Saturday, May 31, 2008

Happy Anniversary

Every year it rains on May 31st - you can thank my wife and I for that. We were married 11 years ago today in left field at the town park. I wore a Yankee cap as did everyone in the wedding party. A judge called our wedding - and as I love to joke - I should have asked for a jury.

The rain came down hard and cold that afternoon. Our friends and families drank enough to sink a ship. I may have drank the most. Springsteen was the music of choice, of course, and I did not have a single doubt in my mind that the life we were beginning was the absolute life that I wanted to lead. Rain and all, I still see things from the same vantage point.

One of the songs that meant a lot to me on that day 11 years ago was Real World by Springsteen - I remember listening to it at full volume on the way to the field.

"Mister trouble come walking this way, year gone past feels like one long day, but I'm alive and I'm feeling all right.

Well I ran that hard road out of heartbreak city, built a roadside carnival out of hurt and self-pity. It was all wrong, well I'm moving on.

Ain't no church bells ringing, ain't no flags unfurled, just you me and the love we're bringing into the real world.

I built a shrine in my heart, it wasn't pretty to see, made out of fool's gold, memory and tears cried. Now, I'm heading over the rise. I'm searching for one clear moment of love and truth, I still got a little faith, but what I need is some proof tonight. I'm looking for it in your eyes.

Ain't no church bells ringing, ain't no flags unfurled, just you me and the love we're bringing into the real world.

Well tonight I just want to shout, I feel my soul waist deep and sinking into this black river of doubt. I just want to rise and walk along the river side, and when the morning comes, baby I don't want to hide. I'll stand right at your side with my arms open wide.

I want to find some answers, I want to ask for some help. I'm tired of running scared, baby, let's get our bags packed, we'll take it here to hell and heaven and back and if love is hopeless, hopeless at best, come on put on your party dress, it's ours tonight, and we're going with the tumbling dice.

Ain't no church bells ringing, ain't no flags unfurled, just you me and the hope we're bringing into the real world. - Bruce Springsteen

My wife and I sign five year contracts for our marriage - I re-upped last year to take us through 15 years - can't see any reason for re-negotiating the contract - Happy Anniversary - we are still bringing faith, hope and love into the Real World.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Let Me Up

Tom Petty, an under-rated performer, had an album called "Let Me Up I've Had Enough." That was sort of the way I felt today. Work has been busy.The boys have baseball and the are eating us out of house and home. There are so many chores around the house. There's golf to consider, a couple of book-singings, and here we are....

"Let me up I've had enough", Tom Petty singing in that Southern drawl. Time for an uplifting saying - or one I use from time-to-time to battle through:

“Generations come and go, but it makes no difference. The sun rises and sets and hurries around to rise again. The wind blows south and north, here and there, twisting back and forth, getting nowhere. The rivers run into the sea, but the sea is never full; and the water returns again to the rivers, and flows again to the sea…

Everything is unutterably weary and tiresome. No matter how much we see, we are never satisfied; no matter how much we hear, we are not content. So I saw that there is nothing better for men than that they should be happy in their work, for that is what they are here for, and no one can bring them back to life to enjoy what will be in the future. So let them enjoy it now”. -


Monday, May 26, 2008

Chat Online

Do you get a lot of junk mail, junk e-mail and pestering telephone calls? I just erased a message that asked me if I wanted to chat online with a live, sexy girl. Of course, I hit the delete button. Yet it seems that each and every day is filled with such invitations.

With a click of a button it seems that I can get more hair for my head, I can lose fifty pounds without watching what I eat and not exercising a lick. I can get a larger uh, you know, and a break on my mortgage. I may take someone up on the hair offer, but that's about it. I'm used to everything else.

My favorite aggravation is that I get periodic calls on my cell phone from a man who certainly just arrived in this country. He calls me every other day and he always asks for Clint Douglas. When I tell him that he has the wrong number, he asks me if I want a lower mortgage rate.

"Certainly," I say. "I was just waiting for someone to call me, not know my name or financial status, in an effort to entice me to give out sensitive information about my personal life."

He always hangs up only to call me again the next day. "Clint Douglas?" he asks.

"Clint died," I finally told him. "He was beat to death with a baseball bat because he couldn't pay his mortgage."

Two days later, "Hello, Clint Douglas. I have a deal for you on a new mortgage rate."

I imagine that this form of advertising has had to work at some point. Do people actually answer the ads looking for the larger, you know what?

Do people actually chat online, believing that they've found a new girlfriend? Have you ever discussed financials with someone that randomly dials you in?

Every once in awhile you'll hear about people who get scammed out of money. There's an e-mail that goes around from a wealthy prince of a long-ways-away country. "I escaped with $7,000,000 it says - but I need $1500 to pay some bank fees. If you'll send me the $1,500, I'll split the 7 mil with you."

Are you kidding me - someone falls for that?

Oh well, I was just instant messaged from Kitty who has been searching for me for the past few months. I better see what she needs. Perhaps I'm just one live chat away from fulfilling all of my dreams.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Memorial Day

I have vivid recollections of Memorial Day as a child. In the Town of North Collins there used to be a long parade, and we would head down to see all the Veterans dressed in their uniforms. Many of the men and women were either related to me, or friends of the family. They always looked so official, and to a young boy, a little frightening. They would march, do a routine, and they wouldn't really smile until it was all over. Their march led them back to the American Legion in the center of town, and from there the party would begin.

Fast forward to Friday morning. I was walking through the University @ Buffalo South Campus. It was a crisp, cool morning with a lot of sun. I was walking along, minding my own business, with five dollars in hand so that I could grab a coffee and a breakfast sandwich from the Roach-Coach (the wagon that delivers grub to consturction guys - there's usually a pretty girl pouring the coffee).

A skinny, very poorly dressed man was making a rapid approach. He certainly didn't look like a member of the construction crew, and I quickly gauged that he wasn't a student either.

"Excuse me!" he called out.

My mind registered that he was probably a homeless dude looking for money.

"I hate to bug you," he said.

His eyes were glassy and his smell wasn't exactly what I needed at this time of the morning. I was looking forward to the coffee girl and this dude was stopping me?

"I'm a Veteran," he said. "Three stints in Iraq."

He flashed a VA card to let me know he was telling the truth.

"I'm not a druggie or an alcoholic. Seriously, I need 80 cents for the bus."

He certainly didn't look like my proud Uncle on Memorial Day's past. He wasn't dressed like my friends' Dad, holding a gun and doing a perfect march. He actually tilted a little to the left, and I understood that the 80 cents probably wasn't just for the bus.

I handed him the 5 bucks. The coffee girl wasn't getting a dime today.

"God Bless You," he said.
"Right back at you," I answered. "Have a great Memorial Day."

Here's hoping that others serving get more of the welcome and respect that North Collins used to deliver up on past Memorial Days.

Friday, May 23, 2008

The Building Imploded Wrong

Over the past few days I've been listening to theories that 9/11 didn't really happen, or that the government did it on purpose.

I have never truly been into conspiracy theories. I can't believe that so many lives would be lost for the love of money, but that's what a number of people are proposing. The Internet is filled with stories about how the World Trade Centers wouldn't just implode simply because a plane ran into the buildings. "A building doesn't just fall that way!" one lady screamed.

How were they supposed to fall? Up?

One nut-job being interviewed went as far as saying that the planes didn't actually hit the buildings, instead it was a computer simulation that made us all watching believe that there really were planes. I hate to shoot holes in that one, but were the passengers who lost their lives imaginary too?

It goes back years and years - were there more shooters involved in the JFK assassination? Is Elvis really alive? Did the mafia kill Marilyn Monroe? Was OJ simply setup by cops who hate blacks?

The events of 9/11 are painful enough without all of these crazy theories. I certainly can't be accused of believing in each and everything our government does - particularly through the past eight years - but murdering that many people? Breaking so many hearts?

The idea of such a vast conspiracy can't be true - can it?

Look it all up on the Internet - there is unbelievable documentation for anything and everything you might want to believe.

I think it's a disservice to those who lost their lives to even imagine that it was an inside job.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Two Million Members!

I was deeply disturbed by a radio ad I heard this morning. It's for an Internet dating service - which I suppose is fine if that's all you have going for you - but this service is for married men and women who want to discreetly (yeah ask Spitzer) cheat on their spouses.

The ad asks if you're feeling neglected at home. It preys on your senses saying that there are other lonely people waiting to meet you. It promises that you will stay anonymous and never have to give your sex partner your true name.

Sound enticing?

The disturbing part is that there are two million people actively using the service.

The unbelievable catch phrase is "Play with someone else's wife tonight!"

Give me a freaking break. Is this how we've evolved? I just don't get it. If you're tired of the person your with - shouldn't you make a clean break of it?

I must admit that I'm not a good liar and I don't argue well. Early in our marriage, during a heated exchange, I actually gave my wife two week's notice. She loved that one. "Two weeks? Go now!" she laughed.

Yet isn't it a real tragedy that this is what it has boiled down to for 2 million people?

Porn is the number one business on the internet. Drugs are our number one import behind oil - and we all know how that's working out and now they sell a service by advertising discreet sex with someone else's wife?

I suppose one way to look at it is that there's a reason why she is out there too. Is that what people need? Someone elses discarded or neglected mess?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

The Kennedy's

Sad news on Ted Kennedy, huh? No matter what your political views are - you just hate to hear about something like that.

The Kennedy family has always been right at the forefront - up and center - right in our faces. The happy times and the tragic times have played out for everyone to see.

Yet I've always wondered if it were a family that was blessed or cursed. Did they party too hard and live too fast? Is it a family that thrives on love or is it all just bad luck, heartbreak and tragedy?

My brother was born on the day JFK was shot. As my mother rested in bed after his birth, she awoke to see a nurse in the room, crying - when my mother asked what was wrong the nurse said, "He died."

"Who died?" my mother screamed, believing it was the son she just delivered.

"The President," the nurse said.

My mother, angry for having holy hell scared out of her said, "Who gives a shit?"

We all seemed to give a shit - from JFK to Robert - to JFK Jr. - we followed their lives, watched them get married, get arrested, live rich and die like everyone else.

And now Ted - yet the news reports showed him in good spirits with an eye on the future. The Kennedy family has always been something of a royal family, haven't they?

Love 'em or hate 'em - you can't ignore them and when you think about it, really think about it, they captured our attention because they're like Americans in general - party too hard, live and love, tragedy and heartache.

Sort of mirrors exactly what it's like to be alive.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Opinions, opinion, opinions

Saw on the news last night that DNA trapped another man who murdered a woman back in 1984. Seems like science has finally allowed us the chance to put the bad guys away.Too bad it didn't work with OJ.

Yet it brings me back to a Columbo episode where a wife killed her husband and made it look like the barbell he was lifting crushed his throat. She would have gotten away with it too, but when she dressed him in his gym shoes she tied the knots in the opposite fashion and Columbo caught her because the loops were wrong. I can remember feeling sorry for that woman - she had it all worked out and couldn't tie his shoes the right way. Don't mess with Columbo!

Had another dream last night - explain this one - I was having an affair with Jodi Foster who was dressed up in a UPS uniform. My wife was waiting outside, but never fear, I was in the clear because Doug and Deacon from King of Queens were watching the door for me. A few questions here - 1). Why do men seem to dream of Jodi Foster 2). Isn't she gay? and 3). Doug and Deacon - are you kidding me? What the hell does that dream mean?

I told my wife about it and she said - "Maybe you're regretting your decision of being married."
Another question - how the hell did she come up with that? Then, to top it off, she asked if I was waiting on a package.

Yeah and Jodi Foster is going to deliver it.

Obama is saying he won. Hilliary says its not over yet. McCain is on SNL. Bush makes an ass of himself abroad. Just another week in politics.

The Yankees in last place? I'll take wagers on whether or not they finish there. I'm a Yankee fan and read a wonderful stat today - they have finished last twice in over 100 years. Not this year either - sorry all you haters!

Told my son the story about the old bull and young bull standing on a hill. My wife had never heard the story and was horrified that I shared it - but it's a life's lesson for the youth. If you haven't heard it - comment and I'll tell it to you.

Where is the freaking sun?

Have a great Memorial Day - it's one of the underrated holidays - hopefully there's golf and fatty foods and beer in my immediate future.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Chick Flicks

"What are we doing tonight?"

It's a difficult question that when followed by - "There's a movie I want to see," - takes a downward turn.

I am still queasy from the movie Holiday where Cameron Diaz' performance was so putrid that I said midway through - "If she doesn't get naked soon, I'm out of here."

My wife smiled, but ten minutes later, I was gone, cursing myself all the way up the stairs for having watched even a second of that movie. "You're really going to bed?" Kathy asked. "Don't you want to see how it ends?"

"Unless they all get blown to pieces and I get to see the carnage it won't be worth it," I said.

Yes, my wife has a tendency to pick some real winners. When I see Jennifer Aniston or Ben Affleck on the cover of the movie, I run for the nearest computer. If Keanu Reeves is involved I might watch for a moment just so I can mock his wooden style. He is hands-down the worst actor ever, but Cameron Diaz is in the conversation.

Of course that is simply my opinion, so last night, with some real hesitation, I decided to give one of my wife's movies another try. I had heard good things about Juno so there was a chance that it wouldn't be a colossal waste of time. Still I mixed a martini, just in case.

It's amazing what interesting characters and snappy dialogue can do for a script. I enjoyed every second of the movie and was actually rooting for the ending that played out. It was a movie that wasn't sappy, wasn't too full of itself, and portrayed a bit of real life.

"It was good, wasn't it?" my wife asked as though she made the movie.
"I liked it," I said quickly.
"I told you I wanted to see it," she answered.

All right, all right - you win a short reprieve - the score now stands at one good movie against 42 crap ones.

I'm still trying to get back the two hours I spent watching Keanu as a dramatic actor in Sweet November - and Charlize Theron didn't get naked either.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Walk Tall

There are certainly songs and phrases that inspire - and when I'm on edge, pull me up by the bootstraps - Mellencamp's Walk Tall is that way:

The simple-minded and the uninformed can be easily led astray,
Those that can not connect the dots, hey, look the other way.
People believe what they want to believe,
when it makes no sense at all.
Be careful of those who kill in Jesus' name,
if you don't believe in killing at all.
Walk tall, keep on walking, keep on talking through this world, through this world.

Somewhere out in the distance is the death of you and me.
Even though we don't talk of it much, it's still out there for us to see.
If you treat your life like a bar room fight, you'll die stinking of gin.
No drunkards are allowed in heaven, no sinners will get in.
So walk tall.

So be careful in what you believe in,
there's plenty to get you confused,
and in this land called paradise,
you must walk in another man's shoes.

Bigotry and hatred are enemies to us all,
Grace, mercy and forgiveness,
will help a man walk tall.
So walk tall, through this world.
Through this world.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Bumper Stickers & Tee-shirts

My last blog got me in the mood for more funny stuff:

I have seen a number of funny shirts and stickers in my day - here's my list - add some if you can:

1). Saw a shirt that read - "I beat Anorexia" - the man wearing it weighed about 450 pounds.

2). Another shirt - "I'm not a gynecologist, but I'll take a look."

3). Love the - "I'm with stupid shirt" with the arrow pointing up.

4). Bumper Sticker - "Humpty-Dumpty was pushed."

5). Bumper-sticker - "Grass, gas, or ass - no one rides for free." I enjoyed that one because I don't do drugs, and the girl behind the wheel looked like Sasquatch - "I'll buy the gas" - I chuckled as I passed.

6). My brother wore a shirt that said: "I'm slow, but I'm good." He believed it would be funny to wear it for his class picture so he did. The photo cut off the ... "but I'm good" - so he had a class picture of his eyes closed and the shirt reading - "I'm slow." I can remember my mother wanting to kill him. God, I wish I could find one of those photos.

7). Shirt - "Jesus died for our sins and all I got was this t-shirt."

8). Shirt - "I found Jesus... He was hiding behind the couch."

9). Bumper Sticker - "Life is a series of disappointments followed by death."

and finally - just a great saying:

10). "With visions of redemption, I walk against the crowd."

Stupid Tree

"He fell out of the stupid tree and hit every branch on the way down."

I watched a woman come out of the grocery store, balance two bags on her hip, put a gallon of milk on the roof of the car, fish out her keys, place the bags on the seat next to her, start the car and drive away. The milk fell from the roof and splattered the parking lot as I laughed my ass off on the way into the store.

One time back in college I stopped at a McDonald's drive-thru, ordered my food, paid at the first window and drove away. A friend of mine sitting next to me, cleared her throat just as I started to make the turn. "Hey genius, what's wrong with this picture?" she asked.

The other day I was listening to a tape of a 911 call. A lady, with three kids in the car, called 911 because she got her cheeseburger without pickles. She fought so long and hard with the clerk that she felt it necessary to dial 911 to solve the problem. The 911 operator was more than aggravated. I think he might have actually called the woman stupid.

As stated in a previous post I teach a class from time-to-time. I talk about construction safety and usually do a speech about taking your time to complete a task. The example I use is filling the coffeemaker on a daily basis. Recently during one class, this was the exchange, "It takes eight scoops," I said. "And if I do it slowly and deliberately, there's never a problem, but if I try and rush through it, I end up banging the scoop off of the side of the coffeemaker and spilling coffee all over the floor."

It's an easy enough lesson and an example that I've used a hundred times. This time, however, a hand was raised.

"Yes," I said.

"Why don't you get a bigger f*****g scoop?" the guy asked me.

The point being, we all do stupid things from time-to-time. I'm certainly not a stranger to stupidity, and it pays to be able to laugh at yourself.

If you'll excuse me, I need to get the coffee ready for tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Just Another Day

Every day I beat my record for consecutive days stayed alive.

I forget where I read that quote, but I've always liked it. I especially like it on a day like today. I had to teach a class for ten hours today. Normally it's a task I handle with some enthusiasm, but I wasn't truly into it today. The sun was shining and I didn't want to be in a classroom. What makes it difficult is that students can usually sense that. Oh, well, I muddled through.

First off, it underscores my respect for teachers and what they have to do on a daily basis. Teaching is not just a regurgitation of material, you need to be on your game to do it well. If you walk in unprepared, they'll have you for lunch - and I don't think it matters if you're teaching construction safety or coloring to first-graders. A teacher is on stage and must be ready at all times. I can see where burnout comes from.

Yet that isn't what today was about. Rather, I spent most of the day feeling as if I were missing out on something. The work got done, my company made money, I got the message across, but I felt like I lost a day.

At the tail-end of the class one of the construction guys came up to me. We had spent the day discussing self-preservation in a sometimes dangerous environment, and he said, "I Thank the Good Lord that I'm still here. I had cancer and they spent 12 and a half hours removing 29 lymph nodes. Now when I start my day, I always fold my hands and Thank God that the sun came up for me again. I would never take a chance at losing my life out there."

Gives new meaning to a boring day, doesn't it?

I hope that guy keeps breaking his record of consecutive days. Sometimes its hard just to feel alive.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Benefits of Writing

I've been writing books for along time now and there are so many benefits that come with such a task. Most of the time when I speak to a reader they ask one question only - "How much money do you make?"

That question is certainly offending - in what other walk of life do you feel comfortable asking someone how much they make? Yet I usually answer with a shoulder shrug and a laugh. The longer answer is - "Not enough - how much do you make?"

Every once in awhile though - a reader gets what I wanted to say - and in the last couple of days, I have heard from these readers. A woman called me from Texas on Saturday, saying - "You don't know me, and I don't know you, but I think you're wonderful."

I told my wife about it - repeating that the woman thought I was wonderful - "That's right," she said. "She doesn't know you."

This AM - I received an e-mail from someone else who had read Nobody's Home - a wonderful book, by the way. If you need a copy call 1-888-542-2665.

The woman's e-mail said - "From one of your fans." It went on to describe how she felt as she read the book and what her day was like as she noted my words.

How much do I get paid? That right there is worth a million dollars to me. The book is spiritual in nature - and someone I don't know who gets it - is worth a tremendous amount to me. I believe it is the sole reason for locking the door on Saturday mornings and plotting the next few lines.

When I re-open the door and re-join the real world there are plenty of opportunities to fail - but the benefit of doing something right, and receiving an acknowledgement of success is all I'm ever asking for.

Nobody's Home! Get it today!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Stealing Manhole Covers

All right, we may have reached a new low as a race. There was a story yesterday about a group of people stealing manhole covers to sell for scrap. Can you imagine walking down the street and falling straight into the sewer because the gent before you lifted the cover?

A couple of years ago a man was cutting off parking meters to steal the change. How many of those babies do you need to hoist to get ten bucks?

It just goes to show you that there are a group of people out there who can't make it here anymore. Minimum wage is what? I should be able to memorize it as it hasn't gone up in about twenty years.

The Buffalo News has been writing stories about poverty in our own backyard. Buffalo supposedly ranks as one of the poorest of all cities. Is it possible to turn it around?

I don't know? It seems to me that it must be a lot of work to lift and lug manhole covers. Perhaps those people could find suitable employment. I know the men who paint graffiti on the sides of boxcars could make it as artists, but that doesn't seem to be in the cards, right?

People stealing gas - taking right out of the cars parked in your driveway. Chopping off parking meters, stealing copper from abandoned buildings, and now manhole covers.

God help you if you have gold in your teeth - keep your mouth shut or someone might be coming for it.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Mother's Day

To all you Mothers out there...have a great day!

When I consider Mother's Day a number of thoughts enter my mind quickly. I think of my own mother busting her ass every day to take care of seven of us. I attribute a lot of how I help around the house to having watched her work. That poor woman was always doing laundry and the dishes and cleaning up, and helping with homework, and making a feast for dinner every night.

To top it off, she'd pour herself an iced tea or a water and leave it on the kitchen table. I have distinct memories of messing with her in this regard. She'd pour the drink and head to another room to complete a task and along with my brothers, we'd run into the kitchen and guzzle the drink, and then hide and watch her as she returned. Poor Mom would fill that glass seven times, never quite figuring out how it got empty. God, we should be sorry for that little trick!

I also consider that I never truly, ever and I mean ever, had a serious argument with my mother. Certainly, I had to be disciplined from time-to-time, and every once in awhile one of us would walk away, but there was never a "I hate you, you suck moment!" In a day and age when respect seems distant at times, I am extremely proud of that fact. My mother has always been there and has backed me every step of the way. It sounds corny, but that's what I think of on Mother's Day.

And now, my poor wife... last night she said, "God it takes a lot of energy to parent."
I answered that it would be all right. Chiding her, I said: "Just count your losses. You struck out on the first two, maybe the 3rd one will turn out okay."
"No," she answered, "he's just like the other two."

Honestly, I believe the boys will be just fine. I know how much they depend on their mother. I know they consider her a best friend. God help us if we can go longer than seven minutes without one of them screaming for her to help. It may not seem like it now, and they may occasionally run in to finish up her drink, but they will certainly appreciate it later on, and that's because my wife, like my mother, is committed to the act of being a good Mom.

And there certainly aren't many higher aspirations in life.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Rainbow Parties

God, these kids today...

I read a story today about 13-year-old girls sending nude camera photos of themselves to attract new boyfriends. I also read an article about the rampant oral sex parties that have become a major part of the high school society. Young girls get together and choose different colors of lipstick to decorate a part of a males anatomy.

Are you kidding me? My boys are in the middle of this - and suddenly life has changed to something I can't quite understand.

When I was a mere lad, the idea of such contact - especially coming from a Catholic School education - was not only horrifying, it was also one of what I considered a deadly sin. To top it off, I didn't stand much of a chance of being invited to such a party. I was tall, skinny, and really quite weird when it came to talking to "chicks".

A while ago my son was spending a bit too much time in the bathroom - I decided to tease my wife a bit - explaining that he was experimenting - of course, my wife was horrified.

"You must understand a boy's hormones," I said. "We start fantasizing about girls and things get out of hand quickly. We lose control of ourselves and it's all we think about."

"That's gross," Kathy said. "At what age does that behavior stop?"

"I'll let you know," I answered.

Yet these parties are wrong on so many levels - sending nude photos through the phone lines is absolutely horrifying when you're discussing teenage girls. Teachers sleeping with kids; rainbow parties; nude photos.

Obviously, kids are growing up much too quickly. I think of what it meant for me to hold a girl's hand - or God help me - get to kiss one of them. I guess the world has changed. I can only hope that my boys get the lesson of respect that we are trying to present. Yet do our stern words of warning stand a chance if they get a text message and photo from an interested girl?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

License to Breed

The other night my wife took the Black Lab (Shadow) outside to comb some of the hair off of her. Our other dog, (Melky) who happens to be a terrier stood inside and cried a horrible, whiny call because in her mind, she felt as if Shadow was being harmed. I had a real hard time calming Melky because she was being so protective of her buddy.

Today I heard two stories that convinced me that Melky is a lot smarter than a lot of people. A football star was arrested for placing a plastic bag over the head of his two-year-old son. When he was arrested, he explained that he was just playing. He wanted to see if the kid could escape the bag. Fortunately, the child's mother took the bag off of the toddler's head just before he turned blue. Dad is now in jail awaiting bail.

Then, passing by the TV I heard the news anchor playing a tape of a mother who (with her friends) got her young son high in a hotel room. The kid was actually holding and smoking a joint as Mom and friends whooped it up. The story was on the news because the mother just received her child back. Her lawyer said, "she got help, and she's better equipped to take care of her son now."

Uh, yeah!

What the hell is wrong with people? Can someone explain child abuse to me? Obviously there are serious mental issues involved, right, but isn't there an inate protective device inside of us all?

We need a license to drive our car, ride a snowmobile and to go hunting or fishing. My dog needs a license just to take a dump in his own backyard. Yet any dumb bastard who can fumble their way through the act can have a child. Unreal.

I decided to ask my dog what he thought - "They ought to put those ass----s in a cage," she said.

Monday, May 5, 2008


How about a prayer for the people who's lives were devastated by the cyclone? My God, the death toll may be over 10,000.

Hundreds more had their lives shattered by tornadoes. I can remember being in a storm like that when as a 10-year-old I lived in Florida with my parents and brothers and sisters. Even that long ago, I can remember how afraid my mother was and what it felt like to watch the palm trees bending in the wind.

I read a book about Hurricane Katrina and what the people of New Orleans went through. The fight for survival was heroic, but still there are people suffering there.

I was watching the World Series when the big earthquake hit the San Francisco Bay area - having lived in the area prior to the quake, I knew where most of the devastation occurred.

The wild fires in Southern California were absolutely horrific. Can you imagine leaving your home only to return to see that it burned to the ground?

Yet each and every time I travel, I explain that I'm from Buffalo and people actually cringe - "How can you live there?" They ask. "All it does is snow, right?"

Well, no, it isn't snowing now. It truly doesn't snow for most of the year - we have a handful of tough days, but we simply shovel it out of our way and move on. When a big storm hits, we are all safe in our homes - there aren't any tremendous death tolls - inconvenient? Certainly, but not devastating.

I don't know much about cyclones or tidal waves. I can't imagine the eye of a hurricane, and my heart goes out to those who are suffering.

I'll stay right here, thank you, and freeze my ass off for 20 days a year. At least my house can stand the weather.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Yankee Stadium - The Final Year

On Friday night I made my annual trip to Yankee Stadium. It is the final year for the old place as the new stadium lurks across the street. Fortunately, I sat eleven rows in, off of 3rd base and watched the Yanks pound out a win. Life doesn't get much better - but it struck me how much of a role sports plays in our society, and although I love baseball and the Yankees, it's a tad disconcerting.

I didn't pay the $180 for the ticket. I was invited as part of a business trip. But it still shocked me to understand what is happening. I remember seeing games in Baltimore back in 1991. A buddy of mine and I would hang out for $5 per game - we'd sit in the worst seats in the place and drink beer and laugh.

17 years ago you could grab a night out for less than $20 - now - $20 wouldn't get you a spot at the peephole on the fence that lines the outside of the stadium.

Friday night, beers were going for $8.50. A hot dog was $6. One of those foam fingers would set you back $10.

One player on the Yankees - Jason Giambi strolled to the plate - he is currently hitting .150 with five homers and 13 RBI's - he's making $21 million dollars this year. He went 0 for 3 with 2 strikeouts. I could go 0 for 3 with three strikeouts for 20 million less per year - just put me in coach!

There were a ton of kids there - the Yanks season attendance will be over 4 million this year - where do the people get the $ to sit in those seats all year long?

I took a bunch of photos and thought about the first time I sat at the stadium - it was back in the mid-80's and the Yankees weren't very good. Yet my buddy and I rode the subway and watched my boyhood idol, Don Mattingly win the game in the late innings. We paid $15 for our seats behind home plate.

Can't wait to get to the new digs next year - I might have to take out a 2nd mortgage to see the game.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Fly on Your Face

Years and years ago, I spent time at college with a lot of guys who didn't have a lot to do. I knew a guy named Steve Heckman who was a frat brother in a frat that I never joined. We were all spending a lazy, hungover Sunday afternoon watching football. Steve was on the floor, in front of the television, wrapped in a blanket. During the game a long, drawn-out commercial about starving kids in Africa played out. We were all silent, kind of sucked in and despondent about what was happening on our screen.

All at once, Steve spoke: "If that kid is so hungry why doesn't he eat the fly on his face?"

I laughed as hard as everyone else in the room. I was also shocked into thinking that this is how we react to such a situation.

Some twenty-five years later I can still hear Steve making that comment. When I close my eyes I can still see where he was in the room and how he reacted as we all laughed.

Why is that? Why is that the all-time greatest quote of my life. "If he's so hungry why doesn't he eat the fly on his face?"

I suppose that it is all about what we are and what we aren't supposed to say or do. I'm sure that twenty-five years later Steve Heckman has forged a decent life. He probably has a wife and kids and hasn't even thought about what he said that lazy Sunday. Yet I remembered it and why?

Because sometimes it's necessary to understand that the worst of all possible thoughts rings true. My old friend was only joking. It was a joke that wasn't right, but there are people out there who have such limited understanding of what life is truly about.

Why doesn't he eat the fly on his face?

God there's got to be another way.

Three Martini's

I have a steadfast rule- just two martini's - nothing else. I broke the rule tonight. In 38 months - I have not taken a day off during the week. I didn't mean for that to happen, but it did. Tomorrow, I'm pretty much off - I'm flying to New York with a client and my boss to see a Yankee game. My boss and the client are great friends. I deserved a 3rd martini.

I don't drink a lot, but when I do, I wonder why the hell I don't. Much of life seems to drift away when you're not thinking straight, but I'm writing this blog and I'm spelling everything right, so what do you make of that?

There are so many temptations on Freedom's Road - I think that the most amazing thing about this country is that we are all able to make our own decisions - I'm a different kind of dude - I know that I have responsibilities - yet every day we make a free decision to do what is right and what is not. I know plenty of people who blow off what they're supposed to do on a daily basis. Tomorrow is a chance to make up for what goes wrong today, but I have always lived by the rule that you shouldn't screw up and try to have to make amends.

All I think about is my boys - they are going to have to make the choice between hot dogs and hamburgers and giving up and going on - as Mellencamp said - life is about those choices and making the right ones on a daily basis - do I want a 3rd martini or do I want to go to work? Do I treat my wife the right way or don't I? Do I let my family down, or do I do the right thing?

A good man, a long time ago, told me that the easy choice is usually not the right choice.

I went for my 3rd martini tonight and then wrote this blog. I always make the right decision when it comes to my wife and kids - and that's because they deserve that respect.

But 3 martini's is awesome!

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...