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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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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Strangers in the night...and the people we met in Providence, too - PART Three of Three

My third of 3 stories about the people Cheryl and I met in our last 24 hours in Providence is maybe the least interesting to me, at least in the long-term, though he was certainly the most entertaining. If I were to write a transcript of the entire conversation I had with this very Italian-American gentleman, you probably would think I was either making it up or was furthering stereotypes that have been promoted through the years regarding people of his heritage.

I met him our last morning, as we waited in line, again, this time for about 45 minutes for an amazing breakfast in a restaurant that was about half the size of the room you’re sitting in right now. (Yeah, that’s right – I can see you from where I sit…and you look good!). It only had 4 tables, 2 of which sat two people, the other two sat no more than 4.

As we waited outside the building (semi-needless to say, but I will anyway, there was no room to wait inside), I saw a few chairs sitting out front of the real estate office next to our restaurant. After about 5 minutes of my sitting there, the owner of the real estate company came out to sit with me. Over the next half hour, I again pretty much got his whole life story, how he was the youngest of eight kids and had spent the last 34 years in business with his father. “I must be doin’ something right, right?! I’m the chosen one!”

(And I should pause here to make sure you understand that as you read each of his quotes, to use your mind’s thickest New York City Italian accent. Let’s limber up a little. Say “Fuhgetaboutit!” Nah, you gotta hit it heavier, really let the accent drip “FUHgetABOUTIT!” Or maybe that should be “fuhGETaboutit!” OK, I think you’re there. And make sure to bob your head and swirl your hands, touching the person next to you on the arm constantly as you talk. Right – I can see there is no one sitting next to you, so just pretend. Now go back and read that last quote again. Go ahead, I’ll wait.                                     Good – you got it now.)

So anyway, he and his dad had started in the car business together. I apologize for admitting that when I heard that, I envisioned chop shops and car insurance scams. Now they are apparently fairly successful real estaters, though as he pointed at each of the properties in sight that they had bought, I wondered how long they would have to wait for the neighborhood to come back for them to make any kind of profit unless they’d acquired the land for free.

So here are my three favorite things he told me during his rambling verbal autobiography:

1 – “When we got started in this business, (are your hands moving? Is your accent a-drip?), I had what ya call a confidence problem, can ya imagine? So I asked this buddy of mine, OK, he was my therapist, if I could take the class he was teaching - a psychology class, and he said “David – what you wanna take that for? But he let me, so it was the last day of the class and when I walked in, he picked me out of everyone and said ‘David – your assignment for today is to spend class writing whatever you’re thinking about right now.’ So I says, OK, but I got one request – can I step outside for a minute, and he said ‘Sure” so I walked back out the door, went all the way down the steps to the street and walked back up and when I walked in, he said ‘Yo, David, what was that about?!’ and I says ‘I had to go out and count the steps I had to take to walk from the street up to this classroom – it was 122 steps and they were the most important 122 steps I ever took in my life!’ And I been fine ever since.”

2 – “I got two daughters just got engaged this summer. I know, everyone says the same thing: ‘Is that ever gonna be expensive!’ but that’s not how I’m lookin’ at it. I figure it’s great that I can help ‘em. And they’re marrying two great guys, two bulls! And by that I mean, big guys, big Italian fellas. Now I know – we’re all one, but I been tellin’ ‘em since they were little, and (interrupting himself) they’d always say, ‘Dad – why don’t you just come out and say it – you want us to marry Italian boys!’ and I’d say ‘Yeah, I guess that’s true’. But the way I figure it, I know we’re all one and everything, but I figure it’s all about the food and the heritage and the…well, actually it’s just all about the food! (and he wasn’t laughing – he was totally serious.)

3 – Believe it or not, my favorite thing he said, apropos of nothing – totally, at least through my waspy filter, unrelated to whatever stage he happened to be on in his life story, in the middle of his story he threw in a…wait for it…:

But I can’t, and hope I never will.


Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Strangers in the night...and the people we met in Providence, too - PART TWO

If you are reading this post without having first read the one underneath it, Cheryl and I spent most of a week in Providence, Rhode Island recently, for my annual work conference and this is the second of three parts, about a few of the characters we met there.
After settling in on our restaurant choice that last night, the 3rd of the recommendations our legally/morally/karmically-challenged friend had made, we were sitting at the bar, killing time until our table would be ready in 25…no 40…how about close to 90 minutes. Cheryl was responding on her phone to an Etsy order while I was content to watch the people around the bar and small restaurant, making up stories in my mind about each one as to the relationships of the couples or intentions of the others. Seemed like quite a few middle-aged women hoping to be noticed or remarked on by someone, anyone, if only by the girlfriend they were sharing their drinks or meal with.

One woman, I noticed, was sitting by herself at the bar, immediately to Cheryl’s left, but at an angle, where the bar turned back toward the kitchen.  She was, again, in our general age range, and was attractive and had an air both of unhidden confidence as well as unease, as would I, were I sitting alone at a bar, or a restaurant, or hell, just about anywhere in public.
As the bar waitress brought her her dinner, the waitress introduced herself, apologizing for having forgotten the woman’s name, obviously wanting to keep her happy as a semi-regular patron.

When Cheryl finished her business, she casually yet with unfeigned importance, asked the woman what she had ordered because it looked so darn good!  As with our troubled friend who had steered us here, over the next 20-30 minutes we had a conversation of great focus and conclusion with this woman, again, never catching her name, though as Marion Paroo might say, I don’t believe she ever dropped it.
Over the course of the conversation, we learned that she owned a business that she had built from scratch and was now earning (presumably grossing) millions of dollars a year, though she seemed apologetic that they hadn’t hit ten million yet, but seemed equally energized about getting there. And incredibly to me, she only has 5 employees…not including the factory in Vietnam where the private label clothes she markets are made.

As we talked about her business, interrupted, as I recall, only by her interest in knowing more about Quakers, we discussed the qualities most important to her success, and I referred back to a conversation I had had hours earlier with the Chair of our Board in discussing the quality he feels we should look for above all others in the search for a successor to the current, soon to retire, President of our company. And that is the ability, as I came to phrase it, to just be really good at being a Human Being.
When I told her of that conversation and that conclusion, she paused, looked away for a moment, considered it, looked back at me and said with an air of revelation and finality, “Yeah, that’s exactly it. To grow our business, we all have to be really good at being…Human Beings.”

And soon our table was ready, we thanked each other for a nice conversation, wished each other well and went on with our lives…endeavoring to be Really Good Human Beings.
(And in retrospect, in Jamie world, Providence Friend A will run into Providence Friend B and solve all each others’ unapparent issues of loneliness and purpose. )




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Strangers in the night...and the people we met in Providence, too - PART ONE

Cheryl and I spent most of the week before last in Providence, Rhode Island, for my annual work conference, which is alternately boring, informative and loads of fun. Yes, and occasionally even easy to dance to.

Cheryl has been coming the last two years – New Orleans last year – and we have such a great time. This year, it seemed like we were making friends whenever/wherever we went out. This is the first of three stories about people we met.

The last night we were there, as we were walking to the Federal Hill district, which is full of great restaurants, we stopped at an intersection for a red light as an especially loud motorcycle whizzed by.
The next 10 minutes were like a scene from a movie, with a particularly intriguing character inserting himself momentarily into our lives and then disappearing into the night for good but not yet from my psyche, days later.

I’d love to write it like a novel, but don’t really have time or talent to do it justice. He was 50-something, he gave us his age, actually, but I forget. He was quite overweight, but seemed in fairly good health otherwise. Kind of like me, come to think of it. He seemed to just appear out of the dark and started talking to us by complaining about the noise of the motorcycles that keep him up on the weekends from his apartment in The Regency, he told us, pointing back over his shoulder.

We sympathized and from there, within a matter of a few minutes, we found out more about his life to date than I dare say we know about some of our close friends. He hates living in Providence but accepts it because he totally ruined his very successful life in Manhattan and now has no reason to live and nothing to look forward to, except getting totally blacked-out drunk every night. And this was the reason he entered into our life by chance – he was on his way out this night, to find his hard liquor of choice for the evening to help him forget where he was and more importantly, why.

He was a very well-spoken, funny, insightful person. I was half-tempted to ask him to join us for dinner...and I half-expected him to ask. Instead, he gave us the run down on each of the many restaurants on the street: “That one looks really great from the outside, but they have really crappy food.” “If you like Italian, try either Andino’s or Castelletos…but definitely don’t go to that place (pointing across the street).”

As we approached the liquor store, he slowed down and told us to have a nice evening. We told him to do the same and he said “Oh, that’s impossible. I’m really no good to anyone.” To which I told him, “Well, you have been to us, so that’s a start!”

I’m not sure he heard me, or even wanted to. So we walked on to find the first of his recommendations, each of them coming up within the next 2-3 blocks, and suddenly he was back by our side, inexplicably no longer interested in the store he’d just walked into. This pattern repeated itself a number of times, his saying goodbye, wishing us luck, disappearing into a bar/restaurant/pizzeria, and then suddenly reappearing alongside us, continuing his story, telling us how he’d gone to Tulane, sold time-shares there to make hundreds of dollars a week while a student, and how to know when he was going to find a sucker, based primarily on how they were dressed, one time tripping his best friend while they were in a dead sprint to be the first one to get to a couple of rubes from Alabama dressed in leisure jogging suits, which was a sure sign of success from his standpoint.

But through it all, there was an active lack of self-worth. He embraced it, accepted it, and would not consider any alternative. His life was permanently ruined and there was no chance of life parole. And somewhere among the restaurant reviews and the references to his huge financial successes in NYC, and colorful tales of his past exploits, he lowered his voice slightly and said, almost as if he were saying it to himself, to remind himself yet one more time of the reason for the hard path his life had taken, “I guess the lesson is that your lies catch up with you.”

He shook his head a few times as if it were a combination of trying to shake the memory or pain out of his head while also still in disbelief that he had been on top of the world not too long previous and now only had a bottle to look forward to each night.

Finally, he found the place he really wanted or at least thought he did, and he was off to complete his life and we were off to ours.




Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Oh, the pain! (Or...An Ode to Pain)

Another thought on my hurried post of 8/22/14 below about Validation and the need not just to control our destinies but the importance of overcoming adversity.

My point, or more directly, my emphasis there is not meant to ignore adversity completely. In fact, I think it’s crucial that we embrace Pain. Honor it. Work through it. Wrestle with it. Wring its neck, but not until you’ve squeezed every drop of agony and emotion and, well, pain, that you can before saying OK, done – get outta here. I am not going to let you or the event that caused me this pain, define me. I am better than you and I am stronger than you. I am going to honor what I’ve lost by making myself a better, stronger person because of you’ve put my through.

Hmmm…I didn’t really intend this to be a personal letter to Pain, and I hope it doesn’t mind me taking our personal correspondence public.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Even less time tonight than yesterday, so I real quickie here. It se...

I actually started this post almost 8 months ago, and it turns out I wasn't kidding. I didn't even have time to get through the 2nd sentence!

But incredibly, I still remember what I was going to say.

It se...ems to me that ever since he took the job, where we progressives have been wanting Obama to move Fast-Forward, and conservatives have been wanting him to move in Reverse, his approach from day one has been to simply move at the speed of Play.

And in the end, or at least 5+ years into his 8 year Presidency, the economy has continued to improve from where we had been losing nearly 800,000 jobs a month and are now disappointed, like this morning, when we gain less than 200,000/month; we have national health care; gays have the right to marry in a growing number of states (and, I predict by the end of his second term, the Supreme Court will be forced against their preference to admit that discriminating against gays is in fact illegal and will give them equal marriage rights); and marijuana is becoming more and more legalized, for better or worse.

I can get used to Play...and I sure hope he doesn't Stop.

He's obviously aware that City Hall usually has pee on the outside and is full of BS on the inside

A beautiful new park was dedicated at City Hall in Philly yesterday:

and according to the story, "hundreds of Philadelphians endured more than an hour of speeches under a blazing sun and still wanted to stay".

My guess is that none of the speeches included what one person was quoted in the story as saying that was probably truer than any words spoken by any of the politicians:

"It is really nice. It brings out City Hall. It brightens it up," James said. "Now we just have to make sure nobody messes it up, you know, with urine."

I love that town.

Probably no brains involved in saying it in any case

I know it's a tough job to speak live on television without time to think about what you're saying, so I have a feeling the person who said this on Morning Joe this morning would probably have liked to have this observation edited out:

"After seeing those beheadings by ISIS, it's no-brainer that we have to take them seriously." Ouch.

That said, there probably weren't two other people who heard the double meaning there the way I did.

Friday, August 22, 2014

'Sall about Valiconnectolutions, man!

Cheryl and I saw the movie Boyhood a few weeks back.  A really great movie.  Made me change my whole philosophy of life.  

Hmmm…I just went back to my past 2 or so years’ worth of posts and it turns out I may have never posted my original Philosophy of Life (POL).
OK, maybe not my original original POL, which was probably more centered on the need for a bottle and my dipe to be changed…

OK (3rd digression)…it can be argued that I still have a need for the occasional bottle, though the contents have presumably changed.
But back to the first digression and my most recent POL which is…was…that life is all about Validation. We all need it…we all crave it. We never seem to get enough of it and similarly, and maybe more importantly, we never give enough of it.

(My sister Judy believes that it’s all about Evolution, which I don’t entirely disagree with either, if one thinks it through.)
But after watching Boyhood, which may have simply struck me at just the right time, I will add to Validation, that it’s also all about Connections. We all need to connect with people more often that we do…or at least more often than I do, no matter how much we all piss each other off from time to time. We are always better, we always grow, the more often we connect with each other, both in terms of new connections and reconnecting with or just strengthening old connections.

(I have to admit this doesn't seem as life-changing an observation as it did when I first made it, which may have had something to do with the 2 cosmopolitans I'd sucked down across the street from the theatre before going in.)

The other impact the movie had on me is the re-affirmation of my belief that we are in charge of, and arguably in control of, our own densities…excuse me, destinies. And no matter how lousy our life has been, no matter how terrible our boss is (mine is definitely not) or our parents are or were (mine definitely were not) or what life’s circumstances have thrown our way, we can and absolutely have to overcome it. (Excuse me if I start sounding like a Republican here).
That doesn’t mean it’s easy. It not true of every human. 3-months old can’t. People in drought-stricken, war-savaged, oppressed countries have limited opportunities to improve their lives, at least not in the same way those of us lucky enough to have been born into a first world country can, but they can still focus on the important things…altogether now…validating each other and making and strengthening more connections.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Couldn't it at least have been given to the needy instead of throwing it out?!

I think it's a disgrace that my tax dollars pay for using sex suits in prison!

Jury throws out sex suit against Chesco Prison

                  By Michael P. Rellahan

And now some activist judge has come along to throw it out.

You tell her, Taylor!

I'm a sucker for this kind of stuff, and maybe not just because it involves Taylor Swift:

Copying from the HuffPo link here now:

Taylor Swift just made one of her young fan's dreams come true.

Hannah, aka @sherbetswift, took to Instagram to ask her idol for some love advice earlier this week, and the 24-year-old singer-songwriter responded with what might be the most sincere message ever written.

Hannah's original post read:
There’s a guy Taylor, a guy who’s sweet and charming and makes me laugh. A guy who said sorry for eating in front of me after finding out I had to skip breakfast. A guy who grew up across the street from me. A guy who plays guitar like me. A guy who was my first best friend. A guy who I met when I was seven and he was nine. A guy who this one time, when we were younger, said that I was ‘like’ his girlfriend because I was a girl and his friend. I wish. A guy who I have the biggest crush in the whole wide world on, and he’ll never like me back. (And he has a girlfriend who he adores and she’s pretty and has an amazing figure and is actually nice to me). A guy who will never like me back. @taylorswift can you give me some advice maybe. I love you. Hannah.
 And here's Swift's response (get ready to tear up):
Hannah. Eyes, eyes, eyes. Woah. You have the prettiest, widest, most child like eyes. (Composes herself) Okay. About this guy. I think we grow up thinking the only love that counts as true love is the kind that lasts forever or is fully realized. When you have a broken heart, the first thing a stranger will ask is ‘how long were you two together?’ As if your pain can be determined by how long you were with someone. Or if you were with them at all. I don’t think that’s how it works. I think unrequited love is just as valid as any other kind. It’s just as crushing and just as thrilling. No matter what happens in this situation, I want you to remember that what you are doing is selfless and beautiful and kind. You are loving someone purely because you love them, not because you think you’ll ever have your affections reciprocated. You are admiring something for its beauty, without needing to own it. Feel good about being the kind of person who loves selflessly. I think someday you’ll find someone who loves you in that exact same way.
Hannah was clearly surprised Swift replied to her post, writing back to her, "You have no idea how much this means to me, thank you. You understand and that means so much. I feel like you’re the big sister I don’t have. Thank you, I really did need to hear that from you.”

YUP. Just another reason to adore Miss Taylor Swift.

So, no, I did not write that last sentence...but I could have...and yeah, tear up I did.

Friday, July 11, 2014

But is it Blog-Worthy?

This is a brilliant compilation of fashion moments from Seinfeld, and every one of them made me smile, but I have to admit part of the reason I’m posting it here is because after I made a comment about it to my uber-hip niece (and loyal reader!) Becca Jane, who had sent it me in the first place, she forwarded my comment to the creators of the original post, and they added it here, with my comment and with a link back to this site.

So here is that post too, which could cause some vortex of bouncing websites ricocheting back and forth off each other:

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Though I probably shouldn't tell them when it's time to go to bed

One theory on parenting that I hear over and over is that one shouldn’t try to be a friend to our kids, because, for instance, if your kids are doing something really annoying or repugnant, they need to be told firmly and directly that it is unacceptable behavior.

Actually, my preference would be that I could talk to my friends the way I talk to my kids:

“Yo, don’t chew with your mouth open!”

“Dude – Don’t be so rude! Can you say that again nicely?”

Or even:

“Can I have a hug?”

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Or maybe use each other's sand wedges?

Which is a better indicator of when you know you’ve found your partner for life...

when you are able to finish each other’s sentences…or each other’s sandwiches?

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sometimes The Onion just isn’t ridiculous enough to cover crazy and sometimes I don’t know which are the real headlines and which come from The Onion…and then there are the cases where both the original story and the follow-up story qualify.
Best most recent example is the story of the NRA’s comments on certain (most? all?) Texas gun owners.

From the Daily Kos:
It's happened: Open Carry Texas has finally out-extremed the NRA. And the NRA doesn't like it, because having Gun Furries For Texas parade around Chili's or Sonic or Home Depot in full costume turns out to be something the general public is getting pissed off about. And if the general public gets pissed off about it, you see, politicians start getting pissed off with the NRA about it, and the NRA loses some of its ability to wrap those same politicians around its finger, and so the NRA has come out with an (amazing) statement telling the gun furries to knock it the eff off.

Then that story was quickly followed with this one:
NRA apologizes to Open Carry Texas lunatics for calling them 'weird', 'scary'.

Seriously, which of those stories seems more legit? Right, sadly, the second one.

Monday, June 2, 2014

He probably figures he earned it by performing so well in the lead-up to the long-term commitment

My sports fan buddies complain about athletes who sign a 5-year contract and then stop performing at the level they established before they got such a long-term commitment.

I wonder if any of them reached this conclusion while lying on their couch on a Saturday night with a beer in their hand watching a ballgame while their wife watches a Rom-Com in their bedroom, wondering what happened to the romantic guy she married.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Or so my ESP of Everything (ESPoE) tells me

This article appeared word for word in the Daily Local News on Monday, seemingly stealing it from some techie website and passing it off as news we can use. 

There couldn’t possibly have been one person reading the Local who read it past the first sentence:
"To help service providers reduce operating expenses and drive new revenue streams embracing the Internet of Everything (IoE), Cisco (NASDAQ: CSCO) today announced it has added the Cisco WAN Automation Engine (WAE) to its Evolved Services Platform (ESP), marking another key milestone in the company's network function virtualization (NFV) and software-defined-networking (SDN) strategy." 

OK, now, without going back to look, tell me what these initials stand for:



ESP – (Wrong!)



And going forward, there is only one of those that you’ll ever notice again. And I predict you’ll hear/see it over and over and over: The oh-so-cute-by-half IoE.

Someone somewhere is oh-so-proud of themselves for coming up with that. 

I wonder if Cisco emplys someone just to decide what technology they have that is worthy of getting its own initials. If they do, I wonder if his/her title is Decider of Language Technique, so he can have his own initials:

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Hershey Happy. Thanks, Bruce!

I went to see Bruce Springsteen for the idon’tknowhowmany-th time last Wednesday night in Hershey with my sister Laurie and my friend Jim Burger and I’ve been wanting to write about it ever since.

As Laurie kept pointing out gleefully that night, it was amazing how many 20-somethings were there, and not just there, but singing along.  And so, on this, the 40th anniversary of one of the most famous, maybe THE most famous, reviews ever written about Rock and Roll, I think it’s safe to say, I saw Rock and Roll future and its name is (still) Bruce Springsteen. And on a night when I needed to feel young, he made me feel like I was hearing music for the very first time.

Funny – I wrote most of the entry below before I went back to find Jon Landau’s exact quote, and I had forgotten about the second sentence above about needing to feel young (geez, he was only 27 when he wrote that and I’m 30 years older than that!). In fact, I’m not sure I’ve ever even seen that sentence before, which will make the rest of this post seem all the more significant if you bear with it. But it also reminded me that at one point of the concert, I thought that if I could never hear any other form of music the rest of my life, or never had, I’d be fine with only being able to hear or have heard Bruce, so in that context, here’s more of my thoughts from that night, though probably not all.

I don’t know how many times I’ve seen Bruce, probably around 15, including 3-4 nights when I sneaked into the Spectrum on the pretense of having to work at Prism on a Phillies game, Prism being a now outdated cable TV station that carried Phillies games and for whom I worked on Flyers games. I’ve seen him in Madison, Wisconsin and at Madison Square Garden…and once in New Jersey at the Meadowlands with Liss and a stoner (former) boyfriend of hers, and other than those and this trip to Hershey, all the other times have been within about a 200 yard radius of Broad & Pattison in Philly, many times in the Spectrum, once at the Vet with Judy, Laurie, Sherry and Gary, and once I think in the parking lot where JFK used to be when he was part of an Amnesty International tour, which was one of my favorite Bruce concerts ever. I went to that concert without a ticket, but bought one outside for less than face value.

As I watched him the other night, I had so many strong emotions running through me, I wished I could pipe them directly from my brain into this blog, both because I had so much to say and because I knew I’d forget a lot of what I was thinking, but I’ll do my best here, 8 days later.

The main thought was about my nephew Skylar, who likes to ask people what their philosophy of life is, and while this doesn’t answer that question, I morphed it into the related question – What is the meaning of life, to which my answer is: Go see a Bruce concert and you won’t need to ever ask anyone that question again. You’ll have found it right where you are.

Obviously Bruce isn’t for everyone. My (step) daughter Evie can’t stand him. Just the sound of his voice starts her muttering like an old man seeing kids walking across his perfect lawn but too tired to yell at them one more time. But that isn’t entirely the point, and the meaning of life isn’t all about Bruce or even his concerts. It’s really about finding that thing, that special thing, and I like to believe that you have at least one, even if you haven’t found it yet, that just makes you feel so incredibly alive and in the moment. Something that heightens all your senses, makes you hyper-focused on nothing and everything at the same time. Something that shuts out every single thing that has weighed on you or has been dragging you down and all you can do is exult and dance and laugh and sing and think of the people you love who you wish could be right there by your side feeling the same things you’re thinking and feeling and reveling in. The same way you feel when you first fall in love, and you want all the world to know. THAT is the meaning of life.

I was texting and emailing with Cheryl (though only a handful of times) during the concert. She couldn’t come because she wasn’t (and still isn’t) feeling fully healed from her hysterectomy last month. And at one point, I looked at my emails to see if she’d sent a new one and I saw all the most recent emails that had come in since I’d checked it last. They were a mix of political emails, WCFS-related emails, work emails. And I was struck by how unimportant all of those things were in the scheme of what I was feeling right then and there, all shook up over Bruce and reminded me of all that is and isn’t truly important in life.

I have felt that way before in other settings when my emotions were similar but importantly different. I remember once going to a college basketball game with Mike Rellahan at the Palestra – the college basketball shrine. The game itself was insignificant to me - I think it was St. Joes vs Temple. But as the two teams came out for warm-ups, students were screaming, bands were playing as loud as they could, both schools trying to out-scream, out-play and out-loud each other, and I was so caught up in the intensity of emotions all around me, I had that same sense of heightened awareness, like all my senses just switched to higher levels and I became so much more aware of every nerve ending in my body, every synapse in my brain and every emotional strand running around in my pulsating bod.

Hmm…sound like anything else? Yeah, sex can and should be like that too, and it has been, fer sure, with Cheryl on many occasions, but I guess when you’re fully clothed and out in public where you aren’t expecting it to happen to you, it is all the more magnified and seems so much more significant…and blog-worthy. J


Wednesday, May 21, 2014

And what's all this I hear about less beans being a bad thing. I don't like beans, and I WANT less of them!

I'm really  thrilled that same-gender marriage is finally now legal in PA, but I won't believe discrimination against gays has ended until I stop seeing the Cornish Gay Men listed on fancy restaurant menus.
(Sorry. Trev and I came up with that one together the other night.)

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Things I've loved but couldn't wait until they were over:
-         High school
-         College
-         Being President of the Board of West Chester Friends School
-         My first marriage
Things I’ve loved that thankfully will never end:
-         Being a dad
-         My second marriage
-         Being a Democrat
-         Being a Quaker
-         Having such great friends
Things I do or have done that I’ve never loved and will never end:
-         Brushing my teeth
-         Eating vegetables
Thing I do that I’ve never loved and hope won’t end for a long, long, looong time:
-         Waking up in the morning

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!"