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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, 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

http://www.dailylocal.com/general-news/20140805/jury-throws-out-sex-suit-against-chesco-prison

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:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/24/taylor-swift-love-advice-young-fan_n_5617766.html

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:

IoE

WAE

ESP – (Wrong!)

NFV

SDN

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  

          Children:

-          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)...one 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--9.28.25.53.7Christie +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 blogger.com 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.
Subject:

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
Subject:

Jamie,

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.
Subject:

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
Subject:

Jamie,

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.