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Of Politics, Sports and Sex

OK, so there won't be a LOT on here about sex, but tell the truth, that's most of the reason you entered this site, right? So, I'll slip some things in from time to time just to keep you coming...back.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Some people ask, "Why me?"

I ask, "Why not me?"

She's the healthy one, not me.

More to come - I have so many things I'd like to post here about Cheryl's sickness, SO many, but so little time to do so. But this was one that just kept running through my head, so I had to get it out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

And so a new bump in the journey presents itself

Two words that are almost as fun to say physically as they are scary to say emotionally:

Gynecological oncologist.

And two words I never wanted to learn are an all-too-common pairing.

Friday, March 28, 2014

After all, it's all about me

With our 40 (!) year high school reunion approaching in a few weeks, we were all given a questionnaire to fill out so we could circulate it to those who wouldn't be able to attend, updating them on each other. Here is my response:

What’s new?  Or possibly, the same:

Name:                                                   Jamie McVickar                                      

Spouse/partner’s name:              Cheryl

Occupation:                                       Controller, North American Land Trust

Previous Occupations:                  Statistician for the Philadelphia Flyers

Geographical location:                  Chester Springs, PA

Family situation: 

Very happily married  


-          Stepdaughters:        

o   Elissa, age 27 (and Liss has two children, Athena and Atticus)

o   Evelyn, age 21 – is a student at Lock Haven U in PA

-          Ammar, age 24?  – exchange student from Iraq, moved in with us in 2007, is now in grad school in NYC studying to be a podiatrist

-          Trevor, age 13 – 7th grade

-          Emma, age 10 – 4th grade

Parents –             deceased L

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time, assuming you have any?

Being a dad

Being politically involved

Drinking, but only to excess

Playing soccer, ice hockey and the banjo

Any time spent with Cheryl…and/or the kids

Favorite blogs/online spots – and/or – favorite movie/TV show? 

          Huffington Post, dailykos, rotoworld, fivethirtyeight, Of Politics, Sports and Sex

          TV show – Mad Men, Jon Stewart

What has been your best vacation and why?

          Two trips to Russia just before communism fell; cross-country bike trip in 1982

What have been the greatest challenges life has thrown your way?

          Parenting! And maybe harder – step-parenting. J

Retirement plans


          None yet!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Did you hear the one about the Priest, the Rabbi and the Greek guy...

Talking about religion is like talking about comedy. The more I analyze why it does or doesn’t work, the less I’m interested I am in it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

I’ve heard women complain that anytime a man is in the room women act differently. I’ve heard that given as a reason women like to get together with just their girlfriends because they all are so different when no man is present, no matter how unconscious of it they may be. (Side note – any time I’ve heard a woman say this, they never claim to be guilty of it themselves – it’s just their girlfriends who get weird.)
I never understood, observed or necessarily disagreed with that claim, but what I have observed is that there are only two situations where I have found that women totally ignore me:

1 – Parent/Teacher conferences
2 – When they are clothes shopping

Every Parent/Teacher conference I’ve ever been in with Cheryl where the teacher is a woman, the teacher talks 90+% of the time to Cheryl. Occasionally they’ll shoot me a glance maybe just to see if I’m paying attention, but rarely more than that.
But shopping is the environment in which I have seen some women show a side I have never seen anywhere else, where they become most aggressive, focused and oblivious to anyone else in their periphery. It’s a little unsettling. I’ve actually been taken aback seeing women reach across and in front of someone else who has the misfortune to be standing between the woman and her prey.

And in the shopping scenario, it's a little embarrassing to admit, but I was flattered when I noticed that women act differently around me when shopping than they do in other situations.

But now, the obvious question becomes – are men guilty of the same thing? Though I don’t know if guilt is the proper word there. I don’t know that there’s anything wrong with it. In fact, as I say, I think it’s kind of cool.
But as for me? Yeah, I’m sure I act differently when women are present…I mean, my buddies do, not me!

Thursday, February 20, 2014

...and another thing (That would make a great name for a blog!)

Two more thoughts while driving home last night, which, along with the toilet and the shower, are the times and places I do all my best thinking.

Still on the issue of validation being our goal in life (generally, not in every decision we make) piece of advice I'd always want to give my kids or anyone I could convince to listen to my advice/thoughts. To be well-liked, to be someone whose company is sought...OK two pieces of advice:

1 - Exceed expectations in everything you do - as an employee, as a friend, a parent, a partner, as a volunteer - and you are guaranteed success in life

2 - Be more of a validator than in need of validation. Make sure the people you come in contact with know how much you appreciate them, their talents, their gift, their sense of humor, what they do. As Miss Biedemeister told my mom when my mom was in 6th grade in Indianapolis, Indiana, you can always find something positive to say to someone. Even if you think your girlfriend's dress is the ugliest thing you've ever seen, she told her, you can always find one color, one pattern, one thing about it to say something nice about. Or as Sherry's Mom's friend Wally used to say about complementing the teenager or the developmentally disabled kid (redundant, I know) washing the windows at the Wawa, "What does it hurt me to tell him how beautiful the windows look?"


Now back to the original question about Jimmy Fallon.

At one point during his show, I found myself just so grateful that Jimmy Fallon is there...that anyone is there in place of Jay Leno. I did not like him at all, similar to, but not completely in the same way, as I didn't like Conan O'Brien, whose persona I really detest.

In Conan's case, not only have I never found anything about him even a little bit funny. (OK, I think I caught myself chuckling briefly ONE time!) He just makes me uncomfortable to watch. He makes me dislike myself for having spent 30 seconds watching him just to try one last time to see what anyone could possibly be amused by about him. And part of what upsets me is that he is meant to appeal to a younger demographic and that annoys me.

In Jay Leno's case, it annoyed me that he had higher ratings than Letterman or Kimmel, or even Stephen Colbert, when they are all way funnier. Leno was just so middle of the road and bland. I hated his delivery, I hated his band, and part of what upsets me is that he was meant to appeal to an older, blander, middle-of-the-road demographic andthat annoys me.

But I'm sure they are both exceptionally thoughtful people, and are kind to small animals!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

My sister Sherry asked me to post my comments on the first episode of the Tonight Show Monday night since it was the first show with Jimmy Fallon hosting.

This is what I had written on someone's facebook page, where they had asked for comments from anyone who had seen it:

I watched the first half hour or so, drifting in and out of sleep. My last thought after turning it off was that he achieved his stated goal. I went to sleep with a smile on my face (after the bit involving the $100, that I won't detail in case anyone hasn't seen it yet but wants to.)

Cheryl and I watched the rest of it last night, and despite an unusually bad U2 song, it was a really good show, full of the things JF is known and loved for. Will Smith was a great first guest. My favorite part of his involvement wasn't the dancing out the history of hi-hop dancing. Rather, it came when Jimmy asked him for advice on how to handle the pressure of hosting such an important show (as if hosting a TV show is important). But Will Smith expertly put it in the proper context.

He said that Jimmy should always remember that the most important thing is not to ever think what he's doing is about him. It's about the people watching, that their goal as entertainers is to brighten everyone else's day, and when he loses sight of that, as many people he's known in the entertainment business have, he will fail.

As I've written here in the past, I may be the only person I know over the age of about 30 who would like to be famous (though I've started to change my mind on that lately for no discernable reason). And the simple reason I'd want to be famous, and I mean paparazzi camped out in the woods famous, would be to see how I would handle it.

That's why fame fascinates me, and would be the main question I would ask any celebrity if I had time and their interest. How do they handle it? Is it worth it? What does it mean to them that they are so famous - what does it do for them internally and intrinsically?

I suspect it all fits my theory that the one thing we are all looking for in our lives is validation. We all want to know that we mean something to someone and that we have purpose. Even though I also believe we are all selfish at heart even when we do nice things for other people, what goes hand in hand with that, even though it seems completely contradictory, is that we want to know that what we are doing serves a purpose. We what to know that what is important to us and what we do well is also important to others. And what we know and believe is shared by or important to others.

We simply want to know that what we are doing has a positive impact on someone, and the more someones the better. 

But so yeah, what was the question? Oh right, yeah, it was a good show! I liked it.

Monday, February 17, 2014

There's snow memories like my memories

Backing down the luge chute that is our driveway this morning, with snow piled taller than me (I was tempted to say higher than me, but, well, I'm not that high!) in some places, I was reminded that growing up (and still living) on one of the many dirt roads in West Vincent township, I remember when it was cause for the first in the house to see a snowplow come through, because it often took days until it would happen, to yell out “The plow’s here! The plow’s here!”

I remember one storm in particular, back in the mid 60’s, when the drifts were taller than me, and it took 3-4 days before our road was cleared, which was not unusual. Now, when people complain about how inefficient government is, they use as an example that the plows didn’t come to their road within 3-4 hours, not days.

I didn't mind that it took plows that long to come through, for two reasons:

1 - There was no school until the roads were cleared, and

2 - It took me 3-4 days to shovel our driveway, two narrow strips, one for each pair of tires on each side of the car. Man, that was hard work. And I can remember Dad trying 3, 4, 5 times to try to make it up the driveway to the top, and after each failed attempt, backing all the way down and a little farther down our road, to get a better, faster start.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Handicrapping the Rs

According to Rear Clear Politics, these are the average polling numbers for the various Republican Presidential nominees:

PollDateChristie Ryan Bush Paul Huckabee Cruz Rubio Walker Jindal Spread
RCP Average12/14 - 1/2614.013.012.611.0-- +1.0

Here's my prediction with 3+ years to go:

Jindal, Walker, Rubio, and Cruz have no chance to win the nomination at this point (Rubio might someday, but not this time around, the others never will).

That leaves Huckabee, Paul, Bush, Ryan and Christie. I think this is the order of likelihood they could get nominated:

1 - Ryan
2 - Huckabee
3 - Christie (tho he would move up if he moves to the right)
4 - Paul
5 - Bush

And this is the order of likelihood they could win against a random Democrat:

1 - Christie
2 - Ryan
3 - Bush
4 - Huckabee
5 - Paul

And of those 5, I think only the top 2 have a chance to beat Hillary, tho any of the top 3 could win if they run a perfect campaign. Christie only needs to control his temper...and apparently his aides. And Ryan would need to show more international gravitas. Bush could win mostly by showing how unlike his brother he is...and he is, but most people don't know that.


Monday, January 13, 2014

So apparently, sometimes it isn't the just speaker who is doing the quaking, sometimes it's the listener.

Last week was a rough one for a lot of reasons, including the feeling that it seemed at times like my mission for the week was to upset people who mean so much to me, including Cheryl, Mike and another friend I think very highly of.

(Though as I later told Mike and Cheryl at dinner Friday night, at some point it also hit me that I may have had it backwards - that it was a week for people I love to piss me off!).

But then, in a job interview with a fellow Quaker, he told me about an encounter he had had some years back with a group, where the conversation became somewhat heated, with frank opinions being expressed with seeming little regard for the discomfort the statements may have aroused in those at whom the comments were directed.

When the group (which was a meeting of the committee to choose the winner of the very prestigious Newbury Book Award) was in the hallway taking a break from the discussion, one of the other committee people approached this Friend to apologize for the tone of her arguments and the discussion in general, to which he said:

"Don't worry about it! I'm a Quaker. We do this all the time!"

Friday, January 10, 2014

Well, not including the Republican primary voters

Recent bridge-related events remind me of something I had wanted to write about earlier in the week and now seem all the more relevant:

There is only one person who can keep Chris Christie or Hillary Clinton from becoming President and that is:

Chris Christie

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

I don't usually write about things like this, things that are going on in my personal life that is, even though Mike Rellahan once told me that he'd love it if this blog did only that - things that were going on in my day-to-day and that he'd way rather read about that than my stupid not-so witty observations I had on the wacky world around us. (OK, he probably said it in a nicer way than that, but that's the way I heard it.)

So here's what my week has been like:

Monday - a relatively slow start:

11am - a meeting with 5 people here at work, to discuss, among other things, all the meetings we need to have this week. Seriously. I made a list of 7 meetings we need to have. We'll end up combining many of them so we don't need to split them out separately.

Tuesday - the fun begins

10-11am - a Stewardship Meeting to discuss the meetings we need to have next month with our Conservation Biologists to discuss a whole list of issues we need to address regarding our path forward starting this year
Noon - 2:45 - lunch and an interview at the Friends School where I am Board President with a semi-finalist for the Head of School position, a very friendly, engaging likable fellow, followed by a discussion with the Search Committee about the remaining 2-3 candidates as well as a "situation" that has cropped up that depresses all of us
5:30 - 7pm - another meeting at school with an employee about a really tough personnel issue. The toughest day of my 7 years on the Board and 2.5 years as Board President - first time I've ever left the school sadder than when I got there.

Wednesday - more fun with meetings

8:20 - 9:25am - A meeting back at school with the Interim Head of School - a woman I greatly admire, who tells me a great story, almost like a parable, that she is using to illustrate a bigger point, though she doesn't come right and say so, which makes it all the cooler.
10-11:30am - a Project Meeting here at work with 7 of us to go over potential 2014 projects
Noon - 1pm - Another Meeting back at the school with: a Board member, the school Business Manager, the Associate Head of School/Director of Development, the President & CEO of the bank (originally I had the name of the bank the school uses, but I see that someone came to my site after googling the bank, so I'm removing it here) that the school uses and the Regional President too. Sounds worse that it was - they were a fun, well, fun-ish, group, talking for maybe 15 minutes about banking (they project that the number of banks in the USA will shrink by 50% in the next 3-5 years!) but more about the Eagles, Flyers and raising kids than anything else.
1:30 - 2:30 - another meeting back at work with an employee at one of our projects telling him that we are totally restructuring his responsibilities and our agreement with the HOA he and we had an arrangement with.

So, having outlined those 8 meetings in 3 days in way too much detail, I'll now mention the meeting I am most looking forward to this week. On Sunday evening, Emma came in to our bedroom, where I was lying on the bed reading the Sunday paper, plopped down next to me and said, "Dad, can we schedule some time together Thursday evening, just you and me, on the couch in the living room?"

(insert the sound of a heart melting here)
Oh sigh. Gawd, I love being a dad. What Buddy the Elf said about smiling, I'll say about being a dad:
"That's my favorite!"

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Just a quickie today, since I'm so busy. There have been and continue to be so many conversations in my house through the years that I wish I'd written down, so I'm going to try to remember to post some of them here.

Here's a recent one:

Cheryl, Trev, Emma and I had just finished eating dinner one night and Cheryl and I were trying to kids to get focused on all the things they have to do every night to get ready for bed on a school night:

 - eat "D" (dessert) (somehow they don't usually forget to do this one)
 - brush teeth
 - practice their instrument - Trev the drums, Emma they trumpet
 - do their "walk-through" where they walk through the house putting all their things back in their rooms
 - put 15 things away off the floor of their rooms (15 clumps a day?!)
 - read for 30 minutes

Yeah, it's a lot. So Cheryl and I were still sitting at the dining room table after dinner and as I say, Cheryl was getting more and more frustrated trying to get the kids to stop goofing around. Emma was in the room with us and Trev was in one of the other rooms, and here is the conversation that took place:

Cheryl, with an exasperated smile on her face: "Are you kids making it your goal to annoy me? Next one of you to annoy me gets killed!"

Emma, yelling to Trev (or "Guy" as she calls him) at the other end of the house: "Hey Guy - Mom says she wants you to come spend more time with her!"

10 years old, eh?

Monday, January 6, 2014

Of politics, sex and...toilet paper holders?!

GoodLordinheavenabove, as my Mom used to say. Or maybe it's me who says that, I forget. In any case, it's now been 50+ days since I last posted anything. I blame Judy Anderson for her amazing blog which she calls Clump-a-Day. It's easily the best blog I've ever seen by an amateur, and I mean that only in the sense that she hasn't tried to monetize it, to use a popular word these days. I keep waiting for her to disappoint me just once so my blog doesn't seem just incredibly inferior by comparison. I've been so transfixed by her incredible writing and photographic talent. I am just waiting for a publisher to come across her work and turn it into a book. Or maybe a page-a-day calendar, a la Louise Hay, like the one I buy for Cheryl for Christmas every year.

But I'm going to recognize that his isn't a competition and that we all have our gifts to share, and more importantly, this blog isn't written to please anyone else necessarily. It's just for me for fun, and maybe for my kids someday if they come across it.

At least that's what I tell myself. More truthfully, even though my analytics tell me that my weekly online page views have dropped from the 50's to only 4 last week, I also know that Laurie, Molly, Sherry and now Judy A. too, I think, and possible Kate, all get an email when I post something, and as Mike Rellahan once inadvertently warned me, one can find oneself writing through the expectant eyes of my 4-5 (!) readers instead of what I have really been thinking about writing about or want to write about, regardless of my audience and how I might upset them.

And the longer I've gone without writing anything at all, the more I am hesitant to post my latest thoughts say, on the link between the downfall of western civilization and toilet paper holders.

(insert colorful photo of one here in your mind, please)
Never mind, here's one so you don't have to do the work:

So, to counter my hesitations, I've set an automatic reminder on my outlook calendar every weekday at 4:30, hopefully after I've gotten quite a bit completed here at work for the day, to make a blog post. I have a number of ideas stored up in my leaky brain, so hopefully, I'll be spilling them out here in the days weeks months to come.
So you have that to look forward to...leaking posts about toilet paper holders, I mean.

Friday, November 15, 2013

My loyal reader...and equally loyal sister, Sherry, called me the other day with a few suggestions for this blog, one of which was to clarify the first half of my previous post about the basketball player, which I have since done. I had a feeling it was confusing when I wrote it, and since she read it quickly twice and didn't get it, that was enough reason for me to go back to edit it.

Her second suggestion was that I write my thoughts on the NFL bullying case that has been such a topic of conversation around the country the past few weeks.

My thought is this: ______________.

I have no thought on it for the overly simple reasons that:
a) For some reason, I just really don't care
b) I don't like to judge and
c) I am a big believer that to really be qualified to express an opinion on something, one has to gather as much evidence as possible coming to a fair conclusion. To truly understand that case, I'd need to read what the victim was alleging, what the alleged bully said about that, and then what the team owners and coaches and even his teammates had to say about it, just to see if what was alleged was true...which takes me back to a) above.

I was bullied a little in 9th grade, but not much. Enough that it was one of the reasons my parents gave to want to send me to Westtown, but I didn't have a lot of courage in those days, so antagonism of any sort seemed pretty scary to me. So yeah, I don't like bullies, and won't try to defend them. But I also know there is a certain amount of acceptable hazing that goes on in pro sports that is just team camaraderie-type stuff, which is not that big a deal to me.

In this case, it's like the situation with the Notre Dame star football player last year and something about a fake online girlfriend? I really have no idea or very little what went on there even though people were talking about it everywhere I went and on every late night talk show I watched. I just didn't care. That is personal life stuff that just doesn't concern me and I'm not comfortable judging the person/people involved or analyzing their personal choices.

So, sorry, Shez. I'm the wrong one to ask about that sort of thing. But thanks for the idea and for the editorial feedback, which is always welcome.

Monday, November 11, 2013

If you disagree with this, I'll forgive you

Driving home Friday night, at some point the juxtaposition of two otherwise seemingly unrelated thoughts drew me to an unlikely conclusion.

The first thought centered around Andrew Bynum, who was returning to play against the 76ers that night. As backround, when the 76ers traded (an awful lot) to get him last season, he was one of the top players in basketball. It was only after getting him that the extent of an injury he had became partially, and eventually fully known. As a result, he never played a single game for the 76ers and the fans have made it clear on sports talk radio that they resent him for it, not just because they were so excited to get him and their team gave up so much for him and ended up with nothing, but because it was alleged that after he had one bad knee and had missed half the season, it was reported that he then hurt his other knee...bowling! With half the season yet to play! And then when the season ended there was a youtube video posted of him dancing the salsa in Spain, on the knees he supposedly couldn't play on.

But now with his contract ended with Philly, he is playing for another team, and is just the proverbial shell of his former playing self, averaging half the minutes and less than a quarter of the points and rebounds he had before he was hurt.

So there was an expectation, since met, was that the 76ers fans were coming to the game more to boo Bynum than to cheer their hometown Sixers. Even though I am a fan of the Sixers and understood why the fans were upset, I felt myself feeling more sorry for the player than angry with him. And, as I say, I felt a certain amount of sympathy for him.

My second line of thinking was being upset with myself for some relatively innocuous thing I'd said earlier that day. I can't even remember what it was now, but it was similar to something I'd said earlier in the week that I still wish I could take back.  I was walking into a meeting with a prospective Head of West Chester Friends School and was introduced as the President of the Board, which I virtually never identify myself as, usually just saying I'm a member of the Board, lest it seem I'm trying to impress anyone.

Someone else in the room, who I admire greatly, then said "He's a very important person!" And when I looked at her, she had her usual big smile that let me know she was just kidding me, but complimenting me at the same time. All I could think of, having somewhat being put on the spot, was that she was right, but only in terms of Trev and Emma and the rest of my family, but under the pressure of the moment, with all eyes on me, all I could think to say was "I am, to some people."

It wasn't until 5-10 minutes later that I thought back to that exchange and thought - what a dolt! That was worse than if I had just identified myself as the President in the first place. It both seemed condescending and self-righteous in one badly played sentence. And I've been trying to find a way to go back to her to apologize ever since. But then I think it seems self-absorbed to even come back to it at all and she has probably long forgotten it.

And so I'm kicking those thoughts around, thinking how unnecessarily hard I'm being on myself when it hit me:

Liberals are much more forgiving of other people than they are of themselves and conservatives are more likely to be just the opposite.

Friday, October 25, 2013

I have a feeling there are just enough obsessed teenage Taylor Swift fans, if any of them were to google deep enough into her name that she'll come across this, that I feel obliged to pass along this story from a friend, who is also a Friend, for those most devoted fans, who might actually be interested in this, unlike my 4-5 regular readers, not including the dozen or so who've visited from the Russian Federation, according to the Live Traffic Feed down the right hand side of my page.

I had heard from my F/friend Howard that a mutual friend had lived across the street from Taylor Swift when she lived up in the Wyomissing area. I'll only identify him as Taylor L., both because that is his name and because that is relevant to the rest of this story.

Actually, I'll let Wikipedia tell some background to the story, edited down somewhat:

Taylor Alison Swift was born on December 13, 1989 in Reading, Pennsylvania. Her father, Scott Swift, is a Merrill Lynch financial adviser.  Her mother, Andrea (née Finlay), is a homemaker who previously worked as a mutual fund marketing executive. She spent the early years of her life on an eleven-acre Christmas tree farm in Cumru Township, Pennsylvania. When Swift was nine years old, the family moved to a rented house in the suburban town of Wyomissing, Pennsylvania.

Swift's family owned several Quarter horses and a Shetland pony and her first hobby was English horse riding. Her mother first put her in a saddle when she was nine months old and she later competed in horse shows. At the age of nine, Swift became interested in musical theatre. She performed in many Berks Youth Theatre Academy productions. Swift then turned her attention to country music.

At the age of twelve, Swift was shown by a computer repairman how to play three chords on a guitar, inspiring her to write her first song, "Lucky You", and now began to focus on songwriting.
When Swift was fourteen, her father transferred to the Nashville office of Merrill Lynch and the family relocated to a lakefront house in Hendersonville, Tennessee. Swift later described this as "an incredible sacrifice" for her family to make.

Taylor Swift sits and leans over her oak guitar while picking a string
Swift performing at age 17 in 2006

Not being a close friend of Taylor L's, I  had never approached him directly about his story, but when we started emailing about something else having to do with Martin Luther King and Bayard Rustin, I decided to ask him if the story about his young neighbor was true.

Here is our exchange:

From: Jamie
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 4:26 PM
To: Taylor L.

Thanks for that, Taylor. I’m more impressed however, by the rumor that Taylor Swift grew up across the street from you? Now THAT’s historically significant! (kidding, but still cool if true.)
From: Taylor L.
Sent: Monday, August 26, 2013 5:46 PM
To: Jamie McVickar


It is not a rumor, Scott Swift bought the small truck farm across the road from us and later the small farm adjacent to us on our side of the road. Some years later he married Andrea, then Taylor and her younger brother were born. Scott was under privileged in that he did not grow up on a farm so I taught how to do a lot of things around his farm and helped him with the care of a part of the orchard.

The Swifts had horses and built a riding and jump rink. Taylor learned horses at an early age and seemed quite good with them. Other than the horses and a monster swing set Scott built for her, she was not an out-doors girl. Some years ago a TV program featured Taylor correctly explaining pictures of her on the horse farm on which she lived as a child. The announcer then thanked Taylor for describing her horse farm in Wyomissing. (Those living in the 1/2 to 30 million dollar close together houses in Wyomissing make sure there are no horse farms in Wyomissing.)

The Swifts sold the farm and moved to a rented house with one of the best addresses in Wyomissing when Taylor was about 10 years of age. Her publicity says she is a Wyomissing native. She is a Cumru Township, Freemansville Road, native and only lived in Wyomissing about four yeas before moving to Nashville, TN. Scott and Andrea were good level headed people, it is not surprising that Taylor seems to be the same.

From: Jamie
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 11:37 AM
To: Taylor L.

Wow, this is a great story, Taylor, thanks. I saw a recent story, in the Inquirer maybe, or NY Times about the family who bought their house and is now selling it. The article gave the address and just for fun, I googled it and it was more McMansion than farm, so I wondered about the farm references until I read your email which better explains things. I am a fan of her music and her approach to her celebrity status, which as too many young women (Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, Miley Cyrus) have shown, is not an easy road to navigate.

Obviously her parents showed their appreciation for your help on their farm by naming their first born child after you. J

From: Taylor L.
Sent: Tuesday, August 27, 2013 9:16 PM
To: Jamie McVickar


Your saying "naming their first born child after you" may be an overstatement.  When she was born, Scott came over to announce the birth and her name, he said that one of the names Andrea considered was Taylor (Taylor was becoming a popular girl's name at this time) and Scott said I was a pretty good fellow and thus he had no objection to the name Taylor.

So now you know the rest of the story. Kinda cool.

Friday, October 18, 2013

This is no great revelation, but I think that whether or not you like a movie has a lot to do with the mood or mental space you are in when you see it. I once saw a movie called Far Away with Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman that I absolutely loved, but it didn't get good reviews, and in retrospect probably wasn't as great as I thought it was at the time. But I saw it with a girl I was really into at the time and it was a beautiful spring evening and we had a really fun time that night.

Similarly with Saturday Night Fever, as Mike Rellahan continues to torment me about. I think I saw that movie 3 times when it came out and it was at the right time in my life. I can remember trying, even successfully to some extent, to copy some of the dance moves, OK maybe just one in particular, from that movie in parties I went to at Earlham that spring, my senior year. (If I tried the same move now, I would permanently rip most of the ligaments and cartilage in both knees.)

So, all that is prelude to explaining my reaction to this 9+ minute video:

It is a TED Talk and deals primarily with the importance of making the most of every day we live. Well, we can't really do that in the way we think we should. I can't go out everyday and do whatever my heart desires. We all, most of us, gotta earn a living, gotta take care of our families, gotta write our blog posts (more often than some of us actually do).

But I'm thinking more of the days when I don't have those responsibilities, primarily on weekends. My favorite time of every day is when my car pulls in at the top of our driveway coming home from work and I start the 10-yard walk up to our amazing house which always seems so full of all kinds of love and joy and energy.

As I said about 12 years ago when Cheryl, Ev and Liss moved in, that walking into our house each night was like when Dorothy stepped out of her black and white house into full-color munchkin land, not knowing what excitement was heading her way. For me it was true on a daily basis but also in the even bigger picture, where my life up until then had been black and white and now, with Cheryl and the kids coming into it, made it so full of color and excitement.

But getting back to the video and my weekends, as I say, my favorite time of every day is coming home from work, but my favorite time of every week is the first 2-3 hours after I wake up Saturday morning, when I go out and get the Philadelphia Daily News, bring it back, usually with a donut, tho since I started this diet I've been on for 45 days now, no donut, but still a big cup of coffee and I lie on my bed and read the paper, do the 5-star hard sudoku and just do plenty o nuthin. Then I slowly rev up to go out and do 2-4 hours of yard work, which I also enjoy way more than I ever thought I would.

But so the point is that I wonder if I'm being too selfish with my Saturdays, especially with two growing children in the house. Am I making the most of that time? I've practically lost the window with Trev who would rather spend all day on Minecraft, but once we boot him off, he'd probably still do something with me if it were interesting enough. And Emma would love to do just about anything outside the house, I think.

Last Sunday at 1:00, another of my great selfish joys came along: watching an Eagles game on a Sunday afternoon, which has gotten harder and harder to do since I started this awesome family. I was all set, ready to watch, had made a nice lunch for myself, had cleaned up the kitchen, done an hour or so of cleanup outside, when Emma came up to me and asked if I'd go down in the yard and play soccer with her. I sighed and said No Freakin Way! The Birds game is on!

Just kidding, I went down and kicked the ball around and played on the swingswith her and walked around the property a little and then came back and watched the game. Now I have to admit, the decision was made easier by my being able to DVR the game to watch later, but having watched that video above, at least it had a short term impact on me.

My goal now is to make it a long term change as well. Ask me about it sometime down the road to see if I kept to it, please. Oh, and give yourself a gift of taking 10 minutes to watch that video, please.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Spending time with two of my favorite women in a bar last night (sounds like a country song is about to git writ), my wife and also my sister, Laurie, we came to a little bit of a revelation.

There was a big campaign a year or so back called the It Gets Better Project (, intended " communicate to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth around the world that it gets better."

Here's the video:

And I think it goes without saying that that message is equally applicable to anyone in those tough teen years, especially, when you question where you fit in and wonder if you're doing "it" right...doing everything right...doing anything right.

And to anyone under the age of about 30 who is going through a bad stretch, it's a great message to tell them that It Gets Better.

What Laurie, Cheryl and I realized last night is that past a certain age, when one is going through a bad stretch, particularly with family or health problems, the way to feel better about your current situation?

It Only Gets Worse.

So, remind yourself: These are the good old days!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

I don't know which part about Miley Cyrus' VMA performance I liked least:

 - how raunchy it was and the message it sends to both young males and females about what is expected and is acceptable for a young woman to do in public, or

 - that that was my reaction to it.

It makes me sound like our parent's generation used to sound talking about anyone from Elvis Presley to Madonna. And things like that don't get better in future performances, they only get worse, especially given the impact on TV ratings and the publicity they generate for the performer. So, we have that to look forward to.

On the other hand, there was a story on Huffington Post yesterday showing clips from Miley's new video coming out soon, featuring her naked on a wrecking ball (yes, you read that right) and well, yeah, I clicked on it and watched (and no, I'm not including a link here). 

But she kept her tongue in her mouth so it was fine.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Most people love fireworks. I never really understood why until I figured out a week or two ago that I like fireworks sort of in the same way I like sex.

The first 10 minutes or so of fireworks is like foreplay. It's fun and all, but I'm mostly just looking forward to the grand finale.

At least until I met Cheryl that is! (Seriously.)

Sometimes I think my kids will get a kick out of this blog some day when they stumble across it and then there are posts that make me hope they never find it...and after reading this one, they will probably feel the same way.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Miscellaneous thoughts, all in one post, since none of them seem worthy of their own post:

Jamie's Rules:

 - The word "dish" should only be used in relation to food and never to words, as in: Matt Lauer dishes on Katie Couric! The most annoying thing about the way this has come to be used is that, in the unfortunate event one should try to read such drivel, it is mostly just the first person describing something about the second person that none of us would associate with our usual expectation of what we might see.


Why are only women ever described as being "sassy" or having sass? I guess a male can sass someone: "Don't you sass me, boy!", which along with the phrase "Oh no, you didenh!" has to be said in the supposed tongue of a large black woman, but you'll never see a male described as sassy anywhere.


According to my analytics, someone found my blog by googling: I'd like to be able to say that I just really don't even want to know, but I guess I did since I googled it. Nothing in google matched those words, but the bigger question is how the heck did that bring them to my site?

Other ways people got here? By googling: sports and sex and Taylor Swift in a bra. Sorry to disappoint you guys.


In the past week, 93 people from Russia have visited my site.

Ochin Pryatna, (former) comrades! Menya savute Jamie!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Note to self: Instead of trying to get ourselves to stop buying things we don't need, Cheryl and I should start wearing high heels when we shop.

TUESDAY, Aug. 27 (HealthDay News) -- The higher your heels, the smarter the shopper you will be.
That's according to new research that found having to focus on physical balance tends to lead to more balanced buying decisions.

"If you're someone who tends to overspend, or you're kind of an extreme person, then maybe you ought to consider shopping in high heels," study author Jeffrey Larson, a marketing professor at Brigham Young University, said in a university news release.

His team found that when consumers' minds are focused on staying balanced, they are more likely to consider all of their buying options and choose a mid-range product, as opposed to something high-end or of low quality.

Yo, Jeff, did you also consider the possibility that when you're wearing heels, your feet hurt so damn much, you don't want to spend all day shopping in them, you want to just get home and change into something more comfortable? Huh? Didja, huh?

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Plus ca change, plus ca change.

Among the many things to remind us of how the world has changed since the 60’s when I was growing up, here’s one more.

The Phillies signed pitchers last week from these 3 teams:

-      The Normal Corn Belters

-      The Washington Wild Things

-      The Canberra Calvary
Possibly also worth noting...Two of the signed guys’ most recent ERA’s were 13.50 and 5.93.

Phillies add two new right-handers to GCL roster

The Phillies have needed some pitching help lately at the lower levels and have reached into the ranks of independent baseball and the Australian Baseball League for help. In the past week, they’ve signed three young pitchers, with the latest two joining the GCL Phillies.

Last week it was left-hander Ryan Demmin, who was signed by the Phillies after his contract was purchased from the Normal Corn Belters of the independent Frontier League. Demmin made a start for Lakewood last Friday, going eight innings and allowing just two unearned runs, which unfortunately was enough for him to suffer the loss. In the ever-popular procedural roster moves, Demmin was shuttle back-and-forth between Lakewood and Clearwater and there are rumors that he is heading to Reading to make a start for the Fightin Phils later this week.

Over the past few days, the Phillies have also signed two right-handers, Jordan Elliott and Chris Motta.

Elliott, who is a graduate of Delaware State, had his contract purchased from the Washington Wild Things of the Frontier League. According to one Phillies scout, Elliott was on the Phillies list of potential draftees in this past year’s draft, but they didn’t believe they would have room for him on a roster. Now, with pitching getting thin, they have signed him to a minor league deal for the remainder of the season.

In five seasons with Delaware State, Elliott was a combined 28-13 with a 4.08 ERA in 62 games, 55 of which were starts. With Washington this season, Elliott pitched in two games for a combined 1 1/3 innings and posted an ERA of 13.50 as a Wild Thing. He holds school records for wins (28), Innings Pitched (329) and is third in strikeouts (248).

Motta, pitched for the Canberra Cavalry of the Australian Baseball League last season. Motta made 12 starts for Canberra and was 3-3 with an ERA of 5.93, walking 30 and striking out 46 in 57 2/3 innings of work. Motta graduated from Concordia University and was recommended to the Cavalry by former Phillies pitcher Steve Schrenk, who is a former manager of the Cavalry.

Motta started his career at Concordia as a catcher and volunteered to take to the mound when the pitching staff was worn thin. A scout saw him pitching and recommended to him that he abandon catching for a career as a pitcher. Motta took the advice and finished his career at Concordia as a pitcher, going 1-1 with a 5.30 ERA in 10 relief appearances, totaling 18 innings.


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

In fact, just the thought of it gives me a hashtagging headache.

Call me Old School but I don't use hashtags. I use the pound sign.

There was another one of "those" studies that came out recently that "found that employees who have sex frequently have significantly higher salaries than those who don't."

This raises a number of questions for me:

1 - When employers start to wonder if employee productivity has started to wane, should they encourage their employees to hook up with each other...maybe even re-purpose a little-used conference room? People people! I need your attention. I'm passing around a sign-up sheet for the Conubial Room for everyone so we can perk things up around here! Please remember to check off whether you would rather be paired up with your same gender, the other one, or for a solo session."

2 - Does it count just as much if one is uh, self-enjoying? Or could one do better by visiting some ladies of the evening? (Maybe that too should be in the employee benefit package if it helps the company.) But so was any of that covered in the study? Huh - was it?!

Oh darn - I just read past the headline to the rest of the article. It says that "The link between sexual activity and wages is the highest among employees between the ages of 26 and 50."

Talk about your diminishing returns. Time for a study that determines if there is a link between the theory that women lose interest, and men lose some physical ability after age 50 (neither of which happen to be true in our household, I feel it unfortunate though necessary to add!) with this study. Do wages decrease as the activity does? Or is it vice versa? Are people already satisfied with the income levels at those ages and don't need to increase it?

I think I need to write a government grant to study this further. Just don't count me in as a volunteer...unless they pay me...and it increases my income. Or maybe that's why it was true in the first place.

News item:

Reading Fightin Phils – Double A

The Reading Fightin Phils split a doubleheader with the Altoona Curve at Peoples Natural Gas Field in Altoona, Pa.

I’m not sure I’d want to go to a game at a stadium honoring Peoples Natural Gas.

It struck me today that as much as we on the left like to make fun of our right-wing friends for all the mistakes they've made in predicting the results of the Obama Presidency (still waiting for the economic collapse, the double digit inflation and stock market crash), we were just as wrong about the GW Bush Presidency.

Obama has been so, so much better than the Rs predicted, to their great dismay, and GWB was so, so much worse than we our great dismay.

Monday, August 12, 2013

It sometimes bugs me how many Republicans are constantly booked on the Sunday morning political talk shows - the most obvious, quantitative measure of how the main stream media skews to the right - all statistics show there are consistently more men, more Republicans, more white folks booked on those shows than Dems, women or minorities.

But after yesterday, I'm starting to think it's not such a bad thing, as explained by this article in Huffington Post:

As the author wrote: "Here is a message to the Republican Party, from me: Guys, I don't know if you've noticed this, but you are getting rooked pretty badly by the Sunday shows. Did y'all wake up today thinking that the best thing for your message was to have it carried by guys like Trump and Louis Gohmert and Steve King? I am guessing that's not the case. But that's who got booked, because nothing is better for ratings than a bunch of hot messes on the teevee."

"Look, Republican Party, there is probably nothing you can do about Donald Trump, because he is a unique, sparkling gas-sack unto himself. But can you guys see about keeping Gohmert and King occupied on Sunday mornings? Maybe give them both a sack of jacks and a rubber ball to bounce, or something? It would make my life better and it might even make your jobs easier as well."

It's kind of like the Republican debates, where the more people watched, the more people laughed at pretty much everything about the right-wing, from cheering the death penalty and their willingness to let people without health care just die to booing Iraq War vets. Shameful, yet shameless.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Interesting how according to the metrics/analytics of this blog, some of which only I can see and some of which can be seen down the right hand side of this blog, all the most viewed posts on this blog are of things having to do with sex or have pictures of sexy women (I should gratuitously add one here just to get more hits), but generally the only posts that get comments are on politics and are from the usual kinds of blog trolls, most of whom, from reading their writing, seemed to have dropped out of school in about 5th grade, which only seems to reinforce the stereotype of the standard uneducated Republican voter.

And oddly, the more stupidity I see in the comments only embolden me to write more about politics so said trolls have a chance to see a point of view they don't generally see from the overwhelmingly right-wing, conservative mainstream media that they feed on.

It's also remarkable how rarely the comments address anything I actually wrote in the post. More often, they see the topic and without speaking to the point I've made or trying to think it through and analyze the concepts (again the 5th grade education thing), they just pull the string in their backs and recite the right wing mantras that have virtually no basis in fact or merit.

And even more telling is how they all prefer to stay anonymous, hiding behind their screens, afraid to present themselves as clearly as I do, with no fear of their angry, self-incriminating comments. I actually feel sorry for them, that they don't have more pride in themselves.

One exception was a post some time back by a local gentleman named Anthony Oleck, who did have the courage to identify himself and I respect him for that. I actually wrote him a response to his comment, but it never posted for some reason. I thanked him for reading and for his comment and gave a few reasons why I didn't agree, and I also told him that I had written the editor of the Daily Local News and suggested that he and I do a weekly column in the paper debating any given topic, keeping the vitriol out of it, but presenting strong, fact-based arguments for our points of view.

Sadly, but predictably, the email to the editors of the Local was not responded to, probably for fear that they would be forced to actually present an occasional progressive view of something on a regular basis, which must have terrified them.

So, Mr. Oleck, if you check in again, thanks for reading, and for your comments.