

Yet, a funny thing happened on the way to the promised land...I couldn't fall asleep.

I went to bed, I read from a novel, I watched part of a Seinfeld rerun, turned on my stomach, and tried to drift off. I thought of my schedule for the next day. I thought about a book signing that I agreed to do. I thought about each of my children, my wife, the dogs snoring on the floor at the foot of the bed, the wind howling outside. I thought about the upcoming football playoffs and the Democratic primaries. I thought about the Writer's strike, Britney Spears, and the war in Iraq.

I sat up and scolded myself. I ignored the clock beside me, and I stubbornly fell back into my go-to-sleep position.

That's when it happened... I began to think about the most ridiculous of things, like how many fruit roll-ups the kids had for their lunches, and why more people didn't appreciate Bruce's Human Touch album. I thought of freaking tigers at the San Francisco Zoo breaking free and chasing women and children around the park. I thought of Joe DiMaggio and what a shame it was that I didn't see him play.

Now, I looked at the clock. I had to get up early. What the hell was I doing?

I thought of Walt Disney and how he could freeze his body in death. I considered Dyan Cannon and wondered how the hell she was 71 years old now. I tried to figure out what 243X87 was, and I swore at my pillow, my blankets, and the friggen' snoring dogs.

Thankfully, I drifted off to sleep, and then the alarm rang. I headed for the front door, swearing at my stupid mind and wondering what the hell was the matter with me. I spent the whole day tired, for no good reason, but at least I know that 243X87 = 21,141 and that Dyan Cannon had a nice, long run of good looks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Around and Around

Isn't it amazing that there are sights, sounds, and smells that can remind you of your childhood, or a dozen years gone by? I was thinking this the other morning as I started the Sunday sauce.

Making sauce on Sunday's always brings me back to my childhood, but this week, I could almost see myself standing next to my father as he cut up the garlic and onions to get underway. This week, my boy popped out of his bedroom to tell me a wrestling story, and suddenly, I was back in time, talking non-stop to my father about the Yankees, or the Sabres, or whatever. I could almost hear my father handing me the same one word answers that I was offering little Sam - too busy to really hear the story, but too aware to know that it was an important moment.

It happens that way with songs and visions also. There are tunes that bring me back to when I was young, and dumb. Every once in awhile I'll hear an old Stones song that makes me think of being with my friends, talking endlessly about a now forgotten girl, or moment. Those are cherished moments now that I'm older and still dumb.

The past mixed with the present seems to form the future. I do hope that my children are building a bank of memories that will carry them through those moments when life seems a little slow.

My wife and I enjoy talking about the days when we first met, or the moments when the children were young. I don't think there's much danger of getting stuck in the past, because each day is about establishing a new memory or two.

Yet, I am excited to have been blessed with a memory that allows me to drift back into time, and to see my mother, or father, or grandmothers, or grandfathers teach me a little bit about life.

Around and around we go.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Your Ridiculous Opinion Has Been Noted

I certainly would like to make an informed choice regarding the presidential race for 2008. I have looked at each of the candidates, but I'm having a difficult time telling the difference. Everyone is so polished and offers us what we want to hear. Not a single one stands out because, frankly, I don't trust any of them.

When you talk about accountability, and the ability to tell the truth, there isn't a single politician that separates him/herself. I'm sorry, but I felt deceived by Clinton when he pointed in the camera and explained his relationship with his intern, and I knew that Bush and company were lying from day one. Yet, even after being caught in a lie, not one of them ever owns up. Would you try that in your own life? Would you allow your children to live under such veils?

A few years ago, I was standing within three feet of one of my children as he played a handheld video game. The game wasn't going as he liked so he reared back and threw it - right through our living room window. The shock of it all stunned both of us, but I turned to him with anger in my eyes - he never hesitated - "I didn't do it!" He said.

I laughed. When a 3-year-old does it, you laugh - when the leaders of the country do it - you cringe.

I have a couple of real good, real intelligent friends who don't vote at all - their reasoning is that they those running are all crooks. I hate to be so cynical, so I head out each November and cast my vote. I never feel really terrific about any of it.

At home, we fixed the window and my child was taught that there are consequences for his actions. My son was punished, and we were able to repair the relationship, and live on in a healthy environment. I can't yet do that with my politician friends, because so far, no one seems willing to accept responsibility.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Bet On It!

I just noticed that the Buffalo City Council decided not to challenge the new casino in downtown Buffalo. Given the already established casino's in the surrounding areas, not to mention the racetracks and OTB's and football pools and NCAA pools that dominate our time, I must wonder, what good all of this betting is doing for our society.

Now, don't get me wrong, I have had a great time (some evenings) visiting the casinos. My wife and I head up to the Falls from time-to-time and waste our hard-earned money pulling on a lever. We've also won a little on some nights, but overall, we've found it to be a losing night out that takes our entertainment dollar... and leaves us feeling empty. There is a limit of course, and we haven't sacrificed money that we need.

Yet, I hate the feeling that comes along with losing money. I can't stand how I feel when I'm pulling the lever, knowing that I'm simply counting backwards to zero. I also read the newspaper stories saying that a casino will help rebuild the city, and I find it hard to believe. The financial impact is limited to those in charge of cleaning out the machines. There is a Pizza Hut restaurant boarded and closed at the foot of the Falls casino. The surrounding neighborhoods are in a state of decay. People who can't afford to lose their paychecks are stuck in front of the machines, hoping that their luck doesn't run out.

Listen to the old sins listed one-by-one - gambling is always mentioned. You've heard at least one story of someone who lost their home to the ponies or the one-armed bandit.

I suppose that like almost everything else in this day and age, I'm confused as I consider the issue. It's easy to say that people need to know their limits and not be addicted to the sights and sounds of a casino. It's a whole different thing to realize that for every winner, there are hundreds of losers. I just pray that the real losers aren't the citizens in the neighborhoods. Lotteries, casinos, and get rich quick schemes work best on desperate people, and that truly isn't real entertaining.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Not Big on '08 So Far

Welcomed in the New Year with some friends and a vat of beer. Woke up sick and believed it to be alcohol related, but now a couple of days in, it appears to be a nasty cold complete with a headache and a sneezing fit that left me cleaning my steering wheel. Which of course, brings a couple of thoughts to mind - the good health that's usually there is something that I shouldn't take for granted.

Secondly, deep down, men are wimps - now don't get me wrong, I would never think about taking a day off. With thanks to my mother and father, I believe it is my responsibility to go to work - each and every day, no matter how much I have to suffer. Yet, that doesn't stop me from complaining - and as every woman will tell you, every man loves to tell you how crappy they feel. I must have told my wife about my illness at least 7 times today. Whenever there's a lapse in conversation I mention that I feel like shit. "You look like it too," is her usual response.

So, is there a point to all of this? There are a lot of people who live each and every day in pain. There are people who are suffering through long-term illnesses, and some of them might never recover. I'm not in that boat, but you could have fooled me. I'm about two sentences from hitting the couch with a blanket that I'll pull up to my neck - I just hope that my wife and kids stay within shouting distance so I can tell them how much it sucks.

Happy Birthday, To One of the Dopes

The funny thing about your kids getting older is that as a parent, you have all the goods. Today Matt is 25 years old (I’m pretty sure - w...