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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Toupée Daze

I was in Penn Station last week, when a man walked by me wearing one of the most ridiculous toupées I had ever seen. Looked like a steel wool pad. Now I’m not talking Brillo or an SOS pad. I’m talking one of those industrial strength steel wool pads. Something like this:

Does this look like hair to you?

Does this look like hair to you?

Am I exaggerating?  Yes but not as much as you think. I honestly think I could have taken this guy’s hair piece home, put some dishwashing liquid on it and scrubbed a few pots and pans.

When it comes to hair, I’m lucky. Still got most of mine and what I’ve got is mostly brown.  Makes it easy for me to poke fun of those who are follickly challenged.  But if you know me, I could be completely bald and I’d still make fun of these people.

It’s not the going bald that’s so funny. It’s what people do to pretend that they are not going bald. Let’s explore the options.

First, we have the comb over. The comb over comes with 2 options:  First to third and home to second. Always fun in windy daze or when they come unglued (if that is being used). Nothing like seeing a bald man using this process when he comes undone. A dome on top with hair down to their ass coming out one side of their head.

Next we have plugs. The major problem here is sometimes plugs become unplugged. Than you are left with a dome with little holes in it. Shocking that the air doesn’t come leaking out of those people.

And now we come to the toupée, the hair piece, the rug, the lettuce leaf, a wig. Have you ever actually seen someone wearing one of these things that you couldn’t tell that it was topping on their snow cone? May as well put some whip cream and a cherry on that baby cause it’s not liking you are hiding the fact that you’ve gone bald!

For many man (and a few woman), going bald is a fact of life.  When I was younger and making fun of my prematurely balding friends, my mother used to tell me that her father was bald and that the balding gene came from the mother’s side of the pool. Luckily for me mom was wrong and lucky for her she didn’t put me into therapy over this (and a few other things).

My opinion is better to go bald proudly. Don’t try to cover it up. The results are usually worse and you never know what someone will think or do if you chose to wear one of those ridiculous toupées. You could end up in a kitchen somewhere with dish pan head.

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Anonymous Comment Daze

4 years ago, I started this blog and branded myself as IraSez. On twitter I’m IraSez, whenever I sign up to contribute to another person’s blog or website, I’m IraSez, and if I had signed up under a different name before I was IraSez (which always included Ira in some form), I changed it to IraSez whenever I could. If you want to know who IraSez is, it’s pretty easy to find out. Just google IraSez and see what comes up on the first page. Me, me and more me.

Go to my blog and there’s my bio. No hiding, no anonymous posts, no funny cutesie names. When I have something to say, I want everyone to know it’s me.  Hey, I’ve even got my own hat!

The first (and not quite official) @IraSez hat.

The first (and not quite official) @IraSez hat.

This was not done for ego. It was done for brand recognition just in case I became a big hit in the blogosphere (and beyond!); so that my comments, thoughts, ideas, etc., would be consistent throughout the digital world (and beyond!). I wasn’t going to hide from anyone. If you don’t agree with me, than let me know it. I love a good discussion.

But many people are not as forthcoming as I am. Could be a good thing, could be a bad thing. I guess people like to hide under their own veil of anonymity, especially in today’s blog crazy comment crazy world. Bloggers (like me) have found their platform and the amateur commentators have found a place to spew their digital venom.  It’s very easy to insult someone when you are doing it as “Art Vandelay” or “The Muffin Man” or “Egon Spengler” as I’ve seen seen when reading a recent online news article. At least these folks are trying to be clever with their online moniker. Some folks just say Bob9 or another nondescript. As far as I’m concerned, these guys are all weenies.

To quote Bill Maher…”New Rule!” If you want to comment on anything online – my blog, a news site, a sports site, whatever floats your boat – do it with your own name. Don’t be a chicken. Don’t hide from being controversial or creating a little adversity. Speak your mind but speak with your own name. It’s as simple as IraSez.

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Is The Earth Going To Drown?

If you believe everything you read in the Old Testament, there was once a great flood. If you believe just a little bit about what some scientists are saying today, the next great flood may not be so far away.

I’m not here to debate global warming or climate change or whatever you want to call it. Despite the fact that we had a pretty nasty winter here in New Jersey, the earth is getting warmer. That’s just a fact. Is it the natural cycle of things? Is it Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth?” and mankind’s wicked ways is overheating the planet. Is it the wrath of God coming down to smite the human species once again? Who’s to say but at some point real soon, we are going to face the consequences….if we aren’t already seeing some of those effects already.

The one area that many scientists are focusing on are the polar ice caps. This past Sunday on the HBO series “Vice” they did a segment on what is happening in Greenland. FYI, the average temperature in this section of the world above the Arctic Circle has risen 3.6 degrees in the past 50 years.

Watching Vice was an eye opener to say the least. Not only is Greenland (which is roughly 3x the size of Texas and is 80% covered in ice) in a state of major meltdown, it is happening way faster than anyone had predicted just 5 years ago. Some scientists are predicting that at the rate things are going, the effect of this meltdown could potentially raise sea levels by several feet in the next 50 to 100 years. For all of you worried about your beach houses…this is not good news.

To make matters even more interesting, many climatologists are saying there’s pretty much nothing we can about it. If we were to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% in the next 10 to 20 years, the best we could hope for is to stabilize the current rate of the meltdown, which appears to be accelerating every year.

For the hard left side environmentalists, this is a global catastrophe about to happen and issue numero uno. For the ignore the environment crowd on the right, the price tag to take on this issue is way too big. After all, who’s going to pay for this? In the end, I think we all are in same way.

As always, I look for a common sense answer to all of this. My brand of common sense tells me the earth is getting warmer, some of it is us and some of it is Ma Nature doing her thing. Common sense tells me the oceans are going to rise and their will be flooding more often and more damaging. Common sense tells me we can do something about it but I’m not so smart as to know what that is.

Later this week, the movie “Noah” opens in theaters. At this point, I’m beginning to wonder if we should consider it entertainment or a users manual on how to build an ark (cue Bill Cosby).

 

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