Friday, June 30, 2017

Twighlight Zone

So, Trump got up on Thursday morning and watched the MSNBC Show called the Morning Joe.

He evidently didn't like what they were saying about him because he went to Twitter and attacked the female host.

Called names, made a facelift reference...

...just nastiness.

That's not the problem.

People should certainly know him by now.

He's an obese dude who calls people fat.

He certainly could be described as odd-looking, and he hates ugly people.

Others he calls liars, or crooked, or crazy, or whiny.

He's certainly been all of those things from time to time.

I'm mentioning all of this because we seem to be changing the rules a little bit.

The White House briefing on Thursday was must watch television...

....there was a speaker who droned on about immigration for 10 minutes and then Sarah Huckabee Sanders spoke about a number of other issues, all designed to make the reporters forget that the man-child had an epic tantrum first thing out of bed.

"I can take some questions," she said, hopeful that it would be about anything else.

"Regarding the president's tweet this morning. Do you think it's justified?"

And so it began.

Stunningly Huckabee-Sanders said that she had no problem with the Twitter attack.

"He's gonna' punch back."

I just stared at the radio that was playing the briefing.

What happens now?

We all call each other names?

"She's fat."

"He's bald."

"She's dumb."

Are you freaking kidding me????

Everyone is good with the president of the United States taking pot shots at whoever the hell he wants?

With weird nicknames?

Think about it!

It's widely accepted!!

He gets on social media and just unloads!

I can't be the only one who finds it weird. There's no one at all who can say:

"STOP IT!"

I guess not.

"I really don't have a problem with it," one senator said. "We have more important things to tackle and this is how the president communicates."

Just plain wild.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

What A Fool Believes

Heard the Doobie Brothers yesterday.

They were a band of my youth, and I listened to all their hits, like everyone else...

...but there's more to it than that.

My childhood friend and neighbor Yvonne is out in San Francisco with her husband, Tony. She's been posting a number of photos over the last few days.

The two stories converged in my mind and I thought back to a day around the pool at the apartment complex, in San Bruno, in 1983.

It was a great summer!

We were all working at the Meridien Hotel where Dad was the top dog on the huge project. I had just started my career as a union laborer and John was working with the crew installing the telephone systems.

Everyone else from out of town was also hanging out around the pool. I forget all the names, but Ralph and Rudy were a couple of the mainstays.

We'd drink beer, grill steak, chicken, ribs...

...all sorts of things.

One Sunday, the beer was really flowing.

We were hanging out, talking with everyone and Dad was certainly the top dog around the grill too. We were well known all around the apartment complex.

Dad was cooking on one grill...

...there was another group cooking chicken at a second grill.

We all got to talking.

Turns out, one of the guys working the barbecue was in the music business. John and I were blown away when he told us that he was the bass player with the Doobie Brothers, and that a couple of other guys in his group were also band members.

"You guys wanna' see the gold records?"

We watched him flip the chicken one last time, gave the black man (who I believe is original member Tiran Porter) one of our beers, and followed him to his apartment. He showed us the gold records, which were displayed on his wall, and we talked about Rock & Roll.

"Gotta' get back to the chicken," he said.

When we returned poolside, Dad was at the grill...

...eating a piece of Tiran's chicken.

"What the f$&@!" Tiran yelled out.

"It's true," Dad called out. "You guys are better at cooking chicken."

Tiran (who for some reason we were calling Oscar) laughed.

We spent the rest of the afternoon, sharing the Doobie Brothers chicken, our steak, and a whole bunch of beer.

"You're Dad is one crazy bastard," Tiran said, in summation.

And that's our brush with the immortal Doobie Brothers.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Hard Lessons

Life deals it out, doesn't it?

Was chatting with a guy on one of the sites. He'd spent a little time away for a 3rd DWI.

Sounds strange, but he's a good guy.

"You done with the stupid shit?" I asked him.

"Oh yeah, losing game. I'm on top of it now. Never again. I learned my lesson. I'm not going back in."

I believe him, but I'm a little worried for him too.

Thing is, we always have things to worry about, for others, and for ourselves too.

We're all vulnerable to weakness and self-knowledge usually comes immediately after you've messed something up.

You know where the dynamic is strangest though:

With our kids.

"Don't do that," is usually met with scorn or disbelief.

You really don't want to allow them to make mistakes, but you can't hold the leash too tight or you get blow back.

So, you watch and hope they aren't totally hammered by the lessons learned.

And the funny thing about hard lessons is that you can learn them...

...then slip back...

...and have to learn them again.

Change isn't ever easy, especially as time puts distance between the mistakes.

I've had to learn a few things about my physical capabilities as I've battled leg, feet and back difficulties.

"You have to change the way you work," my doctor has said, every three months or so.

Yet, you know what my mind knows?

Yeah, doing it the way it's always been done.

And you try to take the lessons and make a new reality, but it's never easy.

I'm hoping the guy on the job site stays away from his car every time that he has a beer, for the rest of his days, but the mind is a tricky thing.

"I only had one," gives way to "I'm three miles from my house," to "I only had two beers, occifer."

Think of all that you've learned since day one.

As children we are all so curious and teachable.

As adults...

...we mess it up.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Compassion

Years ago I spent time at the Women & Children's Hospital on the parent advisory panel and I always felt badly when I'd get home after a meeting.

There were some really sick kids.

Some who would never be well again.

Some who were completely and utterly disabled.

There were also parents on the panel who'd lost their children.

I'd feel so badly for them.

Compassion.

I feel worse for a lot of them as they listen to the governmental decisions that might affect them. There's a Mom making the rounds now, showing her son, and talking about his battle to stay alive. I saw a photo of the kid on Twitter. His little chest was now home to a long, jagged scar. His Mom posted a photo of the hospital bill...over $90,000...her insurance paid all but $500.

The kid will need a few more surgeries.

Mom is worried that he will no longer have insurance.

"Tough shit," one guy wrote in the comments section. "Get a job where you have good insurance and you won't have to worry about what the government healthcare is!"

That's NOT compassion!

And I suppose I don't understand it very much. I think that we were once a nation that thought better things about the poor or unfortunate at one time.

Listen, there will always be fraud in any system.

Fraud also takes place in all tax brackets, by the way.

Yet, how can you look at a young child with a zipper running down his chest and think:

"Tough shit!"

What happened to our heart?

Do we not care at all?

Can you imagine that Mom and Dad getting the news:

"We can't do the surgery because your insurance denied coverage?"

That would be virtually impossible to deal with...

...but 'tough shit' guy doesn't care.

The comments conversation continued and that same guy wrote:

"Boo-hoo! We all have troubles."

I wouldn't be so sad about it if I didn't feel that it was becoming a prevalent thought.

I grew up in a town and a time where we cared about each other's fortunes.

I refuse to believe that those days are gone for good...

...but I'm really starting to wonder.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Old Timer's Day

I caught a couple of innings of the 71st Old Timer's Day at Yankee Stadium, and like all the other years, I smiled a little.

Mickey Rivers made a basket catch in left center.

He's not Mick the Quick anymore.

Who could forget Rivers leading off for those '77 & '78 teams. He'd put a bunt down and fly down the line.

At Old Timer's Day Rivers ran like I run. He has to be over 70 now.

Jorge Posada was in the game for the first time. When he stepped into the batter's box I instantly thought of him hitting the double off Pedro to tie Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS Game at 5.

My phone rang five straight times as Jorge pumped his fist at second.

It was after midnight, but three brothers, a friend and my Mom all called.

Paul O'Neill left early because he pulled a calf muscle.

The Warrior won 5 World Series during his playing days. Calf muscles age on professional athletes too!

I certainly enjoy watching the old guys come back, but I definitely know how quickly it goes...

...won't be long before Aaron Judge is playing in the Old Timer's Game.

Time waits for no one!

I'll be watching when Judge's career is over too!

Hopefully!

Now let's get number 28!

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sixty Years & Sam At 17

Today is Sam's 17th 🎉 Birthday.

Which is crazy.

I keep thinking about ten years down the road.

Hoping I can limp through the next thirty-six hundred days and see them settled in their lives.

We went to a party for my in-laws 60th wedding anniversary and Sam and Jake were getting a lot of questions about what they want to do.

"We're enjoying our childhood," was their pat answer.

But the gatherings are amazing to me now. I see nieces and nephews who are in their 30's...

...already settled into their jobs and marriages...

...and I think back to when they were 10!

Goes fast!

My in-laws were fun to watch at such a party.

Sixty-freaking years!!

"What time are you renewing your vows?" I asked my father-in-law as soon as I arrived.

"Get the hell away from me," he said.

So, I asked the same question to my mother-in-law.

"I'd rather shoot him," she said, with a laugh.

That's how it goes, but they aren't fooling anyone.

You don't get to 60 years without a few battles and a lot of love.

I watched Sam play with his brothers at the party. They were making fun of each other, and laughing.

Life.

Happy Anniversary to my in-laws!

Happy Birthday to Sam!

60

And

17.

Wild 😜

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Ripped Out of Wheelchairs

We've certainly seen our share of protests over the course of the last year, haven't we?

There was another one the other day.

It showed a bunch of people at the offices of one of the political leaders who is spearheading the healthcare bill that will, potentially, replace the Affordable Care Act.

I've kept up on it. I can't claim to understand all of it, but there certainly are reports out there that might scare folks who are suffering with debilitating illnesses.

Yeah.

Not funny stuff.

Some of the reports of the protest were extremely disturbing as the protest got ugly (as they often do) and many of the people were physically removed from their wheelchairs and escorted out of the protest.

I never thought I'd write a sentence like that in America.

People yanked out of their wheelchairs and removed from a protest.

Are we heading towards another Kent State?

There are reports that detail the new healthcare bill, as allowing for a tax break for the wealthiest of all Americans, and will include the gutting of Medicaid that, in a few years time, would badly damage older people, and the poorest among us. There was also a doomsday prediction that about 800 rural hospitals could be a casualty.

(One thing that is important is that poor people are STILL people...with hopes, dreams, and lives. Also, important to consider is that a lot of the people who fall into the poor category get up and go to work every day. Not everyone believes that, but it is most certainly true).

There are reports that as many as 24 million people would be without healthcare (but with access to care they can't come close to affording) within three years.

You might note that I am simply noting the perceived facts of what those people lined up, and rolled up, to protest.

Maybe all of those things aren't true?

Perhaps there will be negotiation that makes it 'less mean.'

We don't quite know because a lot of the details have been contrived behind closed doors.

The indisputable part of what we know so far is that people are scared for their lives.

The most worrisome aspect of it, for me, is that there is a left-right argument brewing.

(Of course).

If 24 million people are kicked from the healthcare rolls...

...it won't matter if you voted left or right.

Both groups will suffer.

Immeasurably.

How does a tax cut for the wealthy fit in there anywhere?

That's where I'm absolutely lost.

I was horrified by a few of the people being removed from their chairs, screaming, crying and desperate.

Desperation will rule the day.

I've seen desperation explode into pain.

It's a tough place to be.

All of my life I've had at least a little confidence in our leaders.

But then again...

...I've never seen physically disabled people forcibly removed for voicing their fears.

It's not left-right.

It might be life-death.

That's how some people are reading it.

And they should be heard.

This is America.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Breaking News

O.J. Simpson is the guy who turned the news into entertainment when he butchered two people.

Then everyone was in a battle to beat the other guy. Led to all kinds of crap.

Now everything is BREAKING NEWS including the fact that O.J. Is up for parole come July...

...and I've seen more than one person root for his release:

"Let the Juice Loose!!!"

Yeah.

So he can possibly kill again.

You know who he even more nerve than O.J.?

Bill Cosby!

He's going to do town halls on how to avoid sexual assault situations.

How arrogant can you be??

Will he interview any of his sixty or so victims?

I don't understand how people get so tone deaf on a situation.

You know who's unbelievable about deception, arrogance and then just forgetting everything about something awful that he did?

I'll give you a hint:

He's Orange.

He tweeted, more than a month ago, that Comey better hope that there aren't tapes of their conversations.

Then he waited and ducked all questions about whether or not he had taped the conversations.

Then he announced that he had no idea if there are tapes.

BREAKING NEWS!!!!

"There aren't any tapes."

How's that for making news and turning it into something.

He lied.

30 days later he copped to it.

It was BREAKING NEWS...

Twice!

And it didn't mean a damn thing.

O.J. out of jail.

Cosby avoided jail.

Orange wants to stay out of jail.

Stay tuned.

It's all news all the time these days.

Damn O.J.!



Thursday, June 22, 2017

Happy Birthday, Brother

It's my brother Jeff's birthday today.

He's not here to celebrate 🎉 it with us, but make no mistake, he's with me.

Every single day.

Yesterday I was listening to my I-pod on the airplane.

The Stones hit my ear - Sway - from Sticky Fingers - and I recalled a phone call.

"That songs amazing."

We talked about the cover of the album and how Mick and Keith were unreal when it came to writing songs together.

Jeff didn't care about the songwriting as much when it came to the Stones. He just cared that it rocked.

It gave way to Stolen Car by Bruce...the version that was released on Tracks rather than on The River. I thought about the fact that Jeff was partial to the Tracks version.

And that's how it goes.

Every day.

Things to remind me...

...whether it's music, baseball or just every day life.

He's whispering in my ear.

And in the ears of my siblings and friends and Mom.

That's a morsel of comfort.

Not quite enough...

...that's for sure.

And all this time later...

...8 years.

And it's still indescribable.

Life changed, for sure, and I'm reminded daily that it's not for the better.

It still really sucks...

...but Jeff deserves a celebration 🎉 on his birthday!

So I will push that grief away.

Get into the Sway a little bit.

And celebrate the day...

...instead of trying to understand it.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Otto

What a horrific story.

Otto Warmbier died on Monday after spending a long while in a coma.

He was a 22 year-old boy who, while on a tour in North Korea, was arrested for trying to steal a political banner.

He was branded as an enemy of the state and was held there for 18 months before being sent back to Ohio...

...in a coma.

The details of the story are absolutely horrifying, and I couldn't even watch the Dad speak of the loss of his boy.

Of course everyone is absolutely aghast with the horror of it all, but day after day we are forced to take in the horrors of the world.

Makes me wonder.

I won't be around long enough to see if humans get it right. I was hopeful as a youngster, but the older you get the more hopeless it appears.

There are men around the world who are content to get into a vehicle and plow into innocent people. Others wield guns or knives.

Not caring who they maim or kill.

Years ago I used to argue with my brother-in-law Chuck about the death penalty, war...etc...

He would call me an idealistic dreamer and I labeled him as a war monger.

We actually debated everything.

Chuck used to tell me that my world view was too rose-colored.

He explained that the people we were talking about weren't interested in peaceful resolution to some of the World's problems.

I would argue that point from morning to night.

"People are basically good!" I would argue.

But now, I wonder.

Beat down!

Maybe Sir Charles was right.

Perhaps there's no way to peacefully solve things.

But I stand by what I always have said:

There are still more good people in the world than bad people.

Right?

Right?

Damn, I hope I'm right.

RIP Otto.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Et Tu Brute?

We read a lot of Shakespeare in 9th grade English. Miss Sepielski (RIP) used to let me be the lead character in the readings of all the plays.

I was Romeo and Caesar.

My classmates were eternally grateful that I loved doing the reading because they didn't have to.

They also knew which way to turn their head when the book reports assignments were announced. I must've done ten book reports a quarter, trying to dumb down the writing to fit the guy!

It was like a part-time job!

So, I was the geek who enjoyed the plays, plus I can still remember the pretty girl who was Juliet that year...

...was my only little connection with her.

(When the play-acting was over she ran down the hall).

Anywhoha...

Old William is in the news because they're putting on the play in Central Park with a lead who supposedly looks like Trump.

I guess that the inference is that since Julius died in the end that those involved with running the play are hoping that history somehow repeats itself.

Wow!

And this isn't just an isolated incident.

Big, beard-covered dudes have been bum-rushing the stage, yelling:

"I'm sick of this shit!"

They aren't changing the words long-written by Shakespeare!

They're objecting to the guy in the role!!

That would've been like Juliet turning to our teacher and saying,

"We're supposed to believe that dweeb is Romeo????"

Thank God that didn't happen!

It's called suspending belief.

I'm not sure that the actor was chosen because he is supposed to be Donald.

Perhaps.

And that's goofy too.

Give respect to the work.

Do the plays as Billy wrote them down.

They're good enough as they were written.

I long for the days when I was the star of the play.

"Oh Romeo, where for art thou?"

Poor girl cried when she read that line...

...and I answered her.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Can I Borrow Your Charger?

My God!!!

I've heard that every day for what has to be about 200 straight days!

And it drives me absolutely crazy.

I have a charger for my car.

I also have one for around the house.

I like my phone to be close to fully charged at all time. (Spare me the 'It's bad for your battery' lecture. I have OCD),

We ran into a little danger one night when I went into Sam's room and saw the red line of my car charger.

"Why do you have my charger?" I asked.

"Lost mine. I've used it every night for a week," he said. "I've put it back in your car every day before you've needed it."

The next day, he forgot.

I let it go.

"What's your phone at?" My beautiful wife asks each night.

"Why? Where's yours?"

"Jake borrowed it."

I reluctantly hand it over if I'm at 90 or better.

"They sell chargers at every gas station from here to California," I said. "I have mine every time I need it. Get your own!"

I think part of the "I'm missing my stuff and it pisses me off" attitude comes from having lived alone for a lot of years.

"I'll give it right back to you!"

Doesn't actually work well for me.

Ah well.

My phone is currently at 88.

I can almost live with that.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Happy Father's Day!

Spent a little time on Saturday morning in the barn on my Mom's property.

Dad was a epic hoarder before anyone knew what that actually was.

There is a ton of scrap there. Tools, old doors, window screens, and buckets of nuts and bolts and screws and drill bits.

Things I have zero use for.

And the barn is showing signs of wear and tear. It's gonna' come down, one way or another.

Everything breaks down eventually.

My brother John found a stack of daily prayer books that Dad had stuffed in one of the drawers.

Mom showed me a letter that was like a text in my marriage these days:

"The ribs are in the oven at 350. Don't touch them. I'll be home to take them out and do the potatoes. Just getting cigs. Will be back soon."

He signed it "Love, Fuzzy."

Finally, attached to the wall was the drivers license of my buddy, Chris Heinold. I took a photo of it and texted Chris.

"Why is this on the wall in my Dad's barn?" I asked.

"He stole it from me!" Chris texted back. "I swear every time I was over there he made me cry laughing. He was hysterical."

So, I got on the riding mower and thought about Dad as I mowed the lawn on the property that he loved. From the back yard I could take in the full beauty of the home that he built with his Dad, his brother, and his uncles and brother-in-laws and friends.

A colossal effort.

An amazing place to grow up.

"Did you find my gold chain?" Chris texted later.

I laughed.

Dad threatened to fight Chris if he tried to jump in the pool while wearing jewelry.

"He came at me in the boxer's stance. He whacked me in the nuts when I tried to cover my face."

My Dad was a funny guy.

Lived every day hard.

Was proud of his kids.

Showed us what love is.

Taught us about working hard and what respecting people was about, even when we were smacking them in the groin, for fun.

Happy Father's Day, Dad.

I mimic all of your best moves with my boys.

"Love, Fuzzy."

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Niagara Falls

As a safety guy I kind of don't get the death defying stuff.

The Wallendas were back at it this week.

Erindira went above the falls in a copter. She stayed connected to it by her toes and then by her teeth. There were about 500 people there to watch it.

Then news broke that Kirk Jones had died, trying to go over the falls in an inflatable ball. He had been one of only four people who had survived an unprotected plunge.

That was back in 2004.

At the time he said that he did it to prove to himself that he could handle fear, and that it taught him to believe in himself. He said, at the time, that he was done with the Falls.

 Being so close to dying had cured him of wanting to die.

Not sure what happened there.

He got into an inflatable ball and decided that he was gonna' bounce clear to the other side...

...he didn't stay in the ball.

And I've always wondered about the crowd watching one of those daredevil events is actually thinking.

Did they want to see Erindira come unglued and end up plunging to her death?

I watched Nic do his walk across the Falls a few years back...

...but he was tethered...

...which removed the drama a little.

I've known a few guys who've jumped out of airplanes.

Some were in the military so it was part of the job.

Yet I know a principal who did it.

And just last week another friend.

There are a bunch of safety precautions involved in doing something like that. You can control that a little!

Getting into a ball and hoping it all works out???

They estimate that about 5,000 people have died at the Falls.

40-50 people a year jump in on purpose every year.

As suicide spots go it pales in comparison to the Golden Gate Bridge.

I've lived in the area most of my life...

...I've been to the foot of the Falls so many times that there are times when I'm in the park and I don't even look.

Last year I worked with a contractor and a fall protection plan had to be developed so the crew didn't fall into the water.

The power is amazing.

Every guy in that crew imagined what it might feel like to take that ride.

Didn't take much to get them to cooperate at that project.

No one wanted to take that final ride..

...and yet some do it for fun.

What a 🌎

Friday, June 16, 2017

Time Out!

Life is a funny old thing.

I worked out my schedule on Monday and had actually noted which sites I'd visit each day.

Life intervened.

I'll spare you the details, but I haven't been able to put weight on my foot since Wednesday morning.

I tried.

Then it became apparent that I couldn't do it.

Couldn't walk.

So, a huge time out.

There are still things that can be done work-wise without standing up, but there's frustration for sure!

And it dawned on me, for about the hundredth thousand time in my life that:

A). We don't control much.

And

B). There are so many things we take for granted.

"This will pass," I kept telling myself. "I don't ever take days off. Rest!! Stop trying to get up!!"

The troublesome thing is that I'm not exactly a carefree person.

And it's been a life-long struggle to get there.

Thankfully, Camp Clifford is in full swing so there's been someone here nearly every minute of the two days.

"Bring me a water," has been texted a number of times.

Depending upon others is a good lesson for me too.

I don't have to do everything.

We have guys actually hitting those sites I can't get to.

Dinner will get made!

The dogs will still get their ride.

And I will stand up again.

Did you know that they play Law & Order all day every day?


Thursday, June 15, 2017

Stop it!

Crazy.

Now when there's a mass shooting there's a mad rush to get to the bottom of the shooter.

Brown?

Oh boy!

Those are the ones who are wildly condemned...particularly if there is a middle eastern name attached.

White guy?

(Most mass shooters are).

And there's a crazy attempt, by one lunatic or another, to try and justify it.

I'm not getting into too many particulars here, but it seems to me that there are people out there who are okay with the loss of life, or terror of it all...

...if it suits their narrative.

That's just crazy!!

I listened to one of the congressmen explain what was going on at the ball field as a freaking lunatic opened fire.

The man was shaken (obviously) and his voice broke as he painted a horrifying picture of the terror of being in the wrong place, at the wrong time, when the wrong guy, was in the wrong mood...

...as he waved a rifle around and tried to pick off as many people as he could.

The shooter ended up dead and the injuries suffered, while horrific, were not life-threatening.

And then every single idiot with their own private soap box stood up and made it even more toxic.

He's white!

He liked Bernie!!

Or he was a patriot because Trump is so hateful.

Stop it!

🛑 ✋ ✋

Stop!!

People are dying on our streets over this stupidity.

Megyn Kelly is interviewing Alex Jones this week...

... he made a ton of money by saying Sandy Hook was fake...

...and the parents who lost children there were actually just actors.

What in the hell is going on???

Before throwing out your "thoughts & prayers"  and then spreading hate against that which doesn't fit your agenda...

Just stop!

We gotta' start respecting life a little here...

...and ✋ being so damn dumb.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Remains

A story broke over the weekend about human remains being discovered by hikers in the woods behind the Marion Fricano Town Park in North Collins, New York.

Of course, North Collins is my small hometown. The remains were discovered about a mile from my childhood home.

WTH???

We watch a lot of true crime around Camp Clifford. That's Kathy's go-to entertainment channel. ID TV.

There's a real life drama unfolding.

I heard, through the small town grapevine that the body had been there for years and years. More than   10...

...maybe up to 30!

"It can't be someone from North Collins," my buddies mentioned. "There's no one we know who's missing."

True enough.

Yet I can't imagine finding human body parts.

That in and of itself has to be a tad disconcerting.

Was it murder?

A hiker who had a major problem??

A dumped victim???

I'm sure we'll hear a lot more.

"Crazy town," I said. "We had two cop shootings there. A murder just a few years back of a mentally challenged girl, a rape at the same park."

Crazy!

Hey, maybe it'll wind up on ID TV.

That's not a stretch.'

One of my unstated goals in life is to not be identified as "remains."

As my Dad once said after we listened to the details of a horrific murder years back:

"May he rest in pieces."

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Birthday 🎉 Blog

Happy 20th 🎈 Birthday 🎉 to my son Jake.

Yet, 2 weeks ago it was Matt's 🎈 24th Birthday 🎉 as well and I caught hell.

"Where was Matt's Birthday 🎉 blog?" My beautiful wife asked.

Well, two weeks from yesterday is the date for Sam's 🎈 🎉 Birthday.

Unbelievably, Sam turns 17.

So, you see the problem.

So many birthdays all in the same time frame. So, we'll make it one big birthday 🎉 blog fiesta!

They're all fun in their own way, and it's been a blast being their Dad. We laugh a lot, we talk sports, and day after day we've bonded together to treat Kathy like a princess.

I know it's not easy to raise kids in this day and age. There are so many things that can frighten parents out of their minds.

If they're out and I hear a police siren 🚨 I worry.

When they say they're gonna' go to McDonalds to eat after we just ate I try to reason with them.

"I can make you something."

There are so many days when I wish I could still play basketball 🏀 with them in the driveway, but I listen to their back and forth and it makes me smile because I knew that the best thing that we could do for them was to build a home where they were each other's best friends...

...and they are.

"They're fighting," Kathy would say as they grew.

"So what?" I'd ask, knowing that they weren't fighting to the extent that they'd ever be too mad at one another.

They've cost us a fortune in chicken fries alone!

They don't clean their room to my satisfaction, but as I think of each of them...as I do every day and not just on their birthdays...

I understand how truly blessed we've been.

"They're good kids," is the best of all compliments.

And they are.

Even if I still worry...

...I now will purposely text them a tidbit when they're not home:

"Judge homered," will usually get a response.

So, Happy Birthday 🎊🎉🎁🎂🎈 to our boys.

I used to joke:

"You're out when you turn 18!"

Now I don't care if they hang out until they're 50 or so.

They bring the joy.

And joy is about love.

Happy Birthday to the hoodlums.

Stay as long as you'd like.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Are We Having Fun Yet?

The 27-Time World Champion Greatest Franchise in the History of Organized American Sports is back in first place...

...and the Yankees are really making life miserable for the dopey people who hate them.

Well, actually, I'm doing that!

I sent out a Facebook post on Saturday after the Yankees pounded the hapless O's on Friday night. I actually predicted that the Yankees would put up a 20-spot on Saturday.

They only got to 16.

Yet, my poor Baltimore cousins got tired of either me or the Bombers.

"Cliff sucks," was the consensus.

But it's been a great start.

They hit bullets all over the field.

They're pitching pretty well.

And Aaron Judge is a ridiculously strong human being and he's just hammering the ball.

On Sunday he cleared the bleachers with a 495' blast that was gone from the playing field in a split second.

Now I know what people thought when they were watching Mantle.

10 runs is an every day occurrence.

Yet, the fun part isn't just watching the team win.

It's aggravating everyone!!

Of course it is.

Yet, there is a downside.

When they lose their one game a week I get phone calls and texts.

I can take it!

Especially if number 28 is just around the corner.




Sunday, June 11, 2017

Construction Glory Days

Ran into a construction 🔨 superintendent on one of the jobs.

There were a few younger, Hispanic guys doing everything wrong as they tried to protect themselves from a fall that would maim or kill them.

"Listen, boys," I said. "You're young and you think you're strong and it won't happen, but your life will end."

They understood enough to know what I was talking about. As I lectured them they hustled to put the right protection in place, and as I was walking away with the superintendent we began talking about our first jobs.

"I was 17," I said. "I was 30 stories up on a 47-story hotel and there wasn't any protection there. My foreman tossed me a body belt and said 'Use it if you're scared, you p$&sy.'"

My buddy laughed. He told a similar story about being in bad spots.

"I worked hard," I said. "My Dad was the BIG boss. He was running the whole job, and he wanted me to really see what hard work felt like. I was the lead guy on the concrete hose for all the concrete pours on 47 floors. Every day we poured concrete from 6 a.m. To about 2 p.m."

The superintendent was impressed. He hadn't known that.

Suddenly, I laughed as a mental image took over.

"What?" He asked.

"I used to be starving!" I said. "There are never breaks when the concrete is flowing and we always had trucks backed up, so, we never ate. I was bitching about it one night on the way home, and Dad didn't say much. He was saying, 'Yeah, tough shit, that's life.'"

"That IS how it goes," The super said.

"Anyway, next day, we're in about our 5th hour of the pour and I hear, "Cliff!"

"I turn around and Dad, the guy who actually was the lead boss of about seven hundred people was standing behind a column with a sandwich wrapped in tinfoil."

The superintendent laughed.

"'Get over here!' Dad said.

"'I can't,' I told Dad. 'There are 25 other guys here who aren't eating!'"

"'I don't give a shit about them!' Dad said. 'You're my son, eat.'"

My buddy laughed at the memory.

"That's a good Dad," he said.

"I remember the sandwich," I said. "Eggs with Italian Sausage and hot peppers. It might've been the best sandwich I ever ate."

And we kept talking about the old days and how hard we had each worked as we became men.

"And now we're the bosses," the super said.

"And it's up to us to teach."

"You were lucky," he said. "Your Dad was a good teacher."

"The best," I said. "He gave me two educations. He'd be happy that I'm still out here."

And that's the one thing that hasn't changed in 35 years.

I absolutely love wearing a hard hat and being out there on the sites, peeing in a box, waiting for the coffee truck and working hard.

"Work harder than everyone else," Dad used to say. "Do more than what they expect."

I don't see a lot of that attitude in the new crew coming up, but things get built now.

"It just takes us a lot longer now," the super said.

Ahh!

The good old days!

Saturday, June 10, 2017

I'll Be Honest With You

I listened to a lot of the Comey hearing on Thursday.

What in the hell was John McCain trying to say?

Holy cow! I listened to his question a couple of times and then read the transcript of it. I actually thought he was drunk! He passed it off, saying that he was up late watching a ⚾️ game. So, I can sort of give him a pass, but, dude...

...you were supposed to be ready for work.

The thing that gets me about listening to politicians is that they often say:

"Well, to be honest with you."

Or

"Do you want me to be honest?"

Let's just cut those phrases out!

As House used to say:

"Everyone lies!"

Politicians ALWAYS lie!

And the spin.

My God!!!

Comey comes right out and calls Trump a liar.

Trump's supporters say:

"So, he lied! But Comey didn't say he raped anyone!! That's good!"

And these people get paid huge money for this high-powered "work".

He lied. She lied. We lied. They lied.

Let me be honest here:

Lying bastards aren't actually doing anything, but trying to figure out who lied less!

The hearing itself was interesting.

Not sure what I learned, but it's so hard for me to figure out how a guy like Marco Rubio can now be partners with Donny.

Wasn't Marco the guy who was absolutely embarrassed during the primary?

Didn't he get called all sorts of names?

Now they love each other???

Honestly.

It's all such a huge lie.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Camp Clifford Is Opening

We had a discussion about the extension cord for the chargers for our phones.

We have the same discussion every night.

"What are you at?" Kathy asked, as she noticed that I had my charger plugged into the short cord.

"Why?" I asked.

"I need the cord."

"Where's yours?" I asked.

"Upstairs. Come on, what are you at?"

"I'm only at 96 percent," I said. "Why can't we get another $4 extension cord so we don't have this conversation every night?"

And that's where we're at.

Camp Clifford is worn down.

There's paint needed. There's some cleaning that needs to take place (particularly in the rooms of our two extended campers).

The air conditioning is on the Fritz.

Yet, we will be opening for business in just a couple of days.

Sam was in bed the other EVENING as he took his post-school nap.

"What do you think you're gonna' do all summer?" I asked.

"You're kinda' looking at it," he said.

Of course he knew that I'd be cracking the whip, but I did laugh.

"When does Camp open?" My nephew Johnny asked as he face-timed me during the Yankee game.

"Soon," I said.

"I need a bed," he answered.

"You may have to work," I said.

"Whatever you need!" He answered.

Lord help me.

They have plenty of room for all kinds of fun activities!

Thursday, June 8, 2017

The N-Word

Bill Maher said something stupid on his show last week.

He referred to himself as a "House N------"

Dopey!

The outcry was immediate, as it should've been.

Maher is a rich, white guy, who was doing a live show and was trying to be funny.

What is most discouraging about his dumb attempt is that he is also a left-wing pundit who crucifies others for their blatant racism and poor word choices.

So, much like Kathy Griffin, the problems he is having now, are well-deserved.

"We're screwed," a 50-something guy said to me on a job site, "Because we grew up calling each other colorful names that can't be used anymore."

The guy had a point!

We used to bash one another using derogatory names about one another's nationality as well as perceived sexual orientation.

My brothers and sisters and friends called me every name in the book.

A lot of those names are no longer welcome in today's society...

...Maher knows this.

He screwed up epically.

And the outrage is justified for those who have been hammered by the prejudice of an awful word that means more than just a simple word to them.

"Everyone is so offended," the guy on the site said. "We need to toughen up."

"So Maher shouldn't be fired?" I asked.

"Well, I hate him," the guy said, "but nah. Make him pay a huge fine to a black group, and move on. Hit these idiots in the pocketbook and they'll stop saying it."

Not a bad idea.

Yet before you say toughen up, think about those who have slandered you for something that is prejudicial. I was once in court and while on the stand as a witness in a construction incident involving one of my clients a lawyer asked me to say my last name. I did. He then asked me if I had once been in a laborers union in Buffalo.

I was surprised, but said yes.

"And some members of that union were in trouble for corruption, right? You a proud Italian-American."

I did the math.

He was trying to paint a picture based on my nationality even though I had been out of the union for ten years by the time the corruption was discovered.

I will never forget how angry I was with that guy.

He withdrew his questions.

Yet the damage was done.

I think of that when I hear someone say, "Toughen up!"

It's not right.

Maher was colossally stupid.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Responding to Tragedy

We're watching the Net Flix show, Bloodlines, season three, and there's so much tragedy throughout that it's devolved into a show where I kind of hate everyone.

They all act like idiots because of the battles that they've lost.

And I was reading about the tweet battle between the president of our country and a mayor in London who is dealing with an unspeakable tragedy.

After sending a tweet of solidarity to the people of the U.K., Donald decided to go on the offensive. He attacked the words of the mayor who asked his citizens to not be alarmed about the added police presence.

Then he doubled down and called the guy pathetic.

Which was pathetic.

And then I read about Ariana Grande, a pop singer, who could sing her greatest hit on my front porch and I wouldn't recognize it.

She had just left the stage as the bombs killed people in Manchester.

She canceled her tour and went home, and at home, she decided to actually respond to tragedy in an ambitious way.

She put together a benefit concert.

Raised $12 million for those poor suffering people.

There are lessons to learn here.

How do you respond when tragedy hits?

Every character in Bloodlines has gone off on a bender.

They're all angry.

"I'm hoping for a hurricane," I said. "So the entire town gets torn asunder."

I can't imagine what any of those families are going through. On the news we only see the number.

7 dead in London.

5 murdered in Orlando.

Countless more in Manchester.

No one counts the other people who partially die.

The mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, friends.

All suffering.

And that's why more people need to think before they tweet, or disparage, or shout from the shadows about their own selfish interests.

I don't know Ariana Grande from a bag of oranges, but I have respect for the way that she responded.

A 23-year old kid who is a lot wiser than a whole bunch of others.

Particularly the Rayburns from Bloodlines.

And all the other idiots.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Baskets

When I was young I loved to play basketball. We ran a few times a week in rec leagues and I was in my 30's before I stopped doing that.

After that we turned every party into a shooting contest.

Through my 40's we shot in the driveway. My kids and my friend's kids played along.

Then I got hurt and it was all over.

Every once in awhile my boys...

...who play as much as I did...

Will toss the ball to me.

And I'll shoot an air ball.'

Kind of stinks!

But around here there are games on television too. The playoffs were on, but every game has been a blow-out.

They were fired up about the Cavs-Warriors in the finals.

And now there are more blowouts!

The Warriors are an unreal team.

Curry dribbles around like Curly Neal.

He shoots like me as a kid.

And there's LeBron too...

...we aren't fans here.

"Two more games is it," Sam said when I asked him about it this morning. "It's over!"

And it probably is.

That's okay...

...the boys joined a rec league.

They'll be playing 3 times a week.

"We'll be missing dinner some nights," Jake announced.

God Bless 'em!

Have fun!

It goes quickly!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Is This the Life We Really Want

Roger Waters new record came out in full on Friday.

The former lead man of Pink Floyd put out new music for the first time since 1994.

I knew a lot about it before it hit my phone.

It would be great! It would be political in nature, and it would be thought-provoking.

It's all very good. I spent part of Friday night going through the lyrics, and the title track is called:

"Is This the Life We Really Want?"

On Saturday night the terrorist attack in London loudly answered that question.

London Bridge.

I thought of the song I learned as a child.

I certainly wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Like many others I felt powerless.

How do we stop people who are bent on causing death?

They drive vehicles into people

They burst into places and stab people who are out socializing.

The attackers are dead.

There are more right behind them.

The London deaths dominated the news, but there were domestic murders in every city of America on Saturday night.

People losing their lives to whites, blacks, browns, infidels and religious zealots.

Just flat-out destruction.

Of course it's not what any of us want.

It's funny, but often times I'll see the news come across and I'll announce:

"Did you hear about London?"

"No," Kathy will say.

I'll tell her and she'll shake her head...

...not really interested in hearing about it, at all.

"Nothing I can do about it," she'll say. "Why should I bring it into my world and make myself miserable?"

And that's about it, I suppose.

Roger Waters is always very descriptive in his writing. He'll sing something so innocent such as:

"Deja Vu, the sun goes down, and I'm still missing you."

Just 11 words that hit you and paint you a picture.

Very often he intermingles what we can and can't do in terms of living a happy life.

We can all choose the life we really want to live.

Terrorism can invade your heart if you let it.

Don't.

Sunday, June 4, 2017

The Jury Is Still Out

We're out of the Paris Accord on Climate Control.

"Bad Deal!"

Which is odd, because we set the parameters of the deal and can change it.

It's like signing up for your 401K and saying you're going to put 10% in...

...then you decide you'd only like to put 5% in and instead of doing that you blow up the office of the payroll dude.

So, that's the first thing I don't quite understand.

Secondly, to call it a "hoax" appears misguided to me.

I have often told the kids that even though math wasn't my favorite, that a lot of what makes sense comes down to a mathematical solution.

"Do the Math."

We have a ton of information available. A sound argument can be made, either way, actually.

"This blows," isn't actually an argument that can be soundly defeated, or solved through math.

I have heard the argument that the universe can take care of itself, and I find some validity in that.

Adjustments may be made, by the universe to solve the problem.

Perhaps there will be another glacier to cool things off, or maybe everything will simply burst into flames, incinerating all of life.

Then the universe will recover.

And all those who argued that way will be absolutely correct...

...only problem with that is that no one will survive to brag about it.

But what the hell can any of us do but argue back and forth on social media calling one another libtards or rednecks.

The decision was one of defiance to the world.

A real "I'm taking my ball and going home" type of moment.

And that may actually be where most of the damage lies.

America.

That single word, as a destination, was awe-inspiring to those who are here and those who long to be here.

If that's lost...

...well...

That blows.

And who can argue with that math?

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Keepers

A good friend recommended the Net-Flix Documentary "The Keepers" to us regarding Father Joseph Maskell of the Catholic Church in Baltimore.

The first three episodes chilled me to the bone.

The rest of it made me want to throw up.

So...

...I highly recommend it.

What is odd about it is that I am of the age that can clearly recall the power of the priest back in those days.

As a child who grew up in the Catholic school I had been taught, by my parents, and by the parents of all my friends, that the nuns and the priests were to be absolutely respected as they were closer to God.

That's just the way it was!

Now, I did come through unscathed.

I never suspected that anything was ever amiss. The priest who ran the parish through most of those days was actually a good man, as far as I was concerned. (Other people may have different recollections, but there certainly were never any accusations against him).

Certainly nothing as wild as what happened in the Documentary.

I got seriously whipped by the nuns, for years.

I felt I deserved it.

(Big mouth).

Yet, I also never told my parents about any of it because I would have lost that argument. If the nuns or priest thought I needed a beating...

...well...then I did.

As I began watching I actually felt a need to protect the church in my mind.

"So, Maskell was a bad guy," I thought.

But that's not how it worked back then.

There was abuse.

The abuse was reported.

The media didn't believe it.

The law didn't help the abused.

And then the part that made me want to 🤢

The church buried it.

Now, I'm not giving anything away.

The documentary is terrifically put together. The women, who lived through it (but who suffered mightily) were amazing to give of their time and to lay it all out.

Watch it.

And then remember:

Organized religion has very little to do with God.

Friday, June 2, 2017

June The 2

It's celebrate Uncle Jim Day!

Damn, I miss him.

What's amazing about June the 2 is that I think of it a whole bunch through the year now, and that's because Uncle Jim and Dad are no longer physically here to call and say:

"Happy June the 2!"

But man, we talked a lot about it when they were here.

And Uncle Jim was the guy who made it go every year, from his early morning call through a couple of more reminders throughout the year.

The amusing thing about Uncle Jim was that he was the nicest guy in the world, and he, very often, was shocked by the craziness of some of his siblings.

Saying that there is or ever was a "quiet" Fuzzy is a little hard to believe, but Uncle Jim was one.

He would get embarrassed from time to time!

He was never the guy who started the fight.

He'd often sit and listen, and laugh.

Except on June the 2...

...that was his day to get all the conversations started.

And I don't know about my cousins or my siblings, but I'm eating breaded pork chops here tonight.

This is Uncle Jim's day.

Pork Chops all around!

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Covfefe

Are you kidding me?

Do they drug-test the president?

I don't think they should with this particular guy.

He sniffs constantly when he speaks. He is up all night, tweeting tantrums and now he invents a word:

Covfefe

And then leaves it up there for 6 hours so everyone can hammer him?

I'm thinking he fell asleep, but there is another possibility:

Perhaps his lawyer shot him in the back of the neck with a poison dart.

Yet...

...Kathy Griffin was the real idiot of yesterday's news.

What a horrible thing she did.

If you didn't see the image of her holding what was supposed to be Trump's severed, blood-covered head...

...don't look.

Sheer stupidity.

ISIS does that shit.

I didn't like it when they threw shoes at W.

I hated to see them hang Obama...

...and as much as I think Trump is unfit for his position...

There's one thing to remember!!!

We're Americans!

All of us. We're in this mess together. A decapitated American leader is not good for any of us.

I've never actually considered Kathy Griffin funny, but usually I am on the side of the comedians. I hate the fake rage associated with a joke that offends someone.

But this was different because it was really dumb.

A true Covfefe, actually.

Week In Review

Spicy 🌶 out!! How can we not be disappointed? I'm thinking that SNL will get one more episode out of it. They have to do something ...