Monday, June 30, 2014

Fight Nice

Speaking of poor mothers.

My poor mother must've really taken a beating when all of us were young and loud and fighting and arguing and throwing things and breaking windows and swearing and driving fast and then drinking and fighting and laughing and swearing.

She had her hands full.

And if there was a real battle between us as siblings she'd go to my Dad for help and he'd enter the room and yell:

"Fight Nice!"

So...

...we were allowed to fight, but we had to keep it nice.

I thought of that when I saw that the GOP is thinking about suing Obama.

Just crazy crap, really.

And perhaps a true slippery slope where we finally, once and for all, try to diminish the office of the presidency.

Don't worry...

...it's not a political discussion.

It's more about fighting nice.

A few years ago I had to go to a job site where a specific member of the operating engineer's union was fighting, non-stop with a specific member of the iron workers.

It was a huge job at Cornell. The trades were being paid a high-rate. They were both members of their union. They were actually really good guys if they weren't talking to one another.

I got called in when the fight got out of control.

The crane operator actually watched his nemesis enter the port-a-lav.

Uh, yeah.

In his words, he 'just tapped' the side of the unsecured port-a-lav.

"I had shit all over me!" The iron worker seethed. "I'm going to kill him!"

At that point I was speaking to each guy separately. The iron worker was not blame-free either as he had done something a bit shady to the sandwich that the operator was eating.

Then I tried to bring the two grown men together.

They sat there with their arms folded to their chests. I had the power to dismiss both of them from their high-paying jobs. I had to tread lightly, however, as I didn't want them screaming for their union reps.

We sat there for over an hour.

Finally I yelled it out:

"FIGHT NICE!"

The impasse continued until I told them that I was hungry and that they had exactly 15 minutes to either shake hands and walk out of the trailer with their arms around one another, or pack their shit and get the hell out.

Do you know that they took it right down to the very last minute?

Finally the impasse was broken however and as the iron worker left the trailer he shook my hand and laughed:

"Fight nice," he said. "You gave us permission to keep fighting but to do it nicer. I like that."

Thanks, Dad.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

They Keep Coming Back

It's a weird dynamic when the kid who has been out and running about returns for a couple of days.

My poor, beautiful wife...

...is taking a non-stop beating from the two younger dopey bastards.

"Mom loves Matt the most," is one of the kinder ribbings they give her.

"I think she's really in love with him," the other one will say and then it's off to the races.

It drives her crazy.

It makes it worse when I laugh along with them.

Matt came through the door on Friday evening. He's not a big fan of steak

(because he's a dope and also because he once tried to swallow a 14 ounce piece of it without biting it and it got stuck in his wind-pipe)

...but...

Anywhoha.

Kathy had prepared chicken for him and the poor, lovely girlfriend of his who is being lambasted by said dopey bastards mentioned above.

"Mom made her boyfriend chicken," one of them said.

And they laughed and laughed.

Of course, I'm happy to see the kids walking through the door all the time, but I can't let on.

Matt waved at me as he entered.

"Did you finish weed-whacking yet?" I asked.

He responded with:

"The Yankees suck."

(Have I mentioned he's a moron who didn't put a single bite mark in a piece of beef he was supposed to be eating?)

Another of the dopes came around the corner and started lambasting Matt about the fact that:

"Your Mommy was worried about you every day."

And so it goes.

We will always worry about them.

We will always play our roles.

And certainly we will laugh through the flying insults.

(Just like we planned it).

Saturday, June 28, 2014

STOP APOLOGIZING!!!!!!

So, now we are saying sorry to the people who are offended by the Redskins nickname.

We are all saying we are sorry to Chief Wahoo.

We are sorry to the blacks.

We are sorry to the Jewish folks.

We are sorry to Italian-Americans for the Sopranos. (RIP Gandolfini).

We are sorry to the lesbians and the gay men.

What the hell is going on?

Men and women are being interviewed and as soon as the interview hits the streets they are standing there saying they are sorry to everyone.

Movie stars are yelling at TMZ and then having to say that they are morally wounded by their own stupidity.

Everyone is sorry for saying something to someone.

I've watched Tracy Morgan and Kramer and Mel Gibson and Jonah Hill apologize.

Donald Sterling was punished and handed two billion and told to hit the road even after he said he was sorry.

Joan Rivers said she won't apologize.

Gilbert Gottfried, a freaking comedian, was fired for telling jokes that were insensitive.

I ask again:

What the hell is going on?

Is everyone that deeply offended by everything?

Remember Archie Bunker?

Or Richard Pryor? Or Eddie Murphy?

We used to laugh at our differences. We used to be able to handle a little bit of teasing.

Now I don't think it's right to bash any single group of people, but have you heard any of these apologies?

The actor Gary Oldman was apologizing on Kimmel the other night because he said something about the Jews controlling Hollywood.

You'd have thought he shot 750 people.

He spoke of being morally wounded by the insensitive and stupid things that came out of his stupid mouth.

Damn.

We need rules here.

Who is offended?

Who is off-limits?

When did we lose our sense of everything?

(Sorry if I have offended anyone here).

Holy cripes.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Bite Me

I've never taken a bite of someone.

In fact, it has never even crossed my mind to do such a thing.

It's weird but a lot of people were talking about a soccer player from a faraway land who has been in trouble before for biting an opponent.

This is actually the 3rd time he has done such a thing!

What would make you bite someone?

Mike Tyson chewed on Holyfield's ear and he said that he did it because he was losing and knew he needed to gain an advantage.

Biting off someone's ear would give you said advantage, I suppose, but it's sort of against the rules.

Or is it?

Is there a direct rule that says:

"Thou shalt not bite your opponent."

I doubt that there is.

Yet if your dog laid down a bite on three separate people you'd have to put him down...

...right?

Suarez received a suspension of some length...9 games and four months...

What will be the penalty when he does it again?

Because I don't think we have heard the last of this.

He appears to be rabid, doesn't he?

But it's pretty hard to fathom.

Isn't it?

How many of you reading this have taken a bite out of another human being? The number has to be pretty low, right? It's a pretty crazy thing to do.

I wonder what that dude is like in real life. Something tells me that he has real trouble lurking just below the surface. I also would have loved to be at the hearing where his suspension was handed down.

FIFA: Do you know why you're here?

Suarez: The biting thing?

FIFA: Uh, yeah.

Suarez: I was unaware that biting was frowned upon.

FIFA: Uh, yeah. We told you last time.

Suarez: I forgot. Sorry. It's one of those rules that has a grey area to it, is it not?

FIFA: Uh, not really.

(Rolls up a newspaper)

FIFA: You want this?

Suarez: Woof-woof

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Partly Cloudy

Damn.

I must have been tired on Monday night because I woke up at a little after three on Tuesday morning and my light was on, my television was on, I was sleeping on two pillows and my telephone wasn't on the charger. To top it off, I was still holding the book I was reading and it was open to the page that I had been reading when I dozed.

I traced back my steps and realized that the Yankee game had just ended (they freaking lost), so it had to be around 10:15 when I literally passed the hell out.

So I fell asleep with everything on and I was still holding the book up in reading position when I woke up nearly five hours later?

What's up with that?

I was able to get to sleep after I shut everything down and I woke again at 5:30 to head off to work. I swung by the convenience store, with the dogs waiting in the car, to get the Buffalo News.

"How are you?" my friendly neighborhood cashier asked.

"I'm partly cloudy," I said.

She laughed.

Yet if I were to explain how I felt all day that would be the best explanation.

I felt partly cloudy all day, and while I had to do a bit of training and as I visited a couple of sites, I never could chase the feeling.

Later in the day an old buddy called me.

"How have you been feeling?" he asked. "How's the hip, leg, knee, back, ass...whatever the hell is going on?"

I laughed.

Then we talked about being banged up as we grew older.

"Well, at least we haven't had to deal with any life-threatening things," he said. "Now we just fall asleep earlier and piss a couple of times a night, but I hear it gets worse."

We laughed some more.

We talked about my Mom and his parents.

"So much shit to go through as you age," I said.

"There's an expiration date on all the parts," he said.

And I tried to think about that for a little while, but I didn't get very far with any of it.

I was still a bit cloudy from my rough night of rest.

A weird ass day!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Happy Birthday to the Heartbeat

Sam is flat-out the heartbeat of our house.

He talks a lot, he smiles a lot, he's always in a great mood, he works all around the house and let me tell you, he doesn't miss a single thing.

Sam is on top of everything that has to do with everything around the Fuzzy house here in Blasdell.


And he's 14 years old already!

That is so hard for me to believe, but then again, it isn't.

Sam has always acted much older than he really is.

He keeps the peace.

He takes care of the dogs.

He starts the laundry, makes sure the water bowls are filled, gets good grades, talks great smack, loves his mother and grandparents and brothers and aunts and uncles and cousins and dogs and friends and the Chicago Bulls, Villanova Wildcats, Buffalo Sabres, Buffalo Bills

and the 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the history of organized American sports:

The New York Yankees.

The only kid of mine who has enough sense to follow the Yankees.

And here's a secret, but you probably already know:

I really enjoy every single minute of time spent living, loving and laughing with Sammy Boy.

He's a great kid.

I'm proud of him.

We all love him.

For keeping the heartbeat.

Happy Birthday, buddy.

Derek Rose was going to sign an autograph for you for a surprise birthday present, but he ripped up two knees going to get a pen to sign the photo.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

"You're A Mess Of A Human Being"

My kids are starting to catch on.

There are plenty of chores around the house, as you all know.

I'm certain that my children would help out a bit more if I just let them. I have a tendency to do things just as the timer clicks. The dryer stops and I'm folding the laundry before it even finishes it's last spin.

The dog takes a drink of water and I'm re-filling the bowl quickly, saying, as I'm doing so:

"I'll get it. You guys just relax."

So, now that the boys have gotten a little older, they try and help a bit. They actually try and beat me to the punch just so they can say:

"Rest. I'll empty the dishwasher while you take is easy."

(As an aside - my beautiful wife doesn't get involved in this little game. She just sort of laughs at how stupid we are).

Yet on Saturday morning I gazed out at the grass in the back yard.

"Don't even think it," Jake said. "I told you I'd mow the lawn and I will."

Still. He knew.

"Ah, damn, I'll go do it now before you head out there."

(He was actually racing me to the mower).

And I let him do it.

I don't need to limp around. I'm not that much of a martyr.

But as we walked towards the house after going out to dinner I caught a glimpse of the weeds growing near our bushes.

"Where are you going?" Jake asked, following my gaze.

"Pick those weeds," I said.

"You're a mess of a human being," he said. "Just an absolute mess."

I was looking for a bit of clarification.

"Why do you always have to do one more thing than the next guy?" he asked.

I had simply thought that the weeds didn't belong there.

"I like things in order," I said.

Jake shook his head as Sam laughed.

"An absolute mess," he said. "A psychological disaster."

Perhaps.

(I think the water dish is empty).

Monday, June 23, 2014

Empty Hands

Going to see John Mellencamp on July 3rd in Niagara Falls.

I know it'll be a great show - I've seen him perform twice before and he was tremendous.

When they did Minutes to Memories it was one of my favorite moments at any concert ever.

I listened to this song the other day and it brought me back to the day in the 80's when I bought the Lonesome Jubilee record. I was drinking beer with my brothers and a couple of buddies - John and Scott - I remember telling John:

"Damn, the song Empty Hands sort of blows my mind."

It still does.

Empty Hands - Mellencamp

In the shadows of the smokestacks
Through the black snow that lay on the land
Walked home one winter morning
With my life's savings in my hand

Maryanne, she's fixin' up some breakfast
Got the lights on, on the Christmas tree
Sittin' there lookin' up at an angel
With something dyin' inside of me

Grew up with great expectations
Heard the promise and I knew the plan
They say people get what they deserve
But Lord, sometimes it's much worse than that

Maryanne, she's takin' in some laundry
I got a part-time job at a drive-in stand
Oh Lord, what did I do
To deserve these empty hands

Across the cities, across this land
Through the valleys, and across the sand
Too many people standin' in line
Too many people with nothin' planned
There's too many people with empty hands

Now Maryanne's been cryin'
Lord knows I love her the best I can
When my pride is bruised and broken
She slips her hand into my empty hands

Without hope, without love, you've got nothing but pain
Just makes a man not give a damn
That's no way for us to live
We've got to fill these empty hands

Across the cities, across this land
Through the valleys, and across the sand
Too many people standin' in line
Too many people, they got no plans
There's too many people with empty hands

Songwriters
Mellencamp, John / Green, George Michael

Published by
Lyrics © EMI Music Publishing



Sunday, June 22, 2014

Happy Birthday, Brother


Ahh, the wheelbarrow race.

Jim tipped me over as John and Jeff raced to the finish line.

The laughter was tremendous.

Mom and Dad standing there cheering us on.

Also, the photo of Jeff as a tribesman.

He skipped through that party, slapping his own ass to Y-M-C-A over the loudspeaker as a couple of hundred stunned party-goers laughed.

I had tears rolling down my face.

It was one of the funniest things I'd ever seen.


The askew glasses on his face at his own wedding.


More from that Halloween party.


Our trip to Florida.

Day after day of laughter.

Twenty years ago OJ was in his Bronco.

We were together at my college roommates home.

Me, Jeff and Pops.

Yankees over O's.

A clean sweep.

The entire week went great.

Except for the fact that we were nearly asked to leave my roommates home because our aim hadn't been true when using their bathroom.

"You're the one who pissed on the floor," Jeff had scolded me.

Do you know why he knew that?

Because he had walked by the bathroom, flung open the door, and slapped my ass as I took aim.

Then he had laughed, and laughed and laughed.

Happy Birthday.

Love you, miss you, sucks without you.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

It's What It Is

Spent Friday in the car - Syracuse and back - it was a perfect time for the I-pod.

One of the things that occurred to me is that I very rarely listen to full records anymore, as the artist intended, so I took the I-pod off shuffle and listened to the full records, in order.

Some of the great records of the 70's and 80's...bad songs and all.

One of the records I played was Bob Dylan's Slow Train Coming and on that record is a song called Change Your Way of Thinking.

A Bob song in the nasally whine mode talking about the times and how messed up they were.

Healthcare, back-stabbing political parties, gunning each other down in the streets, not incorporating God into our lives, cheating our neighbors, the dirty wind blowing.

In other words, Zimmy could've written the song yesterday.

Which got me thinking:

It is what it is.

People will always cry about the role of government as they shovel free hot food down, or take advantage of tremendous tax loopholes.

We will all bemoan the costs of healthcare right up until that moment when we don't care about how much it costs as long as it keeps us alive for another day.

Red versus Blue will always be a battle of incompetent versus incompetent, and while there have been days and days or arguing points with other people who haven't accepted what it is as what it is, it won't ever change.

It won't change.

It won't ever be perceived as being better.

People will hate the sitting president as much as they hate the starting quarterback.

'Who's up next?' will always be the rallying cry.

'We're in a real mess,' will be shouted from the mountaintops here in the USA.

We Gotta' Change Our Way of Thinking...Bob sang.

Well, guess what? We didn't.

And the fact that we argue out the points and get so freaking mad about a particular issue is great.

Passion is always wonderful.

But it won't likely change.

The issue that still makes my blood boil, more than anything else, are the gun laws, of course. I still don't know why you can't qualify to own a weapon that will devastate if you have a finger twitch, but what the hell do I know?

It is what it is.

And it won't change.

When Washington was taking his vow as the first president there were people in the wings bemoaning the fact that:

"We're really screwed here! He's gonna' be the worst president in history."

And perhaps Dylan was onto something:

We do have to change our way of thinking:

Instead of bitching about it we have to accept the things that don't seem to be open to change.

That thought right there is certainly liberating.

Friday, June 20, 2014

All that You Can Leave Behind

One of my favorite all-time scenes ever, in a movie, series or books comes courtesy of The Sopranos when Tony (RIP Gandolfini)is talking to Uncle June in the nursing home. Uncle Junior has lost his mind by then and doesn't remember a single thing about the pain he caused the family, or the success he once had.

Tony tells him:

You were the leader once.

Uncle Junior says:

Oh, that's nice.

The scene is powerful to me because in the end, all the "important" things we chase around mean very little. As busy as we get, as crazed as we feel, none of it really matters. I'm fond of telling guys who are caught in a tough moment:

Next year you won't even remember the angst you feel now. What were you even doing a year ago?

The guy can't even remember.


I walked into a job on Thursday in an old office building in Buffalo. The building is being cleaned out. Look at those huge columns...we don't build them like that anymore.

Yet the people who occupied the building left everything behind. The place was a treasure-trove of a once important industrial setting:


That piece of equipment is called a panel resistor. The panels were set in between the two huge circular sections to ensure that it wasn't bent. (Or that is what the guy who was giving me my tour of the demolition area said).

"It was once state-of-the-art," he said.

And I imagine it was. We have probably replaced that old antique with a new state-of-the-art panel tester.

I kept looking around. I found a yellowed newspaper (Courier-Express) and I read an old letter to Dear Abby. It was from a woman with a straying husband. The newspaper was from the 70's. I wonder how that woman made out.

I found another old piece of equipment that looked interesting to me.


All old antiques.

Everything just left behind.

And then I hit the jackpot.

Some guy's desk drawer.

His handwritten notes.

Birthday cards sent to him from a possible girlfriend.

One from his niece.

I hope you have a great 60th birthday! You deserve it, Uncle Larry!!!

The date was 1984.

Larry would be 90 now.

"This guy didn't pay his bills," I said.

Larry had shut-off notices, letters from collection agents, bill after bill after bill. They were all mixed in with his birthday cards.

Yet his card said that he was the manager of his department. A big-shot of sorts in a now defunct business.

What are you doing? the guy who was walking with me asked.

He had startled me and halted my research.

I find this fascinating, I said. Seeing the life left behind, and trying to piece it all together.

Not me, the guy said. What's gone is gone.

But is it?

Larry had left his mark.

Good or bad or indifferent.

Perhaps I could run into Larry now somewhere and tell him:

You were the manager. You were the mover and shaker of a huge business.

And Larry, if he's still alive just might say:

Oh, that's nice.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Grab Bag of Thoughts

1). So, had to talk with a whole bunch of lawyers in the room. I was being questioned by one and he read me a report I wrote, line-by-line. After each sentence he'd ask two questions:

"Do you see that?"

(I was reading the report along with him).

Then he would say:

"Did you write that?"

He did this with three straight sentences. It was a 8-paragraph report.

I interrupted him with:

"Yo, we going to do this all the way through?"

He was silent.

2). Twenty years since Orenthal took his fateful ride, huh? It's still hard to believe that rotten bastard got off on the murders. I bet there's little solace for the Brown-Goldman families that he's finally in the can.

But hey...he's still on the Buffalo Bills ring of honor.

You gotta' love the NFL. (They don't pay taxes or cheerleaders).

3). Speaking of the NFL...the Redskins are gonna' have to change their name, huh? Seems like it.

Some people think it's just plain silly, but those people probably don't feel offended by the name. Oh well. People will get used to the new names...name it after the politicians along the beltway:

The Washington Horseshits

4). Did you see that a little girl got tossed out of a KFC because she tried to eat through the scars of a dog attack. Her face was badly damaged and evidently as she tried to down her mashed potatoes she annoyed another diner.

Can you imagine the lousy bastard who complained to management?

How about the goofy manager that didn't say, "Tough shit if she's bothering you, you leave, you idiot."

5). RIP to Tony Gwynn. He was a great hitter. He seemed like one of the good guys. They say that his love of dip led to his death and of course that's scary for sure, but how can they possibly ban it?

I read something the other day that says they might say its a PED - a performing-enhancing-drug.

It never enhanced my performance.

But any kids out there picking up a tin and thinking it's cool?

Put it down.

6). Finally, I saw Hillary Clinton making the rounds with her new book. Something just tells me she's going to be the next president.

I bet that Republican people hate her and that Democrats don't.

I further bet that not a thing gets done and that there's a whole lot of back-stabbing going on.

Just throwing some thoughts out there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

At Seventeen

We were riding somewhere this past weekend when this song came through on my I-pod. Now, the song is a bit mellow for the under 49 crowd, but I immediately said, 'Good song.' Kathy topped it with 'Great song.'

And it is a great song. It's beautifully written. It makes your heart ache for the narrator. So, Janis Ian takes one for the team. You'll probably sing the lyrics if you read them.


"AT SEVENTEEN"

By Janis Ian

I learned the truth at seventeen
That love was meant for beauty queens
And high school girls with clear skinned smiles
Who married young and then retired
The valentines I never knew
The Friday night charades of youth
Were spent on one more beautiful
At seventeen I learned the truth...

And those of us with ravaged faces
Lacking in the social graces
Desperately remained at home
Inventing lovers on the phone
Who called to say "come dance with me"
And murmured vague obscenities
It isn't all it seems at seventeen...

A brown eyed girl in hand me downs
Whose name I never could pronounce
Said: "Pity please the ones who serve
They only get what they deserve"
The rich relationed hometown queen
Marries into what she needs
With a guarantee of company
And haven for the elderly...

So remember those who win the game
Lose the love they sought to gain
In debitures of quality and dubious integrity
Their small-town eyes will gape at you
In dull surprise when payment due
Exceeds accounts received at seventeen...

To those of us who knew the pain
Of valentines that never came
And those whose names were never called
When choosing sides for basketball
It was long ago and far away
the world was younger than today
when dreams were all they gave for free
to ugly duckling girls like me...

We all play the game, and when we dare
We cheat ourselves at solitaire
Inventing lovers on the phone
Repenting other lives unknown
That call and say: "Come on, dance with me"
And murmur vague obscenities
At ugly girls like me, at seventeen...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Weekend Warriors

It was a little quiet on Monday morning.

Guys who are usually busting (chops) and making fun of one another seemed to be a bit lethargic.

"You're quiet today," I said to one guy.

"I'm freaking tired," he said. "Too much weekend."

And I kind of felt the same way.

Summer, in fact, lends itself to doing more things out and about. Parties, runs for charity, yard work...someday, golf, hopefully...

...all of it leads to quieter people on Monday morning.

And I'm not bitching about it at all.

On Sunday I was waiting for a single person to complain about how hot it was.

No one did.

After what we went through for the previous seven months or so, you'd really have to be a true whiner to worry about that bright, sunny day.

It felt good to sweat a little.

Yet I also knew what the working folks were feeling. The weekend legs certainly aren't under me yet.

Hopefully it doesn't take long because winter will be here soon.

I did speak to one job foreman about it.

"Perfect weather days suck," he said. "I had one guy show up without his hardhat. I told him that he couldn't come on site unless he had one. The guy said he had one in his car so I sent him after it. A little while later I received a text from him that said he was on his way home.

The guy said that he 'wasn't feeling it' today."

"We need a day to recover from the weekend," one of the laborers said.

I couldn't disagree. I had missed my nappy-nap this past weekend.

"But at least I had a lot of fun with the family," the guy said.

And there you go.

That's why we work.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Being A Dad

Started Father's Day morning by rolling the meatballs and gathering the roast beef for the birthday celebration that we have for all three boys - their days are fairly close so we do them all at once, and while we always consider having the thing catered...I want to cook...because I think of my Dad saying:

"We ain't serving sh*t to these people."

So, I do it for my Dad, and as a Dad and I'm making sauce usually anyway, so it's just a bigger pot.

Yet as I moved around...and I'm moving around better...(we may be on to something with fixing my legs)...I thought about a lot of things as they pertain to being a Dad.

First:

You're always last.

In the scheme of things around the house the interests go like this:

Kid 1
Kid 2
Kid 3
Mom
Dog 1
Dog 2
Dad

It's funny but we were having a normal conversation about something the other day as we drove around and my beautiful wife said this:

"You aren't the main focus of anything."

We both laughed and she tried to say that she hadn't properly articulated what she needed to say, but it's true.

Years ago my Dad was in the hospital. He asked me to 'keep an eye on his wallet.'

I picked it up.

There was a single dollar in it.

He'd worked himself to a nub for 60 years and he had one dollar.

I had started to laugh. I held up the dollar.

"You're like a four-year-old," I said.

"Yeah, it's funny," he said. "You vultures swiped nearly every nickel."

"Can I borrow a buck?" I asked.

"Take it," he answered.

I laughed and my brothers and sisters gathered with us laughed as well.

And he was serious!

Cut to a month ago here.

All three of my clowns were gathered in my room, at my computer, with my wallet. They were using my credit card to buy their tickets to a sporting event.

I heard laughter.

"What?" I called from the room below.

"You have six bucks," Sam yelled.

"Like a little kid," Jake answered.

Matt laughed the loudest.

(He's the one who's really making sure I'm well below the poverty line, but my beautiful wife is a crook as well).

But there it was.

Their laughter because I was just there for them.

Being a Dad.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

The Queen

As I approached the finish line...sweat pouring down my back, hunger gnawing at my insides, in desperate need of water and a trip to the porta-lav that was just beyond the line...I thought about collapsing.

But I had to go on.

For the cause.

For the women who've suffered.

For the tremendous people who were out there giving it their all.


You see the line right there in front of me, right?

Well, I crossed it.

It was before the start of the actual 5-K, mind you, but I put in a good 50 feet, walking with my family and friends who were preparing to run.

I made it to the lav and had two quick sandwiches before they returned from their jaunt.

I am an inspiration.

Yet...

...if I could've joined the run I would have because take a friggin' look who was the race honoree!


Yep...my sister, Corinne.

And she's worked so hard through the years to be an inspiration that I was just so happy that she received a little recognition...and she'd be the first to tell you that it's about her team (and a great team it is), and it's about raising money for the cause. And it's sponsors like Bowman Farms...and it's about every single person who showed up there.

Yeah...even the guy with the bum wheels who just sat in a chair and ate sandwiches as he waited for the runners.

Yet I was also on Facebook and Twitter looking for news of the event and as I scrolled through:

(I'm such a worker)

There was Corinne and Chuck on my twitter feed. The photo was sent out by WGRZ-TV here in Buffalo:


How great is that?

It's not an over-paid football player driving his car into a restaurant, or news of the latest shooting.

It's a true superstar trying to help others.

What a concept!

Congrats to all who participated, and to my sister Corinne and bro Chuck.

Great work.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

World Cup/Stanley's Cup

Who's Stanley anyway?

Hockey is over. I guess it ended in the middle of the night after two teams skated in circles until one of them got tired enough to just let one in so they could go home.

I watched roughly one period of their entire playoff season.

Just doesn't interest me anymore.

And you know what interests me less?

Yeah, the World Cup.

Cameroon?

Where in the hell is that?

Between Hamburg and East Aurora?

Yet the thing that does interest me about the World Cup is the fact that others are SO interested in it.

"What was the score of the Mexico game?" Someone will ask.

"One to nil," will be the most common answer. "They won on a shoot-out."

Now, I was a very ineffective soccer player the one year I played it. The highlights of my soccer career were my own goal (which was a beauty) and watching my buddy Jeff Renaldo kick one in from the center of the field.

(I had a great look at that one...I was sitting in a lawn chair on the sidelines - result of my own goal in the previous game).

Anywhoha...

I am quite aware that other people sing the same tune about baseball.

"It's too slow. It takes too damn long. Throw a pitch, scratch your nuts, throw another one."

And it's weird, but you get sort of defensive about the sport you like and try to defend it...but that's what makes it all so interesting.

Soccer is the number one sport in the world.

A lot of people gather in funny hats to watch a seven-minute horse race.

Other people like watching cars go by.

So...to each their own!

Enjoy.

I think we all can agree on one thing though:

It's gonna' be fun to watch LeBron James get knocked off his own high-horse this weekend.

"I belong on the Mt. Rushmore of greats."

Please!

Take your ball and go home.

Floppy the Crybaby.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Happy Birthday, Jake


The kid in the middle is 17 years old today.

Crazy.

And Jake is a good kid. We share a lot of things through the course of the day. We usually start the day by mentioning if the Yankees won or lost.

If they won...I mention it.

If they lost...he mentions it.

Jake is an Oakland A's fan like his misguided older brother.

Two dorks.

But I regress...

...it's his birthday!

And Jake never ceases to surprise me.

He had a late start in sports and I always feared that he would grow weary of being a bit behind....

...then I went to see him play hoops...and damn!

He was good!

Yet what boggles my mind lately is that he is on the baseball team. I quit playing hardball at the age of 14 because I was afraid to get hit by the ball...they threw too fast!

And Jake doesn't play much baseball at all...until baseball season. He puts down the controller and heads to the field.

He doesn't see live pitching. He doesn't go to the batting cages. He doesn't come to bat until it's actually his turn...

"How'd you do?" I asked.

"Two hits," he replied.

"How?" I asked. "How in God's name do you stroll to the plate and just hit?"

"I'm good," he answered.

And he is.

Whenever we doubt him at all, he responds with a performance that is way up there. His school work soars to unexpected levels. He hits. He even helps around the house.

A good kid.

Happy Birthday!

We look at the old photos now and again. We remember the dreams we had for our kids as they grew.

And here they are...

...making the dreams come true.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Gary


The driver in that photo is Gary. He's from St. Catherines. He's 77 years old.

I met him on a job site where he was hauling a load of precast. He is making three trips a day to the job, and I had a moment to talk to him after he released the chains and binders on the previous truck.

Gary is as strong as an ox.

Yet his astounding ability to do his job at 77 years old wasn't what got us talking. I had just yelled at a young kid for something and Gary had heard me.

"We're in a real bind with the younger generation," he said. "And I'm not just a complaining old man. I just don't see how we're going to get some of the work done in the near future."

That was enough to get me drawn into the conversation. I really enjoy talking to older guys. I like to hear about the decades that I missed by not being here.

"Is it all that bad?" I asked. "I wonder because I remember hearing Nixon resign and listening to my Mom and Dad worry about it. Doesn't it just keep on rolling?"

"I suppose," Gary said. "But there are some things that have soured."

I was all ears.

"You know what's different?" He asked.

"Tell me."

"Credit cards," he said. "When I was young we couldn't get money on the weekends. If the bank closed on Friday afternoon and you only had $3 that's what you went through the weekend with. There wasn't any over-extending yourself. You'd hope you could pool your money to do something. If not, you sat in your garage...and talked to your family."

I knew that to be true even in my time. He was exactly right.

"And when we were young we hustled to make a buck. I've been driving freight since I was 15. When I needed extra money I'd pour concrete, or dig a pool. Now you just go and put it on another credit card, right?"

"Not me so much," I said.

Gary wasn't finished.

"And a family had one car. That was it. 5 kids, a mom and a dad and one car. If you were lucky enough to get a home it was because you busted your ass to get it."

"I know," I said. "That's how I was raised too, but that's sort of gone now. But it's more than that, isn't it? I made good money as a laborer in 1983. I honestly believe my wage back then was higher than it would be now."

"For sure," he said. "The greedy bastards are screwing the middle and threatening them with an even bigger screwing if they complain."

We had reached a conclusion of sorts.

"So it's dour, huh?" I asked.

"Only thing that can save us is respect," he said. "We need to respect each other again. There's a mass shooting every day; not much respect for fellow man when that starts happening."

Yet Gary wasn't complaining. He was working as we talked. He showed me the immaculate condition of his rig.

"This isn't even my truck," he said. "It's the company truck, but I respect that they let me earn a living with it. It's got over a million on it."

They were calling for Gary to pull the truck in line. Our time together was ending.

"You'll never quit, will you?" I asked.

He was getting into the cab.

"I'll quit," he said, "but it won't be my choice."

I turned away.

The single word 'respect' seemed to cross the site to my ears.

I didn't know if Gary had yelled it as he drove away, or that I had imagined hearing it.

I knew one thing to be sure:

I respected Gary.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Air Travel

I'm sorry.

Air travel really sucks in this country.

There's a sense of surprise nowadays when the flight isn't delayed. Then you have to get there so early that you spend your time sitting in a hard plastic chair, just waiting.

That's not even to mention security and being yelled at by those people. There's nary a smile as you make your way through the line - and I get it, but geez, most people aren't terrorists.

Not even a 'Hi'?

Which left me a bit tired and ornery as I checked into the hotel in Kansas City at 2 a.m. Here was my exchange.

Clerk: How can I help you?

Me: I have a room reservation. (What the hell else did he think was going on as I lugged suitcases to his desk?)

Clerk: What's your address?

Me: I called it all in. Here's my credit card. Here's my ID. Take what you need off that.

Clerk: Oakie-Dokie

(We all know I hate that).

Clerk: There's a $250 fine if you smoke in your room.

Me: I don't smoke.

Clerk: I hear that all the time and then the guy is smoking in the room and we have to fine them. I'm telling you not to smoke.

Me: Listen, dude. I'm fifty-f&UHing years old and I've never had a cigarette. It's 2 o'clock in the morning. Stop busting my balls.

Clerk:

Clerk:

(He didn't have another word for me).

I almost wished that I had a cigarette.

I would've lit it for him.

Then there are the masses of people walking around in the airport. It used to be fun to look at the people and watch them converse.

No more.

Everyone has their head down, looking at their phone.

They're walking into freaking walls for crying out loud.

I just wanna' walk by screaming:

"Get the hell out of my way!"

I got home late.

Melky was waiting for me.

I got a couple of nods from the humans living here. My beautiful wife gave me a quick kiss.

It was Melky who brought it all back around for me.

I got into bed, the Yankees west coast game in the 6th inning.

Me: Damn, Melky, there's a whole bunch of morons out there.

Melky:

She didn't say anything.

But she knows.

She knows.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

One Hundred Ten Percent

God I hate interviews with sports participants.

Lately ESPN has been the LeBron show. (You don't really want my opinion on Floppy the Crybaby). But I can do the interview after a loss for him.

Reporter: What happened out there?

Random Dumb-Dumb: We didn't play as well as we're capable of playing. We have to step it up to the next level. We'll be back on Sunday and we'll give it a hundred and ten percent.

Reporter: Thank you for the insight. Those are powerful words indeed.

I say that this is how the exchange should go:

Reporter: What happened out there?

Random Dumb-Dumb: We didn't play as well as we're capable of playing. We have to step it up to the next level. We'll be back on Sunday and we'll give it a hundred and ten percent.

Reporter: Are you f&*King kidding me? That's your answer? How do you 'step up'? Where the hell is the 'next level'? There's only one hundred percent, you freaking moron.

The boys just roll their eyes at me as I match the random dumb-dumb's answer to what he's saying on the screen.

But it's the same thing every single time!

Go back and read last year's newspaper on the verge of the football season. The Buffalo Bills player would have said exactly this:

"We know all about missing the playoffs. We intend to give it one-hundred ten percent. We're going to leave it all out on the field. The playoff drought is going to end."

You know why I know what they said last year?

Because they're saying the same thing this year!

One step further. Their rookie Knee-J Manuel spent all of last off-season telling us how prepared he was and how unafraid he was of being a rookie. He was ready to step-it-up to the next mother-fing level! He wasn't going to be overwhelmed by the pro game.

You know what he's saying this year?

"I wasn't ready last year. I was overwhelmed by the pro game. Being a rookie and all took a toll. This year I'm ready to take it to the next level. I'm gonna' step it the F up and give it one hundred and ten f-ing percent."

I hate it!

So, we don't watch it much anymore around here.

But the boys can really do the dance.

Me: Did you mow the lawn?

Random Dopey Bastard: I wasn't feeling it. When I get behind that mower I like to get into a zone of sorts. I want to be able to give it one-hundred ten percent. I'll mow the lawn when I feel ready to take it to the next level and not a moment before. I owe it to myself and the lawn to get mentally prepared before I head out there.

Me: I'll kill you!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Billy Joel Writes One

Billy Joel has his own radio station on Sirius. I've always enjoyed his music. He's an exceptional talent, actually. Recently I've heard him speak a bit and I think he's a decent guy...there had been a lit of stuff out there about him. I especially love when he talks about writing. He can do that...as these lyrics display.

This Is The Time

We walked on the beach beside that old hotel
They're tearing it down now
But it's just as well
I haven't shown you everything a man can do
So stay with me baby
I've got plans for you

This is the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
Cause we won't
Although we'll want to
This is the time
But time is gonna change
You've given me the best of you
And now I need the rest of you

Did you know that before you came into my life
It was some kind of miracle that I survived
Some day we will both look back
And have to laugh
We lived through a lifetime
And the aftermath

This is the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
Cause we won't
Although we want to
This is the time
But time is gonna change
I know we've got to move somehow
But I don't want to lose you know

Sometimes it's so easy
To let a day
Slip on by
Without even seeing each other at all
But this is the time you'll turn back and so will I
And those will be the days you can never recall

And so we embrace again
Behind the dunes
This beach is cold
On winter afternoons
But holding you close is like holding the summer sun
I'm warm from the memory of days to come

This is the time to remember
Cause it will not last forever
These are the days
To hold on to
But we won't
Although we'll want to
This is the time
But time is gonna change
You've given me the best of you
But now I need the rest of you


'I'm warm from the memory of days to come.' Terrific. Hold onto those bright days.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

One Idiot

We've probably all seen the video of the mother in the Cheektowaga, New York parking lot yelling the N-word over and over again at a black man who was sitting behind the wheel with a video camera.

I agree with the guy, of course. He stayed calm in the face of an absolutely lunatic rage, but there was one thing that bugged me a little:

He kept saying, "Racism is alive and well."

Maybe it is in the heart of that woman, and I'm sure it is in a lot of other hearts as well, but she was painting an entire race of people and he sort of was as well.

She doesn't speak for me.

I hope she doesn't speak for you.

The fact that she speaks, at all, in front of her children, in such a raving mad way is also really disconcerting.

But man, it's unsettling, isn't it?

Over 7.5 million people viewed the tape. The woman went on a press tour of sorts. The radio shows put her on. She was the first story in Saturday's Buffalo News.

They even called her a celebrity.

I have a feeling she's enjoying her day in the sun...

...for being a complete moron.

So, I guess what I'm getting at is that she garnered all of that attention for using that word, over and over, in a fit of rage against a guy who had the audacity to start his car with her children in the same parking lot.

(That's what it appears to be).

Whether or not he called her a crackerhead...which is kind of comical to me...I don't think I'd go off like that if someone called me such a name...I'd probably laugh.

Crackerhead doesn't have the same hate attached to it as the word she used, does it?

In the end, we are all spending too much time with this freaking dingbat.

She shouldn't have a day in the sun.

We don't need to hear her side of it.

We saw it.

I'm done with her. I didn't even use her name in this post.

She bragged about stripping for cops.

That, in itself, was worthy of watching the video.

Her poor husband.

Her poor kids.

Her poor stupid brain and her single lonely thought.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Thought to Remember

My wife and kids have a good time calling me a geek for my reading habits, especially when they discuss the fact that I read so much as a kid. They call me 'Brick' from the show 'The Middle'.

I can't really debunk the idea.

As a kid the Penny Saver came to the house and I would read it from cover-to-cover. On the back page there was an ad from a funeral home, I believe, or a church...anywhoha...it was always something inspirational. It went by the title "A Thought to Remember."

I always read that first.

This week, at my parents house, I opened a cupboard and saw one of the columns, worn and weathered, hung on the door where Mom spent hundreds of thousands of hours doing laundry.

I read it. I remembered reading it as a kid.

Here it is:


The Will to Win

Figure it out for yourself my lad
You've all that the greatest of men have had;
Two arms, two legs, two hands, two eyes
And a brain to use if you would be wise
With this equipment they all began
So start from the top and say 'I am.'

Look them over, the wise and the great
they take their food from a common plate
and similar knives and forks they use
with similar laces they tie their shoes.
The world considers them brave and smart
But you have all they had when they made their start.

You can triumph and come to skill
You can be great if you only will
You're well equipped for what fight you choose
You have arms and legs and a brain to use
And the man who's risen and found great deeds to do
began his life with no more than you.

You are the handicap you will face
You are the one who must choose your place
You get to say where you want to go
How much you will study the truth to know
God has equipped you for this life, but He
Let's you decide what you want to be

Courage must come from the soul within
The man must furnish the will to win
So figure it out for yourself, my lad
You were born with what all the greats have had
With your equipment they all began
Get hold of yourself and say
"I can."


And as I moved around the house where I grew up I started to notice the inspirational notes stuck to the walls and posted in the cabinets. All about growing children. All about living the right way, and it occurred to me just where all the reading and writing came from. (I'd known it anyway), but it was all about Mom.

She told me "I can."

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hurting Time

The most draining thing of all is when, in the middle of a normal day, something happens that brings about a depression because:

Someone is missing.

And, of course, I know that the list of people who have suffered through loss is too lengthy to even think about, it's not any less crushing when the feeling hits your heart.

Just crushing.

I passed by a car the other day that had a dedication posted on the back window:

To Janey - 1984-2013. We Miss You Every Day.

There was a crucifix in the center of the words, and as I took the moment to glance an elderly couple made their way towards the vehicle.

Missing their daughter.

I knew that couple suffered through the wild card, random hits of pain, that are brought about simply by running through their daily rituals.

It could be a song. Or a meal. Or a car passing by that looks like their car. Or a voice like his nephew shouting out while playing a video game. Or a random, 'Bah!'

And suddenly you're off and running.

Sinking down.

Letting the pain rip at you as you try and go about mundane every day chores. Knowing that you have to bury the hurt deep. Knowing that they'd want you to keep punching back.

At a life that is unfair sometimes.

I watched the man back the car out of his space. I thought of Janey, wondering what had happened.

But it doesn't matter.

We all have to feel the hurt.

It's what makes us know that the love was there.

The tremendous love was there.

The tremendous love is still there.

And if I could've spoken with the man behind the wheel or the woman in the passenger seat I might have said a couple of things:

Don't string the down days together.

There's so much still left for us to do that we can't afford to stay under the spell for too long. It can kill you!

And

Know that love is bigger than death.

No one can strip you of the love that you feel inside.

Every day.

Until the moment when you leave the planet.

Love wins.

Eventually...

...feel the pain...let it hammer you for a little while, but know...

Love wins.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

The Most Hated Man in America

A recent poll showed that the most hated man in America is:

Donald Sterling.

That is absolutely ridiculous.

Now don't get me wrong, what he said was deplorable, but he is an old, tired man who if he is mentally incompetent as they deemed him to be deserves our sympathy and not our scorn.

Dementia seems to have clouded his visions when they want to rip his $2 billion team from him, but not when he says silly things?

I'm kind of sympathetic to his plight at this point. His crime is that he is a racist, but a mentally incompetent one? If so then we sort of have to forgive him, not make him the most hated man in the country.

And more hated than:

Bernie Madoff?

That guy ruined a lot of lives. He stripped people of the retirement funds they had coming to them. He did it while of sound mind and he did it without concern for any of his victims.

Or

Jerry Sandusky?

He was convicted of raping kids. For years and years and years. Certainly that's more worthy of our hate than a guy who said he didn't want Magic at the next Clippers game.

Or

Aaron Hernandez.

He's now on the judicial hook for three murders. Two of his victims were gunned down because they had the gall to spill a drink on that raving lunatic.

And that's just off the top of my head. There are probably hundreds of more despicable characters than Donald Sterling.

A couple of other things also aggravate me about this list.

First, Howard Stern always finds a way onto the list.

That's deplorable.

Anyone that mentions Howard's name has never listened to the show. Listeners like me understand that he's not only not a man worthy of hate, he should be praised.

Leave Howard alone!

Yet what really bothers me is that there is a list like this at all.

I suppose it sells papers or gets hits on Twitter, but why do we have to spread the hate?

Why do we have to keep it all alive?

Sterling is an old man who said something stupid.

But we don't have to draw the hate out of the situation.

How about talking about the togetherness it brought about?

Hate sells, I guess.

I just wish they'd get it right.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Get the Hell Out


That's the photo of a car driven by a football star. Marcell Dareus is a morbidly obese Pro Bowl player for the Buffalo Bills. I'm willing to bet that there are more than a thousand people who put on a shirt with his name on it and trudge down to the Ralph to cheer for this big idiot.

He crashed his car less than a mile from my house. He was racing a teammate in the middle of the day on his way home from what was certainly a rigorous practice.

Thankfully no one was coming the other way.

Thankfully he didn't drive into the restaurant and kill people who were eating a meal.

Thankfully he didn't plow into my wife or kids or your wife or kids.

And you know what would've happened if he had?

He would've walked away from the scene and bemoaned the fact that he made 'a mistake' and his bloated lawyer would've gotten him off and he would've returned to his fat paycheck, his locker filled with gifts because of his "talents". Mindless numb-nuts would've pulled his jersey on and cheered for him.

And some family would've lost a Mom or a Dad or a kid or an Aunt or Uncle or brother or sister.

Sorry Bills fans.

Get this idiot the hell out of our community!

He was arrested a month ago for drugs.

He missed team meetings last year and was benched.

He showed up to "camp" and vowed to be on "the straight and narrow". He had "learned his lesson".

He's a star.

He's held to a much higher standard. He is a menace to the community and the community has to revoke his million dollar salary and the life of leisure he is living as he plays a game.

I don't know about you, but the above photo truly pisses me off.

Think of your wife or kids under the wheel of his friggin' luxury car.

And what really angers me about it?

He's laughing.

I'm certain of it.

He thinks it's funny.

When does he run out of chances, folks?

When he runs over someone's loved one?

Is that what we're waiting for?

Get the hell out!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

It's Your Mother You Freaking Idiot

Mom is in her first week out of the hospital following her hip surgery and she's doing her rehab work at home where she wants to be with her three dogs and familiar surroundings.

Of course we've had to scramble a bit to get people there to help her during work hours, but Corinne and Kathy worked a plan that was so close to coming together...

...but our Wednesday during the day backed out.

Truth be told here...I never use my days off.

I don't miss days being sick. I hardly take time even after I have surgery.

Vacation?

That's funny.

It just never really occurs to me to do such things.

But when I thought about Wednesday being wide open I knew what needed to happen, but I had to make it work.

I called the guy who works closely with me and asked him if he could handle the Buffalo area on Wednesday.

"I can make it work," he said. "What's up?"

"I'm thinking of taking the day to sit with my Mom," I said. "Things are crazy though...not sure I can pull it off."

He was silent for a moment.

If he couldn't swing it in town I was sort of trapped.

"Are you debating it?" He asked.

"I have to think about doing it, right?"

"It's your mother, you freaking idiot! Are you kidding me?"

We both laughed.

"How many days do you think you ruined for her?" He asked, "with your bullshit."

When he framed it in such a manner it was an absolute no-brainer.

"Seriously. Don't give it a second thought," he said. "Can't believe you even gave it a first thought."

He was right, of course.

But it's funny how we think sometimes.

It really is.

Monday, June 2, 2014

June the 2 - It's About Tradition


On Sunday morning I was making breakfast for the Queen of Blasdell when Sam said:

"Tomorrow is June the 2."

I smiled, of course, knowing that the next generation of Fuzzy's have the date already cemented in their minds.

I told them about Uncle Tony being the one who started it all by saying he'd pay his debts on 'June the 2', but I also knew it was so much more than that.

It was a bond between fathers and sons and brother to brother. My Dad was always mentioning June the 2 as well...every year...and when I was a kid I thought it was silly.

I don't think that anymore.

Because Uncle Jim took it to a new level.

Now we try and schedule a memorial mass for him around that date. (I missed it this year with all the commotion).

I told Sam about Uncle Jim calling me at 6:30 on the morning of the last 'June the 2' of his life.

"When I asked him why he was calling so soon," I said. "He answered, 'It's June the 2. I couldn't sleep.'"

Sam laughed.

"We gotta' keep it going," I said.

Sam nodded.

I know he will.

"Mr. Popple is the one who keeps it going now," he said. "He's not even a Fuzzy."

"He thinks he is," I said. "And that's good. He got enough 'Bah pollack get off my couch!' yell downs to qualify."

Sam laughed.

"Yeah, he can help us to keep it going. Maybe it'll go on forever."

Yes, son...

...maybe it will.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

What A Freaking Mess

Happy Anniversary to my beautiful wife.

Lord knows it's been a truly eventful ride and Thank God that the one really big choice I had to make was a right one.

Yet there is a certain element of sadness as you look back and think about that wedding day. I'm only sad, of course, because there are some real important people missing and because I could really drink beer and move properly back then.

It's weird that some of those essential things are gone and when you look back on it in a blink of the mind's eye...you feel some pain.

But there is so much more to it.

We were married in a baseball field...left field to be exact at Marion Fricano Town Park in North Collins. We all put Yankee hats on after the ceremony that was officiated by lifelong friend Ward Weiser.

(Except Renaldo who put an Indians cap on at the last minute...dopey bastard).

And after an unbelievable party we set off on the journey.

It was just me, Kathy and young Matt...I was learning to adapt...

...for two freaking weeks.

Then Jake came along...way early.

So I went from being single with a dog to married with two kids and a dog.

What a ride it's been.

And there are moments when I wonder when I knew that we would be just fine for the long haul. An old buddy of mine once inquired about the strength of the marriage when it was three kids, two dogs and Kathy.

"We get along great," I said.

"That's good," he answered. "It's toughest when the kids are young...even worse when the sadness strikes. You'll see how strong that it all is when you have to step through a crisis together."

And that's when I realized that the choice I'd made...we made...was an incredible one.

Jake was sick.

We did what we had to do, never doubting that we could handle it as a team.

As I think back on that, and then put it into perspective with the other absolutely devastating tragedies over the time of our marriage...

...I understand.

That the usual, mundane, day-to-day garbage of every day life...

...can't ever really tear us apart.

"Think about adding 17 more years onto this," I said.

"Can you imagine the shape we'll be in?" Kathy answered.

"We'll be a freaking mess," I answered.

We're limping around a lot more, to be sure.

But in actuality, we're a helluva' lot stronger than we were when we were standing out there in left field.

Extend the Netting!!

During the Wednesday afternoon Yankees game, Todd Frazier ripped a line drive into the crowd above the third base dugout. The ball, which ...