I Feel Bad That I Don’t Feel Bad

In the hit Broadway show A Chorus Line, the character Morales recalls the story of her drama instructor Mr. Karp,  who tormented her, calling her “nothing.”  Years later, Morales learn that Karp had died and sings “and I reached on down to the bottom of my soul and cried….cause I felt ‘nothing’.”

Tuesday in Arizona, a 9 year girl old shot and killed her fire arms instructor with an Uzi. My first reaction was that I felt nothing. Now as I think about this, I realize I’m feeling many things. I am sad that a man who had served our country had been shot and killed. I am amazed that parents thought it was OK for their 9 year old daughter to be shooting an Uzi. I find it incredible that a man who was trained to use an Uzi did not know enough to realize that this young girl would be unable to handle the recoil from that submachine gun when he set it to automatic mode.

Most of all I’m angry. Angry that the entire conversation of common sense gun control regulations in our country is dominated by one side and its fanatical leadership group. A group that refuses to budge one inch on any new regulations, despite the growing outcry from the public, despite the epidemic of gun violence and gun related deaths.

Let me say, I’m not a fanatic in favor of the total ban of all fire arms. Common sense tells me that this is unrealistic in a country where people cling to the “right to bear arms” even when that right was granted in an age of muskets and one shot pistols. You want to own a pistol or two, OK. A rifle for hunting, fine. But explain to me why a 9 year old, or anyone else for that matter, needs to have the right to own, or needs to know how to shoot an Uzi. Makes absolutely no sense no matter how much the NRA spins it.

I guess in the end I really felt a lot of things, but being sad about this unfortunate death is not on the top of my list. Although I am sad. Sad that it wasn’t Wayne LaPierre (President of the NRA) or one his gun toting disciples on the receiving end of that Uzis bullet. If that were to happen, then I’d feel something.

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Almonds Make Me Nuts

The other day I was reading some interesting info about almonds. Before I get to that, I need to be something off my chest about almond “milk.”  It’s not friggin’ milk! It’s juice or water or something entirely different but it’s not milk. Milk is lactated not squeezed out of a nut. Cows, humans and other living, breathing animals make milk. Almonds that grow on trees do not. To call it milk is udderly ridiculous.  Glad I got that off my chest.

Almonds are now the number 1 consumed nut in America, having replaced peanuts. In reality, the #1 nuts in America are the folks running our country, but that’s a completely different type of nut. Almonds are also very unfriendly to the environment in which they grow, which is mostly in California. I’m sure you are wondering how a nut can be anti-environment.  Let me ‘splain.

If you’ve been reading the news at all, you know the climate has been pretty weird lately. California is now in one the worst droughts that region has ever seen. Water is at such a premium they now drill for groundwater they way they drill for oil. Where there was once surface water, there is none. Where there was once ground water pretty close to the surface, that is vanishing rapidly.  So it’s drill baby drill. Let’s forget about the consequences of how much that destabilizes the ground above those ever deeper water wells…at least until parts of California become one big sinkhole.

80% of all the water in California goes to agriculture. Of that, 10% goes to grow almonds. Many of these almond groves used to grow cotton, vegetables and other annual crops. Cotton was not as lucrative but used 40% less water than almonds. In a bad water year, you let cotton or vegetable plants die, take the hit and replant the next year. Almond trees need constant care and constant watering. So just remember, every time you eat an almond, you are helping suck California dry (which some people might think is not such a bad thing).

This scenario reminds me of the 1st Superman movie back in 1978. In that film, the villan Lex Luthor was going to set off a nuclear bomb in the San Andreas fault and sink part of California into the Pacific Ocean. He had purchased all the land on the other side of the fault which would become beach front property with names like Lutherville and Costa del Lex (and Otisburg for you Superman aficionados). In reality, you really don’t need a bomb or the world’s #1 criminal mind to completely screw up California…just a bunch of nuts.

 

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Another Ma Nature IRAnt

We all know the world is a scary place right now. My morning ritual these daze is to wake-up, turn on my computer, go to CNN.com and Google News and pray the world hasn’t completely blown itself while I tried to get a good night sleeps.

Not completely lost in the multitude of wars, skirmishes, terrorism, etc., is the punishment that Mother Nature continues to inflict on our little planet. Let’s start in California, America’s fruit and veggie basket. Where there once was surface water, now there’s none. Where there was once well water near the surface, now there’s not so much…if any. So they drill, just like for oil, in some spots up to 2000 feet below the surface. Of course the one little side effect is that when you suck all that water out of the ground, you suck out the support system for the land above it. California may not float off into the Pacific but don’t be surprised if parts of it sink into the ground.

A little further up the coast, we have wildfires. Again, a little water would go a long way towards alleviating that situation. Unfortunately, when the rains do come, that will only lead to mudslides and more devastation. Without the trees to hold things in place, things have a tendency to slide down hill, often with catastrophic results as we saw this spring and in the last few daze.

Heading all the way up the coast, the problem is too much water and not enough ice. Where there once was the Arctic Ice Cap, we now have waves…big waves. Do you know what those waves do? They help break up the remaining ice so there is even less ice and more open water. According to more than a few folks who are a lot smarter than me, the day is rapidly approaching when the Arctic Ice Cap will be free of ice during the summer months. According to these experts, that would be bad. I guess during the summer we’d have to call it “the unfrozen water formerly known as The Arctic Ice Cap.”

On top of all these disasters, we have disease outbreaks. Ebola in Africa, which seems to be spreading much faster than anticipated; a tick epidemic on longisland (one which makes you allergic to red meat), rhodeisland and otherislands and inland areas on the east coast, which means lyme disease. In southern environs of the USA, there are reports of Chikungunya, which is carried by mosquitoes. Bad enough the little bastards are giving us West Nile Virus, now we have something I can’t even pronounce. Sounds like chewing gum or some long lost Indian tribe about to open a casino.

Maybe Ma Nature is taking a look at the state of things and realizes that humanity is on the verge of imploding her planet. Maybe she thinks it time she taught us another lesson on who is really control of things here on planet Earth. Let’s just hope she doesn’t have one big ass asteroid in her arsenal. If she does, we may be the next dodo to gogo.

 

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The Accidental SU Alumni Club President

Today is July 1, 2014.  An ordinary day for most but slightly less ordinary for me. Today is the day that I start my 10th year as President of the Syracuse University Northern New Jersey Alumni Club. What started out as a 3 year term is evolving into what my board refers to as a “President for life” sentence. I often wonder if  I’m a victim of my own success or guilty of not following the first rule of presiding over this type of organization – make sure the first thing you do is find the next person to be President.

I never set out to be “Mr. Syracuse” to my friends, neighbors and fellow SU alums. All I really wanted were good seats for SU basketball games. On my way to front row seats at The Garden, my alma mater took over a big chunk of my life.

If anyone doesn’t know, I graduated from SU in 1982, Linda in 1983, Allie graduated in 2011 and Zach graduated this past May.

SU '82, proud grandma, SU '11, SU 83, SU '14.

SU ’82, proud grandma, SU ’11, SU 83, SU ’14.

My life as an active alum started 11 or 12 years ago when I joined the SUNNJAC board.  In the fall of 2004, in the middle of his 3rd year as President, Brian Spector asked Linda and me to have lunch with him. It was there that he sprang his master plan upon us. He was moving up to the national alumni board and wanted me to take over as club president. Despite my pleas that I wanted no part of it, I was voted in by a 2 to 1 vote, with Linda and Brian voting in favor, and….well you can figure out how I voted. So, on July 1, 2005, the benign dictator assumed his role.

A few months before taking office, I attended my first meeting as President elect at Lubin House in NYC and met with other NY/NJ area alumni leaders. My first question was “how do I get really good seats for basketball games?” It didn’t take long for me to realize that being an SU alumni club president was not that high up on the Orange food chain and that I was pretty much on my own for basketball tickets.  Eventually I realized I was pretty much on my own period so I (along with Brian and the rest of the SUNNJAC board) decided to go our own merry way. Part of the reason why I’m now in my 10th year as president is by-laws, or lack thereof.  Here in North Jersey, we don’t need no stinking by-laws.

A year or two into the reign of terror, I became close with a few other club presidents who thought much like I did, and so was born the “axis of evil” (SU alumni style).  The NY to Philly alumni corridor and the 4 of us that ran the show – with major shout outs to Karen Auuuuuuu, Pam Mulligan and Andy Laver – became a model of cooperation (not to mention rearranging the seating at president weekend meetings).

3rd year in and I was not only an alum, I was an SU dad as Allie started her 4 years in OrangeLand. One of my all time favorite dad moments was Thursday night of club presidents weekend. Making my way to Faegens, I walked past all the scantily dressed young (and underage) coeds standing in line to get into Maggie’s when I recognized a few of Allie’s friends. Than came those magic words, “Hi daddy!” Allie, I know you will read this and you know that I love you but why oh why have you always been so in love with your cleavage? Oh well, my mother would be proud.

3 years later, I’m still president and now I have 2 at SU as Zach joins the Orange Clan. Now I start thinking, I’ll stay president until 2014 when Zach graduates. That would be a good time to hand over the reins.  But have I done that? Nooooooo, I’m still here.

But who am I kidding.  It’s been a fun ride. In my role as an alumni club leader, I have met so many great people and made so many friends.  If you had told me 10 years ago that a young couple from SU would invite us to their wedding, I would have laughed at you. But last Memorial Day Weekend, there we were at Holiday Valley Resort in Western NY attending the nuptials of Julie Walas and Binh Hunh, who have also joined us for graduation dinners in ’11 and ’14, and whom we make sure to spend time with whenever we are at SU.

And there are so many more people who have become a part of our extended Orange family. JoGo, Ste. Colleen, everyone at alumni relations, the wonderful folks at Falk and Engineering who helped us so much in our moment of need, Bridget who danced when she heard Allie got a job in LA and put her picture from the Hollywood Reporter on the door of her office, my friends in the Dome Box Office (love you guys!) and in the athletic department, all my fellow alumni leaders who put up with my ranting and raving once a year in person and more often via emails, and the list goes on and on and on.

Of course there’s the SUNNJAC board and our members. Thank you for the notes of support and becoming part of the North Jersey OrangeNation. And my little Orange family – Linda, Allie, Zach, Cosmo (so sad about your name sake) and Shay, the only Syracuse native in our crew.

Now someone get Jim Boeheim on the line so we can can figure out how we are going to win our next national championship with me sitting courtside!

 

 

 

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Writer’s Block Daze

I’ve been staring at this screen for 5 minutes. Thinking about something to write as it’s been weeks since my last blog post.  There is so much going on all around the world and I have writers block. I’m just going to start typing and see what comes out.

I could be political and write about Iran….or is it Iraq. Could be both, I get them confused.  Maybe Bengazi or that guy Bergdahl.  Those sound almost the same. Well not really.  There’s that guy in Nigeria, Boko Haram. He sounds like a rock group from the 60s. Maybe some trippy rock music is what those guys need.

Sports. I could write something about the World Cup in Brazil. Look at how much money they wasted on building all those soccer (or should say football) stadiums that will hardly be used again. There’s one in the Amazon that cost $270,000,000, will be used for 4 games and I don’t even think it’s 100% finished. Only way in is by boat or plane. Not sure how practical that one is. The US won their first game and it’s looking good against Portugal on Sunday as that team is in disarray. Must be the water on the Iberian Peninsula as world #1 Spain has lost their first 2 games and is already eliminated from moving on to the “knock-out round.”  How many of you even knew it was called that.

Something in the world of entertainment. Game of Thrones! That would be a good topic. Talk about your dysfunctional families. How about those crazy Lannisters.  Freud would have field day with the mother complexes going on with those folks.  There’s murder, naked woman, witch craft, naked woman, wars, naked woman, a very creepy looking old dude in a tree, naked woman, the undead, thankfully no naked woman with those things, and poor Dany needs to go see How To Dragon Your Dragon Part 2 because she’s having all kinds of issues with her babies. Notice how I worked in a movie reference into that TV thing I have going on. Winter is coming but season 5 can’t come soon enough for those of us in love with all things Throne.

I could write about something deeply personal. Oh screw that. Who wants to hear me complain about my miserable existence. Oh that’s a big ass lie. Things are really all that miserable.

A cute blog about Cosmo and Shay would be nice. Now that Zach is home, we are back to being a 2 dog family. Often think about Ripley, my very first dog. Miss her, she was like a real person. And poor Cosmo has a torn ACL so we’ve had to curtail our long walks in the reservation. That sucks.

Would you look at that. I’ve actually managed to squeeze a few hundred words out of nothing.  And yada yada yada.

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The Rhythm of Life

I’d like to start with a quote that my mom said to me on more than one occasion when we’d visit my folks in Florida. “I love to see their fronts and I love to see their backs.” In case you don’t get it, she was talking about her children and their families. I was never really insulted by the statement as I felt the same way. Was a nice place to visit but I didn’t want to stay there too long.

Every part of your life has a certain rhythm to it.  Then there are the adjustments that are added to your life that changes that rhythm. You grow-up with your parents, you move on to college, you move home and/or you move on to a new place to live, you get married, you have kids, your kids grow-up, they go to college, they comeback, they move on, and so on and so on.

After graduating from SU in May 2011, Allie moved on and has made a life for herself in Los Angeles. Zach graduates from SU in less than 2 weeks and will be returning home, along with his dog Shay.

Shay eying her next meal?

Shay eying her next meal?

For most of the last 3+ years, Linda and I have been alone and that’s the rhythm of my life for the moment.

Let me clearly state that I love my children and I miss them every day they are away from me. Linda and I have been to LA 5 or 6 times since Allie moved there in August of 2011, and Allie comes home every few months including her 2 week Xmas break.  For the past several years, we have traveled every few months to Syracuse to visit, attend alumni functions and meetings, and to do what parents need to do when summoned.

But come the middle of May, our house and the rhythm of our life will change yet again. Above and beyond their physical presence, Zach and Shay will bring renewed life and energy to our home. I think the current residents of our home (especially Linda) are looking forward to that change of pace. As for me, let me just say “hakuna matata.”

 

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Weighty Observations

A couple of weekends ago, I came across 2 people at the polar opposite ends of the weight spectrum. On Saturday I was on the golf course when I noticed a man driving his golf cart to the first hole. He was quite large – obese in fact. What was interesting about this person was that he was the only one in the cart and he was driving from the passenger seat, which was odd. As he drove past my group and I caught a side view of him, I understood why he was alone and why was sitting in the passenger seat.  Quite frankly, he couldn’t fit behind the wheel and he was by far the biggest person I had ever seen on a golf course. Part of me wanted to laugh at the absurdity of that man playing golf and part of me wanted to look away at what that man looked like. At least he wasn’t seated next to me on an airplane.

As my group finished the 18th hole, he was teeing up on the 10th. We all stopped to watch him as he took as tee shot. He actually had a pretty good swing but I couldn’t figure out how he saw the ball and how he managed to bend down to put his ball on the tee.

On Sunday  I went to gym. As I climbed on to the stairmaster, I couldn’t help but notice the woman working out on the elliptical next to me. She was thin, most probably anorexic. At about 5’1″ or 2″ I’d put her below 90 pounds (if that). Her skin was ashen, her eyes gaunt and blood shot. She was singularly focused on her work-out, robotic, and emotionless.  Watching her was difficult, so I tried not to.

2 days, 2 very different weight issues but I was troubled by both while watching them and can still see them in my mind. I have friends who have battled both ends of the weight spectrum. I have friends with parents and children who have suffered from these issues. We all know people who have suffered and agonized (and even past away) over weight issues at both ends of the spectrum. It’s hard to watch and I’m sure it’s even harder to live with.

I’m not passing judgement or have something deep or profound about the subject of eating disorders. I’m just making observations. People eat or don’t eat for a variety or reasons.  I eat when I’m hungry or when something tastes good. I don’t eat when my tummy expands and my 34″ waistline pants get too tight because frankly, I can’t stand the thought of all new pants.  As I’m fond of saying, “I can’t afford a new wardrobe.” I wish other people who have weight issues could have it so easy.

 

 

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